I finally have had success with moonflowers. I have never been able to get the seeds to germinate in previous years. This year I happened to see small plants in my local nursery, so I grabbed 2 and planted them on either side of my arch. They ran up each side and met in the middle rather quickly, but I didn’t get any flowers until very late August. They truly don’t open until dark, and if you get up early, they are still open in the morning. It’s a little messy, the dropped flower bracts are all over the lawn, but I throw them into my compost bucket as I walk by heading to the compost pile. I think I’ll leave the plants and give them some winter protection and see what happens. I may also try starting seeds again this winter, early, so I can put out well established plants if this year’s don’t make it. It’s unfortunate that they don’t flower in the summer when we are sitting out there – they are big, waxy and fragrant. It’s too chilly to really enjoy them in September.
My father loved nasturtiums and always grew a small patch right by his front door. It was a square patch, cut out of the grass by his sidewalk, usually surrounded by 4 mismatched stakes and some string. I’m not sure why, I never asked, probably to keep his golden retriever from stepping on them. My father was a talented gardener, but it was all about the plants, not the design. He stuck things everywhere in his yard. So the individual flowers were beautiful, but the overall effect was not so great. Funny, his vegetable garden looked better, he was meticulous about planting in straight lines, so except for the odd things he used to support the plants, that garden looked pretty good.
Anyway, one year, a couple years ago, he had some really pretty orange/yellow nasturtiums, which I remarked that I liked, so he gave me some seeds from the plant. I put them in an envelope in the basement with all my other seeds, but didn’t plant them. I’ve been planting nasturtiums in my windowbox, along with other things, and I’ve been going for the red Empress of India lately, although they really don’t do well in the windowbox, I’ve tried several years in a row.
My father passed away in January, he was 84 and had had a stroke last summer, so it wasn’t a surprise, but it’s been a really tough spring for me. We always shared our gardening passion – “have you planted your petunia seeds yet?” or “I picked my first tomato, have you gotten one yet?”. We both start plants from seed, but he always did the tomatoes. Long after I improved my skills and was quite capable of starting my own tomatoes, I always let him do my tomatoes, he loved to share his plants. So this year I had to start my own tomatoes. I decided it was time to do a better job with the nasturtiums. I’ve heard they don’t like transplanting, so I always direct seeded them into the window boxes. This year I decided to try making newspaper pots, and starting them indoors where I could keep a better eye on their moisture needs, and then plant only the ones that are successful into the window box. All of my seeds were a couple years old, I only got one Empress of India, which still didn’t do very well in the windowbox, but I got 3 from “Dad’s nasturiums” and planted them in my garden near the May night. (Dad loved the orange/purple combination in the garden. Although I just said he didn’t really plant for design, he was the first person to tell me to plant my poppies next to my blue flag iris).
The 3 I got are in the photo above. All three have different colored flowers, even though I know we took the seeds from just one of his plants, because I liked that particular color. I guess that’s the bees cross pollinating, or maybe this variety of nasturium doesn’t come true. But all 3 colors are very vibrant like I remember the one he grew to be, and I’m very glad I had a little bit of Dad in my garden this summer.
Mid summer can be a slow time in the flower garden. But with a little planning it doesn’t have to be. Now is the time that annuals are hitting their stride. I have zinnias, cosmos, petunias blooming. But you want something you can basically plant once and forget, you say? How about some of the flowers in the photo above, taken one week ago – bee balm (mine’s been blooming since the 4th of July), rudbeckia (black eyed susan), coneflower (mine is white, the most popular is the pinkish purple one), there’s still a couple rose campion blooming (magenta on the far right), and a couple Johnson’s perennial geranium (far left, also magenta). So look around your neighborhood and notice what’s blooming now and remember to plant it next spring.
I’ve had great success getting my moth orchids (Phalaenopsis Amabilis) to rebloom, but I never had luck with much else. I inherited this dendrobium kingianum from my father this year, and low and behold, look what happened. I read that it liked cool winters, so I put it in my basement under a grow light and started feeding it with a dilute orchid fertilizer in January. This photo was taken on April 10. I really don’t do much for my orchids, except water once a week or so. Never more than once a week, sometimes I’ll go 10 days. I put them in my kitchen sink, let the water run through them to wet the bark, then, depending on the time of year, I put them back in their cache pots and pour the diluted fertilizer in. I let them sit in that for about 30 min, then pour it off, and put them back on the windowsill. I grow my moths in a south window. Right now the kingianum is outside in dappled shade. These orchids are really very easy.
After several years of trying to get the color combination right, I think I succeeded this year. I have planted several rows of bulbs immediately behind my daylilies. When the bulbs come up in the early spring, the daylilies are also just coming up and don’t block them. As the daylilies grow, their foliage hides the dying foliage of the bulbs. For daffodils I have planted Safina, Rosy Cloud and Bahama Beach. Then last fall I dug up the pink tulips and replanted yellow darwin hybrids, Jaap Groot. I like this combination much better, just lots of shades of yellow and white, with a touch of peach. The Jaap Groot also have varigated leaves, which I’ve never seen before. And the hybrid darwins are supposed to come back a little better than other tulips. I also tried a tip I had read on Dave’s Garden last fall, I planted cloves of garlic in the trench with the tulips. I think I threw in a small clove every 5 feet or so. It was supposed to keep varmint away and it worked. Not only did no one eat the bulbs underground, which wasn’t too much of a problem for me anyway, but no one chewed on the new foliage as they emerged this spring, which is a problem, I have bunnies around.
I recently visited Marrakech, Morocco. What a magical place! Yves St Laurent thought so, too, and purchased the Majorelle Garden which was originally started by French artist, Jacques Marjorelle. It had become run down, and St Laurent and his partner restored it. Today it is open to the public and it’s beautiful. Lots of bright colors like the photo above and below:
And some mass plantings of bamboo and palms:
I love color. When looking through gardening catalogs I’m always attracted to the brightly colored flowers. My perennial garden is a riot of color in the summer. But I’m starting to see the beauty and serenity of just white. I have only planted white flowering shrubs along my foundation in the front of my house. It’s not boring, I have lots of different textures and shades of green along with white azaleas, hydrangeas, a white clematis. And I saw this windowbox last summer. I think it looks great with all the different ferns and a few white flowers. Take the plunge and try a white and green garden.