Tag Archive | Annuals

The Plant that Keeps on Giving

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I bought this plant (the one in the base of the citrus) as a 6″ annual for an outdoor hummingbird container I was planting in 2015. It was called “Jewels of Opar” (don’t you love common names sometime? They’re so romantic!) The botanical name is talinum ‘limon’ presumably for the chartreuse foliage.

As I was scouting around for the botanical on this, lo and behold, I also discovered it was edible! Gracious! This really is the plant that keeps on giving! When I entitled the post that, I merely meant that since 2015, it has self-sowed into various containers of mine and continues to bloom all over the place. You see it here in 3 containers in 3 different stages: blooming, near bloom, and seedling.

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It was blooming outside in my garden beds as well. When I find these flower stalks going to seed, I shake the seeds over my beds and borders and the next season I find plants coming up in the gardens. How delightful. Plants without work. I am all for that!

The article I link to above makes mention of how wonderful these itty bitty tiny flowers are for pollinators. So many of us grow huge hulking flowers to draw in bees and butterflies but we forget about our smaller bees. There are bees that are the size of a grain of white rice and we need to be mindful of those pollinators too!

Of course, if you are going to attempt to eat what you are growing, make sure that you are growing it organically. No pesticides of any kind, especially on the plants but even in your soils. Be mindful of that.

Otherwise, just enjoy these lovely plants and flowers.

 

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House Plants in Containers

Whenever I lecture on either house plants or on container garden design,  on of my  mainstays is to talk about using house  plants in outdoor containers.  I think this is a very under-done practice, and when gardeners do do it, they often discard ( or compost) the house plants at the end of the season with the annuals.  Not only is that unnecessary,  but it deprives the gardener of something that can be reused for many seasons and often in different designs each season.

Last weekend,  I took a stroll around a nearby town and photographed some of the containers to show house plants creatively used. These are all on borrowed time–we are already 2 weeks past our first frost date. But most of them look great!

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This is a diffenbachia together with some fuchsia and purple leafed sweet potato vine.  Very pretty.

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A simple arrangement of aralia, scaveola, and impatiens.

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Tricolor dracena, more impatiens and begonias.

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More sweet potato vine–chartreuse this time– more impatiens and another diffenbachia.

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Some variegated tradescantia, yet more impatiens and a ti plant. There were many of these ti plants all over town but these were the best looking. Some were completely overwhelmed by the other flowers and foliage.

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And now for something completely different,  just a peace lily in a basketimely. This can easily be whisked inside for cooler weather.

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Finally  this is not the best looking planter, but I love the use of thyme as a ” spiller.”

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.

“Fall” Colors

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This is a close-up of the shot of my steps from the Friday post. You can see the crotons better,  and you can see the calibrachoa, or million bells, in the pots beneath the 2 larger ones. They are a mix–great variety called Dreamsicle that I planted for the first time this year, and a double yellow.  Not only do they nicely highlight the colors in the crotons’ leaves, but for this time of year, they are great fall color. Dreamsicle is a mix of salmon, and orange flowers.

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Here’s the back wall of the steps, where the  sweet potato vine is. You can see it, along with the little bowl of succulents  (which has been there all summer,  but was overshadowed by the hibiscus and mandevilla) are now color-echoing the begonias.

It doesn’t take much to make these changes.  Look around your own yard to see what you have to work with.

Transitioning Your Outdoor Palette to Fall

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Remember this summery shot from Labor Day when I was bringing in the house plants?

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This is the same shot, taken 2 days later. Notice the difference?

Yes, some of the same plants are still there. But I have brought in others to emphasize the  autumnal colors of fall–the dark purple of the sweet potato vine, the dark stripes on my two banana plants, the fall-like colors in the crotons.

It’s a subtle shift, but it helps pick up the burgundy stems of the begonias that are nearby, and the red Japanese maple.

As we transition into autumn, how can you move some plants around to take advantage of the changing seasons?

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.