Wordless Wednesday–Camouflage

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Rarely do I get to just sit and observe.  And when I do, I find that nature is often wary of being watched.  But these house plants provide great cover!

I hadn’t realized that they make a great screen for bird watching.  Apparently I am much less visible when hiding behind some indoor greenery. You’ll learn what I observed Friday.

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Expect the Unexpected

On Friday I talked about what happens when life gets in the way of gardening.  Things like that have happened before: the year the Spoiler broke his ankle and I had gall bladder surgery on the same day (different hospitals) in mid-March there wasn’t a whole lot of gardening that happened that year either.

Then there was the year that my Mom had a stroke and the Spoiler got kidney stones at the same time. You get the idea. Life happens and gardening takes a big back seat to that.

But if you are a type A perfectionist (something that I have had a tendency to be) this sort of thing really trips you up. It’s all well and good to go around with Tee shirts that say “Compost Happens” and “Impatiens is a Virtue” (that last one is one of my all time favorites!) but wearing a shirt and living the mottos are two entirely different things.

So how then do you reconcile your personality with what you might want to naturally want to do in the garden? Trust me, I am an expert on this because I am the original Type A personality.

The first thing you want to do is to educate yourself about the reasons why you might be doing something in the garden. As I said on Friday, is it necessary to get every leaf out of the garden? Absolutely not!

Yes, you have to get the leaves off the lawn. Yes, you have to get diseased leaves off perennials. Beyond that, let the leaves fall into the garden and stay there.

The same thing goes for cutting back. There is really no good reason to cut back anything perennial in the fall. This is especially true if you are a beginning gardener or if you are new to your garden–you have just bought the house or something like that.  Don’t make a mistake by pruning something at the wrong time.  Better to let it get a little unruly by going a whole year unprecedented if need be,  rather than cutting it back at the wrong time and losing all its bloom.

Finally don’t do something just because everyone says that you have to. My “rose pruning ” story is a perfect example of that. More on Friday.

What Garden Clean-up?

This time of year,  I start lecturing on “Putting the Garden to Bed.” There’s only one problem with this: I don’t practice what I talk about,  something that I freely admit in my lectures.

Or, to put it another way, I discuss the two different methods of garden clean up,  the traditional way and the sustainable way. There’s no “correct ” way for everyone–in other words,  what I am calling “sustainable ” won’t work in lots of neighborhoods. I am just fortunate that it works for me and in my neighborhood.

And then of course there is the ” oh, you have cancer and we’re doing the biopsy today” way, which is what happened to me last year. It wasn’t quite that blatant, but that sure as heck is what happened,  and then after the surgery to remove the rest of the cancer, the whole dang thing got infected so there was NO cleanup at all.

And then this spring, sure enough,  more cancerous cells, so again,  no cleanup. You will be surprised at how well the garden survives without you.

So for those who insist that every leaf must be mown, blown or shredded, I assure you that you are completely wrong. Leave the leaves. They make a wonderful mulch.

More on Monday.

 

 

Wordless Wednesday–Huddled Against Jose

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No, this is not a new plant growing technique: shove everything together up against some larger pots.

Last week they thought we might get some impacts from Hurricane Jose. So I took all the remaining pots that were outside and sheltered them from the wind.

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Anything that had been on the wall I dropped beneath the wall to protect it.

And while yes, we had some wind, thankfully it was minor. We did not suffer the fate of those in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean or so many other areas recently decimated by hurricanes. Thoughts and prayers to all those in those recently devastated areas.

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.

Container Renovation for Fall

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This container has sat next to my driveway since early May. This photo is from June 9, about a month after we got it.

We bought it pre-planted because I had surgery May 18 and there was only so much gardening that I could do. It worked out fairly well  considering its location and the fact that the Spoiler,  who was responsible for dragging the heavy hoses around for a lot of the summer,  didn’t get down to this container nearly as often as he should have.

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But this is what it looks like now. It’s not pretty and clearly it needs to be redone.

So I hemmed and hawed and thought about what I could do. You’re not going to find me planting mums. I think they are a waste of money. At this point in the season,  their life span is too short–& they offer nothing to wildlife.

Asters are a better choice but even those are about past their prime for containers. I wanted something that would look reasonably good until a hard freeze–and possibly thereafter.

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That left me with very few options.  I was happy to find the foamy bells (heucherellas) and a coral bells (heuchera).  At the moment, the heuchera, Palace Purple, is buried under the foliage from the red spike but I don’t expect that to last long. That left me with just one “annual,” the cabbage, which will take a lot of chill. And when it starts looking ratty, I’ll turn the pot so that’s at the back.

This should survive nicely until I get my Christmas greens.

And in the spring, I will have some nice perennials for the garden.

Wordless Wednesday–Ways of Seeing

Every so often I get fixated on a particular tree. In this case, it’s an Eastern White Pine that’s clearly been topped by a storm at one point.

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When you look at the thing, you wonder how long it will even be alive.

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Clearly it had been double-trunked at one point. But now, it’s just a sad mass of needles, really.

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The trees around it don’t look much better. There are some hemlock struggling to hang on, between the years of drought and the adelgid infestations.

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One last look. I wonder if this tree captivates you as much as it does me, or if you have to see it in person?