|Brugmansia and castor bean plant in our Chicken Yard Garden|
As the weather cools, we still have a bit of the tropics left in our Chicken Yard Garden. The brugmansia and the castor bean plant at right actually loved the heat of the drought but welcomed the frequent drinks of water I had to give them. Now that daytime temperatures have cooled to the 50s and 60s, they seem somehow out of place, as if they had been magically transported northward from the tropics.
The "chicken yard" moniker for this garden bed came about because the area accommodated a hen house and chicken yard during most of the 20th century. The soil here seems to be extra fertile, most likely a result of decades and layer upon layer of chicken manure.
|Mother brugmansia and Snow-on-the-Mountain (Euphorbia marginata) in the herb garden|
In September our herb garden is dominated by a second brugmansia, the mother plant of the one in the photo at right. This one (at left) is potted and will be hustled into the basement at the first forecast of a hard freeze. Since we don't have room indoors for such a large plant, I force it into dormancy by withholding water and light. The storage area where it rests over winter is not heated. The temperature in that area can drop as low as the upper 30sF in mid winter when the temperature is -20F and the wind is howling. I do give it just a bit of water every two weeks or so to keep the roots from drying out completely.
When the weather warms in spring, I prune it back to about 12-15 inches above pot level and bring it back outside. It grows with great vigor, guzzling gallons of water each day and liquid fertilizer once a week.
Winner of the August What's Blooming contest is pmajhan, who correctly identified the mystery blossom as Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail' (photo below right). Pmajhan is a relative newcomer to All Things Plants, having joined on August 20, 2012. I asked Pma to tell us a bit about gardening, both as a person and more specifically as a serious gardener:
I have been gardening since I was about 12 years old. I remember taking my mother's cake pans and starting tomato seeds on the windowsill of my bedroom. I made a small garden in the backyard for the tomatoes and surprised everyone when they did very well.
My favorite flowering plant (photo below right) is the annual milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) which I grow from seed collected each year from the previous year's flowers. I love to go out each morning and count the monarch caterpillars feeding on the leaves of the milkweed. I have many perennials, shrubs, annuals and trees that I have planted on my 3.5 acres. Part of that acreage is woods, streams and wetland.
I grow vegetables, some started from seed under grow-lights, and some started from seed that is direct-sown. Since I am a Penn State Master Gardener, I buy some veggie plants at our annual plant sale in May.
My other love is kayaking. I have been kayaking for 22 years and go to Florida for the winter to kayak with a group there. We camp and kayak in the Everglades
I am also restoring a wetland on my property that is home to a number of invasive plants. I am replacing the invasives with native plants and enjoy watching the birds, butterflies, and insects that are benefitting from my efforts.
My advice to a new gardener would be to try to read about growing native plants that benefit birds, bees, and insects, to sustain a healthy planet. Also, plant what you like to make you happy!
|Refreshed and Looking Good|
|Clockwise starting top left: Japanese anemone, canna 'Australia,' volunteer petunias and melampodium; a smattering of sweet autumn clematis in and to the right of canna|
|Sedum 'Cloud Walker'|
|Lespedeza 'Gibralter' and goldenrod 'Peter Pan'|
|Perking up and starting to flower again is a pink (and sometimes blue) morning glory inherited from my mother-in-law.|
MYSTERY BLOSSOM FOR SEPTEMBER
DEADLINE FOR IDENTIFYING THIS FLOWER IS OCTOBER 8, 2012
SEE "HOW TO ENTER" BELOW
|HOW TO ENTER THE NAME THAT BLOOM CONTEST|
|Scroll down to the forum at the end of this article. Click on the thread, "September Contest Entries." (The thread may not appear immediately after the article is published. If there is no thread by that name, please start one and name it "September Contest Entries" if you'd like to identify the mystery flower.) Enter the name of the plant pictured above. Please be sure to include the cultivar name. The winner gets to select a photo of a blooming plant from her/his garden, to be published in next month's What's Blooming article, along with a brief interview. Check back often to see if the bloom has been identified. If readers are having difficulty, I may provide a hint.|
ABOUT COTTAGE-IN-THE-MEADOW GARDENS
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens, owned by Larry and Wilma Rettig, South Amana, Iowa, has been featured in local and national publications, on the Internet, and is listed with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., in its Archives of American Gardens. Larry and Wilma grow over 300 varieties of flowers, trees, shrubs, and vegetables. Since 1986, they have maintained a seed bank that preserves vegetable varieties brought from Germany to the Amana Villages during the 1850s.