September 20, 2013

No holding back Autumn

Cute, 'Teddy Bear' Sunflowers provide tall, bright and well-needed color in the late, summer vegetable garden.

It’s been a while since I’ve checked in. I've been busy preparing for a few speaking engagements, plus selling a house on the property, my father and his health (updates on that later), and of course - work. Plus all of this travel ( I'm off to Atlanta this weekend so speak at  the Garden Bloggers Conference, so I am super excited, as this sounds like it will be a great event, and a chance to meet lots of other garden bloggers, and some peers in the botanical world. I will try my best to post some images.

Giant 'Mammoth' Sun flowers surrounding the corn field.

I haven’t had time to step into my garden for an entire month now. I know that this is a season of transition, but it always comes as a surprise - even if I skip a visit into my greenhouse for a couple of weeks, and during this period of transition for plants, as the cold nights and shorter day lengths are at their most extreme near the solstice, plants can change significantly. It only takes a couple of days for a dormant bulb from the Southern hemisphere to emerge from its dormancy.

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Last of the heirloom tomatoes on the vine. Don't you love this trio?

What? The sunflowers are already seeded? Almost missed them!  I didn’t even know that they were in bloom!. I think I now know how Martha must feel. Time to slow down, starting in two weeks. I am missing so much, but as you all know, there is no holding back the garden when it wants to do something.

Question for the botanists out there What is this? I had this labeled as a Stumeria unguiculata, but now I am not sure. Acis perhaps? Hessea? Another fall-blooming bulb in the alpine house sand bed. Dormant all summer.

In the greenhouse – the South African bulbs are already emerging for their deep, hot and dry summer dormancy ( without any help from me). Nerine sarnienses bulbs are sending out their long, graceful stems, which will bloom in a few weeks looking just like mini amaryllis in every shade of coral, plum and pink, the cyclamen species are in complete splendor - filling the sand bench with bloom, yet still, totally dry, as I have had no time to water them for the season start. Last night, the temperatures dropped to 35º F and I heard the greenhouse heater turn on for the first time from my bedroom window around 3:00 AM. Sometimes – a garden just moves forward without you. I hate that.

A rare allium species from Turkey and the Causus area, Allium callimischon has a strange habit - it forms its flower buds the previous season , which sit alot long, grass-like wiry stalks. Those appear dry and dead, until the first rains of fall, when the tops open up and buds open, transforming the dead-looking stalks into very alive looking stems.

Cyclamen graecum, from Greece, blooms in a nice Guy Wolff pot in the still-dry greenhouse.

Nerine sarnienses - wait! Don't bloom without me!!! With 98 pots of Nerine sarniensis - I tried not watering them until last week, but Joe confessed that he started two weeks earlier watering them. They just can't wait to bloom ( like tiny Amaryllis, the flowers are such a joy in October).

I divided one of the larger Haemanthus albiflos last fall, hoping to share a few with you readers next month in a give-away. It makes a great house plant.


  1. Oooh, loved the pictures of the ripening tomatoes! Autumn caught me by surprise as well, the Chicago temperatures have been so erratic.

  2. that looks like Acis autumnalis to me....

  3. Beautiful post! I just discovered your blog, and am quite enjoying it, lovely and informative!

  4. I know, it does look like Acis autumnalis, doesnt it! I think I'll have to wait to see what the foliage looks like. I vaguely remember ordering a pink tinted Acis, but this isn't even close to being pink.


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