Floral Treats

James Waddick jwaddick@kc.rr.com
Mon, 24 May 2010 15:15:07 PDT
Dear Friends,
	After weeks of unseasonable chill and damp, the sun has come 
out and temps near 90 (same for humidity). This has triggered some 
much awaited bloom.

1.	Helicodiceros musciverous. 	I have written a few years 
ago about trying this in the ground here and surprised at its 
survival. You can still Google this and find it is only hardy to Zone 
9/ 10. It has survived at least 4 years and perhaps longer, but this 
year after a long cold continuous chill it came up strong and has 
bloomed yesterday. The incredible (and incredibly stinky) flower 
(inflorescence) is one of nature's wonders. Perfectly shaped to 
resemble the rotted rear end of a dead horse (as it is commonly 
known). The spathe spreads wide in a putrid sort of pink color. The 
hairy tail-like spadix emerges from a hole (no imagery needed here) 
and flies swarm too it like candy. The odor is as bad as you can 
imagine for rotting flesh.

	Considering its often reported tenderness I am thrilled to 
have a blooming plant in the garden, stink and all.

2.	Dracunculus vulgaris	Closely related to the above in odor 
and as another Aroid, this is a far more common plant in my climate. 
I have 4 good sized clumps that bloom regularly. Two flowers open 
yesterday and continue perfuming the garden today. The flowers are 
well over a foot long and half that width looking like a slab of meat 
that has gone 'off'.  But the color is rich and robust with a deep 
black imposing spadix to offset the weirdness. I have at least 6 
flowers to go and anticipate each wonder as they open.

	Recently Tony Avent, Tom Mitchell, Alan Galloway travelled to 
Crete and Tony posted photos of this species in the wild with white 
spathes, yellow spadix and a range of marbled colors as much as 6 ft 
tall. Wow! Check out his Plant Delights blog if you haven't already.

3. 	Sisyrinchium patagonicum	On a much smaller scale. I've 
tried a variety of South American Yellow Flowered Sisyrinchium and 
none have proven hardy in my climate until now (I wish S. striatum 
'Aunt May' was hardier). After starting from seed last year and 
planting out in mid-summer, the resulting plants have produced a 
number of small yellow star-like flowers of bright clear yellow. A 

	The flowers are one and one half times as big (but still 
small) as our common (weedy) 'Blue-Eyed Grass' S. latifolium and a 
good variation. Now I wonder if they'll set seed or even cross with 
each other.

	I also tried S. palmifolium without survival, but I have a 
few more seedlings to sacrifice.

4. 	Iris speculatrix	This is a fairly rare (in 
cultivation) iris in the Chinenses Series. Originally described from 
Hong Kong it grows farther north along the E. Coast of China.  I've 
grown this for years, but it has never been happy. At least 2 -maybe 
three - moves and it has found a spot to its liking. The clump 
doubled last year and now has 4 open flowers. The flowers are small 
with a mix of pale lilac, white and yellow with an interesting halo 
marking around the signal.

	This is in the same group as I. odaesaanensis, I. koreana and 
others. A good woodlander that would be happier a zone or 2 south of 

5.	Iris 'Alley Oops'	This was introduced a few years ago, 
but I have finally grown a plant. The ancestry is unknown, but 
guessed as a rare cross between I. pseudacorus and some Siberian 
Iris. This is an odd chromosomal mix and surely it is sterile.  The 
flowers resemble I pseudacorus, but the falls have fine purple veins 
washed with pale yellow. The yellow fades quickly to white.  It is a 
vigorous and intriguing mix of characters. So far, I 'think' I like 

	Of course other choice non-bulbous plants are popping up 
surely (in part) to our sudden change to warm weather. It would be 
nice to be somewhere inbetween chill and sweltering like 'moderate'.

			Oh well.		Best		Jim W.
Dr. James W. Waddick
8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
Ph.    816-746-1949
Zone 5 Record low -23F
	Summer 100F +

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