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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.

Get Growing Earlier?

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I saw a “garden resolution” from a garden center on Twitter. Its resolution was “get growing earlier.” I smiled when I saw that because for some of us, as you can see by this photo,  gardening never really stops.

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Over the New Year’s holiday, I was pruning, treating plants for insects (organically, of course!), sadly saying goodbye to a few plants that I lost (so “pruning” of a different sort–or is it paring down) bringing several tender figs indoors to a warmer place and just generally puttering happily about with my house plants. This took up all of a good part of one day and could have taken more if I had let it.

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Not everyone has the hundreds of house plants that I have (and not everyone wants to have that massive a collection!) I also read something over the long holiday weekend where someone said that too many house plants looked like “clutter.” Clearly he and I beg to differ–but then again, he lives in Florida and can literally garden outside year round.

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But if you do have a large house plant collection–where you in effect sort of turn your house into a bit of a greenhouse–you also have a responsibility to “manage” all those plants just as any other plant collector would.

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Obviously you want to keep them as insect and disease free as possible so that you are not living with insects or diseases (although you have seen me joke that it’s just me and my 60,000 little friends at times because of the various pests on my plants. For the most part, plant insects stay put–but read this horrific story about an aphid swarm that didn’t here. Now you know what I mean when I say Stephen King isn’t a gardener. Surely he could use this….)

In any event, for the most part, house plants do far more good than harm, particularly so long as you are not using any chemicals to treat them indoors (no point in endangering yourself, your children or pets). In the coming days, although I have done so before, I will talk about indoor plants and their various benefits. In the meantime, just enjoy their beauty!

And by the way,  these are just photos of the first floor of my house. The windows in the rooms on the second floor are similarly “cluttered ” with house plants.

I am even forcing amaryllis bulbs in the furnace room in my basement.  Now that’s making creative use of space.

The Spoiler Strikes Again

I have said before that prior to this year and my surgery for melanoma, I was a raker. I would carefully rake out the beds around my perennials and I would rake leaves and pine needles off the tops of my shrubs. This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t leave leaves in the beds–it means I would try to keep the Spoiler from getting into my beds with his hand blower (or worse yet, his blower on wheels!) and doing damage to my plants and my gardens.

Well, of course, this year, all bets are off. So a few weeks ago, I started to notice something odd accumulating on our screened in porch. At first, I couldn’t tell what it was. Here is a photo.

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Once I realized that it was all over everything–walls, plants, doors, furniture, as well as the floor, I knew immediately what it was.  Some of my more astute readers have probably figured it out already.

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And once I saw this–my exposed bulbs smiling up at me despite the more than 2 inches of soil that had previously been covering them–all my suspicions were confirmed.

Needless to say, not only is the Spoiler denying that any of this is possible, but he said that the place where my bulbs are planted is a “leaf trap” and that he really needs to “blast” at it with the leaf blower to get the leaves out of there.

Blast at is with the leaf blower? When a few gentle passes with a rake will accomplish the same thing and not spray soil–and who knows what else–all over our porch?! Is he kidding?!

Now you know where the name the “Spoiler” comes from!

 

One of my Favorite Fall Flowers

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These are colchicums and they are reliable, deer proof, fall flowering bulbs. In  my garden, they come up every single fall without fail, including during the drought summers.

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Remember what I said about weeds and working in my soil? This is a patch of zoysia grass that has established in my rose garden. Rather than disrupt the bed in this hot dry summer, I have left the grass. I will remove it next spring–after a winter of moisture (I hope). More on that Wednesday.

But these bulbs even come up through zoysia, which is supposed to be resistant to weeds. That’s really saying something!

Once they open fully, people stop on the street to stare. They can’t believe what they are seeing in the fall!  It’s a great reaction.

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I have seen these bulbs naturalize in other places. They don’t really do it for me. I suspect it’s the heavy clay again. They’ve been here for almost 10 years. If they were going to naturalize, I suspect they would have by now.

But they also haven’t rotted away like so many other things I have planted. And that alone tells you how tough they are. If you haven’t tried them,  you are missing out on one of the joys of fall gardening!

Wordless Wednesday

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What is going on here?  Did Hermine get closer than they predicted? (And wouldn’t it have been better for everyone’s spell checking if they named it Hermione? )

Well, no to the first question and definitely yes to the second!

What I am doing is drying out the amaryllis to put them into dormancy.  I will leave them like this about a week or so and then bring them inside to my basement.  Because my basement doesn’t cool down right away–it’s actually warmer than the house at this point–it’s a little deceiving to say “wait 8 weeks, then pot up and begin to water,” which is the standard advice for what should happen next.

So, because I am sort of a “free range” kind of gardener anyway,  I just leave them there, removing the browning leaves, until I see them beginning to send up new blooms on their own schedule.  If you recall,  for one of them, this year, it was June! And that’s just fine by me. I generally have amaryllis in bloom for months that way.

Summer is Winding Down–What Should Gardeners Be Doing?

Last week I posted a photo about the quality of light that told me that the seasons were changing. I also had a photo of a type of spider that appears this time of year in my garden (at least in a size when its big enough for me to notice).

Since seasons are changing in the northern hemisphere, what should gardeners be doing?

Certain lucky gardeners can plant whole second gardens of course. And if I were organized enough, I could get in a second crop of faster growing things like leaf lettuces and radishes and perhaps even peas if I had started then a bit earlier. But honestly, between the drought this summer and the poor critters that have been coming to the gardens to get at the produce because there’s no other sources for moisture, I really don’t have much desire to plant anything else as a “salad” crop for critters.

If this has not been your problem, by all means, plant a second crop of edibles!

One thing that should be done this time of year–even for those of us in drought stricken areas unless there is a watering ban–is to renovate the lawn. But please, folks, once again, let’s do this sensibly.

I noticed that one of my neighbors–the one that has been having a lawn company pesticide the heck out of their lawn literally every single week all summer long–finally had some core aeration done. Any wonder why that was necessary? This is the same neighbor that “tried” organic care last year but then said that the lawn looked terrible. I hate to tell you what it looks like this year. It’s completely fried from all those chemicals in a drought. But no one’s asking my advice.

If someone were, I would say the core aeration is a great place to start. A little layer of compost might be next.  Ditch the pesticides and don’t fertilize–not in this drought! Lawn renovation might have to wait. But compost and aeration will never do any harm.

If you haven’t gotten around to ordering bulbs, you probably should. Even where I live, it’s still too warm to plant. But you definitely want to reserve them so that you get your choice. The growers won’t ship until it’s the appropriate time to plant anyway. And bulbs are remarkably forgiving.

Finally, get out to your garden centers. Anything that is left over is going to be on sale at a nice discount. And they most likely will have brought in some great new fresh stock for fall planting too. While that may not be discounted, you might see just the thing (beyond mums, cabbages and pumpkins) to liven up the yard for years to come. Just remember that you will need to water it if nature is not helping you.

So what are you waiting for? Fall has some of the best gardening weather around. Go out, enjoy, and get planting!