Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Plumeria, also known as Frangipani is a tropical tree. When I got mine about 5 years ago, it was about a foot tall. I got it late in the season and so it didn't get to be outside for very long. I brought it inside to a cool room with filtered sunlight and it promptly dropped all 6 or so of its leaves. I was expecting that, but still, when you have a nice green plant with a pouf of leaves at the top, it is somehow disconcerting to have them all fall off in one day. I left it there until spring, keeping the soil moist but not wet and pretty much ignoring it. When frost free weather returned, I put it outside. It grew 6 or so new leaves and by fall it had grown about 6 inches. Leaves were still in a pouf at the top of the stem. This continued, with it growing 6-12 inches a year, but never flowering. I bought it because I had heard about the wonderful fragrance and was getting a bit disappointed. After all, it isn't the easiest thing to keep inside in the winter now that it was as tall as I was.

So last winter, or maybe towards spring, something that looked more like a bloomscape appeared. This spring I took it outside as usual, but I had read about 'plunging' the pot (more on that in a minute), and thought I'd try that since the thing had gotten really top heavy what with being so tall and skinny with all of the leaves at the top.

I guess I did something right, or maybe it just had to be a little older, but it bloomed all summer outside. I brought it in about 2 weeks ago and put it on the sun porch, though it will go up to my sewing room once the porch gets too cold. When I went out 2 days ago, there was this lovely flower and at least another bud to go. The nicest thing was that being in an enclosed space with no breeze, I could fully enjoy the lovely scent. I waited a long time, but it was definitely worth waiting for.
I found a website last spring when I was trying to find out how to get my plumeria to bloom. I was sure I was doing something wrong. The site has just a ton of information like: they can grow to 30 feet tall in the tropics - can you imagine how gorgeous that would be, and how good it would smell?, some can have 200 blooms per cluster, the flowers are often used for leis in Hawaii. It will also tell you everything you could ever want to know about growing and propagating them.
Anyway about this plunging thing. They suggested that the plant would be happier outside if you would dig a hole and put the pot in the ground. The plant would also probably like just being planted out, but I wouldn't want to have to disturb the roots to dig it up again, so this seemed like a good idea. It meant that it would stay more evenly moist and I wouldn't have to be worrying about it blowing over. It worked like a charm. I thought it might have sent a lot of roots out of the pot, but that didn't happen. I just lifted it up, wiped off the pot and brought it inside.
On another subject, we lucked out with the rain, getting almost 2.5 inches. Things look so much happier. We even had full grown trees that were starting to wilt. The creek isn't running yet, but I'm not complaining. Weeds are also pulling out much easier than they were during the drought.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Still Blooming

Just a few more pictures to show that you don't have to be without flowers just because it's almost October.
This clump of Salvia came up all by itself. I had Salvia in the area last year and now have 6 or 8 plants that had self seeded. I sure hope it comes back next year since it has been blooming now for months.
Lamium usually blooms in the spring, but occasionally will rebloom in the fall. This 'Red Nancy' is covered with bloom as is 'Anne Greenway', one with green and yellow leaves.

Another bright red flower in the garden right now is this lovely clump of Impatiens, a really huge clump growing in more sun than Impatiens should like. It's probably 2 feet tall and wide and has been covered with bloom since late spring. It started out as one of those little 6-pack plants. I usually take a couple of smaller Impatiens into the greenhouse to enjoy or make some cuttings. They usually don't make it to next spring in good shape, but they normally bloom at least until Christmas.
Most people don't grow hostas for the blooms (mistake since some have gorgeous flowers and hightly scented ones). Most of our hostas have finished blooming except for a couple of really late ones. For the first time that I can remember, we have hostas that finished blooming in mid-summer, reblooming now. I often have daylilies that rebloom, but it is really unusual, at least in my garden, for hostas to do it.

Heucheras are also not especially grown for their flowers, though I don't know why since the newer ones have lovely blooms. This one in a too dry and probably too shady place has sent up a new bloomscape in the last weed. Flowers on these can be red, white, pink or lavender, maybe other colors, but that's what I have here.

This is one of our hardy geraniums, the name of which escapes me at the moment. It was new this year and started blooming soon after it was planted and hasn't stopped since. It was tiny when I planted it back in May, but now it is almost 2 feet across and just covered with these lovely purple flowers.
Digitalis (Foxgloves) are definitely spring bloomers. This one just appeared all of a sudden. Didn't see it a weed ago and now it is in full bloom. The funny thing about this one is that it is blooming and it is only about 8 inches tall. This type is usually at least 3-4 feet tall in bloom. Cute little thing that I almost missed.

Dianthus are pretty dependable repeat bloomers. I always make sure to dead-head them because that encourages more bloom. They're bloom at least until frost, and if there is a light frost, it won't even bother them.
I got to take pictures today because we didn't have any of the promised rain after very early this morning. We did be 3/10 of an inch overnight and the plants are thrilled, but I hope we get the promised 3/4 inch tonight because we have just been so dry. Azaleas and dogwoods among others are setting their buds for next year right about now and they need the rain to insure good bloom next year.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Blooming Today

After too much time spent digging and planting and weeding, I took some time off to take pictures of things still blooming on this last Sunday in September.

Achillea, common name Yarrow, is a pretty dependable rebloomer after taking a little break. I expect I will have blooms on at least several of them until frost. Right now I have a rose pink one and this one blooming. They make good cut flowers and expand nicely to make a good sized clump after a few years.
Calendula is a self seeding annual that comes in many shades of orange/yellow/beige. I planted them years ago and always have some, though they are pretty much all this color now. Guess it's time to plant some new colors next spring. A good cut flower and will last past the first few light frosts.

Several of my Clematis are reblooming this year. This one is Duchess of Albany and is the only bell shaped on blooming now. All of the blue ones seem to be in bloom. This doesn't always happen, but is most appreciated.

This is Diervella (I think I've spelled that wrong, maybe?) 'Cool Splash'. It is a wonder variegated shrub for full sun even when it's not in bloom. The flowers aren't all that showy but it seems to bloom from spring until frost.

This is the last bloom on Hibiscus 'Nacodoches River'. It has different leaves for a hibiscus, being very, very thin and more of a reddish color. It grows in one of our small ponds. The flower is also much smaller, maybe 3 inches across, than those dinner-plate types that were blooming a month ago.

Hydrangea 'Pink Diamond' has finally turned pink. The flowers have been out for over a month, but have been very slow turning pink this year. Worth waiting for, I think since this is the best pink color I've seen in years.

This is also the last Lotus bloom of the season. 'Shewan Batsu' is a slightly smaller bloom than 'Imperial' which is in the other pond. Still, at 6-8 inches across, it makes quite a show. The first hint of frost will do in these plants. They look so sturdy with their huge, leathery leaves, but after frost the only thing that will remain will be the seed pods to be collected for dried arrangements.

I've always loved this Nicotiana sylvestris. It doesn't even come up until August some years, but then takes off. The plant makes a rosette of huge leaves at least 2 feet across and then sends up a bloom scape that is often taller than I am. The flowers are sweetly scented, especially in the evening.

We are still having occasional rebloom on some of the daylilies. This tiny one is Pixel with blooms only about an inch or so across on scapes less than a foot tall. Oh so cute!

If you've remembered (and had the time) to cut back your Tradescantia after the first bloom, you should have lots of new bloom right about now. This one, 'Karminglut', has just started blooming again.

And last, but not least, the first blooms on the Tricyrtis, the Toad Lilies) opened this morning. They just sit there all summer and then in mid to late September cover their whole stems with these interesting spotted flowers, one at each point where the leaves are attached to the stems. Sometimes slugs can be a problem, but it has been so dry here the past month or so, I think our slugs have all dried up or left for more pleasant climates.
Lots more still blooming. If it doesn't rain too hard, I'll share some more of our September blooms tomorrow.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Asimina triloba

Last week here in Athens County we had the Ohio Paw Paw Festival so I thought is might be appropriate to feature our native fruit today. I guess I should have done it last week to encourage all of you to attend the festival, but I guess I'm not always that organized. The leaves above are from a tree by the side of our house. The PawPaw is a tree that grows at the edge of the woods, light shade and all that, and over time will form a thicket of sorts. I had 2 groves of them when I lived in West Virginia.
In the spring they bloom with an unusual brown and green flower. Unfortunately, here they are often hit by frost so that some years we don't get any fruit at all. This year we were lucky and will have a small harvest. Unfortunately, neither of us are really fond of pawpaws - we just like the wonderful tropical look of the trees.

This is what the fruits looks like once it starts to get big. Green with a 'bloom' covering them

And here is one I picked yesterday that is very ripe and has even split open. Not sure if that was because it was so ripe or because it was so big and split when it hit the ground.

And here's what if looks like when you slice it in half. On the bottom right is a seed.
A bit about the tree, thanks to a bit of research. I learned a few things even though I've been growing them for years. Although it is common in most places, it is an endangered species in New Jersey and a threatened species in New York. There has been some promising research that shows that some of the chemicals contained in the seeds might be effective against cancers of the prostate and colon. The leaves contain trace amounts of a poison and so almost everything will find them unpalatable. The exception is the zebra swallowtail butterfly. Their larvae feed on the leaves and retain enough of the chemical to make the butterflies unattractive to things that would eat butterflies.
If you were interested in sowing some of the seeds, they should be collected as soon as the fruits are very ripe. They are cleaned and soaked briefly in a 10% clorox solution. Rinse very well after that. They are then placed in a zip loc bag with moist sphagnum or peat moss and kept at crisper temperatures for at least 100 days. Once planted, keep pots warm and don't expect any green to show for 9 weeks while the plants grows roots.
And here is our special baby - a variegated pawpaw. We hope to have some of these to sell in a year or two.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Glasshouse Works - Stewart Ohio

As promised, a quick tour of Glasshouse Works in Stewart Ohio. This is the sign you'll see (if the shrubery has been pruned) when you come in Rt 329 from Guysville. This used to be the entrance to the gardens, but the main plants for sale have moved to the grounds of the former Stewart Hotel which they bought for an office maybe 10 years ago. It is a lovely old building with an extra large porch. It houses the offices, check out and lots of neat stuff for sale - stained glass, wind chimes, Dewey Cats, and all sorts of other plant related stuff.
This is Tom, one of the owners. I have been trying to sneak a picture of him for awhile and this is the best I've come up with. At the party he is always taking pictures of everyone else - or else eating, neither of which lend themselves to a complimentary portrait.

And Ken who is much more obliging about portraits. The two of them have been doing this since long before I moved to Ohio, I think for almost 30 years now (maybe more), but don't hold me to that figure. Back in the beginning the place had been a chrysanthemum nursery and the grounds included a vegetable garden. No room any more for veggies other than the necessary tomatoes which get put right in with the rare and unusual stuff. Ken grew up on a farm and you just can't get that out of your system.

These are the original greenhouses. You used to be able to walk through these to choose your plants, but they are strictly for production now and unless you are very, very thin, the aisles are all but impassable - except to Ken who knows where everything is, how many, etc., etc., etc.

This is another of the production houses.

And inside of the large greenhouses.

And another view in the large greenhouses. Always something blooming, smelling good, or just totally intrigueing. (That can't be the right spelling, but I can't think of another way to spell it)

I didn't take enough pictures of the grounds, I realized after I got home, but this is one of my favorite spots. This banana tree has been here as long as I've been going there and survives our zone 6 winters happily, though it does get some protection.

This is part of the quite large outside sales area. This section is for tropical things that are spending the summer out of doors, and obviously enjoying it.

This is another part of that section with lots of coleus - something they have been hybridizing for awhile now. You'll see all sorts of unusual color combinations. One of their other specialties are fancy begonias.

More plants for sale, including mostly tropical things and some with bright colored blooms.

And some more. I just love wandering in here and always find something I just have to take home with me.

And yet more things you can take home with you. The selection is unbelievable and though you won't see more than a small fraction of what is available, when you check the website you will see the huge number of things that could grace your garden and windowsills.

And the sign on the hotel - which I should have taken a picture of, oh well. The part you can't see says checkout. Glasshouse Works is open all year on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 to 6. Other days are for packing and shipping orders. If you want some very specific and unusual things, mail order is your best bet - or order ahead to pick up there, but if you just want to wander and find all sorts of treasures, a visit will be quite worth your while.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Aristolochia onoei 'Pipe Dreams'

A very unusual plant indeed. I did a web search on this one and got 8 hits. Not 8 million, just 8. We got it from Asiatica Nursery, now closed, so I can't even tell you where you might get one of your own.
Oddly enough, this is the only Dutchman's Pipe that we grow. I've always been fascinated by the odd flowers, but just never got around to having one. It's a little harder to find places for vines since they need something to climb on, so I just put off buying one for my garden. When I saw the picture of this one I decided I would find a place for it, being a bit of a push-over when it comes to variegated plants, especially unusual and rare ones. It grows in light shade or just morning sun and is happy in zones 6-9.
Not only is this variegated form rare, the species itself seems to have very little information available (except in Japanese). I did find that it is from a small area in southern Japan in the mountains It is named after a botanist, Ono job, from the early Meiji era. I have only found one caterpillar/butterfly that uses it for food, and since that one lives in the native range in Japan, I don't expect anything to bother it (and in 2 years, nothing has so far). It seems to be rather slow growing, last year barely growing any (probably just growing roots) and this year is now about 6 feet long. I'll take photos, for sure, once it blooms.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Glasshouse Works Annual Party

Last evening was the annual party out at Glasshouse Works. These are a couple of pictures I took on the way home. Just a glorious sunset. The party happens every year at this time with local folks and many who come in from out of town too. Lots of good food and pleasant company. I went a little early and took a lot of photos so I could give you a bit of a tour of their nursery since most of you don't live around here. I'll try and get those photos ready to post tomorrow and will tell you all about Glasshouse Works then.
About the tornado(s). We've had quite a bit of damage in Athens County, though none right here - not even a plant or outside chair blown over. Others weren't so lucky. 53 houses and one business were destroyed with many more damaged in some way. As of today, all of the electricity is back on. As we were driving last night we saw some of the damage. Most places were just fine, but in spots the trees were uprooted or snapped in half. Please keep all of those who are now homeless in your prayers.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Physalis subglabrata

I think I'll stick with the Latin name for this one. Who wants to be known as Smooth Groundcherry? Not a wonderful name, but much nicer than it's cousin the Clammy Groundcherry. This isn't very common here, but I see it occasionally. It is in the family Solanaceae, or the Potato Family, though I've always called it the Nightshade family and it does contain potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants. The fruit is enclosed in the husk, and when the husk turns tan and papery, the fruit is ready to eat. The appearance and texture is somewhat like a tiny tomato, but the flavor is supposed to be more like a strawberry. I've never eaten one, so I can't say for sure if that is so. You can also dry them and eat them like raisins. The leaves are poisonous.
Around here it seems to like full sun, though occasionally I see one in the shade. Since critters spread the seed, I suppose a fair number end up in places they wouldn't have chosen themselves. It is not picky about soil type and will grow in poor soils as long as it has sufficient moisture. They are susceptible to most pests of tomatoes. They are started from seed and are easy to grow in pots. I'm not sure the seed is sold, but if you see this growing by the side of the road this time of year, collect a few fruits and save the seed to plant next year.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Plant Identification

Today it's your turn to tell me about a couple of plants. We've had both of these weeds/wildflowers in the garden for years and I haven't got a clue as to what they are. The one above appeared about 10 years ago. Never had been here before and neither of us had seen it anywhere. My guess is that seed came in on a plant we bought. It is a biennial, forms a shiny green rosette the first year that is evergreen and persists all winter. That's how we find a lot of them since when everything else is dead and brown they really stand out. The first year it bloomed, just a plant or two, we thought it was so pretty that we left it, thinking it might be a nice addition to the garden. NOT. The next year, after it had seeded it was everywhere. Thousands of them, literally, all over the garden. It makes long skinny seed pods that pop and spread seeds around. My guess is that birds or critters also helped with the spread.
I still think it is a really pretty plant. There aren't all that many pale pink wildflowers growing here and I'm a sucker for pink flowers, but it is just far too invasive to let it be. The picture I took doesn't have too many blooms, because it was hard to find one that Hank hadn't yanked out before it had many blooms open. I marked that one and kept it as long as I could, but at one point he said 'take the picture now if you want it because I'm pulling it out'. It can get 2 feet tall, though most seem to be a foot or so. I've also seen 2 or 3 inch tall ones blooming - sneaky things hiding in the crown of another plant. We've always called it 'Pink Weed', for lack of anything else to call it. I've checked my many wildflower books and one on weeds, but can't find anything that looks anything like it, so if anyone knows what this is, I'd sure like to know. Not that knowing will get rid of it, but at least it will have a name and can be $#&!@ ___, instead of $#&!@ Pink Weed.
Weed number two, that for lack of a better name, has been known here as white weed since it has white flowers. This one may have arrived with a pond or bog plant since it appeared first in our bog. This one is a little easier to control as long as you can find it since it seems to be an annual. Get it before it seeds and it's gone. Unfortunately, the bog gets grassy late in the season and this stuff crawls along beneath it, blooming and seeding quite happily. Succulent stem and the flowers are tiny, maybe the size of your little finger nail. The seeds are black, hence the other name we have been calling it - 'Black Seeded Weed'. Someone must know what these two things are. Please leave a comment if you have any ideas. I tried looking on the web, but without a name, I didn't get very far.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Albizia julibrissin

I've always loved Mimosa trees. So tropical looking. They remind me of the sensitive plants I grew from seed when I was little - touch the leaves and they folded up. Mimosa leaves do close up at night and when it rains, but not when you touch them. Anyway, they are just so tropical looking and the flowers almost look like some sort of fancy birds perched on the branches. We planted one quite a few years ago. In this zone, it isn't uncommon for them to died back to the ground the first few winters. Ours has stayed up for the last couple of years, and just this week it had its first flowers. I can't wait until next year when there are more. One thing we did find, is that you need to get seed from a local source if you live in the north to have the best chance of success. I just found out that it is a legume (such a big legume) and is native from Iran to China.
Flowering takes place over a long period of the summer and early fall on this smallish tree. The flowers are odd in that they have no petals, just lots of stamens. The flowers seem to be attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, though I can't say for sure who likes my 3 blooms since they are up so high. Once you have flowers you will also start to find baby mimosas in various places in your garden.
Flowers can be pink (what seems to be most common) or white or combinations thereof. There is a newer cultivar called 'Summer Chocolate' that has reddish brown foliage, but it hasn't been especially hardy here and is still quite expensive. No matter which sort you have, a Mimosa tree will make nice dappled shade for hostas or just a comfortable chair.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Comptonia peregrina

This is my plant of the day. Comptonia peregrina is more commonly known as SweetFern. We have been growing this one for years, but after I took this photo, I just couldn't remember either the Latin name or the common one. No way to file the photo without a name and ever hope to find it again. No way to look it up online if you can't remember the name. All I could think of is Sweet Shrub, which, of course, didn't work since it is an entirely different plant. Now that I have gotten the name back in my head, (found by accident while I was looking up another plant in my big wildflower book) I thought I'd share a bit about this pretty thing since I don't think it is all that well know.
Here is a plant for you northern growers since it is cold hardy to zone 2 (-38 degrees F.) and not very happy any warmer than zone 6. Ours grow in a dry place at the edge of the cactus scree and my research says that it likes that sort of thing. Full sun to partial shade. This one is about 2-4 feet tall and will spread wider than that over time. It is deciduous and is native to the northeastern United States. It is not commonly found in nurseries, probably because it is difficult to transplant and establish. Once settled in, however, it seems to not be bothered by insects or other problems.
So many weeds - so little time.