Friday, October 16, 2020

Autumn's last flowers


Hello, everyone! I'm sorry I haven't posted since August -- I meant to write a post in September, which was such a beautiful month in my gardens this month, but somehow that didn't happen. I'll show a few pictures from September and October in this post.

Tropical Garden

First are a few images of the tropical garden I planted around my patio for the first time this year. As you might recall, this is what it looked like back in mid-May, right after I planted all the tiny annuals and tropical plants:


If there's one thing tropical plants are known for, it's fast growth! The two castor oil bean plants (Ricinus) that I started from seed in my sunroom in March have grown into monstrously large, towering trees that are over 11 feet high (the bottom of the roof overhang at far left is 11 feet off the ground). For a sense of perspective, I'm shorter, at 5&1/2 feet tall, than the dwarf peach tree at center. The one on the left provided wonderful shade from the afternoon sun during August, when we had some friends over and ate outside at the patio table.

Here's a closeup of the "blood" banana that I bought this year from a local nursery.

Continuing around the castor oil bean plant, you can see the huge size of its leaves. The sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas) that I planted at its base had to be hacked back several times over the summer.

Here you can see the plants on the back border of the area: coleus, elephant ear (Colocasia 'Sumo'), and a pink-leaved Iresine at bottom right.

And finally, the back part of the garden behind the patio table, in front of the fence. Two houseplants that I brought out for the summer are sunk in pots into the ground, interspersed with another elephant ear, a division from a papyrus plant that I had, a self-seeded tobacco plant in full flower at left, and a majesty palm at far right. This was one of the most successful, most tropical-looking parts of the area, and I'm very happy with how it grew up over the summer.

Paradise Garden

The other area of my gardens that has been successful this year is my Paradise Garden. In September I took down the Big Net that protected the roses from the Japanese beetle scourge all summer, and this garden has been absolutely magical to sit in and enjoy the brightly colored and wonderfully scented flowers, the butterflies and the bubbling fountain at the center.

Filled with flowers a few weeks ago....

Lots of roses in flower, plus marigolds and dahlias (like the red ones in the picture at the top of the page).

A view from the bench under the small pergola -- the best place to enjoy the garden in the heat of summer days, although I've been sitting on the sunny bench against the house recently, to soak up the year's last rays. The pink flowering tobacco seeded itself there from last year, and looked very fetching with the pink roses.

Frost Threatens

Alas, summer eventually comes to an end, and the threat of frost is always present in October. We haven't gotten a frost yet, although one is possible this weekend.

But to be safe, I brought in all the tropical plants a couple of weeks ago, some to my basement under lights, and some into my sunroom to be enjoyed over winter:

The Tropical Garden, minus many of the plants to be saved over winter.

Into the basement went the plants that don't flower in winter, or which can't tolerate the dry air of central heating.

My sunroom is once again overflowing with plants. It's been beautiful and sunny in there during the past week.

Plants adjusting to their new winter home.

The other end of the sunroom.

Even though we haven't had a frost quite yet, one will almost certainly come before too many more days. The weather has been beautiful over the past week: sunny and warm. But rain and cold cloudy days are forecast next week, so I'm glad much of my autumn work is done. Soon enough winter will be here, and I'll spend my time working on indoor projects (and snoozing, as shown below).

I hope you have been enjoying warm autumn days in your own gardens recently, and that winter will be filled with interesting projects for you too. Thanks for reading! -Beth