Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lingering Late Fall Fire

It appears that the technical issues from the other night have resolved themselves (Far, I do wonder if it was just a cache glitch w/the browser as you suggested) so I have a few photos from 2 November I've been wanting to share here. I first titled this post Survivors: November Post Frost Edition, because that's what these tough little flowers are! They even outlasted the Tricyrtis this year and some are, unbelievably, still around but looking pretty sad lately.

This shot is, of course, Escholzia californica, or California Poppy, the beloved state flower of California, and much beloved in many other gardens, such as ours! Over the past several years, our proliferous volunteers have diminished considerably and now they are much more a surprise accent annual in certain spots in the front boulder bed. Just three years ago we had wonderful drifts of them along the sidewalk in what is now a very bulby and Helleborish part of the Woodland Garden ... some got lost, others were crowded out by the likes of the Liatris, and just basically drastically thinned. But this year, now that we've got the bulbs in and still need to do some clean up, we plan on sowing a lot of seed before putting the bed to rest. We still have some seed left from a year ago, so it's going to be broadcast, as well as a bunch of Susans and Larkspur we've been sitting on. And not to forget, we have a lot of "Frank's Poppy" seeds to spread all over, since those were less prominent this year and I disposed of them promptly when they were done (there were other seeds to go in!) so not much new seed fell this year. If you're interested in these and can find the seed now, it's a great time to plant them. Much easier than working the ground while it's still partly frozen in the wee morns of very early Spring!

I was a bit surprised to spot this cheery little guy, complete with his tiny green bee ... nestled amid the leaves in the grass of the parking, a lowly Dandelion was making one of his likely last stands. We really don't see too many dandelion blooms so late in the season, especially after a few hard frosts ... I guess this one was just trying to remind me how pretty he really is and be happy when his clan reappears in the spring. I'm perfectly fine with having dandelions all over in the grass, but I'm ruthless about digging them from the boulder bed. But as I've preached before, they really are beneficial plant in the long run because they add nutrients to the soil and their long tap roots work wonders in breaking up clay. Nothing gets me more riled up than obsessive suburban "gardeners" (yes, those were air quotes) who are out dumping toxic chemicals into their soil just because they have some irrational fear about the dandelion and other beneficial weeds you should allow in the garden. Monoculture, bad. Polyculture, good. (Disclaimer: although we are at least 90% organic gardeners, and reserve the "big guns" only for noxious stuff like poison ivy and volunteer walnut trees that refuse to die a natural death.)

Gather ye dandelions while ye may, old time is still a flying...

This was another pleasant surprise: our Buddleia davidii Weyeriana that didn't bloom much in the height of summer but somehow gained a second wind and was still blooming as recently as a week ago. I have mixed feelings about this variety ... I love the intricate structure of the honeycomb like blooms, as well as its luscious yellow hue, but it's not the most flowerful of the Buddleias we've grown over the years. Though it has since died off (they're iffy in Iowa winters) our most floriferous was definitely Black Knight, one of the deep purple cultivars. At this point, I hate to say I've become a bit indifferent to Butterfly Bushes ... at least in our garden they're a crap shoot and they do require an inordinate amount of space and a hard pruning (that is hard to do) come spring. But at least as long as this, our last survivor continues to grow, I'll probably just let it go, though if it decided to die off, I wouldn't be in a hurry to replace it. Besides, the spot it occupies is prime Hibiscus Moscheutos planting area! Case closed.
Here you go, Gail, the last shot you'll see this year of Celosia Caracas ... I thought this still looked quite attractive and made me wish I had cut a few to keep dried in the house this winter. Next year, I'm not going to sweat it, as I'm sure there will be hundreds of them coming up out front around Finger Rock. Fortunately, Celosia seedlings are clearly identifiable when they're about an inch tall, with tiny replicas of the adult leaves. I'll be curious to see if Caracas shows any color at the seedling stage, but I wouldn't be surprised if it did....

So there you have it. I still have some nice shots of the Calendulas (who are still hanging around) to post, and a few other things I've gotten somewhat recently. But lately, either work (mostly) or the chilly weather has kept me from doing much outside, but I know there is still interesting life to be chronicled in the garden. So I'll close with my usual caveat that I'll be posting when I can find the time!

As for chilly: check the Weather Underground banner
on this page for the current temperature!


Gail said...


Good morning..I am hiding inside this morning, although, it is warming up it heads toward the low fifties!

Thank you for bringing up the Butterfly Bush...I am totally unhappy with mine..It is coming takes up valuable real estate and I can see a few other bee/butterfly magnets in its place!

Let's hope the caracas seedlings do look like Mom and Dad and not some distant cousin three times removed!

I have to do some work....see you later!


Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Gail,
Hear ya on the cold thing ... we did work all the way up to 50 today and then it was all downhill. Tomorrow night, down to 14 or so.... so glad again that the bulbs are in!

Aha, so there are other disgruntled BBush growers out there too? As I said, when (if) this one goes it goes. I think I'm going to broadcast a bunch of that Rudbeckia and Larkspur seed in this bed to fill in around it and the hibiscus, assuming that I managed to really eradicate that pesky Coreopsis! I'd be quite happy with the Asclepias, Kniphofia and Hibiscus!

Hope you had a great day! :-)

Roses and Lilacs said...

That yellow buddleia is certainly lovely. I don't even try to grow them because the Japanese beetles eat the blooms and defeat the purpose. They are mostly annuals in my area, very iffy overwinter.

Gail said...


The flowers of bb sure bring in the pollinators but...over all it is a very unattractive shrub! Blasphemous I know! I could put in a nice native hibiscus or two!


boran2 said...

Lucky you to have so many nice things left in the garden at this time of year!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
I'm late to getting around to comments here, so my apologies to you and all!

You must be that much further to the north than we are for BBs to be iffy, but one year we did lost 2 during a really harsh winter (2000-2001). You must really have the Japanese beetles bad out your way ... I'm glad they don't pester us that much!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Gail,
You're right, it's not the neatest looking shrub either, and no, that's not blasphemy, lol. You know where I weigh in on the hibiscus alternative! :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2,
They're pretty much gone now, given the really cold temps we've had in the past week (these were taken 11/2) though the sages are still looking perky, if a bit worse for wear. Hope to get some pics of them up soon if I can get outside while it's still light out ... I'm not adjusting well to the early darkness!

Family Man said...


I'm surprised you still have any plants with color in them at this time. Lovely shots.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I love the description of part of the garden as "bulby & Hellaborish." (That would be a good name for a fictional lawfirm.) I'm also not a Buddleia fan. I grew one at my old house & was not impressed. I have plenty of Coneflowers for the butterflies. I have become a convert to the cult of Celosia Caracas. Before your blatant propaganda, I thought Celosias were awkward, stumpy little plants that appeared to be in fire.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi there, FM ...
There's still color out there, but it's fading fast. These are some of the very last. Soon the snow, I suppose, *sigh.*

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Glad you liked that turn of phrase, but to pursue your tack, maybe I should have said "helleboorish," but I thought that might be a bit unkind to such well behaved plants. :-)

Know what you mean about the BBs, I've had my fling with them and I'm ready for them to be flung.

Hehe, so the proselytizing (that sounds nicer than propagandizing, no?) did the trick? Might I suggest planting some of the BIG Cristata argentea 'Cockscomb' variety along with Caracas? I think they'd look splendid together, and then you can dry the heads in the fall for winter ... we have to do that again next year. I'll keep my eye out for Caracas seeds and let you know if I find some. They're both really easy to start in small pots in early spring and when they're about 3" tall they can go to their sunny home for the rest of the season.

Just another propagandistic thought.