Sunday, October 19, 2008

Building the Ark

Symbolic of the current state of our busy lives is this moonflower, which has taken up residence on the unused hammock out back!
This is the busiest time of the year for me, both professionally and out in the garden, mainly because winter is at the doorstep and I've only just begun taking cuttings, rescuing tender plants that I want to carry over, and rebuilding the ramshackle structure that I loosely call a greenhouse. Covering it with a double layer of polyethylene every October is a drag, but until I can afford a commercially fabricated model (which will be never...), it's the best I can do. It's only 8' x 16', so deciding what to keep and what to let go (sometimes those things surprise me and winter over, even in pots) provides me with my personal version of "Sophie's Choice", appropriate in the city which bore William Styron (although he didn't remember it so fondly in his writing!)
We did have a nice bit of rain over the last two days, which saves me some time I would have spent watering today and has filled the rain barrels for now. The only drawback to these has been the time it takes to actually use the water they hold - not a problem during the summer, but moreso now that time and daylight are at a premium.
I like the look of these rain barrels a lot, but the non-draining wells on top are a subject of consternation. While they've provided nice places to grow this water hyacinth (Eichornia) and Sarracenia (a hybrid called 'Cobra's Nest' - sorry Mom!) during the summer, they also require constant vigilance and applications of BT to prevent their becoming mosquito nurseries. I may take them off entirely for the winter; I'm afraid the standing water will crack the plastic as it freezes and thaws. We've lost lots of concrete birdbaths that way in the past.
Things are still beautiful, in spots, right now; while hardy perennials and shrubs hunker down as cold weather approaches, the tropicals have no clue, so they blithely continue on.

This is one of my favorite fall combinations; the texture's a little fine, so it doesn't translate into a great picture, but I really like the "color echo" between the Sarracenia x wriggleyana 'Scarlet Belle' and the Salvia splendens 'Van Houteii' against the "ears" of the chartreuse Xanthosoma 'Lime Ginger'. The Salvia and elephant ear are both tender, so need to be propagated via cuttings and stolons, respectively. As stated before, so much of the color in my late season garden is derived from foliage, rather than flowers, that it doesn't seem to qualify for a "bloom day" posting. The Sarracenias are a case in point; some, such as leucantha and its hybrids, including 'Daina's Delight', wait until fall to produce their largest, most colorful pitchers.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bloom Day II

Spiranthes cernua 'Chadd's Ford', probably the easiest, along with Bletilla striata, of all the hardy orchids. It's in danger of being shaded out by Nippon or Montauk Daisy (which was once Chrysanthemum nipponicum, but is now Nipponanthemum something-or-other, I think) and the ubiquitous Begonia grandis.

Below is Colocasia 'Black Magic' in combo with more favorite coleus. One project for this weekend is to start rooting cuttings of these.This is another fall favorite, Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans or rutilans...too lazy to check.) P.S. - Phillip calls it 'elegans', so that's good enough for me.
An aster purchased many years ago from Montrose, called "Our Latest One".
The latest of the Hedychiums to join the party, H. coronarium growing in too much sun for its own good, but doing okay. Still waiting for bloom on thyrsiforme and gardnerianum...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Installment Plan

I give up. There's just not enough time to do this right now, so I'm going to have to build my October "Bloom Day" post in installments. Between two jobs, family stuff, social obligations, exercise (a priority for people who like to eat as much as I do) and actual gardening (tasks such as rebuilding the greenhouse in prep for winter have to take precedence right now), it ain't gonna happen. So check back occasionally, and I'll add a picture or two when I get around to it. It's a shame, too, because October might be the time of the year when our garden looks the best. This is a combo of two old favorites that usually hides behind parked cars at the curb - Canna "Pretoria" (aka "Bengal Tiger") and Salvia leucantha, which is hardy here most years.

The camellia season starts now, and this white sasanqua ('Setsugekka'?) is beautiful. I've rooted cuttings of the double white 'Mini no yuki', which always blooms around Thanksgiving at my parents' house, but they're painfully slow in putting on any growth. 'Winter's Star' is one of the cold hardy hybrids developed by Dr. William Ackerman, and it does really well in a tough position here.

'Shishi Gashira' will be covered in bloom from now through New Year's, making it one of the longest blooming of all Camellias here.
Lots of perennials and 'temperennials' are at their peaks right now; below is a white form of Ruellia which is probably a different species from the taller, purple one.
To the left is a close up view of Lobelia 'Candy Corn', which waited until almost Halloween to produce these blooms. Also in the 'candy corn' spectrum is this seedling of Sinningia sellovii which produces blooms tipped in yellow. This is one of the longest blooming perennials in my garden now, and the tubers are easy to dig and store for 'insurance' purposes.
That's it for now - lots more to post, but time to get on the "hamster wheel"...