It was cool, with bright blue sky - a breeze, coming in from the north (based on the direction the fire was blowing) - and all of the dogs were outside and happy and I actually sat down and read the most recent issue of Skirt! from cover to cover. Had a glass filled with iced Passion tea - I know, it was chilly out, there was a breeze, but I grew up in a family that firmly believed that iced tea was also meant for the dead of winter.
It was so nice, just sitting there - enjoying my garden instead of obsessing about how much needs to be done (yes, I must have had rose-colored glasses on - the florida betony is taking over, the potato air vine is covering the ash tree, and the vegetable beds are in desperate need of cleaning).
Yes, it was peaceful until Annabelle Lee discovered a way out of the fence. I finally caught her four houses down. Lucky there was a smell that captured her attention, and slowed her down. I need to fix the front fence badly.
I'm back from a short trip to St Petersburg, Florida - where a gracious host and Lab Boy took me Friday morning to tour Sunken Gardens. It was a beautiful garden, obviously well-loved - and yes indeed, images are coming as soon as I'm able to sort through them. I've looked at them quickly, and realized that during my tour I was rather focused on bark, tree trunks, texture - and palms. The palms! The royal palms there were incredible. (But this is for another time - because yesterday, the 15th, was Garden Bloggers Bloom Day hosted by May Dreams Gardens, and I'm determined to post something).
Where to start? I think with the Cuphea micropetala, or cigar plant. When I recently purchased my first palm, I couldn't resist also purchasing a Cuphea - I mean, it was on sale, therefore - an irresistible plant bargain. Plus, I had recently read a post by a local blogger, Annie, over at Gators in the Garden - where she raved about this Genus. Here's a bit about what she had to say about them:
I'm crazy for cuphea. I mean really, I could be "the crazy cuphea lady". Why? Cause cuphea are committment-free plants. You just stick them in the ground and they go year in and year out. I have no idea what glories they would achieve with a little more water and some occassional food but these plants are the doormats of the plant world - they take abuse with a smile. If they were people instead of plants they would surely be in therapy learning to stand up for their needs. But alas, they are among the voiceless masses.
That's a rather irresistible description, isn't it? And here is my new addition, blooming away (in mid-November!).
Next up: the roses. Many of them are blooming, although they're looking a bit roughed up from recent winds and rain. But I'll never complain about roses blooming this close to Thanksgiving - the fragrance of the musk rose (Rosa moschata) still lingers near the strawberries, the Mermaid is still ocassionally blessing us with her presence - and the Souvenir de la Malmaison seems to have just put out another round of buds in the past few days. The butterfly rose seems to never stop blooming.
But the rose I want to tell you about this evening is Champneys' Pink Cluster. I purchased it a few year's back during one of the Charleston fall garden shows - from the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants. How could I resist a rose with a heritage that includes both Charleston and Thomas Jefferson? Well, obviously I couldn't.
The story of the rose is quite fun, a bit of a mystery, a bit of luck - and I would have to recommend to you to read about it over at the Twinleaf Journal. It's a good story. Here's two paragraphs, written by Peggy Cornett (Director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants, 1999) :
The more recent story of 'Champneys Pink Cluster' coming to Monticello has its own twists and turns. During the mid-1980s Peter Hatch, Monticello's director of gardens and grounds, and I made a trip some forty miles south of Monticello to Bremo, the magnificent Palladian-style plantation home of General John Hartwell Cocke, in search of figs. Cocke, who lived until the Civil War, was a contemporary of Thomas Jefferson and was instrumental in founding the University of Virginia. Records indicate that Jefferson and Cocke exchanged plants during the course of their friendship, including the Marseilles Fig. Peter Hatch was aware that figs still grew in the garden of the Recess, a Jacobean-style residence within the extensive Bremo complex. Our hope was that these figs might prove to be the original plants brought from Monticello.
We spent an afternoon exploring the Recess' badly overgrown garden, and taking cuttings of a variety of interesting plants among the ruins. A lovely pale pink rose caught our eye, growing against a stone wall along the southeast side of the garden, and we took cuttings of it. The cuttings rooted, and we grew a plant behind the production greenhouses at Monticello. John Fitzpatrick, who was hired by Monticello in 1986 to launch the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants, quickly took an interest in this fragrant pink rose and gave it the study name "Bremo Pink Cluster." His research ultimately led him to believe that this shrub was most likely a 'Champneys Pink Cluster', a conclusion to which Doug Seidel concurs.
Stories about old roses are always so fun - and maybe one day, when research dollars are flowing and scientists can once again explore whatever they wish to explore (without concerns about publications or writing grant applications) - perhaps I can work on the genetics of old roses. Now how fun would that be? I could integrate modern genetics with these wonderful old stories.
And now... introducing Helianthus devilis subsp. cucumerifolius (cucumber-leaf sunflower). I got this last April, at the Charleston Horticultural Society's plant sale. I have mixed feelings about this little yellow flower, but it's all my fault, because I hadn't read enough about it before I planted it. It is often classified as a groundcover, and so it spread like crazy - so something I need to do this fall is to move it to a more suitable location - a location with plenty of room and lots of sun. I can see now where it's good for xeriscaping - in August it was very happy, and seemingly unaware of the heat and lack of rain. So I think that when I plant it in a more suitable location, I will like it alot. Perhaps it will go in front of the gate - in the sun, by the road, where it can do what it pleases. (Even if what it pleases is to make the mosquitos happy).
There of course is an obvious moral to this story, that I'm sure I will forget shortly.
Attractive fall flowers, nice foliage throughout the summer.
Hummingbirds love it.
Easy to grow.
I remember make Christmas ornaments out of milkweed pods when I was little - we'd spray paint them gold, and put gold trim around the edges - and inside the pod we'd put a cardinal or a bluebird - something like that. I think in my parent's collection of ornaments there is still a milkweed pod ornament.
It's a really good idea, and thinking about milkweed Christmas ornaments makes me think, quite naturally, about Christmas. I think my family is feeling quite strange about the upcoming holiday season - and I can personally say that I just want this first holiday with my Mother not present to be over with. Mom LOVED Christmas. Maybe our family needs to do something that changes our normal focus, something that helps others, insteading of just thinking about our own loss.
Enough about that. Thanksgiving comes first anyway.
It just isn't right.
In fact, it's plain wrong.
What if red maples were red all season long, instead of being simply glorious in the fall?
What if dogwoods bloomed sporadically throughout the entire summer?
What if pink muhly grass stayed pink all year long?
You see what I'm getting at?
Nothing is wrong with am explosion of color for a few weeks in the springtime.
Nothing is wrong with waiting for that color to arrive.
Mexican sunflowers, 'Torch' and 'Yellow Torch'. Tithonia rotundiflora.
These guys bloom until frost - keeping butterflies happy. It's an annual, and reseeds prolifically.
You've gotta love this:
Tithonia was named for Tithonus, a legendary Trojan loved by the dawn goddess Eos, who turned him into a grasshopper.
Hmmmm...it can survive down to zone 8! That's me! Something new that I might have to try.
A grasshopper, eh?
I couldn't resist this lone little zinnia flower, blooming in mid-November.
It survived August's heat and humidity and the nine inches of rain that fell in one day a few weeks ago - it survived all of those things, to bloom now.
The world is filled with mysterious things.
Many, many mysterious things.
So why not...dance to it?
These guys certainly did.
I'm wondering...how one would choreograph a dance to explain photosynthesis?
There's more in bloom...
...and I've rambled on long enough...
...but how could I not mention any Camellias???
This are both new to my garden this winter. I'm very interested in the tea camellias - they have darker green, smaller leaves - and subtle flowers. I think they're quite elegant.