Tips, tricks, and tools for gardening in a forest community
Posted in Begonia, Canna, Flower Gardening, Gardening addiction, Gardening in Williamsburg, Magniolia, Magnolia liliiflora, Nature art, Nature Photography, Perennials, Perma-culture, Photography, Plant photos, Silent Sunday, Summer Garden, Sunday Dinner, Symmetry, Trees
A rhizome, technically a stem, grows just at the surface, or slightly underground; sending roots down into the soil and leaves up into the light.
Many plants grow from rhizomes.
Have you eaten ginger? Ginger is a rhizome, and the ginger you purchase at the grocery can be planted and grown into a new plant by placing it on the surface of some good dirt, adding just a little dusting of soil on top, and watering it in. Within a few weeks roots will grow and leaves emerge from the piece of ginger rhizome.
Many of the most beautiful Begonias grow from rhizomes.
And like a piece of ginger, the rhizome may go dormant for a period of time before suddenly producing new leaves and beginning to grow.
When you buy a Rex Begonia for its gorgeous leaves, it is growing from a little rhizome.
I purchased this bird’s nest fern and a little Begonia at Lowe’s back in the winter, and potted them up in a big bowl for a winter centerpiece on my dining table. We enjoyed them all winter, but the Begonia struggled along while the fern took off.
I moved them both into a nursery pot and set them outside in early summer. The Begonia had lost its last leaf by this time, and I had no way to tell whether it was alive or dead.
But look! The rhizome survived, and has begun to grow again and produce new leaves.
Here is another rhizomatous Begonia which has gone completely dormant twice now, and then has suddenly sprung back into growth.
I love the leaves on this one for their silvery sheen.
Rhizomatous Begonias grow extremely well in the shade. That said, they grow much better outside than inside.
Many of these special Begonias are winter bloomers, and will begin blooming, when they are happy, in January or February. They need bright light inside to bloom, but love a shady and sheltered spot outside in the summer.
We had actually given up on this one for dead last spring, and chucked the contents of its pot under a shrub. I was thrilled to find it alive and leafing out several weeks later.
It grew happily under an Azalea all last summer, and survived most of the winter potted, indoors by a window.
By April it looked like it was dieing back, and so I moved it outside, and out of its pot, into the Earth. It perked up within a few weeks, and looks lush and happy again.
Because a rhizome sends out both roots and stems, it can be broken into smaller pieces and each replanted.
The rhizome grows longer over time, as it stores food for the plant; sometimes branching out to cover more ground. It can grow pretty quickly into a large plant.
Many ferns grow from rhizomes. German Iris grow from rhizomes.
Canna lilies and ginger lilies grow from rhizomes.
Plants which grow from rhizomes can be easily divided to increase your stock.
Each little piece of the rhizome has the potential to grow into a new plant identical to the original one.
Most plants growing from a rhizome need to dry out a little between waterings. Too much water can cause the rhizome to rot, which will kill the plant.
Watch the leaves to know when more water is needed, but in general let the surface of the soil dry a bit between drinks. Some, like iris, are very drought tolerant.
A rhizome is a wonderful adaptation which allows a plant to wait out poor conditions without dieing, so it can grow again when conditions improve.
And it is a wonderful thing for a gardener to realize that a plant thought dead was only dormant, and has begun to grow yet again!
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2013-2014
Posted in Begonia, Canna, Container gardening, Ferns, Garden Resources, Gardening addiction, Gardening How-To, Gardening in Williamsburg, Ginger Lily, Gloriosa Lily, Nature art, Plant photos, propagation, rhizome, Stump Garden, Summer Garden, Tips, Tools, and Techniques, Zone 7B Cultural Information
We have a bit of tropical beauty where the Colocasias, Hibiscus, Canna, and Ginger Lily have woven themselves together into a beautiful out-sized screen in the front garden.
The tallest in the group are over seven feet high, and still growing, scarlet flowers stretching high above our heads.
Hidden among the leaves, the first of the Colocasia flowers emerge, elegant and creamy white in the shadows.
Such beauty is completely unexpected and absolutely appreciated.
Planted for their enormous and unusual leaves, these Elephant Ears have made themselves at home; first sending out runners to increase their real estate, and now offering these exotic flowers.
We haven’t seen them visited yet, but hope our nectar loving insects will find them soon.
Our experiment in growing these Colocasia and Cannas has proven a beautiful success.
This part of the garden has transformed itself this season from a largely neglected area to one of real interest and beauty.
The transformation began with a grocery bag of Canna Lily roots, offered by a dearly loved friend to help us reform this area left sunny and bare after the loss of three oak trees in summer storms last June.
This just goes to show how a sincere gift, given in love, can sometimes initiate transformation and beauty beyond our wildest imagining.
Photos by Woodland Gnome, 2014
Posted in Bees, Hummingbirds, Butterflies, and Dragonflies, Canna, Colocasia, Dragonflies, Four Season Garden, Garden planning, Garden Resources, Gardening addiction, Gardening in Williamsburg, Hibiscus moscheutos, Nature art, Oregon Grape Holly, Perma Culture, Plant photos, Plants which attract butterflies, Plants which attract hummingbirds, Plants which attract pollinating insects, Summer Garden, Zone 7B Cultural Information
Hours into days, days into weeks, weeks into seasons; as we drift through the unfolding year something new always opens up for us, even as something spent is crumpling and falling away.
The first week of July, well into the summer, hosts a fresh round of openings and beginnings here in our forest garden.
Hibiscus and Buddleia, Dill and Crepe Myrtle are all opening and unfolding the first of their flowers at the moment.
I love to find a plant covered in buds; full of potential and beauty, ready to open itself to the garden.
July, as flower-filled as May in our garden, also offers up an incalculable array of shades and hues of green.
When rain has been plentiful, as it is this year, greens are fresh and vibrant.
Greenness generates the energy needed for growth; and one may almost hear the whispers of unfolding leaves and lengthening stems on a warm summer evening.
Change comes minute upon minute in the garden during deep summer.
Abundant moisture and constant heat provide the hothouse for outrageous growth.
Vines stretch and new seeds germinate.
Shrubs magically expand and ferns fill in the open spaces.
Buds constantly opening fill every breeze with sweetness.
Every part of the garden glows with color.
A garden serves as a reliable text book for life.
Lessons trivial and profound are written daily in the sky and soil.
Every creature and plant is a willing tutor to those who engage with them with mind and heart open to their wisdom.
The changing light weaves a new story each day; a faithful Scheherazade for those who will listen and take pleasure in the tale.
In July, the garden’s theme is abundance and profound love.
Source is generous with its gifts, nourishing through its fruits, and rich in its beauty.
Posted in Ageratum, Begonia, Buddleia, Catnip, Color, Comfrey, Crepe Myrtle, Dill, Environmental Preservation, Ferns, Garden planning, Garden Resources, Gardening addiction, Gardening in Williamsburg, Muscadine Grapes, Nature art, Perennials, Perma Culture, Plant photos, Plants which attract butterflies, Plants which attract hummingbirds, Plants which attract pollinating insects, Redbud Tree, Rose of Sharon, Summer Garden, Wildlife gardening, Zone 7B Cultural Information
Maroon: Somewhere between brown and red, or perhaps chocolate and rose; with a little purple hue thrown in for good measure.
When I think of “maroon,” I think of team colors, 1950’s cars, and lipstick.
From the French and Italian words for “chestnut,” maroon reminds me of cinnamon and dried chilies; good red wine and mole’ sauce.
It looks delicious, smells of old roses, and feels like satin.
But here it is in the garden!
Have you ever seen a flower advertised as “maroon” in a nursery catalog? Who would order a “maroon” plant or flower?
But un-named, it is a deep and intriguing color, a good foil for cream and pink.
It plays well against all shades of green, and gives an illusion of coolness and shadow.
And now I’m seeing it everywhere…
Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014
With appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells for her One Word Photo Challenge: Maroon
One World Photo Challenge: Gold Golden Turtle
Posted in Begonia, Canna, Coleus, Garden planning, Gardening addiction, Gardening in Williamsburg, Hibiscus "Kopper King", Nature art, One Word Photo Challenge, Photo Challenge, Plant photos, Plants which attract butterflies, Plants which attract hummingbirds, Plants which attract pollinating insects, Rose of Sharon, Summer Garden, Williamsburg, Zone 7B Cultural Information
It seemed simple enough at the time:
I added three Colocasia esculenta tubers to my spring order at Easy To Grow Bulbs. I was also ordering tubers for Canna Lilies and Gloriosa Lilies.
Easy To Grow Bulbs is one of my favorite online vendors. Their stock is of high quality, their prices fair, their selection intriguing, and their customer service excellent.
A bargain at around $7.00 each, these huge tubers arrived healthy and ready to grow.
I filled plastic boxes with fresh potting soil and planted the entire order the day it arrived, carefully following the enclosed instructions. The instructions suggested planting about 8″ deep, so I used a deep Rubbermaid container.
I watered at planting time to moisten the mix, but then kept the lid on waiting for the plants to grow.
The boxes of dormant tubers were fine down in the workroom, where I could keep an eye on them. I checked the soil several times, found it slightly moist, and so just gave them time.
After a few weeks, the Cannas were growing well; so we moved them up to the garage where they could get some light. It was still a little too cool to plant them out in the garden.
I could see root growth in the box with the Colocasia, known as Elephant Ears, but no top growth yet.
Finally our cool spring warmed up enough to plant the Canna Lilies out. I had ordered Colocasia from several different sources, and also had one plant which grew in a pot all winter in the garage.
The others had arrived already in leaf, and so I moved them out to the garden a few at a time throughout May.
Finally, a beautiful, strong leaf emerged on the Colocasia esculenta grown from a tuber. I moved the box up to the brighter garage, and waited for the other two tubers to leaf out.
But nothing happened.
Believing they probably needed more warmth, I took the box out to the garden one warm day in late May. These were the last of the Elephant Ears planted in our new sunny border.
Still following directions, I dug three deep holes and amended them with compost. I planted the leafed out plant first.
It had a huge healthy root system, and I tried to plant it at about the same level it had been growing in the box.
But here is where the mystery begins: the other two tubers showed no evidence of growth. I planted them anyway, believing they would begin to grow at any time given the warmth of early summer.
The tubers were all the same variety, and looked nearly identical when they arrived. One would think that given exactly the same conditions, they would respond the same…. Wouldn’t you?
So I’ve faithfully watered my newly planted Cannas, Colocasias, Sages, and Hibiscus several times a week, when it hasn’t rained, to get them properly established.
And of course I’ve watered the spots where the tubers were planted- just to help them along. After all, we all know that Colocasias like moist soil and need plentiful water to support their huge leaves.
So when no growth appeared by late last week, I was truly puzzled. In fact, I was very naughty and gently dug into one of the planting areas to see what was going on.
On hands and knees, I dug around gingerly, expecting to hit a green shoot at any moment. Until I hit a pocket of greenish beige slime….
The tuber had rotted.
How is that possible? I did everything right, didn’t I?
This morning I called Easy To Grow Bulbs to talk with them about the problem with the Elephant Ears. And I was delighted to meet a very knowledgeable gardener, and “bulb whisperer,” named Kathleen. After listening patiently, and asking a few questions, Kathleen launched into teaching/ coaching mode and taught me something new.
She explained that although all of the tubers may look identical, they are all individuals, have their own genetic blueprint, and so will break dormancy on their own schedule.
Some may be a little earlier, some a little later. It is actually a survival mechanism so that if an early frost comes, the later individuals will survive.
It isn’t unusual for some tubers to begin growing, while others wait another few days or weeks to break their dormancy and begin growing.
The time when they break dormancy is the tuber’s most vulnerable time, when a small factor can make the difference between growth and rot.
Like Caladiums, Colocasia enjoy moist soil when actively growing. But, soil that is too moist, before their leaves have grown in , can easily kill them.
Kathleen reminded me that just as we humans must exhale, so tubers must be able to relieve themselves of too much moisture.
Plants exhale through their leaves. Both Oxygen and water vapor exit the plant through the stomata in the cells of their leaves. Giving too much water in the soil, before the leaves have formed, is deadly.
And that is where I went wrong. When I planted the still dormant tubers out into the garden before they were growing, they were both wet and warm, and so rotted.
I should have planted out the one actively growing plant, but left the two dormant tubers in the original planting box until they showed top growth. Each plant must be treated as an individual. Lesson learned.
Kathleen was very understanding and patient, and put two replacement Colocasia tubers in the mail to me today.
And she gave me precise instructions on how to care for them until they break dormancy and are ready for their places in the garden.
I feel like I made a new friend today; and will absolutely turn to Easy To Grow Bulbs again, as I have so often in the past, for bulbs, roots, and tubers of all sorts.
I’ll save Kathleen’s instructions for another post when the tubers arrive, so you can see them.
You probably know that the tubers of Colocasia are a delectable staple of the Pacific Island diet. Have you ever eaten Poi? If so, you have eaten Colocasia. The leaves are poisonous, but the tuber can be cooked, mashed, and eaten.
I would much rather grow them than eat them, and am looking forward to watching these enormous and beautiful plants grow.
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014
Posted in Bulbs, Caladium, Canna, Colocasia, Container flower gardening, Garden planning, Gardening addiction, Gardening How-To, Gardening in Williamsburg, Ginger Lily, Mail order plants, Nature art, Perma Culture, Plant lists, Plant photos, Plants which attract butterflies, Plants which attract hummingbirds, Plants which attract pollinating insects, Summer Garden, Tips, Tools, and Techniques, Tubers, Wildlife gardening, Zone 7B Cultural Information
Contrast– The art of bringing unlike things together
with an intent to heighten the appreciation of each element.
Contrast is an essential principle of good design, whether we are cooking a meal, decorating a room, building a life, or constructing a garden.
We enjoy sweet with salty; creamy with bitter…
We bring disparate elements together in fresh ways so the element of surprise wakes us up, invites us to see what might otherwise be overlooked.
Contrast jars us into thinking, sometimes. It invites us to make choices; to see the relative values of things.
Our garden is one of sharp contrast: We move from cool shade to bright sun in a single step.
We have areas of dense growth and areas of lawn. Areas carefully curated, and areas sown by nature.
Skillful contrast helps us frame the view to tell our story.
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014
Posted in animals, Bee, Bees, Hummingbirds, Butterflies, and Dragonflies, Caladium, Canna, Container flower gardening, Container gardening, Dragonflies, Garden planning, Garden Resources, Gardening addiction, Gardening in Williamsburg, Nature art, Perma Culture, Photo Challenge, Plant photos, Plants which attract butterflies, Plants which attract hummingbirds, Plants which attract pollinating insects, Rose of Sharon, Roses, Summer Garden, weekly challenge, Wildlife gardening, Zone 7B Cultural Information