Thursday, September 24, 2015

How did I do?

West Virginia Department of Commerce

Happy Fall, Y’All from the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia! I can’t believe the gorgeous weather we’ve had all this week: cool mornings and lovely temps in the high 70’s.  Perfection.

When I look back over the summer to assess how far I’ve come in my new home,  I’m somewhat disappointed that I haven’t achieved very much by way of gardening. And yet I’m very pleased with the good attempt. I have to remind myself of the time and money spent scrubbing and painting every inch of my house, and buying all the things one needs to own a home.

My house is a small raised ranch. The inside is in excellent shape and as cute as it could be. The outside has very nice siding and really bad windows.
When I moved in, here is what the front looked like. You can see why I needed to put some type of porch on the house, which was a large expense for me, and before I spent money on any plants. This was necessary for not only the appearance but for safety precautions for myself and others.


Enter my kind and handy son-in-law and we put a simple wooden deck on. I stained it the red color because that is the color of my roof and my large deck in the back so it all coordinated. We put a new storm door on and I painted the trim. On the left are most of the shrubs I bought (see below) surrounding the French Lilac bush that was there. They are rather close together for now, but I wanted to get them in the ground before winter. On the right are two Knock Out rose bushes, and the little obelisk is harboring two clematis plants - one Jackmanii, a deep dark purple and the other a hot pink. I hope they will get large and intertwine and look beautiful as they climb up the house. I have to figure out how to make them live through the harsh winter we are being promised - again.

There are many things I want to do and I'll tell you about them in another post!

But I do want to show you one of my very favorite annuals - the Angel Wing Begonia. They somehow remind me of a heartier orchid growing tall stems with their flowers dangling off the tips, and looking so elegant. I love mine here with the little Impatiens "sport" that popped into the pot. It turns out to be my favorite color - the purple.                                   

So what do you do to protect your plants from winter or other harsh weather?  

I hope life is going well for you and I'll see you next time!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

See the pretty white butterflies...........argh!

Hello September! I always look at September as being the end of summer (even though temps have been in the low 90’s/high 80’s) and the end of gardening. Some may gasp and say, “What? There’s lots of gardening left to do.” Yes, I know.

My cynicism comes from the awful look of many of my plants. 
This is one of the many pots of beautiful impatiens I have on my deck. The colors I got are just gorgeous, especially the lavender ones which you don't find in the stores too often. I always throw in white flowers when I plant a mix together because they seem to make all the gorgeous colors "pop" (to use a hackneyed or over-used expression!). 

      Here is a large pot I filled with impatiens and a matching coleus, along with white vinca and a piece of woodland fern I stuck in the pot some years ago.  I just love how the impatiens flows over the side of the pot.

 AND here is the pot a few days - the next day? - later Well it shows how much the fern has actually grown.....
Another photo of the healthy pot. See that darling solar light (watering can I got at CVS when I took a trip to Fenwick Island Delaware this past Spring)

I’ve only really planted impatiens and coleus to any great extent. They have been my favorites forever. But the white flies/moths/whatever have done their dirty little deeds on the coleus plants and now they look sad.

Did you know that coleus was named the Annual of the Year by the National Gardening Association?

Trying to find out what's eating your plants is about the most difficult and frustrating part of gardening. The real problem is when one day you have gorgeous pots and the next day you have sticks like what happened in my pot above. When researching, there were so many options as to what might have 'et my coleus. But here's the thing: A lot of the suggestions were regarding those plants that were in the ground. These are in containers OFF the ground. Now, that doesn't mean that slugs are not in this large pot, because it has sat on the ground for the past five years up until this summer.  The creepy slimy crawlies can make their way right up through the dirt to munch on roots and leaves. I haven't seen slugs, but I have seen two things: webs, and there seems to be an over-abundance of white moth-like creatures flying around. I have a feeling these are the voracious little culprits.
Whitfely is a sucker of plant juices. I think the above plant (right next to my big pot) is a good example of sucking damage. What I don't get is how the critters damaged a huge coleus in one or two days, although I've seen tomato worms work this way.
Here's a great article on whitefly from the Master Gardener Program at the university of California Ventura County

Annie's Tips: If your plants are in pots on the ground, creepy crawlies can make their way through the drainage holes and up to attack the plants. Place your pots on saucers or something that will protect them from the critters!
I vow that next year I will win the battle of the predator that is sucking the life juices out of my flowers! How do you protect your plants?