Mid-February post(s)

kalanchoe flower - a look up its skirts to see the green anthersI didn’t think that I’d do a bloom day post this month. I’m a day late and there’s another slushy winter storm-let blowing around outside. But then I walked into the greenhouse, which smells so heavenly that there was no way I could ignore the blooms. I walked in and thought, “I could do a whole post on Kalanchoes.” (Even though they’re not fragrant.) They’re just starting to open and it would be good for me to do a little research again to figure out just what we have. (There are only about a gajillion of these things and probably half of them, including these have been given a new name by now. – There’s another post topic…) I took a guess on their names from a quick peruse of the b&w photos in our enormous, moldy, vintage copy of Exotica 3: Pictorial Cyclopedia of Exotic Plants by A.B. Graf. Please let me know if my guesses are wrong – or if they might have been right in 1963.

Kalanchoe pinnata ??Kalanchoe gastonis-bonieri ??

Sweet olive (Osmanthus fragrans)And then I walked around the corner and thought, “I could do a whole post on Sweet olive.” I’d like to figure out why ours always looks so beat. I know Osmanthus fragrans don’t love to be fertilized, so we haven’t tormented it that way in a while. But I think it looked better last winter when I really made an effort to let it dry out between watering. Apparently this year I had trouble shifting gears for proper winter culture… Regardless of how it looks, it smells divine and sometimes (right now) that’s really the most important thing.

What really deserves its own post is the Gunnera tinctoria. I guess none of the horror-show growth on this thing is a flower so it hardly counts for bloom day. Whatever, right? New leaves are just starting to emerge and they have such a bizzaro look to them that I’m just as captivated as if it had me pinned on its spikes. I’m not sure what the swirly whirl of pinkish tinged … tentacles are. Leaves? Bracts? And what is the red… oozing … finger-like thing?? Is it a root or rhyzome in search of soil? I know it’s not a flower part because my books say the flowers are born on tall panicles (can’t wait for that!) It’s probably a good thing that gunnera isn’t hardy here or I’d be tempted to tear down my house to make room for one in my garden. (What use is a house to a gardener anyway?) Does anyone grow this plant or can any of you shed some light on the meaning of these parts?

gunnera leaves?gunnera growth

Thanks, as always to Carol from May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day every month on the 15th. Click on the link for a look at what’s in bloom around the world. Since it’s the 16th, and the Gunnera is all about foliage, I’m going to cheat and join Foliage Follow-Up at Digging too. Thanks, Pam!

4 thoughts on “Mid-February post(s)

  1. That photo of gunnera growth is kinda fun. Looks like some exotic underwater creature!

    Kim, It’s the kind of underwater creature I wouldn’t ever want to tangle with… But I do love it partly because it’s so dangerous looking. -kris

  2. The kalanchoe on the left is Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi, one of my favorites; the one on the right IS Kalanchoe Gastonis bonnieri from Madagascar, aka “Donkey Ears”; the variegation on the leaves are sometimes called “mule spots.” Babies sprout from the tips of the ears. They’re also one of my favorites. Both are highly preferable to the ubiquitous paddle plants. I’m in the dark on the gunnera – that’s creepy. It’s the sort of thing you want to poke.

    As for a bloom day report, I went out and saw some “fiber-optic glow plugs” popping out from my Salix ‘Mt. Aso’ start, Kris. Truly everything you said they were. Thanks.

    Susan, thanks for those I.D.s! One out of two ain’t bad and now they’re both properly labeled. And I’m so glad to hear about your pussywillow – especially because I needed reminding to check on ours. The buds on ours have just unsheathed and are just tinged red at the bottom. It will be post-worthy as soon as it colors up a little more and the breeze dies down… -kris

  3. That gunnera is out of this world. What is that red finger thingie indeed? I hope it doesn’t eat you, Kris. 😉

    Thanks for joining in for Foliage Follow-Up!

    Thank you, Pam for providing the forum! -kris

  4. I love growing gunnera! They are absolutely fabulous plants…. I think those are a form of roots, I’ve seen it once before. You’ll have to keep us updated with how it looks in the summer.

    DGG, I will for sure. Poor thing will have been in that pot for 2 years by then… But I can’t imagine what it would do if we actually planted it. Actually, I can imagine it and am a little scared. -kris

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