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A Welcome Taste of Fall: GBBD, October 2011

October 15, 2011

A clear fall day (finally!) in my Gettysburg garden (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Since I returned to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for the opening of school in August, the weather here has been characterized by above-average temperatures and record-breaking rains. September 2011 was the wettest September for which records exist in south central Pennsylvania; and with 2 1/2 months still to go, 2011 has already smashed all previous records for the wettest year. At work, so much mold grew in our basement offices and classrooms, that they had to be closed down and our department evacuated to trailers set up in the parking lot. (If I haven’t been posting, replying to comments, or visiting your blogs much recently, it’s because I’ve been packing and moving 20+ years’ accumulation of books, papers and files – not something I would normally choose to do in the middle of a busy semester!)

Morning glories blooming happily in Gettysburg in October (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) But today dawned cool and clear, with the look and feel of fall that I have been yearning for. I was in a celebratory mood as I went out with my camera to see what was happening in my small Gettysburg garden. The morning glories on the patio fence (Ipomoea tricolor ‘Blues Brothers’) have been loving this warm, wet weather. After all, they are tropical vines. So, although their leaves are looking a bit tattered and worn, their flowers continue to bloom enthusiastically.

One of the last blooms of Platycodon in the fall garden (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) On the other side of the patio, Platycodon grandiflorus (balloon flower) still has a few flowers in bloom, even as its leaves turn yellow.
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Sedum 'Neon' in the October garden (photo credit: Jean Potuchek Not surprisingly, the sedums, which are lovers of well-drained soil, have not thrived in the record-breaking rain. In the back flower beds, Sedum ‘Matrona’ has long since turned from dusky mauve to brown, and ‘Autumn Joy’ has gone straight from pale pink to making seed, bypassing the deep pink and burgundy stages of its bloom that usually bring such beauty to the fall garden. Happily, Sedum ‘Neon’ in the front flower bed has fared better, and is now boasting a profusion of deeply colored flowers.

As the outdoor garden winds down, my attention turns more and more to indoor gardening. This week, the Hippeastrum (Amaryllis) bulbs that I ordered from Brent and Becky’s arrived; I have been busy choosing just the right pots for them and looking forward to their beautiful blooms in the months to come.

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see what’s in bloom this month in gardens around the world.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. sequoiagardens permalink
    October 15, 2011 8:30 pm

    Yuk. I can imagine the mess and frustration of the move. ‘Autumn Joy’ is always a disappointment for me. Am trying it in pots on the veranda this year.

  2. October 15, 2011 9:51 pm

    Hippeastrum brings joy to the winter doldrums. I look forward to seeing your photos when they bloom.

    • October 23, 2011 9:45 am

      Jack, ‘Autumn Joy’ does very well for me in Maine, but it’s not too happy with its location in my Gettysburg garden (too crowded by other plants, I think). I’ll be interested in hearing how it works out for you in pots.

      Nell, I just got my new Hippeastrum bulbs potted up this week. I was able to spend hours happily obsessing over just the right combinations of pot colors and flower colors. 🙂 My goal is to eventually have Hippeastrum flowers blooming sequentially throughout the winter months (thereby banishing the winter doldrums altogether!).

  3. October 16, 2011 2:33 am

    Those morning glories are lovely. Blue flowers are so special. It must have been a real trial to have to pack up all your stuff. I packed up my office after 8 years at the same school last year, and that was bad enough.

  4. October 16, 2011 4:38 am

    The ipomoea photos are lovely. In my nearest town, they have ipomoea growing up wigwam frames alongside the road and they are still flowering beautifully. We’ve had such warm weather here in Brittany for October, it’s like July! Yesterday we had 25 degrees Celsius and I sat out reading a paperback in the sunshine while sunbathing. My delphiniums have flowered again in this last warm week – it’s certainly strange weather.

    • October 23, 2011 9:53 am

      Lyn, The morning glories have been especially wonderful here this year, and I love that combination of blues. Their days are numbered, though; temperatures here went down close to freezing last night. I have a sense that the vines are trying to hurry up and open all their flowers before time runs out.

      Sandra, A colleague of mine from work is from France; and just last week she was telling me about the unusually warm, dry weather in Brittany this year. Enjoy your morning glories and delphiniums in October (not to mention the sunbathing!).

  5. October 16, 2011 8:52 am

    The mold sounds awful. I am scared to look too closely around here. We got another tropical downpour on Friday that must have sent us shooting up even farther in the rain count. I too am planting bulbs from Brent and Becky’s, the only place to buy bulbs, but in pots to overwinter and sell to my customers. Happy GBBD.

  6. October 16, 2011 9:39 am

    How nice to begin the fall but sorry to hear about the rain and mold. Our fall is fading and many plants and leaves are gone. Today it is sunny so a day to finish my weeding, planting and maybe some bulb planting. Garlic and the hundreds of bulbs waiting in my garage will go in next weekend. Happy GBBD

    • October 23, 2011 10:28 am

      Carolyn, This is my first experience getting bulbs from Brent and Becky’s, and I’m thrilled with the available variety. I got a bunch of crocus and iris reticulata bulbs to plant in the serenity garden and four different varieties of Hippeastrum for what I am hoping will be an expanded collection of winter flowering plants.

      Donna, The sun has finally come out here, too, and we have finally gotten seasonably cool fall temperatures. I took advantage of the sunshine this past week to finally get caught up on laundry. I’ve given up on trying to get work done in my Gettysburg garden this fall; it will just have to wait until spring when I will have more time.

  7. patientgardener permalink
    October 16, 2011 1:57 pm

    Funny as we have had probably the driest season I can remember for a long time. Desperate for some rain.

  8. October 16, 2011 6:02 pm

    When will they let you return to your own office? Will the colder weather clear the mould? Or must you wait till next summer??

  9. October 17, 2011 12:00 am

    What a challenge the move to a trailer must be! I hope the mold problem is resolved and fresh, clean rooms will await you. How soon before you have to move all your stuff back, or is the trailer solution a long term one? Our weather still remains a little on the dry side, with just an occasional rain. I, too, am glad for cooler autumn weather!

  10. October 17, 2011 6:56 am

    How awful having to move because of mold! I hope it gets sorted fast so you can get somewhere better (and more permanent) than the trailers…

    The morning glories look wonderful!

  11. October 17, 2011 12:35 pm

    Hello Jean, plenty rain here also no mold in the house though, thank goodness. Great shot of Ipomoea, one of my favourite plants. Autumn Joy never seems to fail in our plot in spite of the rain.

    • October 23, 2011 10:41 am

      Helen, I don’t know whether strange weather is more prevalent this year, or whether I’m just more aware of it. On Friday, I found myself commenting with amazement to my students that it wasn’t raining!

      Alistair, I’m glad to hear that you don’t have mold in the house; nasty stuff. Autumn Joy does well in my Maine garden, even in rainy years, so I’m suspecting that the difference is the soil. My sandy Maine soil drains well (an understatement :-)), so even when it rains, the plants are not standing with their feet in water. But the soil in my Gettysburg garden is pretty heavy clay.

      Diana, Deb, and Planters, There’s a long history of problems with flooding, mold, and air quality in my department’s basement space. We were moved out into trailers for several months three years ago while they did radon mitigation and put in a new ventilation system. But it turned out just to be an expensive band-aid. This time, the college administration has promised us that we will not be moved back to the basement, which is why everything had to be packed up — some of it to be moved to the smaller trailer offices and some to go into storage until they find new (presumably above ground!) space for us. The trailers are actually more of a portable office building, similar to what many schools get when they run out of space, and it’s not bad. The “building” is 48′ on a side and has 11 faculty offices, space for the department administrative assistant and all the office supplies and equipment (shared printer, photocopier, etc.), a student computer lab, and a small kitchen area. We’ll be there at least until the end of this school year, and possibly longer. I still have a bit more work to do on packing up the books and papers to go into storage. I can only work in my old office about 30 minutes at a time, wearing a dust mask, so it’s been a slow process.

  12. October 18, 2011 11:19 am

    Jean the Morning Glories look so beautiful together. Wonderful blues. The crisp air here and all of the colorful leaves make Fall a reality here. The leaves fell too fast this year.

  13. October 18, 2011 5:29 pm

    Lovely blooms…that Sedum looks so very lovely coming up through the Geranium foliage 🙂

  14. October 19, 2011 11:35 am

    The morning glories are stunningly beautiful. Although the sedum has been challenged by the weather, the blooms look lovely. Your move sounds like a lot of work, but I suppose it is better than being in that mold-filled area…ugh! Good luck!

    • October 23, 2011 10:44 am

      Lona and Michelle, I’ve been thrilled with this morning glory variety (called ‘Blues Brothers’), which I have never grown before. I will definitely look for these seeds again next year.

      Scott, I like the combination of the sedum blooms and the geranium foliage, too. I have geranium foliage everywhere because my Geranium x cantabrigiense just exploded this year. I intended to thin them drastically this fall, but I haven’t been able to find the time; so that task will just have to wait until fall.

  15. October 20, 2011 3:12 pm

    I think I’ve given up all hope of a ‘normal’ weather year. Your excessive rainfall, the droughts in Texas, our persistent cold summer weather. It all seems a bit topsy turvy. I can’t imagine having to move all your books and papers mid-term. I hope things have dried out since. Even though your sedum resented getting wet feet, the balloon flower and morning glories seem no worse for the wear. Any blooms this late in the autumn I think are a wonderful bonus. Hope you stay dry for a while!

  16. October 21, 2011 9:56 am

    Our weather further north is much the same although I can’t complain. With the higher temperatures fall has lasted much longer than usual and made working in the garden much nicer. Although I find I’m digging through a lot of mud these days! Not fun to have to move because of mold though. That must be exhausting putting in extra hours to move supplies and then set yourself up in a temporary space.

  17. October 23, 2011 10:48 am

    Clare and Marguerite, The strange weather here has had both pluses and minuses. I’m assuming that there won’t be any water shortages for a while! The mold and moving has definitely not been fun. I haven’t tried to sort all my files, except to make decisions about what I need with me in the trailer office and what can go into storage to be dealt with later. This was already a heavy work semester because of the particular combination of courses I’m teaching; so adding moving on top of it just about pushed me over the edge. I am happy to be getting settled into my new office and starting to get a sense of normality.

  18. October 24, 2011 8:10 pm

    Oh, Jean, having to do all that mid-term sounds dreadful. (And why is it that some students are never quite as understanding of your genuine upheaval as they expect you to be when their social calendars get out of hand?) 🙂 But mold sounds even worse. I’m glad they moved you to new digs. Think what excellent practice this has been for your retirement…

    Thanks for the tip re: Brent and Becky’s! I’m off to play on their website.

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