On a recent mid-west trip, I met my Ohio friend at the Toledo Botanical Garden. Aside from their small dahlia garden, which I may cover in another post, the gallery below contains some of my favorite plants and pictures from the visit. The mixed bed with coppery, warm colors was adjacent to the parking lot. I’ve always had a hard time seeing how to use the very dark-leaved plants, everywhere I put them they just disappear, but not here! I recognized grasses, cannas and most of the flowering plants but I had to ask the garden for help with the tall, large-leafed copper variegated plant. It’s one of a number of varieties with the common name of Copperleaf Plant from the genus Acalypha. It’s a tropical plant that’s grown as an annual in the Midwest, or taken indoors. The first seven shots are all of the same bed.
The next shots are of a green and white variegated plant with large leaves that I admired in another part of the garden and it’s the same family. Still common name of Copperleaf Plant. I love the way that it picked up the light from the deeply angled sun.
The gallery ends in pictures of a gazebo planted in white and covered with autumn clematis.
My Meyer Lemon tree was having a good summer on the deck. It liked our extra heat and put out a lot of new leaves. I bring it inside for the winter where it usually sulks and loses leaves but it does usually blossom a few times and I love the smell. One of the sweetest smells there is.
Other citrus trees that have gotten this treatment have had scale once I bought them indoors that I would have to fight. The last one gave up and died. But they’d never had scale outside and I blithely believed that with my healthy, bug-friendly back yard, they never would. They have a lot of predators to keep their numbers down. I saw the black spots, and went hmmm, will have to wash that off and procrastinated. Then I saw the ants; lots of them. Took a closer look and recognized my old citrus enemy, scale.
Did some reading; the sooty mold and the ants should have told me right away what the problem was. They are both an indirect result of the sugary substance that the scale secrets. It drips on the leaves and feeds the mold and the ants love it. The ants may even have helped deter predators as part of their symbiotic relationship with the scales.
So first, my sources said, get rid of the ants. Before these pictures were taken, I sprinkled diatomaceous earth around the stem of the plant. It may have reduced the numbers but there were still some pretty happy ants a few days later. After losing the last plant, I’d determined to use a horticultural oil before bringing the plants indoors for the winter so, after some research, I decided to try Bonide’s All Season’s Horticultural Oil, now. The temperature range should be good for the next few, dry days. Too warm or too cold and it may not work or worse, further damage the plant. And it will wash off in rain.
I also pruned the plant and took out everything beyond the bad infestation in the picture, branches that were crossed or that had no leaves. The baby scale is so small that it may take multiple treatments to eliminate the population, if that’s even possible. The horticultural oil that I chose can be used on houseplants so I will be vigilant. I’d also planned to try the LED lights with some larger plants this year, just not sure about introducing a plant with pest problems into the environment where I grow things from seeds.
This dahlia was mentioned in a few of my posts last summer, it’s so much prettier than the pictures that when I ordered it; I wasn’t planning to write about it this year. But it’s still my best performer in the warm colors end of the bed. The clump has been blossoming cheerfully for weeks now and with all of the buds, it looks like it keep blossoming until frost, like last year.
I also wanted to share this photo, taken by my Ohio friend. I sent her a couple of tubers and she’s growing them in a container, in full sun. The blossoms have almost twice the petals. I’m not even very jealous. Not very.
I do have more than just dahlias going on in the garden, still lots of food coming in, and today I planted hydrangea Pinky Winky in between the stumps of the arborvitae that was trying to eat the house. I had a landscaping service come out earlier this summer and clean them out along with layers and layers of vining plants that had filled in as undergrowth. Ivy competed with Perrywinkle and various other vining weeds. The worker spent all afternoon just clearing and clearing. He said he kept thinking he was at the bottom of it and then would find another layer of vines and roots. After he did as much as he could, I haunted the place where my Company puts computer boxes to be thrown away and brought home big boxes to cover the area and hopefully smother most of what’s left.
I’ve raised the hydrangea from a four inch pot and it’s still pretty small to make any impact in the area. But I visited a good nursery yesterday and looked at hydrangeas in larger pots and decided that I’d rather work with a small one, even if it takes longer to make an impact. So next I’ll cover the cardboard with maybe a little dirt and the last of this spring’s mulch pile and think about what, if anything else, I want in that space.
I started my morning gazing at the dahlia bed with a cup of coffee in my hand and soon shifted to cleaning and weeding. In addition to removing older browned leaves at the bottom, which develop on the bigger plants, I decided to take out some of the shortest branches that were badly shaded or leaning into other plants. I took them out at the stem. They wouldn’t have produced blossoms and it will open up the plant for better air circulation, but never having read about doing that, I’m a little apprehensive. Hope that it won’t damage the plants.
One thing I didn’t do is cull the bad plant of Harvey Koop; after months of babying it and wishing it healthy while worrying that it was virused and would affect the plants around it, I cannot believe that it’s not even the right color. Harvey Koop is variagated and this is a deep reddish purple. Because of the shape and because the darkest color in its variation may match this, I expect that the grower cloned a plant that was reverting. Reversion to a solid is often a problem with striped or variagated plants but when you buy from a reputable grower, you expect the plant to be true. It does such a nice job of bringing out the purple in Croydon’s Masterpiece, right behind it in the picture, I probably won’t pull and destroy until it’s done blossoming.
Another procrastination, Bodacious was not pinched back properly (my fault) and the blossoms, at the top of a too tall plant were first deformed (July heat was also a factor) and then the first one that I let blossom was single. This second one is fuller than the last but still not the dahlia that it should be. I should cut it off to give the blossoms lower on the plant a chance to develop properly. However, with it’s bright colors at the top of a slight slope up from the street and 7′ above the ground, it’s attracting attention from people on the street.