Six on Saturday – Color at Last – November 10, 2018

We’ve had rain off and on for the last couple of days which is bringing the leaves down. Dark, dreary days but no frost yet. Many leaves are brown and crisp but there are spots of color among the fallen. I think the show will be brief, but I am enjoying every saturated hue.

Here are my Six on Saturday.

  1. The crepe myrtles are beginning to turn.

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2. The red twig dogwood “Arctic Fire” has finally combusted. Once the leaves fall the red stems will provide winter color until they are cut back in the spring.

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3. Amsonia hubrecti (fernleaf) “Arkansas Bluestar”  has turned yellow.  I had another variety  which stayed green and kept its leaves through the winter. It was quite invasive so I dug them out. This clump has grown from a single plant given to me five years ago. I am saving seeds this year and will try to propogate more. I’ve seen it in other gardens where there are large swaths and it’s spectacular.

The small waterfall maple (Acer palmatum, commonly called Japanese Maple), to the right of the amsonia was bought as a rooted twig at the Philadelphia Flower Show at least twenty years ago. I brought it with us when we moved to this house twelve years ago. This photo reminds me I’ve got to get out and put the hose away before we get a hard freeze.

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5. In the spring I planted cornflower (Centaurea scabiosa) seeds – “Perennial Butterfly.” The plants came up but the foliage didn’t stand upright, it just flopped in the raised bed. I almost pulled them out. No flowers until now — and just one! I’ll be interested to see what happens next summer. There are lots of plants with healthy looking leaves. I’ll divide them and put them in different areas to see how they do. If they flop again and don’t flower they’ll go into the compost bin.

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6. I’ve brought my tender plants inside to a corner of the living room for winter color. The red geranium in the big pot was given to me ten years ago by a friend as a hostess gift. That friend has since moved away, but Betsy’s geranium is a long living reminder of our friendship. It goes out to the deck in the summer but really is happier inside. The big pots are on dollys and the other plants are on a repurposed kitchen island also on wheels.

There is an orchid on the top shelf that is alive and sending up a blooming stalk. It’s a miracle! I have killed every other orchid I’ve ever brought into the house. The clivia didn’t bloom last winter but I had repotted it so am hopeful for blooms this year.

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That’s my six for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. I learn something every week from the participating gardeners. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

 

 

 

Relentless Spring

Between the weather and doctor’s appointments (routine but time consuming) and writing there hasn’t been time to blog.  Or perhaps too many disjointed things to blog about.

Last fall a friend who was down sizing asked me if I wanted his plant/seed starting outfit. This was the real deal. Forty-nine inches across, 58″ high and two feet wide. Two shelves, two  feet wide.  Both shelves have heat mats and an array of four grow lights over each plant shelf. He also had vegetable plant supports and some gorgeous large ceramic pots. I took everything! What I can’t use this summer will go to another grateful gardener.

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We put the mini greenhouse in our storage shed behind the house. My idea was to put it in the garage when it was time to start seeds. Our garage has some heat, but it stays cool.  I wasn’t sure about the temperature once I got seeds started. It certainly is not greenhouse warm and putting the outfit in the garage entailed cleaning and reorganizing a space for it. At least a morning’s worth of work.

I knew I wasn’t going to get this project going if I didn’t bring all the parts into the house and start cleaning them up. We’d had a huge amount of rain and getting to our shed required knee high boots, but last weekend we brought everything inside.  And once there, I realized I had a corner where it could possibly live permanently. I could grow  greens all year long! The only problem (not yet resolved) was what to do with the wingback chair and ottoman from that corner. It has been relegated to our bedroom, but that’s not a permanent solution.  I love that chair so I’m not ready to send it to the thrift store.

My friend also gave me two bio-domes and plugs for seed starting. So yesterday I actually planted some seeds. They are on the top shelf of the mini-greenhouse on a heat mat. It’s still too early to plant most vegetable seeds, but there were some annual flowers that could go out in 6-8 weeks. I plugged in one heat mat but have to figure out how to set up the grow light timer that came with the outfit. That won’t be needed until I have germination so a few days of grace. I’ve never used bio-domes before and will be reporting on how I like them.

We’ve had so much rain it’s going to take a while for things to dry out enough to allow to begin spring clean-up. But daffodil bulbs aren’t bothered. They are right on schedule.

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Bok Choy in a raised bed survived the extreme winter cold we had and is looking perky. I never got around to putting a floating row cover on them.

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Every week I’m cutting back Knock-out roses along the drive and filling the trash can. I know it’s early, but these roses are incredibly hardy. I can see buds on the stems. Spring clean-up is easier if I can do a little at a time and the back yard is totally water logged.

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Spring will come whether I’m ready or not. I’m working on it.