August 29, 2009

Buckle Up Butter Cup, Tropical Storm Warnings


A yellow Kniphofia blooms in the front yard. Common for you? The are not common in a New England Garden, for this is as exotic as a tender Banana would be in Zone 5. Recent introductions though are bred from newly collected species that are from higher elevations in South Africa, and these are proving to be hardier for norther growers. It all comes down to where you plant it, and, if sited well, these plants can become long lived and impressive perennials. Just remember..... Fast drainage, full sun, and a fast draining spot in the winter too, for it's not the cold that makes these difficult in the north east US, it's the spring thaw and refreeze. Use plenty of gravel in the hole, and site it in a raised or elevated spot in the sunniest spot in your yard. Try Ellen Hornig's nursery Seneca Hill Nursery in upstate New York for the best species that are hardy in ZONE 5b AND colder regions.This is a Zone 7 plant, but it has survived for 3 years.
This weekend we are enjoying the rainy remnants of tropical Storm Danny, a storm which is churning the seas barely a hundred miles from our garden, off of the coast of Massachusetts. Even though we are not getting the wind, here in central Massachusetts, 35 miles from the coast, we are getting the rain bands. I love rainy days like this, they are cozy and cool, and at the end of a hot summer ( listen to me! I mean, a long three weeks of summer), a cool day like this makes one just want to light the fire, settle in a big chair and nest. Today, I am cooking, catching up on emails, and even sneaking in a little greenhouse work.

In know it may sound crazy to people who garden in Zone 6 or higher, but the idea that we have a Kniphofia growing in our front yard is not only noteworthy from the New England perspective, it has been slowing cars down. This 'Coolknip' form was planted three years ago, but it still only produced one stem of flowers, which seem to emerge late in the summer, a few weeks before frost. The plant is getting larger though, and this year, it is nearly twice the size from last year.

A view of my 'work in progress', the front yard.

This steel urn feels so, um....1990's, but lately I've been planting formal little plantings in it with succulent cuttings, it looks rather nice now, doesn't it? I like how one summer of sun can merge the cutting into a solid form which accents the formality of the overall design on the urn.

In the greenhouse, all is not dead. Here, the Clivia that were not moved outside for the summer for evaluation, are sharing a bench under the shadier side of the house. It's nice to see so much room in here after the big summer cleaning this year. Now, Joe is trying to convince me that he wants half of the greenhouse so that he can, in his words " keep my junk away from your junk".Two gardeners sharing, is not a new concept, but to those of us who must share a garden, it's a constant battle for space.
So here's the deal...If he buys the new furnace this year, I'll pay for the heat this winter. ( wait, I pay for the heat everywinter!) But I do need a new furnace quick, before mid October, so perhaps this deal will work.


Outside in the rain, A Japanese Neofinetia begins to bloom. It's fragrance will be strong tonight, so sweet, like cotton candy.

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