Saturday, November 21, 2009

What I know about indoor gardening

The indoor jungle

Today I took a good look at my upstairs plant room and I didn’t like what I saw. The thing is, I’m a bit nearsighted and hadn’t noticed the little bugs on the abutilon. But I already knew that this was a common problem with these plants. Rather than fool around trying to combat the problem, I promptly ditched the plant.

Shocking? Maybe, but I feel that indoor plants require prompt action. Too many people feel that their indoor plants should just exist, requiring the absolute minimum of attention. The fact is that these plants are already in a stressful situation; to keep them alive, you have to keep your eye on them, and—as is necessary with any plant inside or out—give them what they need. They need humidity and light, which I provide with a humidifier and extra lighting. Their watering requirements are few, and interference in the form of extra trimming is also not appreciated.

The main thing to know about indoor gardening is that it is gardening. You can’t expect the plants to take care of themselves, but if you accept that casualties are part of the process, you’ll do fine. So I tossed my abutilon, but also happily welcomed 4 new amaryllis (hippeastrum) to my indoor jungle. Such are the transitions of the winter gardening season.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Who needs mums?


They are not required on the GWI property. I’m now realizing that gorgeous weather is way more important than any flower when it comes to Bloom Day in November. Gorgeous weather is what we’ve been having, so I’ve been able to hang around in the garden and enjoy the colors of fall.


What could be better than yellow, red, and orange ivy against red brick walls, or deep red Japanese maples, or dusky rose hydrangeas? Most of the trees have lost the better part of their leaves, but the ones that remain are dramatic, silhouetted against an uncharacteristically blue fall sky. In July you can be picky, but in November you’ll take the plant color you can get. Even most of the fall bloomers are done by that time in this region—though I am not a big fan of many of the plants specific to fall.


The roses are hanging in there, especially the indomitable Abraham Darby, Blush Noisette, and unknown red climber. At this time of year they will hang on to half-opened buds for weeks.


Even the wisteria is contributing, looking more interesting as it loses leaves and gains chartreuse tones.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What do squirrels want?


Not my bulbs, it seems. I am finding holes dug by the furry rodents all over the place but none of them are really deep enough to displace a bulb, and I am not seeing bulb remnants anywhere. Snarky Vegan tweeted that they need to bury food everywhere because they can’t smell it. I believe her.

But still, it’s annoying. I need the bulbs to remain adequately covered by soil. This is surely the year of the squirrel on the GWI property. They’re always around. They seem totally at home on the patio during the summer, darting between the pond and the rose/lily bed all the time. I tolerate them, but do not want them digging up my bulbs, even by accident. So this is what I’ve tried:

Red pepper: seems to work, somewhat, but requires constant reapplication.

Critter Ridder spray: complete waste of money.

Peony grids over beds: works somewhat. Chicken wire would likely be better, but I really prefer this stuff on pots. Ground needs to be free. I don’t want chicken wire embedded all over the place.

Various disgustingly smelly Liquid Fence products: great for deer I'm assuming, but not for squirrels. AH! The bad sense of smell! (I do catch on.)

Many wooden skewers stuck into the ground, point side up: you’d think this would work. I have readily stabbed myself with these things while working around them, but I am not totally sure they deter.

I just want them to stop digging. But that’s not what they want.

(The image above is my pond, closed for the season. You can also see the only type of squirrel I like.)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

More finality talk


Hmm, a week after I have my “This is the end, my friends” post, Gardening Gone Wild announced an “End of the Line” photo contest. Coincidental, I am sure!


It was fun to look around the garden for my favorite end-of-the-season vignettes, particularly because the weekend has been gloriously balmy. We planted 17 trees around the neighborhood this morning: part of the Re-Tree WNY effort. It was up to me to choose the trees to be planted, and I had great fun with that. We ended up with redbuds, horse chestnuts, gingkos, serviceberrys, crabapples, and mountain ash. Decades from now, Allentown residents will see them in their glory.

Meanwhile, I am planting the last of the bulbs and enjoying what you see here. The roses have been just like this for the last 2 weeks; I guess they won't ever fully open. This is probably one of the last weekends it will be fun to linger in the garden.

The year of Erlicheer


Well, not really. But I’ve decided to closely document, just for fun, the progress of this particular type of tazetta. I loved them last year; each stem produces a tight bouquet of white blossoms (as you see below). And as I posted last year: they produce one of the most upright and bountiful floral displays I've seen. I’ve bought a lot of them (from Old House Gardens), and I hope to keep most—not give them all away as impulsive gifts.


And this is the year I’ll organize my forced tazettas and hyacinths just a bit better. I’m not mixing hyacinths in the same pots because they never come up at the same time. Mixing tazettas is often equally unsuccessful. In this case, nature encourages a monoculture.



Old House Gardens suggests that the Erlicheer (as well as the Avalanche and Early Pearl, which I also have) should chill in a dark cold room for a couple weeks, so I’ve placed them in the root cellar. They’re in tall glass vases, and I’ve used a combo (as you see) of river stones to hold them.

These bulbs are fun because I’ll see results in December and January, when nothing else is blooming—inside or out.