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.


Les, Zone 8a said...

I really admire Sarracenias ever since I saw them at Lewis Ginter in Richmond, and your combo looks great (I enlarged it to get a better view). I never "read" Sophie's choice, but enjoyed his collection of shorts about Tidewater.

If you are not using your hammock to lay around the garden in - you are too busy.


Cosmo said...

Hi, Jeff--The Saracenias are pretty--and pretty scary. For some reason, carniverous plants seem creepy--maybe I saw "Little Shop of Horrors" too many times. I love your idea of putting your water plants in your rain barrels--I'm going to get at least one (rain barrel) this fall, and more if that one works out. Sorry you're so busy--