Tip: season-end plant sales

If your garden needs more plants -- and whose doesn't -- you really need to take advantage of plant sales. There are typically two times of the year when the nurseries near me start reducing prices: mid-summer, and mid-fall.

Mid-summer plant shopping is not fun, as the oppressive heat and humidity makes browsing plants an uncomfortable experience, but fall sales are another thing entirely. I've been visiting local nurseries in the cool/cold weather lately looking for bargains, and I've found a few recently.


Cannas still going!

Last year I grew cannas for the first time, starting with just a couple of 'Tropicana' rhizomes that I got in a trade and adding a mid-summer bargain with Canna 'Paton'. This year due to the expanding nature of Cannas I had more Tropicana and Paton plants -- I think the number of 'Paton' in my yard tripled -- and I added Canna 'Wyoming', the "regular" green-leaved canna, and this Canna indica 'Madeira':

They've really surprised me, flowering for very long stretches of the summer and fall, and some of them are still going strong today!


leaving, or not

Yesterday I took the rare action of preparing several blog posts at once. I didn't write them all, but I started, got the photos together, mapped out the order in which I'd like the posts to appear. What would make me spend my valuable weekend outdoors time in front of the computer? Was it to help forget a painful loss that my second-favorite local sports received? Was I just bored? Did I forget that I have a list of at least a dozen projects I could do around the house?

No, I had planned on leaving town yesterday evening for a few days in the Boston area on business. (Good timing for a trip east, right?) When I'm out of town I obviously don't have access to my garden, so must plan ahead. With hurricane Sandy expected to start hitting the east coast on Monday, Southwest had cancelled all flights to Boston for Monday and Tuesday -- I felt lucky that I had a ticket to fly out Sunday evening.



The last plant box of 2012 has arrived, and it's just as exciting as the first one of the year. (If you've never ordered plants from non-local nurseries, or participated in a long-distance plant trade with another gardener, you're missing out!)

This box arrived earlier in the week, but I didn't get around to opening it until yesterday. I wasn't worried about getting the plants out of the package right away as I normally would be, as there are no plants in there -- it contains my seed garlic!



We all expect to see examples of wonderful fall color at this time of year (at least in this hemisphere). I know I do.

I didn't expect to see so much color from my Ensete maurelii, but I was surprised the other day.


Bamboo box: plant removal!

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I build planter boxes for bamboo. In fact, I just built one a couple of weeks ago -- am I building another one already? Nope. This past weekend I removed the bamboo from one of these boxes.

These planters are an experiment for me, to see not only how large I can grow a bamboo plant in a big container, but also to see how long the plants can thrive before they become so rootbound that they must be divided. I wasn't expecting to remove a plant already, but here's what it involved.


No hesitation

Every fall I have problems with resolve. I do whatever I can to mentally extend the growing season, living in denial that the frost-sensitive annuals and tropicals will somehow make it far into November. I ignore the ugly cold-marred leaves and crispy-edged foliage as long as I can, only removing ugly husks of plants when they are obviously and irreversibly fried.

This year though, I'm being more realistic -- at least in theory. With so many tropicals to dig and store this year, I have to spread the end of season work out a bit, and that means that some of the plants that might be able to stick around for another week or two are making an early departure. Like this potted castor bean.


Planting a rose

Guess what today's post is about? I picked up a bargain rose this weekend, and decided that the bed next to my driveway was the right home for it.

I'll talk more about the variety of rose I chose later, but let's first take a look at where it's going.


Winter chard

I decided to make an effort to have some sort of greens through a good part of this coming winter. I've got some kale and tatsoi going in the main veggie garden, but I want more.

I decided some colorful Swiss chard would be worth a try. I grew it this spring, and the plants made it through the heat this summer and are still going strong. More would be good.


Making me stop

As noted in yesterday's post I visited my friend Mike's garden again this weekend. On the way back I drove by a garden display which I've seen every time I visited him for the last two years, at the St. Louis Community College Meramec campus.

It was this planting of castor beans that got me to finally stop, take a closer look at the garden, and take some photos.


Visiting sumacs

Yesterday I went to a local nursery that I don't visit too often to look at their late-season sale plants. It's a small place but when I arrived the number of customers equalled the number of employees on hand (two) -- it was a cold and dreary morning. I took time to look at nearly every single plant they had twice, as many of them had started going dormant and I wanted to make sure I didn't pass anything interesting by.

This took some time, and a few more customers arrived while I was making my rounds and taking mental notes. Then I heard a familiar voice say "well, hello!" -- my friend Mike had the same idea I did this morning. "Why don't you come by and see the sumacs after you're done shopping?" he asked, as he lives not too far from this nursery. So I did.


trapped, yet free

About a week ago I stopped by a few of the local nurseries after lunch. I had hit the Indian buffet quite hard (is there any other way?) and felt like I needed to get some exercise or I'd find myself with a keyboard imprint on my forehead when I got back to my desk.

I was only slightly tempted by some of the late-season deals, but there was one thing that really caught my eye in this one greenhouse: a weed.


Too late?

As autumn temperatures begin filling up the forecast calendar, I have a couple of plants that are in a race to bloom before it's too late, before the cold and frost take away their chance to seed.

The first is a dwarf sunflower which I planted late in the summer. Although the sunflower blooms were only nice for a few days before weather and pests uglied them up, they were really nice, and I wanted some of their late-season sunshine on the deck.



When I was but a lad, one of my favorite toys was G.I. Joe. My friends and I would spend hours with the figures (the older 12" versions, not the newer, smaller toys),  living Bondesque adventures for hours and hours. One thing was apparent to us (and to Hasbro) was that Joe needed "stuff". Gear of all sorts, from exotic vehicles like jetpacks to the mundane like mess kits. Then of course, weapons.

All of that equipment cost money though, and since I had little of it at that age I turned found items into adventure accessories whenever I could. I remember the day at my grandparents' house when I discovered that the flowers she called "four o'clocks" provided me with something that Joe could really make use of.


sky to me to garden

Sunday when I was finishing the bamboo planter box, the gusty winds eventually cleared away most of the clouds, wiping the gray from the day.

Sunlight and sapphire skies revealed, I couldn't help but stop and gaze upward for a while.


potato dig

This is the first year I've ever tried growing potatoes. From what I read it's a dead-simple crop to grow, and many people grow them in pots or bags -- perfect for me since I didn't have space in my small veggie beds for them.

They seemed like they were doing quite well this summer, with decent foliage and flowers, but not having any previous experience I didn't know for sure. As most of the foliage had faded by now, it was potato harvest time this weekend. Let's see how it went...


Another bamboo planter box

In yesterday's post I moved the back wall of my veggie garden fence to give me a bit more room between the fence and the property line.

Today I make use of that extra space to build a new planting box! Let's jump right in.


I need less room!

A little project today that may seem a little strange to you: I need to make less room for myself in the veggie garden!

It's not so much that I need less growing area, it's that there's a bit of space wasted inside the fenced area where I grow my edibles. Space that could be put to better use.


A taste of autumn

Okay, I reluctantly admit that autumn is here. There are too many signs to ignore.

Here's a taste of early autumn in my garden.


Soaking up some rays

The pond. It's coming to that time of year where things get tricky. I know it's important to keep as many of the falling leaves out of the water as possible, and there's probably something I need to do with the submerged plants, but I'm not certain yet. The water sure is getting cold!

I'm not the only one who has noticed the chill either, as you'll soon see.


a walk and a look

Some days I just walk around the garden and enjoy. See what I can find. Something interesting. Something inspiring, beautiful.

 Maybe it was just my mood, but I found quite a few things like that yesterday.


Where there are sticks, there's fire

It happens every year. A potted plant seems to be "asleep" for much of the year, not really growing much. Then at some point in the summer it "wakes up" and puts on a growth spurt. In the past I just attributed this to warmer temperatures, or cooler ones, or more precipitation, or plenty of fertilizer. Now I know that this usually means the plant's roots have escaped the pot and have grown into the underlying soil.

Which was my suspicion with this Euphorbia tirucalli I've been growing for several years. At the top of the stream seemed like a pretty good spot for it this year, and it did eventually start growing and put on some size. With the threat of freezing temperatures the other night I had to bring it into the garage, and that's when my fears were confirmed: it had rooted into the ground.


Finishing the walkway

After several posts about the construction and plantings, you'd think I'd be done writing about the walkway. There was one more detail that I hadn't finished yet though, and it required some time to pass: filling the cracks.

I had filled them about halfway with the "screenings" (small gravel and powder), and was not yet certain what I'd be using to fill the rest of the way to to the top: more screenings, or polymeric sand. I also wanted to give the screenings that were already there a chance to get washed down a bit by rain -- let them settle a bit. So over the past two weeks I let things settle, researched polymeric sand a bit more, and made my decision.


Before it's too late

The forecast called for a low temperature of 32ºF (0ºC) last night, which means there is a good chance that the tender tropicals and annuals got fried. I don't know, because I haven't looked yet.

Just in case though, I walked around with the camera for what could be the last time before that happens (or did happen). There will be plenty left to look at after our first light freeze, but it won't be the same.


Fall garden envy

Yesterday was the first Saturday of the month, which means it was time for the informal gathering of gardeners at Schlafly Gardenworks. It's always so inspirational to visit this well-tended urban edibles garden, but I'm wondering if maybe I shouldn't have gone. So jealous!

It was bad enough seeing their quite lush summer garden while mine struggled with the heat and not enough water, but at least I could tell myself that they had more time to spend and were able to turn on the sprinklers more often. Now though, what's my excuse?


Salvia, so many

There are times when doing daily posts gets difficult for lack of topics. I typically have several days worth of ideas and photos queued up, so each morning it's just a matter of picking which topic I feel like writing about. Sometimes though, the list dwindles or disappears entirely, and I get nervous that I won't be able to think of a topic for the next morning's post.

That's when I grab the camera (weather permitting) and head out into the garden, hoping I'll find something worthwhile to share. This happened two days ago when I was looking around the yard thinking "there's nothing here exciting me", a little knot of worry starting to tie in my belly. Then I saw the Salvia coccinea and thought "I'll take some Salvia photos -- there are a couple in flower right now!"


Here it comes!

I know it's inevitable. It happens every year. I see the calendar, I know the date. I just don't like to admit when Autumn arrives and the growing season quickly comes to an end. There's no denying it now though, the signs are all around me.

In St. Louis we typically have an up-and-down Fall when it comes to weather, but summer usually lingers well into October. As an example, take a look at yesterday: it was 83ºF (28ºC), sunny, and wonderful. Being out in the garden I couldn't help but think that summer would never end.


Sunny sunchokes!

The sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes, Helianthus tuberosus) that I received this past winter from Jack at one of the Schlafly Gardenworks events are now blooming!

I knew they would eventually, but after a summer of tall, somewhat drab foliage I'm glad to see the cheery blooms.


Forgotten plants

One of the main reasons I started this blog is so I'd have a record of significant things I do in the garden: building planter boxes, which bamboo was planted when, and in general which plants (or cultivars) I used in certain areas. This is my garden "diary".

So when I neglect to mention new plants in posts, there's a good chance I'll eventually forget the details of when the plants were welcomed into my garden or what they actually were. A couple of weekends ago when I was in the middle of the front walkway project I received a few new plants as part of a trade. Before I forget about them completely, here's what I received.


INWIG on Facebook

In case you haven't noticed, INWIG now has a Facebook page.

I've actually had it up for a while and quietly collected a few "Likes". Please take a look and "Like" it if you're into that sort of thing. Thanks!   INWIG on Facebook


Walkway plants, south side

Yesterday I showed you most of the plants I put on the north side of the new front walkway.

Today guess which side we're going to look at? The north again, because I don't think you were paying attention. No, of course it's the south side!


Walkway plants, north side

My recent walkway project ended for this year once I got all of the perennials planted. It's time to show you what plants I put here to give the area not only instant impact, but to ensure that it becomes a real thing of beauty and interest in future years.

Today I'll focus on the north side of the walkway, which is on your left as you walk up to the house.


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