... growing and hybridizing all kinds of plants in zone 6b Maryland since the 1980's.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Viola hybrids again

After quite a bit of cold already, the F1 from Viola arvensis X red pansy is still looking alright. This was planted from seed back in late summer 2013. It would probably look better if I gave it a trim, since it's gotten a little "leggy".

Here's a close-up of a couple new blooms - in spite of sub freezing temperatures and 4-5 inches of snow last Wednesday. 
The next three pictures are of some of the self-sown F2 that are also taking the cold without much care.


Should be a lot of bloom when Spring 2015 rolls around.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rosa moschata X wichuraiana

I was out in the sub-freezing weather on Wednesday cutting some brush and got a chance to check out how some of my older species rose hybrids were doing. I have three old F1 moschata X wichuraiana plants still alive but two of them aren't looking all that happy with being totally neglected - no care except for mowing on two sides of them. One of them however is happy as can be. It's a big shrubby thing and covered with hips. Here it is:
And keep in mind that just upwind to the west 20 ft away is a big plant (that's supposed to be Rosa soulieana - it didn't look like my previous plant of that species). But, just like my original soulieana, this one seems to be super susceptible to Rose Rosette Disease, because it's just covered in witches brooms. I wouldn't imagine that the F1 moschata X wichuraiana is immune but it must have at least some level of resistance (to the disease or the mites that spread it) being this close to such a huge source of infection and still being free of RRD. Here's that diseased "soulieana". I just turned around and took the picture, that's how close it is.
Here's a close-up of the hips on the still healthy F1 moschata X wichuraiana. I harvested these and hope to get them in the ground within a few days. 

 And I guess this one probably deserves to have some intentional crosses tried on it next season.

Viola arvensis X pansy

Last year's F1 seedlings from Viola arvensis X red pansy, not only made it through last winter with all the "polar vortex" craziness, but they also survived the summer heat which is even more unusual for pansies around here. Here's the clump of F1 seedlings at 21°F this morning - frozen solid.

 And here's a close up of a flowering shoot so you can see the "frozen spinach" look of the foliage. I don't know exactly just how cold it's been so far for sure, but I know it's at least been down to 16°F within the past week and blooms were still looking fresh and undamaged when the temperatures warmed back up afterwards.

Here's that same shoot close up later in the day when the temperature went above freezing again. The ground is still frozen underneath the surface, so I think it's having a hard time sending water up to the thawed out parts, but even so looks pretty unfazed. I'll try to get another picture once it's been above freezing long enough to thaw the ground too.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Some rose species hybrids

Well the Rosa palustris X fedtschenkoana  F1 has pretty much defoliated from blackspot, I guess. It'll still be fun to see it bloom next year (hopefully) but it doesn't look like a winner for disease resistance by any means.
 In contrast, these new Rosa davidii X fedtschenkoana are looking incredibly healthy. One is showing mildew (and might get culled because of that) but the rest are looking great. I don't see much if any signs of disease.

'Prime Jan' blackberry

How I LOVE this blackberry! Hats off to the University of Arkansas hybridizers!
In addition to the normal season fruiting, it also flowers at the tips of the current season's new canes. These new canes are called primocanes - the second year they're called floricanes. So, it fruited with the single season type earlier in the summer on the floricanes (year old ones) and now it's got berries ripening again on the primocanes AND... also green berries and new flowers that'll keep the season going probably until frost. Just incredible! The only downside would be that it's very thorny. But that actually works well here, because thornless types get demolished by the local deer.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


The 'York' and 'Nova' elderberry bushes had a lot of fruit this year so I picked and de-stemmed these:
I made them into a big batch of elderberry syrup. I looked over a bunch of different recipes and went with something like this... put a little bit of water to cover bottom of pan... heat and crush the berries with a potato masher until all the juice is free... put the cooked stuff into a strainer (cup by cup) and stirred/pressed the juice through. Most of the recipes were around 1 cup sugar for 1 cup juice so that's what I started with (4 cups sugar added to the 4 cups of juice). It seemed a little thin though, so I added 2 more cups for a little thicker syrup. Oh and I added quite a bit of lemon juice to give it a little zing (maybe a 1/4 cup). Finished it off with a light dusting of cinnamon and cloves. Brought to a boil and then refrigerated. I plan on freezing some of this for use during the winter, since it's reported by some researchers to shorten the duration of the flu.

"One study suggested that using a standardized elderberry extract, Sambucol, could shorten the duration of flu by about 3 days."
Source: Elderberry | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/elderberry#ixzz39LuFIMc1
University of Maryland Medical Center 

Some hardy hibiscus

A few of the named hardy hibiscus I've been trying out and using in crosses.
I didn't have a tag on this one when I got it, but I'm pretty sure that it's 'Fireball'
 Here's 'Kopper King'

A new one for me this year, 'Midnight Marvel' - sadly the sawfly larvae really like this one's foliage

'Old Yella' with it's voluptuous flowers

And another even more voluptuous one I got last summer, 'Razzberry Jam'. I like how compact of a grower this one seems to be.

Rosa palustris X fedtschenkoana

Here's a good picture of the upper foliage of the F1 Rosa palustris X fedtschenkoana
 But to be fair, the bottom foliage is showing some kind of spotting issues and dropping off.

Iris foliage health 2

Didn't take many pictures of the sickest looking ones but here are some that look promising as a starting point in breeding for better health...

Iris aphylla 'Transylvania Native' looks a lot healthier than the other clones of Iris aphylla I've grown. Here's a clump pf it at my in-law's house.
 My reblooming MTB, 'Cricket Song', is pretty healthy.

The old pallida type 'Floridor' is healthier than the average.

My "Pink Volunteer" is still looking decent in mid-summer.
The iris that started me thinking about foliage health in the first place was this seedling ('Rosalie Figge' X aphylla 'Wine Red'). It's always looking relatively clean while everything around it is covered with leaf spot.

This clone of Iris variegata is always looking pretty ratty by mid-summer - so it wouldn't be one I'd want to use in a foliage health breeding program.
This one I'm currently calling by a garden name ("YRFT") is another one that is only average in the foliage health department. But it's a super-vigorous grower and has excellent branching, so I've crossed it with Floridor to try to get the best of both parents combined into one line.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Iris foliage health

I've been calling this self-sown seedling "Pink Volunteer" and hadn't planned on registering it but I may have to reconsider. In addition to the Spring bloom it has also bloomed each Fall for 3 or 4 years now. This year it sent up a summer stalk and I've been noticing how crazy-healthy the foliage has remained when other irises are spotting and browning at the tips. I know that a lot of people seem to only care about the flowers but I think the foliage is reason enough to include an iris in the landscape (when it's healthy foliage that is).


Rosa palustris X fedtschenkoana

No blooms this year but I'm hopeful about next year. This is F1 Rosa palustris X fedtschenkoana. And I don't have any doubt that it's an actual hybrid because the blue-gray foliage takes strongly after papa.

Hibiscus seedling

Not really all that spectacular but not too shabby... this is a seedling from Hibiscus 'Moy Grande' crossed with 'Old Yella'. This is it's maiden bloom and it's in poor soil, so it might perform even better with a little care. It seems to have gotten the size from 'Moy Grande' and the better petal width from 'Old Yella'. I did the cross hoping to see some seedlings with yellow pollen like 'Moy Grande' but so far the two that have bloomed have both had typical pale ivory colored pollen that most of the hardy Hibiscus have.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Goumi Harvest

The "Scarlet Sweet" goumi is really producing! It's only just a few years old and is loaded with fruit.
We picked all these and there are probably twice that many still on the bush.
 Decided to make fruit leather out of them since they're a little tart. So, I ran them through a Foley food mill to separate out the skins and seeds. Then put the pulp and juice into a pot and started heating it. The pulp sort of coagulates into a red "curd" which I skimmed out into a bowl and added it back in once the clear juice had boiled down into a syrup. I added a couple tablespoons of sugar and spread the bright red, thick sauce on a plastic wrap covered baking sheet to finish drying. Pretty close in taste to a Fruit Roll Up.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Poppies, wild and cultivated

Side-by-side comparison of the flowers of a perennial cultivated Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale) with a much smaller weedy annual relative, the Long Pod Poppy (Papaver dubium). I always leave a few of the weedy one to reseed because it's such a pretty weed that I don't mind a few here and there.
I know these two should NOT intercross but just for fun I slathered a bunch of the black pollen from the Oriental Poppy onto the stigmas of the Long Pod Poppy. I'll plant those seeds somewhere I can see if anything weird pops up.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Geum urbanum X Geum 'Flames of Passion'

In 2012, I put pollen from Geum 'Flames of Passion' onto Geum urbanum a weedy tiny flowered "herb" commonly known as clove-root. I mostly was hoping to put a little diversity into my little population of Geum urbanum. Some things I'm looking to select for are bigger flowers, bright reds oranges and yellows, and any improvements in the "clove-scented-ness" of the roots. I know it's a long shot, but I was also hoping that maybe one of these guys would get genetically confused and make the clove scent in its foliage or flowers. We'll see...
Here's the tidy foliage of the row of seedlings:
Here's the first hybrid seedling to bloom, compared with the tiny yellow flower of Geum urbanum below it: 
Here's a more extreme close-up of that first to bloom: 

Some purple-based iris seedlings

Here are four of the darkest bottomed iris seedlings I got from 'American Sweetheart' X ('Honky Tonk Blues' x Iris aphylla 'Balascuta'). The second picture shows the second seedling from the left, up close with my hand for scale. My plan is to interbreed these and see how much we can increase the expression of the dark bases.

Viola arvensis X Pansy hybrids

Here are the Viola arvensis hybrids (from Pansy pollen) recovering from some rabbit grazing...
top ones are from Orange Pansy, bottom are from Red Pansy.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Iris purpureobractea hybrid

Trying something new (for me)... posting a picture from my phone...
It's one of my better purple-foliaged irises from Iris purpureobractea. Not the prettiest flowers but the foliage is what I've been focusing on.
Well, the phone picture didn't make it but I'm back to post the picture the usual way...


And here's a second good one:
And a third, not so purple at the bases but got more of the purple bracts around the flowerbuds: