September 25, 2011

Plant of the month:
Hosta of the Equinox

I take Hostas for granted. I know I shouldn’t, but I do.

They’re so prolific here, sometimes I forget how spectacular they can be. People have said to me, “Don’t the rabbits eat your Hostas?” Well, they probably do, but there are so many plants, the rabbits can hardly make a dent.

If you want expert information about the thousands of varieties of Hostas, check out Carolyn’s blog: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens. So many to choose!

But the little beauty I’m focusing on this month is one I rarely thought much about until I started blogging. You see, it’s a late-bloomer. And before starting this blog, usually by this time in the growing season I was spending more time inside, letting the garden go to rest, watching football games, and starting my next big crochet project.

Then, for the September Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day I happened to notice this Hosta was in full bloom, while the others were long past their prime. Here’s what it looked like on the bloom day:

And here it is nearly two weeks later:

Since most of the Hostas in this garden were planted by the previous owners, I don’t know all the cultivars. So it took a bit of research to determine this late-bloomer’s name.

Searches for information on late-blooming Hostas revealed several options, including: Hosta densa, Golden Prayers, August Moon, Prairie Moon, Invincible. But none of them seemed quite right.

Then I started reading about another cultivar: small mound; medium-size, bright green leaves; lavender flowers (in some light they appear periwinkle blue); tall stalks. And then the kicker: According to the Hosta Library, they’re often referred to as “Hosta of the Equinox.” That would be about right, wouldn’t it?

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this plant is Hosta aequinoctiiantha. When 90% of the garden is dying back, it’s in full bloom. It might just be my favorite Hosta—at least for now.

September 20, 2011

From one gardener to another

When I stop learning lessons in my garden…well, I can’t finish that sentence because it will never happen while I’m on this earth. Most of us, if we’re honest, will admit we’re still learning—about friends, family, life, the meaning of life…and gardening (for those of us with dirty fingernails).

I’m not a gardening expert, but I’d bet that even gardening experts still regularly learn new things about plants, planting, and plant care. If you’re not still learning—at any age—why bother? To me, that’s the joy of it! As long as I live, I can still learn (and re-learn) gardening lessons. Hurrah!

That’s also an important goal of this blog. When I posted a “Lessons Learned” item at the end of spring, people seemed to connect with it. So I thought, why not create a quarterly meme—Lessons Learned Through the Seasons! The response has been wonderful—on the meme and through comments and Facebook posts.

There’s no denying the end of the season now—we'll move into a new one on Friday. Thanks to all who participated in the meme! I hope I’m covering all of you here, but if I missed someone or you’d like to add any thoughts, please comment on this post.

1. TS at Casa Mariposa has started posting monthly “GOOPS!” or “Gardeners’ OOPS” after getting the idea from Laurrie of My Weeds Are Very Sorry. I highly recommend these posts—you’ll learn new things and it’s very likely you’ll chuckle, too.

2. Donna at Gardens Eye View always offers words of wisdom. Her lesson in August: Never say never. She found a successful mix of acidic soil and manure fertilizer that worked wonders on her chili plants.

3. Kathe at Kathe With an E chronicles the transformation of her bare lot into a garden chock full of personality. A dramatic example of starting with a blank slate and ending up with a colorful garden haven.

4. Michelle at The Sage Butterfly reminds us that Mother Nature teaches us gratitude, patience, and appreciation. I love her closing words: “Life does not flow along in a stale and stagnant manner, and so, the garden never remains the same.”

5. Dona at La Terrazza offers an incredible macro of a Dandelion and reminds us about the architecture of plants—designed to help them disperse, propagate, and continue the circle of life.

6. Susan at Ink & Penstemon admits her denial about the end of summer (I can relate!). She says she learned lessons in garden structure after neglecting a section of her garden. “Being forced to see structure rather than garden pushed me to accept some conclusions I’ve tried to avoid,” she says.

7. Rose at Prairie Rose’s Garden offers the wise statement, “There’s no better place to continually learn new things than in the garden.” Her post shares multiple lessons learned over the years, and in particular, this growing season.

8. Holley at Roses and Other Gardening Joys faced the challenge of severe Texas drought this summer. Fortunately, she had an irrigation system in place. She says her lessons are simple ones, but sometimes the simplest lessons can make a huge difference.

9. Christine at The Gardening Blog was one of two Southern Hemisphere participants in the “Lessons Learned” meme. I was thrilled to read about her preparations for spring in South Africa! She offers some very practical tips which those of us in the “northern half” can apply next growing season.

10. Sheila at Green Place was thoroughly creative with her “Lessons Learned” post. It’s visually entertaining, and a very unique take on garden lessons!

11. Lyn at The Amateur Weeder also shares lessons from the Southern Hemisphere—in Australia. Her humorous take on plants having minds of their own is a universal lesson. She shares mistakes and successes, and genuine gratitude for garden blogging friends.

Other gardeners/blogging friends shared comments on Facebook. Joey at The Village Voice says she “still drags her feet/heart/hands, hating to say goodbye to summer.” So well-put! Jan at Thanks for Today has learned to be willing to let go of expectations. I’m still working on that one! Geri at has learned that “privet isn’t always easy to kill.” Check out her website for more lessons and advice.

All of these posts are worth visiting—you’ll learn something new from each one. I also encourage you to check out the comments on the “Lessons Learned” meme. Little treasures of wisdom are found in each comment from one gardener to another. Thanks for being my fellow learners and teachers—sharing your wisdom, humor, and joy in gardening!

September 14, 2011

A song for September

Under the September sun, the final Hosta blooms burst in cornflower blue.

Cosmos delight in bright pink,


and deep fuchsia with yellow centers.

Zinnias continue to delight,

and Brown-Eyed Susans still brighten their little corner of the garden.

Sedum looks like a joyous bouquet,

while Hydrangea adds shades of rose and speckled pink to its everlasting blooms.

The Cucumber may not have time to fully transform from blossom to fruit,

but Impatiens thrive until the first hard frost,

and butterflies and bees are busy with purpose.

(Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.) 

September 11, 2011

A most fascinating, colorful weekend

Can you identify these mushrooms?

Generally, this blog is dedicated to all things plants, not fungi. But when I stumble upon a unique fungus, I'm as fascinated as I am with plants. I can't identify mushrooms, though. Can you? I could look up the names, but it's always fun to ask bloggers and Blotanical friends to share their expertise.

Those two mushrooms were nestled among the Cedar mulch in small garden beds near the front of our cottage. This was the last "summer" weekend up there, and boy was it a beauty! The mushrooms got us started on a fun weekend of discovery, which also included tons of Black Walnuts.

We don't harvest the Walnutstoo much work! If you know anything about Black Walnuts, you know how difficult it is to crack their multilayer shells. And you also know how messy the endeavor can be. Maybe we should try to sell someone with the proper equipment.

The lot is full of Black Walnut trees, which means it's not the best location for a vegetable garden. But that's OK; we don't do much gardening there. Mainly we fish, forage, and appreciate nature. And we try not to disturb it too much. I usually spend a lot of time on this bench looking out at the lake, casting a rod, or reading a book.

Funny thing is, this weekend the view was more strikingly beautiful looking back from the dock to the shore. The Cattail reeds are wearing rainbow hues that reflect like a watercolor painting onto the water.

Next time we visit the cottage the air will be chilly; summer will be gone. But the colors will be even more vibrant. And the lake will be waiting.

*Note: All photos were taken with my cameraphone.

(Please join the fun for the "Garden Lessons Learned" meme. I'll be writing a post about the entries on Sept. 22. But it's never too late to share lessons learned in any season. Thanks to all the participants!)

September 04, 2011

Hope grows: It works for me

Thanks to Hanni at Sweet Bean Gardening, I’m always looking forward to something in the garden. I’m not sure it will work in January (looking forward to February????), but so far it’s worked during the other months.

Of course one obvious choice for October is colorful foliage! And as I was preparing for this month’s Hope Grows post, I realized I need to photograph a lot more foliage this fall. That, in itself, is something to look forward to!

Maple, Burning Bush, and Sumac will delight next month. But so will the Hydrangea foliage. Imagine these huge leaves—as big as my hand—tinged with shades of rose and burgundy.

Another highlight for most of us in October is Mums. I’m not sure they’ll be in full bloom when I write the October Hope Grows post, but they’ll be showing color for sure, like this shot from a previous season.

And Autumn Joy Sedum will be luscious, as it continues its transformation from light green to pink, and finally to deep shades of mauve.

Lots to look forward to next month! Thanks, Hanni, for keeping us optimistic about the future!

[Please join in the new “Garden Lessons Learned” meme—by scrolling down to my previous post or by clicking on the widget to the right near the top of this page. I’ll be writing a post based on people's links and Facebook reflections at the end of the summer solstice—Sept. 22. Thanks to all those who’ve shared their lessons, reflections, and wisdom!]