Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More fall garden chores...

My neighbor's entry garden has come into bloom just about as everything is out of bloom. They planted Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum) and later added some Chrysanthemums. The Shastas have been growing all summer with the promise of the show currently going on. I used to plant these in California where they put on a spectacular show and kept going all fall and into winter. Here I planted them one year and they did not survive the winter even though they are supposed to be perennial in zones 3-8. I guess my swamp was more than they could handle and winter too!

Another plant that I used to grow in California was the Mexican Sage (salvia leucantha) for its spectacular fall blooms. Here, it is just getting started blooming. My plan was to contrast its beautiful purple blossoms with the multitudes of orange nasturtiums creeping about along the gravel walk. The show is quite wonderful but as soon as frost comes the Mexican sage will say Hasta la vista baby. Last year, in a major attempt to save them, I dug them up and repotted and trimmed them back and got most of them to survive over the long dark winter. This year, I will leave them in the ground a bit longer and if I get around to digging them up, so be it; otherwise, I will just enjoy the fall show as planned and buy new ones next year.

It is quite and enterprise moving all these wonderful plants into the house. First of all, they are too big to survive anything but a properly lit greenhouse. Not having one of those, I make due with my glassed in porch which is heated. I have to try and shape the plants down in size so that the available light will allow them to survive. Normally, I prune back to half the plant size and leave them outside to recover and debug then. I take all my elevated surfaces and move the plants on these. Normally this will get the bugs to leave the potted plants. Invariably some stay including spiders which annoy me to no end. After a week or so outside after they are pruned they start rebudding and are fairly bug free to be taken inside. In the warmth of the porch they will grow very slowly and some will even bloom over the winter.

Other plants are destined for the basement to go into dormancy. These I just lift to debug and let them dry out as much as possible. As soon as they are clean and dry I take them into a corner of the basement and wait until spring to bring these out. Here are some elephant ears and calla lilies which are big bulbs, corms or the like that just go dormant and stay put. I don't cut off the leaves as these will feed the bulb even as they are dying. Later, when totally dry I just remove the leaves and even stack the pots on top of one another.

As official protector to my Kois, I am always on the lookout for wildlife that might harm them. Since the passing of Taxi, they don't have their official guard dog and I have not brought myself to get another dog while unemployed. It is a terrible wasted opportunity as I could be training a new pet friend during all this time. I keep a have-a-heart-trap in the garden that seems to catch all kinds of strange predators. This big possum was not too happy to be caught, but he is now living in a not so neighboring Woods.

My porch, which during the summer is filled with furniture for entertaining, becomes a warehouse for most of my indoor plants. It is wonderful and filled to capacity with tropical jasmines, ginger, scented geraniums and lemon plants that will bloom and get me to survive the gloomy winter.

Here amongst the plants, I leave one chair and my sofa where I cuddle up under a blanket to read in a sort of a Victorian splendor. Funny, I never have liked much that is Victorian, but this aspect of a garden conservatory room is certainly a wonderful place to escape during the winter.

My last remaining chore is to dig up the Agave americana from the urn. Each year it gets bigger even though I cut off most flopped down leaves and then store it dry in a dark corner of the basement. Somehow because of its nature it survives beautifully. I give away at least 4 or 5 plantlets every fall that manage to grow during the season. Then I know that I am done in the garden for the fall.


  1. Rene -- great post! Let's organize a Name-That-Critter challenge for your relocated possum. My vote is for Herman. Anyone else have an idea?

  2. Thanks for the pictures! Gardening is a fun activit...It helps to soothe the mind and the body. I would like to share some tips on water-wise gardening with you. Check BeWaterWise dot com and continue to enjoy gardening!

  3. Don't they make coats out of those things? My vet told me they can kill a cat with their claws and we lost one of ours to, we suspect, your guy's cousin. Our backyard is covered with scat from an animal that is not a racoon (I recognize their scat) did you by any chance notice this dude's scat? If you did and you can describe it to me, it would be greatly appreciated. Are Shasta daisies the same as Montauk daisies? Your blog is so informative, it is a pleasure reading it. ps Herman is too nice a name for that varmint, I'm thinking something in the vein of Mordred.