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Happy December Blooms: GBBD, December 2014

December 16, 2014
snowy december gardenOnce again this month, I am a day late with my bloom day post. In mid-December, my Maine garden is already tucked in under its winter blanket of snow and I am reliant on my houseplants for blooms.

amaryllis bulbs with leavesMy many potted amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs have leaves but no signs of flower buds. (These plants are always reluctant to bloom in my cool house.)

A cool house, however, is the heart’s desire of my potted cyclamen. And now that they have been moved to their new home on a sunny window ledge, they are very happy. This pink one, which was a gift from a friend 21 years ago this week to celebrate my having achieved academic tenure, is blooming particularly profusely.

pink cyclamen in bloom

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month (not the 16th, when I so often get my post up!) by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see what other gardeners (including some in the southern hemisphere where summer reigns) have in bloom this month.

Thankful for a New Home

November 26, 2014

new plant windowThis past week, I came home one evening to find that my contractor had finished doing trim work in my newly remodeled living room and had opened up this room for my use. Yesterday, with new furniture delivered and in place, it was time to move my flowering houseplants to their new, sunny window-ledge home.

The cyclamen, in particular, will be thankful to get more sun; their new buds will be able to open without having to stretch long stems toward the light. Soon, some of the amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs may also produce new flower buds. I hope that my flowering houseplants will have long, happy lives in their new home.

cyclamen - new plant window

November Blooms, From Outdoors to Indoors: GBBD, November 2014

November 16, 2014

osteospermum in snowThis image, of an osteospermum flower still trying to bloom in a snow-covered container on the deck, tells the story of this November’s weather volatility – 60 degrees (F) one day and snowing the next. I took this photo two days ago. The next morning, the arctic cold arrived here and temperatures dipped down into the teens, putting an end to this year’s outdoor bloom season. While we have been spared the extreme cold and heavy snows that have been visited upon some other parts of the country, our current weather is still more characteristic of December than November.

This is the time of year when my attention shifts from outdoor blooms to those indoors. Although my potted cyclamen are not entirely happy with their temporary home crowded together in front of a small east-facing window, they are happy enough to bloom – just in time for their colorful flowers and perfect pleated buds to provide joy in the dreary month of November.

cyclamen in east window cyclamen bud

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see outdoor and indoor blooms in gardens around the world.

Plant Foster Homes

November 10, 2014

amaryllis bulbsRecently, I’ve been faced with a houseplant dilemma. As the seemingly endless construction on my house continues, I’ve been living in the north-facing rooms at the back of the house and have been cut off from my usual sunny south-facing plant windows. This has been particularly problematic for my flowering houseplants. For a while, I had my pots of flowering cyclamen sitting on the dining room table in front of the sliding glass door, thinking that they would get enough light there; but when I noticed their stunted flowers and long spindly stems straining toward the light, I realized they were not happy and moved them to a small east-facing window in the mudroom, where they are doing better.

In late August, when nights got too cool to leave houseplants out on the deck and I brought them all indoors, I dealt with the space crunch by taking all my amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs out of their pots and storing them in paper bags for eight weeks of dormancy. But as October turned into November, it was time to put them back in pots and give them sun and warmth – conditions that I am decidedly lacking at the moment – to encourage growth and bloom.

When I finished the potting process (which included dividing some bulbs that had formed pups), I had 12 pots that I needed to find suitable spaces for. So I sent out an email message to friends looking for temporary foster homes.  I quickly got three volunteers; and at the end of last week, I delivered 3 pots to Joyce’s sunroom, 3 pots to Judy’s bay window, and 2 to a sunny spot on the floor in front of Anne’s glass patio door. The remaining pots, with small bulbs that are unlikely to flower this year, will squeeze in with the cyclamen in front of my sunny, east-facing window.

I’m sure that my bulbs will be fine in their foster homes, but I  hope that my new plant window in the living room will be ready to welcome them home in 2-3 weeks.

November Transition

November 4, 2014

In Maine, November is the month of transition from fall to winter. This year, the transition seems to be more dramatic than usual. I awoke on November 1 to find some flowers still in bloom – not in the garden proper, but in a container planting on the deck. I cannot remember ever before having flowers last into November.

November geranium november osteospermum

But then November 2 brought a major snowstorm to much of the state, unusually early for snow here. Some areas in eastern Maine got more than a foot of heavy, wet snow, bringing down power lines. As of this evening, two days after the storm, more than 50,000 electric customers were still without power and several towns had scrambled to set up alternatives for polling places that were without power.  I was very lucky to be on the western fringe of this storm; we had mostly rain, with a few snowflakes mixing in from time to time but no snow accumulation. I’m just not ready for snow yet.

In general, November in Maine is nothing to cheer about. It is, on average, the rainiest month of the year here. And this rain generally falls when temperatures are in the thirties, making it raw as well as wet. Sometimes the wind-driven rain feels like it is verging on icy needles of sleet.

I think the whole point of November in Maine is to prepare us psychologically for winter. At the beginning of November, we don’t feel ready for winter. But November is dreary, and when the temperatures dip low enough for the precipitation to fall as snow instead of rain in late November or early December, we will greet the snow with pleasure. After weeks of  hunkering down indoors against the cold, raw, wet weather of November, snow brings a lightness that encourages us to get out and play.

Late Fall Colors

October 27, 2014

russet oak leaves_1In my Maine garden, October is turning into November. Last week brought a string of cold, rainy days that provided a preview of November and a reminder of why no Mainer has ever declared November their favorite month. By the time the storm passed, most of the vivid fall foliage for which New England is famous had been stripped from the trees.

But as I walked around the garden yesterday doing my weekly inventory of what’s in bloom (the last for this year), I found lots of late fall color. Although many leaves, including the scarlet and orange maple (Acer) leaves, have already turned and fallen from the trees, color can be found on other trees that hang onto many of their leaves through winter. The leaves on the oak (Quercus) trees mostly have muted russet tones.

oak leaves fall sky_1 Here and there, though, an oak tree shows brighter colors against a clear blue October sky.
The beech (Fagus grandifolia) leaves turn from green to gold to copper. beech leaves fall colors2

These colors are mirrored in the colors of hostas going into dormancy and in the yellows and golds of Amsonia foliage glowing in the slanted rays of the afternoon sun.

hosta gold leaf glowing amsonia foliage

Some scarlet hues can be found in the foliage of hardy geranium and of Spirea japonica.

geranium scarlet leaves spirea scarlet foliage

There is also a surprising amount of green to be found among the foliage of late fall perennials, including hardy geraniums, Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis), and Heuchera.

green fall foliage

Here and there among the foliage, there are still some flowers providing late fall color. These include some tiny blooms of Spirea japonica ‘Magic Carpet,’ red clover (Trifolium pratense), the amazingly long-lasting Heuchera ‘Raspberry Ice,’ and flowers on chives that have somehow been fooled into thinking its spring.

late fall blooms

All too soon, the predominant color in my garden will be the white of snow. But I’m enjoying these late fall colors while they last.

A Few Last Flowers: GBBD, October 2014

October 16, 2014
container and fallen leavesAmazingly, despite several nights of temperatures that have dipped below freezing, I still have a few last flowers blooming in my Maine garden.

A container on the deck still has flowers of annual geranium, petunias, and osteospermum blooming amid the fallen leaves.

There are also blooms to be found here and there in the flower beds.

last morning gloriesI am particularly amazed to have occasional morning glories (Ipomoea tricolor ‘Heavenly Blue’) still blooming in the fence border, even after the last flowers of the very late daylily ‘Sandra Elizabeth’ have finished. Morning glories are tropical flowers that are particularly sensitive to frost; throwing a sheet over them on the coldest nights seems to have provided enough protection to keep them going.

In the blue and yellow border, the last fading flowers of Phlox paniculata ‘Blue Paradise’ and Rudbeckia x ‘Herbstsonne’ are looking a bit frost-bitten.

fading blue paradise fading herbstsonne
aster bluebird The flowers of the cold-hardy aster (Symphyotrichum laeve) ‘Bluebird’ have fared much better.And the flowers of Sedum spectabile have darkened to the deep wine color that signals their transition from bloom to seedhead.
wine-colored sedum1 wine-colored sedum2
Last, but not least, my stalwart Heuchera ‘Raspberry Ice,’ which has been blooming continuously in the deck border since early June shows no signs of slowing down, seemingly unfazed by cold temperatures or whispers of winter to come.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Links on her blog can provide a virtual tour of gardens around the world, including southern hemisphere gardens that are boasting spring blooms.

fall raspberry ice

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