Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My halloween post

Is over here.

I'm afraid I only have one in me.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Ok, summer’s over

Tonight I’ll finally take in my gardenia, banana, and jasmine plants; a frost is expected, our first. They might survive it; in fact, they probably would, but why delay the inevitable. When I visited the Botanical Gardens today, I saw that they’d ripped out their outdoor annual plantings. Ouch. I bet they still looked fabulous too. But they’ve got to get their bulbs in, just as I do. The lilies are in but none of the tulips. I hope to do all the pots for forcing today and tomorrow.

Thank goodness I have a winter project: my new indoor greenhouse, which, believe it or not, will be created from the nondescript room you see above and at top (all the office stuff will go, but I’ll probably put back a lot of the art). It has great southern light, which I’ll supplement with some kind of other lighting (I need to research it). The room is quite cool, and it will be easy to add moisture, as it’s manageably small. Other people in this area have successfully done this with spare rooms, so I’m hopeful. We picked out a new hardwood floor yesterday, and will paint it after that. Then I'll need to find plant stands, humidity trays, lights, all that. A big project for a small room.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Avert your eyes!

Today was a beautiful gardening day (too bad we were up a bit late last night at a neighbor’s party). We’re cleaning up and clearing away pots and other things and we got a lot done. I also planted the bulbs that seemed in most urgent need of planting: the lilies and the eremus. The tulips and hyacinths (all being forced) are tough; they can wait a bit more. I had never seen an eremus “bulb” (more a root). Ew!

But that’s NOTHING compared to this grotesquely-shaped sweet potato vine tuber I found while pulling them all out of the containers. Now, tell me, what does this remind you of?

It seemed a shame to pull all the still-thriving annuals out of the pots, but with roofers coming they'd just be a target, so we have to put the pots away. It would have to be done soon enough anyway.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

Although I am not nearly as environmentally conscientious as many other bloggers I know, especially my Garden Rant colleagues, who water far less and plant far more native plants or organically-grown vegetables than I do, there is one area where I think I'm doing the right thing.

I don't grow any grass. I have nothing against it as a plant—it is beautiful in its way—but most of the lawns I see are clearly doused regularly with chemicals—to fertilize, to eradicate weeds, and to kill pests. Then, too, in order to keep them green, most require a ton of water. Then there is the mowing—and they all require this—often with polluting gasoline-powered mowers. These have no catalytic converters and can do a lot more damage than most cars, if used regularly. (One hour of power mowing may cause as much pollution as driving a car 1300 miles. Some say it’s more like 3200 miles.)

Recently, I helped defend a friend (scroll this whole category to see all the posts on Jean's garden) who maintains a shrub and perennial insect-friendly, bird-friendly front garden with no chemicals and hardly any watering. Next Blog Action Day, I hope many more of my friends and neighbors will be hosting such spaces.

See ranter Susan Harris's great BAD post here. Find out more about BAD here. BTW, where are the Buffalo blogs? I don't see any local BAD posts. (And now I will refrain from the obvious puns.)

Late season action

To be honest, seasonal decline is very evident on the GWI property, as I begin to get bulbs in and dread the leaf onslaught to come. However, I do have plenty of annuals still going strong and some nicely coloring shrubs, as follows:
Above is Forever Pink macrophylla , which gives a nice dusty rose color as it ages.

I still have elephant ear all over the place, which I may try to overwinter. Here's Violet Stem with coleus and an interesting impatiens variety (yes, such exist!).

And the nicotiana bella is still very floriferous, as are its relatives throughout the garden.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Strolling where the dandelions bloom

I had no idea these bloomed in fall, but then my horticultural knowledge isn’t what it could be. We had a lovely walk around Delaware Park Lake where we enjoyed this bright vista as well as the still-green foliage.

And here’s an image of the patron saint of the park, Mike’s Dave. This is definitely a NIMG; I would love it but the thing is 17 feet tall. Back home I had to take pity on the container plants and water them; plus, it occurred to me that I won’t have much luck saving some of these over the winter if I kill them through deprivation first. In horrible contrast to the balmy weather, the Christmas stuff is already in the supermarkets.

I guess people in warmer latitudes are used to that incongruence.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tazetta update

The instructions from Old House Gardens came today along with a box of wonderful, earthy-smelling bulbs. I put the box of bulbs next to my other big box of bulbs (soon to be joined by the next box UPS tells me is about to arrive).

Here’s the deal with the tazettas like Grand Primo and Early Pearl, which can be grown outside in warmer places. They are like paperwhites, and can be forced over water and pebbles, but they do need two weeks in a dark, cold place before they can be brought out to grow in the light. Old House Gardens cautions that the room should be chilly like a Victorian parlor. Ha! No problem. Soon I will be starting my indoor-sort-of-greenhouse project, and that’s where there these will go. More on that later. The fact is that any room in our house is chilly enough during the winter for these or any other plant that doesn’t like it too hot and dry.

I do wonder. Old House Gardens is headquarted in Michigan, and yet they really seem to specialize in bulbs for warm zone gardeners who can't give bulbs a natural chilling period. Hmmm. I'm glad they do though. Everyone should have access to bulbs.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Learning to love the species

Acuminata, tarda, and turkistanica, 2006 photos

When I first considered tulips, I didn’t want to think about anything other than the large hybrids. My knowledgeable friend told me that the species tulips would perennialize better; I’m not even sure I knew what that meant. But then I watched the hybrids decline, and always hated their too-prominent foliage. Lilies became more rewarding; the stalks declined at the end of the summer rather than the beginning.

Eventually, my interest was piqued by the species, starting with humilis alba coerulea oculata (loved the pure blue, unadulterated by yellow or purple, which features in so many species). Those proved to be short-lived and I moved on to turkistanica, a white/yellow variety that is multi-flowering and has lasted (increasing too) at least five years so far. Others I’ve accumulated include clusiana (Lady Jane and Cynthia), batalini (red and yellow), and praestans fusilier. This year I’ve ordered acuminata (last year’s did not repeat, so we’ll give it another shot), bakari Lilac Wonder, batalini Bronze Charm, and humilis Persian Pearl. They look like wildflowers in the garden and are just as subtle so you need quite a few to create an effect. I’m not quite there yet, though I’ve created a new bed that will accommodate them as well as other perennials. Also, though these can perennialize (as my long-ago friend said), some do quite better than others. Some don't do well at all.

I also love the history of these flowers, most discovered growing wild in the mountains of Greece, Turkey, and locations in Central Asia. I think clusiana was the first to be named by naturalists, in 1803, while many of the others were brought into mainsteam bulb culture later in the nineteenth century. They weren’t part of bulbmania. And they’ve only recently become part of my bulbmania.