Continuing adventures of sticky pots and assorted perennial containers

Ethyll and I had decided long ago that we needed a nursery adventure for the peak of summer. She had to get flowers for a wedding she was doing and I just wanted to have a day of girls day out running amock. My other friend had come thru on her way to pick up her teenager from summer camp in North Cackalacky, and on her way back had stopped in on the return back home to say hi. I had already set up things with Squire who would be down in his dragon cave working on mysterious documents on his new computer, and when this other friend and daughter came just in time for a spaghetti dinner and a neat movie with a sleep over, it became perfect for adding two other females into the blend and day to come.
Our only snag was my vehicle's air conditioning wasn't working at the time and I was waiting for the part to come in, she and I didn't think much would come from us enduring the heat as long as there were the window's rolled all the way down for blowing comforts. We made jokes about having grown up in days where summer's were remembered as being HOT, there wasn't such a thing as air conditioning at that time, with only window fans and oscillating fans being the only relief one got on sticky summer nights where you stuck to the sheets. Or visited relatives or grandparents and slept on screened porches. So a little discomfort didn't seem like too much of a problem this early in the day.
The Saturday had started out well. Ethyll showed up at departure point in mid morning to get a jump on the first stop before they closed at mid-day. A little eastern Knoxville seed and co-op where the bagged garden soil was rich and black enough to eat with a spoon with just a little sugar and milk, as the little man who had waited on me the last time I was there had picked up on my excitement when I discovered this gardening soil. (LOL),
my friend and her daughter were already getting it together and had packed and were ready to finish the last leg of their trip and I proposed that they follow us, stop off at the first nursery minded adventure and then go on to stop and grab a frozen cappuccino in Knoxville which was our ultimate partial destination for nurseries and silk flowers.
My visiting friend and daughter (who was posing as her running buddy) informed us at the Starbucks we'd stopped at in Knoxville for a quick frozen coffee, that they'd really rather stop somewhere else and eat a nice early lunch, and I knew just the place and it was on our way to the craft store, on their way to the hook up on the interstate and back to Middle Tennessee, and we'd have a nice girls only luncheon in the process.
Nothing like a 15 year old girl seeing middle aged women of assorted flavors and textures and characteristics eating lunch and yammering about life and whatever else comes up between chewing and laughter.
There was LOTS of laughter. The spot I had chosen was a rather nice and casual central American Mexican flavored restaurant of high quality food and great atmosphere. I had wisely left the dogs behind due to the heat, which proved almost our undoing later on, but without them to worry about sitting out in the car waiting, we took our time and swapped ideas and stories and caught up on personal gossip. My Middle Tennessee friend was just getting to know Ethyll, and I had the opportunity to sit back and enjoy the other three women as they all interacted with each other. A great time was had by all, and as we parted at the end of the meal, I gave directions to the interstate where we'd actually part ways.
She and her daughter heading towards towards home, and us to the computer store first to pick up memory for Squire's laptop computer, and then the craft store and double back on our last leg and stop at our favorite nursery.
We did pretty good considering it was 102o and oppressively hot by this point in the early afternoon. As we finished up everything in a pretty timely manner, and were heading for the nursery, we made our plans on our nursery assaults. Just careen into the shop and scatter like the winds.
We hit the parking lot with just 45 minutes to spare before they were closing as summer hours had changed again on the wain of July 4th. We'd had no idea, and there were hardly any other gardeners about. (just the hard core's like ourselves and the tired and heat stricken young-un's who were ready to close up, go home and grab a hot shower and have their Saturday night.....)and the owner who was making last rounds.
The misting system had just started up again, and with the added heat, now we were walking into a tropical jungle. I'm used to this sort of thing, unfortunately Ethyll is not. The heat was beginning to tell on both of us.
I headed immediately for the cactus table against the glass windows that border the outside perennial staging areas under the shade cloth and open outer wall. This outer wall usually has living wreaths and great planters stuffed with coconut fibre and assorted tender annuals and perennials in neat combinations. Planted outside of this open window design are mature perennials and ornamentals that are coming into the season's peak. The lance leaf Rudbeckia was setting buds and their phlox was huge. Great stands of healthy Salvia was covered in butterflies and other attendants.
As I searched the tables for something unusual that they'd started pups from and admired the hanging baskets of perfect Burro's tail and two quart pots of Rosary Vine succulents, string of beads, odd Euphorbia's and such, I spotted a wonderful pot of Rosary Vine that beat the other ones hands down. Huge leaves in the bed of the pot, cascading thick threads of extremely large top leaves and graduating to smaller leaves to about three foot or more and every vine all the way around was also blooming those great looking little fleshy pink saxophones with the black tufts of "hair" on them. I gently teased it from where the arches of the tops of the heart shaped succulent leaves had tangled and gently placed it in the cart. And reminded myself that I wasn't going to go too insane as I already had things at home still to plant. (Crape myrtle and yellow Carolina Baptismia, I'd finally planted the copper container with the Dragon's wing Fallopia, and Chocolate Eupatoria with the Red Foxx verbena in the center that I had given a haircut when I tucked it between the other two darker leaves as contrast.)
I heard Ethyll remarking towards my general direction over the tables of tropical plants still left to look at and pick over, and I noticed that it was poinsettia sticking time as lots of tables were taken up on the outer portions of the inner greenhouse with tips of assorted poinsettia's growing happily in medium to be ready for Christmas by Thanksgiving. I know the seasons in a nursery so well without thinking it sometimes startles me.
I also noticed some impressive and highly tempting begonia's that almost broke my will power as I saw great pots of filled out ones I've only admired in the Logee's book. What you get from Logee's is what they start out with and with the added bonus of a moist greenhouse, they can grow them into impressive baskets and hanging containers that would take me two or three years to attain that size.
I hollered at Ethyll to check out the colorations and textures and as we joined back up she smirked that I'd already gotten something. We both headed into the perennial room after much admiration of every begonia, expressing our desires to have at least one of these packed and perfect pots of begonia's to where everything sits on several back to back tables in seasonal displays. I expected there would be a few early mums, lots of asters, some surprises,but was pleasantly surprised with seeing several pots of a succulent that had attained more maturity like my own pot I'd purchased the year before and it proved too tempting to pass up for the price as things were slashed a bit for the time. I snagged one for Ethyll. I picked up three 5 inch pots of that Butterfly weed like I'd had last year that the Monarch's adored but that never returned this year, not even by seed that I carefully placed the split pod upon the ground and secured to get a few germinations. But alas, no returns to that bed where they had originally been.
I spotted some healthy pulmonaria's, but what grabbed both our eyes and made us speak at the same time was the impressive pots of heuchera's. Creme Brulee and Crimson ruffles. I weakened. I grabbed up a couple of pots of Creme Brulee and one pot of Crimson ruffles. I already had a pot in mind to plant up. Ethyll snagged herself a Creme Brulee. I then turned around and this end cap table was packed with black-eyed Susan's and next to them, great trailing pots of blue Platycodon's, gorgeous pots of HUGE blue stars and puffy promises of balloons for later that arched and gracefully fell down the sides of the gallon and a half containers. I snatched one pot up and spotted the stiff, thin leaves of the lance leaf Helianthus that was outside near the parking lot, thriving and setting buds for eye popping yellow daisies soon. I grabbed two pots of those.
As I scoured the tables for odd ones, I almost took a red tree peony. looked a bit tired and I wasn't sure of myself. I took the three pots of Butterfly weed back, and upon returning to the ever fillng garden cart, I spotted a lance leafed Digitalis that is a true perennial with brownish pink finger-like blossoms. I used to have one three years ago. It was the only one of two pots and this one was the larger and more filled out. I'm always guilty of "cherry picking" the best pot. And these pots were incredibly sticky and apt to cling to your hands or arms as you brushed past them.
As Ethyll talked over the size of each plant and the benefits of this one over that one, I had this nice feeling of garden companionship come over me. We were both grinning like loons and chattering like school girls on a field trip without parents watching closely. <g> I resisted the urge to get a pot of Lemons and Oranges gaillardia which I REALLY wanted, but Gaillardia's do best in full sun and I wasn't going to torture any of these pots to just have them refuse to return for me. I haven't yet found their sweet spot where they'll thrive unnoticed.
I also knew there was coming in the mails, some fall blooming alliums, specifically the variety of alliums called Ozawa. I held back. The van was already loaded with ten, 40 pound bags of black Garden Magic soils, now we were loading up perennials and we decided enough was enough. We had to stop. And Ethyll was getting hot and toasty. As we made our way to the front check out counter, the owner spotted us and I started talking to him about when I could expect my first hardy Ginger blossom.
Ethyll looked at the loaded cart and laughed at me and remarked that my face was a dangerous red color, and I agreed it was time we paid the piper and headed homewards. She separated hers from mine and we both spotted these adorable pot hanging cats of which one had the colorations of the newest female in the feline family at my house...Maggie. I snagged two black and white one and one tabby that hooked over the edge of a pot and added them to the pile. No bargains today. Lisa was absent and I suspected it was the heat had gotten her.
I was assured by Mr. Stanley that my Ginger would eventually give me bouquets of white flowers over time, just patience and love were all that was required, and we rolled the cart to the van. Break out the "box-bags" I'd gotten years ago from Pinetree Seeds up in Maine and put the bulk of them into those, and use the cardboard flats that Stanley's nursery provides, and Ethyll remarked "when didja have time to get THOSE?" And I laughed. There were two pots of lance leaved Helianthus in amongst the Heuchera's, succulents, Rosary vine plant, blue Balloon flower,and THREE pots of crocosmia's. An orangey yellow one in full flower with a new bloom shoot, and two pots of finished George Davidson that were bursting the 4 inch pots, and Lance leaved Digitalis. I told her we'd barely missed a worst sticky pot situation by the fact that the mists allowed us to escape without more clinging to our hands, arms, and fingertips!! Ethyll said I was fun to go to a nursery with, but was totally insane........
No relief for the hot and middle aged, we headed out the scorching parking lot, admiring the late summer perennials and vowed to return to see what they looked like in peak performances, and headed towards somewhere with icy cold sweet iced tea and air conditioning.
One more stop after we got frustrated at the closest Micky D's as they seemed to be more interested in gossip instead of waiting on over-heated patrons, so we went to another place and got immediate service and the last stop at the Sam's to pay a bill and get some spices.
Now we were prickley and starting to realize we were overheated but as I pulled into the Sam's parking lot, I told her at least we could cool off a bit and wander thru the warehouse and see if any garden supplies were reduced and if we cooled off enough, we might sample some free tidbits. But as soon as I said that, we both agreed it was just too danged hot to eat.
The wandering around the warehouse though was exactly what we needed, and while we were inside cooling off, a summer thunderstorm came up, and as we made our way to the van, we got rained on. A nice warm rain that begged me to just stand and get soaked. We leisurely walked to the van and were on our way homewards finally after a hot and traffic locked day had finally come to a close.
When we got home, the dogs were peeved at us for leaving them behind, but I didn't have one iota of guilt for making them stay behind. Squire assured me that the dogs had clung to him and son the whole time we were gone, insisting on lying not close to them on the floor, but lying ON their feet, "dogging" them everywhere they went, inside or out, even trying to come into the bathroom with him, which he refused to allow......LOL I immediately got accused of spoiling the dogs while he is on the road working, and I laughed behind me as Ethyll and I made our way back to the back of the van and began unloading the bags of soil into the back of her little silver Honda. Five for her, five for me.....
Then we decided no frills, just dump the five of my bags over beside the backside of the Black Cherry shade garden since son was passed out cold inside and I didn't want to alert Squire as to the magnitude of sticky nursery substances....
Then we began sorting out our booty thrilling over the quality of each plant and admiring the Creme Brulee in their pots, the textures and ruffled of the other I'd snagged. She protested but took the wonderful succulent I got for her, and as she loaded it up in the back of her car, I hung the newer pot of Rosary Vine succulent near the older pot of mine. Perfect.
Then grabbing a small pot, I carefully teased the seedling of yellow Corydalis that had seeded into the Cereus cactus pot and was thriving quite nicely, dumped some rich Garden Magic soil around the whole thing and gave the pot a deep sip of water out of the tub on the nook deck I'd left for the animals to drink from until I decide to work the cactus' large pot into it for the winter. That will take more heft than I had in me at the moment, and the dogs and even the cats adore the full tub of well water to sip and gorge from on these hot days.
As we tittered and twittered, we said our affections and bid each other fond farewells with promises of solutions for plantings made soon, but now a cool shower was in the forecast. At least Ethyll's air conditioning worked in HER car.......soon mine would be fixed and it would be in time for fall browsing for little perennials to tuck into bare spots to quietly settle in for spring shows. And bulbs to hide and hope her cat sized city squirrels would leave be. I'll tell her we're going for bulbs some other time.................
thanks for the allowances of bending your ears. it was fun to share our day with all of you.
Since we had this little adventure, I've potted the heuchera's into a HUGE old slightly rusted enamel pot I was allowed to scrounge from Miz Mary's yard of junk, since she's never coming home and the family is slowly sorting thru the mess and sending most everything to the landfill. I filled around the plants with a bag of that black rich soil, alternated the Creme Brulee and Purple Ruffles and for accents and colors next year, tucked in two George Crocosmia's.
The other black nursery pot I found that would accommodate the perennials I planted the other Crocosmia, the blue Platycodon, and one of the lance leafed Helianthus. The Ozawa Allium came when I wasn't looking and I tucked them into the two pots and hoped they'd get along like nice perennials.
The second lance leafed Helianthus I tucked into a bare spot on the north side of the bricks bed where the white dwarf butterfly bush and magenta purple phlox is still wowing the fairies and all their pets. Over on the northeastern side where an oxalis had dissolved, I slipped the lance leaved Digitalis and firmed and top-dressed the whole thing with the remaining bag of Garden Magic soil.
Clip the spent blossoms on the white butterfly bush, notice that the little white aster underneath was budding and a few were starting to open, one sedum had dissolved from too rich soils and I made a note to replant another aster in the spot, or a nice Clara Curtis mum.
The Willow leafed sunflower is starting to open those huge Coreopsis like flowers and there is now a stepped up pace in the gardens.
Wild raucous fights between juvenile hummers of both varieties, Rufus and Ruby throat as they vie for territory and show their young hormones at summer's end. There are more females than males, and they sometimes win over the tussles with the marauding males who race thru the leaves and mimosa puffs and waning Trumpet vine flowers.
I felt sorry for the birds and filled every feeder with rich, fresh black sunflower seeds, and all the large socks with new thistle and the hanging feeder with the little birds at the edges on the chains I put water into and hang so the birds can enjoy water high up enough to be safe from Maggie and Pester's claws. Maggie is hunter supreme.
As I finish planting the nursery's spoils into containers, and start searching for the watering hose, I hear the heated songs around me of locusts, cicada's, assorted birds and the far off distant conversations of the new neighbor's young dogs in the woods below Miz Mary's house and at the bottom of the pasture in the woods. Just far enough off that my own hounds ignore their barks, despite that Sugar is a dog person. And about the time I think of Sugar and her love of other canines, her nose pokes me wetly and coldly on my upper arm and she does that "hellllooooo" thing she does with me, and I give her the jowls hugging and patting I only give to her as she reminds me it's time to come inside now and cool off with her. She's had enough. All this time as I planted and pinched and noticed things around me, she had lain on the middle hump of grass that grows between where the vehicles drive down and patiently figured I'd be thru soon.
She loves to do that. The boy Smeagol is a self made house dog and always goes back to the door and barks his displeasure at having to stay outside. I sometimes let him in, or ignore him and he returns back to harass Sugar and play rough with her until she puts him in his place. But today, he's a wuss and I hear his pleas and barking's as he begs someone to let him in, and soon I don't hear him and discover that Squire had taken pity on him and let him back inside.
The day is closing fast, there are two new containers of perennials to watch over and more adventures up the road. Of that I'm sure of it.
madgardener, up on the toasty and late summer heat ladened ridge, back in a very dry Fairy Holler, overlooking a perpetually hazy English Mountain in Eastern Tennessee, zone 7, Sunset zone 36
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