Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Meanwhile Back in the Garden

It is the first week of August and the garden seems a little spent and mainly green. We are having one of the best summers I can remember. The rain has come down in torrential buckets at times and has taken enough of a break to come back again when needed. This said, lately the rain has come a little more frequent, but given the heat the plants can sure use it. It is hard to consider but we are part of the Tropics during this season: humid, hot and sunny. Plants, for the most part love it.

A few weeks ago the garden was a lot more colorful with a sea of Daylilies towering about 4-5 feet above the ground. With a combination of Bee Balm and some straggling roses it created an opportunity artists to take advantage. The weather had been warm and dry and really wonderful for weeks on end. So outdoor lunches and visits to the garden to draw or read and relax were numerous. Often times, the only place that is comfortable in the garden in Summer is under the willow by the pond. Here, the tree canopy creates a magical breeze not found elsewhere. It was nice to regain the entire garden for outdoor activities during these weeks.

Vori installed himself on the walkway and in an afternoon cranked out a wonderful crayon-pastel rendering of the garden. Julia and I have been on his case about selling his art. He is immensely talented, but like many an artist he creates it for himself and is often unsure of how his product comes across. I can tell you he is good, very good at that. I may have to photograph some of his portfolio and put it on the blog.
Many years ago I visited a couple in the Washington DC area where I discovered a wonderful plant. The Japanese anemones grew in this magnificent wet garden near the Potomac River. Here banks of pink and white Anemones were floating, not unlike my Daylilies, on long stems with delicately shaped flowers that also resembled Japanese Irises with those floppy petals. The two ladies that called this garden home, immediately brought out a spade to split out a plant for me to take. I was thrilled and took the plant home to another garden that I shared.

The plants never grew very much in this garden because it was very sandy and they managed to grow but not like in Washington DC. Eventually, when I bought my house I dug up these puppies and moved them to a shady location but a dry one at that (see all the knowledge you think you have sometimes goes out the window!) The Anemones fared better than before but never really made a spectacular showing. Last season I dug them out, as many as I could find
and relocated them off the main bed in the back where it is sunny and wet. This year that plants have flourished and are showing many buds. With any luck it will be a good season for them as well. They should bloom later but to tell you the truth I have not cared for them closely where they were so I am not sure exactly when to expect them.

I am a glutton for work at times. I love Crotons (pictured above) but they don't like to overwinter in dark places. I grew up with them in Cuba where they were used as hedges ten feet tall. There, you could snap a branch and stick in the ground and it would grow! My Mother, in Los Angeles, had the ordinary ones you buy in grocery stores. She had bought this little ball shaped plant a foot tall and grown it to a monster of about five feet tall.

When my Mother died I brought her plants East. I felt a responsibility to continue growing something that she had cared for so lovingly for so many years. Her Malanga (a form of tropical ivy also sold in grocery stores) has managed to grow ten years after her passing. Other plants I brought from her balcony grew so large that I donated to conservatory gardens. Her Croton somehow, I managed to kill. Fortunately I managed to make enough cuttings that I handed to friends so I can at some point get a plant from the original back. Julia has one that has grown larger than my Mother's original plant. Last time I saw it it was almost 7 feet tall. I think this may have something to do with women and how they care or not for plants. I know it sounds sexist but what can you do?

So when I was visiting my cousins in Tampa I found this strange little Croton that I do not remember from the tropics. It has skinny leaves and maybe it will require less light to overwinter during our grey period. I will try and give this one a go before I lay claims to some of Julia's cuttings. I will tell you that upon close inspection it already seems to be providing home to mealy bugs so I have my work cut out.


  1. You are so right about Vori's art. He is too close to it to see the value properly. Yes, yes and again yes -- you must take some pix and post some of his work so the rest of your followers can join the chorus of his fans!

  2. Can't wait for follow up photos of the anemones. Close ups, please.