Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I Brought in Some Kind of Pest With My Banana

It's coming up out of the soil. No, it's not fungus gnats...

It's a Zombie Gnome!

They're in my Begonia luxurians too...

Not to mention the Begonia boliviensis...

The entire garden has been getting into the Halloween spirit, with all the spider webs.

Even my kitty Magellan is sporting her Halloween costume, a grocery bag fashioned into a superhero cape.

Magellan has had a fascination for plastic grocery bags her entire life. She likes to play with them, lick them, chew on them... And occasionally sticks her head through the handle and pretends to be Super Cat. (Was there a Super Cat? Did they have kitties on Krypton?) Don't worry, I don't leave them loose around the house for her to get trapped in, that would be irresponsible.

Anyway, Happy Halloween! I hope you enjoyed this silly post.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Some Foliage on a Frosty Morning

We got our first frost last night, just as the weather soothsayers foretold. As a gardener and amateur photographer, it's hard to ignore what frost does to the garden.

Pin oak in eastern sun

In the fall the witch hazel leaves are my favorite. When the sun hits them, they glow like a lit lamp, and everything around them fades to black.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Can I Save My Bougainvillea?

I did a big Oops this past weekend. I brought my Bougainvillea into the house as part of the Great Fall Migration, and set it in a western-facing window. I was saving all the space in front of the south-facing window for my big Agaves and other succulents. We've been having a distinct lack of sun lately, so that spot where I put the Bougainvillea was not anywhere near bright enough.

It let me know immediately in no uncertain terms that it was not happy. By withering and dropping almost all its leaves!

Big drip tray full of Bougainvillea leaves and flowers

I didn't notice it till this morning, when I opened the blinds on that window, and took a good look at it. It was only there for about three days, and already it is remarkably denuded.

Minus all its top leaves, now in the prime real estate that is my only south-facing window

We're finally getting some sun this morning, but it might be too little, too late

The lower leaves are still green and hanging on, but how long will they last?

A couple are looking very chlorotic.

I'm a Bougainvillea newbie. I hope it lives. I've moved it into that south-facing window, but at this point I don't know what else to do. Should I cut it back? I think the top branches are still alive, but is it too stressed to try to support them? Would it be more merciful if I just took off those top branches? Keep your fingers crossed, and if you have any advice for me, give it!

Friday, October 25, 2013


Goodness, my banana (Musa sikkimensis 'Red Tiger') is happy in my dining room (so far). No sooner does one leaf finish unfurling, but there is another waiting in the wings. Starting on leaf number 8...

I love that little pig-tail

I hope I can get it back out the door in the spring.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Favorite Plant in the Garden...

Is a wildflower. Which is why I'm also making this my Wildflower Wednesday post. (I know it's Thursday, so I'm a day late.)

The plant that is the focus of my post today is Eupatorium rugosum 'Chocolate.' Or, as those crazy taxonomists have re-named it -- Ageratina altissima. Its common name is Chocolate Joe Pye Weed, so named because it's a variety that has dark stems and leaves.  The species is also known as tall boneset or white snakeroot. I'm just going to call it Chocolate Joe Pye Weed.

I love Chocolate Joe Pye Weed because even in my fog-shrouded garden, I can see those bright white frothy flowers from across the large expanse of green grass in my back garden.

It's almost the only thing still flowering in my back garden.

The leaves on mine aren't particularly chocolatey at the moment, but the stems are nice and dark. The leaves are darker in the summer, when the sun is out pretty much all day.

White Snakeroot is an eastern North American woodland native. It contains a poison called tremetol, which was responsible for causing milk sickness in cows and in humans, when passed on to them in contaminated milk. In other parts of the country, it's been known to reseed aggressively, and the seedlings are reportedly not as dark as the parent plant. I've had it planted in this spot for four years, and have never seen a single seedling, maybe because it flowers so late. I have a feeling we always get a frost long before the flowers mature into seeds.

Everything in my garden right now is festooned by dew-laden spider webs. I considered doing a post on my favorite animal in the garden instead. Here in the PNW, it's a safe bet that all the orb-shaped webs in the garden right now, in mid-autumn, were made by a spider called Araneus diadematus, or Cross Spider. I did a post about it last year, which you can read here.

This sweet girl, a Cross Spider, has been hanging out near my potting bench for a couple of weeks now. Her web is also near my kitchen window, which provides light in the evening, probably attracting all kinds of yummy flying critters for her to feast upon.

Here are some stats about Chocolate Joe Pye Weed.

Height: 3-5 feet
Width: 2-3 feet
Sun: Full sun to part shade (best color in full sun)
Soil: Humusy and moist (mine is planted in the low spot in my back garden)
Hardiness: Zone 4-8

You can probably find Chocolate Joe Pye Weed at your local nursery, it's a pretty popular plant. But if not, it's also available from these online nurseries.

North Creek Nurseries
Bluestone Perennials
Joy Creek Nursery
Lazy S's Farm Nursery
Digging Dog

You can read lots more about Chocolate Joe Pye Weed at Plant Lust here.

The Favorite Plant in the Garden meme is hosted by Loree at danger garden. You can read about her favorite here, and don't forget to check out the comments, where you'll find links to posts by other bloggers.

Wildflower Wednesday is hosted by Gail at the blog clay and limestone on the fourth Wednesday of every month. You can find her current post here, as well as links to other blog posts that focus on wildflowers.

Friday, October 18, 2013


One of my pink Muhly plants (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is producing flowers. It's not exactly a river of pink mist, but it does give me hope that maybe this time next year it will produce more, and make the striking late season statement in the garden that I was hoping for when I planted it.

My back is getting better too. Not completely better, and I don't want to rush it by going back too soon to all that kneeling and bending and stooping and crouching and digging and lifting. The garden has such a pull on me that it is hard to resist.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Foliage Followup -- October 2013

One of the best things about putting together a Foliage Followup post in the fall is that the turning colors on the deciduous leaves make it easy to spot good candidates for pictures.

In the morning sun the leaves on my pin oak were glowing

The paperbark maple isn't looking too shabby either

When the leaves on my red twig dogwood start to turn they remind me of stained glass

Logee's recently had a sale on fancy-leaf Begonias, so I bought a few. They'll need to come into the house soon, but in the meantime, they are looking pretty good on the back porch. Who cares about flowers when the leaves look like this?

'Raspberry Swirl'

'Baby Dress'

I love the hairy, splotchy edge on 'Baby Dress'

Pam Penick hosts Foliage Followup on her blog Digging, on the 16th of the month, for the purpose of celebrating what foliage contributes to the garden. Check our her blog here, and see what other bloggers are celebrating in the comments.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day -- October 2013

I can't do much out in the garden right now, because of my back, but at least I can walk around with the camera. And walking is good for me. I seldom realize just how much is blooming until I go out there to take photos.

Here's what I have to show off for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

Echinacea purpurea

Penstemon ('Blackbird' I think), whose flowers contrast nicely with the leaf splotch on my Geranium 'Samobor'

Yellow Corydalis

Penstemon 'Tubular Bells'

Erysimum is one of those plants whose flowers just keep going forever

I can always depend on Fuchsia magellanica to flower from spring to fall

Now is the time of year when Cyclamen coum makes its appearance

Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Golden Arrow' is so much happier since I moved it into more shade

Aster 'Purple Prince' has such tiny flowers

Fall is the time for Tricyrtis formosana to make its presence known too

This Aster, whose name I don't know, has been in full bloom for a while now.

I sowed Alyssum in this bed under cloches way back in February or March, and they are still going. Some of the seeds spread into the gravel of my neighbor's driveway, and she left them.

They make a nice contrast with the purple cloud of Aster

The Brugmansia that I bought earlier this year at Means Nursery in Portland is putting on a second flush of flowers.

This variegated Brug is not as far along, just starting to produce its first buds. I wonder if it will flower before frost.

I'm going to have to bring this Aloe glauca in soon.

Pink Begonia boliviensis

Bougainvillea from our recent visit to WeHop is looking healthy. I'd like to put it in a nicer pot, but I keep reading on the web how fragile their roots are, which puts the fear of God into me. Who needs a prettier pot when the flowers are this beautiful?

So far the only plant I've moved into the house to overwinter is my banana. Everything else is still happy out on my front porch, and in the gravel garden. We are having such a nice sunny week, with no frost in the short-range forecast, although the temps at night have gone down to the high 30s. Such a dilemma. Leave them out to benefit from the last rays of full sun, or bring them in just in case the temps go lower than expected? Well, it may be risky behavior, but I'm leaving them out till the weekend.

I hope you still have lots blooming at this time of year. Carol Michel at May Dreams Gardens hosts Garden Bloggers Bloom Day every month on the fifteenth. Go to her post here and check out what other bloggers around the world are showing off on their posts.