Saturday, May 31, 2008

Goddess of the Gardens

Paints gleefully, with flowers.
Dancing barefoot in the dirt.
Smiling she toils 'neath the Sun,
Rendering with Mother Earth.
Tinting each nook and cranny...
Her palette ablaze with hues -
Each color kis't by the Moon.
Here she reigns her slice of earth,
The Empress of leaf and bloom.
Growing up a merry tune,
Faerie mirth plays the chorus...
Echoes 'cross petal and leaf,
As dusk's light settles upon -
The Kingdom of Her Gardens

***

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tropical Tempations


Katmandu! I mean ... Can-na-you-doo, Canna-you-du this too? Some of you will be able to enjoy Canna Lilies as a perennial and others will have to dig up the tubers and try to overwinter them to enjoy the plant next season. Northern gardeners - I have heard (and discovered) there are some insulation tactics you can employ that can stave off the digging up and storing syndrome related to some tropical tuber plants.

The question for you is, can you stand looking at the insulation method for the length of the cold season! One growers' answer? Place a round bale or hay (or straw) on top of the plant's location. I am sorry but in suburbia this will not work. All northern farm wives - take note! Stuff in you barn or lying in the field, may be of use beyond feeding the cows.

Gardeners in less rural situations might want to consider piling up fallen leaves to a depth of 8 inches or more and holding that in place with pine boughs or an acquirable substitute evergreen-needled bough. I have "lost" tuberous begonias and dahlias under other plants and had them come back after a winter in "farmland" Northern zone 5 because I laid in a thick covering of about 8-10" of maples leaves while trying to get the pile up on some zone 6 Hydrangeas. A picket fence and some big old shade trees held the lower layer into place. have read that evergreen boughs work great for this kind of winterization application. It makes perfect sense. The boughs would allow airflow but still keep the leafy insulation layer where it belonged ... on top of your tender tubers.

You may be drawn to the lovely, yet gentle coloring of dwarf Pink Sunburst (3 ft. high) shown above. Perhaps the more dramatic coloring and stature of Tropicanna or Australia (5 foot high) are more your style. Cannas, are perhaps not such a chore and a gamble in the northern zones of US gardens. Their bold leaves and sumptuous, exotic flowers can be such a welcome addition to so many garden plantings! Browse about and see what fabulous beauties you can find that appeal to your color palette in the garden.

Here in zone 7 (where they are supposed to be in the ground to survive) I got lazy and did not harbor my Phaison Canna below the soil line, I mourned it's death when the temperatures dipped to 16 degrees. Imagine my surprise when I started emptying out that container to find live, healthy roots and a tuber this late this spring! Where was this pot that survive - even only partially a brutal South Eastern cold spell? Under a lot of old tree cover on the due North side of my porch of all places!

Incidentally, in this new climate I have come to reside in ... a piece of my Black Magic Colocasia (Elephant Ears) also decided it could live through the winter in a big container on top of the ground! Wonders never cease when one is dealing with ornamental garden plants!
So yes! With proper insulation - You Canna ... You Canna Du This Too (without digging and storing the tubers each winter).

Canna Lilies are available in oodles of leaf and stem colorings as well as the bloom itself. Some gardeners just love the leaves and not the flower color - so cut off the bloom stem and relish the fantastic foliage! It is all a matter of taste, it is ... YOUR GARDEN. You own private space, a living statement about you.

Coneflower Craze

Beware of the Invasion of Alien Echinacea! Whatever happened to the quiet comfort of cheerful and expected white and mauve wafting about in the mid-summer breeze? Is there an end to this flurry of fresh new faces? Most likely not until they run out of crosses to try out.

I for one never expected so many new and exciting things happening to calm, sedate meadow flowers. Yet there they are parading about in colors that echo the Summer Sky. Can we live without getting at least one of each to gaze upon? I venture that it will be hard for all those who just do not like Coneflowers. Really that is okay, there will be a few more available if you want two of that cultivar in your garden.

Purple, White, Red, Pink, Orange, Magenta, Yellow and combinations of these should be planted in waves along with Daisy and Black Eyed Susan where your lawn used to be. Gas is far too expensive to be mowing a boring expanse of grass! Take it out and plant a meadow that will change every few weeks. It is more earth friendly and will also save some cost on your water bill.

Through The Eyes of a Child



A month ago the new season's plant selections arrived at every garden center in town. I decided to take my granddaughter to the "flower store". She was very excited at the idea which was huge in her two and half year old mind. While very intelligent she is still a beginner in our world, and I had no idea what to expect when we arrived at our destination.

It was nothing like my imagined trip. It exceeded anything I thought would happen. It was one of those days that you could kick yourself for not having a movie camera in your purse. Her first visit to a garden center was more exciting than Christmas morning. You see, most of her knowledge of ornamental plants was from photos and a few paltry pots on the porch.

She petted the Gerber Daisies, exclaiming over all the colors she saw in the rack. The first one gallon pot of May Night Salvia she saw was immediately hugged to her small, slim body. "Nonnie! We must have this one for Mommy!" She was persuaded to put it back and keep looking. So short of stature I don't think she realized there was much more to look at.

After I showed her how many different things there were to see beyond her level of view, she was everywhere. Darting about smelling this one, oohing over the color of that one and generally beside herself with all there was to discover. Next, she discovered scents which started a frenzied search for "that 'liscious smell' which after much searching turned out to be a table of Dianthus.

The entire live plant area was hugged and fondled as that developing mind skipped and sang through the aisles. The Barbie Princess Kitchen was very pale in comparison to this level of excitement. I was hard pressed to keep up with her and put back everything she had to have. I guess she has inherited more from me than my fingernails. Her poor parents aren't into plants, but thats okay, Nonnie is here for you kiddo.
The Guilty Gardener

Monday, May 26, 2008

Justly Accused


I know, it is time to confess my guilt. I have danced away from the label for many years, always shying away from the truth. Yet, as co-dependencies go, at least mine is not unhealthy nor unsightly.

Can I help it if I suffer from pot addiction? If there was enough ground, I would have no use for the pots! Alright, I might need just a few for the porch ... and the deck ... and the patio. I practice restraint whenever it is possible. I can stop whenever I feel like it.

Is it really my fault that ornamental plants just seem to be attracted to me? If they didn't have so much to say, I could easily turn a deaf ear to each and every one of them. Surely I could ignore them all without all the incessant communication.

I beg to differ with this term of addiction! If they weren't natural I might understand, but they just sprout out of the soil and suddenly it is true love. I swear they follow me home on their own accord and force me to take care of them. At least no one can accuse me aggravated foliage abuse or petal abandonment!

Surely, with all the new beautiful introductions each spring one can fully comprehend the need to collect every one that comes in just the right color. Tell them to stop creating new ones and I will be able to quit cold turkey (just as soon as I make sure I have all the perfect colored ones that exist somewhere on Earth).

The Guilty Gardener