Feeds:
Posts
Comments

In Garden Tip-Compact Way To Save Seeds, I shared with you Tonya’s notebook method for saving seeds. Not everyone can cram all their saved seeds into a notebook so I am offering you another idea.

Dawn Endle, a fellow subscriber to The Plants Exchange on Facebook may have the ultimate in seed storage. Dawn stores her seeds and annual bulbs in a plastic storage unit which she puts in an old refrigerator set at 50 degrees. Come February when she wants to start seeds, everything is in one place.

Photo Credit: Dawn Engleused with permission

Photo Credit: Dawn Engle
used with permission

Photo Credit: Dawn Engleused with permission

Photo Credit: Dawn Engle
used with permission

 

Linda Cunningham wanted to compare one of my plants to hers because mine had a different name. So I took some cuttings which I put in a bucket of water to keep them from melting before I could get to her house. I belted the bucket into the front seat beside me to avoid any unwanted adventures on the way over there. I should have known it was impossible to avoid an adventure. Before I could even crank the car, a green grasshopper flew out of the cuttings and landed on my steering wheel giving me one of those beady-eyed insect looks. I was so startled, I screamed. I couldn’t help it, okay? Thankfully, Poppie got into a bad batch of hearing aid batteries. He was sitting on his back porch right by the garage and it would have been embarrassing if he had come to my aid over a grasshopper.

I pulled a map of Atlanta from the crack next to the seat and whacked him out of the car with enough force to cannonball him into the next county if the garage hadn’t been there to stop him.

At Cunningham’s, I watched with fascinated awe at the level of her courage compared to mine. Whenever she encountered one of those monstrous Eastern Lubber Grasshoppers, she picked it off the plant with her bare hands and called her dog, Milo.

Eastern Lubber GrasshopperPhoto Credit: Linda Cunningham

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper
Photo Credit: Linda Cunningham

Milo would come running and promptly dispatch the grasshopper with two shakes of his head and a toothy crunch to its neck. First time I have ever thought about getting a dog.

Milo with grasshopperPhoto Credit: Linda Cunningham

Milo with grasshopper
Photo Credit: Linda Cunningham

African Blue Basil has been on my “want list” ever since I saw it at a Duval County Extension Agent class 3 or 4 years ago. It is a sterile (does not produce seeds) perennial basil with a strong camphor scent but that didn’t bother me. I wanted it for its non-food properties —  it blooms profusely with very tall flower spikes that attract all kinds of bees and other pollinators.  African Blue Basil probably needs staking unless you aggressively pinch or cut it back. It tends to flop all over and part in the middle.

African Blue Basil close-up

African Blue Basil close-up

African Blue Basil spike with very small butterfly

African Blue Basil spike with very small butterfly

It’s inability to produce seeds is probably why it’s hard to find but I finally got some. Tell everyone! Linda Cunningham has African Blue Basil! Don’t forget that Cunningham’s is open year round by appointment. You can get her phone number and directions here.

Late breaking news: Linda Cunningham informed me today that Milo’s annihilation of grasshoppers is over. She took him to the vet and learned his inflamed mouth is caused by the toxic juice grasshoppers give off. Milo’s grasshopper vet bill exceeded the others, too. Short-lived occupation as a Grasshopper Dispatcher.

Even in death, what beauty to behold. I found this Luna Moth lying out in the grass today with much of its color leached out. Notice the brown margins at the top of the wings and the two “eyes” curling just below it, the two round circles in the lower wings and the delicate line covering the sides of all four wings. It almost looks like a delicate Chinese painting. My photo does not do it justice in terms of the detail you can see with the naked eye.

Luna Moth-2537

I think we should add a new word to the English lexicon that would combine the words cat and crap. Twitter users would then have a hashtag — #ohcrat — for stories about their beloved cats.

One of my cats lives permanently with Poppie because my other cat, Whiskey, is a bully. I bear all the expenses of cat ownership but visit with Big Foot only when I cook dinner for Poppie. Thus, I am down to one cat who will come inside at night and sleep with me. I like the comfort of a furry animal who takes over most of the bed.

Whiskey - furry animal comfort

Whiskey – furry animal comfort

There are downsides to furry animal comfort. It is not bestowed nightly, due to roaming, and comes with a hefty fee, thanks to Poppie’s habit of feeding the cats a “red eye” special. In other words, on the nights Whiskey deigns to sleep inside, his habit of catching the red eye special does not change. It simply does not matter to him that I am NOT a morning person. Such a shortcoming on my part garners no empathy. His non-roaming fee must be paid. At 4:30 a.m.

For me, 4:30 a.m. is prime sleeping time. The thriller novel finally set aside, the 2 a.m. bathroom call satisfied, you get the picture. Whiskey has to really work at waking me at 4:30. If meowing, walking on me, hair pulling and face sniffing do not raise me from my slumbers, he starts throwing things off the night table. A tube of lotion, an ink pen, a pencil. In final desperation, he pulls out all the stops. Hearing the glass water bottle slide off the night table and crash to the carpet ALWAYS transforms me into a morning person mentally hollering “Oh crat!”

I guess the heat doesn’t bother Lynn’s hubby, Terry. In the dog days of a Florida summer, he took on a Do-It-Yourself project at the entryway of his and Lynn’s home. I’m giving him a round of applause for making such a nice entryway in 100 degree weather. The heat has been bothering me so much that I’ve taken up cussin’ again. Not just one cuss word but three of them strung together in a row.

slate entry

Lynn’s hubby installing a new slate entryway
Photo Credit: Lynn Stephens

Lynns entryway

The final results
Photo Credit: Lynn Stephens

 

Rose of Sharon

Althea, Rose of Sharon
Hibiscus syriacus
blooming today

Rose of Sharon double-2511

Althea, Rose of Sharon – double
Hibiscus syriacus
blooming today

Wishbone Flower, torenia fournieri, first caught my eye in the spring or summer of 2013 probably because it was a velvety, trumpet-shaped deep purple flower with a white throat, about one inch long and half inch wide. I don’t remember if I bought one or three plants but I do remember my goal was to plant it in a planter at the front of Poppie’s main garage as a replacement for the fading winter violas. It filled out the container, making a compact, mounding plant that bloomed profusely all summer and into the fall. I fell in love with it and I’m still on the honeymoon.

Wishbone Flower close-up from 2013 planter in front of Poppie's garage

Wishbone Flower close-up from 2013 planter in front of Poppie’s garage

The original wild Wishbone Flower hails from Viet Nam. Common names include Bluewings and Clown Flower, but it is more aptly named Wishbone Flower because inside the flower throat, its anthers arch inward, join at the tip and look like a chicken wishbone. The stamens pull apart when the flower is ready for pollination. The leaves have a toothy edge similar to mint.

A bushy, summer annual growing 6 to 12 inches, it can be grown as a houseplant, in containers, hanging baskets and as borders planted in your flower beds. It is hardy in USDA zones 6 to 11 and absolutely thrives in warm, humid climates with a little shade. My planter gets morning shade but afternoon sun, those planted in the flower bed get morning sun and afternoon shade. It is said to bloom profusely even in moderate to heavy shade. In the more northern U.S., grow Wishbone in full sun but consider it a tender annual unable to tolerate frost.

At this time, there are several cultivars – ‘Alba’, ‘Clown’ whose ‘Clown Mixture’ won the 1989 All-America Selection, ‘Compacta’ (very compact habit), ‘Grandiflora’ (larger flowers), ‘Kauai’, ‘Panda’ (small 4-8 inch plants), and ‘Susie Wong’ (bright yellow flowers with brown throats). All of the flowers have multiple colors. Some of the colors available are deep blue, deep purple, lavender, white, white with yellow, both light and dark pink, red violet, hot fuchsia magenta, and burgundy. Thirty years of hybridizing have produced colors that I would love to have but can’t find, probably because they are the newest: ‘Summer Wave Blue’ (a solid purple), ‘Magenta Dream or Moon’ (burgundy and yellow with dark throat) ‘Velvet Dream’.

I consider this color to be red violet

I consider this color to be red violet

Recommendations for success include fertilizing every few weeks to promote flowering and deadheading to increase bushiness. I never did either and mine were fine. I did keep it consistently moist but not soggy because its stems reminded me of impatiens which are susceptible to root rot.

The seeds are almost transparent and microscopic. They are a tad difficult to collect but it’s not impossible. Take a little cup with you so you can pinch the seed pod off without losing any seeds. I wish I could tell you what the seed pod looks like but it must have been obvious because I have no memory of it. DO NOT cover the seeds as they need light to germinate. Press them into the soil and water lightly. You can also root stem cuttings in water to create more plants.

I do encourage saving seed so that you never run out of the colors you want to grow. For instance, I saw plenty of the pinks and violets at the nurseries this year but not the deep purple I had purchased last year. Like violas, they reseed themselves which turned into a real challenge for me when my 12 inch wide planter suddenly sprouted ALL the seeds from last year plus ALL the seeds I saved and planted. Having planted every last seed I saved, I had enough to over-fill the 12 inch planter, plant 2 dozen in my flower bed, and give a half dozen away. Oddly, I have colors that came up from the 2013 plants or saved seeds that I never saw in the planter — both light  and medium pink.

Wishbone in the landscape

The two dozen in the flower bed
deep purple

%d bloggers like this: