Tuesday View: The Tropics 7.11.16

This week I was a little late in the day with my photo so it’s full of artsy backlighting.  A good effect for soft lighting, but not the best to see what’s going on in a Tuesday view.


The tropical garden at about 7 in the afternoon.

One thing which you will likely notice is the pile of grass trimmings and the wheelbarrow.  It was a busy afternoon in the bed and much of this was the result of the bed’s new designation as the Tuesday view.  Who would have suspected joining in with this meme would be the motivation needed to buckle down and make some of the changes I’ve been thinking about for the past few years?

rose 'black forest'

Not exactly tropical, but the color of the rose ‘black forest’ is hot enough to fit right in.  This is already its second flush of bloom and other than a few holes chewed into the leaves (most likely from some annoying beetle) it’s almost perfect.  Last year this plant was potted on the deck, still great but much younger and smaller.

Change one: The variegated miscanthus ‘Cosmopolitan’ had too much of a head start on the new plantings so I went ahead and cut it down to about a foot high.  We will see how this works out since I’ve never tried it before, but it’s grass right?  I suspect just like a scalped lawn it will send up plenty of new shoots, and in the meantime the cannas and dahlias will be able to grow upwards in peace and lay claim to their own airspace.

newly planted musa basjoo

Change two:  A newly planted banana (Musa basjoo) has replaced the peony which was just taking up space here… and mildewing.  When sunflowers grew up and covered it in years past there was no reason for it to bother me, but now it does so out it went.  I’ve never composted a peony, it seems absolutely criminal and I’m not sure I should be confessing, but there you go.  I yanked a few salvia as well.

We were gone for four days last week and the garden nearly dried out and died due to the heat.  Rumor has it rain fell, but of course all the big storms avoided us.  When I returned to see the pathetic state of my plants I first cursed, then cursed some more, and then decided to mow everything down and give up for the year, but after watering that evening and then the next day visiting my favorite nursery (Perennial Point), things seemed less bleak.  They had awesome bananas and elephant ears and a bunch of other stuff and in my weakened state two new bananas came home with me (plus a new fern and red hot poker).

Kochia Scoparia

Kochia Scoparia is a new one for me.  The common names are burning bush and summer cypress and I suspect I will like it, but for now keep in mind it’s listed as a noxious weed in several Midwestern states.

I didn’t need the bananas, but I did need the bananas, especially after seeing how well they have done for my brother in his zone 7 LI, NY garden.  In case you’re wondering, Musa basjoo is likely the hardiest banana, and although I won’t get into all the logistics of me being the one to give him the plants in the first place, and him being completely deaf to all hints at how much I wanted one and which one could he spare… I now have one again and promise to mulch it well EVERY winter so it doesn’t die off again.

long term weed killer

The rest of the zinnias are doing well, but I suspect my MIL was again a little heavy-handed with the weed killer here since it’s a dead spot which seems to stunt all life.  She has an unexplained attraction to any herbicide which says ‘controls weeds for months’, and this in turn stunts and kills anything planted in the treated area or anything planted near the runoff area… for months.

So here we are again, all over the place on what should be a simple post.  I promise to get less wordy once we get through this planting and intro phase but for now I can’t help it.  Just be grateful you’re not stuck here on a visit and I’m really going on and on!

lythrum salicaria purple loosestrife

Now what do I do with this?  The flower stalks of a Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) have appeared in the back part of this bed and I like it.  The problem is it’s a terrible invasive in this part of the country, but only in wetlands and my garden is far from being a wetland.

If you’d like to join in the Tuesday view, Cathy at Words and Herbs follows her own view each week and I’m sure she’d welcome the company.  It’s a great way to track changes through the season and apparently it can even motivate some of the less motivated gardeners into tackling a few things on the to-do list!

12 comments on “Tuesday View: The Tropics 7.11.16

  1. Christina says:

    So you lost that many plants in a few days, that’s terrible! But a great excuse to buy some interesting new plants. I like the way it’s coming on.

    • bittster says:

      I just set up a drip irrigation line for the tropical bed and hopefully that helps things. Plus it rained! Not enough, but a start and between the natural water and the artificial watering there should be some hope.
      It was foolish of me to plant out seedlings before a trip. Most of the drought casualties were my own fault…

  2. pbmgarden says:

    Good for you for tackling the make-over you’ve wanted. Hope the banana does great. Thought I’d be more motivated by this meme but each Tuesday I remember I should have done some interesting to improve my view. Just too hot to worry about it now.

    • bittster says:

      That heat can suck all the enthusiasm right out of you. Dry weather does the same to me as well and it’s often better to move onto other indoor projects until the weather improves.

  3. Cathy says:

    I had to laugh as this is exactly what happened when I first started posting my views… tidying up and improving became a priority and it has really helped me assess what works and what doesn’t. I love that rose, even if it isn’t a tropical plant it fits in perfectly with its vivid colour. And the Kochia looks fabulous, and sounds like it could turn red at some stage…? Good luck with the banana plant. And if I were you I’d get that loosestrife out now! Our wet year has given mine a boost even though it is planted in the driest part of the garden! Thanks for sharing your view again. 🙂

    • bittster says:

      The loosestrife will go as soon as the blooms fade… Pretty or not I don’t want to be the one responsible for spreading it around.
      Yes I laughed when I read that you do the same thing with cleaning up! I don’t get many visitors here so it’s easy to just ignore parts of the garden when I get lazy. It’s a little more difficult when you’re forced to make excuses each week over the weed growth or lack of progress 🙂
      The kochia should color up in the fall, I’m looking forward to seeing if it’s really as red as ‘they’ claim it will be.

  4. Nothing like a little accountability to make you get things done, eh? Wow, I can’t believe you missed the rain. I kid you not, we got at least two inches here over the weekend. I like the red rose, and I see your Cannas are starting to go gangbusters! I think we may have the same zinnias–mine are in a bed by my front door. Profusion? Nice to see the changes happening in that bed–I remember it with all the sunflower chaos last year!

    • bittster says:

      The sunflower chaos was fun last year but I’m really looking forward to something more exotic this summer… not that zinnias are all that exotic lol. I think you’re right, they’re either profusion or something similar (zahara maybe?). I think they’re great the way they bloom all summer and never really go downhill until frost.
      We finally got some rain Monday and I hope it was able to soak in a bit too. Maybe 1/2 inch but that’s better than nothing and should keep things going for a few days at least. I think I’m still safe from lawn mowing for a while though!

  5. Your LI bro has kept bananas going? Hmm… now I am curious. How many winters now? (son wants a tropical planting and I didn’t think any bananas were anywhere near a sure bet here) Is your brother south shore, north shore, or mid-island?

    • bittster says:

      He’s north shore and they’re already up to six feet this summer. It’s going to be a good year for them!
      He mulches heavily and they die back to the ground, but once it heats up they are off and running. Give them plenty of water and fertilizer and watch out 🙂
      Mine made it a few winters here but I didn’t mulch and didn’t water and feed enough. I plan on mending my ways and hopefully if it’s a milder winter, luck will again be on my side.
      There are a few things that might do well for him. Agapanthus, white calla lilies, crape myrtle, and maybe even a palm are all possibilities if properly sited or protected. Let me know if you need any more ideas!

      • In the interim I did some research on the root system of Musa spp. and it sounds as if they make a humongous spreading mat that it next to impossible to remove if one wants to. I’m guessing your brother is giving his plenty of room? 😉

    • bittster says:

      I kept forgetting to answer your question!
      Yes, my brother’s clump is beginning to put on some nice mass, but honestly if it took over the entire garden I think he would be extremely pleased. It says ‘tropical’ like few other hardy plants and he has divided them and potted them up and placed them around the deck as well. I wouldn’t be scared of the root mass, a sharp shovel or too-cold winter would make quick work of it. I don’t think it’s any worse than a daylily, the roots are very juicy after all and don’t have much toughness to them.

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