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Fall Flowers

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I get more strange looks about these flowers–which are right by the road–than almost anything else in my garden. They are blooming right now.

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Here are more of them, peeking out from beneath some roses.

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And more yet, some fully open and other just coming up. These are colchicum, a bulb that should be planted now. Some people call them autumn crocus, but there is a true autumn crocus so I don’t like to confuse the 2 species.

They are incredibly hardy for me, come up reliably without fail, even in drought, aren’t bothered by any sort of critter, and increase in clump size, even in my clay soil. The only one that I have failed with is the double variety, ‘Waterlily’.

Something to be aware of though: like other bulbs, you will have foliage to deal with. It comes up in the spring and persists for a few months. Usually I don’t care. At that point, I am looking at roses here!

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Then there is this–the hardy begonia you see above the little bowl of succulents. This is really a fall star. Its botanical name is begonia grandis and this variety (the white one) is called ‘alba.’

It too is very easy but it’s very late to come back. Just about the point at which I think I’ve lost it, it finally appears. So if you find it and plant it, don’t give up on it early in the season.

Also ignore the jagged tears in the leaves. That’s from a rare hail storm that we had earlier this year. It doesn’t usually look like that.

Flowers in the garden this late in the season are a joy to behold–and true perennials are even better.

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Wordless Wednesday–The Spoiler at Midnight

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Oh heck, I’ll bet we can make this an all “Spoiler” week if we tried.

The next “Spoiler” question was about these pots. The fact that it came at 1 in the morning (okay, technically not midnight) was what I found objectionable, particularly since I get up between 5 and 5:30 for work.

So I explained that I was drying the pots out so that I could bring them in and take them to our basement for storage. (Obviously, these are my amaryllis bulbs that I am letting go dormant).

“Why?”  he asked.

So then I had to explain what an amaryllis was and the life cycle of the bulb–in the middle of the night. And he still asked, “Are they pretty?”

I told him that I had pictures that I could show him–because obviously he doesn’t remember when I would call his attention to the blooming bulbs. Then I also said that I didn’t want to discuss this in the middle of the night and we’d talk about tomorrow.

The Spoiler strikes again!

 

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

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Lovely leaf, not so lovely result, right?

When I first saw this, I thought I knew immediately what was happening.  Several years ago, when I was in North Carolina, I heard about a beetle that was ravaging canna lilies there. I thought that this beetle had somehow made its way north (as all noxious things somehow eventually do) and gotten to Connecticut.

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It turns out that there is a simpler explanation for all of this.

Yes, it still has to do with a noxious invader. But this time the “invader” is quite well known to us here in Connecticut and has been for some time.

What’s turning these Canna leaves into lace (and it really is pretty, unless these are your plants, in which case, you probably want to scream! I think I might do a little judicious trimming if they were mine) is the all too common Japanese beetle.

As a doctor once told me, sometimes even if you have an unusual presentation, we still look for a common explanation, and not for something rare.  That’s probably good advice in gardening too.

Wordless Wednesday–Summer Surprise!

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These are two amaryllis that were blooming before I went on my beach vacation June 10. People get all hung up on getting amaryllis to bloom for the holidays. They can be pretty spectacular is you let them “do their own thing” and bloom when they want to bloom.

And you don’t have to worry about “how do I get my amaryllis to bloom again?” Just put it into dormancy in the fall, and if it hasn’t come out by Memorial Day or so, bring the pots outside and begin watering (or whenever it gets reliably warm for you–for me, Memorial Day is usually when it’s warm enough to bring amaryllis outside).

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Here are two more, one blooming and another just about to bloom. I found the bulbs when I brought out all my dormant pots. So I potted them up and now they’re about to bloom. Do I care that I didn’t have them for Christmas? Obviously not. They look great now too–almost better because they’re so unexpected.

And what is this dormancy? Right around Labor Day (when it begins to get cool for me) I turn all my pots on their sides for a week or 10 days. Why on their sides? So that they dry out and don’t get watered or rained on. Then, I bring the pots down to my basement and forget about them. If I think about it, I pull off the decaying leaves now and again. Periodically I check to see if any of the bulbs are breaking dormancy, but they rarely do.

Then, come next Memorial Day, I’ll bring them out and have more summer surprises!

 

Support Pollinator Friendly Businesses

Readers and shoppers, this one is for you! This is free rein to go out and support those businesses that engage in pollinator friendly practices.

Now, how does one measure that? As with everything, one has to be sure that there isn’t “green-washing” going on. If a retailer is selling plants, or seeds, make sure they are appropriate for your area.

You remember I talked about knowing how to read a plant tag and knowing what was “perennial” back in March when I was discussing plant shopping. Just because a plant is labeled “perennial” at a large national retailer, it does not mean that it will necessarily be “perennial” for your area.

So one way to avoid those issues is to definitely shop local. Another way is to look for plants that are locally grown. Many of the plants will have their place of origin–or a grower–listed on them. At least at some of my garden centers, some of the plants will say “Connecticut grown” right on them. Even some of the national retailers sell some of these.

But “Connecticut” (or where ever) grown does not indicate that the plants are pesticide free, of course, and if you want a pollinator garden, that’s what you should hope for. Many retailers have started phasing out the neonicotinoids, which are believed to be harmful to bees, but they still may use other pesticides.

You will see some seeds now labeled as “organic” but it’s still rare to see a plant labeled as organic, even plants that we regularly buy for our vegetable gardens. I wonder what it’s going to take to get to that?

And of course, these smaller retailers often have a selection of gardening books. So even if you don’t want to necessarily go out and garden, you can often find interesting books on their shelves. You can perhaps help support the cause in that manner by buying a book–or two. As an avid reader myself, I know that I rarely buy just one (sort of like the old Lays potato chip commercial–no one can eat just one?)

So it’s just about plant shopping time in my area. This year, when you’re out shopping, please consider those garden centers and retailers that engage in pollinator friendly practices. I am not going to tell you what they are–but if you get there and don’t see a lot of local plants, native plants, or any organic plants, then I think I might find a different place to shop!

Wordless Wednesday–Spring Color

 

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After my whining last Friday about how we were never going to get spring,  a few warm days have brought out the flowers.

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You can see how early it is. The trees still have no leaves and very little is greening up. These photos were taken April 14–the very day that I was whining that we don’t have spring.

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So it’s nice to see a little color to prove me wrong.