Idle hands and the devil

Two more snow days for the kids, another below zero (-18C) forecast, and one sunny day.  I was fine with the first two but the sunny day set off my spring fever.  Of course with snow everywhere and no other gardening options to be had I ordered more seeds.  I had to.  There’s nothing else to do and even the winter garden has me bored.

cyclamen coum in pots

Under lights the cyclamen coum are still going strong. I love the large flowers on the white with their blackberry noses, I wish a few of the others had blooms as large.

Who knows what I’ll do with all the new seeds.  They’re surplus from the N. American Rock Garden Society’s seed exchange so at 20 packets for $5 they’re what I consider practically free.  Even better when you consider the non-profit nature of NARGS, in that case 40 packets at $10 makes more sense, and when you add on the 20 packets from the American Primula Society which just arrived last week well then you might get a sense of the trouble I’m in.  I already have enough seeds stratifying in the cold to fill my beds once over, so I’m not sure where these will go.

growing seedlings under lights

The second growlight in a warmer part of the garage is in business now. A few cane begonias have been watered and potted up and two pots of plain old onion seedlings are on their way.

I still have to deal with the Annie’s Annuals catalog sitting in the kitchen.  I have it in my head that I need an eucalyptus tree for the deck this summer plus a few non-hardy yucca and some succulents.  I’m afraid that if I don’t get some snowdrops blooming soon I may yet stumble into that mess.  -I would add some delphiniums too even though each year they’re crushed by winds just as they reach their majestic peak…..  but some plants are worth a little heartbreak.

rooting coleus cuttings

Happy birthday to me. A returned gift and $40 credit at Lowes meant a new shoplight for a new spot. This one went in a warm corner of the basement and is perfect for giving new life to the sad little overwintered cuttings which have been sitting in a water filled coffee cup since October.

I should be responsible.  I already spent way too much money on snowdrops and ordered way too many irresponsible tropical bulbs from Brent and Becky’s.  Odd choice considering how much I complained about digging them up last fall.

overwintering succulents and tropicals

Overwintering succulents and tropicals fill the far corner of the barely-heated workshop/winter garden area. Dry and cool keeps them mostly dormant until warmer weather returns.

I hope an end is in sight.  Next week shows five days straight with daytime highs above the freezing point and one day when there’s even the possibility nighttime lows stay just above 32F.  Come to think of it I better start some lettuce and broccoli seedlings, in a few weeks they’ll be perfect to go out into that cold frame I never built.

oleander flower bud

A sign of promise, a flower cluster forming on the overwintering  oleander.   I think it formed last fall and hopefully will grow and develop as soon as the pot gets some water and goes outside.

So I’ll keep my fingers crossed…. if only to keep them from clicking on an ‘order now’ tab since I was looking at geraniums (pelargoniums) this afternoon and thinking a few scented and heirloom ones would be a good idea.   I need a first crocus or snowdrop bloom to get me out of this and back to my senses!  (we all know how reliable snowdrop blooms are for bringing a person back to their senses).  I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

Winding Down

The oddly warm weather continued today and I was in no mood to do anything constructive in the sweat-inducing humidity.  So I basically wasted the entire day.  In my defense it’s only natural to sit outside and sip a cold beverage on a day like this, but more so in August, not October.

I think the plants agree.  Most of these pictures were taken earlier in the week and it’s unsettling how quickly the dry soil, heat and cooler nights have things spiraling down into the little death of winter.  My warm weather friends on the deck such as the vinca and coleus look ok, but the cool nights are making them drop leaves and get all sad and brittle.deck plantings

colorful foliage on a pelargoniumThe ones that seem just as happy as in July are the blue fanflower (scaveola), rosemary, and the chartreuse leaved geranium (pelargonium).  Right now I’m imagining myself taking these into the garage to try and save something from frost.  The geranium is actually a survivor from last year and to look at it now you’d never imagine how close to death it was in March.

Overwintered coleus are another plant that somehow escapes death on a windowsill and then comes back just fine when the warm weather returns.  I usually plant a couple in the front bulb bed, and by summer’s end whatever’s not filled with hosta is overtaken by coleus.  Hopefully the dormant bulbs that sit underground are none the wiser.front bed with coleus

The ‘hot biscuits’ amaranthus which looms over the bed is probably not the best design move here, but I had a weakness for them this spring and their weedy looking stalks are scattered throughout the yard.  Plus for some reason this year’s baby tree frogs are also strangely fond of this plant.  I find more baby frogs on the amaranthus than anywhere else.

selfsown chrysanthemumI got lucky and one of the chrysanthemums on the stoop last fall must have seeded out.  This little dwarf couldn’t flower more if it tried, it looks more like someone dropped a bouquet while walking in instead of a poor commitment to weeding on my part.

I’m really pleased right now with the annuals and tropicals in the front bed.  The colors may not all go together but I just don’t get tired of looking at the mix of fresh flowers.  Unfortunately the hydrangea flowers have gone brown due to lack of water in the couple days since I took this picture, but the coleus and profusion zinnias carry on.mixed border with coleus

coleus cuttings in FebruaryIt’s hard to believe all these coleus owe their existence to a water filled mug on the windowsill.  Since I’ve added a few new ones this year I’m afraid I’ll have to sneak in a fourth mug this winter.  I only hope the boss doesn’t pick up on it, any houseplant that requires either dirt or water or risks bringing in bugs is in not on her preferred list.

The zinnias are putting on a last stand against the shorter days.  This lavender used to be my least favorite color but the hot pink I usually prefer didn’t germinate well this spring,  so I’m left with these…. I don’t think either color would have had a chance of blending well with even more orange amaranthus.lavender zinnias

Most of the annuals will be lost when the first frost hits (probably in the next two weeks) but I’m having trouble letting go of my senna alata (candlestick bush) seedling.  This is one of two that germinated, and I love the oversized grayish foliage!  Unfortunately our growing season is just too short and I’m just too lazy to give it an earlier start.  So now I have to choose between a sure death by frost and possible death by my hand.

It’s so much easier to point the finger at winter. senna alata candlestick plant

I read somewhere that if frozen they may sprout again from the roots.  To me this means I may be able to get away with overwintering the root ball in the cold yet heated garage.  It may not work, but if it means I may start next year with a much larger plant I’m game!  So I think I know where this will end up going….

Am I the only one contemplating all the annuals I wish I could rescue from the inevitable?  Wiser gardeners have probably learned the lesson years ago, but every fall I can’t help but try and save a little of the summer gone by.