2021 Money Pit Garden Awards

I had to reblog this because it is the funniest, most well done thing I have ever seen.

As garden writers, I propose we all adopt these categories…..

The Chatsworth Lady

If movies, plays, and television shows can have their annual awards, why not our own gardens? In that vein, I’m inaugurating them here at the Money Pit, starting with this gardening year of 2021. And of course, just like in the awards shows, there is a ‘Gone But Not Forgotten’ plant-obituary column for the year as well.

Surprising Success Award (a/k/a The Smiley)

Several plants vied for this one but the winner is Rose ‘Earth Song’, even though I should have expected it, having grown this in my previous garden where it was one of the stars. However, I truly did not expect the 10” own-root bare twig received in late May (sorry, no photo of that phase) to put out several new branches in June, open its first of several buds in mid-July, and then continue to more than double its size and bloom nonstop for the next…

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Mushroom Irony

Mushrooms on the wrong log!

You can probably tell by the black, wrought iron “arm” at the left side of the photo that this is a firewood rack. That top log that is growing such fabulous mushrooms is a piece of an old apple tree. I wish I knew more about mushrooms and could do more than simply admire them–but I know enough to know what I don’t know and I have no plans to poison myself accidentally because those mushrooms “look just like “–see that’s the problem. I don’t even know that. I will stick to growing mushrooms in my kitchen.

Which brings me to the “irony” part of this post. Remember last year’s Christmas gift to the Spoiler? The log that was supposed to grow mushrooms?

That’s it, right there next to that beautiful mushroom growing piece of apple tree. It’s about the ONLY log on the pile without a mushroom on it. Ridiculous. It’s the one with the broken metal plaque on it.

And please don’t tell me that it seeded the rest of the logs with mushroom spore, because if that were the case, it too should have something growing on it!

Anyway, it was a bust. Oh well. Live and learn.

Zygocacti and Seasonal Changes

Three Zygo or Holiday Cacti

It’s a little difficult to tell but there are 3 clay pots of zygo cacti on this plant stand. I segregated them from the other 10 pots that I have because they were beginning to form buds and I wanted them to get a little more light.

But all the zygocacti are definitely flowering later this year. For years, one would be in flower right around the holiday that we just celebrated on Monday. That cactus is called Holiday Delight and I always joke that it is a good thing that they never specified which holiday.

Perhaps one of these will be in bloom by Halloween, although that seems ambitious. But surely Thanksgiving is within reach. We’ll see.

What makes these plants bloom anyway? A combination of light and temperature. Clearly as my post on Monday indicated, it’s been much warmer this fall. So while the sunsets remain the same, the warmer temperatures have probably told these plants that it isn’t quite time to set buds yet.

That’s fine. They will simply bloom closer to the actual “holidays ” for which they are named and perhaps into next year as well. I love flowers in the dead of winter so that’s fine with me.

The Birds Know

Robins on a lawn

These few robins on a neighbor’s lawn do not begin to tell the story. Whenever I leave my house recently, there is a cacophony of bird calls.

There are flocks of sparrows on the grass (and blue jays watching, giving the alarm call whenever I try to take a photo). There are mixed flocks of starlings and grackles in the trees–almost any tree, but especially the native dogwoods. This time of year, they methodically work their way up the street, eating the fruit off every tree in sight. You can hear them coming.

What is my point? The forecast for this week is for unreasonable warmth with temperatures by Friday reaching near 80.

That’s all well and good but all this bird activity tells a different story. If the date on the calendar isn’t telling us that cold weather will soon be upon us, the birds are reminding us that it will be.

Fall Containers

Heuchera, viola and dusty miller

There’s such a difference between container gardening in spring and in the fall–at least in my climate.

And yes, there are perfectly lovely combinations that are possible with cabbages, ornamental kale, asters and mums–but somehow, I just can’t bring myself to do those. I am not quite sure why. I like asters and the ornamental cruciferous stuff. But I think that they all (with the exception of asters) seem to have too short a season.

Autumn (or fall, if you prefer) can be very finicky in New England. This year it has been long and lovely–so much so that our impatiens and geraniums (pelargoniums) are blooming with the pumpkins!

But many years, I remember frosts and even freezes by this time. And I am not one to go running out with bedsheets or towels to cover up everything. When things are done, they’re done. We move on–isn’t that why we have seasons?

So if I am asked to give a container garden lecture–as I have been the last two falls –it’s a challenge to decide what to bring. First of all, as in any garden club, not everyone has a garden (something that has always amused me, but of course, there are flower arrangers and conservationists, and people who have been members since they once had gardens–you get the idea). So I try to bring something that appeals to those who may have smaller gardens or indoor gardens or patio gardens as well.

Golden sage, silver thyme, rosemary

And while it’s not immediately intuitive, fall is a great time for an herb planter, because this is something that can be moved closer to the house for soups and stews and roasts–or perhaps even brought indoors.

Begonia, croton, ornamental pepper
Alocasia, calathea, anthurium

Fall is also a great time for house plant planters, whether you are just refreshing your own planters, combining plants to save space on your windowsills, or trying out new combinations. Just try to ensure that whatever you plant together needs the same cultural requirements of sun and water.

Notice also in my first photo, above, that I tucked an annual–or maybe you’d consider it an edible–into that “house plant” container. Those small “ornamental” peppers that are sold this time of year grow quite nicely indoors–just be sure to watch them later in the season for insects–as you should with all house plants!

Microgreens

Broccoli microgreens

I have wanted to grow microgreens for quite some time. I have saved containers for it and even acquired seeds that were appropriate like celery and of course leaf lettuces.

I always have seed starting soil on hand, so that’s not a problem.

But did I ever actually grow the little microgreens? Don’t be ridiculous! I am capable of executing much more complex gardening projects–but throwing some seeds evenly on seed starting mix and keeping them moist for a few days? Bah! Too complicated for me!

So I finally decided that I would take the guess work out of it (and try to improve my diet a bit) with these pre-planted seed mats.

Supposedly they are fool proof–but that’s only if you are paying attention. I was cleaning on Saturday and realized that not only had these sprouted, but some were growing right through their paper covering. Oops. Luckily, it was paper so I could delicately tear it away without too much damage.

Seed quilt

With this next set, I will try to pay more attention.

Now the trick is to use the first set before I actually get little broccoli plants. It’s too cold now for that!

Clash of Seasons

Basil with sleeping bumblebee

This is a strange time of year. It’s been warm, unlike last year, when I was already wearing gloves this time of year. But we are definitely into fall. The days are shorter, the nights are cooler and the basil in the above photo definitely has a limited amount of days or weeks left. It’s right outside my porch door, but its roots have grown out the bottom of the pot and into the soil so it’s done really well. But that’s how I managed to pick up the hitchhiking bee I wrote about Friday.

OsoEasy Double Red

Roses are still blooming

Colchicum autumnal

But so are the colchicum, ironically in a rose garden. So that really causes a bit of a clashing season thing for me!

Morning glories, goldenrod and rose hips

And here’s an interesting combination: morning glories, rambling over everything, but especially over rose hips and goldenrod.

One thing that you don’t find in my yard are mums. I have bad memories of deadheading thousands of them from my retail gardening days. So none of those for me.

It won’t be long before I need the gloves again. But for now, I am enjoying the unusual clash of the seasons in my yard.