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May 19, 2018

Saturday Gardening Thread: A Moss Rose by Any Other Name . . . [KT]


From Patch Farmstead:

A clone of this very old rose has been planted everywhere I've been. I don't know how old the mom plant is but older than me, was at my grandpa's house.

What a great way to preserve a legacy.

May Roses

It's traditional to think of "Roses" and "June" together, but no reason we can't start early. Around our town, the rose bushes that have died back to root stock have been red and gorgeous the past few weeks with their exuberant, once-blooming flowers, but are starting to fade. There may be some of the heirloom once-blooming roses in Southern California which have already bloomed this year. But most of the roses we plant today bloom more than once a year. Some of the tender ones start early. I think the one above may be one of those. Even though it is old.

Today, another lurker makes her debut on the Gardening Thread with a rose and some other plants down-thread a ways.

Heyo. I'm a lurker (NadineCharmichael). I love the gardening thread! I live in central Tennessee. It's hot here. Melty, don't step on the tar hot. And wet-carpet-even-with-the-air-conditioning-on humid. Also, the soil sucks. Unless you like clay, and then it's still sucky because even the clay is terrible quality. Our state crop is scrub and waving hills of beautiful tall wild grasses. But, we still plant and grow flowers and things because.

[This pic is of] roses from a bush in my front yard. Maybe knock-out roses? I don't know; it came with the house. Perhaps the Horde can identify... This bush also seems to thrive on miniscule water, clay soil, and neglect, with occasional deadheading.

mt rose.jpg

Anybody know what they are?

Moss Roses

Moss Roses are roses which are known as much for their sepals as for their blossoms. The sepals are covered with variable amounts of what to some people looks like moss. It is usually fragrant. The old ones only bloom once a year.

These roses come with a lot of history, and a lot of different names. The one below is know as Crested Moss, Rosa centifolia cristata or Chapeau du Napoleon.


Or in Kansas, Napoleon's Hat.

comp Chateau de Napoleon.jpg

Moss roses are known for their abundant prickles. It may be better to get a small one that re-blooms. Ralph Moore bred some miniature moss roses in Visalia, California. I bought one once. The "moss" was kind of prickly, left perfume on my hands. I think it was Dresden Doll


You can see that the "moss" on Dresden looks pricklier, even on the sepals, than the "moss" on Crested Moss. I don't understand all the genetics, but some of the "mossy" structures appear to be modified thorns. They excrete perfume, and will perfume your hand. You are likely to cradle the blossom in your hand because the stems are so prickly.


The Moss Roses that Aren't Roses

I have sometimes wondered how little trailing succulent plants that prefer blazing sun came to be called "moss roses". These moss roses are among the few small flowering plants you can plant in the desert in May. They are related to the common weed Purslane (recipe for Puerto Vallarta Salsa at the link).

You may recall that purslane kept one Texan plant breeder alive during the cultural revolution in China. But he developed a dislike for it because it was about all his family had to eat. If you are interested because you have never been reduced to living on purslane while living in a cave, you can find more recipes from the Eat the Weeds guy at the link. (Don't comment on old threads). This is a photo of the weed you can eat, in moderation. It is sometimes called "pigweed", which may offer a clue to how to get it out of a field. Chickens like it, and it increases the amount of 0mega-3 fatty acids in their eggs:


Purslane: enough is enough.

It turns out that Nadine, who sent that single rose photo above, also sent a photo of a relatively recently introduced moss rose (first seen in the 1980s) among other plants. The leaves look a lot like the leaves of common purslane, and it has been mistakenly called by the same species name in the nursery trade:


Planters on my front porch. I did not grow these. I picked out the plants and potted them, though. The edges are lined with moss rose (the white flowers), Superbells (calibrachoa), and sweet potato vine. The center has some kind of very large marigold I'd never seen before but thought they looked really cool, and lantana. It's hot as blazes in the afternoon sun on my porch, so these guys will hold up to the heat (or so I've been told.)

I have a feeling that the moss roses will last longer than the marigolds.

Portulaca is the more common name, I think. I'd never heard of it until I stumbled across it on a gardening site. Lo and behold, my local nursery had acres of them in all different colors. I've found that this plant really hates any kind of shade. Even the ones I planted in the far side of the planters, that get slight shade from the other plants for just an hour or two, are growing up and around the other flowers towards the sun, rather than trailing over the edge of the planter pot. But the blooms are gorgeous , and the hotter it gets, the more it blooms. The leaves are starting to get a waxy look as they store up water for the drought season. Makes the flowers pop even more. Truly amazing. Cheers! NadineCharmichael

Here's a closeup of Toucan Scarlet Shades. This one is grown from seed, but will probably not breed true if you save seeds. And there is still some color variation. Note that this cultivar is still misidentified as the same species as edible purslane. Odd that no one has specifically come out and said whether or not this species is edible. Or tasty.


A guy in Australia who studies Australian Portulaca species also took it upon himself to try to untangle the breeding of commercial P. umbraticola and to help correct some of the species mislabeling, which went international.

A paper which talks about the development of this first Portulaca umbraticola series . . . implies that the original plants used to produce the 'Wildfire' cultivars may have involved a smaller-flowered P. umbraticola subspecies that occurs naturally in the southeastern United States. However the 'Wildfire' series was most likely bred from plants originating in South America, because the flowers of the subspecies found there are much larger, with richer tones and have much greater colour diversity. It is reasonable to presume that the progenitors of the 'Wildfire' series were South American plants that were selectively grown by native plant enthusiasts in the US, who perhaps viewed them as showy and longer-lived "substitutes" for the two native subspecies of P. umbraticola. . . .

There are some interesting flower forms grown from cuttings. You can sometimes keep them over winter, on the dry side, in bright light, away from frost.




The only moss roses I knew about growing up were Portulaca grandiflora. We had double ones growing in reflected heat in front of our chimney before the birch tree got big enough to provide some shade.

You can get old-fashioned single Portulaca grandiflora from the Seed Curmudgeon, J.L. Hudson, or a newer strain from Europe.


But most P. grandiflora seeds sold today are for double flowers. The 'Sundial' strain was bred to stay open longer in the day, even after visits by bees. Newer strains have made the flower less daylength sensitive.

Back when breeders were introducing new separate colors in the 'Sundial' strain like 'Peppermint', 'Apricot' and 'Mango', most of my gardening activity consisted of reading seed catalogs. I started to wonder why flowers with such a wide color range were only offered as complete mixtures or as separate colors. I suggested to Park Seed that they might present some more distinctive mixtures. Suggested a couple of names. The results for the Sundial Portulaca strain are pictured below.

These two mixes have been dropped now, but they lasted a quarter century, more or less. You can still get a Tropical Mix (with scarlet, missing white) in an upright and a trailing strain of Portulaca from Harris Seeds. As well as complete color mixtures. They sell pelleted seeds for growers. You can also get some separate colors from Harris, Swallowtail and elsewhere. Breeders give these flowers fun names, like 'Happy Hour' and 'Coconut'.


Tropical Fruit Mix and Passion Fruit Mix

The winter equivalent of moss roses (in coastal California)

As a child, I was struck by catalog photos of these bright flowers:


Livingstone Daisies, I presume.

These little charmers are from South Africa, where they grow in the fall/winter rainy season. They are drought-tolerant, but look better with some water. These are planted in autumn or winter in Coastal California or in the desert or in Australia. Plant out after danger of frost elsewhere.

Livingstone daisies have flat, succulent leaves up to 3 inches long, with the plants hugging the ground. Flowers have dark centers and are colored pink, white, purple, lavender, crimson, or orange. Plants grow up to 8 inches high and spread to 12 inches wide. The flowers close at night and on cloudy days. . . .

Livingstone daisies need full sun and sandy, well-drained soil. They tolerate drought and are resistant to salt spray, making them good for seaside plantings. Livingstone daisies tend to sunburn in hot, humid weather. Space plants 6 inches apart for full coverage.

Think of them as an annual ice plant. They are fire-retardant if well-watered (until the plants die). I have seen spectacular sheets of these flowers at the UC Irvine Arboretum, which features South African plants. But I have also grown a few in the Intermountain West.

The tiny seeds need darkness to germinate, so should be lightly covered.

There is also a trailing variegated Dorotheathus that sometimes has small double red flowers, but is grown as a foliage plant. It seems to be more tolerant to heat. It is cutting-grown and apparently perennial in frost-free locations. Looks nice for containers or hanging baskets. "Mezoo" is an odd name. Hardly looks like the same plant as the daisies above.


More information on Thornless Boysenberries and Thorns

Time to follow up on comments from previous threads.

Thornless Boysenberries

We have some fans of thornless boysenberry plants in The Horde. With good reason. Boysenberries are fabulous berries, and the thornless cultivar is the way to go if you can find it. Might be a little less productive than some, but were're mostly home gardeners, right?

I found a bunch o' short pieces on growing boysenberries, starting with pruning, which is a big deal unless you just plant to have a thicket. Remember that seedlings will probably have thorns.

Here is a recipe for a cake-like cobbler Not biscuit-y or pie-like. Written for blackberries, but perfect for boysenberries, which are related. It is pretty similar to the recipe Miss Hauser gave is in school, except that she heated the fruit with sugar. water and butter and spooned it over the cake batter. The fruit fell through the batter during baking. A memorable dessert warm with homemade vanilla ice cream. Just skip dinner.

She told us to remember that the recipe had no eggs, in case eggs were ever rationed again during wartime. The recipe at the link is also egg-gree. Wonder if the cornstarch is really necessary? Bet you could use other fruits, as with Miss Hauser's recipe.


Rose Thorns and related hazards

I think we linked this piece on first aid for rose thorn punctures recently (h/t Hank Curmudgeon), but this article on infections from rose thorns made an impression on Gordon:

Pay quote:

"The finger and the tissues surrounding the tendons up his arm had become infected. During the operation, the doctor had to cut from the tip of his index finger to the middle forearm. Antibiotics were administered to fight the infection and two additional operations were performed during the following week.

Lots of articles on this.

Check out the recommendations at the end of the piece, too. Some of them we have discussed in previous threads, and some we haven't. Heh.

Gordon also said:

You know, when I got cellulitis in my leg, I was working in one of my beds, kneeling, wearing shorts. My wife is convinced I got a little cut and the whole mess grew out of that. I was in the hospital for ten days! I lost count of all of the residents who came to my bed and got a really wide-eyed look, then a really puzzled look, then a "huh! look.

Gardening is hazardous. Courage is required.

I have a couple of ideas for preventing these kinds of infections from kneeling in the garden. Got any tips for Gordon?

I have a tip for avoiding other thorn injuries, and perhaps an uncontrolled house fire: Try to avoid this style of landscaping, another hazard highlighted by the ever-vigilant Hank Curmudgeon. Those cacti are so cute when they're little . . . .


Thorny Roses

There is one kind of rose grown specifically for its thorns, though it also has single white flowers. Particularly beautiful when back-lit.


The Danger Garden has growing and landscaping tips for the Wingthorn Rose. And photos. The plant is really striking among other plants. Keep this one cut back. Even if your gardent theme includes plants that could put your eye out.

Here's a piece about other kinds of roses with big thorns. Some of these are wonderful in the landscape. If you are brave.

Gardens of The Horde

We got a note and a photo from Gordon:

The first harvest is rhubarb. I used the jam maker. It is milder than I would like but it was young rhubarb.

Fantastic! We have more from Gordon for later. And maybe from his wife, too.


We also got an update from Blake, who lives in the Bakersfield, California area. We kind of agreed that Bakersfield averages about 10 degrees cooler than Phoenix in summer. Let us know if you have more exact figures.

Some interesting things about the Palo Verde Desert Museum:

The tree thrives in heat and drought. When I went to the nursery I asked if they had a tree that could take being planted in the middle of a bunch of concrete. The nursery recommended the Desert Museum and ours has really thrived, which I find amazing considering it's basically planted in the middle of a furnace during the summer. I water ours once a week but, they can go a month between waterings.

Also, the tree is deciduous, but, I think it also qualifies as evergreen.


Because the green bark contain chlorophyll and does the same job as the leaves. As a matter of fact, the green bark is part of the reason the tree is able to withstand summer temperatures in Arizona. (going from memory, the tree will drops its leaves when it gets to hot and survives as the bark takes over for the leaves.)

I got worried when our Desert Museum dropped all its leaves so late. It was already heading into spring and we suddenly had little spiky branches with no leaves. But, never fear, the tree put out a phenomenal amount of new growth.

It looks like our Desert Museum is going to bloom from one side to the other this year. Which means we won't get a tree full of yellow flowers but, it also means the tree will probably bloom much longer. Oh, and the flowers are every bit as delicate as they appear.

This particular specimen was planted a little over a year ago.


Blake has gone Full Horde for this photo, apparently preparing for a wonderful backyard meal. Perhaps featuring Hrothgar's Easy Baked Onion on page 188 of your copy of the Deplorable Gourmet. It's still baking season in Bakersfield. Barely.


And here's Blake's Desert Museum in full bloom a little later. You may recall that it is thought to be a cross-genera hybrid, so it doesn't make all those seed pods that are typical of Palo Verde trees.


Hope you have a great weekend. Take a little time to enjoy some plants if you can.

If you would like to send information and/or photos for the Saturday Gardening Thread, the address is:

at g mail dot com

Include your nic unless you just want to be a lurker.

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