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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The simple joy of digging and planting

Cornus kousa 'Summer Fun'
I love digging in the garden.

With each shovelful of dirt, I feel like I'm entering a secret world of bacteria and fungi and worms and other critters than live amongst the roots and rocks that lie buried beneath the surface.

Did this secret underground world have any idea earlier today that it would be unearthed?

Today when I was digging, I found mostly roots from a nearby Carolina Silverbell tree that sadly didn't make it. The top of the tree died out two springs ago and it never really recovered. It did send up some shoots from the base of the trunk, but I had no expectation that any one of those shoots would someday replace the mother tree.

So I cut it down with my reciprocating saw (I love that saw) and proceeded to dig another hole nearby for the tree I selected to replace it, a dogwood tree with variegated leaves, Cornus kousa 'Summer Fun'. I had been admiring this tree at a local garden center every time I went there this year. Then I read a post on Facebook that all their trees, shrubs, and perennials were on sale, 40% off.

The reason the garden center people have to put the trees and shrubs on sale when now is the perfect time to plant them is because people simply do not want to believe that fall is the best time to plant trees and shrubs. They don't understand that the roots will grow and continue to support and establish the tree or shrub long after the leaves have fallen and before the ground actually freezes.

There are some exceptions to this fall planting rule, but not many.

Other people's, by which I mean most people's lack of understanding means that gardeners like me can swoop in and get good deals on trees and shrubs in the fall because the garden centers really don't want to try to overwinter them in their pots.  So in addition to the good deal on the dogwood tree,  I also paid a nice low price for a Brown Turkey fig. This particular fig is supposed to be as hardy as they come so I'm giving it a chance back in the Vegetable Garden Cathedral.

Digging two holes in one afternoon. Whew, it can wear a gardener out and is probably all I'm good for, given the shape I'm in and given that I also cleaned up and weeded two of the raised beds in the Vegetable Garden Cathedral.  But that's okay, because I just needed the two holes this time.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, I'll return to weeding and cleaning up the garden. I'm following my own advice for fall - "Leave the garden in the fall how you want to find it in the spring." Or something like that.  I want to find the garden nice and clean and ready to plant, with no weeds.  Or very few weeds. Or just manageable weeds. Yeah, I'll settle for manageable weeds.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Camellias and Conversation

Camellia 'Snow Flurry'
I am convinced certain plants in my garden do all they can to avoid blooming on the 15th of the month when I host Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Perhaps they are shy? Don't like to be photographed and publicized? Or maybe they wanted a post of their own?

My camellia 'Snow Flurry' was in full bloom the day after bloom day. I had to show it in bud for bloom day. Then the next day, which is today, the petals were all shattered and scattered on the ground.

So much for the big show.  Southern gardeners would point and laugh if they saw the size of the plant this one bloom is on. You see, after 18 months in the ground, give or take, it is really just one stem. One stem, maybe 12 inches tall. No branching, yet.

The other camellia that survived last winter, 'April Remembered' is a much more impressive plant when compared to 'Snow Flurry'. Though compared to what it might look like if it was growing in the south, it's not something I want to show too much on my blog.  Just close ups.

Lest you all think I have lost my mind coddling these camellias in the Garden of Southern Follies and Delights, did I mention the other plants that I've added?

Did I mention I added three crape myrtles earlier this summer and then planted out two gardenias that I got as trial plants at the GWA conference? And did I mentioned I planted crinums? And I have three more camellias from the GWA conference in little pots that I really should get planted soon so they at least have a chance.

If I mentioned them, I apologize for being redundant.

It's been so warm lately that even I'm starting to think I'm gardening in the south now. Today, the warm breeze was just freaky to this Midwestern gardener. At this point in the gardening year, I should be wearing long-sleeve shirts and shivering a bit as I frantically run around the garden preparing for winter.

Instead, today I wore shorts and a t-shirt and spent some time just sitting in the garden looking at the blue sky, feeling the warm breeze, and thinking that Mother Nature is tricking me into complacency when it comes to fall clean up.

And I'm allowing myself to be tricked.

But at night when I lay my head down on my pillow I vow that tomorrow will be different. I will act like it is the later half of October and get on with garden clean up. I will weed, plant trees and shrubs, plant bulbs, rake leaves.  I will act like it is fall, even though it feels like summer.

Well, it sort of feels like summer, except for the sun getting up later each morning, which I find myself doing too. And the sun is setting earlier each evening.

At least I am not falling for the early sunset trick! I'm staying up past sunset.  I have that going for me.

Now, don't let me come back here and post anything else until I've weeded that vegetable garden and the Garden of Southern Follies and Delights, too.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - October 2016

Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for October 2016.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana, we've been enjoying a mild fall with moderate temperatures.  Though our usual first frost date is around October 10th, we've yet to see even a hint of frost, so the garden grows on.

Up first, is a dahlia named 'Tutti Frutti'. I planted this out rather late in the spring. And by late I mean early June. I'm told those who grow dahlias regularly will often pot them up in April indoors to give them a head start and then plant them out as soon as it is frost-free.

I guess I wanted more of a challenge. Though I am showing just one bloom the plant has a dozen blooms on it right now. Thank you to blogging friends Leslie and Cindy for sending me the dahlia tuber last spring. I believe they grew the same variety in their gardens in California and Texas, so I'll be watching for their bloom day posts to see if they have any 'Tutti Frutti' blooms to share.

Moving along through the garden, the usual fall flowers are blooming, but fading. These include asters, mums, goldenrods, hardy begonias, toad lilies, and colchicums.

I snapped a picture of this toad lily while gingerly stepping through the garden border where the autumn crocuses should be blooming.
I hope to see the autumn crocuses in the next few days. I don't know what's keeping them. It could be it just isn't cold enough or perhaps the squirrels ate the corms? I sure hope not!

One flower I am excited to see starting to open up is the Camillia 'Snow Flurry".
This isn't the best picture, but you get the idea.  There were five flower buds on this camellia, which is barely hanging on in the Garden of Southern Follies and Delights. I'm letting this one bud open and bloom but pinched off all the others. This camellia is far too young and fragile to be involved in flowering and bees and reproduction! It needs to put its energy into become a stronger plant so it can survive another winter here in zone 6a.

What else is blooming?  Well, the zinnias are still going strong in the Vegetable Garden Cathedral.
I've started working on cleaning up the vegetable garden and almost ripped these the other day out but since they are still blooming, I decided to let them go awhile longer. Truthfully, they will probably be the last plant standing in the veg garden later this fall.

I know there are lots of bloom day posts to read, so I'll keep this short and conclude with a picture of the fading asters.

They bring a lot of color to the garden at this time of year and attract all kinds of pollinators who know that in spite of the lack of frost, the days are still getting shorter and soon enough we will all be left with just memories of this growing season.

What's blooming in your garden?  Join in for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and show us. It's easy to participate. Just post on your blog about what ever is blooming in your garden on the 15th of the month, then come back here and leave a comment telling us what you have and a link in Mr. Linky to make it easier for us to find you.

And repeat after me, as many have...

"We can have flowers nearly every month of the year." ~ Elizabeth Lawrence

Monday, October 10, 2016

Echoes in the garden

Echo of color
See the echo of color in the garden?

The orange mums with yellow centers echo the colors in the sculpture behind them. If anyone asks I definitely planned for that to happen once the mums started to bloom.

Like any good gardener, I take credit for everything good in my garden. I do not take credit, however, for weeds. Nor do I take blame. Dr. Hortfreud and I have been discussing the whole weed thing.

See, I thought I'd have a relatively weed-free garden this season since I have more time to spend in the garden these days, presumably.  And though I thought I spent more time in the garden, the garden is as weedy as it has ever been.

I attribute the additional weeds to the abundance of rainfall this season. Dr. Hortfreud says it is because I haven't mulched properly for several seasons and though she isn't sure I spent that much more time in the garden, Dr. Hortfreud is certain I wasn't weeding when I was in the garden.

What, then, did I do in the garden all the time I was out there?

I really need to keep better notes. I mowed, I planted, I trimmed. I pruned. I harvested, I dreamed. I even mulched some paths a bit. I guess I just didn't weed.

But I plan to weed this fall. And mulch, too.

And look for more echoes.