NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

A Gardening Journal


Must Have: 'Nikita's Gift' Persimmon

When in fruit, persimmon trees are confusing, even disorienting: Is that tree bearing tomatoes? But tomatoes don't grow on trees and, even if they did, they wouldn't be hardy in any climate where Fall foliage is a show in itself. Oranges? Nope: They're not hardy and, besides, the trees are evergreen. Peaches? Those would have been picked in August or September, but these fruits are just coming into their own in late November.  

 Diospyros-x-Nikitas-Gift-cluster-111414-320

Even if you can say, "Oh, of course: a persimmon. Marvelous!," this one is still confusing.  


Mexican Grass Tree

I was lucky to have been able to visit California's Bay Area this month. Its subtropical climate is so welcoming it's difficult to tolerate: You can grow directly in the garden much of what we prize back East—beech trees, Japanese maples, many of our perennials—plus most of what we can grow only via containers and greenhouses. Even generic tree-pit plantings can be an impossibly lush mash-up of what, for us, would be priceless conservatory specimens and workaday stalwarts: Boxwood at the base of a palm tree, say, just barely holding its nose above a surf of aeoniums and amaryllis. 

 

Despite the incessant beauty, you can't stop to gawk every twenty feet. The rest of life must go on; I had a wedding to attend, as well as friends to meet for dinner. Thank goodness, I was able to reserve time to visit two of the world's most important botanical gardens to become slack-jawed by horticulture that would be impossible back East, regardless of effort, time, or money...

Dasylirion-quadrangulatum-SF-Botanical-Garden-ground-level-110614-320

...such as this massive, perfectly-groomed Mexican grass tree.


Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Copper-Colored Stems in Fall

These thick stems of warm copper couldn't be more welcome as Fall deepens and darkens to Winter. Six feet tall and more, they were only inches tall in May. Perhaps a coppice of willow, Siberian dogwood, or boxelder?

Hibiscus-coccineus-fingers-detail-111814-320

Nope. These are stems of a perennial whose shameless and glad-to-see-you blooms are among the largest of any plant hardy north of Miami. When in flower in Summer, swamp mallow is automatically one of the garden's peaks. Leafless and flower-free after several hard frosts, it is still a peak. How many other perennials can say the same?


The Best Season Ever: Acidanthera

Gladiolus-murielae-buds-flowers-100314-320 

In August or September, acidanthera finally surprises me by starting into bloom. I say "finally," because I've been awaiting the flowers all Summer. Gladiolus murielae always takes its time, but it's nothing if not reliable. But flowering is still a surprise because the nodding sprays of buds don't top the foliage, and are so leafy in color and form that they often escape notice until, one day, seemingly from nowhere, the large and fragrant flowers are out.

 
 
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