Year 2015

1st March

As planned and hoped, begins with a nice flowered snowdrops the season 2015. The melting snow and him, without too much waiting, check the grass and flowers for the first time by stealing at all … even to spring …


beautiful pink and in single file, exactly as they were planted, these Darwin, were the first to go, ahead of even the old ones more mature! Directly from the floating flower market in Amsterdam (Thanks Christiana for gift!), To the hills of Emilia Romagna, the step was short …


Out of every rule these tulips have blossomed with incredible lag behind all others. They are called Ice Cream and have the shape of an ice cream and see them for the first time in his own garden was an immense satisfaction!

I thought flourish in the fridge;-)

All together with a few cm from each other.

By mid-May here is also amaryllis, with all their elegance, beauty and charm … the speed with which they grew was really amazing … From  Netherlands to the sun in 40 days …


In June, and this is the first poppy with its deep red leaves almost no photograph

and with poppies, other small and colorful summer flowers that were waiting with happiness!


Should be white sunflowers but, as you can see from the picture, the yellowish is not exactly disappeared altogether. This hybrid sunflower nice result in the end is a nice large daisy high, for now, one and a half m. approx and the clear color!


Despite the heat and the sun of late July, finally the time has come gladiolus. The bulbs of these towering and colorful flowers arrive from Keukenhof, the famous park of Dutch flowers. Around there, in a small kiosk, one afternoon in late April, I saw them, bought and planted just got home … Here are the results after a few months 🙂

All you need to know about Tulbaghia violacea

Native to South Africa, Tulbaghia violacea is a rustic plant with a bushy habit.

The plant belongs to the Alliaceae family and is very similar to chives and garlic. Its leaves are narrow and long, its flowers are purple and small in size. Both the stems and the leaves are also used in cooking and its particularly strong aroma can be used as a substitute for garlic.

It is an evergreen plant, although in winter the leaves tend to turn yellow and dry, so it is advisable to prune in late winter.

Cultivation

Violet tulbaghia is an easily cultivable plant, not very demanding and does not require particular maintenance. It can be grown in two ways, namely:

1- Cultivation in pots, therefore ideal for decorating balconies and terraces as well as any other areas of the house where you want to create a corner dedicated to plants.

2- Cultivation in pots, therefore ideal for decorating balconies and terraces as well as any other areas of the house where you want to create a corner dedicated to plants.

The Tulbaghia violacea does not adapt very well to low temperatures and is especially afraid of frost. In the case of cultivation in pots, it is best to repair it in periods when the cold is more severe and night frosts are frequent. In addition, the plant prefers sunny places, so it should be placed in a space where it can receive sunlight for several hours a day. It adapts well to any type of soil, but it is essential that it is well drained. If grown in the ground it is satisfied with rainwater, if instead it is grown in pots it must be watered every 15 days. Better not to abound with watering, too much water can compromise flowering. As mentioned, therefore, it does not require too much maintenance. The only trick is to use granular fertilizer once a year.

Diseases and parasites
It resists quite well to attacks by cochineal and aphids. But if the soil is not properly drained it can cause the roots to rot, therefore it is essential to absolutely avoid water stagnation.

Curiosity

Tulbaghia is a source of attraction for butterflies, and is optimal for creating a garden with a remarkable visual impact. Its flowers and leaves are also used in cooking, for example in the preparation of salads, they can replace garlic or chives. It performs a very useful function against mosquitoes, fleas and ticks and is ideal for the pollination of moths. One last curiosity, in some parts of the world tulbaghia is even used as an aphrodisiac.

Streptocarpus: characteristics, care and curiosities

In the continuous search for something new, many growers and garden lovers document themselves on some types of plants with a particular appearance and with particular structural characteristics. Among the many specimens proposed by mother nature, it is worth dwelling on Streptocarpus, a type of plant that in many respects is similar to the mythical African violet.

Among the flowers that grow luxuriantly and not easy to find from the point of view of beauty, it is worth mentioning the species Streptocarpus. The latter is in fact a plant belonging to the Gesneriaceae family, native to Africa and Madagascar, although some specimens grow well in Asia. That said, it should also be added that Streptocarpus flowers can be found in red (a relatively recent addition to the hybridizers), blue, purple, yellow, white and orange. They are also typically borne on vertical stems, hovering over the plant’s flat, textured leaves, and appear single-flowered per stem or multiple.

Cultivation

To cultivate the Streptocarpus in the best way and admire its varied range of colors it is necessary to optimize some aspects. In the first place it must be said that this specimen grows very well on rocky slopes, a little shaded or on the banks of rivers, even if it sometimes propagates on fallen tree trunks or even between the joints of the rocks. Growing Streptocarpus on a window sill is however possible as long as there is enough natural light or fluorescent tubes are set up. Secondly, it must be considered that the soil should be loose, well drained and rich in humus. For this reason, a liquid fertilizer that is generally used to fertilize the African violet is a good option to optimize the growth of the plant and its flowering, while ensuring the latter is constant and strong. On the sidelines it should also be added that the Streptocarpus can be propagated both by seed and by cutting. In the first case, the seeds should be distributed over a sterile mixture and in a well-lit and warm area. In the second case, however, the procedure is similar to the one used for all types of plants.

Diseases and treatments

Some plant species complain of annual death of leaves turning brown from tip to middle. All this is therefore part of the norm, but in the case of Streptocarpus specimens to cultivate them healthier and more flowery they must be treated regularly by treating them with specific pesticides for cochineals which represent the only insects that can attack the plant in a violent way. However, other diseases such as fungal ones must be avoided, and therefore it is always advisable to guarantee the plant regular watering to minimize the accumulation of water that favors the proliferation of spores.

Curiosity

The basic Streptocarpus is a plant specimen that has violet-colored flowers and it is for this reason that it is compared to the African violet. However, thanks to the skill of expert gardeners, it is possible to purchase some very interesting species precisely in relation to the color of the flowers; in fact, there are hybrids that have an intense red or a delicate pastel pink.

Nemophila: blue eyes

Among the particularly resistant annual plants that reach medium heights and therefore also ideal for growing in pots, there is certainly Nemophila. It is also important to underline that this specimen belonging to the Boraginaceae family, in the growth phase, is of great use to set up rock gardens or to delimit their borders. Particular characteristics of its flowers and minimal maintenance make Nemophila one of the most appreciated plants by gardeners.

The plant with the botanical name Nemophila is native to California and in particular to its bay area, although it grows well in many other regions with a mild climate. Opting for this specimen means creating a spectacular bed of soft blue or white flowers which among other things also attract important garden pollinators. Butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects use its nectar as food. Having said this, it should also be added that the Nemophila being a shrubby plant with low diffusion with stems and flowers with six curved blue petals, it is suitable as part of a garden cultivated with other specimens of the most varied pastel shades. The plant is also easy to grow and requires very little care.

Cultivation

Nemophila is easy to grow starting from seed. Specifically, just choose a sunny area or in partial shade and possibly sheltered from the wind. That said, it should also be added that the plant prefers sandy and grainy soils and has a certain tolerance to drought. In fact, light sandy loam makes for a better seedbed as it performs excellent drainage. Keeping it slightly moist until germination is however essential for optimizing the result intended in terms of luxuriant growth of this specimen. The plant, as previously mentioned, does not require special care, and does not need fertilizers if grown in areas with a soil already rich in organic substances.

Diseases and treatments

Diseases and parasites are rarely present in Nemophila as it is a specimen that does not live long enough to attract the main threats represented by aphids and fungal spores. Although it is an easy plant to grow, there are nevertheless two problems that are worth paying attention to. The first is to avoid excessive irrigation; in fact, if the leaves get too wet they could irremediably die. The second, on the other hand, concerns the removal from plants prone to mold since Nemophila could also develop it. If this condition occurs, the plant must be removed to prevent the problem from spreading to other specimens.

Curiosity

Apart from its botanical name with a clear Latin imprint, the Nemophila also boasts a colorful nickname in relation to the soft blue color of its flowers; in fact, the plant is commonly called blue eyes. The bluish flowering of this specimen, among other things, manifests itself quickly, so much so that the first specimens appear within about six weeks of sowing.

Torenia fournieri: the colorful flowers with long flowering

Setting up your garden or terrace with ornamental plants and unique features is certainly a good option to make settings attractive and finely decorated. In this regard, it is worth mentioning Torenia Fournieri which, due to its flower color and versatility, is suitable for different types of cultivation. Among the various types of plants belonging to the Scrofulariaceae family, one of the most beautiful of all is certainly Torenia Fournieri, native to the tropical areas of Africa and Asia.

Among other things, it is an annual specimen that includes several species, some of which can also be grown as perennials. The most common variety in Italy is the Torenia Fournieri, which is a small plant characterized by densely branched fleshy stems covered with a large number of leaves. Unlike many others, these compact plants grow well even in areas with partial shade, and the flowers are trumpet-shaped and available in different shades of color although the most common are dark blue-violet and lavender with yellow spots. Inside each flower, a pair of stamens (the thin stems) unite in a shape that resembles a quadrilateral from which the plant’s common name derives.

Cultivation methods

In order for the typical Torenia Fournieri flowers to grow from seed, it is first necessary to prepare the latter six to eight weeks before the advent of winter frost. Having said that, it should also be added that the seeds can be sprouted both in terracotta pots and in peat pots to be planted in warm climates even in the embankment of a garden. However, it is essential not to cover the seeds too much with soil as they need light to develop. The soil, however, must be kept slightly humid, therefore with regular watering, and must have a fertile and clayey soil with a slightly acidic pH. However, good drainage is essential to prevent root rot. On the sidelines, it is important to emphasize that to keep the flowering of Torenia Fournieri luxuriant, it must be supplied during the growing season (from spring to autumn) with a liquid fertilizer or slow release granular fertilizer.

Diseases and treatments

Torenia Fournieri is a plant that generally does not have major problems with pests or diseases. However it is susceptible to the formation of fungal spores such as powdery mildew which can discolor and damage the leaves and stems. Providing this specimen with optimal growing conditions and good air circulation will help prevent most of the aforementioned problems. Furthermore, it should be noted that some common garden pests including aphids and whiteflies can be potential predators of the flowers produced by this specimen.

Curiosity

Torenia Fournieri at first glance expresses a unique beauty, since it is a specimen characterized by abundant blooms and small trumpet-shaped flowers of various shades and ideal for decorating a terrace with suspended vases. However, one of the most popular features of Torenia Fournieri is linked to the fact that the flowers that appear in the first days of spring remain in sight until summer, and in some areas with a mild climate even until the beginning of autumn.

Gypsophila: the plaster flower

Native to Asia and belonging to the Caryophyllaceae family, Gypsophila is a very heat resistant plant, so much so that it prefers full sun to spread. This specimen has an erect and bushy habit, and is also available in Europe. Depending on the variety, it resists winter frost, while in the case of the annual type it grows rapidly if sown outdoors in April and then blooms from June onwards. Perennial forms, on the other hand, are plants with deep and long-lived roots that need a lot of sun and a lot of space to spread. Depending on the species, the flowers are white, pastel pink or red and have lanceolate and thin leaves of a silvery green color, so it is a plant with an indisputable ornamental appearance. Gypsophila makes a good border filler and is also suitable for mixed flower beds, pots and containers. However, there are many gardeners who prefer to grow it in rock gardens or on gravel.

Cultivation methods

Gypsophila can be grown with both exposed and sheltered east, west or south exposure. The ideal is to sow it on well-drained and non-acidic soils, and to prevent root rot from occurring, the soil should be optimized by opting, for example, for chopped peat or gravel. From this it is clear that the waterings must be regular and periodically enriched with a liquid fertilizer of the standard type as it is ideal to help it grow healthy and luxuriant. To maximize the result, it should also be added that it is advisable to prune in late autumn by cutting the stems after flowering, so that the next one is even more dense.

Diseases and treatments

With regard to diseases, it must be immediately said that Gypsophila in this sense is at zero risk; in fact, the only real care is to limit stem rot, thus avoiding that the soil remains excessively wet after watering. In rainy periods, however, it is preferable to sprinkle dry leaves on the cultivation surface in order to optimize drainage. The possible presence of aphids can be remedied by opting for non-chemical pesticides that can be found in nurseries or on the best online sales stores.

Curiosity

Available as an annual, perennial and rock garden plant, Gypsophila represents the optimum in terms of cultivation. The first type (Gypsophila elegans) is in fact excellent for marking a border, as it produces a delicate mass of tiny blooms and foliage from the beginning of summer. As for the second variety (Gypsophila paniculata), it must be said that it is a popular perennial plant that can also be used to delimit the boundaries of a verdant context, and is much loved for its enchanting floating clouds composed of tiny flowers present throughout. the summer.

Scaevola: the “left-handed” flower

Some plant specimens such as Scaevola are the delight of many gardeners looking for heat-resistant plants that are ideal for growing in the summer. The aforementioned plant with its thick stems guarantees the best drought tolerance in full sun and is ideal for growing in hanging pots, so its delicate palm-shaped blooms can be observed up close. Known botanically as Scaevola Aemula, this fan-shaped plant belonging to the Goodeniaceae family is a herbaceous and shrubby specimen native to Australia and New Guinea.

The name clearly deriving from the Latin means “left-handed”, referring to the one-sided nature of the flowers. Among other things, it is a very drought-resistant plant and suitable for growing in containers, hanging baskets, rock gardens or simply in a garden. All types of Scaevola have white, pink or purple-blue flowers in the shape of a half fan and with five petals just like the fingers of the hand. Growing this specimen is not difficult at all, so it is necessary to follow the routine operations typical of gardening.

Cultivation methods

Scaevola plants in hot climates are able to propagate without any fall of flowers and do not require special fertilization, but when this does not happen, it is usually due to excessive irrigation or poor soil drainage. To optimize the yield in terms of flowering, however, it is important to choose a site with full to partial sun, and to opt for a rich soil even if the one of medium fertility is fine. Scaevola plants need occasional watering as in case of excessive humidity they can attract midges or undergo root rot. It is therefore advisable to wait until the surface of the soil is dry enough before proceeding with a new irrigation. Accustomed to the lean growing conditions typical of the native Australian climate, Scaevola plants require only a balanced low-phosphorus flower fertilizer, which if excessive can cause discoloration of flowers and leaves. Applying the fertilizer once a month during the growing season is to maximize the result. On the sidelines it is important to underline that the Scaevola can also be propagated by cutting; in fact, it is sufficient to immerse the end of the cut in the rooting hormone and insert it in a sterile soil, avoiding excessive watering in order not to run the risk of fungal diseases.

Diseases and treatments

Like many native Australian specimens, Scaevola does not suffer from pest related problems. Plants stressed by a long drought, however, can attract thrips, and in this case it is best to avoid spraying the plant with insect repellents, since the specimen in question represents an important source of nectar for butterflies.

Curiosity

For those who decide to decorate a terrace with hanging pots or a garden flowerbed with Scaevola, it is important to know that depending on the species, flowers of various shades can be obtained. To give some examples, the series called Fata presents compact plants 15 cm high in blue, pink or white. The Fanfare series, on the other hand, offers many lavender blue flowers during the growing season, while those defined as Carpet form a dense covering of the ground making the context unique and very refined.

Sparaxis:the harlequin flowers

Ideal for decorating green spaces, flower beds or lively gardens, the Sparaxis (Iridaceae) are native to South Africa and are able to flourish in the Mediterranean climate of Italy. Recognizable for their lanceolate basal leaves and incredibly bright colors, these specimens boast a height of about 10-30 centimeters and an incredible resistance to temperatures close to zero. Sparaxis are also odorless, although this element does not affect the pleasantness of this species. Their trademark? The center (red or black) is surrounded by a sparse and very colorful spike with six petals. The elegans variant is usually white / orange, the grandiflora species stands out for its deep and suggestive purple, while the tricolor has shades of orange, red and pink. The floral rainbow therefore allows you to set up a charming, elegant and personalized garden. We also remember that the plant in question was studied and cataloged for the first time by the botanical researcher John Bellenden Ker Gawler (1764-1842).

How to grow Sparaxis?

Although Sparaxis are able to survive low temperatures for long periods, it is important to remember that regular watering and fertilizing are always mandatory. After flowering, we recommend extracting the bulbs from the soil to store them in a dark and not very humid place; this simple precaution will allow you to replant them in spring (10-11 weeks before flowering). How? It will be sufficient to use a soft, fertilized and well-drained soil to place the bulbs at a depth of no more than 8-10 centimeters. To obtain a pictorial and suggestive effect, it is better to arrange the flowers at a close distance: the final effect will be flashy and impactful. The Sparaxis also love sunny or slightly shady areas: as they come from an arid and very hot area, it is in fact important to let the soil dry before proceeding with watering. An excess of humidity dulls and degrades the colors of these specimens, negatively affecting their health. In addition to what has been said, it is recommended to use a dose of liquid fertilizer for flowers monthly, trying to maintain an overall temperature of not less than about 8-9 ° C.

Diseases and pests – How to cure Sparaxis?

The enemies of the Sparaxis depend to a large extent on the type of plantation that is preferred. Ground cultivation risks being damaged by the proliferation of fungi that form in the event of water stagnation and / or excessive humidity. Home or balcony growing is often resistant to attack, as well as capable of preserving its extraordinary beauty season after season. Sparaxis are also sensitive to thrips, one of the most annoying problems of indoor gardening. To avoid colonization of the plants, it will be sufficient to eliminate the dead leaves and occasionally disinfect the floriculture tools.

Curiosities about the Sparaxis

Knowing the meaning behind the name of a flower allows you to understand the tradition that has been handed down to the present day. Sparaxis comes from the ancient Greek “sparasso” whose translation is to break, to tear. The reason is not clear, but it is likely it was connected to the intensive cultivation connected to the beauty of the specimens (which were therefore collected from the ground). Sparaxis are also harlequin flowers: after all, being eclectic and charming they couldn’t be called otherwise!

Kolkwitzia:the flower of maternal tenderness

It is not easy to try to beautify your garden or terrace without running into the “usual” plants. The suggestion is to include in the project one or more plants of Kolkwitzia amabilis, wonderful on the ground, in large pots and as an unusual fence hedge. Kolkwitzia (scientific name Linnaea amabilis) comes from China and is a perennial deciduous shrub that is part of the Caprifoliaceae family. Kolkwitzia amabilis has medium size (2-3 m high) and usually has a rounded shape. Its showy and abundant flowering occurs in May or June (depending on the climatic bands) and lasts a few weeks. The flowers are grouped in clusters and are shaped like small funnels, white or pale pink with a golden yellow central part. The stem is short and very branched. The leaves, with slightly wavy margins, are dark green on the upper page and lighter on the lower one and, in autumn, before the fall they become golden-yellow.
The cultivation of Kolkwitzia is quite simple: the shrub is planted in October-November or in March in well-drained soil, rich in organic matter and clay. It is therefore necessary to treat the soil in advance by adding universal soil, sand and a little organic fertilizer or humus. Its best exposure is in full sun or partially in shade and sheltered from the wind which can cause weakening to the point of compromising the health of the plant. Kolkwitzia does not fear low temperatures, on the contrary, its cultivation can take place in areas with a harsh winter climate. During the juvenile phase the plants require frequent, but not too abundant watering to keep the soil moist; during flowering the plants need regular watering, while during the rest of the growing season watering must be more sporadic. Fertilization can be slow-release, that is, using granular fertilizer every 3-4 months or using manure at the end of winter.
In spring it prefers fertilizers rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to favor the new vegetation of flowers. In order to maintain a harmoniously shaped shrub every year, a deep pruning of about one third of the length of the stems is useful after flowering. The multiplication can be done by division of the tufts or by cutting. The division of the tufts, to be carried out in autumn, allows to multiply the perennials into already autonomous plants. Bushes with well-developed roots are divided and buried in pots at the time of collection using a substrate of peat and sand. After about a year, these new plants can be planted in their final position, be it on the ground or in a larger pot. Instead, in summer (July or August), using very sharp and disinfected shears, 15-20 cm cuttings can be taken.
They are obtained from the lateral branches that have not produced flowers and are planted in a substrate of peat mixed with sand; after the formation of the roots, the cuttings are transplanted in the nursery and the cultivation lasts over a year before being planted (October). Kolkwitzia is a decidedly robust shrub, but it can be attacked by fungal diseases such as white sickness, typical of areas with high humidity. It is necessary to take action to avoid water stagnation, while more targeted treatments of pesticides or antifungals are to be carried out only in case of need.
In the language of flowers, Kolkwitzia symbolizes maternal tenderness and the sweetness of youth. The British call this “beauty bush” for its beauty and elegance. Its scent is rather light, but it is curious how on rainy days it gives off a clear fragrance of spices.

Protea Cynaroides: the symbolic flower of South Africa

Protea Cynaroides is native to Africa, a continent in which the characteristics are very different from the climatic point of view compared to those present in Italy, there may be difficulties in cultivation in the garden or even inside the pot. First, shrubs have a tendency to empty at the bottom over time, which means fewer flowers. To prevent this from happening, you must be very careful, in particular take care of a pruning that must be followed up to the ground. In this way, the plant is stimulated to produce new branches which, above all, will be more vigorous. Coming from a very sultry climate in which there is exposure to the sun for long hours of the day, Protea Cynaroides requires a very sunny environment. However, this does not mean that it suffers particularly the winter months as long as the temperatures do not drop below freezing. If you are growing Protea Cynaroides in an area where the temperature normally drops below this limit during the winter, you need to protect it with a cloth or something that can maintain a slightly higher temperature. An optimal solution could be to repair it in a greenhouse during the winter period. Another feature that must be taken into consideration to best cultivate the plant is to proceed with a very sustained watering from spring to autumn. It is necessary to water regularly, but be careful not to overdo it, in particular the soil must always remain dry. During the other periods of the year no further precautions are necessary as the rains are sufficient. Finally, as regards the soil, it is better to plant the Protea Cynaroides in an area characterized by dry and well-drained soils. In the case of cultivation in pots, a soil with high percentages of sand and pumice stone must be obtained.

Diseases and treatments

By virtue of its characteristics this plant is almost never attacked by parasites for which diseases are very rare.

Curiosity

Among the most interesting curiosities related to the Protea Cynaroides, there is the one relating to the origin of the name. In fact, the plant was studied and cataloged for the first time in 1735 by Linnaeus who was inspired in the choice of the name by the famous Greek god Proteus. The reason why he chose this name is linked to the myth of Prometheus who was the son of Poseidon, god of the sea. Proteus was capable of changing his own shape and transforming himself into everything. Linnaeus, studying this ability on the part of the plant to change its primordial appearance until the moment it blooms, decided to call it Protea.