Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Cardoon - a Great Garden Feature!



A first for all the Cardoons I have planted over previous years--blooms!  I love large plants used as exclamation points in my garden and this summer my Cardoon performed outstandingly.  I have planted it occasionally over the past 10 years and enjoy the fast growth and large leaves.  I was quite happy with this but for some reason this summer offered this floriferous reward.
I have always planted them in the same location: the only full sun area of my yard.   Our summer began quite late, cool and wet and said plant was planted in the second week of June.   This was a rather late date as normally our planting time is May 24.  By August it had buds on it and the following picture shows how tall it grows as the five foot seven inch me is beside it. 
With very late frost this autumn the buds began opening in late September. 
Downside - don't get too close as it is of the thistle family!  Also, sometimes referred to as the artichoke thistle. 
As a herb parts are edible, mainly the succulent leaf stems.  The Cardoon is of the same family as the globe artichoke whose fame is the delectable edible "globes" or unopened flowers found in markets or grocery produce sections.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Medinilla magnifica

My most recent houseplant Medinilla magnifica, is my pride and joy.  After having read about it in a Canadian magazine, I went on a search.  I could find none close to home but on a trip to the Niagara area of eastern Canada, I discovered one for sale at a local garden centre.  I was thrilled!  With two stems blooming how was I to carry said plant on the airplane.  Carefully lifting the stems I wrapped it up and carried the plant as hand luggage.  The plant arrived beautifully and ready to grace my home. 

Eventually it lost the flowers but now a dilemma - should I cut the stem off at the leaf joint or leave it intact where the stem broke at the last pink calyx.  I left one and the other I cut off at the leaf joint.  The experiment continued as I kept the plant in the screen porch for the summer.  New leaves pushed out but I discovered that where I left the stem to the pink calyx, the leaves were coming out crinkled and the other not as nice smooth leaves emerged.   Lesson learned, cut back the flower stem right to the leaf joint.  Although with no blooms on the plant the leaves are large, thick and shiny and lovely as a non-bloomer during this period.

As there is little information on this newly discovered plant from the mountains of the Phillipines, all my care for it was experimental.  I only water it from the bottom and only when it is light in weight.  I used a light fertilizer of 20-20-20 every watering during the summer months and into October when I stopped. 

In April I began to notice small flower shoots pushing out from the leaf junctions.   I was ecstatic with the four flower stems emerging.  They continued to elongated and by May they were in bloom and continue to do so two months later.

Do I recommend having this in one's houseplant repertoire?  Definitely!  It is a challenge with being the "new kid on the block" and very little information available for it.  I love the rewards of my experimentation of its care regime and hope to enjoy my Medinilla magnifica for a very long time.