This Saturday challenge of finding and posting about six photograph-able things from the garden comes to you thanks to the inspiration and leadership of The Propagator. Visit his blog where you can not only read his own Six on Saturday posting but will find links each week to those of many other gardeners.
And here are my six for this week.
1. Camellia sasanqua bushes
Through links on the Propagator’s blog, I have been following another gardener named Jim who is a camellia expert; he wrote this week about Camellia sasanquas. Well, I have a couple in my shady backyard growing under my 150-year-old white oak tree. Until today, I had forgotten that there were two, but when I took my camera (which is limping along, not working perfectly but better than it was last week) out to photograph the camellia flowers I realized that there are two very distinct trunks and that the two bushes have simply grown together over time so that they appear to be one. The flowers are quite different on each; clearly I should pay better attention to what is going on in my own yard!
One of these bushes has pink and white flowers. The other has crimson flowers with long yellow stamens. The red flowers are a little larger than the pink ones. Sorry, I don’t remember their given names. I couldn’t detect any smell from the flowers on either of them. Bees don’t flock to these flowers; but then again, they bloom in the fall and winter, when bees are not around.
I keep these bushes trimmed to a height and collective diameter of about 7 feet. I remember that it took a few years for them to grow to maturity; I’ve had them almost 20 years now. I never have any problems with them; only one year were they covered in some kind of black sticky stuff, which ruined the flowers that year. I garden organically and sometimes that means I will just lose a plant. But I trimmed off all the branches that were infected, and the next year, they were fine and I’ve never seen that ugly black stuff again (whatever it was).
Sometimes if we get very cold weather early, or these camellias bloom late, the show is over quickly and all the blossoms drop to the ground. But usually they are covered in flowers for awhile at a time when not much else is.
2. Trycyrtis hirta, or Toad Lily
This beautiful little plant was a gift from a Master Gardener neighbor and friend about ten years ago. Every fall, when I see this Toad Lily reliably blooming by the path through my backyard from the garden, I think of Scott and our friendship.
Now begins the time of year I may enjoy the most, when seeds form on plants everywhere. I remember, even as a child, playing outside with seeds from grasses, weeds, flowers, and trees as my favorite toys. I remember collecting, sorting and counting them, pretending to feed them to my dolls, and simply running my hands through them. I was easily entertained outdoors, but it was difficult to keep me inside the fenced yard.
The first image many will recognize as the seed pod of a lily. Each flat papery seed of the heirloom lilies I grow will actually reproduce another lily plant, if given welcoming soil and moisture at the right times. I usually spread these seeds around in places where I would like to have lilies growing, but otherwise don’t think much about them, because there are always so many baby lily plants growing naturally at my house.
The second picture is the beautiful seedpod of the red swamp mallow, Hibiscus coccineus. This plant (like the toad lily, actually) is rumored to need a uniformly damp soil, which I have NOWHERE. But it has made a little clump and blooms each summer, even in a dry semishade flowerbed under an oak tree in my front yard. This year I scattered some of last year’s seeds in a sunnier flowerbed and started a second clump of swamp mallow growing. I don’t plan to keep that soil moist, either. I will try to give the new plants mulch during the summer, though.
Our temperature tonight is predicted to drop into the 40s (F). If that happens, I fear the pepper plants growing in pots in my driveway will meet their end tonight. So I harvested from them today. But, because (1) I don’t really trust weather predictions; and (2) my driveway garden is a somewhat protected microclimate especially at this time of year, I fudged a little by harvesting only the peppers that were already ripe and red. I left the green ones on the plants. In the past, I’ve often had peppers growing (although slowly) up through Thanksgiving and in warm years, even Christmas here! We’ll see what happens.
They say it killed the cat. I have to keep a close eye on Sophie. She and her sister Judy are not allowed to go outside, but even safely indoors, Sophie has to investigate everything! Yes, that’s Sophie above, checking out the red (hot) peppers I had just harvested. I doubt she would try to eat a hot pepper, but she might hurt herself if she tried.
Sophie is just like me, in that she absolutely loves seeds. It’s a constant battle to keep her out of my seed supply. She climbs shelves, opens boxes, chews up seed packets – whatever she has to do to get to seeds. Her favorite toy of the moment is a hardshell pecan, which she has been greatly enjoying batting around on the hardwood floor, trying to bite into, and attacking from a few feet away. I watch her carefully when she plays with it, because I figure eventually she will break it open with her teeth, and then the game will be over.
Here she is, guarding some field pea seeds I’m drying for next year. She’s crazy about bean and field pea seeds. She loves the way they crackle and rattle.
Here are my girls, Judy and Sophie, basking in front of a heater I’ve just begun using when the weather got cold.
6. Autumn Leaves
I have not gone searching for changing leaf colors yet, but may do some of that soon. Meanwhile, I think the dogwood trees in my backyard are starting to turn color nicely.
Until next time, I hope everyone enjoys their garden, or stays warm and dry indoors. If you’re not outside in your garden, live vicariously through the dozens of gardeners who post a Six on Saturday!