I'd like to tell you...

Although I haven't been writing many posts lately, I still look at the garden and the natural world outside through my blogging eye, always thinking "I should do a post about this...". I've been collecting those thoughts, often with a single photo, many times only using the camera that's always in my pocket (my phone camera). So that's what I have for you today, a collection of shareable tidbits...

...starting with a surprise bloom! This is the Hibiscus acetosella (Hibiscus 'Mahogony Splendor'), and its "inconspicuous bloom" -- as the tag says. Deep ruby red, lasting just a day -- at least that's how it was when one of the several cuttings I have rooted decided to push out a couple of blooms in mid-January. It never hinted at blooming outdoors.


I'd like to warn you about Monarda varieties that are listed as "resistant" to powdery mildew, like this Missouri native is supposed to be:

The "right" (read "wrong") weather conditions will easily overcome any resistance. I can't tell you what those conditions are exactly though... too wet? Too dry? It seems the powdery mildew always wins here, sometimes it's just later in the year than others. Spray to avoid this? Right, that will happen.

I'd also like to tell you about how amazing some Agaves look in the autumn:

Just fantastic!

I'd also like to mention how the Pachypodium lamerei, once brought indoors, expelled ants from its pot for an alarmingly large number of weeks: three.

(no, I didn't take a photo of ants covering my floor!)

I'm not talking about one or two ants at a time either -- I'm talking swarms and trails. Yikes. Where did they all come from? Was there any soil in the pot at all, or was it primarily ants?

Another thing to tell you about: castor bean seeds. This past year I grew for the first time a big-leaved green castor bean variety (probably 'Zanzibar' or similar), and it took *forever* to flower. They finally appeared so late in the season that I was concerned that I would not get any seeds from it -- and I really *must* grow this one again! Here are the pods at the end of October:

Considering that we had a hard freeze just two weeks later, well before the pods had turned brown, I was worried that they would not be viable. So just before the first freeze I grabbed one pod and put it in the garage. A while later I pulled it open, and...

I don't know yet if they're viable, but they look pretty good to me! I will check the rest of the pods -- left on the plant carcass for the whole winter, my usual strategy for castor bean seeds -- and do a germination test soon. One thing I've learned: don't start castor bean seeds indoors too early!

Something else to tell you that happened in the fall: pond maintenance. This was a banner year for oxygenators in the pond, as both the hornwort and anacharis went CRAZY. I think 1/3 of the pond volume was taken up by these plants, as I pulled out enough to feed an adult hippopotamus as part of the winterizing process. (although hippos eat mainly grass it seems, and only a small amount of aquatic plants).

I pulled out so much of that stuff, and was also quite good about getting the pond netting into place:

The problem is, the netting is not a perfect solution. Enough leaves, especially wet ones, and the net will sag into the water. If it snows on top of that -- as it did this year -- it's extra heavy. So the water absorbed a lot of tannins, and even though I pulled the netting off and replaced it because that early freeze made a lot of the trees hang on to dead leaves for a lot longer than normal, leaves still got into the water. I'm hoping it doesn't cause too much trouble in the spring, but we'll see.

Note that I did not add any winter bacteria to the pond. I don't know if that was a mistake or not, but I don't like to throw away money on something that may or may not really be a benefit.

I also don't like to throw away plants, so I'll tell you about my numerous Aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) plants: I chopped them off and just put them into trays (old cat litter boxes actually) in the cold garage to overwinter. I used Aloe vera plants as fillers in several beds, and I couldn't just let them all freeze -- I just couldn't.

Many of these came out of the main big pot, where each pup had now gotten so large it couldn't support its weight. Hopefully they'll last a couple more months before I can pot them up or plant them in the ground again. I think they will.

I also want to tell you: it's not a lot of fun trying to get rid of a few hundred dead bamboo canes. When the city won't chip them (bamboo doesn't chip like tree branches do) and commercial outfits want $400 or more just to haul them away, it's time to put in the hours with the loppers and get them into sizes that the yard waste company will take away.

I think I've put out about eight of these jam-packed cans so far, and I still have probably 100 canes to cut. I'm sure there will be more after this past winter, but hopefully not as many as last year when the very dry fall and winter made the cold more lethal to the bamboo.

I also want to tell you about: variegated spinach!

We use spinach in our quiche, and this cool leaf was discovered at the start of December. Is variegated food less nutritious I wonder?

In the not-so-cool department, I want to complain about: Ash seeds. Those damn things are *still* falling!

I told you about those back in June, and the tree just doesn't want to let them go:

I suppose I should enjoy this tree while I can, if "enjoy" is the right word.

Ending on a positive note, I'd like to tell you: Scotland is fabulous, even in winter!

We went just after Christmas, and had such a great time! Lots of green in the countryside even then, but the only garden worth mentioning was this beauty at Edinburgh Castle. I'm hoping to have enough time to write something up about the entire trip, even though it won't have much garden content.

(A bit like me these days)

So that's all I have to tell you for now. More when this *$&#! winter is over I hope!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin
Tom  – (February 18, 2019 at 5:02 PM)  

I'll bet your Ricinus communis seeds are fine, Alan. 'Carmencita' has reliably self-seeded in my Northeast Kansas garden for seven years, sometimes alarmingly. Down the road, a huge patch of 'Zanzibarensis', at least 20 feet tall, has come back for 15 years. The gardener swears it returns from the roots. I always harvest 'Carmencita' when the pods are brown and brittle, after a couple of frosts on a dry, sunny day. Never have germination problems.

Best of luck for the new season.

danger garden  – (February 18, 2019 at 11:03 PM)  

I enjoyed this “smattering” of Alanisms...

Lisa  – (February 19, 2019 at 5:58 AM)  

Good to "see" you! I especially enjoyed hearing about your solution for your aloe plant pups. I have a plant that's almost 30 years old - got it for $1 at a nursery that was closing - that has provided hundreds of plants to friends and family over the years. That was one great buy!

Lisa  – (February 19, 2019 at 5:59 AM)  

Oh, I meant to add - I've seen several ponders build a rigid structure out of PVC pipe and netting to act as leaf catchers. I don't know if that would work for your pond, but thought I would mention it!

outlawgardener  – (February 19, 2019 at 9:17 AM)  

Damn, that's a lot of bamboo loss. How exciting that you visited Scotland & I look forward to your post(s) about the trip. Lots of great things happening in your green world, even in winter. Well, except for the ant thing. Yikes. Great to see a post from you again.

Rock rose  – (February 19, 2019 at 10:47 AM)  

It's a great think to pass on garden happenings. It might just help out another gardener. I can't relate to your having to get rid of all that bamboo but I do remember a friend giving me some bamboo to put in my bee houses and D cut it for me on the power saw. It nearly broke the darned thing. Look forward to your Scotland trip.

Post a Comment

  © Blogger template Shush by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP