Metrosideros collina 'Springfire'; Self-Pegging A 'Tea Clipper'

Another long day of rose pruning.  Climbing roses are the most difficult but also the most interesting. 
'Altissimo'.  'Molineux' is in front of it.  
pruned climbing rose

Most of the climbers are at least a decade old now, so there's old wood to remove, yet plenty of new wood to replace it.  I think I'm getting better at it.  Probably by the time I have to get rid of all the roses because of water restrictions, I will know how to beautifully prune a plant I won't be able to own.

Just for the educational fun of it, I tried self-pegging some of the canes of 'Tea Clipper'.  Self-pegging means to bend canes and tie them in a loop or arch to either themselves or a nearby cane.  I used zip ties, aka cable ties.   
self-pegged canes

The intent is to produce more flowers than would otherwise develop.  'Tea Clipper' is a good candidate to experiment on for two reasons.  First, because it's very stingy with its blooms.  Second, because it is nearly thornless.  Since 'Tea Clipper' is so stingy I have nothing to lose by messing with it, and since it is nearly thornless, it's easy to mess with.   I'll see what happens when spring arrives.  It could not be any stingier than it already is. 

Yeah, yeah, those Aloes again...
Aloe flowers
Now that the garden is mostly a forest of bare canes for the next six weeks or so, some visual relief is provided by a few new plants (and old Aloes).  
rose canes

The plant purchase of a couple of days ago was three small Leucophyta (Calocephalus) brownii 'Twiggy' and a Metrosideros collina 'Springfire'.  

Calocephalus brownii 'Twiggy'

Seeing a cultivar name on the Leucophyta (Calocephalus) was an excuse to buy more.  I love this plant for it's white-silver color and scrubby-pad texture.  'Twiggy' appears to be slightly different in texture than the species, but I don't really care if it is different or not.  I like it no matter what, at least as long as it doesn't die.  It's a short lived plant.  The longest I've kept one going is about four years, but that's okay.  I like it anyway.  I fear the day when I can't buy them anymore.  How will I get my silver scrubby-pad fix then? 

Unlike Leucophyta (Calocephalus), the Metrosideros collina 'Springfire' is new to me.  There are two Metrosideros excelsa 'Gala' in the garden.  'Gala', which has variegated leaves (of course) is native to New Zealand.  It will eventually form a small or medium-sized tree.  M. collina 'Springfire' is a bit different.  It is found scattered throughout South Pacific islands, and is more of a shrub, though San Marcos writes their specimen achieved a height of twenty feet (6 M) and a width of ten feet (3 M) in fifteen years.

I can't believe it's not variegated!
Metrosideros collina 'Springfire'

It may look very plain, but supposedly it covers itself with red-orange flowers in spring, and repeat blooms several times during the year.  The blooms provide food for butterflies and bees, and an excuse for hummingbirds to fight with each other (as if they need an excuse).  'Springfire' may join my Narrow Screening All-Star collection, or it may not.  We'll see how it performs.  It appears to be a dense grower, always a positive in a screening plant.  

Metrosideros collina is found on volcanic hillsides in Hawaii between 1,000 and 9000 feet elevation.  It has a high tolerance for ashy soil, is cold-hardy down to the low 20s F, and now I have to find a spot for one.  

Update 11/17/13.  Metrosideros collina 'Springfire' hasn't bloomed as much as advertised, but it has grown well and is at this point a beautiful rounded shrub with dense foliage.  It's a little over five feet tall at this time.  Onward and upward!
 photo cal1756_zps94d800b5.jpg 

I have not blogged about the Koi lately.  They've been fine.  The water has been fine.  The string algae has been behaving itself.  All is well.  Yuki used to be about one-third the size of Les, but now she's about six inches longer than he is, and pushes him around a little.
Two Koi

Hey!  You with the food!

Look at how the sumi (black) has developed on Hana's face.  This photo was taken about two years ago:

I realize my subject matter has wandered all over the place in this post, but that's exactly what I do in the garden--wander all over, do this, do that. 



  1. I like rambling posts once in a while too (writing them and reading them)!

    With the Leucophyta (which I don't grow) -- after year 3 or so, have you tried propagating by taking cuttings? It seems that would give you a plant that was good for another 3 or 4 years.

    That Aloe flower photo is amazing. Great composition! Just beautiful!

  2. Good job with those roses, I'm always bothered when it's time to handle pruners... self pegging is a good way to keep some roses, you won't be disappointed!

    I love your aloe and your happy hungry koi! :)

  3. Funny, in the very first photo your rose looks like a weirdly branching ocotillo :-) I love seeing all the wonderful plants you have.

    :: Bamboo and More ::

  4. @Alan, I would love to propagate more, just not sure how. I've done roses and hydrangea and that has been about it for success.

    @Alberto, Thanks! I'm looking forward to see what happens with that pegging.

    @Gerhard, It does look a little Ocotillo, or even Alluadia, which is our substitute for Ocotillo here.

  5. I'm very envious of your beautiful koi. I bought 3 fantails to add to the very elusive white cloud fish in my water feature. I settled for 'plain' gold for one, but the other two have pretty calico markings like your koi. Now for names!

  6. Enjoy your new fish Marisa. They are a lot of fun, aren't they?


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