October 31, 2004

Soon it Will Be November

September and October were quiet garden months. During this time I was traveling a lot and battled a cold as well, so time outdoors was limited. I pretty much let the garden do as it pleased, with the expected results.

On Friday I did an informal census of what worked and what didn't.

What worked:
Most of the things in my containers, most notably the magilla perilla, which grew into a lovely if somewhat outsized plant.
After a summer of struggling, the alyssum staged a late-game comeback. Results shown here:

The calladium and elephant ear added late-summer color.
The salvia in the sunny bed was a raving success. This was not due to me, as I only recently learned that it requires pruning. So it ran a bit amok until I finally pruned it (hopefully not too hard).

What didn't work:
The celosia never thrived and just didn't seem to be worth the trouble. We'll try something else next year.
Lamb's ear: too invasive and sort of ugly, this lost its charm early in the summer.

Jury still out on:
The hypoestes, a plant I liked but which seemed to require more care than I could reasonably give it. It's not dead, just sort of scruffy.
The begonias were a nice touch, although perhaps I overdid it. They seem to be growing taller than nature intended here:

On Saturday, as 40 mph winds blasted Chicago, I determined to put in daffodil, crocus, tulip and hyacinth bulbs for the spring. Adverse conditions may have made this a sloppier job than I intended. But we'll see what happens.

Despite disappointments, I've found my time in the garden to be very rewarding. It's not a quiet place--people are always walking by with dogs or kids or driving past in oversize trucks quaking with sound. But it functions as a quiet place for me, and that's what matters.

October sky seen from my garden. (That green floating thing is a pizza flyer stuck in the fence. Ah, urban living!)

Posted at 06:37 PM | az

Weeding out the Comments

This site has become a frequent target for comment spam. I'm not sure how or why this happened, since it doesn't get that much traffic and doesn't attract very many legitimate comments. But I am tired of mopping up after these people, so I am closing comments here for the time being.

Posted at 06:34 PM | az

October 06, 2004

KJ in England

Part of my excuse for the long silence is the 10-day trip we took to London in September. The vacation included two day trips into Kent, where we investigated the gardens at Sissinghurst and Chartwell.

Sissinghurst Castle is the former home of Vita Sackville-West and her husband, Harold Nicholson. Over the course of a couple of decades, they created a truly remarkable garden. An an unapologetic Bloomsburyist, I found the whole trip fascinating.

A-bustle in the hedgerow, with tower in background.

The sheer size and scope of the grounds can be intimidating for novice gardeners like me, but the plants were largely well marked, so we didn't feel too lost. One really needs a flock of employees to follow in Vita's footsteps today. But seeing an exhibit of her handwritten garden planning notes (including my favorite line, 'What is the matter with the lilac?') made me feel a little less at sea after all.

The lime walk, consisting of lime trees trained to grow together, is a striking sight.

More links about Sissinghurst garden design here. More about Vita and Harold here.

We also took a day's trip to Chartwell, former home of Winston Churchill. The garden was a welcome respite from the overwhelming 'Churchill cult of personality' that the place seems imbued with. It's hard not to like a place that greets you with this giant rhubarb-like plant (not labeled, alas).

This plant is as tall as a person, although there's no relative scale shown here.

The Chartwell gardens are somewhat more traditional than at Sissinghurst and in some places they are still being restored. The golden rose garden, shown here, was a peaceful place.

The husband stays in the picture.

More about Chartwell here.

Posted at 08:58 PM | az | Comments (1)

October 03, 2004

Never Can Say Goodbye

To my great surprise, it is October and the garden has marched on.

August and early September were good months, with frequent rain, and I daresay things looked the best they'd ever been. Then I went on vacation and a drought set in, and the garden suffered in my absence. Now there's a chill in the air and the flowers are rapidly preparing to say goodbye. I knew autumn was on the march when I took my potted geraniums inside in a panic last night.

As this article shows, they'll need to be trimmed back a good bit. Will I have the nerve? Stay tuned.

Posted at 06:05 PM | az