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Timing is critical when it comes to growing from seed. I want to have these plants ready to plant in the garden by our last estimated frost date, April 15th. Too early and they will be floppy and leggy. Too late and the plants will be stunted.
Let’s hope my timing this year is just right. (These plants were started March 8-14.)
And it’s time to eat lots of homegrown kale, collards, cabbage and other greens that wintered over so I’ll have that space empty when the aforementioned tomato plants are ready to set out.
It’s also time to fertilize, mulch, powerwash outdoor furniture, weed the beds, clean the porches etc, etc, etc. Spring is the busiest season in the garden, sort of like Christmas if you’re in retail.
This tough little perennial will even grow between pavers, but since the foliage smells a bit like a skunk when it’s bruised, planting starflower on my little patio was not the best idea.
PS. It’s also time to start checking yourself for ticks. Can you believe I got my first tick bite on Sunday? Yikes that’s early.
Everyone loves something new in the garden—even our crazy puppy Tralee. She’s checking out the spider flower blooms, photographed here on the 2nd day of September. They make a splendid show adding great red color along the path in my green woods.
I like the fact that Lycoris radiata blubs don’t need their own bed. They rise out of other plants, bloom their heads off and go away. I’ll admit it all happens rather quickly. Still, I wouldn’t be without this shade loving gem that brings some spark to the September garden.
The hardy cyclamen has a much longer season of interest in my Apex woods—often sending up a few blooms on the hottest, driest days of August. But September is really this plants’ season—bringing nice bunches of delicate pink flowers. Cyclamen hederifolium flourishes in the hard, parched ground at the base of oak trees where nothing else will grow. After flowers, fresh-looking, green leaves appear and hang around all winter. Then the plants go dormant before blooming again next summer and fall.
Across the backyard from the cyclamen, the first of my Japanese anemones just started to bloom. These late-flowering perennials enjoy a very un-cyclamen like environment– soft soil, moisture and part shade. I grow them near the hydrangeas on the North side of the garage.
Can’t find the tag on the double variety photographed above, but I remember the word robustus in the Latin name. It is robust and I have shared the plant again and again.
My favorite anemone will bloom later this month. September Charm is a light pink single variety that looks great in the beds and a vase. It’s in bud now. I’ll post a photo when this lovely plant blooms. Meantime— it’s something else to anticipate. Change in the garden is good.
And speaking of change—Blog partner Melissa is looking forward to the end of a huge work project. She’s on the west coast for the launch that has dominated her life almost 24/7 recently. (Don’t you just hate it when work gets in the way?)
Melissa promises to be back home and blogging again soon with renewed vigor. Nothing like a trip out West to make her miss her Raleigh garden and her Southern Roots.
I miss her too. Maybe a group Weed-A-Thon when she returns.
So these tomatoes are my all time favorite, I call them “nuggets of love.”
Let me tell you why I love these.
First what the heck are these lil beauties called—Red/Yellow Jelly Belly Grape Tomatoes
- Prolific producers, as you can see by the featured pic
- Adults and kids love them–they are sweet and delicious
- Perfect for salads, sauteeing with olive oil and garlic
- Roast them and add to pasta or spread on bread
- Share them with friends and neighbors
When my friend Linda told me her Formosa lillies (Lilium formosanum) survived last week’s big storm–I grabbed my little camera and rushed over the next afternoon. These tall, fragrant white flowers are not to be missed. And Linda has a slew of them weaving in and out of her mixed bed of a front yard in Raliegh. (Grass is too boring for her–so she has none)
The old Art-History major in me thinks they are the same flowers in the lovely Sargent painting–Carnation, Lily, Rose. Linda started with 7 plants. She now has dozens. Her propagation method couldn’t be simpler–In the fall she collects the seed and sprinkles it around the yard. (She also shares and gave me a handful last year)
I may have gone to see the lilies–but I was also very taken with her giant Chinese Abelia (Abelia chinensis). Another stunning August bloomer–it is also fragrant, makes a great cut flower, and attracts butterflies by the flock.
The butterfly magnet in my yard right now is Clethra alnifolia, or Sweet Pepper Bush. Another fragrant shrub that saves its best for August, this hardy shrub languished my garden until I found in some moisture and a little morning sun. After I planted it at the base of on of the drainage/runoff pipes, it lived up to its potential and became a star.
All three of these plants have great things going for them–fragrance, blooms, butterflies–
And they’re at their best at the toughest time of our year–August. That makes them stars in my book.
Final thoughts about Linda’s garden:
Linda’s passion is spreading the word about healthy, fugal eating (check her out at www.cookforgood.com ) and we counted no less than 15 edible plants growing on suburban third of an acre. It’s a good inventory to make when you’re strolling your yard sometime. How much can you grow for the table?
Some plants in her garden bloom and flourish despite never making it into the ground. Shows us how important it is to pick the right spot…then tough plants (like these camellias) and fend for themselves.
And don’t forget the mantra about visiting other gardens and talking to other gardeners–you will learn a ton.
So let’s dig up the dirt on the cone flower aka Echinacea. They are a fabulous perennial (my favorite kind these days, cause you plant once and they come back over and over). Sometimes people call them a “daisy in a hurry” because of their protruding cone center. They grow July through August as long as you deadhead often. They perfer hot, dry sunny locations, which in the south some of those conditions prove to be a challenge(certainly not as of late). Caution though, you will need to have some good soil, that North Carolina clay is not a welcomed habitat for these babies. Drainage is the key to long term success for these plants. They propagate by seed, so if all goes well, I will be happy to share at the end of the season. While you will read more about my rabbit nemesis below, other pests of this groovy wildflower include Aphids, Japanese beetles and Sweet Potato WhiteFlies.
You may have heard about the medicinal uses of Echinacea, the roots have been reported to help boost immunity. But recent research has shown that long-term use does reduce effectiveness. In case you are into that sort of thing.
On a slightly sadder note, as I was doing my research on this awesome flower, I found out that the “smooth coneflower” (Echinacea Laevigata) is indeed on the NC endangered plant list. The threats to this NC native is from habitat destruction. As NC develops more of its rural landscape some plants are suffering. There are plans in place to keep this native gem from going into extinction, and since it’s been on the list since 1992, we can only speculate that the plans are working to some extent. So if you see a native cone flower of any kind…go ahead…make a little home for it. I know I will.
Back to my garden…
While I will admit the rabbits got my first blossoms in early summer, since then my cone flowers have been producing like a champ. Of course I have not mastered the garden art of coordinating colors in my garden, so you will see I have all sorts…I like to call it a rainbow approach (that sounds so official doesn’t–a sort of technical term–but don’t be fooled, I indeed made it up).
Some of the most unique Cone Flowers I got going on are the “Tiki Torch” and the “Pina Colada.”
I swear to you these 2 plants have kept their blooms even in this crazy heat for well over 2 weeks and still going strong. Every morning I do my garden discovery walk…there they are still blooming away.
A great addition to your garden indeed! You should grow more cone flowers.