Saturday, January 31, 2015

What Else Is Happening in the Greenhouse?

In the last post, I talked about my aloe that is blooming in the greenhouse. Here are some other plants of interest in the greenhouse.

This pink Cyclamen has been blooming for at least a month now. 

Also in bloom, the hanging Goldfish Plant.

I had taken some cuttings from a Coleus that had been in a pot on my front porch all season long last year. Most of the cuttings survived and are providing some lovely foliage color in the greenhouse.

Another plant with interesting foliage (and also edible!) is my Bright Lights Swiss Chard. I was using this one as a decorative plant mixed in with some annual flowers in a pot on the front porch. Only the Swiss Chard remains.

My Solanum Quitoense (Naranjilla) is STILL producing fruit. A bit speckled, though.

It also appears to be forming new leaves and flower buds, which I can only assume will lead to more fruit.

There are plenty more plants in the greenhouse than these. These just happen to be the most interesting right now.

Bloomin’ Aloe!

Last year I think I missed getting photos of my Candelabra Aloe blooming in the greenhouse, so this year I wanted to make sure to do it. I got this aloe about two or three years ago from Longwood Gardens. I had taken a class in tropical container planting. They had a bunch of plants leftover and so I grabbed this lonely aloe. I already re-potted it once and it has outgrown its pot yet again. I know nothing about caring for aloes and this just keeps getting well as more dangerous. The spiky leaves kinda hurt and I can’t even imagine trying to re-pot it again. Me against this aloe plant – I think the aloe will rip me apart.

The aloe is a winter bloomer. The blooms are somewhat reminiscent of Hot Poker plants. 

I broke out the macro lens adapters for some of these shots. The flower bud on this variety is orange and yellow with green tips.

Each tubular little flower looks trumpet-like when it opens.

I watered the plants this morning, so here is a tiny droplet on a flower. If you look closely, you can see other greenhouse plants reflected upside down in the water drop.

 Some of the flowers have flopped over.

It really is an interesting plant. The pretty flowers are really a contrast from the long, fleshy, spiky leaves that form snake-like tentacles.

I often refer to the aloe as my “Cousin It” plant or “My Little Monster” due to the haphazard look of it. That is unfair, though, given the beauty of the flowers.

The Kitchen Garden and Flower Garden in January

Finally, caught up with the garden summaries! It was predicted we would have a cold, snowy winter, much like last year. Cold, that it was and still is. Snowy? Not so much. Certainly nothing compared to last year. Last year we were lucky to see the ground at all. This year we have gotten an inch or two here and there, but that’s it.

The Kitchen Garden in January

Certainly not much to look at this time of the year in the kitchen garden.

Remember the pink Gomphrena Fireworks? Not so pink anymore, or very fireworks like.

A couple of forgotten turnips.

What a surprise! The Spinach I had planted in the fall...still green!

The Flower Garden in January

Again, not much to look at this time of the year.

Dried Sedum flowers.

Dried Hydrangea flowers.

In the back of the flower garden, the Christmas Ferns still have their Christmas green on. Nice to actually see some green in the garden this time of the year.

The Wisteria tree on the other side of the yard has lots of dangling, fuzzy seed pods.

By the screened-in back porch, some herbs are still trying to hang in there: Rosemary, Thyme, and Oregano. The silvery Sage not as much.

And then the snow came. This was taken on January 25th. A pinkish sky on an early winter evening. I took this looking through the bay window in the family room.

There is still some snow on the ground now. We are expecting a little bit more tomorrow night. That’s ok, I’ll take that over what we had last year!

Where Did December Go?

So apparently I didn’t take ANY garden photos in December. Not surprising since there isn’t much happening that time of the year, other than the birds attacking the bird feeder. I did do two blog posts in December, one about decorating with greens and the other about the plants in the greenhouse. I think this is the shortest blog post ever!

What Was the Flower Garden Like in November?

Sheesh, still catching up with the garden summaries from November! My night web design classes start up next week, so I better catch up fast because I’ll soon be busy with homework nights and weekends again.

I’ll let Molly kick off the November flower garden photos. She and her sister, Izzy, were still enjoying the screened-in back porch in November, despite the chilly weather. Behind Molly you can see (left to right) a Skip Laurel, Ninebark (look at those fabulous red leaves!), Spirea, and some Elephant Ears poking out from one of my tall pots. I’m a big fan of the three shrubs here because they work so well together – the Skip Laurel keeps that nice green color all year round, the spirea changes throughout the season from bright, lime greens, to reddish tinted leaves, pink flowers in spring. The Ninebark goes from a deep, smokey purple to this bright red color. It’s nice to be able to enjoy the changing colors from the porch. 

At the corner of the back porch is the Sage with its silvery leaves, which make a nice contrast to the other shrubs and the oregano and potted Boxwood near it.

Here is a different view of the same plants. The young Dogwood and older Wisteria tree are on the right. The foliage and leaves on the ground are all that provide color this time of the year.

Looking a little bit further to the left of the yard you see there isn’t a whole lot going on in the flower garden in November. That pop of red is the Pineapple Sage. I recently did a blog post specifically about this plant. This was taken before the first hard frost, hence the Nasturtiums and Swiss Chard still looking pretty in the kitchen garden.

In early November the mum was still blooming. I planted this mum several years ago. It is the only one I have ever act as a perennial.

There was an occasional rose blooming in November and the Cockscomb was trying to hold on. The pink puffs are Gomphrena Fireworks. I have the same plant in the kitchen garden. It didn’t do as well in the flower garden. Check out the Downy Woodpecker at the hanging seed cake to the right of the bird feeder.

Another random rose bloom, along with the yellow annual Melampodium, before the frost.

We don’t get a ton of leaves in the back yard during the fall, so we usually end up mowing them into the lawn. Sometimes I will use the leaf blower to mulch them and put them in the garden to act as a winter mulch. Our leaf blower wasn’t working this year, though.

During the late spring and through the summer it is hard to see the garden statue, Winnie. But this time of the year she peaks out through the dried Coneflowers and Joe Pye Weed.

Winnie surveys the garden after the frosts hit.

Behind Winnie is a very shady area with three trees. It is difficult to get much to grow here. It used to be overgrown with ivy and after having that cleared out, I have been trying to get some shade plants to grow. When I planted two Christmas Ferns on either side of the path that leads through the flower garden to the kitchen garden, I didn’t have much hope they would survive. The roots system of the trees make it so difficult to plant anything. But not only did they survive, they THRIVED. You can certainly tell why they are called Christmas Ferns. They stay lush and green throughout the colder winter months.

The neighbor’s cat, Puss, seems to think the dried leaves make a nice place to nap and soak in the late fall sunshine.

The neighbor’s other cat, BJ (aka Stubby), agrees that the leaves are cozy, but prefers this shady spot on this particular day.

The squirrels were very busy in the fall, hiding their acorns and peanuts (where the heck did they come from?!) here and there and attacking the pumpkins on my front porch.

After awhile, I gave in and just let them have the pumpkins, tossing them in the flower garden near the bird feeder.

It didn’t take them long to devour this pumpkin. We had four very fat squirrels after that. This was taken on Thanksgiving day. Even the squirrels were celebrating that day.

In what I call my “secret garden,” the hostas were taken down by the frost, but not the Boxwood, Hellebore, and Holly.

That was the end of fall in the garden. Inevitably, after fall comes winter. Sigh. I sure dislike winter. No sun, no flowers, no veggies and herbs = no fun for this gardener.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Close-Ups From November

I always think there is something magical about spring, when plants are re-awakening from their long winter nap. The smells of spring, the miracle of watching a plant emerge from the soil and become this beautiful thing covered in flowers, it is pure joy. There is something magical in fall, too, though. Just a different kind of magic. Leaves changing colors. The warm, earthy colors of yellows, oranges, reds, and browns. Fascinating-looking seed pods forming. Again, the smells, this time of decomposing leaves, and that cool breeze tickling your nose. And then it’s as if the trees and plants have become weary of holding all of those leaves all season long and just need to take a break...and the leaves drop.

On a chilly, very windy, fall day in November, I went out looking for those details that make this time of year so special. I can’t capture the scent of the air on film (or on an SD card!), but I tired to at least capture the textures and colors a bit.

Speaking of textures, one of the most fascinating seed pods I think I have in the yard are the Wisteria pods. I have a (very aggressive) wisteria vine, as well as a (much less aggressive) Wisteria tree. This close-up is of one of the pods on the Wisteria tree. It has this soft, fuzzy texture and is shaped like a couple of dew drops that got stuck together.  

This is all that’s left of a purple coneflower in the fall. I purposefully don’t cut back all of my coneflowers because they are the goldfinches’ favorite food. When they shed their petals they look like this...

And then later they look like this...

As the Joe Pye Weed dries, it gets this kind of wispy, almost dandelion look. It looks like it would fall apart if you just breathed on it.

Sedum, on the other hand, looks more sturdy, like it can stand up to the winter winds that are on their way. Dried sedum holds up well when cut and brought inside.

Dried Aster flowers.

At first glance, this might look like Dogwood, but it is a Hydrangea. I like bringing dried Hydrangea inside, although I don’t think I ever tried it with this particular variety.

The wind was really blowing when I took this photo of the Miscanthus plume.

Another windy shot, this time of the (Summer Wine?) Ninebark. The foliage of this Ninebark turns pinkish-red in the fall. The rest of the year it’s a dark, smokey purple.

Speaking of pinkish-red, this Japanese Maple leaf must have blown in from someone else’s yard.

Another kind of red: Rose-hips.

Someone forgot to tell this rose it is almost winter. This is Abraham Darby (a David Austin rose). Mr. Darby, you’re kinda throwing off that fall vibe here. Don’t you feel out of place?

Fall does indeed have a magic all its own. Too bad it always means winter is on the way!