This Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, you get two, two for the price of one. I’m still working on the book, and I’m too tired to think about much of anything. Early this morning, I went out and took photos. The garden is in between bloom stages. I’m going out to trim up the roses this afternoon once my self-imposed word count is reached. Blogging, for me, is an inspiration exercise. I find that if I warm up writing here I can do the hard stuff later.
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is held the 15th of each month by Carol of May Dreams Gardens. Foliage followup is on the next day every month and is sponsored by Pam of Digging. Carol lives in beautiful, green Indiana, and Pam resides in quirky and drier, but still lovely Austin. I feel fortunate I’ve visited both of their gardens. Wait, I haven’t seen Pam’s new one, but maybe next time I travel south.
Above are two photos of my garden in August 2013. What a difference a year and about forty inches of rain makes. Does anyone remember the song “Jungle Boogie” by Kool & the Gang? I am really dating myself here, but I was a wee lass. The tropicals I planted in our cooler-than-normal spring are starting to take over. Most of the color in my garden now comes from leaves. Consider tropical foliage plants next year at planting time because we probably won’t have a rainy summer like this one for another fifty years. Perhaps, I’m wrong, but either way, betting on tropical foliage is right on the money.
I’ve hardly watered all summer. No lie. I put water in the fountains, and there were a couple of weeks where I thought we were in for another hellacious summer, but no. Plants are fat and sassy instead. Just to give you an idea of last year, see August 2012. From the closeups, it looks pretty good, but the bed facing the street is surrounded by burned up grass, and the clumping bamboo is yellow in the garage border. I just couldn’t keep it watered enough. I love that clumping bamboo. I also love ‘Fireworks’ Pennisetum purpureum. Don’t you?
Another group of plant deriving most of their color from leaves is coleus. Their botanical name has again changed so for our purposes here, I’m just calling them coleus. I am tired of taxonomists botanical name tossup so I’m not playing today. In articles I must, but not on my blog. ‘Bonefish’ is a new coleus from Hort Couture. I bought most of the Under the Sea coleus collection this spring, but Bonefish is my favorite, and no, they aren’t paying me to say that. I just like it especially against chartreuse sweet potato vine and ‘The Line‘ coleus. It doesn’t get much prettier.
You can’t control everything though. See the holes in the sweet potato vine? Those were caused by young grasshoppers. I had a dream last night where I sprayed the garden with poison to kill them all, but then I woke from that nightmare. The Nolo bait is starting to take effect as is the cooler weather.
Crinums are pretty, but they take up a lot of room. Just sayin’. I have a dark one in the lower garden, and I’m bringing it into the greenhouse this winter. I guess I’ll be heating that puppy after all. The crinum, above, is cold hardy to Zone 7 according to Grumpy. I’m in 7a to 6b so yes, it is.
There are so many coleus now from which to choose. I think I have twenty different ones in this garden if I include the pots. I can’t possibly remember all of their names. I’ve started choosing them based upon color and past performance. Aren’t we the luckiest gardeners ever?
Below is a bloom. Petunia ‘Fancy Dress’ is a crazy thing. I like it. It was in Keeyla Meadows’ garden too. She placed it against a hot pink fence. I took a pic of it which you can see in my previous post about her garden.
I took this closeup of ‘Lo Lo’ because the rest of the surrounding plants are much taller. It decided to grow shorter this year. No, I didn’t dig my dahlia bulbs. These are in the garage border, and they get lots of protection in this microclimate. Figure out where your microclimates are and use them wisely to stretch your hardiness and heat zones.
It’s a good thing the garden hasn’t needed much tending because I haven’t had much to give it this summer. I’ve been too busy writing. One thing I did do in early spring was start my own seeds. I wanted some plants I hadn’t seen much in Oklahoma. Ornamental peppers were part of this seed starting madness. You do see them sometimes, but unfortunately not as often as we should, and it’s our own fault. Peppers need heat to bloom and flower. In spring, greenhouse growers don’t have a plant at full maturity for you to see, and shoppers only want what’s in bloom. This causes all kinds of problems. We must stop buying plants based upon “pretty.” We are doing a disservice to ourselves and the industry. Read tags. Scan QR codes on your cell phone and look at photos of the full grown plant. Consumers have the power because we control the dollars.
Ornamental peppers are just one example. Alternantheras are another. Both deserve a place in our gardens because they mature when we need that gorgeous foliage. I grew ‘Jigsaw’ and ‘Purple Flash’ on a whim. I’m glad I did.
The plant below is another example of something you won’t see at the box stores. I’m not anti-box. You know that, but most plant growing is done on a large scale these days. Large trucks transport racks and racks of plants so all must be a certain height at the four-inch pot size and blooming.
Isn’t that kind of crazy?
I bought Orthosiphon stamineus (white cat’s whiskers) at Bustani Plant Farm in the spring. Steve and Ruth grow their own plants so they offer the special and unique. Plus, they have photos alongside each plant to show it at blooming stage which may happen mid-summer. I’m so grateful to buy unique plants that I’ll promote them anyway I can. I’m a plantaholic, and I’m not ashamed to say so.
Do yourself a favor and pick plants that are unusual and have excellent foliage color. Buy at the box stores, but support your local growers too. Your garden and local economy will thank you. Happy Bloom and Foliage Days!