Winter Respite

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Do you force bulbs?

I don’t mean amaryllis and paperwhites. Those are great winter treats. But there’s no reason to limit yourself to those and there’s no reason to buy bulbs in stores (unless you choose to–I will generally add a few more hyacinth to what I am forcing every year because just can’t get enough! )

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These glass jars are for hyacinth forcing ( although if you had large enough tulips they would work too). I just got these because the 3 I have aren’t enough.

At the end of ” bulb season” I buy a bag of hyacinth, usually half price. Then I am set for winter. I  start 2 at a time. They have a relatively long forcing period so as I get anxious,  I might plant some in soil as well.

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I just found these when I was getting out my ornaments this year. I had forgotten about them. They are for smaller bulbs.  I will put a note in my garden journal for the fall to get some muscari, perhaps.  Something with fragrance is always good. Snowdrops could be interesting too.

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The trick,  as you are starting them especially,  is to make sure that the water level is only just to the bottom of the bulbs.

The one on the left has been started awhile so the roots reach down into the water and it’s not an issue.

But you don’t want to rot the bulb where the neck of the “vase” meets the bulb. My green one probably has a little too much water.  I was having issues getting it right.

Let’s see if the Spoiler throws a fit about these, as he did when the overwintering figs were here.

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And here’s how these bulbs look in bloom. You can save them to plant in the ground in the spring, although,  because they have been forced in water in may be a year or two before they bloom. They will not rebloom this year for sure!

But whatever happens,  I especially enjoy the fragrance at this bleak time of year.

This is Seriously Not Okay

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On Friday I had a photo of my tropical hibiscus,  looking a little sad but otherwise healthy.

This cyclamen, however,  has an issue. What’s interesting is that I can’t see any visible problem.  That’s even worse.

Last summer it had aphids quite severely (the summer of 2016.) It hasn’t bloomed since then, although its leaves have been generally healthy.

Now this first flower in well over a year appears and it looks like this. Hmm.

I know that cyclamen are prone to mites but I would think that the leaves would be similarly stunted.

I will just have to watch the plant for more clues before I treat it.

Fall Flowers

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I get more strange looks about these flowers–which are right by the road–than almost anything else in my garden. They are blooming right now.

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Here are more of them, peeking out from beneath some roses.

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And more yet, some fully open and other just coming up. These are colchicum, a bulb that should be planted now. Some people call them autumn crocus, but there is a true autumn crocus so I don’t like to confuse the 2 species.

They are incredibly hardy for me, come up reliably without fail, even in drought, aren’t bothered by any sort of critter, and increase in clump size, even in my clay soil. The only one that I have failed with is the double variety, ‘Waterlily’.

Something to be aware of though: like other bulbs, you will have foliage to deal with. It comes up in the spring and persists for a few months. Usually I don’t care. At that point, I am looking at roses here!

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Then there is this–the hardy begonia you see above the little bowl of succulents. This is really a fall star. Its botanical name is begonia grandis and this variety (the white one) is called ‘alba.’

It too is very easy but it’s very late to come back. Just about the point at which I think I’ve lost it, it finally appears. So if you find it and plant it, don’t give up on it early in the season.

Also ignore the jagged tears in the leaves. That’s from a rare hail storm that we had earlier this year. It doesn’t usually look like that.

Flowers in the garden this late in the season are a joy to behold–and true perennials are even better.

Wordless Wednesday–The Spoiler at Midnight

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Oh heck, I’ll bet we can make this an all “Spoiler” week if we tried.

The next “Spoiler” question was about these pots. The fact that it came at 1 in the morning (okay, technically not midnight) was what I found objectionable, particularly since I get up between 5 and 5:30 for work.

So I explained that I was drying the pots out so that I could bring them in and take them to our basement for storage. (Obviously, these are my amaryllis bulbs that I am letting go dormant).

“Why?”  he asked.

So then I had to explain what an amaryllis was and the life cycle of the bulb–in the middle of the night. And he still asked, “Are they pretty?”

I told him that I had pictures that I could show him–because obviously he doesn’t remember when I would call his attention to the blooming bulbs. Then I also said that I didn’t want to discuss this in the middle of the night and we’d talk about tomorrow.

The Spoiler strikes again!

 

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

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Lovely leaf, not so lovely result, right?

When I first saw this, I thought I knew immediately what was happening.  Several years ago, when I was in North Carolina, I heard about a beetle that was ravaging canna lilies there. I thought that this beetle had somehow made its way north (as all noxious things somehow eventually do) and gotten to Connecticut.

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It turns out that there is a simpler explanation for all of this.

Yes, it still has to do with a noxious invader. But this time the “invader” is quite well known to us here in Connecticut and has been for some time.

What’s turning these Canna leaves into lace (and it really is pretty, unless these are your plants, in which case, you probably want to scream! I think I might do a little judicious trimming if they were mine) is the all too common Japanese beetle.

As a doctor once told me, sometimes even if you have an unusual presentation, we still look for a common explanation, and not for something rare.  That’s probably good advice in gardening too.

Wordless Wednesday–Summer Surprise!

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These are two amaryllis that were blooming before I went on my beach vacation June 10. People get all hung up on getting amaryllis to bloom for the holidays. They can be pretty spectacular is you let them “do their own thing” and bloom when they want to bloom.

And you don’t have to worry about “how do I get my amaryllis to bloom again?” Just put it into dormancy in the fall, and if it hasn’t come out by Memorial Day or so, bring the pots outside and begin watering (or whenever it gets reliably warm for you–for me, Memorial Day is usually when it’s warm enough to bring amaryllis outside).

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Here are two more, one blooming and another just about to bloom. I found the bulbs when I brought out all my dormant pots. So I potted them up and now they’re about to bloom. Do I care that I didn’t have them for Christmas? Obviously not. They look great now too–almost better because they’re so unexpected.

And what is this dormancy? Right around Labor Day (when it begins to get cool for me) I turn all my pots on their sides for a week or 10 days. Why on their sides? So that they dry out and don’t get watered or rained on. Then, I bring the pots down to my basement and forget about them. If I think about it, I pull off the decaying leaves now and again. Periodically I check to see if any of the bulbs are breaking dormancy, but they rarely do.

Then, come next Memorial Day, I’ll bring them out and have more summer surprises!

 

Wordless Wednesday–Spring Color

 

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After my whining last Friday about how we were never going to get spring,  a few warm days have brought out the flowers.

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You can see how early it is. The trees still have no leaves and very little is greening up. These photos were taken April 14–the very day that I was whining that we don’t have spring.

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So it’s nice to see a little color to prove me wrong.