Friday, October 31, 2014

Tropicals in the Coastal South Garden

Tropicals are the backbone of a hot humid, summer garden in the Coastal South.

Dark Purple Datura and Orange Tithonia, brilliant colors for a Tropical Summer Garden. They like hot sunshine. Both are seed grown. Datura is root hardy.

Rhodofiala bifida, one of a number of summer bulbs that add to the show, here with Setcreasea and Chartreuse alternanthera.

Kniphofia, the Red Hot Poker

 Summer features exotic Crinums and Hymenocallis as well as those shown here.

Bengal Tiger or Pretoria, either name is correct for this Canna.

Caesalpinia pulcherrima, known in Texas as Pride of Barbados.

Caesalpinia and Esperanza are good companions. Both 
are easy from seed: Pride of Barbados may take a second  
or even a third year's growth from roots to put on blooms.

Stachytarpheta jamaicensis, Porterweed in Purple and Coral, attractive to butterflies, one of my favorites. Cuttings or seeds, sometimes root-hardy.

All my Tropical Gardens are not in hot sun and all are not in brilliant colors.

In dry shade under a Live Oak tree grows a tropical garden of mostly Gingers. I can't expect Alpinias to bloom here, but the tropical foliage is just beautiful. Curcuma does bloom, as does Hedychium.

Hedychium, Butterfly Ginger

Justicias: White and Red Shrimps

White Garden beside the GH has white Lantana montevidensis,
and White Datura, White Pentas and White Echinacea, in sun. 

Anyone who chirps, "I only buy perennials," has no idea what they may be missing. I only buy what I've researched and believe to be suitable for my garden. 


Sometimes it takes a second look. Loropetalum, which we depend on for earliest spring color even ahead of azaleas, takes a second bloom in September. Not as spectacular as the early spring show, it is still worth a second look.

Dee Nash has a great post on Tropical Plants in the Summer Garden this week.

I could go on and on. I have another post to make featuring Muhlenbergia capillaris and other grasses.

End of Month View, the Last Round before Frost

We don't have frost predicted but a low of 34º Saturday night is close enough. Here's some of the best of what's left, on today's rounds.

Brugmansia, a Last Look

Gulf Muhly, two different beds, early morning above, late afternoon below. You have to catch the sun behind it or there's nothing to see.

Salvia leucantha frames a Butterfly Ginger.

There's still plenty of Lantana montevidensis, both Lavender and white. Frost will hardly faze it until there's a hard freeze. I tend to pull things like Melampodium when it looks weary rather than see it blackened by a freeze. 

Meems of Hoe and Shovel posted on Facebook about Gulf Muhly and asked if we grow it successfully and under what conditions. I'll make another Gulf Muhly post and a grass post soon. Dee of Red Dirt Ramblings has a new post on Tropical Plants in the Garden and is interested in what we plant and how things go -- I have some tropicals that she plants and many that she didn't list. That's another post to make, you too?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Autumn Is not Your Autumn

Frost is predicted for near Atlanta on Saturday morning. We will have a cool morning in the forties, no frost.

 Euonymous berries are bursting their pods

Dogwood berries are red. If you wanted more dogwood trees, now would be the time to gather and plant seeds. No trick to dogwoods, just poke the berries into the ground with a finger. By the time you've forgotten about planting them, little sprouts appear, say a year or two. There's a method for stratifying and all that if you are serious about doing it 'right.'

Red leaves are there if you look hard. These are Oakleaf Hydrangea. Streaks of red are showing up in Sassafras trees and Sumac along woods' edge.

I stopped deadheading roses so they can get ready for winter. 

Red Cabbages from seed are now in the Periwinkle bed. 
Periwinkles are still sprouting but frost will take them out.

A glimpse of the peanut picker ready to start.

Esperanza blooms and seeds,
Tithonia and a bee.

Crape Myrtle, Esperanza and Loropetalum in a blaze of color.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Put a Bag over Her Head

I took Janie Varley's advice and put a bag over ripening seed pods of Pride of Barbados.

I was in the nearby cabbage patch when I heard the exposive release of seeds inside the bag. I'm sure this was repeated several times. When I finally opened the bag I had more than two dozen seeds that would have otherwise been lost.

I've been stopping by to pull seeds of white Periwinkle.
You can tell they're ready when you can see black seeds 
through translucent pods just before they open and spill.

Lately I've felt that if I had a slightly larger bag I would pull it over my own head until this cold or whatever it is we have departs.

I creep out and make sure the cabbages and broccoli don't dry out and that they're not eaten alive by something. I've tried to keep up with greenhouse needs like keeping things watered, like my tomato plant.

Can you see little tomatoes to the left of the Amaryllis?

This morning I mustered enough energy to pull out yellowing pots of calla lilies so they can rest for a couple of months. Would that I could just rest for a couple of months; Thanksgiving and Christmas would be behind us and this cough might be gone.

Wait! There's too much work to be done to sleep so long. It's just as well that I never ordered bulbs; there are still baskets with Sweetness jonquillas dug in the summer and paperwhite narcissus from Farmer John to plant. Beds must be prepared for seeds that go in the ground in November: California Poppies, Larkspur, Catchfly, Corn Poppies, Opium Poppies.

When I creep out, I pull a weed here and there and sometimes note that I almost missed something really spectacular like scarlet Zinnias.

I'm grateful to only have to whine about a cold; our son's MIL is scheduled for a cardiac cath today following a heart attack last week. Keeping vigil for a good outcome.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Fine Gardening calls it Alternanthera ficoidea 'Yellow Form' -- I call it Chartreuse.

Above is a new planting for 2014. Plants circling around to 
shade do not have the bright color. 
Rethinking the configuration for 2015.

Next year, any volunteer melampodium plants will be relocated. The more aggressive Purple Heart needs pinching back when it overruns Alternanthera.

The center plant here has a dark green sport.
 Light pinching of the terminal shoot throughout the season will keep it compact. In formal landscapes, plants are sometimes sheared to provide a uniform shape.
Sheared plant here where the lawn mower ran over it (sometimes I wonder if 
he does that on purpose?); note back part  is unsheared. 

In formal beds where plants are sheared as one until for mass effect, set plants 12" apart. Where displayed as individuals, 18-24" apart.

Add 3 or 4 inches of a fine mulch like pine straw at planting to help keep the soil more uniformly moist. Plants can handle dry periods and even long-term drought with infrequent watering.
"Joseph's Coat" alternanthera does not get true 
colors until cool weather.
Here it grows with yellow Lantana.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bidens and Blue Curls

Spanish Needles

Bidens, the common weed Spanish Needles, is one of the most important pollinator nectar source plants in our area. It is a host plant for certain butterflies.
Spanish Needles is also a source of  an annoying seed that has a sharp end and little burrs on the other end that are also sharp. The starry seed clusters hold many of these needle-like seeds. Caught in dog fur, they are among the hardest seeds to remove. They also cling to clothing as you walk by. A source of seed for songbirds, they are best left to wild places.

Blue Curls

Blue Curls is best viewed early in the morning when the blooms are wide open. Its foliage looks pretty backlit by the sun but is thin and unremarkable.

Blue Curls, Trichostema dichotomum  is an annual wildflower with a long season of bloom. The wild area pictured is also where I frequently see Twinflower, Dyschoriste oblongifolia in early spring.

Blue Curls