Thursday, April 29, 2010

Orchid Vuylstekeara Aloha Sparks "Pacific Flame"

Vuylstekeara is a novogenus, consisting of contributions from 3 oncidium alliance genera, Cochlioda, Miltonia, and Odontoglossum. It was created by Belgian Charles Vuylsteke in 1912, although this is a newer hybrid. These are considered cooler growing, so should do well in my house. Instructions also state to grow in filtered light. Some Vuylstekeara are also called Cambria.

Charles Vuylsteke Google translation of article from Dutch here. The awkward automated translations are charming, here is part of the translation: "This cultivar had everything to succeed. Not only answered this orchid to the demand of the market but he also had a name that one could speak, or at least the second portion thereof. The word "Cambria", a name given to all brothers and sisters of "Plush", is so easy to pronounce the name Vuylstekeara quick omitted. Worse yet, eventually called the dealers all hybrids of Odontoglossum Cambria's. There is nothing scientific to this name, it gives the goosebumps orchidofielen but Cambria is so good in the mouth! "
As usual, I repotted and gave a neem treatment on getting this plant home. The original pot was too big, so I stepped it down to a smaller pot. I don't have "ventillated" pots in the small size, so used a clay pot.

The close-up shows why I liked this specimen. The blood-red is set of by bright yellow. The flower form is nicely shaped, no "spidery" petals, which I don't care for. In addition, I'm not crazy about the "pansy" Miltonias, which look too much like pansys (duh). Somehow, it all came together in this hybrid.

The 19th century lithographs, below, represent genera but may not be the correct species, that contributed to Vuylstekeara. If I can narrow it down more accurately, I'll change as appropriate. These are South American species, such as Columbia and Venezuela. These are from my usual source, recently, Wikimedia commons.

Cochlioda noezliana This might be a good guess as a grandparent: "Cochlioda noezliana ~ One of the last species of the genus to be discovered and cultivated, (in 1891), it has small bright red orange flowers, with a disc of golden yellow on the callus of the lip and a violet-purple column...It blooms in winter or spring." also " tend to grow at medium to high altitudes in the Andes mountains of northern Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. In these highland cloud forests humidity is typically high and nights are cool, perhaps around 45°-50°F...usually grow as epiphytes, but are often found with roots growing in moss, and occasionally, in gravelly soil..." "Cochlioda are probably most renowned for their contribution of bright red, orange, scarlet and pink hues to various Odontoglossum hybrids. (Cochlioda noezliana is especially important in this regard.) The genus Cochlioda was established by Lindley in 1853"

Miltonia spectabilis

Odontoglossum luteopurpureum

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kitchen Garden & To Do List

Checked the "Wall-o-water" temperature at 8am today. Inside the WOW at ground level, the temp was 58F. My outdoor thermometer was reading 45F at the same time. Seems to keep them quite a bit warmer. Yesterday inside the WOW the temp was 76, it was an overcast day. I didn't check the ambient temp at the time.

Today I should repot the little peppers and eggplants into larger containters. They are outgrowing their tiny pudding cups.

That's about all on "to do". I have too much work homework.

In keeping with the theme of 19th century Orchid lithographs, but nothing to do with today's post, here is Dendrobium bellatum.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dendrobium budding

This hyprid, No-ID Dendrobium nobile is making nice buds. I wasn't sure if they would turn out to be keikis or flowers. Now it appears they will be flowers.

Pretty exciting, for me. This is my first re-blooming of a dendrobium. It's friend is also making buds, but not as many.

I sat them outside for a couple of hors today, to get more sun. It was overcast and 60s or 70s so perfect for an orchid outing.

Kitchen Garden: Tomatoes

As of today, 9 tomato plants are planted in the new back yard tomato beds. These were beans and garlic last year. Many of the garlic bulbs were missed and came up again. I don't know if they will give decent garlic cloves - but there they are.

The tomato plants were becoming leggy, although a week of indoor/outdoor life had them stickier than they were. It's still too early. With climate change, or random events, is Spring earlier this year?

Most of the The Wall-o-Water units were left over from previous years. I had 3 that were very leaky, so will discard. I bought 3 new ones today. I did not use them last year, but in previous years, they did protet the plants and gave a big boost of growth, early.

Today, temperature inside the Wall-o-Water at ground level was 60F. I forgot to check the soil temperature before planting, but I think it must be above 55F. By legend, if the soil is warm enough to sit on with your bare bottom, then it's OK to plant tomatoes. I don't have a soil thermometer, I just use a room thermometer with a plastic case.

Planted: Lemon Boy (2), Cherokee Purple (2), Better Boy (2), SuperSweet-100, 4th of July, and Northern Exposure. I have a few smaller plants remainig, will likely plant another SuperSweet-100, a Black Pearl, and a Black Truffle.

Kitchen Garden: in the Barrels.

The soil temp in the barrle has remained about 60 degrees for a week. I planted the last "Cayenne", from the January seed plantings. They are kept overnight. The radishes are soon to be done. The Daikon is too big, I've been thinning them and feeding to chickens, the roots stay too skinny to use. It will probably wind up with one or two of those. More peppers, probably, this weekend although the plants are quite small.

Potatoes. The screening wire is there for the cat's pleasure. Well, displeasure - she doesn't like this on her "litter box" so has given up.

The spinach grew nicely! The radish leaves are too big. These are icecycle radishes, still not big enough to eat, but the leaves are very big.

Scallions and mesclun. The carrots remain miniscule. The scallions are Egyptian Walking Onions, and much milder than I remembered. They are great in salads or on new potatoes! I will continue growing them by saving starts each year, they have worked out great! This barrel will likely have peppers and eggplants in another month.

Overall I'm very happy with the barrel planters.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

More orchid lithographs

James Bateman was a landowner and horticulturalist, lived 1811-1897. He created the famous gardens at Biddulph with the aid of his friend and painter of seascapes Edward William Cooke. Bateman published the largest orchid book in his time. Most, but not all, lithographs on this page are from Bateman. All of these photos are from wikimedia commons.

Bateman's book is available here, at

The lithographs are especially beautiful. Many show the entire plant, not just the decapitated flowers. The lithographs were as much about understanding the biology as they were about appreciating the beauty. Most orchids grow on tree branches, although there are nonepiphytic species, so drawings that include tree branches and exposed roots are more revealing and realistic than pictures of blossoms.

Bateman corresponded with Charles Darwin, who was fascinated by orchids (Darwin wrote a monograph on the ways that orchids interact with insects to ensure cross pollination). In January 1862 while researching insect pollination of orchids, Charles Darwin received a package of orchids from the distinguished horticulturist James Bateman, and in a follow up letter with a second package Bateman's son Robert confirmed the names of the specimens, including Angraecum sesquipedale from Madagascar.

The orchid explorers must have had a powerful sense of adventure. Those who grew them back in their own greenhouses, must have been happy to escape into their own world, as well. I think I understand, and would like that as well.

Oncidium chrysothyrsus

Oncidium insleayi or Rossioglossum insleayi

Galeandra Baueri

Dendrobium capillipes (this is from a different reference and is not a American species)

Cattleya schilleriana

A minicattleya

This is a small plant, about 12 inches from bark medium to top of flower. Picked it up at Treader Joes. Despite stating I would not buy more grocery store orchids, I continue to look at them and this is a result. What was different about this was, it's a minicattleya, and I like the flower colors, sort of peachy gold with a brick-red lip.

The leaves aren't the nicest looking, a bit mottled. I'm concluding that is often the case for orchids. The older leaves may well be 1 or 2 years old, possibly older. So they can't always be expected to be perfect.

On getting it home, I turned it out of the pot and cleaned off the roots. Compared to the Cattleya walkeriana, this plant had very healthy looking, plentiful, roots. I cut off a small number of dead-looking roots with a sterile scissors. I potted it back into the original container, but with fresh bark mix. Washed slightly warm water through the medium, then a watering of weak orchid supplement.


I asked on gardenweb if anyone could identify this, orchid forum. They came back with Potinara Achung Yoyo "Little Goldfish". I'm certain that's the correct identification. Here's a google image search. It's identical. With the renaming of many potinaras, this may more correctly be a Rhyncattleanthe Ahchung Yoyo.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Fruit trees: Apple blossoms, tart cherry blooms, pears have set.

Technically, this counts as "Kitchen garden" but I'm keeping the "backyard orchard" in a somewhat separate category. Plus, apple blossoms are ornamental in their own right, even if the trees don't bear fruit. Same for the tree forms, which become increasingly beautiful and gnarled with age, starting fairly early.

Asian pears have set fruit. This is the 3-variety tree planted Spring 2009.

Second variety, different coloration. All 3 have set. Cool! They'll need thinning in a few weeks, I'll keep them to one fruit to a spur.

Golden Delicious. I think this was a semidwarf, not a minidwarf. It is too vigorous. This is the first year with significant blooming. Last year there was one cluster of flowers. This is the best blooming year ever! Cool!

May not look like much, but this was just planted last month. This is Karmijm. We'll see how it looks next year, and the year after. If it blooms, I really should remove any potential fruit, to allow for growth this year. Same for the new Honeycrisp, which as discussed before was little more than a stick with a root. That one will definitely not be allowed to set any fruit this year, if it blooms.
This little tree needs a stake placed before the roots get growing too much, so that I don't damage roots. All minidwarf apple trees need a stake for support.

Jonagold. This is becoming a handsome specimen, with beautiful flowers. Last year was quite fruitful. No every-other-year bearing in this backyard-orchard-culture 'orchard'. About 6 ft tall.
I need to move the stake so that the tree doesn't lean so much. Not a problem now, but she apples weigh it down, I'd like for it to be better balanced.

Liberty. Also increasingly beautiful, year after year. Still only about 5 ft tall.

Northpole. Beautiful specimen! Last summer, fall, winter, I pruned it right, finally! This year I intend to be more diligent about protecting the apples from insects (little socks for the apples), and trim to one apple per spur, and pick them when ripe!

"Surefire" tart cherry (pie cherry). I planted this tree late winter, 2009. It's blooming. How cool is that! Probably not enough this year for a pie, but assuming they set, there'll be enough for a good taste of cherries. Maybe we'll get a pie from in in 2011, at this rate!

The Lilac Dénouement

Lilacs can be slow to bring into bloom. Most of these were either from small, bare-root plants, or from tiny starts that probably originated from tissue culture or cuttings. These have been in the ground here at least 4 or 5 years. Earlier, I gave them a boost of fish emulsion, hoping that it would stimulate growth for next year. The older lilacs have bloomed for a few years, but this is the first time for several. Our intent, was a blooming hedge for some privacy. They are not yet to that stage.

Nice purple. Fragrant.

Nice white. We cheated - it was purchased last year at the Lilac gardens, and was already in bloom at the time.

I've been carefully pruning this lilac to reduce height. Lat year it was 3 feet taller, with the flowers out of reach. I'll take of a few of the taller stems this year as well. It might be a good time to do so now, with the flowers kept as bouquets.
This shrub was probably 15 feet tall, maybe more. It was more tree, than shrub.

When open, this will have white edges on magenta flowers.

Old fashioned lilac-colored lilacs.

This was the first. It's oversized for the location, so after blooming will be pruned back, and root pruned, in anticipation of transplanting.

Kitchen garden log. Tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, and lemons.

Tomatoes and peppers. They are now spending their days outside in the sun, but brought inside at night. Still under 50 F at night, so too early to plant. Tomatoes require 50-degree F nights, and Peppers require 55-degree. Interesting to note, thermometer in barrel planter shows 60-degrees soil temp overnight. I might do an experiment with one of the peppers, planting it in the barrel and covering it at night. We'll see.

Potatoes are growing. The last ones to start were on the shadier side. The warm sun makes a difference.

The eggplants were the slowest to get started - still not ready for individual pots, but now both varieties have sprouted and some are on their second leaf (first true leaf). It's still early, so I think they should be fine.

Not sure what to do about this. Meyer lemon, basically neglected it all winter, in south window, dry. Most of the leaves fell off. Then it bloomed, and now has lemons. It's on the deck now, made it through a 31 degree night.

Oncidium plants from backbulbs

The 3 little plants in front of the larger one, are starts from backbulbs taken last summer. I used the "sphag & bag" technique, which involves no more than placing the severed backbulbs in a zip-lock bag containing moist (not soggy) sphagnum moss, and leaving it in a bright but not full-sun location. I had them on an East-facing windowsill.

As time passed, each sprouted new growth. Wide range of when this happened, from about a month to about 6 months. The fastest one came from 2 connected backbulbs, and was the youngest as well. I do admit to watering the psuedobulb itself with the "weakly weekly" diluted plant food that I feed the other orchids with, thinking that some of the minerals may be absorbed into the plant indirectly. This watering has occurred only since the pseudobulbs were removed from the sphanum ziplock bags. Each had almost no roots at the start.

Now they are all growing, and putting out roots as well as top growth. Fun project.

Close up of the parent plant. It did not bloom this year. What I thought was a flower spike, was a new pseudobulb. I may have given it too-good care. Certainly, the 2 most recent pseudobulbs are the largest, with the most leaves, compared to any prior ones. Maybe I should neglect it a bit more.

I enjoy watching the new roots sprout and work their way down into the bark mixture. Almost like they would in nature.

This appears to be an Oncidium, but who knows? From Wikimedia Commons here. Original from Source: Nordisk familjebok (1907), vol.7, Till art. Epifyter. So, it's about epiphytes. I like how it shows the plants in their original ecosystem.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Day Off". Orchid Blogging.

Repotted one of the Paphiopedilum plants. It turned out to be two plants in one pot. I was disappointed, because instead of one robust plant, it was 2 smaller plants. Even so, I guess it means a additional acquisition. They were not identical - one has more mottled leaf appearance. They are now in the same potting mix as my other orchids. As terrestrial orchids, they'll need watering a bit more often, but I like this mix. I sprayed the leaves with neem after potting, to give them a little protection. It also give the leaves a healthy-looking satin glow.

My photos were blurry, so here are some 19th century lithographs instead.

English: Lawrence's Paphiopedilum var. viride(1896)Source Lindenia Iconographie des Orchidées via wikimedia commons. It looks like these were originally classified as Cypripedium, but the appearance is clearly like the modern Paphiopedilum Maudii hybrid.

I'm surprised at how much these look like the modern hybrids.

Paphiopedilum superbiens, originally labeled as Cypripedium. Same source of illustration.

This is how the repotted Paphiopedilum plants look now. I wanted a record here for future reference.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Orchid Lithographs

These old lithographs are genuine treasures. They were published at a time when growing orchids was a hobby for the wealthy, who could grow them in their own greenhouses. The key as to which orchid is what, is here in Wikipedia.

Epiphyte house at Knypersley-Bateman

The above lithograph is by Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel , a German biologist, this photo 1860 from wikipedia.
Haeckel and his assistant von Miclucho-Maclay Canary Islands, 1866. From Wikipedia, "an eminent German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor and artist who discovered, described and named thousands of new species, mapped a genealogical tree relating all life forms, and coined many terms in biology, including phylum, phylogeny, ecology and the kingdom Protista. Haeckel promoted and popularized Charles Darwin's work in Germany and developed the controversial recapitulation theory ("ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny") claiming that an individual organism's biological development, or ontogeny, parallels and summarizes its species' entire evolutionary development, or phylogeny." Which is still taught today. Also typical for learned men of his time, he had generic ideas that we now rightfully consider racist. I like to think that, if he lived today, he would have seen those ideas as profoundly flawed, while expanding on his evolutionary studies.

I especially like the illustrations that show the entire plant, roots, stems, leaves, and flowers, such as this Laelia speciosa by Bateman, in 1840. This drawing is one of my favorites, showing the roots attached to a branch, and the elegant form of the plant and its flower.

Oncidium micropogon, from Curtis's Botanical magazine, 1887. A typical drawing for the series. These drawings could be used to identify the plants, even today, as well as a photo. Somewhere, I read that the flowers resemble local bees, and that on seeing them tremble in the wind, a bee becomes agitated and attacks the 'foreign invaders'. This attack leads to transfer of pollen, ensuring the next generation. I don't know if this scenario is accurate, but I do see the resemblence.

My collection contains one plant similar to this variety, but the 'bee mimicry' is less obvious.

Oncidium longicornu, also from Curtis's Botanical magazine, 1842Any variety that I grow will doubtless be a hybrid, and also doubtless much easier to grow, compared to these freshly collected species plants. Even so, it's possible that my plants could be descended from these.

Dendrobium nobile, from John Lindley's Sertum orchidaceum (1838-1841). Also from wikipedia, "It is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it has the name shí hú (Chinese: 石斛) or shí hú lán (Chinese: 石斛兰)."