September 21, 2017

End of Summer Dahlias, Cyclamen and Veggies

'Jomanda', a handsome example of symmetry, and a hard-to-find favorite amongst growers of show dahias.
 A quick post as this is Wednesday and I need to get back into the groove of posting (at least) on Wednesdays agaimn. It's finally raining here, but while it is welcome, our second annual New England Dahlia Society show is this coming weekend at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, so you can imagine how rain can ruin a crop of fancy exhibition dahlias. Many have broken in this last gasp from Hurricane José, but I suppose the watermelons and peppers are happy.

My row of Jomanda holding up during the remnants of Tropical Storm José, their stems are stronger than most of my other dahlias. Show or exhibition dahlias are usually different varieties than those found at stores. You have to order early from specialist dahlia nurseries.

Joe had a hernia opperation last week and I had gum grafts done on some implants so the garden is looking horrible, except in macro shots.  The dahlias that havnt been ruined by the rain, are looking gorgeous, and the vegetables are coming in by the truckload (mostly becasue of my book), but most are going to the womens recovery shelter near us because Joe doesnt feel like eating anything, and I cant eat anything unless it is pureed (if youve ever had gum grafts, then you know what I mean. My dentist told me that it may take 3 weeks or more to heal the roof of my mouth where they cut the grafts from. Right now, it's just as if I ate a scalding hot pizza - I know). It's not a good time for chili peppers to be coming in from the garden!

Need to go look for the tag for this dahlia, it may look perfect by this weekend when our New England Dahlia Society held at Tower Hill Botanic Garden.

The rain and wind has really brought many of the dahlias down so only a few are going to make it to the show. I tried to stake them as best as I could but learning to master exhibition dahlias is still challenging. I should probably just grow cut flowers instead and not worry about perfection and disbudding.

Some varieties like this fromal ball-type known as 'Skipley Lois Jean'. They  almost made it for the show, but as you can see, the center is open showing pollen. It would be disqualified for being too open, but I may have enough of these to enter a five stem class. Fingers crossed.

The rain during the storm really helped how the ornamental kale looked (as well as the fennel pollen).

Kiss Me OVer the Garden Gate or Polegonum orientale continues to put on a show, it just keeps looking better and better, larger than the banana's which it is planted next to in my sweet spot next to the geenhouse and over 12 feet tall, the dangling flowers really look terrific now in September.

Speaking of the genus Polygonum this relative Persicaria amplexicaulis is generally a weedy genus but in the right spot, I am finding this genus most useful, especially in late summer. This one, a perennial species.

I had a big surprise when I went out to the greenhouse today - the cyclamen bed was not only in full bloom, but there was little to no foliage proving that my theory was right - if you don't water your species cyclamen when the autumn weather first arrives and allow the pots to just slowly uptake a bit of moisture from their pots which are sitting on damp sand, one can get pots of lovely cyclamen (sans foliage) which enhances their appearance. 

This white form of Cyclamen hederifolium is particularly nice. No worries, the foliage will come soon now that I watered the plunge bed but most alpine plant exhibitors prefer pots that bloom without folaige.

I'm also learning that I don't need to repot my cyclamen every year or every other year. These have been in their pots for 3 or 4 years now and getting better and better. This is Cyclamen graecum, and while tender and it goes dormant during the summer like most other species except the trick here is to keep the pots on slightly damp sand, and the root make tremendous growth during the hot and dry summer (just like in their native Greece). Trying to pull a pot off of the bed is now difficult.

I've been so busy on my book. It's been crazy this week after Joe's hernia surgery and my gum grafts (so painful), the last thing I want to eat are any veggies, especially chili peppers (and we have so many this year!).

Joe picked various varieties of artichokes for the chapter on artichokes and cardoons.

The oriental radish shot is over, so I just piled my props from the garden on a plate to tease you with how pretty they are. They won't go to waste. Making Kimchi is on the schedule this week.
One more teaser for the book - watermelons after a photoshoot are making their way back to the kitchen. They wont last long even though we've been shooting melons for about two weeks now.

Late summer bulbs always remind me of hurricane season, and these habranthus and rain lilies are alway surprising us with a few extra blooms in the autumn. I keep a few pots on the gravel walks so that I dont miss them.

This Amarcrinum x is not only large, nearly three feet tall, it is sweet scented. So fragrant that the entire deck smells like sun tan lotion in the evening.

Late crops of lettuce now replace the tomatoes in the raised beds. Some of these will mature soon like these 'Winter Density' heads of lettuce, just enough for the kitchen in early autumn, but more varieties have been sown along with four types of endive, which are all planted in the other four raised cedar beds.

Around the garden, the chickens are segregated into two groups. The barred rocks stay in one coop with their rooster, and these Americanas hang out on the walk because there are only three of them. We call the two girls 'the twins' and the rooster is Joshua. Don't ask.

Our Indian Runner Ducks are laying so many eggs that we are giving them away to everyone we know. They are free range and enjoy running out back in the weeds and squash/melon beds. I hope they are eating all of the Asian jumping worms we currently have (I think they are).

One last shot of the deck window box - the colors are so different, especially with that thumbergia - I am so impressed with how well the vines did. I may do all of the windows this way next year.


  1. Everything is looking lovely. You wouldn't know the gardener has been out of service (also, ouch). What is the variegated small tree or shrub in the fourth photo? The Asian jumping worms have been in southeastern Wisconsin for a few years, but they just made it to our county this year (or maybe last). Sadly I believe I found one at a garden our master gardener group maintains downtown last week. This means that if I haven't already transferred eggs to my own garden, it's almost a foregone conclusion that I'll end up getting them somehow. They are disgusting horrible things and I'm sorry to hear you may have them.

    1. Erin, that variegated tree is a dogwood - Cornus controversa 'variegated'. It can be stubborn to get established, but once it forms a leader, the tiered levels are beautiful - and why it earned one of its common names - the wedding cake tree.

  2. Anonymous4:10 AM

    Dear Matt,

    very nice pictures. I like the dahlia Jomanda. I grow a quite similar dahlia called "Siegfried Koschker" from Dahlienversand.de . We here in the northern parts of Germany had the first
    storm with wind and lots of rain last week , and my dahlias are looking very bad now.

    Get well soon , both of you!

    Greetings from Hamburg

    1. Thanks Horst. I'll need to look for 'Siegfried Koschker', it sounds beautiful.

  3. Your garden is gorgeous and I don't know if I could ever think it was in a bad state!

    I'm enticed by your photoshoots---the book looks like it will be fantastic!

    1. WOW, I needed to hear this today, Thank you, Misti!

  4. Wonderful dahlias. Enjoyed this, thank you. Hope you are both feeling better--the beauty of your garden must help.

  5. Anonymous7:42 PM

    Dear Matt
    Joshua--don't ask--must have something to do with trumpets? We are rooster-less at the moment and just as well, as far as peaceful mornings go.
    H Jose just won't leave the area and dahlias, and much else, are battered. Trying to focus on mushrooms, and wishing my mother had had the knowledge of yours since they are coming up bountifully.
    All best,
    ~ 02568

  6. Hi Matt, what a very nice pictures. I like the dahlia, too :)

  7. Dahlia 'Hollyhill Calico' is just... Wow! We should add it to our collection! :)


It's always a good thing to leave a comment!