Saturday, December 15, 2007

UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley

On Saturday, I took a trip over to Berkeley for the first time to check out their botanical garden. My brother and his kids came too. There's Peter Jon providing some sense of scale.

The garden is beautiful and I can't remember ever being more tempted to grow some of the exotic plants of the world. Euphorbia, though often ugly and always poisonous, is a genus that I've considered collecting. Already I have the succulent E. bupleurifolia, E. horrida horrida, and the common E. milii. In the succulent greenhouse there were a few that caught my eye.

Here's the top of the euphorbia above, with some interesting crested Pachipodium behind it.

E. woodii is one of the weirder ones I've seen. E. greenwayi, below, has beautiful patterns on its stems.

When I think of Ericas, I think of the British moor variety. I've never seen one as interesting as this one in the South African collection. It's E. sessiliflora.

In the tropical greenhouse I saw Amorphophallus titanum, the plant with the world's largest unbranched inflorescence (not flower because it's actually made up of many many flowers). You can see the huge spadix, which sports tons of orange/red fruit.

This plant deserves mention because it is the most colorfully-fruited sedge I've ever seen. It's Carex baccans.

And while we're in the sedge family, I should point out this giant Ghania sp. from New Zealand.

Here's the CA native, Coreopsis gigantea, out of its summer dormancy, with some silver Dudleya spp.

The CA garden was nice too. There were beds of native bulbs, an alpine area, and many other wonders. Not only were the collections nice, but it was apparent that the plants are well cared for. I reccomend a visit.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Planting for Insect Diversity

Over at Garden Rant, Doug Tallamy comments on native versus non-native plants in the garden for the sake of insects. Most valuable bit: a tree or shrub hosts WAY more insect species than any herbaceous perrenials does. As we all know, when you host insects, you host almost everything else (including birds). So plant those native shrubs and trees! For me, promoting local biodiversity is one of the main reasons to garden. Here's the link.

I haven't done any surveys, but Scrophularia californica (above) has to be one of the best herbaceous perrenials for attracting insects. It bears hundreds of tiny nectar-rich blooms nearly the whole year round and the bees, bee-like flies, and hover flies know it.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Native Garden Notes from Chuck B.

Chuck B. from Whoreticulture tells of his experiences with NorCal native plant species as a comment to a post at Garden Rant. Here's the link.