Monthly Archives: October 2012

Mums the word

In  spring 2011, you may recall, I received a shipment of mums from Faribault Growers in MN. This nursery grows and sells Mums that are not only much more  interesting in form and color than the  annual- for decoration only- mums sold around here in the fall, they are truly perennial.

After a full season in the garden it is time to see who is performing well, who is not, who will stay, and who will go to make room for others.

The absolute keeper of the bunch is ‘Centerpiece’. That baby has been in full bloom since early July and showing not even one sign of slowing down. It did not mind heat, drought, or being moved…it has actually already been divided!….and the flowers are very cool, don’t you agree?

Another interesting flower is the  aptly named ‘Matchstick’. It is just coming into bloom now, and looks great paired with the gallardia ‘Mesa Yellow’ out front.

I planted ‘Ruby Mound”  in  3 locations locations in the Dog Garden ,it is also a keeper. It made it happily through the winter, has obviously survived  corgi mayhem, and is now throwing out these wonderful saturated maroon color flowers.

Another that came into bloom and had been struggling to stay in bloom all summer is ‘Betty Lou’. Unfortunately it has been fighting some sort of mildew . I trimmed it back, dug out around it and gave it new soil to no avail. In the spring I will move pieces if it and see if another location does the trick.

Into  the loser column go ‘Red Daisy’and  ’Autumn Sun’ which completely dissapeared and ‘Doileete” which survived (barely) and is doing a whole bunch of nothing.

A little botany lesson here- in a struggle to stay relevant and  keep publishing papers so they won’t lose their plum job on the university staff, botanists have been changing plant names at a record pace ( this is actually due to genetics not job security but it bugs me ). Therefore, many plants we fondly call chrysanthemum and its  nostalgic nickname , mum, were reclassified as  dendranthema Ick. In a move to thwart such affronts to our lovingly named plants, not to mention our slippery grasp on the whole latin/greek plant naming game, most gardeners are refusing to call a mum anything but a mum. GO GARDENERS!  BUT the saga continues as many of them are being re-re-classified as Chrysnathemum! I know you will stay glued to your seat waiting for the final outcome. ;)

Also I will revisit the heartbreak of fall….the mum plants sold at your local nursery/ walmart/streetcorner market are not hardy here in New England . The reasons vary according to which specific plant they are offering,  some are just not zone hardy, but with many the issue is the lack of time they are given to settle in before our winter.  With mums spring planting is the only  way to go to ensure overwintering , but since they don’t bloom in the spring no cash savvy bricks and mortar  nursery will carry them  as “color” sells. You mostly have to score them online or from catalogues like I did.

lesson over, back to the mums.

This season I also planted some new mums from Lazy S Farm Nursery which carries all sorts of interesting plants and is a go-to plant source for me.Chrysanthemum pacifica is  a hardy mum with yellow flowers and cool silver edged foliage. It is doing very well in the garden , no blooms yet though.

I also added Chrysanthemum X rubellum “Will’s Wonderful” can you guess why?  I don’t often call my Wil wonderful, but he kinda is. Will ( the mum) is related to the Sheffield Pinks I already grow that are super-hardy and bloom  late October until Thanksgiving in the right year. Wil ( the guy) is awesome all year round  and never gets powdery mildew on his lower leaves.





Last of the  new ones is my favorite so far. It is a Bailey Nurseries introduction called ‘Mammoth Lavendar Daisy’. Even if it does not make the winter I will grateful to have had it in bloom here since early September and brightening up the entire garden in which it lives.

In addition to Sheffield Pink and a mum called ‘Copper Penny’ , Chrysanthemum Nipponicum, or Nippon Daisy or Mauntauk Daisy also have a permanent place here. This mum is more woody than most and has beautiful glossy leaves in addition to the purty daisy like flowers atop its stems in late fall. I am glad to see recently that this has become more readily available in local nurseries as it is certainly a garden worthy plant.

Why so many mums? Why not! We here in New England with our cold snowy gray long winters should enjoy our gardens for as long as we can. I think the golden rule for garden planning  this area ( or any similar ones) should be to plant solely for fall. Spring , in my mind takes care of itself with all the blooming shrubs and trees that are in every-one’s yard., not to mention the iris, daffodils, etc that accompany them. Summer is also pretty easy for the average homeowner/gardener to pull off. It is in late August to November when the savvy gardener can strut their stuff and show off a garden full of color until the first snowflakes fly. Mum’s the word!

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Moving In

Having waxed on repeatedly and ad nauseum about my dislike for houseplants, the time has come to change my tune, or really rather, to change what  plants I think of  as  houseplants.

In an exercise of self awareness I have been trying to figure out why a gal who lives and breathes all things horticultural for  8 months a year  shuts off that part of herself for the other 4.  I think I may have stumbled upon the answer….it was the plants.

I am not a huge fan of highly structural plants , especially pointy ones, which means houseplant offerings like agave, sansevaeria, aloe and many other succulent plants are out of the question. Also, not a fan a tropical looking plants , anything that looks like a palm , or plants with thick fuzzy leaves.  Crassula, african voilet,aspidistra,spider plant, dracaena, ferns, even prayer plant,and  wandering jew, all fit somewhere in these categories in my view. So , if you are following traditional houseplant selections,  I am down to very few choices.

After bringing in many plants to overwinter here ( because, Bill Monroe, I have no greenhouse) I have discovered that many plants I DO like  to grow in my garden, work just fine as houseplants.

Topping the list  are the scented geraniums. I do so enjoy walking by and rubbing a leave or two to inhale the wonderful scent of lemon fizz, citrus, apple, rose attar, or ‘old spice’. All of these live in my windows and as a bonus the rose  one blooms all winter long.

Then comes the lemon tree. Flowers constantly, scent to die for, AND lemons. Need I say more?

Then came the vines. I was reading about the Japanese tradition of growing morning glories ,or Asagao, and got to thinking about how that would translate to my window sill. I planted seeds in early August in a pot, placed it  in the picture window ,and lo and behold, the thing is blooming it’s head off, loving life, and making me smile every time I am sitting in the family room. I have to pinch back the vine almost daily so it won’t take over the room, but that is a small effort and in the winter when there will be no outside gardening to do, I will look forward to the chore.

I am also starting black eyed susan vine  thunbergia alata from seed, and brought inside  cuttings of the purple bell flower vine rhodochiton astrosanguineum that I had  growing outside  .

In a further effort to recreate “outside” inside, I potted up my firesticks cactus with a compatable aeonium in a large red pot . Outside when conatiner gardening I always combine plants and think about the pot, but inside have settled for whatever , until now!

I am also going to bring in a ptilotus called’ little joey’, my rosemary topiary,a clematis or 2,  some thyme and sage plants start some moon flower seeds ,and and and…..the potential list seems endless!

This houseplant thing isn’t so bad, my only worry now is where I can store all the furniture for the winter while I garden indoors!

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