Articles for the Month of October 2013

Turning of the Season

Colchicum autumnale 'Pleniflorum'

Colchicum autumnale ‘Pleniflorum’

We’ve had our first killing frost right on schedule — October 25th.  However, it just barely hit the most tender plants and many others are enjoying the extended nice weather we’ve had since then.  Especially the Colchichum that I planted in the revived wildflower bed.

Cochicum autumnale 'Byzantium'

Cochicum autumnale ‘Byzantium’

I’ve been able to get in some delightful gardening outside including planting some of our bulb order in the new garden (daffodils, corydalis, erythroniums, scilla, and chionodoxa).  I also put some Chiliean crocus in the alpine bed.  It was an opportune time to do some transplanting too.  I put in a Virginia Waterleaf that I had been saving up for the last six months.

Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum)

Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum)

This is a very interesting looking plant just for the leaves but the pictures on the internet promise very pretty flowers as well.

I continue to be fascinated by the Oxalis which are flowering in the greenhouse right now.

A profusion of Oxalis bowiei blooms

A profusion of Oxalis bowiei blooms

I have to thank Diana Chapman of Telos Rare Bulbs for alerting me to the interesting variety in Oxalis bulbs.

Oxalis bowiei from the back

Oxalis bowiei from the back

Oxalis hirta 'Gothenburg'

Oxalis hirta ‘Gothenburg’

Oxalis hirta 'Gothenburg'

Oxalis hirta ‘Gothenburg’

 

Oxalis hirta

Oxalis hirta

Oxalis luteola 'Glauca' MV 5567

Oxalis luteola ‘Glauca’ MV 5567

Oxalis luteola 'Glauca' MV 5567

Oxalis luteola ‘Glauca’ MV 5567

I have seen aphids attacking the Oxalis, but I’ve also seen some natural protection.

rab spider waiting for visitors to the Oxalis

Crab spider waiting for visitors to the Oxalis

On a warm afternoon I also found many Ladybird Beetles trying to get into the greenhouse (it’s not hard, they just need to find the open windows).

Ladybird beetle on outside greenhouse

Ladybird beetle on outside greenhouse

There were perhaps fifty on the outside looking for a warm place to spend the winter.  I helped many of them out.  And in return they were busy in the greenhouse.

Ladybird beetle scarfing up tiny aphids in the greenhouse

Ladybird beetle scarfing up tiny aphids in the greenhouse

I’ve also noticed a Praying Mantis eggcase in the greenhouse which is a nice sign for next spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day October 2013

Oxalis hirta 'Gothenburg'

Oxalis hirta ‘Gothenburg’

It’s mid-October and time to take stock of what is flowering on the hill.  As always, we have to thank Carol at May Dreams Gardens for having initiated this tradition.  The regular posting allows me to see from year to year how the flowering changes and gives pause to think about what is going on in the gardens.

When you drive up to our house right now an eye-catching plant is the Plectranthus that Beth received as a Mother’s Day gift.

Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender'

Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’

This is not a hardy plant for us (I think it may be a zone 10 item) but it looks like it will be well worth trying to carry over.  Not only did it flower this spring, but it’s repeating the process now for the fall.  Also in the front yard is the vivid pink Allium that is a fall staple.

Allium thunbergii 'Ozawa'

Allium thunbergii ‘Ozawa’

It has a long flowering period and seems to be holding it’s own with the sedum and the coreopsis.

Another long-time resident of the front yard is the Japanese Anemone ‘ September Charm’.

Anemone × hybrida 'September Charm'

Anemone × hybrida ‘September Charm’

Although the Azaleas and Pieris generally outgrow this vigorous anemone, by late fall it still manages to raise it’s stems enough to be seen.

As we move around to the backyard, I have to note once again our striking red Fall Camellia that, if past is any indicator, will be in flower for the next several months.

Red Camellia sasanqua with bud opening

Red Camellia sasanqua with bud opening

Red Camellia sasanqua

Red Camellia sasanqua

Behind the garage, the Canna are still holding forth.

Canna 'Orange Punch'

Canna ‘Orange Punch’

I’ve watered there the whole year and they have taken full advantage.  This particular Canna came from Plant Delights in March and has never stopped flowering.

In the vegetable garden there is one very nice Dahlia growing amid the annual Zinnias, Marigolds, Tithonia, and Cosmos.

Dahlia 'Karma Prospero'

Dahlia ‘Karma Prospero’

At the door to the greenhouse I’ve put a large round pot of Nasturtiums and they are still flowering up a storm.

Nasturtium

Nasturtium

In the greenhouse itself there are still new Oxalis unveiling themselves with each day.  Today it was Oxalis hirta ‘Gothenburg’ and Oxalis obliquifolia in a beautiful white form from Telos Rare Bulbs.

Oxalis hirta 'Gothenburg'

Oxalis hirta ‘Gothenburg’

Oxalis obliquifolia

Oxalis obliquifolia

Well, that’s a sampling of what is happening around here for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  What’s growing in your garden?

 

 

 

 

Starting a New Garden

The Pine Succession Garden

The Pine Succession Garden

Every garden has a beginning.  In this case the garden can be traced to a storm — Sandy, to be specific.  A very large Pine Tree came down on our neighbor’s fence line.  Leaving a channel of sunshine and a lot of dead roots in the ground.  We had also opened space in this area last year when we took out an old and dying Cherry tree (with a stump still remaining).  We took the new site as an opportunity and have been considering all year how best to use it.  Watching the sunlight in this area it looks like it’s a mix of sun and shade, in other words, part-sun or part-shade depending on the time of day and time of year.  But the ground was very hard and covered with roots from the cherry and pine.  And I’m pretty sure that the remaining pine and surrounding maple and holly will be sending exploring roots before long.  So we decided to make a raised bed, or berm, to guarantee a fertile and friable garden area.

What started out as a small project got larger each day as we brought pickup truckload after truckload of topsoil and mushroom soil from our special store of said components in the far pasture.  Because we were concerned about driving truck or tractor over the walkway in the backyard it all had to be hauled from truck to the new garden by garden cart.  In the end we decided to tie this new garden into the Peony bed on the one side and the pathway in back of the big American Holly on the other.  We added some rocks hauled in from the leftovers at our local rock dealer to build structure and character into the bed.  Actually I just like rocks.  No other explanation is needed.  I thought hard about how to add a burbling brook in the middle but no matter how I conceived it there is no way that a burbling brook looks natural in our yard (and I would have to decimate too many tree roots to bring water and electricity to that spot.  So in the end we now have a pretty large new garden space just waiting for plants.  This is so unlike me to have the garden space before the plants.

Well, there are a few plants waiting in the wings.  There’s a Hydrangea serrata ‘Blue Billow’ that is already outgrowing it’s pot and is needing a home.  There are two camellias, one fall and one spring, that are perfect for this lighting situation.  When we could see the outlines of this garden begining to take shape we went to the local nursery to see what might still be around.  We came away with some real finds.  Most especially a Mahonia without spiny foliage.

Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress'

Mahonia eurybracteata ‘Soft Caress’

It’s called Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ and unlike any other Mahonia I’ve seen.  The leaves are more like a bamboo though the flowers immediately look like classic Mahonia flowers.  Others were a tiny Rhododendron, R. Yakushimanum ‘Crete’, a Toad lily still in flower, and a bush Salvia.

Rhododendron yakushimanum 'Crete'

Rhododendron yakushimanum ‘Crete’

A new Toad Lily

A new Toad Lily (Tricyrtis x ‘Sinonome’)

And I now foresee a lot of opportunities for planting bulbs this fall …

It’s Spring Again!

Bowie's Wood Sorrel (Oxalis bowiei)

Bowie’s Wood Sorrel (Oxalis bowiei)

Well, it is spring in South Africa anyway where this Oxalis comes from.  I’m finding the rebirth of many South African bulbs is reproducing springtime in my greenhouse.  I was originally a little anxious about how to treat the many little bulbs which prefer a truly dry summer rather than Maryland’s hit or miss summer — sometimes we get bucket-loads of rain and sometimes none.  Since my greenhouse is programmed to rain 2-4 times a day it was clearly the wrong place for things that were dormant.  So I ended up just taking most of the pots to the basement for the summer (it’s a fairly dry basement).  To be honest, I thought that many of the plants had just plain died as opposed to going dormant.  And for the summer dormant bulbs that arrived last summer, I just let them sit in the box they arrived in.

On September 4, I decided spring would officially start for these plants.  I brought the pots out of the basement and put them in the greenhouse and I potted up the many Oxalis that had arrived along with Ferraria, Lachenalia, Albucca, Zephyranthes, Tulbaghia, and Cyrtanthus (Let me put in a shameless plug for the Pacific Bulb Society, which has been the source many bulbs at this point.  They have a very active bulb exchange with a wide variety of bulbs and seeds).  It has been wonderful to see how rapidly the bulbs responded to water.  Just about everything that I took to the basement with deep foreboding has come back in style.  And all the new little oxalis bulbs are growing rapidly, though none more so than the Wood Sorel pictured at the intro to this posting.  It’s acting like it’s late for the flower awards and wants to get its bid in early.  The giant shamrock leaves provide a pretty backdrop for the flowers.

Oxalis Bowiei & friends

Oxalis Bowiei & friends

I’ve been delighted to see things sprouting again and I’m more than charmed by the Oxalis.  The leaves are very different in each species and in some cases would justify growing them even without the flowers.  Diana Chapman of Telos Rare Bulbs (the source of a number of these Oxalis) makes this point with regard to Oxalis lava in one of her Bulb Maven postings.

Oxalis flava yellow

Oxalis flava yellow

Oxalis palmifrons (from Plant Delights) is another with wonderfully interesting leaves and apparently delightful flowers if you can get them to show up.

Oxalis palmifrons

Oxalis palmifrons

But they all seem to bring something to the party as they are sprouting out.

Oxalis hirta

Oxalis hirta

Oxalis purpea

Oxalis purpea

 

Oxalis luteola Glauca

Oxalis luteola Glauca

Notice the hairy undersides and red coloring to the backs of the Oxalis luteola leaves.

As an example of the plants that were banished to the basement for the summer, the various Babianas grown from seed are all coming back and this must resemble there appearance in the wild as they return from the dry summers.

Babiana stricta

Babiana stricta

The Ixia was not grown from seed, but it seems to have multiplied ten-fold over the summer dormancy so I should end up with more bulbs to share after the next dormancy.

Ixia hybrid 'Buttercup'

Ixia hybrid ‘Buttercup’

This is what the flower looked like last Spring

Ixia hybrid 'Buttercup'

Ixia hybrid ‘Buttercup’

Happy South African Spring Everyone!