Down to 48

The ten day forecast looks miserable.  All I see is rain and clouds and more rain, and at the moment rain predictions are between three and four inches for the week.  But… this weekend was supposed to be a washout, and it kinda was but there was enough dry in between to get a few fall jobs done… if not entirely the ones I should have done 😉

berm plantings

I stumbled across some 50% off ‘Green Giants’ and now the backbone of my berm plantings is mostly complete.  Over the last three years I’ve planted about 30 and I don’t think I’ve spent more than $300 which I think compares well to the $550 each Norway spruces the Industrial park planted.  We will see what happens as things grow… 

One thing which I did need to get done was the planting of the ‘Green Giant’ arbovitaes which followed me home.  They were an excellent deal at about $15 a piece and I think they’ll just take off along the berm.  Maybe in a few years they’ll completely cover the bare lower branches of the crappy spruce which are there now, and hopefully I won’t even know there’s an industrial park back there anymore… assuming I also lose my sense of hearing and miss the endless vroom… crash… beep… beep… beep… which goes on all day.

overwintering tropicals

Most of the caladiums were thrown into the garage to finish dying back and drying off.  New containers from elsewhere in the yard have taken their places.  A rough count left me at 48 more pots which still need attention…

For some reason I love ‘Green Giants’.  I love arborvitaes in general, but the common and I’m sure soon to be overplanted ‘Green Giant’ is just perfect in my opinion.  They’re fast growing and the ‘giant’ part of their name should raise alarms, but just about everything I plant is part of some poorly thought out, regret it later, “plan”, so at least I have friends with chainsaws is all I’ll add.

overwintering tropicals

A second bank of lights is up and running in the winter garden, and a third will be tomorrow.  I of course went ahead and made more cuttings, hence the third light, and my wish that you realize this is already the ‘before’ photo.

I probably could have pulled a bunch more containers into winter storage, and cleared myself of any threat of dragging the last stuff in the night before a big freeze, but… suddenly I was convinced I needed to make my coldframe into a sand plunge.  The “cold frame” is really just an old shower door set onto a wood frame, and making it into a sand plunge was really just filling it with sand and taking mostly hardy things and sinking their pots into the sand, but they’re cool things.  Things which would probably be just fine in the open garden but just wouldn’t be as easy to fuss over.  I’m thrilled with the change.  They’re so much nicer to fuss over now and I can sit on the edge and just pick leaves out and turn the pots around slightly, just so they look even more special.  Obviously it was super important that I got this done today.

hardy cyclamen

Hardy cyclamen, hardy camellias, hardy agaves, and my most recent treasure, a pot full of hopefully-hardy dwarf palmetto palm seedlings (Sabal minor ‘McCurtain’).

So my sand plunge is filled with things which would probably do just as well planted out and just covered or mulched a little.  The cyclamen for sure do just fine planted out, but I really like my sand plunge.  Maybe next year I can repot everything into the same sized pot and have it all neat and super organized like some garden that pays gardeners to be all neat and super organized.  As usual I’m sure that would be the most necessary thing this garden needs.  That and a lawn mowing.  Who has time to cut grass when there are sand plunges to build?

hardy cyclamen

Hardy cyclamen doing just fine without sand or any kind of cold frame protection.  I love seeing the new foliage sprouting up as the temps drop 🙂

So anyway… this long, stretched out autumn is obviously getting me into trouble.  Too many cuttings, too much time to drag things in, too many shenanigans in general and on top of all that I bought tulips in a clear violation of my ‘no-new-tulips-this-year’ rule.  Just forty.  That’s nothing considering a couple hundred are sitting in the garage awaiting replanting, but it was a clearance sale.  I’m sure I saved at least five dollars and knowing I won’t be starved for tulips in May is practically priceless.

Have a great week.

18 comments on “Down to 48

  1. Paddy Tobin says:

    The berm is a very American thing; not known here in Ireland though, I suppose, we have something similar under a different name. Is it to mark a boundary?

    • bittster says:

      The berm was put in as a sound and light barrier to the industrial park, with evergreens planted on top. We were furious when the lights first went on and the trucks and parking lot seemed in our backyards, but after weeks of complaints and township review the industrial park “agreed” to build up the ground and plant a screen. Eventually we will get used to it. I suppose.
      On the plus side, beyond the paved parking areas I don’t think they care what happens to the far end of their property. I believe some interesting trees will grow up over time, and I think I can get used to that 🙂

  2. Impressed by your Winter gardening! We don’t have basements on the coast so I am limited to the garage for fragile plants that won’t take a brief frost, which rarely happens.

  3. Lisa Bowman says:

    I understand the noise factor. Those “giant” plantings will probably help with that too. No, not eliminate the noise but soften the constant clank plonk clank. All of your cyclamen are lovely and enviable to me. I found one on markdown this fall and planted it. Another try to get it going here. I don’t even know what color it is. ha…. The sand plunge is nice. I will be curious to see if you like it and have some success with it.

    • bittster says:

      I think the best way to get cyclamen is to plant a bunch of seed and let them settle in on their own. I’ve planted dozens of tubers and many are gone, but in areas which they like, the gentle re-seeding has begun, and in another dozen years?

  4. When I read your title, I thought you meant 48 degrees, and I was all set to say we had 37 here yesterday morning. Then I had a moment of panic for you when I mistakenly read “garbage” instead of “garage”, and I thought you’d gone of the deep end and thrown all you caladiums away! (As if!) Seriously, I think you’re wise to put as much nature between you and that industrial park as you can. Do you have daffodil bulbs planted all over that hill?

    • bittster says:

      I still haven’t moved past shrubs and trees on the hill, and that’s only on the end which I know will not experience any “re-grading” or whatever else you might call it when I rob fill or dig out major planting areas. We will see 😉

  5. Eliza Waters says:

    “Who has time to cut grass when there are sand plunges to build?” Sign of a true gardener, ha! Reminds me of the quote: “If it ain’t fun, it ain’t worth doing.”
    Planting the berm with noise-cancelling arborvitae is definitely worth the effort. But do you have deer there? All the arborvitae here are nibbled below 6′, making them look like large versions of train set trees. Kind of makes them hard to establish without fencing around them.
    Every year I see your cyclamen and tell myself I need to order corms, but I never manage to do so. They are beautiful!
    I’m happy that the forecast this week gives me a break from the to-do list. We had a light frost yesterday morning, so I gleaned the last of the dahlia and zinnia blossoms. After they fade, I’ll be back to Trader Joes bouquets, nice but not the same, alas.
    Good luck with the ongoing garage migration and getting the fall chores done before the Christmas lights go up. 😉

    • bittster says:

      We don’t have many deer around here and I hope (with all fingers and toes crossed) that it stays that way. But if it ever changes there are tons of other things here which the deer will likely eat first. Yummy stuff like yew and roses 😉 but actually I don’t think they like ‘Green Giants’ as much as any of the regular arborvitae varieties. The regular ones get lollipop-ed but the Green Giants only get mild damage, even in the deer infested parts of the mountains.
      Believe it or not all the pots are accounted for and I’ve moved on to digging dahlias and planting tulips. This long, relatively gentle autumn has been a dream for this procrastinator.

  6. What is the yellow-foliaged ground cover in the last photo?

    • bittster says:

      It’s an annual, sometimes perennial, houseplant. It’s called inch plant, and it might be or be closely related to wandering jew. Every summer I either plant it on purpose in shadier spots or dropped bits of stem root and take off. You would love it I think, I’ll bring some the next time I see you.

  7. Norway spruce and Norway maples. Tragic waste of garden space and money. Love your sand plunge. Are you familiar with Ian Young’s Bulb Log Diary on the Scottish Rock Garden Club website? If not, go check out his plunge beds. Can’t wait to see how this all works out in your garden. I was so thrilled with myself for planting about 240 bulbs this year. Most I’ve done in years. Laughable by comparison with your Tulips alone. .

    • bittster says:

      Haha, your 240 bulbs put my tulip plantings to shame! I just shovel and trowel them into the vegetable garden in spots I should really be keeping open for potatoes and broccoli. I’d rather plant a hundred tulips there than try and find spots for a dozen new alliums or lilies!
      I love Ian Young’s bulb log and over the years have learned so much there. Fritillaria and many of the erythronium do not do as well here, but to see them grown so well on the pages of his blog is inspiring, and also a great way to spend the darkest (and coldest) days of January!
      One of the Norway spruces has died since planting, and I hope more will follow. Not to seem anti-Norway, but I also need to kill off a large Norway maple which is growing behind the neighbor’s house. The neighborhood has a few mature trees, and they’re starting to seed into the woodlands back there… along with bittersweet and asian pears…

  8. johnvic8 says:

    I think you will be pleased with the Green Giants. I had two grow from small pots into 15 foot+ giants, about 8-10 feet diameter in 8-10 years. Very healthy. Very attractive. Nary a problem. So far I have not read of any Green Giants falling to diseases. They hybridized them for disease resistance.
    Enjoy.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks John, that sounds great! I’d be thrilled with that kind of growth on the Green Giants, and even halfway there will make a difference in terms of screening the view. The ones in for a year already seem to be doing very well so far.

  9. Cathy says:

    I love that sand plunge idea Frank! Like Kimberley, I thought you meant 48 degrees, which is probably near to the truth in your region? We have had frosts here already! Good luck with the bulb planting, and I hope you manage tofind room for the other pots before it turns really cold.

    • bittster says:

      The pots are safe! I was very busy the next weekend, and by the time our freezes came around things were well under control. I didn’t even have to run out in pajamas after a sudden change in the forecast, and let me tell you that was an unexpected surprise 😉
      The bulb planting has started. Things look warm again and I think I’ll be all right with that as well… assuming I don’t drag it out into December!

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