Callistemon ‘Little John’ aka Little John Dwarf Bottlebrush

Just planted bottlebrush April 2018

This is the compact Bottlebrush reaching 3′-5′ ( top photo ), the bottom two photos are of the larger form and were taken at Lady Bird Johnson Gardens in Austin. The red flowers are most common, there is also a pink flowering variety.

Protect from cold, it will sometimes return from roots after a frost.

Full sun, possibly drought tolerant once established, opinions vary. It prefers to be in moist soil.

Blooms when weather is warm, loved by butterflies and hummingbirds

Considered an invasive in Florida, also considered to be a good plant for bonsai.

Native to Australia, unclear if it should be in Myrtaceae family or Callistemons.

Propagate by cuttings

June ’18

Note: I also purchased several traditional Bottlebrushes (Callistemon) and placed them along fences to use to cover the fence. I have some in shade, full sun, a mix of both and dry and wet areas. So far they all seem to be settling in despite the late planting.

These can be kept trimmed as a hedge, let grow up as trees by removing lower branches, or shaped as a topiary.

I’ll add more photos and notes as they grow

Ligustrum japonicum aka Privet

Large shrub, growing to small tree size here in Texas, attracts birds, deer resistant, drought resistant, grows in sun or part shade, prefers damp soil. You can keep these short and bushy, make a hedge, grow them as small trees or use them for topiaries.

Native to Japan and Korea

Brought to US in 1800s for use as a hedge plant, became invasive in warmer parts of US. The wood was used for pegs, the berries for dye, leaves as an astringent. It makes a great nesting place for birds who will eat the berries.

Problems: Sooty mold, control with liquid dish soap mixed with water and sprayed on leaves

I liked it so much I bought 20 small plants on eBay, I’ll be running them along the fence out back. They shipped much later than I expected, today is June 14th, nothing should be planted between May 1st and Oct 31st, but perhaps I’ll get lucky and we’ll get a rainy summer?

Toxic see NC Ext Ligustrum japonicum

Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’ aka Japanese Honeysuckle Vine

The first mention of it in the US is in the early 1800s in Ohio. It was brought to US to use to control soil erosion. Later it became a popular ornamental plant.

Flowers open at dusk to attract hawk moths who are the main pollinators. While they are frequently visited by bees, bees tend to remove more pollen than they leave for pollination.

Propagate by cutting

Native to Russia and Central Asia, listed as invasive by multiple sources. Birds eating seeds do most of the spreading, to control, trim plants before seeds form.

Many components of the plant are medicinal and parts are edible (Foraging Texas), but the berries are poison. Near as I can tell almost every plant down here is trying to murder you so proceed with caution.

Aeonium arboretum atropurpureum “zwartkop”

New cutting late March 2018
New cutting late March 2018

Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’ aka Black rose

The flowers are actually leaves, in older plants they can be as large as 8″ across. The true flowers are a bright yellow, and look like small daisies. I’ll post photos once it blooms. These just arrived this week.

The plant grows long stems with sparse clumps of rosettes. It looks like a small tree when fully grown (~3′)

I’m hoping to grow it in pots outside. It’s rated for zones 9-11 so it’s probably best grown as a house plant.

Grow it in full sun, well drained soil, same as you would for any succulent. Water it more in the summer, less in the winter, giving it a thorough soaking and letting it go almost dry between waterings.

Propagation is by cuttings in early spring. The two plants in the photos are cuttings, I’ve potted them up in wet soil, I’ll let the soil get drier and give them more light over the next few weeks.

The earliest mention of this plant I could find was late 1980s where it is mentioned as a houseplant or plant for warm, dry landscapes.

It’s in the same plant family as jade, Crassulaceae. It’s native to the Canary Islands where it prefers to grow on hillsides.

Cercis canadensis aka Eastern Red Bud Tree aka Judas tree

Medium light, medium soil moisture, low maintenance plant.

Zones 4-8

Blooms in March, deciduous, 20′-30′ tall, wide spreading branches

Attracts butterflies

Native to eastern US

Mature trees grow large brown seed pods especially in wet years

Member of bean and pea family

Problems:
Canker, wilt, dieback
Several insects love to eat this plant

Difficult to grow from cuttings, keep warm ~ 75’F if attempting to do so

Legend claims Judas hung from this tree

Royal Society of Open Science publishes Terraforming the Biosphere

Ecosystems are complex systems, currently experiencing
several threats associated with global warming, intensive
exploitation and human-driven habitat degradation. Because
of a general presence of multiple stable states, including
states involving population extinction, and due to the intrinsic
nonlinearities associated with feedback loops, collapse in
ecosystems could occur in a catastrophic manner. It has been
recently suggested that a potential path to prevent or modify
the outcome of these transitions would involve designing
synthetic organisms and synthetic ecological interactions that
could push these endangered systems out of the critical
boundaries. In this paper, we investigate the dynamics of the
simplest mathematical models associated with four classes
of ecological engineering designs, named Terraformation motifs
(TMs). These TMs put in a nutshell different ecological
strategies. In this context, some fundamental types of
bifurcations pervade the systems’ dynamics. Mutualistic
interactions can enhance persistence of the systems by means
of saddle-node bifurcations. The models without cooperative
interactions show that ecosystems achieve restoration through
transcritical bifurcations. Thus, our analysis of the models
allows us to define the stability conditions and parameter
domains where these TMs must work.

download the paper

If everyone does a little bit, great things can happen

Sap-sucking bugs manipulate their host plants’ metabolism for their own benefit

Stink bug

Free-living insects are able to move between and feed from different plants in the wild, unlike their less mobile endophytic counterparts, which spend a large part of their lives in a restricted area of the plant, often inside the tissues. When plants are targeted by bugs that depend on them for food and shelter, they often rely on defence responses that deter their attackers. However, some insects manipulate these mechanisms to counter the plants’ defence and even create a better nutritional environment around feeding sites. Until now, it was believed that only endophytic insects employed this strategy. … more

Cytokinin transfer by a free-living mirid to Nicotiana attenuata recapitulates a strategy of endophytic insects