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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Rare in Cultivation

Admit it. You read that title "Rare in Cultivation" and your heart skipped a beat. Maybe your fingers started shaking a bit as you quickly scrolled down to see what plant it is that I am going to write about that is "rare in cultivation".

Already if you are a gardener, you want this "rare in cultivation" plant. You can hardly wait to find out what plant it is and are thinking about where you will put it, though you know nothing about it except it is "rare in cultivation".

"Rare in cultivation" is quite enough info for you to decide that if I have it and it is "rare in cultivation", you want it, too. And you are hoping it isn't too expensive or too hard to find.

Rare in cultivation!

You just have to have it. Case closed.

Yes, if you want to get a gardener to want a plant, you need only describe it as "rare in cultivation".

That's it. With those three magic words-- "rare in cultivation"-- gardeners will clamor for whatever the plant is, insist they must have it, and lie awake nights figuring out how to get it.

My red maple, Acer rubrum, is certainly not rare in cultivation.  The one pictured above in my back garden is either 'October Glory' or 'Autumn Blaze'.  The one in my front garden is either 'Autumn Blaze' or 'October Glory'.  I have no way to tell the difference between them at this point, and I suspect even a well-trained nurseryman couldn't.

Based on the names they were given, I knew both would have good fall color. And they do.

Nice, Carol, but what is this "rare in cultivation" plant you have that I want!

Another plant with a nice fall show in my garden is Begonia grandis.

I think the seed heads look just as fancy as the flowers did, and I love the red branches against the green leaves. I'm going to let those seeds mature and see if this begonia will do a bit of naturalizing in my garden.

I don't think hardy begonia is "rare in cultivation" but I don't see it for sale that often and thus I don't think a lot of gardeners think to grow it in their shady areas.  But if I told everyone it was "rare in cultivation", they'd be asking, begging, clamoring, for seeds and starts and divisions and cuttings--whatever they could get to get it started in their own gardens.

Again, Carol, what is this "rare in cultivation" plant you have that I want!

"Rare in cultivation" is indeed a magic phrase. You could show a gardener a picture of foxtail and describe it as "rare in cultivation", and suddenly, gardeners will want it.
It will suddenly, and erroneously, be thought of us a plant that few other gardeners have and therefore it is special to have such a plant. After all, "rare in cultivation".

This foxtail is technically "rare in cultivation" because it is a common weed and no one would cultivate it knowingly. Fortunately, it is also an annual weed so if I get out there quick and cut off those seedheads, maybe next year, I'll have less of it.

You trickster, Carol, you don't have  a"rare in cultivation" plant to share, do you?

I love a "rare in cultivation" plant as much as the next gardener.  I just don't have any particular one to show right now. I just know "rare in cultivation" is a sure way to get a gardener to want a plant!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wouldn't hurt a fleabane

A little fleabane in the garden never hurt anything or anybody, and it's good for the pollinators.

Fleabane, Erigeron sp. is a native wildflower that just shows up here and there in my garden throughout the growing season. I think what grows in my garden is either Annual Fleabane, Erigeron annus or Daisy Fleabane, Erigeron strigosus.

Annual or Daisy, I rarely pull it out when it shows up unexpectedly, even though it's a common wildflower. Some might even call it a weed. They can hush up with such a word.

I don't think it hurts the garden to have a bit of fleabane growing up, around, and through some of the other flowers, so when I see it, I thank it for coming to my garden, and leave it be.

Well, I don't actually thank it. That would be something an eccentric gardener might do. Okay, I might thank it but that's between me and the fleabane.

I've don't remember ever seeing fleabane for sale around here, or anywhere, but that doesn't mean it isn't for sale someplace. But who needs to buy what Mother Nature provides for free?

Which reminds me. I've been reading that lots of little bees and other pollinators overwinter in the hollow stems of different perennial flowers and grasses, so we shouldn't get all rambunctious and ambitious about fall garden clean up and cut everything down now, lest we destroy their winter homes.  I'm taking that advice to heart. I may remove some plants infested with powdery mildew. I may cut off some seed heads of prolific self-sowers like asters, but I'm going to leave most of the stems standing until spring, especially in my August Dreams Garden which is mostly native prairie wildflowers

That will make spring time busier in my garden, but my overwintering garden guests will be happier because of it. And my friend Gail, who hosts Wildflower Wednesday on her blog at Clay and Limestone to promote wildflowers and pollinator friendly plants on the fourth Wednesday of the month, will be pleased with me, too.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Mowing - A Session with Dr. Hortfreud

Hello Dr. Hortfreud.

Hello, Carol. How are you and did you want to talk about the iris that is re-blooming that never re-bloomed before?

No, Dr. Hortfreud, I want to talk about mowing.


Yes, again, though I don't think we've talked about it that much.

It's your time, so proceed. What about mowing?

Well, Dr. Hortfreud, I think up my best ideas when I'm mowing and I'm concerned that once this season is over, I won't have any more ideas until next spring.  I was thinking about recording the sound of mowing and playing it back this winter to help me generate ideas.

Carol, do you really think the sound of the mower helps your thinking?  Maybe you should strap your smartphone to your forehead and record a video while you are mowing and replay that this winter when you don't think you have any ideas. Maybe buy one of those funny candles that is supposed to be the scent of "new mown grass".

Dr. Hortfreud, I think you are making fun of me!

Well, Carol, think about it. Perhaps it isn't the mowing, per se, but the walking? I'm reminded of the phrase "Solvitur ambulando" -- It is solved by walking. 

Oh, I could walk on my treadmill!

You have a treadmill, Carol? I've never seen you walk on it. Is it hidden?

Very funny, Dr. Hortfreud.  I guess I've just never invited you for a walk on the treadmill.

Maybe that's the problem, Carol.  Invite me along next time and I bet together we can come up with some good ideas, without the sound, sight, or smell of mowing.

Deal, Dr. Hortfreud. You're invited for my next walk. Maybe we can talk about the iris that re-bloomed that never re-bloomed before?

That was my thought, too. Carol.  Well, this has been a good session and I think we've accomplished quite a bit. My secretary, Jane Hortaway, will send you a bill and schedule our next session.

Thank you, Dr. Hortfreud, I hope we can have sessions all winter long.

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.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Garden Fairies Discuss What Happens When They Argue

Garden fairies here.

We are garden fairies and we were just discussing what happens when we argue amongst ourselves.  What happens is the toad paints the flowers of Tricyrtis to look like the spots on his back and so we end up with toad lilies.

He did this while we garden fairies were arguing about whether the flowers should be white or purple.  We at first were just a bit miffed that the toad used our secret flower paints to do this behind our backs, but then when we saw the final result, we were quite pleased.

We should argue more often.

Or not.

We are still discussing it. And by discussing, we mean arguing.

Anyway, lovely as that story, The Legend of the Toad Lily, is, and it has been told on this blog before, if you have been paying attention, that is not really why we are posting today. That was just the hook to get you to read this post. 

We are garden fairies, we are tricky like that. We get people to do stuff, but for some reason we cannot get Carol out into this garden where there are certain tasks, namely weeding, and secondly namely taking in the houseplants, that she has not done and needs to do now or there will be no garden and no houseplants in the foreseeable future.

We have no idea what she was doing instead of weeding and houseplanting but we know this. And yes, houseplanting is a word or we garden fairies would not have used it. She was gone a lot in the last month. First there was a vacation.  To a beach. And we are certain of this because there is a bag of sea shells as evidence. 

Then it appears she went to Atlanta to meet up with all kinds of other garden communicators. And there is a big stack of business cards and a big row of new plants as evidence of that trip.

Since returning, we thought Carol would be all garden-a-fire to get out here and weed.  She did replace the plants in the front containers. Goodness gracious, those plants looked like frass after the summer, so it was a good thing she replaced them with flowering cabbages, pansies, some dark black ornamental peppers and a few mums. We did not even mind the mums we were so happy that the frassy summer-worn-out plants were gone.

And she did mow the lawn. Then she sat on the lawn like she had all the time in the world. We are garden fairies and we have an announcement for Carol.  News flash, sweetie. Time didn't stand still in the garden while you were gone, and now it is fall. 

We also saw in the window that she is busy at the computer in the library. Writing. A lot.  If she's writing a book, we garden fairies want in on the action. But we don't want to be part of just any book, we want our own book.

After all, we are garden fairies. Patient, kind, wonderful garden fairies, waiting for Carol to get busy weeding and houseplanting before the snow flies.

And no, we are not going to do Carol's gardening for her. We are garden fairies. We are busy.There are leaves to paint.

Submitted by:
Violet Greenpea Maydreams, chief scribe and chief spy for the garden fairies at May Dreams Gardens