Friday, October 31, 2008

Cyclamen Statement

While I love the little wild cyclamens that unfurl their leaves in the fall, I don't exactly think of them as a "statement plant"; that is a plant that stops you in your tracks as you amble down the garden path. However, Cyclamen hederifolium 'Nettleton Silver' comes close; its leaves are huge (the largest almost cover my palm)! They also have a nice silver wash, which lights up in the clear late fall sunshine. My plant was just a tiny tuber two years ago; I can see this plant being the size of a small hosta eventually.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Monkshood Riddle

Explain this: our monkshoods bloom so late that they are always cut down by freezing temperatures; any seedheads present are still quite green and barely formed. Yet, new little monkshoods keep popping up randomly in the garden, far away from any adult plants; not a lot of them, but just here and there... enough to notice and wonder about. I've not noticed any little monkshood plants sneaking down the garden paths, whistling.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Good Gardening Year

One of the main thrusts of my gardening year was to improve the pathways and edging in the garden to make it easier to maintain; it has up to now been sort of an equal opportunity site for both weeds and flowers. Our garden paths roughly form a "wheel", with a long circumferential path, with "spokes" radiating out from the center of the garden on a slight hill, where the life-sized statue of an angel serenely gazes out over the pond. The above picture is of one portion of the circular path, with what will be (if I ever get it trimmed) a long yew hedge on the outside, along a deep, wooded ravine. It's quite nice now to be able to amble along, looking at the flower beds without keeping one eye looking out for low hanging limbs.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Small Garden Straggler

The fall-blooming Crocus kotschyanus is making its annual appearance. It is the penultimate bloomer in our garden; the last flower will be a fall-blooming snowdrop, Galanthus Reginae-Olgae, which will bloom at Thanksgiving if it ever appears this year (I'm watching its spot, but still not a hint of it).
Crocus kotschyanus is a little vagabond that seems to be born straggly; admittedly I have it in too shady a spot, but gardening books all comment that a single drop of rain or puff of wind seems to make it look like it used a leaf blower for a hair dryer.
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Letting Go...

We've had an unusually mild autumn... until now. Today the wind has roared and blustered from the north, blowing through the dry fields of corn, rattling and shredding the stalks and sailing brown chunks across the roads and lawns, bouncing along as if they are trying to follow the warm air to the south. Low 20's tonight, they say, which means the abrupt end of much of the garden for this year. I used to rush about frantically, covering plants with all manner of blankets, pots and buckets. No more; I say that I've just matured as a gardener, and now live with the seasons. However, it may be that I just would rather sit in front of a toasty fireplace and eat chips... I may live with the seasons now, but I spend a good part of the winter in Mexico.
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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Toad Vs. Toad

So, what is my pick for the overall best garden toad lily? This year I'm going to go with Sinonome (with a silver medal to Tojen). I have Sinonome growing in a rather unfavorable spot, in a dry area under a large black cherry tree, yet it is almost three foot tall, with dozens and dozens of flower buds on each stalk. The pictures above show it at present, having already been in bloom for a month; not really a flattering pair of photos, but just to show how many still-unopened buds are present. I can't imagine how long it must bloom in a milder climate than ours, where freezing temperatures didn't cut it down.
So cue the national anthem; Sinonome takes this year's gold.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Toad Vs. Toad

So, after showing a lot of different toad lilies growing in our garden, the question is, which is best (or which do I like best)? The best flower, I think, is that of Tricyrtis Kohaku; creamy white with deep raspberry spots, and light yellow on the reverse. The petal substance is incredible, making the flowers look like they are made of porcelain. However, it's not the best plant; it's short and floppy (often dragging on the ground when its large flowers open), and its leaves tend to brown in the heat of late summer.
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Friday, October 24, 2008

Another Nice Thing About Cyclamens...

One of the nice little bonuses of having a variety of hardy cyclamens in your garden, is that you get oodles of interesting little seedlings; above you can see half a dozen seedlings in the center of a Cyclamen hederifolium plant (close-up in lower picture). They are different than Mom but still nice. These little babies will be plucked out and put in pots for the winter, then planted out in the garden in the spring; hopefully in a few years all the Japanese maples will have patches of cyclamens growing under them.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Late Fall Rush

As October wanes, it's as if all the plants that have not yet flowered are jostling each other to get their blooms in before the first freeze. Towering above them all, the monkshoods serenely and slowly open their deep cobalt flowers at their leisure, seemingly aloof to or unaware of the approaching blackening freeze.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Christmas In October

The stores are full of Halloween decorations, but I see some racks of Christmas lights already showing up, too; people like to get their outdoor lights up while it's still nice out. Our garden is also in the holiday mood, with the "Christmas tree leaf" cyclamen coums all putting up their leaves.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Better And Better

Tricyrtis Taipei Silk just gets better and better as the nights get chillier, with its flowers becoming deep, glowing purple in the fall sunlight.
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Monday, October 20, 2008

Money In The Garden

As the sun angles lower and lower into our valley garden, the silver-leafed cyclamens look like handfuls of silver coins scattered across the dark leaf litter; and as we all know, you can't have too much money... or too many cyclamens in your garden.
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Empress Has Spotty Clothes

Tricyrtis Empress is a striking toad lily with dark green, and rather narrow leaves that are deeply pleated, with markedly spotted flowers. Unfortunately its flowers also show color blotches, indicating that it's another of the toad lilies infected with a virus. It does seem to me that the tricyrtis that have very heavily blotched flowers (like 'Raspberry Mousse') tend to get a lot of browning of their leaves late in summer, while those with light blotching (like 'Empress') continue to look healthy. Perhaps it's a question of virus load?

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Pretty Under Any Name

Tricyrtis Hatatogisu is now called Tricyrtis Seiryu; under either name, it's a pretty little thing. This was apparently the first Tricyrtis hybrid sold commercially. It has exceptionally dark green, pleated leaves, with rather small, but very pretty, jewel-like flowers that are washed with light purple, and lightly spotted. It is a hybrid with Tricyrtis formosana.
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Hungry In The Garden

On these dry, sunny late fall days, the whole back of our garden smells sweetly of burnt sugar; the leaves of the thirty foot Katsura tree exude this incredible aroma as they begin to turn and to fall. It's rather like having a caramel corn stand in the garden... I have a hankering for some Cracker Jacks.
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Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Joy Of Life

Our fall weather so far here has been unusually mild; we have yet to see a frost. Yesterday, the rain clouds cleared out about noon, and a bright, clear afternoon followed, with chilly readings predicted for last night. The migrating songbirds though, know that this fall is on borrowed time. We feel so fortunate to be a popular (and, I'm sure important) little waystation for birds passing through; nicely sheltered, with lots of cover and tall trees, an ample supply of berries and seeds in our woods, and sitting next to a clear pond for drinking and bathing.
Yesterday afternoon the garden was alive with flocks of cedar waxwings; flitting from treetop to treetop, swooping out for insects or just for the sheer joy of flying in the clear air, excited to be on their long voyage. Later, as the sun settled in the west, they sat in groups in the highest trees, catching the last of the warmth, their pale yellow breasts and dark masks beautiful in the waning light.
God, I love this place!
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Baby Boom

I have a fine crop of Asian jack in the pulpit seeds to sow. At top is a species I bought mis-labeled and I've never firmly been able to name it (but it's a knockout). Second is Arisaema ringens, then A. sikokianum, and at bottom A. consanguineum.
Soon there will be the pitter-patter of little jacks around here.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Even More Montreal

More views of the Montreal Botanical garden; this time the Chinese Garden, which was just ravishing. I especially liked the entry gate as seen in the top picture.
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Monday, October 13, 2008

Lovely Toad?

It's not often you'll find the words "lovely" and "toad" used together, but in the case of Tricyrtis Mine no Yuki, it's appropriate. This toad lily is a newer Tricyrtis hirta hybrid from Japan, and its very pale pink flowers with strawberry pink spots are lovely indeed, contrasting nicely with the very dark green foliage. Our plant is in quite deep shade, yet blooms without fail and gets bigger and better every year.
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