When it comes to dressing, style mavens and mothers have strongly suggested for years, that one leave something to the imagination. In this time of TMI, there's even a smart-chic blog called Always a Lady that kindly advises young women on the art of elegance, poise and putting some freakin' clothes on.
A little mystery goes a long ways. This same concept applies to your garden.
I've known of this design principle and experienced it before; with a twist on the path or a tantalizing backyard gate. While walking the streets and squares (pronounced in two syllables as squay-ahs) in the historic district of Savannah this week, I became even more convinced of the power of promise.
Set an obstacle between me and a beautiful garden and I become the nosiest-Nancy. There I was sticking my eye up to the crack in the boards of a garden door, poking my camera lens through the fretwork and filigree of an ironwork fence, searching out a thin spot among vines. The tighter the view, the more determined I was to take it in; anxious to see yet another secret garden of Savannah.
They don't disappoint.
All that business about enclosure, framing the view and focal points. All that stuff about symmetry and serpentine lines. All the fuss about foliage when flowers are few. These small spaces are some of the most successful and satisfying gardens I've ever seen.
Enjoy the view without all the embarrassment, I took care of that already. The things I do for my readers...
A little tease... The Garden Buzz
Red Leaf Banana Trees at each corner by the fountain The Garden Buzz
These adorable lambs greet visitors...and snoops The Garden Buzz
Weird weather. Funny fall. Whatever you call it, right now I appreciate the absence of weather while I'm on the road. I'm in Columbia Mo, where my daughter is a journalism student and set to graduate in a month.
Tomorrow we'll be flying/driving/flying to Savannah Ga where she'll be attending grad school come January. During this quick apartment-hunting trip I probably won't have much time for blogging, but I promise to post pictures of any pretty gardens I might come upon.
In the meantime enjoy the last of the "Ya Gotta Love This Plant" videos. This last video features Helianthus "Lemon Queen", a great fall-blooming, carefree native perennial that brings sunny color to your garden while providing food for the bees. I know that it's probably too late to be plant shopping, but put it on your 2011 wish list for sure.
Putting this third video together was more difficult; I learned what they mean by "losing the light" as the days grow shorter. In addition, my sound quality is somewhat spotty. The upside is that I learned so much more about communicating the garden story in a new medium.
Don't be surprised if I take it up a notch by next year. Until then...
By now many of you have put your gardens to bed, with a gentle but firm good riddance. It's time for a rest. You're ready to curl up with a cuppa something and a good book.
I hate to tell you this, but it's time to start thinking about next year's garden.
Tubers are the underground food storage units for many of our favorite tropicals and tender perennials. Mother Nature loves to do that "ugly duckling" transformation thing; she struts her stuff turning homely organisms into ravishing beauties. Ta-dah! Bumpy, brown little lumps become butterflies or breathtaking flowers.
Freshly dug tubers The Garden Buzz
Just when you thought you were done digging, it's time to save these tubers. You don't have to. I probably leave them to rot more often than not. But then spring comes around and I wish I had dug them after all. Plant companies selling tubers for dahlias, cannas, caladiums and such, count on us slackers to keep them in business.
Whether you're frugal or find it fun, digging and storing tubers can be rewarding. While some people wait for the foliage to freeze or die before cutting it back; your decision can vary on weather conditions and your schedule. Digging them from the ground or reclaiming them from containers is easier done in dry conditions.
Canna musifolia The Garden Buzz
Saving my canna tubers was especially easy this year. While visiting, my father-in-law took it upon himself to break apart the pot-bound boogers that had graced the deck with their lush leaves all summer long. His tenacious approach to this tedious business produced a bumper crop of (Canna musifolia) banana canna babies for next year. Did I mention it was his 82nd birthday?
This year I'm saving the tubers from one of my favorite plants for the first time. You might have seen Salvia "Black and Blue" in my debut garden video, but did you know it forms underground tubers? In my old zone 6 garden, B&B was marginally hardy; planted near the limestone walls, it was the perfect microclimate. Fast forward to zone 4, darn, now I gotta dig 'em up.
Tubers of Salvia guaranitica "Black and Blue" The Garden Buzz
With this particular tuber it's important to leave part of the stem, where the new shoots called stolons will emerge next year; this particular tuber doesn't have "eyes" from which to grow.
Once dug tubers will need to dry out and cure for a week; they can then be stored in crates, paper bags, open plastic bags in peat moss. Some people will use sawdust or newspapers. Some people wash off the dirt, but generally that's a bad idea. Fastidious people will dust them with an anti-fungal powder like sulphur. It's best for the tubers to stay ever so slightly damp but not wet. They can even be stored in a spare fridge at 40-50 degrees.
Canna tubers The Garden Buzz
Since homes and humidity levels vary greatly in and within each home, this can be an experimental process at first. For specific help consult your local Extension experts.
A friend, Master Gardener and fellow fan of Salvia "Black and Blue" plans to try three different methods this winter; one in a covered pail of peat moss in her laundry room, one potted in the unheated garge with little water and one inside potted with little light, cool temps and regular water.
Salvia "Black and Blue" The Garden Buzz
As for me, I'm a big fan of benign neglect. I'll probably keep the salvia tubers in a bag with peat. As for the cannas, they seem to do fine left alone in the somewhat-heated garage. Since I tend to forget about them, it's always a pleasant surprise when I find them again the following year.