Madgardener here.......just in the mood to chat about gardening. Right now I
am distracted by both the inside plants as well as what the perennials
outside are doing for me.
Lessee......well outside I noticed yesterday during the bitter cold rains
that there were dark centered leaves shining up from the browns of the
raised beds. Focased closer and discovered what I was seeing was Lamiastrum
"Yellow Archangel" that has started weaving itself from the two spots I've
planted it. It was originally one 4 inch pot, spread along the whole
extension bed running beside the western side of my front sidewalk. Now
it's a thick, almost impenetrable thatch of silver/green leaves with long,
wiry vining stems. So right now, with the cold, the silver has burgandied
up and is highlighting the foliage.
Interspersed amongst the browns and tans of the dead foliage, are small,
pointy tongues of irises. I see them all along the whole front bed almost
"walking thru the beds, it's hilarious to see them out there in the cold.
Everywhere I see clumps of bulbs poking out of the soil. Striped leaves of a
little white flower I don't remember the name of, but that I plugged several
bulbs near a really neat rock at the back of the eastern front bed. They're
already completely up and floppy due to the little micro-climate of the back
of the bed with the warmth of the house, the enclosed dog run and the
southern exposure it gets all the time. The really neat rock my youngest
son found down in our woods and hauled it up to the front and plunked it
there, later I decided to move it someplace better and that sucker must
weigh 50 pounds!!!! it's shaped like two camel humps.................
Another old friend and enemy is the ever present vinca major. I love and
hate it so. I will never rid myself of it completely because it keeps me on
my toes. I adore the deep blue morning glory like blossoms it has that
unfurl like blue crayons in the spring, and I actually love the deep green
glossy leaves it has on those thick, tough and sinewy vines it throws 24
foot or more. I have about a garden cart of it to pull up right now and a
whole area that I never noticed under the old wisteria vine that refuses to
bloom that I planted the single Kerria japonica under.
That tells me it's time to rip all of that out completely.
The Kerria japonica has taken over the area and I planted a Sweet Autumn
Clematis that clambers over the spent vines of the wisteria rather nicely.
But under it I see a heavy green stand of vinca way too healthy and the
culprit of who's throwing those long vines everywhere that I find outside
the edges of the far western end of the front raised beds. They get so
thick, they actually can trip me up! Many times I've not paid attention
when I was walking past and almost fallen on my face because I got tangled
Outside also is amazing tribute to the toughness of the Hellebore to
temperatures. The large green palmate leaves shine darkly from the many
patches I have them planted. I had no idea I had them in five places until
yesterday. Their intense GREEN-NESS is what attracts my eye to them right
now. Another reminded that I really need one good evergreen as a winter
bones focal point.....
With Sugar slipping up and digging a small spot near the front yesterday, I
noticed tiny shoots of daylilies lying just beneath the brown stringy leaves
of last year's plant beside the roots of the stokesia she had started to
excavate. That inspired me to hunt down more clumps of
daylilies to see if there were more teeny little pre-spring shoots waiting
for warm days to leap outa the soil. My search goes on. I'll tell you
Little ferns turned out to be this years new growth of yarrow. Sun blushed
to a plum color, they sit lying there in the various pots I have them
planted in waiting for the signal from the fairy that's in charge of them to
take off at leaps and bounds.
And speaking of fairies in charge.......the hens and chickens have tightened
up to a dark, familar color of plum and unusual greenish themselves. Some
like plum colored artichoke balls, others like the semps people attribute to
hens and chicks. I also lucked up this year and discovered red-tipped ones
and hairy ones that I tentatively planted in an old porcelin spagatti pot
strainer and hung on chains. I almost brought them inside but decided that
if they froze out, I'd replace them this spring when the cactus and
succulents came at the nursery, but was pleasantly surprised to see they
were tucked in and looking like little balls too. Even got a decent close up
shot of them one day.<g>
The butterfly bush beside the nook door tucked in the corner by the wooden
walkway has tons of silver leaves snuggled against every stem, thickly
coated and just waiting for warm weather. I won't have the heart to cut it
to the ground this spring. I will have to be brutal in the fall instead and
spare myself the torture of all this winter silver.
Corydalis sits green too. A surprise to me, since I never noticed it
suffered thru the cold temperatures. Now I look forward to see how loaded
the plants are this spring with those cute little yellow bloomers they crank
out. and that reminds me that despite that I lost ALL but two of the
corydalis plants of the corydalis selection from Roots and Rhizomes, I will
once again get another collection from them and THIS time NO harboring in
larger nursery pots. I'll plant them in shady spots and thwo them against
the winds of chance. corydalis with names like Blackberry Wine, China Blue,
Purple leaf, and C. elata with fabulously fragrant cobalt-blue flowers and a
variety that doesn't go dormant in summer for us in the warmer areas <g>
Inside, the jungle/desert is going along in distress. I just potted up a
varigated rubber baby I got in the greenhouse last week, and the
Triostar/Stromanthe I left in it's nestled pot. It's showing me it much
prefers a terrarium enviroment by the curling leaves I get on it's distant
relation, the prayer plant whenever I chose to buy one. I adore the various
colorations on these leaves, but they always demise on me.
The Triostar caught my eye and as soon as I picked up the pot and examined
the structure I knew I was in for a struggle to make it live in my
drafty,dry heated house this winter. If I can just get it to spring where I
can set it out on the sheltered deck........the bright pink backs that shine
thru the cream and textured leaves are what drew my eye to them amongst the
other foliage at work. I'm a sucker..............<g>
The jungle cactus is thriving in it's spot in front of the southern window
in my nook. It doesn't mind the draft from the old window. What IS thriving
as well is the Rubra and the Green and Gold oxalis I got from Logee's last
year. The Rubra looks like a tiny, red heart leafed tree, and the Green and
gold oxalis next to it looks like a small bush. Kinda neat the way they
compliment each other and they both have butter daffodil yellow trumpet
flowers. The Green and Gold way more than the Rubra.
The ruffled leaf African violet refuses to bloom for me, but the deep plum
backs of the leaves as I gaze upwards assures me it's getting the right
amount of light. I have started watering with Schultz African violet drops.
Out of desperation today I moved the Sago palm from the north bedroom to my
nook which gets eastern and strong southern light. I'd hate to lose it, as
it's just a baby.........
Today has been spent repotting up empty pots. I lost the goldfish plant.
Repotted the "Green Gold" Rex begonia. At least that's as close to
identifying it as I can come. It's ringed in deep maroon on the jagged,
ruffled leaves, followed by a silvery greenish white and then picking up the
same maroon splotches at the center that follow along the veins. My love for
begonias has seated itself in my passion for my old passalong perennial
begonia that is sleeping outside in my gardens. The fairies have tucked the
little bulbils into the soil, and as teasers, left the funny little
tri-cornered seedpods hanging on their wispy threads of stems dangling from
bent stems. They shake and shimmer in winds and I'm sure every microscopic
powder seed has blown to other areas to germinate or not in other places.
The seeds are dust fine. The pollinators were those funny little hummingbird
moths when they discovered my cache of bright, clean pink flowers.
The succulents are all sulking, the desert rose has dropped two more leaves,
but I noticed it has 12 new leaf buds on every branching stem off the
swollen and twisted "trunk" rising out of the soil and orchid pot the
planted it in so that tells me it's in a happy winter dormancy.
The cacti are all drowsy, some happy with the cooler temperatures of the
back bedroom that lays off the north side of the house with the strong
western window and two window's on the north wall. One large window letting
in the strong indirect southern and western sun over the top of the house,
and the other window in the door that leads to the balcony that has duct
tape on the top and upper side to keep out the cold north wind where the
jamb doesn't seal properly. Out on the deck, pots of dark soil waits in
eager anticipation of true spring. It shelters assorted little spring bulbs
I planted in my pot frenzy a few weeks ago with all those horded bags of
bulbs I first bought legitimate, then in rabid compulsion when they reduced
them all to 50c per bag and that meant awesome bargains.
That reminds me--------- and I cross thru the doorway of the back room after
looking at the too green and happy privet that laughs at me from behind the
windows down in the lower holler of my woods and look outside the other door
that has a large window on the upper half and see the two window boxes I
planted in bulbs sitting all cold and unyielding. I'm sure I've planted the
bulbs way too thickly. But come actual showing, I will enjoy the show they
put on for me and divide the boxes into three hunks of bulbs and plug them
in assorted places late springtime when the roots and bulbs hold the soil
close to them. The boxes can house up and coming perennials <g> I suspect
the Armeria I adored was lost, and a few other little early spring bloomers.
This time the soil mix will be part soil, part pea gravel to ensure return.
and what better place for sunny loving little perennials that in 36" long
window boxes? <G>
The doctoring administrations of my attempt to save the parched and stressed
out Strepptocarpella I bought last spring catches my attentions as the pot
drips, drips, drips into the garbage can sitting in my nook begging to be
emptied of all the accumulated and thrown away catalogs, old bills and
paperwork when we insulated the nook. It was a chance to clean things out
and throw things away.
I soaked the pot and hung it off the brackets that hold up the bookshelf
boards that house my many garden books to drip excess water into the open
can. a full third of it has died horribly of dryness and neglect. I'm
ashamed that I've not seen it's demise, but it was the front facing side of
the pot and there is still 2/3rds full pot left to save. I've not waited too
long I don't think.
In the kitchen, a much cherished Streptocarpus that Mary Emma gave me 7
years ago teeters on life and death. It never grows large, it never dies out
and when it blooms, it gives me awesome white and blue heavy lipped trumpets
that endear me to it. I'm sure if I gently repotted it up into better soil,
it would fill up the pot it lives in. Or die horribly and it would be more
devastating were I to lose it. That it lives in the kitchen window
that faces north and that has a cold feel to it during winter is probably
why it doesn't love me enough to grow into the more bushy cousin I'm trying
to save back in the nook/den area where I had to put it. Come spring when I
hang the pot outside under the overhang of the deck where it will get all
the humidity and indirect strong light it craves, it will wow me with deep
blue trumpet and heavy lipped flowers on looong stems. (the newer one, not
my sad little try hard)
I was able to gently remove a stubborn section of the blue one and after
root tone on the section, I carefully plugged it in with the other one that
Mary Emma gave me. Success or failure later on will depend on if the house
fairies are paying attention to my ministrations and help the little stem
Rose and Sugar come all excited to me while I'm doing this with urging to go
outside and play. The temperatures have risen to a comfortable 50o F and I
realize they're right. I need to go outside to at least repair the other
bird feeder and inspect the growth underneath perennials in other pots
scattered through out the upper portion of my ridge. That means look for
Heuchera's, little sedums and check for signs of fern fronds unfurling near
the Autumn fern's base.
As I gathered myself up, I check on the condition of the Ceropegia 'Woodii'
or Rosary Vine I have soaking in the kitchen sink, pour some warm water into
the vase of the bromeliad with the dark purple markings I'm nursing on top
of the microwave, and next to the pot of wildly mottled deifenbachia the
nurseries have bred lately. The kitchen is sometimes more of a nursery
infirmary than kitchen. It's also served me as a potting room on many
occaisons and I've often thought I'd rather have a potting sink off the
kitchen somewhere with a counter, but I realized that I meant what I really
wanted was a side porch. And that would mean enclosing the area I've already
designated for just that, only without the sink. <g>
So I'm dropping everything for the moment and running outside with the girls
to taste some fresh air and sunlight before the next wave of weather blows
thru and I'm inside once again or back to work.
Talk about being a spacy broad! <GBSEG>
I managed to kill a good hour outside before I got suspicious of Sugar and
called them inside, that and the winds were changing and it was getting much
colder. But what I found was like going on a treasure hunt! The Celtic knot
pots I found at Wally world a couple of years ago I planted Pewter plum
heuchera into. the long, straggly older leaves droop over the edges of the
treated concrete pot and as I gently pushed the foliage from the center of
the pot, I was rewarded with teeny little A-MAZING minature heuchera leaves
in shades of wonder. All the usual colors--burgandy, dark and light green,
cream, pink, silver. But in minature and deeply cut since the leaves have
textural edges when they mature. That excited me and I ran to look at the
centers of the other plants and was wowed by the same display. Teeny little
perfect heuchera leaves just waiting for true springtime to shove past the
old growth and floor me.
the many pots of sedums and semps have proven to be successes and
disappointments in the same breath. Some just melted. Empty pots of pea
gravel and sandy soil in silent accusational testimony. That's alright. I
have the many pots of Micki's semps to tuck into empty pots come springtime.
With names like Skrockii, Lennicks Glory, Raspberry ice, Neptune, Joy Belle,
Other pots sitting silently holding their secrets to themselves wheather
they're returning for me or not. Only time and warm spring days will tell.
The damage all too obvious that Sugar did to the BBQ pit/water fountain
garden sits in raw testimony. The rusty wires of the support frame lying
over the soil, and once you see those wires, you begin to see other places
where I've laid the same things over other spots she digs to deter her as
much as I can without laying down chicken wire which I refuse to do. Or get
rid of her as I am reluctant to do yet. Because I do love her. still.
I didn't take the time to search for daylily shoots, I was getting much too
chilled, and after fixing the wooden bird feeder, I filled it up, topped off
the other tubes and noticed that all the thistle socks were almost picked
clean. Time to invest in some more thistle seed for the many finches I have.
A quick glance at pots confirms that there are tiny green ferny shoots of
coreopsis waiting to expose themselves for who they are. Will it be Sweet
dreams? Or Limrock Ruby? Did Tequila Sunrise make it? How about the larger
tickseed coreopsis I got from the side of the road from a wild flower sowing
in Tullahoma that I just pulled out of loose, rich soil and that
transplanted wonderfully that night when I got home?
Already my mind is being invaded by fairy whisperings. "get more stacking
pavers at work, we like what you did around the BBQ pit/fountain, change
the extended bed beside the driveway. Dig up the Loosestrife that we helped
jump out of the box and plant it somewhere else and you'll free up a HUGE
space for some tall perennials this spring and summer. Find a sunny spot
for that quadruple lilac you started in the huge busted nursery pot this
year before it pops the pot to pieces. (four kinds of lilac's planted
together, two of them VERY fragrant double white/pink ones, another one a
blue gray called Mr. Grant. and another one I forget who it is......)
The sun is leaving brush marks on the sky as it gets darker, my skin is now
tingling with the cold and I want to finish with this and send it on it's
way to you. There will be more. The days are lengthening and soon I will be
singing about the Hellebore buds..............all my best wishes to you
wherever you garden. Keep me up on what YOU'RE doing too. I always love to
hear about your gardens. Thanks again for letting me ramble here. and I
look forward to hollering at you later on.
madgardener up on the ridge, back in Fairy Holler, overlooking a snowy
English Mountain, in Eastern Tennessee, zone 7, Sunset zone 36