In A Vase on Thursday

October 22, bees 003

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Cutting flowers from the garden is still a very hard thing for me to do.  The bees didn’t help the matter at all as they buzzed around the Mexican Sage I was dropping in a glass of water, as soon as I had cut it.  They were bewildered, and a bit annoyed, that I was taking their favorite flowers.

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October 22, bees 004

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I walked right past the gorgeous Camellias, not wanting to cut their woody stems, which will keep on growing once the flowers drop.

Some will observe that cutting encourages new growth; a moot point in late October.  Others will chime in that frost can take them down at any time, anyway.

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October 22, bees 005

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Whatever the merits of the arguments, I wanted to fill this silver coffee pot with flowers before my guests arrive in a few short hours.  It had grown a bit dusty and tarnished over the summer.

I enjoy the firm deadline an invitation imposes for one to seek out those pesky cobwebs normally ignored; clean out the stacks of catalogs by my chair, and perhaps shine a piece or two of silver.

And to cut flowers….

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October 22, 2015 vase 007~

As usual, I’ve cut things I hope will root in the vase.  There are my two favorite Salvias in bloom this month:  Salvia leucantha and Salvia elegans.  And though only the Pineapple Sage is called elegant in its proper name, I find both to be very elegant in the fall garden.

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October 22, 2015 vase 003

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The Salvia leucantha grow through an Artemisia in the front garden, and so I used a bit as filler.  I like its pale foliage against the silver coffee pot.  There are also a few branches of our African Rose Mallow, Hibiscus acetosella.

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October 22, 2015 vase 004

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Cathy, continues to post her vase each Monday, and I think of her fondly as each Monday comes and goes.  I expect these flowers to still look lovely after the weekend, and perhaps I’ll consider myself a few days early instead of four days late!  Positive thinking is a habit, after all, isn’t it?

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October 22, 2015 vase 001~

Our weather has turned nice again and I’ve been putting a few potted things back outside to enjoy our late October Indian Summer.  We certainly are enjoying these comfortable, sunny days.  And the small creatures in the garden, particularly the bees, celebrate all of the flowers still blooming so beautifully.

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October 22, bees 002

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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October 22, 2015 vase 006

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So Much to Love: African Rose Mallow

The second of the African Rose Mallow shrubs I purchased this season, planted in compost near our bog garden began the season as a rooted cutting in a 3" pot.

The second of the African Rose Mallow shrubs I purchased this season, planted in compost near our bog garden, began the season as a rooted cutting in a 3″ pot.

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We have been growing a new (to us) variety of Hibiscus this summer known as “African Rose Mallow.” I found a small pot of it in the water garden section at our local Homestead Garden Center in late May, and added it to our new bog garden.

There are so many things I like about this small shrub:  First, nothing has bothered it all summer.  Not a single leaf or twig has been nibbled by deer, rabbit, squirrel, or insect.  Its leaves remain pristine.

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September 3, 2015 rose mallow 009~

And what gorgeous leaves!  Their  delicately cut silhouette reminds me of a Japanese Maple’s leaf.  The color has remained a rich, coppery red throughout the summer.

Red leaves on bright red stems certainly makes a bright statement in this area where I’m also growing so many chartreuse and purple leaved plants.  This African Hibiscus, Hibiscus acetosella, has won my heart over the past three months for its eye-candy appeal and sturdy constitution.

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September 3, 2015 rose mallow 010

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It is a fast grower.  I’ve repotted the original plant twice, and it is already showing root growth from its drainage hole again.  I bought a second plant when I spotted it a few weeks later and planted it directly into compost around the edge of the bog.  Its growth has been even more vigorous than its sibling grown in a pot.  Both plants have grown taller than me, but neither has yet bloomed.  I’m still hoping to see buds form and blooms open before frost.

About three weeks ago I finally trimmed back the potted plant to encourage a bit more branching along the main stems, and plunked the two stems I pruned away into a vase of water by the kitchen sink.

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September 3, 2015 rose mallow 011

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My friends know my kitchen sink, flanked by two windows, is my magical rooting spot in the house.  One will always find stems of several somethings rooting in this bright, moist, protected spot where I can keep a close eye on their progress.

And these tall stems of the African Rose Mallow did not disappoint.  Although the stems were semi-hard when cut, the leaves have shown no signs of wilt throughout the process.  I first noticed the new white roots on Sunday afternoon, and they have grown enough this week for me to pot the stems up today.

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September 3, 2015 rose mallow 012~

I’ve returned the rotted cuttings to the bog garden for now, but I’m considering where I would like to plant them out once their roots establish.  It will definitely be somewhere it the front garden where I can enjoy them against the other Hibiscus which delight us all summer.

The H. acetosella are rated as hardy in our Zone 7 climate.  All of our native Hibiscus enjoy damp soils and are often found growing on river banks and near swamps.  Yet, they make it in our drier garden just fine, with a little watering during dry spells.

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September 3, 2015 rose mallow 013~

I’m planning to root another set of cuttings and produce  a few more of these luscious rose colored Hibiscus plants.  The leaves are edible, if one is hard pressed for a meal, and may be prepared like spinach.  They retain their color when cooked.

The leaves are also used as a medicinal herb in parts of Africa and South America.  They have anti-inflammatory properties and may also be used to treat anemia.  This is a good specimen for true forest food producing gardens, and I’m a little surprised to have not found it before this spring.

If you enjoy hardy perennial Hibiscus and love plants with beautiful foliage, this African Rose Mallow may be to your liking, too.  But you only need to buy one, and then take as many cuttings as you like to increase your collection.

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Our newly rooted cuttings, potted and returned to the bog garden to grow on for a few weeks before we plant them out into the garden.

Our newly rooted cuttings, potted and returned to the bog garden to grow on for a few weeks before we plant them out into the garden.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

Riddle Me This: African Rose Mallow

June 3, 2015 garden in rain 030

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What looks like a Japanese Maple, but will give large lush flowers in mid-summer, attracts hummingbirds, can grow in waterlogged soil, and is edible?

An impossible combination, you say?

Well, I found the answer by accident.

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May 28, 2015 garden 010

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I was browsing the water garden section at a local garden center last week, looking for little starts of Asclepias.  And this wonderful burgundy plant with fine foliage grabbed my attention.  How pretty!

Having no idea what it really was, I added it to my cart on a whim.  (Yes, shopping without my readers again.)

We’ve started a new bog gardening area this spring, and I’m adding interesting plants to liven it up.  This pretty red thing was just what I needed to contrast with the native chartreuse Sarracenia flava  we are growing this year.

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Sara

Sarracenia flava, a native Pitcherplant

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Later, when I did a little research, I was duly impressed with the versatility of this wonderful plant.  African Rose Mallow, Hibiscus acetosella will grow to about 5′ high and wide.  This plant originated in Africa, and was first recorded as a distinct species around 1896.

Traders  carried it to Brazil and Southeast Asia, where it was grown as a food source for African slaves.  This Hibiscus remains more popular in Brazil than in Africa, and is still grown as a spinach like vegetable.  Its rose pink flowers are used for coloring beverages like lemonade, although they don’t lend a distinct flavor of their own.

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June 3, 2015 garden in rain 028

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Although we don’t plan to dine on our ‘Cranberry Hibiscus’ this summer, we look forward to watching it grow.  Its blooms will attract hummingbirds to this part of the garden.  It will prove an interesting addition to our new bog garden.

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June 1, 2015 perennial bed 028

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We have had excellent experiences with the new Hibiscus cultivars we added to the front garden last summer, and all have returned this year.

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June 3, 2015 garden in rain 010

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 Hibiscus has proven very easy to grow in our garden, and gives a long season of boom.

I plan to take cuttings of this new African Rose Mallow within the next few days, and hope to establish it in more areas this summer.  I’m glad I followed the prompting to purchase this plant, even without recognizing it as an Hibiscus.

A happy Serendipity; this riddle’s answer has pleased us immensely.  We can always find magic, when we remain open to it.

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June 3, 2015 garden in rain 029

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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