17 November 2019

Missouri Botanical Garden Morning

In September, my annual convention took me to St. Louis. In my time before the convention began, I of course blocked out a full day for the Missouri Botanical Garden. I suspected this was one of the tops in the world, and my trip confirmed my suspicion.

Some facts for the botanical garden:
  • Founded in 1859 with 79 acres on land provided by wealthy immigrant Henry Shaw
  • Center for scientific botanical research
  • 1800 species in the daylily garden, and 1500 species in the iris garden
  • Over 50 water lily species (blooming while I visited)
  • Incredible web site for references and information
  • 24,000 square feet interior geodesic dome Climatron (enclosed greenhouse)

Some of my images that impressed me from the morning of my long, sweaty, late-summer day follow.

One of the water lily pools with Chihuly sculptures and the tropical greenhouse 'Climatron' beyond. I thought the large colorful sculptural balls detracted from the beauty of the water lilies.

Closeup of some water lilies.

Another Chihuly creation for the seating areas within one of the rose gardens.

Interior of the historic conservatory, probably the original.

The Ottoman Garden, a walled garden with Mediterranean plants, shady walks, water ...

... and an inward-looking perspective.

And an early sundial for timekeeping.

The playful fountain jumps from one pool to another overhead almost like it is alive and toying with you.

A landscaper's view of the Japanese garden based on open vistas of natural and harmoniously placed vegetation.

A carefully composed view from the bridge.

A Chinese garden with its more intimate enclosed spaces and landscape.

08 November 2019

Autumn's Late Late Show

I occasionally spotted these around town blooming in very late autumn and often wondered what they were. When I discovered their name, I filed it in the back of my mind in the I need to get these some day folder. Then the chance came.

During a Master Gardener plant swap a few years back, a fellow gardener brought in some chrysanthemum labeled as Sheffield, with maybe 'Pink' in the name. I recognized that the name was familiar, but could not place it. After a quick search on the internet I discovered it was my 'Sheffield Pink' Chrysanthemum. I could not be happier to take it home.

It went into the side yard garden, and in a few years, has grown and spread -- not neatly, but rather haphazardly. Starting out slowly, it looks like nothing's happening throughout the summer -- no hint of what to come later. Sheffield Pink blooms in late fall when most everything else in the garden has past its glory.

A little untidy when compared to the artificial-looking mounding mums, it seems at home in a natural cottage garden and might even be considered as a ground cover because it easily multiplies with no attention or help from me.

It has past blooming a few weeks ago, but I snapped a few pictures at that time for a story. Just after the first frost, it was little past its prime.

For The Record:
  • Moderately clay soil
  • Well-drained soil at top of sloping bed
  • Mostly sun but some shade during mornings
  • No fertilizer
  • No serious pests/disease

03 November 2019

Popup Petunia

These purple petunias are spilling from a container on the back deck. This is noteworthy only in that they were self-sown seeds, survived winter in the container, and grew in spring. While deciding what to plant in the containers this past spring, I spotted about two dozen petunias sprouting where they had previously grown.

Now, petunias are one of those difficult plants to start from seed indoors, being small and taking their time to develop into something that blooms. I've tried. They are so much easier to buy in a nursery.

I had no idea what would bloom this spring after spotting the tiny leaves popping out. While growing up in New York, my mom had annual petunias that reseeded every year. They were a mix of colors -- purple, pink, white, magenta -- and were not large sized. This is what I was expecting.

What grew in my container ended up being dark purple hybrid-size blooms. I think I had these last year, or was it the year before? Two red blooming petunias in the bunch were a mystery -- I had never grown red petunias in there.

The red coleus is "Ruby Slipper". It did nothing all summer, and is only now, just before our first frost, beginning to look like something.

08 October 2019


A late summer visit to Winterthur in Delaware provide a relaxing get-away for a day. This Henry Francis DuPont estate and grounds consists of gardens, garden follies, and a home of 175 rooms. He was a collector of American Decorative Arts -- furniture. The estate grounds and gardens were not impressive at this time of year since the azaleas, spring bulbs, flowering shrubs and trees were not at their peak. Lots of summer blooming hostas, though.

View of the house with outdoor dining terrace overlooking the rear garden.

Garden folly near the house rear.

House from inside the garden folly.

Fish pond at the rear gardens with a walking path around the perimeter.
The trees create a shady "room" in this area.

More formal rear garden with fountain.

Big beautiful colocasia.

Entrance over bridge to the children's garden: the 'Enchanted Forest'.

Cottage in the Enchanted Forest - I really think I could live here.

Enchanted Forest surprise.

Giant nest with eggs in the Enchanted Forest - dragon?

21 September 2019

It's Chili Time

Two peppers are being harvested right now and both are front cottage garden products. First, the Japanese Shishito peppers. I grew these a few years ago in the front yard alongside the pepperoncini which I came to love. They were mild and made excellent pickled peppers with salt, vinegar, pepper, and garlic. The Shishito did not make good pickled peppers -- they were softer, thin-walled, and had lots more seeds. My biggest problem with them is that they were a roll of the dice when it came to "hot or not." For no obvious reason, some were hot, and some were mild - from the same plant harvested at the same time.

I saved the pepperoncini seeds and started them this spring, but what came up were Shishitos. I saved the wrong seeds. After last week's vacation, I came home to ripe red Shishitos, so here they are. I have had them on a burger and in salsa, but taking all those seeds out is time-consuming and I would rather be just consuming. They are edible, and recipes abound for roasted or grilled Shishitos, seeds and all. I know they are currently a trendy pepper, so maybe I should give some away to enhance my image as a trendy gardener with the latest and greatest.

The Anaheim chilis have another story. I grew them about five years ago in the back vegetable garden with very little success. Maybe one or two small peppers came from them. I tried them again on the side yard where they became engulfed by rudbeckia, never to be seen or heard from again. I tried them again the following year in the sunny front. They were slow-growing and again, I may have had one or two. End of the seed packet; end of Anaheim chilis.

This spring, I spied a seed packet of Anaheim Chilis at a Master Gardener function -- free for the taking. Dare I try for more disappointment and misery? Of course. The were fertilized, planted in the sunny front again, and this year, we have Anaheim chilis! I do like them because they are "mildly hot" and are great on burgers, in salads, or grilled. One discovery I have made: pick when turning red, and leave out to turn fully-red. For some reason, leaving them on the plant to fully ripen brings out a little black rot on the fruit interior.

If at first you don't succeed, try and try and try and try again.

For The Record:
  • Mostly rich, well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Small amount of fertilizer
  • No serious pests/disease

24 August 2019

Wrong Side of the Bed

I have a very small lawn area in the front of the house. Half of the front yard is lawn, the other is my cottage garden with its tastefully arranged mix of annuals, perennials, and vegetables. The annuals are those that reseed themselves such as basils, dill, Mexican zinnias, rudbeckia, snapdragons, nicotiana, cosmos, and cleome. It's heaven for a cheap gardener like me.

I provide a little pre emergent herbicide on the grass (excuse me - for us Master Gardeners that's turf) to keep the crabgrass from finding a home. This year, a few lemon basil plants thought the grass area with its pre emergent looked like greener pastures and moved out into the lawn. No crabgrass from the pre emergent, but basil found a home.

Now to be fair, this is not the first time plants have jumped out of the garden and ventured out into the lawn. But it is the first time edibles have done so. Every year, some rudbeckia and cleome need to be scolded, bad boys as they are, sowing their wild oats in my grass. Nicotiana and poppies seem to delight in popping up across pavement or in the brick sidewalk cracks. But now the basil? And not just one plant, but four decided to run away from home? They are all grounded.

You have to admit, the basil looks happy and healthy there. Yes, most of their friends remained growing in the garden bed, although most had gone to seed at this time of the year.

Please ignore the wild looking grass and clover in the lawn. I let these basils grow and purposely did not mow the grass, and the hot summer slowed the grass growth down. And, the grass just looks more wild than it really does in person. Enough excuses?

11 August 2019

What's Your Name?

I picked up some of these plants at the Master Gardener spring plant swap last spring. Seems like eons ago. I don't recall any name on them, but they ended up being planted in the way-back -- mostly sunny, some shady area without much good soil. I am slowly building up the soil in this plot with more organic material in hopes of growing additional perennials.

During the fall (last year) they reached a height of about 3 feet (1 m) and bloomed near the end of summer. They dutifully popped back up this past spring, then towered to 6-feet tall (2 m), much higher than I was expecting.

The leaves are partially lobed, lacy, thin, somewhat palmate, a little like oversized cosmos, and nothing like sunflowers or any other helianthus I know. The blossoms are pure yellow, similar in size and appearance to double-flowered coreposis, around 1-2 inches (3-5 cm). But coreopsis does not grow this tall. Nor do coreopsis leaves look like this. Japanese kerria is similar, but this is not a shrub, nor do the leaves match. No fragrance. Dry conditions do not bother it much, and there are no signs of disease or insects. However, powdery mildew is beginning to show up.

They die back to the ground in winter. They have continued to bloom over the past month but are beginning to slow down. I previously thought the stalks were strong and sturdy, but a recent rainstorm knocked most over. They were strong and straight while growing, but once the blooming started, they could not stand up to wind and rain.

Are they in the coreopsis family? Are they a form of helianthus? They seem happy where they, so they will remain there.

For The Record:
  • Clay soil with a little organic mulch
  • Mostly sun but some shade
  • Small amount of fertilizer
  • No serious pests/disease
  • Tend to fall over when fully grown

21 July 2019

Free Fling Phlox

Say that fast three times. This is my Garden Bloggers Fling phlox blooming now. At least I believe I got if form the 2017 Capital Fling. My other established phlox, a Carolina phlox Miss Lingard (Phlox maculata) blooms in late spring and is finished for the year. I don't know what type this is, but I know what type it isn't.

I believe I received this one at the Garden Bloggers Fling held in summer 2017. It was planted and bloomed a wee bit last year. In the fall, I placed a blank marker next to it while it overwintered so I would remember it was there. I have a history of pulling out or planting on top of new plants previously planted when I cannot remember anything growing there. Space around this yard can be a premium. Well, I didn't remember.

This spring, it began growing -- this little plant next to a marker. It looked like a goldenrod weed or other prevalent weed in our area, but it had a marker. Thinking it might be the ever elusive red lobelia that was known to roam the area, I resisted the temptation to pull it out in April.

It grew very upright and about 3-feet tall (90 cm). Yup. That proves it must be a weed because I had nothing growing in that area which would grow so tall. Then it bloomed last week. A wind storm blew it over, so I stood it upright again for its photography session.

Individual flowers in the cluster are smaller than the Carolina phlox, looking a lilac or buddleia. This year it produced three stalks, each with a pink or light magenta bloom on the end. Small skipper-like butterflies love it. A few lower side shoots without blooms may help it to develop into something larger next year. One can hope. It grows in mostly sun, but under the morning shade of a small redbud tree. And one can label the markers placed next to plants in the fall.

For The Record:
  • Heavy clay soil with organic amendments & mulch
  • Damp soil at base of small hillside
  • Mostly sun but some shade during mornings
  • Small amount of fertilizer
  • No serious pests/disease

17 July 2019

But Hey, It's Free

Sandy from Sandy's Plants spoke about herbaceous plants at one of our winter Master Gardener evening classes two years ago. Sandy runs a "rare and unusual" nursery nearby, growing most of the inventory by herself and staff. The herbaceous plant classes are quite popular, and Sandy was about to make it even more so. She brought in free plants - enough for everyone in the class.

I avoided the class stampede. Since I was a board member at that time, I graciously waited for most others in the room to pick out something. What was left for me was a daylily. Nothing had labels including this one. My plant had some root stock and a handful of leaves. I planted my mystery dayllily.

This is what came up and bloomed. I know it's a tetraploid from the thick short stems and stocky flowers and buds. It blooms pretty much again and again after its initial explosion, which no other daylilies I have do.

I might like to know the name of my new daylily, but am content to just admire it. Mystery forever.

30 June 2019

The Fallen

With some heavy rain and a touch of laziness from the owner for not staking again this year, the hydrangea has once again succumbed to its own success. The large blooms of what I believe is 'Incrediball' have fallen down and cannot get up. I now support the peony before it also goes down, and keep thinking that I will do the same for the hydrangea when it starts to peek out of the ground. But since I cannot find any support system large enough, I need to make my own, and that involves some involved work. Maybe next year.

These rudbeckia mentioned in Bloggers Bloom Day love the location against the masonry house. Nice and warm in the winter, and beautiful non-clay soil thanks to years of fallen leaves where ivy once roamed. They are taller and more robust than in any other of my gardens. Taller means easier to bend over.

Another reseeder is the nicotiana: white in the back, and green in the front yards. The white species grow taller and always flop over, and I always let them. The green nicotiana don't do this to the same extent maybe because they do not grow as tall. Maybe because they get full sun and the whites don't, or because they are just a different shorter variety.

Native Loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia) is now blooming and down it goes. The plants tend to support each other in the center of the cluster, while those along the perimeter take a bow like in this photo. The dark leaves turn green when the yellow blooms appear in summer.

Not yet down is the yellow-flowered plant I picked up at a plant swap. I think it is a type of helianthus or coreopsis. It bloomed in late summer when about 3-feet high (90 cm) and proceeded to bend down. This year it is about 4-feet (120 cm) tall at the moment, with some buds appearing. And so far it is standing tall.

When the weak fall, it is difficult to get them back up permanently, so I usually let them lay.

15 June 2019

June 2019 Bloom Day

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
What's blooming in the garden on the 15th of the month

If getting back into the Garden Bloggers Bloom Day again, May-June-July is the time to do it for me.

Spring has been good so far - off to a cool start, but over the past few months, we have had good weather and good rain. Things are growing - including the weeds.

Starting with the rudbeckia that needs a little birth control this year. I think every seed ever dropped came up - even the ones in the lawn and sidewalk cracks.

And the rudbeckia that appeared came with some interesting variety. For example, this green-eyed is a hybrid from some 'Irish Eyes' I grew a few years back.

This came all by itself. The bees must have been busy in some neighbor's garden one day last year.

Still another rudbeckia variation in markings.

The Asian lilies, name unknown, are taking off.

Echinacea are just beginning to peek out.

And my cultivar echinacea 'Sundown', part of the Big Sky series.

A snapdragon mix was started from seed two years ago. Now, they annually reseed themselves in a myriad of colors. I was stunned by this one. Have you ever seen such a color combination?

For other garden bloggers' bloom day photos, spring over to the blog May Dreams Gardens.

09 June 2019

Holy Coleus

Does anyone need coleus? Every year, I survey the containers I have on the deck to determine what annuals I need to purchase. Some of the plants from prior years may survive the winter, eliminating a need to purchase an annual of two for this year. Sweet potato vines tend to do this.

This year, I was surprised to find among the maple seedlings from a neighbor's tree, 78 (I counted them all) coleus growing in a pot that I (obviously) had coleus occupying last summer. They were all images of their mama, with maroon centers and green leaf edges. Of the handful of coleus I have grown, this one was the least favorite - not unattractive - just not on top of my favorites list.

One of the other containers had several petunia seedlings pop up, which I am allowing to continue. I heard these are difficult for gardeners to start from seed, (go figure) so they have earned the right to continue after surviving the winter outdoors.

After pinching off the unattractive flowers of the coleus, I probably just threw them into the pot. Some of the flower spikes may have had mature seeds that sprung to life this spring. The petunias may have had some seed pods formed that I missed in the deadheading, but there was only one petunia I can remember needing to deadhead. The others were cultivars that self-deadheaded, (if that is a word.)

I am saving four or five of the largest coleus seedlings to plant in the garden. Since I take cuttings of some plants (including coleus), in the fall to overwinter, I do not need any of these for containers. An overwintered version has already been transplanted into a different container. However, there is a 'Black Pearl' ornamental pepper plant in this container that sprung from the previous plant's seed, and two other dark red coleus plants growing among the horde, too.

I left the petunias to their own too, and will later report on them after seeing what type of flower comes from a store-bought cultivar self-seeder (if that is a word, too.)