Indoors, in a hurry

Although the freezing temperatures won't arrive until tonight, I brought in all of my tender plants yesterday. As usual, this was before I really had a place to put them all.

I brought them in a day early (at lunchtime) because we were expecting rain in the afternoon, and many of these plants would not be nearly as happy sitting in a cold garage in wet soil. Plus they're easier to move when dry -- much lighter!


Things I'll miss

With cold weather creeping into the garden, and our first sub-freezing temperatures coming tomorrow, there will soon be less to see around my yard. These are some of the things I'll be missing soon...

...starting with the castor bean. I love the bamboo -- it's a "ten" for me -- but the dark-leaved castor bean next to it turns it up to eleven. What else will I be missing?


The time for a change

I really love early autumn, when the leaves have started falling but the coldest weather hasn't arrived yet. When a cool, sunny morning invigorates you, an extra morning jolt.

It's the change in colors that I think I like most -- when the greens of the trees and the lawns get replaced with reds and yellows and browns. It's a change in the garden that I have nothing to do with (other than choosing the climate in which to garden), and I can just sit back and watch it happen.


Bananas and Oranges

Both are fruits that you won't be seeing in my garden, but the combination of the Musa basjoo hardy banana leaves and the orange fall colors of the bald cypress Taxodium distichum make this corner of the garden such a happy place on a sunny autumn day!

With a temperature in the mid-80's (29ÂșC) yesterday, it seemed much more like banana weather than autumn, but I'll take every sunny day I can get when the bald cypress starts to change color!


Keeping Fall out of the pond

It's the time of year when my small pond is in peril. One of the suggestions you'll read when deciding where to put your pond is that it should not be near large trees due to the shade they provide and the leaves they will drop. Of course I put my pond directly under a large maple -- I didn't have another choice!

Autumn is the time of year that this becomes a problem, as shade the pond can tolerate -- piles of leaves in the water it cannot. The first year I just let the leaves fall and then pulled them out of the water later. This was really not fun, and I won't repeat it. Now I cover the pond with a net for a week or two until all of the leaves are down. It's not easy, it's not fun, but it's better than the "pull them out later" method.


How does it happen?

The question posed in the title of this post is meant in two different ways. The first is a general "how does it happen?", and the second is actually "how does it happen to me?". I'll get to the second one soon, but first, everybody who grows plants has a favorite "type" or genus. Something that really gets them excited like no other plants do, and results in them having a collection -- even though that was never their intent when they started gardening.

For me it's bamboo. For others it's tomatoes, or agaves, or cactus, or roses -- there's somebody who is crazy about every type of plant. Why is this? How does this happen? How does "ah, that's a nice plant" transform into "I must have as many species and varieties as possible!" Maybe a better question is: why does it happen for some people, and not for others? Take for instance, begonias.


Product Review: Liquid Fence Deer & Rabbit Repellent

I don't do many product reviews on this blog, as I don't think that's what both most of you come here to read. Occasionally though I'm contacted by a company that sells a product that I think would be worth reviewing, and today you get to read about one of those.

The product is Liquid Fence Deer & Rabbit Repellent, and although I was sent a bottle of this free of charge early in the growing season, I wanted to give it a good long test before talking about it. My verdict: it works! But...


Finishing the rose removal

Recently I started removing a climbing rose that was infected by Rose Rosette Disease. At the time I just pruned the poor thing to the ground, saying that I'd remove the roots later.

Part of my delay was that I wasn't sure what plant to put here in its place. This is the type of thing I might have thought about over the winter a few years ago, carefully weighing the pros and cons of every perennial vine that would grow in my climate. Not now though -- I don't have the patience for that anymore. Now I just weighed a few choices, saw a plant I knew I wanted to grow, ordered it, and dug in.



Earlier in my gardening career I had much more time for discovery, and finding fresh mushrooms was one of my delights. I'd grab my point-and-shoot Canon set to macro mode, lay down on the grass or mulch or whatever, and snap away.

These days I'm still excited by mushrooms, especially when a big one pops up after a few days of rain. (If you don't think you have enough mushrooms in your garden, get tree chippings. The free mulch I use contains plenty of fungal spores it seems.) I noticed this one the other day, then saw it ripped out the next morning -- probably by a raccoon. So I grabbed it, flipped it over, and started snapping photos.


Keeping up with the Joneses

I have a lot of gardener friends. Not as many as some people, but quite a few. Although a few of them live in the St. Louis area, most of them live in different parts of the country in completely different climates -- which makes some of their blog posts a challenge to read for me. Sometimes it's the talk (and photos) of really wonderful plants that I've never heard of, when I'll sort of nod and think "ah, nice plant" but then put it out of my mind. If it's a zone 7 or 8 woody plant, I can't grow it (probably) so why torture myself thinking about it?

At other times though the talk (or photos) of these not-for-my-climate plants really gets to me, and I feel jealous: I want to grow those too! This is the case with many succulents: Agaves, Aloes, Cactus. When Gerhard (Succulents and More) or Gail (Piece of Eden) or Loree (Danger Garden) start talking succulents, I go a bit green -- not in the way that gardeners are supposed to -- and feel left out. Until now that is.


The bugs of Bloom Day

Yesterday I showed you what's in bloom in the garden right now, getting up-close and personal with the plants -- something that I haven't done for a while. The result is that I saw some of the inhabitants of the garden...

...and early autumn is a great time for this! Here's a carpenter bee settling in for the night on the Agastache. Seems like it could have chosen a stronger stem for its bulky body, but I guess this is fine.


Bloom Day, October 2014

Did you know that every month on the 15th, garden bloggers post photos of what's in bloom in their gardens? Carol at May Dreams Gardens is the host for this meme, and although I don't regularly notice that the 15th is approaching until it's too late (and I see other Bloom Day posts appearing), this is probably the last chance for blooms before winter sets in so I gave an extra effort.

Which meant getting outside on a damp, dreary day as evening approached, trying to get decent photos in limited light. I didn't think there would be many blooms out there to be honest, but once I got started I found more than I expected. The Verbena bonariensis above is such a favorite, blooming from early summer until frost. What else is in bloom?


Dry summer, wet fall

Summer was fairly dry in St. Louis, as my water bills will indicate -- there was much hose dragging around a few months ago. Now though, things have changed. Since September 1 we are something like 8" above our normal rainfall amount.

I've spent very little time in the garden recently because of this -- it's always raining! A few dry days are forecast starting this afternoon they say, so this morning was a good time to take a look at the damp.


Vines to the rescue... almost

Although it's been ten months since the polar vortex reminded us cold-climate gardeners that we shouldn't get too comfortable with mild winters and caused quite a bit of bamboo damage in my garden, I still have reminders of it: the dead bamboo culms that I left on three or four of my plantings.

Instead of removing them I left them in place not just for the support they gave to emerging culms, but with the plans of letting annual vines climb up them, natural trellises that would add vertical color with little-to-no effort on my part.


Planning changes

I've decided to remake one of my newer planting beds. Maybe. I'm strongly considering it. I have a hard time removing plants that seem to be doing fine, but in this case I think I've almost convinced myself it's the right thing to do.

It's this small bed next to my driveway. It's only a couple of years old, but hasn't satisfied me yet. I suppose you could say that it doesn't have a focus yet, a purpose.


Spreading bamboo

You'd think that with at least 30 in-ground plantings of running bamboos that I'd be hesitant to plant more. You're wrong of course, and having 30+ already is not a deterrent. To be honest, once you plant the first running bamboo and properly maintain it every year to keep it from spreading, adding another isn't such a big deal. Then the next thing you know you have 10. Then 20. Then you stop counting.

My bamboo gardening has moved from the "collect as many different species as I can" phase into the "let's divide some of my favorites and use them to fill out the garden" phase. (Of course the bamboos themselves are all in the "let's fill out the garden!" phase.) That's why I transplanted some of my Pleioblastus fortunei bamboo into a new part of the garden the other evening.


A focused cleanup

Cooler fall weather always invigorates me, making the horrible, put-off garden tasks look almost fun. The shorter days probably help too, as I know I can only get an hour or so of work in out there after my day job, and an hour isn't so bad, right?

Yesterday I tackled my pokeweed forest. Phytolacca americana if you're unfamiliar. Above you see the view from the bedroom window -- almost anything large and leafy you see (with purple berries if you look closely) is pokeweed. I let too much of this grow this year.


Goodbye disappointing rose

A few years back -- four I think -- I built a copper trellis and planted a climbing rose outside my kitchen window. It was labeled as 'Fourth of July' rose, which should have had red blooms streaked with white.

I say "should have" because I never saw this happen. The blooms were fully red, and the plant never looked like the photos I found. It was a disappointing rose in general, never reaching the size I had hoped for, and this past weekend I finally removed it.


Oops. What to do?

I mowed my lawn for only the third or fourth time this summer -- one of the few advantages to a drier-than-normal season.

Unfortunately, I got a little careless with the lawnmower and the wheel knocked this pad off one of the Opuntia in the cactus bed.


Portland: Bella Madrona

If you've been upset by all of the shorter posts I've been making for the past few weeks, and wish I'd do one of those 40-photo monsters, you're in for a treat! Today I show you the last garden from July's Garden Bloggers Fling in Portland, a big, mature, "anything goes" type of garden.

It's called "Bella Madrona", and it was just wonderful! Seemingly miles of paths through heavily-planted, intimate spaces, loads of eclectic garden art -- both the created and "found" types -- and many mature specimens of all sizes make this the type of garden I'd be thrilled to call my own.


Another surprise: monkshood

As the garden transitions into autumn, the grasses and foliage become more important, as there isn't too much in bloom right now. Certainly the things that have been blooming all summer are contributing: the maypop and cypress vines, Salvia greggii, Agastaches -- but there's really nothing that is just starting to bloom.

At least that's what I thought until I remembered that I have a couple of new plants this year, one of which seemed to pretty much just sit there all summer long, not doing much of anything. Until now, when it produced these wonderful blooms!


Countdown to Halloween

How many spiders call your garden home? By some estimates and depending on the type of garden you have (grassy, forested, etc.) it could be thousands or tens of thousands. They clearly are the most abundant predator in gardens..

This is the time of year when the large orb weavers spin their webs across the garden paths, making early-morning walks treacherous, but right now a few other spiders have my attention: the ones decorating the front porch!


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