Posts Tagged 'summer dormancy'

A fall-blooming Arum species

Fall bloomers always catch my attention – not only do they provide interest and color when a lot of other plants are still just waking up from summer-dry semi (or total) dormancy, but they also celebrate what I consider to be the ‘start’ of the natural year in mediterranean climates – Arum pictum, courtesy of Plant Delights Nursery when the rainy season begins!

Arum pictum, the only fall blooming in its genus, is a plant I’d like to grow someday soon. Not often available, I’ve yet to be able to acquire it, nor have I heard from anyone who might be growing it in California – to see how it adapts to our local conditions.  I like the idea of a fall blooming Arum, with the flowers opening at the same time that the foliage is fresh  (the other spring bloomers flower when the foliage is looking tired or already starting to go dormant).
Here is what the famous authority of the genus Arum, Peter Boyce,  has to say about this species:

“The leaves of A. pictum display a variety of colours, depending on the stage of development reached. On first emerging they are a deep, shiny, metallic green, with the margins . . . tinged with purple. As the leaf expands the purple . . . coloration fades while the main and lateral veins become slightly paler; the margin however retains its coloration. As the season progresses . . . the veins continue to lighten until late spring, when they stand out as a creamy-white to silvery-grey network. The late season coloration of A. pictum leaves is similar to the silver-grey veining of many forms of A. italicum, although the leaf shape is very different. In view of this similarity it is hardly surprising that these two plants have been much confused in the past. In addition to its attractive foliage, A. pictum produces spathes at the start of the growth period in the autumn, a flowering pattern which is unique to this species.
Arum pictum was first described by Linnaeus the younger from material gathered on Corsica, where it occurs in stony or rocky places or beneath low scrub.”

If anyone reading this has experience with growing this species, I’d be most interested in hearing from you – especially if you know of a source for this interesting plant .

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The heat of summer


Fontaine et panorama, originally uploaded by ThéoBoy.

We recently had a very serious brief heat wave – after most of the summer being shrouded by our pacific ocean fog. It was a relief to finally have some sunny weather but the intensity of the heat took us by surprise! Very unusual for our area, but it made me recall that many other parts of the mediterranean climate can routinely receive hot dry temps during the summer months.
This warm dry period is actually our dormant season and usually a time we’d like to also be dormant in the garden. ‘Mad dogs and Englishmen’ as they say. It makes a lot of practical sense to plant your garden with species that will not be trying to come into their peak during these difficult months. The lack of water (we get no rain for 6 straight months!) also makes gardeners appreciate this precious commodity. Rather than huge artificial waterfalls and spraying fountains (both of which evaporate far too much water) it is still pleasant to have a quiet bit or water play in the summer garden in mediterranean climate regions, especially if one can easy put a hand into its coolness while passing by.

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The arrival of Naked Ladies (Amaryllis belladonna)


Amaryllis belladonnas, August 2002, originally uploaded to flickr by amarguy.

These pink divas always seem to always arrive earlier than we thought they did in years past – perhaps because they always catch us unaware! And their incongruously candy pink color and sweet fragrance belie their tenacious toughness. Personally, I love how they signal the coming arrival of our mediterranean fall – what seems the start of the gardening year to me, when things ‘come back to life’ after our summer dormant period (the warmest and driest months of the year). Excitement builds as the skies tease at releasing some long awaited rainfall, and many plants seem to know of this impending arrival of a change in weather, starting to put on new buds, leaves, flowers. Fall/winter is certainly our growing season, and many species are rushing to get their seeds produced just in time for the start of the rainy seasons.

It’s all so exciting!

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A blog by Seán A. O'Hara

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