Wednesday, September 28, 2016

That day I never look forward to….

Look ma, frost!

Yep, we had a frost last night. A very official one, too. My lawn is silver with frost, even at 8:30am, as I write this. Fortunately, the hop vine is still perky, and my orange dahlias on the front porch are only half brown and dead. Those are my bellwether plants.

Mostly dead is a little bit alive, too

I used to plant Coleus, and that is a very sensitive plant at my place to any cold at all. And Ipomoea, the potato vine I used to buy in all sorts of obnoxious colors, was also touchy about the low temperatures. Thus those two, though very useful and beautiful, are not a part of the scheme anymore, I can’t afford the losses.

Porch plant becomes houseplant, for the third year!

I already brought inside my Carex, my beloved variegated sedge that doubles as a houseplant all winter long. The lavender plant I tried on a whim this summer got pulled into the house as well, if only to see if it would do something over the winter, which I am having my doubts about. I got one, count it, one bloom out of the thing, over the course of a record high temperature summer (so for us, lots of days in the 70’s Fahrenheit).

Dry river bed section of garden

Not much is still blooming or pretending to bloom out there. That Gaillardia blossom looks a bit too perfect for me to believe it’s not frozen to perfection, waiting for the wind, snow, and truly cold temperatures to turn it brown. Or maybe a moose will walk by and eat it. My snow-colored Alyssum, which seeds around with something quite a bit less than enthusiasm (two seedlings, sheesh!), is still a mound of stark white. A few purple Penstemon blooms ignore the cold, Achillea, Papaver, Viola as well.

Diascia lives...for now

Waiting for death, or the long winter’s nap, any day now in my garden.


Frost/no frost? When does your garden rest for a season?

Friday, September 9, 2016

They’re alive for now

The end of summer and it’s wonderful warmth seems to come a little later each year here in Alaska. I have no complaints. As a child, I remember thinking that when school starts, summer ends, no matter the date on the calendar. With climate change (and our increasingly hot summers and mild winters), autumn is a season we seem to get a little more of each year, and for that, I am truly thankful. It is my favorite season.

Sunshine, for now

Humulus lupulus 'Bianca'

Rosa glauca and Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Eldorado'

The birch and cottonwood leaves are beginning to turn their various shades of brown, yellow, and gold. The strappy fireweed leaves have gone red and purple. Everything is wet, because it rains nearly every day, and our high temperature has plunged down in the 50’s (that’s in the teens for you Celsius people). I will not write of the low temperature, the potential kiss of death. So far, I’ve been spared.

The Carex in the background doubles as a houseplant in the winter

Penguin says we are not amused with autumn

I have a pile of various pruned organic bits moldering in the garden cart, and an edging tool with a pair of purple garden gloves on each side of the handle like antlers, both left for a moment that turned into days, sopped on the gravel. Everything waits. For the gardener, or for the frost.

P.S. Must be topped off every other day

Physocarpus 'Center Glow' with Penstemon

Love it when seedlings match the color scheme!

How long will those dahlias bloom? Will I get another week out of the golden hop vine? Will that spirea ever get a decent shade of red? Are my garden chores going to be completed before the snow flies? The mysteries of autumn abound.

Calamagrostis brachytricha, Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'

Have you said goodbye to summer? Any plant casualties of temperature to report?


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