One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."

Archive for the ‘annuals’ Category

Late Season

Remember when we were kvetching about all the heat and humidity?

Last night it got pretty chilly here, dipping just below forty degrees, but with winds gusting to about 40 mph, it felt like winter was arriving, even perhaps, that Sudden Deep Freeze scene from The Day After Tomorrow.   The brilliant moonlight silvered everything seen out the window, too, just to enhance the illusion.

Since the weekend ahead is the one I had set aside for such autumnal things like putting the garden to bed and (more importantly) getting the storm windows in place, last night was dang cold, with the Gray Catsby and I snuggled together under several blankets and comforters while the wind howled outside.  Thankfully, he throws a bit of  heat.

This morning I awoke to find snow…but thankfully only in photos of friends of mine who live in more northern climates.   The temperature is 49 F at 11:30 a.m., though the wind still gusts here, keeping the trees dancing and sending fading leaves swirling.   The sunshine is bright and warm, though and there isn’t much reason to hibernate just yet.

The deck garden and the yard aren’t quite ready to be put to bed, so I’ll focus on the storm windows today.

I offer these warm-looking photos as antidote to the Season Shock my friends in chillier places may be experiencing lately.

I have already brought a few things indoors, like the hibiscus that starts off this post, a pot of marine heliotrope, another of mint and a lovely hanging basket I’m not quite ready to say so long to yet.   I do hope to repot those now-two-year-old dracaenas, since they o’er-wintered so well inside last year…and there’s the asparagus ferns…it’ll be a real jungle in here once that great migration is complete.

But first the storm windows, while the deck keeps up its pretty show.

By the way, I don’t want you to think I’m all done with posts about Summer, there’s at least a Part 2 and 3 coming, possibly more.  But of course, when you just take loads of pics as the summer races along, it’s tricky (but fun) and time-consuming:  remembering just where they are saved, under what name, and the way I’d like to arrange them to tell the story.

But as they say, No Day But Today, and just to be clear, each one of these pics was taken this morning.

The pink bloom in the shot below is one of my very successful crop of agastache plants I grew this year (In the background – big surprise – is purple allyssum).    They were happy plants right out of the gate and grew wonderfully as the season progressed.   Some were gifted to others gardens, while a half a dozen stayed with me.

In the next couple of weeks, they’ll find homes in the gardens downstairs and – if my experience is true – will live almost ten years once I  find them the right spot.  But  with such a drought going on this summer, it seemed kinder to keep the plants in pots just outside the door where I could make sure they got watered.

The rain we’ve had recently is doing its work down in the garden, and the Shasta daisies by the driveway – normally long finished blooming by the end of July – have managed to present just a few more flowers this week, to join in the chorus of rudbeckia and imperial mums who’ve taken center stage for the season’s finale.

Stay warm, everyone – it’s flannel shirt and fleece season, to be sure – and have a great weekend!!

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Sunday in the Garden

Hi everyone.  I’m Greg and I’m a plant-a-holic.  (Hi Greg!)

It’s not an unusual thing for me this time of year, to lose track of purchases and find myself eating a little extra Ramen until the next paycheck rolls around.  But there are so many delightful plants to choose from – and still so many that I’ve never had the privilege of growing – that it is sometimes difficult to choose.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when Mr. Downstairs (builder of wonderful decks and – for the record – the Best Landlord Ever) informed me that we were going plant shopping yesterday.  It had already been a pretty terrific weekend which included a plant-seed swap with Susan of Trout Towers and pair of great concerts with my friends in the Chamber Singers.   So the idea of choosing plants for the yard and not having to pay for them just tickled me no end.

The list of purchases was pretty long.  Mostly, I selected annuals this time around, as we have lots of perennials already and I’d have to be creating new beds in advance of choosing more of those.   So I focussed on the things which will – hopefully – bloom all season and help to showcase all those perennials we do have.   I was excited because, since its my second year here, I had what I think were some smarter ideas about what plants to put in which locations.

Some of these weren’t in bloom yet, so its hard to pick them all out in a photograph, and you’ll have to wait a little while before I feature them here.

But I planted little promises for the future everywhere, including cleome, agastache, bacopa, snapdragons, bachelor buttons, gazanias, portulaca, geranium, WAVE petunias lantana and plenty of marigolds.

And as I worked in certain beds, I also added seeds for more marigolds, cosmos, bachelor buttons and (say it with me now) allyssum.

Some of the plants were chosen for containers, a few of which were half planted already, just to fill out the planter.   I find plants do better in those circumstances when they are crowded up close to one another.  Also, trailing plants help to shade the container soil, so water is less likely to evaporate on the hot sunny days ahead.

I haven’t bought any of the WAVE petunias in a few years, and I think the deep purple might be a new color choice since my last purchase of them (which I think dates back to before I started this here garden blog).

HGTV fans may recall the commercial jingle that sings “The WAVE puts the ‘oooh’ in petunia.”, but even that doesn’t tell the Uninitiated that the WAVE petunia is a sort of super-hybrid that has long stems that radiate out from the plant’s center and, with reasonable fertilization, will be just covered in flowers throughout the season.

I’ve had good luck in the past letting them trail through other, taller plants, but this year have put a couple in containers, too.   I think they’ll perform well, as long as I remember to feed them and keep them pruned to encourage them to branch more.

The purple flower in the photo above is called Browallia, which is indicated for part shade/sun, so just perfect on of the planters on the side steps, where it joined some sweet woodruff (also above, but harder to see in the upper left) and some previously planted pansies.   The dracaena (spike) and the variegated ivy (in the right of the same photo) went into a different container that was already hosting some impatiens and coleus.

It was a beautiful day for working in the yard, although perhaps I ought to have thought more carefully about some sunscreen, which is more important to remember on mostly overcast days such as this one.  Although it was pretty humid with temps in the rising 70s, there was a pretty steady breeze that helped cool things a little.

One of my favorite things about gardening is being out there in Nature, feeling like you are a part of something bigger.   As I worked, chipmunks flew back and forth across the lawn, yelling at one another (and no doubt the rest of us, too) about chipmunk things we don’t understand.   The oriole, spotted once or twice at a distance over the past couple of weeks, was finally tempted to one of the feeding stations in the yard thanks to an offering of grape jelly.   Everywhere you walk in the yard now, there are robins trying to lead you away from their nests (as we now host three of them:  under the new deck, in the lilac and also in the hollow of the old apple tree).   And on one of my trips around to the front of the house, I spotted this little turtle.

I think this is an eastern box turtle, but if so, then a young one (the one I knew in my last Eastham garden was decidedly larger than this little fellow) measuring about four or five inches across and only slightly longer.  If anyone knows enough to correct me, your re-directive comments are most welcome.

He was not pleased that we came in for a close-up look, as evidenced by his shrinking back into his shell.  After a moment, though, he resumed his march, making a quick exit into some taller grass and the cover of an o’erturned rowboat in the side yard.

I was sort of interested in where “he” was headed and I was a bit torn between giving it some privacy and tracking its movements.   It was moving west, so I assume – in hindsight – that its destination may have been the marsh across the street.   There’s no evidence to the contrary this morning, so I’ll assume that the crossing of the road went well.  Or perhaps he’s taking up residence under that rowboat.  I’ll keep you posted about any future sightings.

In the midst of getting all the new additions in the ground, I was also able to do some other maintenance work in various beds.   You may recall this Montauk daisy, which I planted beside the Monkey God last summer.

Since the Montauk daisy blooms so late in the year (usually somewhere around mid-September), this is a good time to give them a pruning, to encourage more branching – and consequently – more blooms, so I grabbed my pruners and gave the whole bush a bit of a trim.

Well, most of the bush.   I did leave one branch tall for now, since it’s terminal bud was hosting a little spider and her nest.   I can touch that one up later on.

But I didn’t discard those pruned branch tips, either.   While I was pleased at the idea of spending someone else’s dollar at the nursery, I also still don’t believe in discarding things that can be useful and save us money in the future.  And I like to think that, about gardening at least, I am something of an evil genius.  Except maybe not so evil.  But still, bwa ha ha.

I learned sort of accidentally about four years ago that its quite easy to root broken branches of Montauk daisy, so I saved these for after I’d finished all my other planting.   Back upstairs, I trimmed the bottom leaves off of each of the tips and then stuck them into a planting box I got pansies in last year.   This – and regular watering, naturally – should be all I have to do to encourage some new seedlings to thrive.

They look a bit floppy just now, but I have high hopes that at least some of them will survive and take root here, where I can keep a closer eye on them.   If this experiment works out, we might someday have a whole hedge of Montauk daisies with which to greet the autumn.

Bwa – ha- ha.

Ha.

On Saturday, there was talk of tornado warnings in a great many locations in the Northeast, and sadly, tornados took a number of lives in Ohio over the weekend.   As the day went on yesterday, our skies grew more cloudy and what had been a comforting breeze turned into something a shade gustier and for a while I wondered if we should be worrying about tornados which are rare hereabouts, or at least another big thunder-boomer like we had on Saturday, which are not so rare.

That never materialized, though I’m happy to say we did see a bit of light rain after dark, for which all the new plants were surely quite happy.

Hey, a special shout-out to my buddy George, who found himself in the hospital for an emergency appendectomy this weekend.   Wishing you a speedy recover, pal!

Late Autumn Gardens

 

morning-sun

 First, a technical note:  As you know, life’s been a little unsettled here at the Midnight Garden this fall.   Not in a bad way, for the most part, but certainly the blog is not as highly organized as t’was before my own move and the move to a new blog hosting sight.  

I’d heard from at least one of you that you were missing the old Gardener’s Soundtrack playlist I featured at the old Blogger location, and so last evening, I tried to bring that here to WordPress.  You’ll see it’s there in the right column and you can click on it to launch the pop-out player…but I can’t seem to make it play automatically, or randomly as the page loads.  So forgive the technical glitch and if you’re looking for some tunes while you visit, there they be.  Turn up your speakers – there might be something you’ll like!    If not, you can always turn ’em back down again.

graupel

The good news is that, in the process of trying to figure out how to get the HTML over there in the right column, I stumbled across the place I needed to find in order to populate my Blogroll with all my favorite blogs and bloggers.  Yay.  So there’s that! 

All those things sort of help to take the sting out of the sudden (but perhaps overdue) arrival of wintery weather here on the Outer Cape.   Tuesday morning, I was having a cup of coffee, noting that it was cold, but still considering going for a walk.  As I watched, the skies darkened and there was a great noisy precipitation, as we were pelted with graupel.  

Graupel is that pellet-y stuff that isn’t snow, but isn’t quite hail.  Anyway, as you can see, we got a bit of it.  For my part, I passed on the walk and was content to lounge around the Nest a little longer with a second cup of coffee, instead.

For those of you who are keeping track (I’d forgotten, until I had a congratulatory email from my good friends at QuitNet.com), Tuesday marked my Four Month Anniversary without cigarettes.    I’m really feeling very good about it…and I do try to remember this when other things are getting me down.  Although I forget from time to time, I don’t want to get complacent about the smoking.   My most successful previous attempt, after all, lasted eight months.  But still, it’s an occasion worth marking, and at least offering a little Woo Hoo over, if not a full blown celebration.

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money-plant-snowThe rest of Tuesday was a little better, since the sun returned pretty quickly after our brief graupel storm.  It was one of those bright, golden Cape Cod days…but our temperature never quite got to 40 and there was a sense that the season really had turned, as we knew it eventually would.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise to wake up yesterday morning to a skyful of snow flurries, swirling around outside the windows and making tiny little drifts here and there on the landscape and the porch.

This reminded me of several things:  first, there were a few storm windows I hadn’t fully closed here at the Nest.   So I took care of those.   But I had also, amidst many other things, purchased a few small, inexpensive bags of flower bulbs which I needed to get into the ground, a little investment toward next spring’s celebrations.

bulb-varieties

bulbs1

 

Planting bulbs was not foremost in my mind this fall, and so by the time I got around to identifying a few bucks for this, and then to actually checking to see what was available in the store, the choices were somewhat limited.  No crocuses, no grape hyacinths…none of those tiny pretties I love so well.

However, there were some nice purple globe alliums.  The package indicates I can hope they might be as tall as three feet.  There were, I think, seven in the pack.   The other two packages were tulips, each package holding four each of two different colors. 

Since it’s a small patch of garden I’m planting in just now, two packages seemed more than enough, but I think the four colors will work well together.

last-coneflower

You can see in the background above that the upper levels of this coneflower plant have already died back, even though it’s pressed out one more little flower just in the last week. 

snowy-allyssum

At the feet of the coneflower, though, is a clump of white allyssum.  It grew from some of the last seed I sowed in the Harwich garden this year, and these seedlings were traveling partners in the same pot with the coneflower when it came time to move.  

Allyssum is one of the hardier annuals and I’ve seen it escape a garden and travel all over the place.  In some parts of Provincetown, I have found great clouds of the stuff growing from the tiniest crack in the pavement.  So I have some hope that this stuff may survive the winter and or at least spread itself around some. 

And if not, well, it’s sure easy enough to throw some more seed around!  Meanwhile, this happy little flowers were an interesting compare/contrast moment with the tiny white flowers of snow flying through the air as I was planting bulbs.   It was, as always, fun to be doing something in the garden, despite – or perhaps because – of the weather.

In fact, when I was finished with the planting, I added one more layer…and a hat…and went for a short walk down by the marsh.

marsh-from-bridge

 

pink-and-orange-berries1I wish I knew what these pink and orange berries were.   They were growing on a small tree/bush on the marsh side of the road.  Because of that location, I assume that it was a wild plant, but I can’t say that for sure; who knows how property plots may be laid out along the road…and even if its wilderness land, there’s no guarantee that birds haven’t brought in the seed from some fancy landscape star to the location.

Anyway, I like these berry/seedpod things, since you don’t see pink ones very often.  This time of year, of course, they’re very striking.   

They seem to crack open a little in the center, as some of them have an orange center pod thing to them (none of the ones I managed to focus on, though).  And it seems to me to be kind of rare that you see those two colors so closely combined.  So that’s nice, too.

marsh-with-snowy-air1

mum-down-the-streetI didn’t walk all the way down to the bayshore.  It was pretty chilly and windy out there.  But it was nice to go for a brisk walk on such a fine morning and see what was happening in the world.

Last week, I showed you some pretty golden mums with sort of tubular petals.   This ruffly red chrysanthemum is from a different patch of the same garden, which is just down the road from the Nest.  

I sure do love how the mums keep carrying on so late in the season out here.

As forecast, the sun did come out for a while in the afternoon and we saw some awfully pretty blue skies.   But our temperature never rose above 34 and in fact, dropped down to 26 (!!) overnight.  The season has turned and so the garden shows of today’s may soon be a thing of the past.  

main-street-trees-with-sky

But also, a thing of the future.   Which really is the best thing about gardening.  There’s always hope, always a chance to start fresh. 

To begin again.

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