Saturday, October 29, 2011

Small Joys Indoors in Cold Weather

Humidity is aided by glass containers of flat marbles.

This container has sea glass under the marbles,
a seashell and a tiny cutting for rooting.
The greenhouse has a center border of 16" pavers that form a path around a soil center. The soil is covered by a slat pathway on one side; Urbanite stones on the other with some rock to fill the gaps. The pavers and stones can be watered to increase humidity. The area can be changed to accomodate different tables, carts and shelves. Right now Urbanite where a kalanchoe sits is the path to the left.

A small electric fountain adds humidity and the sound of falling water.

Tiny buds have formed on the Christmas cactus.
They look like baby teeth.

Casserole dish with broken handle holds Joseph's Coat cuttings.

Alyssum seedlings around Foxtail Fern will soon have blossoms.
Rose colored Pentas are blooming.

White begonias under the Epi tree.

A bromeliad sits high in the Epi Tree.
The bloom is fading. I  hope 'pups'
 are forming as the old plant dies.

The bottom shelf of this wicker unit is reserved.

Ike the Cat lies on this shelf as his hideout.
A few alyssum seeds fill the holes of this toothbrush holder
shaped like a snail.

Bits of blossom: Purple Heart in the center shelf, blue Porterweed to the
right with red Pentas below.

Variegated hydrangea plants with red wax Begonias.

I was outside today pulling Madagascar periwinkles, Tithonia and Melampodium ahead of frost so I don't have to see dead annuals. Next month I'll be scattering Larkspur, Poppy and other annual seeds in anticipation of spring. I have some bulbs to plant, too.

Secrets of a Seedscatterer        

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Who's In the Greenhouse?

I'm always hoping to find a blog post that features a peek into someone's greenhouse.

I'm curious what others use to fill the space. Tootsie and Bren have collaborated on a blog solely for greenhouse gardening. They garden where the winter is really, really cold and there is snow. Like Darla, I garden where there is never snow. If there is snow we find it really a novelty and it doesn't last.  We do, however experience temperatures in the teens which will turn a tender plant as brown as if it were in the frozen north. The difference is that the ground does not freeze, so we can expect many plants to just die back to the roots and return in the spring, except in that one rare year when cold comes and stays a while and too many plants die.

While I was waiting in the truck today in Dothan while He-who-mows bought steel for his new project, I made a list of the tropical plants in my garden. I found only four that summer outside that cannot stand even a bit of a freeze: Bromeliads, Epiphyllum oxypetallum, Christmas Cactus and Kalanchoe. Four more live in the enclosed porch in less light: Spathephyllum (Peace Lily), Birds Nest Fern, Parlor Palm and Heliconia.

Everything else lives outside year round, but 20 of them die back to the roots. Sometimes it is June before I know for sure they're coming back. Often I have new Pentas and late returned Pentas crowding one another because I'd given up on last year's plants returning. Kept inside, they're ready to go when the last frost is done and there is no waiting for sprouts to grow.

There are about 20 tropicals that I've brought in that are also outside in the garden. Most will survive being killed back to the roots. Meanwhile, I want winter blooms and greenery with a tropical flavor and they supply that need.

Of the gingers, I only bring Alpinias inside. The rest want a rest period and would die back anyhow when days are short. I bring in three different: Shell ginger, variegated shell ginger and a small alpinia that we call Cardamon ginger because of the Christmas potpourri fragrance of the leaves. I'm hoping that keeping Shell ginger green all winter will encourage some second-year blooms after it goes outside in spring. Alpinias are underplanted with common Ferns.

If you are wondering about the purple skirt,
it covers the water barrels that act as a heat sink.

I potted and brought in my Bird of Paradise with a frill of Ferns at its base. It surprised me by returning from the roots last spring after being outside all winter. Anything that persistent needs to overwinter in a warm place. Maybe in a few years it will bloom. Meanwhile it looks really tropical indoors.

Lemon grass in pots is for the delight of the pets who chew the leaves. Cymbopogon can be used in Asian cooking or for making a tea.

Foxtail ferns die back and are another late emerging plant. I potted them and planted some alyssum seeds to hide their bare ankles.

Pentas cuttings are everywhere in several colors. They are a good house plant and bloom all winter once rooted. I read that they root better in water so I made several little bouquets in addition to those in soil.

Other butterfly delights that will bloom inside are Porterweed -- already one has blue florets -- and Duranta. Newly rooted cuttings will bloom inside and can be planted out to add tall plants in the garden next summer.

 I keep a side list of things that I will not try again. Last winter I tried to overwinter an Emerald Philadendron and an Anthurium. They wanted more shade and a better humidity than they got and were so pitiful by winter's end that I tossed them. This is not a contest; I've nothing to prove. Lush and healthy are my goals. Better plenty of something common like Begonias and Firecracker Fern than a struggle with an expensive plant that wins in the end by dying.

Among the plants I intend to find soon are Pineapple Sage and some tillansias for the Epi Tree. Yes, there is room for more plants. I can take the little clay pots off the upper shelf of the potting bench and all those begonias in white pots will fit there.

Next to come: Forced Bulbs, White Shrimp Plant and Plants with Purple Leaves.

What's in Your Greenhouse?

Secrets of a Seedscatter    

Saturday, October 22, 2011

We're Ready, Where's the Cold?

 I've potted, stuck cuttings, moved pots, prepared for the worst weather. It's still warm.

White begonias behind bird of paradise foliage
underplanted with ferns.
Epiphyllums with a gardenia behind.

Colocasia and Persian Shield with alternanthera weaving through
-- a single plant that sprouted last winter from seed.

Gingers on the right, Airplanes on the stand, gerberas
in pots on the left. Tiny blue glass containers hold
marbles and water to help with humidity.
Pots stepping down to the left hold blue porterweed,
Firecracker fern and Duranta cuttings.

A plastic takeout tray holds stones and marbles and
water for humidity. Pentas cuttings, Foxtail fern and Begonias.
Barely noticed at left is Epiphyllum and a bromeliad.

A stray daisy that I cut when I potted up gerberas,
Altenanthera in a mug. A rooted piece of
Christmas cactus. Begonia cuttings.

Bits of rooted begonias, pentas cuttings.
Colocasias and Persian Shield around the fountain.

Hydrangea Mariesii variegata cuttings.

Mesclun is sprouting!
We expect to have winter greens.

Sweet alyssum seedlings coming up around leggy
Foxtail Ferns. Syngonium near the floor;
A small brug with a tuft of leaves at the top.

I potted every little airplane that broke off.
An ice cream carton holds dozens of alternanthera cuttings.
Pot on the left is broken off ghost plant pieces.
Round glass bowl behind holds sea glass, marbles and
a piece of Brazilian ruellia rooting beside a seashell.

More humidity. Many of the plants that I bring inside are
root-hardy here. I pot them up for tropical effect.

Our earliest frost date has passed. Temperatures in the thirties was predicted the other night.
Keeping humidity up and temperatures down in the bright sunshine is a challenge.

Secrets of a Seedscatterer        

Friday, October 21, 2011

Another Look at Gulf Muhly Grass

Gardening with grasses did not come easily to me. I still think look at grasses and see them as weedy. Gulf Muhly could change my mindset.

I happend to go out as the sun was starting to set behind the trees across the highway.
Lighting was perfect and I caught the sun's rays through tree tops.  

Coaxing Buffy to pose with the Muhly to give
some idea of the size of the grasses took
most of the time the sun was still in the right place.

Inflorescences up close.

A last look as Buffy looks for trucks on the highway.

I started with five clumps. Next spring I will divide them into smaller clumps to spread the groundcover into a larger area.

Yesterday on my way to town I saw Muhly grass growing on the side of an exit ramp where the ground is too steep to mow. It covered a large area and was very colorful even when not
backlit by the sun. I get the best view here because it faces west from the house.

Secrets of a Seedscatterer         

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Grasses and a Glimpse of Winter Blooms for GBBD

Gulf Muhly grass backlit by the sun.
Duranta, Lantana and Tithonia in this bed still have blossoms. 

Lemon grass with Periwinkles and a last yellow rose
in the background. More lemon grass is already potted and
brought inside for the dog and cat to chew on in winter.

Vetiver grass. The growing season is not long enough here
for it to form seeds so it is not a problem.
It makes a tall screen that will stop erosion.
Next to it are Lantana and Purple Heart draped off a stone.

Cuttings of Purple Heart, Alternanthera, Pentas and
other favorites are already rooting for next year.
Melampodium and Madagascar periwinkle will reseed;
Salvia leucantha is perennial here.

A peek into the greenhouse as we get ready for cold weather.
I love glimpses into the greenhouses of others. I hope you enjoy this one.
Lots of Begonia and Pentas cuttings this year. Hyacinths and tulips are chilling in the 'fridge.
Alyssum seeds in the pot with Foxtail ferns are sprouting. Airplane plants abound.

A last look at Gulf Muhly.

Secrets of a Seedscatterer      

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Preparing for Changing Seasons

Preparing a retreat for the dog and cat and myself for cold weather, I've been taking cuttings, potting up tender plants and bringing pots inside. Today we got the fountain flowing again.

Kitteh believes it is a feline drinking fountain. He's already
staked a claim over in the left corner near the lemon grass.

I hope the dog will be deterred by the flowers in front of the
fountain and continue to drink outside.

Not only does the fountain make a pleasant sound but
it adds a bit of humidity. I also have glass containers of
flat marbles and sea glass filled with water for humidity.

We took cuttings of red alternanthera today. I crowd cuttings
in a small container of water where roots will be all matted
together in the spring but can be teased apart.
This way I can have dozens of cuttings ready in early spring
from a very small space. Dozens of separate potted cuttings
would take more room than I can spare.

I won't have to take cuttings of purple alternanthera.
A single self-seeded plant has spread across the south wall
and survived summer heat. There will be plenty of
cuttings for the taking in the spring. This plant is great for
growing up through pillar-type rose canes.

Secrets of a Seedscatterer       

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fall Wildflowers in the Meadow

Earlier this week I wrote of Buckeye butterfly caterpillars noted on Agalinis and showed Goldenrod, Lantana and Eupatorium in a self-planted vignette. Here are other delights noted when I visit the wild gardens.

Silk Grass in bloom.

Eragrostis in bloom and other grasses.
Love grass has smaller, darker inflorescence than
Gulf Muhly grass not yet blooming here.

Yellow asters.

View through live oak trees along a
freshly mown path.

Native grasses at woods' edge.

Goldenrod and Beautyberry.
Beautyberry is not as plentiful in berries as usual.

Elephantapus blooms; the large flat, felted basal
leaves do not show here.

Red stems of Poke weed look as if they were

I was riding along a fence row on a UTV, steering with one hand and camera in my right hand with my finger on the button. A covey of about 15 Bob White quail flew up in front of me and all I could do was watch with my mouth open. I forgot the camera was on, much less my finger poised.

Go ahead. Laugh. If you've never seen a covey of quail get up you can't imagine how it startles.

As I started on, I could see them walking in the underbrush. By the time I was even with them they were quiet and blended into dead leaves and twigs on the ground. There is another covey at the end of the cornfield near the house. None of them have been shot, so they're relatively tame. They all but wave as you go by.

Secrets of a Seedscatterer