Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Archival Bloom Day Memories ....

A lot of the garden bloggers whose sites I visit regularly observe a "Bloom Day" on the 15th of each month, but slacker I am, I rarely think of it and usually miss the mark. Well, thanks to Gail at Clay and Limestone, who graciously and gently reminded me that it was upcoming today, I decided I should get with it this time. The problem is that right now we're in a rainy cool weather pattern with lots of clouds, so I don't have (m)any current photos of what is going on in the garden! So as I was working today I got an idea ... I have my old computer networked with my newer one and it functions basically as a storage file server for me now, and I have its screen saver set to cycle through the older photos I have archived on it, so... as they flashed by as I worked today they gave me an idea. Why not revisit some memories of seasons past for this post? So ... all the photos you see in this post are from 2006 (and may or may not have been posted previously here) ... the common thread they share is that (except for the Castor blooms) these are flowers we didn't have this year for one reason or another ... some failed after their first season or two, others have disappeared, and some we just haven't planted for the past two years. It was tough making an ad hoc selection to use, though I did try to pick examples from throughout the 2006 growing season, so I hope you'll like this little trip down the floral memory lane....

The first shot is a wonderful 'Parrot Feather' tulip we planted years ago in the first bulb bed, but alas, like many of the fancier tulips, they just don't stick around for that long (these probably lasted about 5 years, then disappeared), but while they do, they certainly are striking! Readers may remember me bemoaning the great Tulip Massacre earlier this spring due to the harsh weather we had last year that carried over to this year, thus depriving us of most of our several hundred tulips, and this was another of the casualties. I'd love to see it return, but at this point, I just don't think that's going to happen, so enjoy it in its past prime ... a memory of what once was.

Ah, Foxglove! We've tried since we started our garden to get Foxglove established, but we've just not had much success in making it happy, though it did do quite well in May, 2006, then disappeared and hasn't returned. This year we thought of sowing seed in bulk to see if we could get it going again, but in the usual Spring rush of planting, it just didn't happen, alas. One of these days we'll find a spot it likes where it will return faithfully for us every year, but until that point, we'll have to content ourselves with the one year they actually performed for us!
Ok, the only reason we haven't had this lovely Convolvulus tricolor the past couple of years is purely due to sloth ... this is one of those annuals that needs to get planted as early as possible in the season to do well, and again due to Spring Manic Panic Planting, we just didn't get around to it! But such a lovely flower really does deserve the attention it needs early on, because if you get the seeds in at the right time, it's a very reliable and profuse bloomer all summer long right up until frost. It's often referred to as 'Bush Morning Glory' because of its mounding growth habit and its Morning Glory type flowers (it's in the same large family of the Convolvulaceae, which includes not only Morning Glories, Cardinal Climber and the plant in the following photos, but also the dreaded bindweed as well).
Mina Lobata, known as 'Spanish Flag' is a spectacular bloomer as well, but like Convolvulus tricolor, the seeds need be planted by mid-May in our area in order for them to have enough time to reach their blooming stage, but wow, once they reach it, they really go to town. This photo was taken on October 1, 2006 as it was at its bloom zenith when it covered one entire end of the old jungle gym we inherited (it's part of the present veggie garden). This is one of those heirloom type vines that we haven't seen much around area gardens, but I'm sure it does have its fans out there somewhere. Its most striking feature is how the flowers start out a pale cream color, morph into yellow, then orange and finish a brilliant red over the course of several weeks. If you've never planted this, but are a fan of vining plants, put this one on your list for next year ... just make sure you get it planted outside after the threat of frost has passed, and you'll be in for a gorgeous surprise in mid to late summer and early fall!
Isn't this plant straight out of oddball land? It's one of the flowering Kales called 'Purple Peacock' which we would have gladly planted over the past two years, but alas, we've been unable to find this variety at the garden centers where we shop. Believe me, we both scour the places looking for it, but for some reason it just hasn't been available since the first year we planted it. Flowering Kales are great annuals because they really take off late in the season, provide a lot of color and interest, surviving even a few freezes before they give up the ghost and basically melt away with winter's arrival. If you ever spot this, snap a few up and plant them in a sunny spot and they will reward you richly! (Again, I took this shot on October 1, 2006.)
Unless you've grown this last plant, I'd bet you have idea what this strange flower is! These are the flowers of Castor ricinus 'Carmencita Rose' a cousin of the Zanzibariensis variety I posted previously here. (I should really do an update on it because our specimen this year is about 10 ft tall at present!) Once the blooms have been pollinated they produce equally odd very spiny seed pods that contain about 4-5 seeds each. Once you grow this plant successfully one year, just let the pods dry on the plant (they're ready about frost), put on some gloves and crack them open to remove the seeds and you'll have more than you need to plant the next year. (When stored properly, seeds remain viable for up to three years, so you can save them or share with other Castor fans.) We have several small ones we planted in a big pot out front this year (we got them in late ... July!) and though they are now blooming, they probably won't have enough time to produce seed, but we have plenty saved to plant again next year, so no worries there!

So there you have it for October Bloom Day 2008! Thanks again Gail, for nudging me out of my slackitude, and though these flowers represent mere memories now from 2006, it was fun combing the archives to put this post together! I hope you enjoyed this post, and even if you're a long time reader, I'm sure you won't mind being reminded of some of the past glory days from our humble garden here at Casa IVG! I promise I'll get more Toad Lilies up before the end of the week if the weather cooperates and we have less rain and more sun for the rest of the week! So, until then ... that's all folks!

Note on these photos: taken over the course of April to October, 2006 using my old faithful camera, my trusty Fuji Finepix 2250. Of course they don't compare to the quality of my new Fuji S700, but they are still pretty darned good shots I think!


olivia said...

Morning IVG.

What a lovely view to see that tulip first thing in the morning. :-) The Bloom Day is a great idea!

I've never seen Mina Lobata except for you pix, and I just love it. Even the leaves are beautiful. Did you grow any this year?

Roses and Lilacs said...

You always have some unusual or rare plants. The Castor ricinus is very interesting. I'd like to try that one.

I don't have really good luck with foxglove either. I have two or three seedlings growing from seeds dropped this spring. That closeup photo is so lovely.

Janet said...


Okay... because of YOUUUUUUUUUU I'm actually considering getting tulip BULBS from a local nursery here for along our sidewalk. And possibly a better camera :) There's these little blue and purplish with white topped flowers that go well with tulips. One is called the Mt. Hood which I thought was cool Mt Hood looms over us here. But... not sure as that's alot of digging... Yeah, I'm a bit of a slacker. I don't mind infilitratint Fed Bldgs... but hand me a shovel and I start to get nervous! :)

I really have to tend to my roses. They got prettty scraggly this year. Long shoots and aphids. Neighbor says I have to cut them down low and fertilize em but not sure when. Something about frost or spring... ACK! I gotta look that up.

I love the parrot tulip there. Reminds me of a Bull Fighter for some reason.

Gail said...


Hello! Thanks for my name being in lights! I have to agree with Marnie, you do have the unusual and exciting plant in your garden.

Foxgloves grow in other peoples gardens (OPG) why not ours? They don't even bother to fade away over time...they just die. How rude!
You have to stop by and see my post today...I have a special photo, but you have to read the whole post to find it! You do anyway, but ...

I just bought a flat of the Red Peacock Kale at Lowes I hate giving them publicity but heck if they have what you want shop there!

Take care..Your post was a good idea, may I borrow it when the bloom has faded at C& month.


Annie in Austin said...

The subject matter of some of the loveliest songs is what was loved and lost - your loved-and-lost blog post is beautiful, IVG! I'm glad Gail reminded you!

How cool that you have taken so many photos of individual flowers that you wore out the camera!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Olivia,
I had to include that tulip because I miss it a lot ...

Unfortunately we didn't get any Mina lobata planted this year, even though we had the seeds. The flooding really put us behind on planting this year, especially where seeds were concerned. Next year though, we'll have it again!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie!
Thanks for the compliment (as always!), and I'd offer you some Castor Carmencita Rose seeds if we had some fresh ones around, but if those small ones we have out front do produce viable seed, I'll let you know. Otherwise, we bought fresh seed last year from Select Seeds (see sidebar) which has great heirloom stuff!

I'm consoled to hear that someone else has tried and failed with Foxglove ... we've concluded that the only way to go is from seed because every plant we've ever planted died without blooming!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Janet!
Yeah, blame the tulip fever on me, huh? Just a tip, but instead of planting the in "soldierly" rows, considering grouping them (thus fewer holes to dig) in masses of 10+ bulbs for better effect. Just make sure that you plant them a minimum of 6-8 inches deep, and if you haven't bought them yet, I'd really recommend the "Darwin Type" species because they are the best perennials ... the fancier ones will usually poop out on you after 4-5 yrs.

The other bulb you mentioned sounds like some kind of "Grape Hyacinth" (Muscari) variety ... they look fantastic around tulips and will bloom at about the same time, and they're smaller, so easier and faster to plant!

Sorry I can't help you on roses, we just don't do them. No Carolyn Burnham types in this house! :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Gail,
Credit where credit is due, hon!

So you're another disappointed Foxglove fan too? Maybe next year we'll get lucky, we found a source that sells the seed in bulk and we plan on buying a bunch and sowing it everywhere, so we're bound to get a few one way or another!

I cheated during work today and snuck over to your place to see the photo you mentioned ... it's a beauty! I'll be by tomorrow to leave a more detailed comment, but don't fret too much, I think it will do fine for you!

A FLAT of Kale? Can it survive your winters there? I've seen Red Peacock and it's pretty, but of course I'm partial to the purple one. :-)

LOL, hardly an original idea about the post, I just relied on the archives since it's been so rainy and I've not been out much with the camera lately, too nasty weather. Do with the idea as you will, since you nudged me in the first place!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey there Annie,
I had never considered the point you make, but it's a great one! I'm glad you enjoyed the post, and yes, it was definitely a "loved and lost" theme! I may have to dig deeper and pull up some things I never used before to get me through the winter, otherwise I'll be ornament blogging, reviewing movies and TV shows, lol.

I didn't exactly wear the previous camera out, because it still works fine but just devours batteries. Well that, and I had the itch to upgrade and the S700 was just too tempting a bargain that has worked out really well!

boran2 said...

They good shots indeed, IVG! Thanks for reposting them!

Shady Gardener said...

Very nice photos!! I tried foxglove once as well... a couple of years ago. It was beautiful and I was enthralled! (It didn't grow back!) I may try again, but I think the best bet would be to sow a LOT of seeds! :-)

Sue said...

Hi, I think found you by looking at the blogs somebody or other is a follower of. I am new at blogging, but not gardening. I have looked at quite a few GBBD blogs, and am having lots of fun!

I like your pics. When I got a different computer, and DH was getting things set up, something happened, and I lost all of the photos in my iphoto. I can only go back a couple years to see my old photos. I need to print more out and do a better job backing things up.

I had foxglove rebloom this summer, but I deadheaded it too long, and now it may not reseed. It didn't get as tall as it was supposed to, though.

Our springs in Nebraska, and probably in Iowa, have been coming later and later it seems, and even when they do, we have had some hard freezes. I hope we have winter weather in winter, but not in the spring in '09!


Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi B2!
Glad you liked these ... you're more than welcome, my friend! Oldies, but goodies, I thought.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Shady,
So you've had no luck with Foxglove either, eh? Join the growing crowd of disappointed admirers of Digitalis! We think the mass seeding has got to be the best way to go ... you know, the buckshot on the side of the barn method. :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Sue,
Thanks for stopping by! Always glad to see new folks pop in here ... I know what you mean about losing stuff, so I back things up on the old computer I use as a server now, and even put some on discs, just in case.

I'm not sure that deadheading Foxglove will get you very far, but given our very limited success with it, I could be wrong. We've always just hoped that it would do well enough to reseed itself, but no luck yet!

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