Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bloomin' Alternanthera

I have entirely too many plants in my house, in pots and rooting in jars of water! I had not meant to have two glass-topped tables in my dining room covered in plants (they were meant for candles, a tea set and my beautiful Peruvian tray with bottles of Cognac and Benedictine in winter, and Vodka and Campari in summer . . .) - heck, I never even meant to become a gardener! - but c'est la vie! I'm totally into plants, gardening and all that good sort of stuff for the past several years and keeping plants alive indoors in winter, growing a "crop" to take outdoors again next April/May, has become a mission! The "Bloomin' Alternantera" (cuttings from an Alternantherea 'Gail's Choice') is in the bottom left of this photograph, there is a Begonia 'Bonita Shea' to its right, an Aloe in the top left corner and the others are all Coleuses of one variety or another. I know, too many plants - it's ridiculous!

Annuals that have had a great outdoor summer must be brought indoors (if they are not cast away) before the first frost of the season. That includes this Alternanthera. It grew on my front porch in a large clay pot, with a Coleus and some other plants, until two months ago. After bringing the entire ensemble indoors, the Alternanthera started a phenomenal growth (reaching for the light?) and its branches were two feet longer yesterday than they were in October, when I decided to cut them off, put them in water and begin rooting them. To my amazement, the thing was blooming! It's not much of a bloom, but see those little white fur balls as the tips of the cuttings? Cute, but not a competitor for my Christmas cacti!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Garden Benches

Gardens, I always think, must achieve a certain level of maturity before they merit a bench. After all, what is there to a 6 foot Maple that would throw off enough shade for a peaceful afternoon with a good book and a cup of tea?

My garden is getting closer! Close enough already last May that, upon my return from the Len Foote Hike Inn, I thought I should go looking for a bench in the fall. Then came summer (no time to be outdoors!) and a loss of clients and accompanying revenue, so the thought of a garden bench was banished.

Then, a few weeks ago, in a magazine piece about outdoor art (including a spectacular gate by Wendy Ramshaw), I saw two benches that made me linger on their images. The first one, in wood, was fairly quickly dismissed (I concluded it looked too much like left-over planks from Noah’s ark), but the other one . . ., oh my! Sleek, white (marble?) sitting on fresh-fallen leaves, surrounded by Ivy and small purple flowers, tall frees behind it - very pretty! The featured art had locations and prices with it and my beautiful bench came to $44,485. Oh, well . . .!

You will not see this one in my garden next year and who cares? It did not even have a backrest! :-)

Meanwhile, if Christina reads this, or Peter, or . . . .? You know when my birthday is!

Plectranthus too!

Having enjoyed several varieties of Plectranthus in 2008, both in my garden and indoors, I was interested in looking for more this year. So, when Gwinnett Tech announced its spring plant sale and I saw "Plectranthus" on the list, I rushed over.

"This is a Plectranthus?", I asked when I saw this huge, gray, leggy thing. I was assured that it was and that I should take cuttings of it before the first frost in the fall and I would have lots more of them - to put outside again in 2010. Advice followed!
Today, indoors, it is greener than its parent was outdoors in the summer, and I don't know its variety, but possibly argentatus 'Silver Shield. In any case, it's beautiful and if I can keep only half the cutting alive till next spring, they will make a great addition to my garden.


Grown from an accidental cutting (read: a small limb, accidentally broken off), this Plectranthus (variety unknown, I.D. help welcome!) is growing nicely and will soon be too big for this lovely English pot.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Ornament?

The Alberta Spruce I bought earlier in the year, in the belief that my garden needed another conifer, never yet made it into the ground (perfect spot not yet determined . . .), although I did put it in a bigger pot. Last week-end, I decided to move it from the patio to the porch, next to the front door, and not an hour later this Ladybug came calling. I hope she stays, as chances are only 50/50 that any "true" Christmas ornaments will make it out of the boxes this year. Christmas spirit? Yes, sure! Decorating spirit - not so much!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bodhi Day 2009

Today is Bodhi Day. You may or may not care. It probably would have passed me by unnoticed, if I had not sat under the Bodhi Tree in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, some years ago, which was grown from a shoot of the original tree under which Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) had received enlightenment.

The Bodhi tree, also called Pipul, or “Sacred Fig”, is said to be a symbol for good luck, happiness, prosperity and longevity. So, Happy Bodhi Day to everyone who reads this!
Photo credit: Chamal N, Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thawing Out

Only a few hours after the frozen picture, I snaped this shot yesterday of the rapidly recovering Viola in the Chinese pot on my patio's bistro table.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Frozen Roses

More experienced Georgia gardeners than I may take roses in bloom in December in stride; for me, they are a breathtaking marvel. This morning, they are covered in frost - and still beautiful!

Brrrrrr - it's cold!

An occasional frost has been with us since mid October, but last night was the first "hard freeze" and my poor Violas are showing its effect. Still, with the sun now popping over the horizon, they will soon perk up. It's 27F/-3C this morning, but expected to warm up to a "balmy" 48F/9C this afternoon. I have a few more Violas to plant . . .

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Too Early?

This Christmas Cactus has been in bloom for more than a week already and I hope it will still be in bloom by Christmas! No complaints, though; this one was a spur-of-the-moment buy at the local grocery store early this year -- an 'investment' of 99 cents!
Now that winter is insistently knocking on our doors, indoor plants are taking on greater importance. The green umbrella-like image behind the Christmas Cactus is a Coleus Duckfoot 'Midnight' (green as a result of being indoors; it will turn brown when I take it outdoors next spring) and in the top right corner is a Coleus Sibila, grown from a cutting received at the UGA trial gardens last July. It has grown so much that I've already had to take the top out, root it and provide it with a container of its own.