Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More Freaks of Nature!

I did manage last Saturday to get out in the late afternoon (when it was actually somewhat sunny!) and meander around the muddy front garden a bit ... so here are a few of this year's "Celosia Sports" that are starting to bloom. They're smaller than they ought to be at this time of the year (they were late coming up this year, so we'll only have these for maybe a month or so), but they've definitely got the odd shapes and vibrant color bravely going full bore into the fickle days of early Fall ... though some of these shapes are familiar from last year, they do exhibit some minor variations on what they have been in the past, and in this first shot, you can see the brilliant red (blooms and foliage) of what obviously started out as a Celosia plumosa 'New Look' at some point a few years ago. 'New Look' has always been one of my very favorites due to its striking foliage and the depth of red that the whole plant conveys throughout the season. Compare this to Celosia plumosa 'Caracas,' and you can see that they share a common ancestor. Usually these smaller varieties top out at about 10-12 inches at maturity, but we have had some in the past who got even a bit larger, but nowhere near the height of 'Caracas' (which is currently over 5 ft tall).
I never quite know what to expect from the yellow ones from season to season, but this year they seem to have opted for a form somewhere in between a 'normal' yellow plumosa and that odd sport from last year that I named "Pineapple." And then there's that real oddball (I posted it a while back) that seems to have *gasp* reverted back to its original 'Castle Yellow' form after having morphed into several incarnations over the past 5-6 years (I really can't remember when I last planted the yellow ones!) and looks strangely normal amongst the other freaks. But have I mentioned how much fun it is to see these return every year, wondering what costume they'll have on each time?

Now, I know that some Celosia purists would probably turn up their noses at having them sport so freely in the garden, so to those folks, I say, fine ... pull your dead plants after frost and only buy new stock each spring so the freaks don't start populating your sunny bed. As for us, (as you surely now know), we love the adventure of seeing Nature frolic profligately (thank you, dear friends the bees!) in the garden and look forward to what new surprises we'll have in successive years.

Remember, remember, the waning days of September ... and if you still want brilliant color that will literally last until frost, include some Celosia in your garden next year! There are a lot of really nice varieties and mixes available (Park Seed has some spectacular ones) and they're really pretty easy to grow. They start easily indoors in starter pots in late Winter, but don't set them out until you are sure there will be no further frosts or you'll lose them. They can also be fall sown as well (as they do naturally), but a mild warning: you won't usually see them coming up until the ground is really warm (say late June or July here), and though they grow rapidly, your best bet is probably to either buy nursery grown plants or start them from seeds inside. Just give them lots of sun and they'll be quite happy. They're fairly impervious to dry conditions (or soils) once they've been established, so you can pretty much just get them going and come back to admire them when they catch your eye ... they don't mind a little neglect and still will reward you with their bright spires of fiery colors!

--end of sales pitch, I'm ready for my commission now--


Roses and Lilacs said...

They add both color and unique shape to your late summer garden.

Thanks to you in part, I have about $89,000.00 worth of plants on my must try next season list;) I'll be sure to tell the nursery where to send the commission;)

Janet said...

Halloween is coming up! Hooray!

Color in my "garden" for Fall? I just plunk down PUMPKINS from Sauvie Island and then we "plant" a few Zombie heads and outstretched arms/hands. Lots of ... color :)

Not to mention the bright yellow "Crime Scene" tape I use across the windows.

I'm so in my element during October and November.


Calendar: Need a shot or two of Pepa. Obviously.

Janet said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
FARfetched said...

Celosia… so *that's* what that was in the flower bed next to the outdoor grill area at the hideaway! As full-bore red as your pic, too. I seriously considered taking a pic and sending it to you with a "?" for subject line. :-)

boran2 said...

I've got to put in some celosia next year. Here in NY we're still picking a few tomatoes but their days are definitely numbered. My petunia looked better today than it has in a while. Go figure.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
Heh, I didn't realize I'd sold you on so many things ... I just like to share my enthusiasms sometimes and enjoy hearing about others' as well! As for Celosias, they won't set you back too much (unlike my fancy hibiscus!), and if you haven't looked at that Park's link, check it out. They have quite a few Cockscomb varieties that would be suitable for drying, since I know you're interested in that. (They range from deep red, to pink, orange and yellow!)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Janet!
Yep, we're starting to gear up for the big day here, but have to get the garden wound down first, so we'll probably start in earnest beginning Oct. We don't have any zombie heads, but we have lots of skulls, bones and tombstones!

We'll have to trade some pics when we get our respective stuff together! (You do know you can always find my email in the profile link, or did you?)

I was just saying last night that some Pepa pics had to go in the calendar too.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

That would have been a fun and easy email question to answer, but I guess I beat you to the punch eh? Always glad to help out when I can!

I hope the FIL situation is going (as) well (as it can) ... you and Mrs. Fetched don't need any more stress after this summer!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2,
You should definitely give them a shot next year, because they are really easy and colorful all season long once they start blooming. You could even grow them in good sized pots successfully if you need to. Just make sure to avoid any and all of the dwarf varieties (Jewel Box or Amigo) because they just don't live up to the potential of the bigger ones.

Hopefully more of our tomatoes will ripen this week with the return of warmer weather. They've been 'ok' this year, and everyone is complaining about how lousy their tomatoes and peppers were this year (so I wasn't alone).

I'm blaming it on all the wet weather in June. That's my story and I'm stickin to it!

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

I am out and about reading blogs tonight, I am catching up on yours.......interesting as always. Have you ever grown Amish Cockscomb? We went for a drive along Amish Blvd today, they are literally in every garden you see, I have them in mine as well but the ones I saw today are way bigger than mine, maybe they use horse manure :).

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Nice to see you out and about again! I know it's been a difficult spring/summer for you... I hope Fall is treating you well so far.

I'm not sure what Amish Cockscomb is, but if you mean the really big 'brainy' looking ones, yes, we've grown those a lot in years past but have neglected them the past few years (much to our regret). Those make such great dried pieces for use inside, so we miss them!

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