Tag Archive | Annuals

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.

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“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.

In The Pink

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It struck me a few days ago how many different shades of pink there are in my garden.

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Many of these are roses, and many of the roses are similar shades of pink. This is a new version of one of the OSO Easy roses.

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And here’s the original Knockout rose, probably a good 20 years older–and yet, a similar shade. Does it keep me from wanting–or acquiring each? Of course not.

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Then there are the more old-fashioned looking roses. Although this cluster of roses looks for all the world like an old-world rose, if you spy the catmint flower poking its head up in the background, you realize how tiny these roses actually are. This is one of the Drift roses. Another–a single form–is right next to it.

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This is a totally different look–but no less charming.

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This is supposed to be the “red” version of the Fairy rose. It’s “red” only if you know how pink the original Fairy rose is.

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And here’s that tropical house plant that was in bud in my window earlier this spring. It certainly has lived up to its promise of glorious flowers.

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Even begonias can have wildly differently “pink” flowers. This one doesn’t look so pink–until you contrast it with the one below which is almost salmon-y by comparison!

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Even the dipladenia, shown below, screams out a shocking fuchsia hue after the salmon-y hue of the above begonia!

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So let’s end with some true pink, shall we, of a miniature pelargonium in a trough garden. Hope you enjoyed the “pink tour!”

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It’s Pollinator Week–What About Plants?

On Monday I talked about the importance of native plants. I said that if you had a choice, and if you liked native plants,  you should choose them because wildlife will always seek out native plants.

For all of you who don’t have natives in your yard (& I include myself in that group because a large portion of my yard is planted with ornamental plants) I will refer you to Douglas Tallamay’s still excellent  book Bringing Nature Home. It was there that I  learned about the true importance of native plants, and that an native  oak tree will feed several hundred different types of creatures whereas some of our imported ornamentals feed none. They’re lovely to look at but absolutely barren in terms of value to wildlife.

But that doesn’t mean that all our ornamentals have no value to wildlife.  Anyone who has watched bees on Japanese pieris early in the spring knows that that shrub, imported ornamental that it is, is quite valuable to the early emerging bumble bees in my region.

Similarly, hydrangeas of all sorts are usually covered in pollinators  (at least in my yard). I have seen several different types of bees, a couple of different types of wasps,  and a few different types of flies all on my hydrangeas (yes, I have a lot of hydrangeas).

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Another non-native ornamental,  roses, also attract bees. This Oso Easy rose was full of several different kinds of bees,  none of which obligingly posed for me. I saw several smaller bees, plus honeybees and bumblebees all on this large shrub.

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Catnip (nepeta) and lavender are two more perennials that are always covered in bees of all sorts. You can see a bumble bees on the nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ in the above photo.

And speaking of herbs, we are told to plant various sorts of herbs to assist different types of pollinators: parsley,  dill, anything with an umbel flower. None of those are “natives.”

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In the heat last week,  some of my leaf lettuce went to seed. But the smaller bees are loving the flowers so I am letting those stay as well.

So if you are feeling a little inferior,  perhaps,  because you don’t have native plants, or enough native plants, or the right kind of native plants, fear not! You can still garden for pollinators and they’ll love you!