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I’m starting out with a bit of a cheat. Citron de Cap did not do well for me last year, although the one or two blossoms that opened were beautiful, that was it. I was going to discard and a friend said she’d like to try with a few of the ones that weren’t doing well for me. She sent me a picture when it was first showing color and I wondered if I’d sent her the wrong tuber because it there was so much pink. But it’s opening now and the fine, lacinated petals are unmistakable. She says there are more fat buds. I am very jealous.
The next two pictures are new dahlias for me. Candlelight is a medium sized plant, good for the front or middle of the bed and Swan’s describes it as a good cutting dahlia.
The lemon yellow is Ferncliff’s Lemon Kiss and it’s another keeper for the front of the bed.
Yvonne, is always a favorite; such a delicate lady.
And the last shot is of Art Deco. I’ve been growing it in the deck boxes for years. This year, I found a lantana on sale during late spring and planted it, hoping that my color memory was good and that it would work with the dahlias when they opened. I think it works.
I threw out about two thirds of my Brandywine seedlings yesterday as I was potting up my tomatoes into three inch peat pots. The leaves were starting to curl, wilt and yellow. With a close look, I was thinking maybe scale but the fuzz is not something that I associate with scale. Then saw pictures and descriptions of older plants with early blight. I’ve never known it to hit seedlings. Any ideas?
I promised you a serious blog post about Fred (N. chaniana x veitchii (S-TC)) and the pigmy sundews. Since the sundews are blossoming, it seemed like a good time to deliver. To give you some context, I was having problems with fungus gnats and their larvae in the soil cubes where I grow lettuce under LED lights. They were especially destructive of some of the slower growing greens like mizuna and I lost much of one crop to them. I didn’t want to use insecticide and read that these insects are a favorite feast for sundews. I consulted with California Carnivores about plants that would stay compact and ordered a few pigmy sundews. Fred was an impulse purchase.
Although Fred’s picture looks quite similar to the one I posted earlier, he gorged and lost one of his pitchers and replaced it with a new one. The small appendage that you see in the foreground will be another. The larger pitcher has already closed so I expect that it will soon turn brown and wither. I read that this is the natural progression. Since Fred has covers on his pitchers, I can’t see if he’s getting enough to eat but his color looks good, more like the catalogue description; more rose than the green that he exhibited just out of shipment.
Pigmy sundew Drosera callistos, “Brooklyn Large Form” is not large at all. The largest cluster is about the size of a dime and most of them are smaller. These have tiny, fuzzy white centers forming that I suspect are or will be the flower.
Pigmy sundew Drosera paleacea ssp. Palaeces has miniscule white flowers held on string-like stalks, about ¾’ above the clusters. To any gardener who has a blood lust for the critters that want to eat what we produce, notice the little back specs in the dewy pink fuzz: former insect agents of salad destruction. <Evil laugh>
I still have questions, like whether these plants need to go dormant and if so, what will that look like? And will those flowers have seed that I can harvest?
See how the new growth is yellowing? Could this be sunburn? (not that we’ve had much sun). But this is northwest of where I had those trees removed after Sandy. And I can’t think what else it could be. It’s was a large plant when I moved here over fifteen years ago and has thrived on neglect. It also has more blossoms than ever, it didn’t blossom for many years because of too much shade. Which suggests it’s noticed a difference.
And if it’s sunburn, will it acclimate?
I know I’m small; it’s not my fault. My brothers and I were cloned to be like this; small and green; pretty but deadly. Pale green like the tender shoots of plants in spring with touches of a delicate pink; I’m the deceiver, the destroyer; I eradicate. I am the purchased assassin in this garden.
I do not march; my skills are of a different kind; I stand and wait. My sweet, spring-like green stems carry two lightly capped amphorae; rounded, voluptuous, each curve gently highlighted in the sweetest blush, with a precious liquid deep inside that attracts the hungry enemy to my door. What is that gentle perfume, that sweet smelling nectar? “Come on in,” I think; “you will find out.” And I wait. The pretty cup is lined inside with a soft and gentle fuzz, a zillion hairs to soften and smooth your path deeper and deeper inside. It’s one way into the chalice, my insect friend; you do not know but you will find that this is how I kill. I will suck your juices; I will dissolve your bones. I will feed.
It’s lonely here. Except for some silly, oozing pygmy sundews I am solitary in my watch. All my insidious skills go to protecting the growing lettuces that share my tender colors but not my deadly, single minded purpose. More red; more green; growing with careless abandon, they foolishly succor the enemy; offering space between their roots to the offspring and allowing the enemy to nibble on their dying leaves; to grow fat and breed; the fools. The enemy is everywhere; in the ground and in the air. They taunt me with their freedom and their flight. I can only guess the extent of my master’s domain while they visit far and wide. But they come back to feed.
But more fool I; for those who I protect go on to become salad. For pity sake; I guard salad!
But I was not cloned to question but to serve. I will stand here alone; the calculated result of an insidious breeding program by monsters who seek to combine traits of subtle beauty and deadly appetites in ever smaller packages. I was created and purchased for this purpose. I am Fred the Assassin.
I will file more reports from the field as necessary.
I owe you all a serious article about Fred, his pygmy sundew friends and the fungus gnats that I want them to control under the lights but I attended a session for writers on building character at Thayer Memorial Library yesterday and well, here we are. Thank you to Winona and the Seven Bridge Writer’s Collaborative for the opportunity.
These greens were targeted for Thanksgiving but my timing is a little off. Someone said Thanksgiving was late this year? In the harvest picture below, from bottom left, clockwise:
- Cilantro: Calypso, which takes cool weather, bolts slowly and can be grown as cut and come again.
- Shiso: Aka Perilla; this is a red variety that I pick small for its color. It does put out more leaves after being cut and has a very muted, almost-mint flavor.
- Mizuna: The common green variety. I like the results of growing it under lights as outside, it seems to attract every chewing insect known. Until growing it inside, I’ve always had to eat holey leaves.
- Purple Mizuna: See the single leaf in the middle of the board, with spoon for sizing. My latest trial and I dunno? I was thinking it was too little leaf surface to use up space under the lights and it’s skeletal shape is a bit off-putting, but it has the nicest peppery flavor. It made my last egg salad sandwich quite elegant.
- Spinner with Red Sails and Simpson’s Elite Lettuce
- Majoram: I got the nicest tasting marjoram plant at Lyman Estate’s herb sale this spring; normally I would let it die this winter but it’s SO good that I started cuttings under the light. They weren’t happy; I’ve lost all but one; it’s more stem than leaves and I keep cutting it back without improvement. But if I can just string this one plant along until next season, the genetics are there.
Total harvest this year so far has been about 12 oz. Very fresh and pretty; organic, too. The organic fertilizer that I’m using is based on fish pooh and kelp. Sundays, when I fertilize, are smelly. And I’ve learned from experience to only mix what I need. It gets truly abominable when it sits. It’s interesting that a few days after fertilizing, most of the smell is gone, well-metabolized by the fast growing plants.
A friend of mine who lives in the Midwest mentioned a garden seminar on ferns. It reminded me of how I used to think they were exotic, when I also lived in the Midwest. Now that I’m in New England, I find that they can also be invasive. I inherited a few varieties from previous owners so I don’t know what they are. If anyone can identify them from the pictures, I’d love to hear about it.
Parts of the wooded area behind my house had been cleared and when I first moved in, it was filled with plants of a particular fern. I thought they were pretty, especially when they turned gold in the fall. And then one very dry year they turned gold July and quickly went to brown for the rest of the season. And they don’t hold their own; over time, the poison ivy, small trees and brush (my nemesis, wild berry bushes) filled in. They also tried to fill flower beds, with too much success, and I found that the only way to weed them is to dig out all of the roots or they will persistently come back over and over again. The picture above is taken about a month after I had the area cleared, otherwise they would be brown this time of year.
But not all ferns are equal. There is a clump at the end of the driveway that seems to know its place. And it comes on late enough in the spring to share its space with bleeding heart. It looks nice against the rocks that line the end of the drive and doesn’t mind the way that water stands there in wet years; I’ve backed it with elderberry plants that don’t mind the wet conditionss, either.
Another fern, probably a cinnamon fern, see the distinctive characteristics in the close-up left, takes over a difficult spot. Not only is that a corner of the house where water runoff is an issue, I also pull the mean old hose through the space between it and the evergreen foundation plantings to water plants in the front of the house; injuring fronds but never completely discouraging the plant. It’s tall and adds texture to the combination of hydrangea Incrediball and a grass (a miscanthus?) that I planted years ago.
I’ve added a bonus shot with fall colors. When I took the shot I was thinking that I didn’t remember this display other years. A day or two later, I thought I might try to get a better shot, without the brown leaves, and it was all very brown. The bright yellow display must be very short lived. But nice.
I’ve been looking forward to this dahlia opening since I saw it at Dahlia Hill in Midland, MI, last summer. Although described as a lavender, I remembered it as a day-glo pink and this could fit both descriptions, sort of. Big and beefy, the petals twist; adding even more interest.
While not completely organic, I do make it a practice never to spray insecticides on blossoming plants to protect bees and other beneficials so you will see the occasional hole or half eaten petal. One
morning though I came out to a just-opening Kidd’s Climax with a hole that looked like it had been gouged out with a sharp ice cream scoop. I was looking for caterpillars and instead, found several huge Katydids with enough droppings nearby to convince me that they were the culprits. They met an abrupt end. I did some research and yes, they do eat dahlias and no, there’s not a good control for them this time of year. There are some that I might try earlier in the year if the problem repeats, but after my search and destroy efforts, I’m not seeing much more damage.
Pooh, and other collarettes are the best for attracting bees as their centers are so open.
Croyden’s Masterpiece is still the very best blend of sunset colors. The first one of these to open this year was also the largest dahlia I’ve ever grown. Not really working at that; I don’t disbud, for example, it’s still awesome to see. I’ve already started labeling the plants that are performing early and well to save only those tubers for next year.
Devon Excel, below, will turn more pink/lavender as it develops. I love the delicacy of these colors.
The dahlia garden is still pretty green, with some notable exceptions. The smaller varieties have been blossoming for a few weeks with Susan Komen being the first to put on a display. It is the smallest plant of all of mine, a gift from a neighbor who didn’t want to over winter the tubers from a late season purchase.
Dahlia Binky is generous with its blossoms and and easy to grow, one (picky) undesirable habit is that the blossoms tend to be hidden in the new growth.
Binky fronts large-flowered dahlia Patches, which was the first of the large varieties to open. It’s purple and white markings are more irregular than this picture would indicate and the white tends to fade to pink as the flower ages, for a unique blend of pink and purple.
The biggest and the showiest of the cool colors this year is Kidds Climax. I grew all of these last year but this is the best performance that I’ve had from this dahlia.
In the warm colors side of the bed, Croydons Masterpiece, the one that motivated me to grow these myself, is not a disappointment this year. I love its subtle blends of yellows, pinks and purples. It’s described as an orange blossom but it’s much more colorful than that.
The new and much anticipated warm color dahlia this year, Lady Darlene, has also opened to meet all expectations. Although at first I thought she was too red, as she’s opened, she’s showed more yellow and I like the blend with the red petals, most. She’s only showing one other bud at the moment so I don’t know whether I will have much opportunity to judge whether this is typical this year. I’m just enjoying what she’s showing now.
I am not the only one. This small fellow lived in her for a couple of days. My guess is an immature grey tree frog. I read they have chameleon tendencies so are rarely grey. But if anyone can ID him for sure, I’d be interested in knowing his variety.
I was worried about whether he could really get enough food and water there, as well as fluctuations in temperatures; our nights have been almost cold. So was fine with him moving on.
I have a weed that’s very pervasive in my cultivated beds (not the woodlands, for some reason) and looked it up in a weed database. Oxalis or wood sorrel. I remembered my father showing me this weed and saying it was an indication of acidic soils, typical for New England. So all weekend I pulled the stuff from my garden beds. I also finally got to cleaning the very sad looking pansies out of the deck boxes and planting the – very stressed from being in too small pots too long – Art Deco dahlias. This should have been done during our last heat wave but frankly, I was cowering in the AC and watching Tour de France on TV.
I needed something to fill the rest of the boxes and stopped at Applefield Farm , a favorite place for annuals. The supply is smaller but the prices go down now. I found a couple of colorful coleus and I needed something smaller for the center box with two dahlias at either end. I saw this leafy plant with a pretty blend of pink, yellow and pale green and checked the tag for light requirements. It’s Oxalis! A Proven Winner’s selection called Molten Lava. And yes, I bought it and brought it home to plant. You just have to laugh.
When I looked deeper into Oxalis, this represents many very pretty varieties as well as my prolific weed. Some people even complain for lack of ability to grow them!
Updated picture with dahlia Art Deco blossoming.
The new daylilies “Daring Deception” go much better with the Heuchera “Caramel” than I envisioned but the hydrangeas “Let’s Dance, Moonlight” clash a bit. I thought I needed to add something; something neutral like a white would be the safe choice, but then I thought about small-flowered, warm-pink rose that needs to be moved and wondered what would happen if I just added more pink.
As I was mulling over the alternatives, a rescue plant, a geranium gift from Applefield Farms that they said needed some extra TLC started blossoming the way that it should and I realized it was the same color, if slightly less intense than the rose.
Hey, I can try this out with an annual, I thought.
I think I like it; and the next check will be after the daylilies are over; will that color just look out of place?
What do you think?
A trip to Weston Nurseries for some rhododendrons for the rhodie walk through the woods — a multi-year project, and I found room for just one more thing; this beauty.
I have it sitting in the pot near rose Graham Thomas until the yellow rose opens. Graham may be too much of a gentleman for these flaming colors. Most of the pictures that I see show this hydrangea to be a darker pink; maybe it will change as it matures but I was promised that the throats stay yellow-green for contrast.
I was also told that it was dwarfed but Monrovia shows it as a 6′ plant. Other sources say “compact plant”, so I hope they are right. I have room; I just don’t need more shade.
I’m adding a couple of bonus photos, pictures of rose “City of York” from my guest room window for a friend who isn’t on Facebook.
I mowed the last of the bugleweed (ajuga) in the lawn as the blossoms were over and the pollinators had moved on to the rhodies. The smell of lily of the valley was replaced by the more subtle scent of iris and now the roses begin. Gertrude is the first of the roses to put on a display. A serendipitous conjunction of a junk rose (I think it’s a climbing rootstock where the display rose died) that I’ve never completely killed, though I’ve tried, and a couple of varieties of honeysuckle that I grow up the fireplace make for a very pleasing combination. The more solid yellow honeysuckle is the one I grow for scent.
It’s way too early but I’ve given up on culling blossoms on the tomato plants. This early blossoming phenomenon is something that started last summer when I first used the LED lights to grow the plants. Both years, I’ve snipped off any small blossoms that were present at planting and still the plants want to bloom. But last summer was uncharacteristically hot and early. We’ll see if this is a mistake.
A friend pointed me to descriptions of a daylily problem called Spring Sickness. And since the first symptoms I saw were a stunting or twisting of the fan, I think it fits.
The following web site offers the latest information from a group of AHS Member volunteers who are working on the problem.
I don’t see any advice to remove the plants and there is some hope that as the season progresses, they may improve. I’ll wait and see.
I thought daylilies were easy! What’s eating them?
It’s going after the new growth but the centers of the older leaves have damage, too.
Update: A garden friend mentioned the Leaftier moth/caterpillar and it looks right. I opened about 15 of these on three plants and I did find a few caterpillars. All goners now. What I wasn’t sure is whether the plants set flowers this early and whether snipping the branch below the terminal end would destroy this season’s flowers. So where I could I teased the terminal end out and destroyed the glued leaves only.
Anybody know what does this and whether I need to do anything about it? I pulled a couple of these apart and didn’t see any recognizable critter. Some brownish crud.
But the leaves don’t look eaten, more just glued together. All of the damage is at the end of a stem, where the flower would form later in the season. Hope I haven’t lost this season’s flowers.
This is the small beginning of my rhododendron walk! I’ve been wanting to fill in between the trees on the woods side with these great flowering and winter-green plants for so long and this is my (mostly symbolic) beginning. There is still so much work to do.
And the first step is a perilous test of my propagation skills with this poor, helpless plant.
The parent plant, above, is a huge rhododendron that has been growing near my deck forever. Last year, I finally had some other brush removed that was growing between it and the deck, including some arborvitae that had turned into trees. I’m hoping that it will fill back in a bit toward the deck and stop its forward movement away from it. There is only a narrow path between it and the rose ghetto. During the cleanup, I noticed a couple of shoots under the front of the plant and carefully started to shovel prune their roots last summer, using a sharp shovel to cut around the plant but not under it. This week, I dug under the shoots and moved them. About to where the purple trug is in the big picture. I’m convinced that they do better with some sun in my shady yard. And now I wait to see if the baby takes to its brighter and lonely new home.
It is a time of dividing and separating. A celebration of last year’s successes, fraught with risk as I’m not very experienced with this. Hosta; no problem; hard to kill. But a heuchera separation humbled me a bit. The parent plant had such distinct separations above ground that I thought dividing it would be easy. But no. They all seemed part of one root. And what to do about last year’s leaves? I just tried to leave some root for each division; not easy; and as last year’s leaves wilt, I’m cutting them off. I think that four of the five divisions will make it. I don’t know the name but this variety gets deep blue-green color on the top of the leaves when it’s mature but the undersides are a pretty purple.
So the snow has been melted for a few weeks now. Friday was warm to the point where I worked up a sweat in a very short time. Part of the day was a gift from a cursed source; my Waltham office was closed because of the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombing fugitive and I got commute time and a little more to work in the garden. Hands in the dirt; my way of dealing with many of life’s dark places. Renewal is the blessed work of the gardener.
Windows open! Which gave sick kitty Cay Cay Canolli a new interest in life, which made us all happy. Then rain and a cold front and today I cleaned and burned in bright, cold sunshine.
From left to right. At least they are green. This was taken in the food garden this weekend, where my new trees have over wintered. The sun hasn’t made it up over the tall evergreens to my south on a regular basis so the heavy, wet snow is taking its time to leave. I did work on the south side of the house where the snow was gone in a warm crescent that includes most of the rose ghetto (the dedicated rose bed).
After the heavy rains and warm weather of Monday, most of the snow is gone, but it’s cold and I have to go to work so the garden waits until the weekend.
But there is promise.
But I chose to stay in Granville, on the ocean. My room had a view of a bump in the ocean that I undertstood to be Mount Saint Michel. It was off season and inexpensive except my weekend corresponded with a fleet of sailboats from England, an annual sporting event, and the restaurants were full of English speaking people with wind burns.
The location of the dahlia exhibition is a gardening school, Lycée Agricole de Coutances. In addition to the dahlia display, which is only worth visiting in late summer or fall, the students have well-landscaped exhibition gardens, and the commercial greenhouses were impressive.
The gallery starts with two pictures in the town of Coutances, the cathedral and the town hall. Then shots of the dahlias. As I looked at my pictures, I realized that the majority of my favorites were in the warm colors so I pruned down that collection. It was hard. Lilac Times is one of my favorites in cool colors, enhanced by the dark stems on the plants. The last two shots are of Granville. My hotel is the closest one high on the right and my room was one of those with the ocean colored balconies. I’d thought I might visit Mount Saint Michel on my unplanned day during my stay but with such a nice situation, it seemed silly to go get in my car and drive to another place to see the ocean. I wandered around the town; walked a cliff walk to Jardin Christian Dior; took pictures; walked back along the ocean; watched people sail the sky. Lovely day; lovely memory for a snowy New England weekend.