Monday, August 10, 2009

Queen of the Night

Two years ago while visiting my grandmother's garden, I brought home a small cutting from what we, the very informal gardeners we are, have always referred to as "Night Blooming Cactus." After carrying the stem on my lap across half our United States, and sticking it in small pot in my bedroom, I became curious to know what this plant was really called. I found this plant is known more commonly as "Queen of the Night," or epiphyllum oxypetalum, a very fitting name, indeed.
As a child my grandmother's great cactus towered over me, often covered in a hundred or more blooms open a night, dangling around me we counted together. I can remember taking the blooms apart, disecting the shiny petals, and looking to see where the strong, waxy stamens met in the puckered center of the flower. I can remember, even before tonight, what they smelled like, and what they felt like, these odd magical flowers. They do not open before the sun sets, and by morning, they are spent blooms, ready to be deadheaded by grandma's loving hand before the next line of buds opened the following night.
I strolled past my cactus recently to find it finally formed two small flowers! How did I miss that? I've been checking daily to see when the buds would swell--the way the flowers look the nights before they will actually open are very familiar to me. Yesterday, I know I would be waiting until tonight before the flowers would open. I'm delighted to report I have two "Queen of the Night" blooms reminding me of my childhood on my very own dining room table.
I called Grandma and Grandpa to tell them, and had a wonderful hour long chat with grandma afterward. It's funny, she speaks of how fragrant they are; I remember how fragrant they are. But I guess when you're enveloped by a 100 of them the scent is more potent. Tonight I'm burying my face in the flower, which is nearly the size of my face, to get the slightest whiff.
Here they preparing to open before I clipped them and brought them indoors:

The inside, just like I remember it.

My cat takes a drink of the freshly poored water in the vase.

Fully open. I've been carrying them around the house with me.
Now, I will putting them on my nightstand. :)
Happy Gardening.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Later July in the Garden

About this time of year I always try and make lists of "What I would do again," and "What I would skip next year." It helps when I've had all winter to glorify my garden, and I forget all the things I was less-than-happy with come August.
-Prune the Trumpet Vine back just a little more next spring. It's mammoth this year!
-So far, I'm thrilled to have had success with morning glory in some various spots that I have failed in the past. Extra attention to those remote areas with water was the key.
-I'm loving the taller zinnias, as opposed to the "Thumbelina" variety that was covered in powdery mildew by this time last year.
-I will not spend my money on Bayer Advanced that claims to kill Japanese Beetles because they are worse this year than they ever been. I will commit to the bucket of soapy water to knock off the bettles each morning, and clipping the roses second flush just so I won't have to watch them get devoured by the beetles. So sad! I'd much rather have the roses in my dining room stinking up the place in a great way!
- I will do the greenhouse (the set-up plastic variety) next year, as I yielded dozens of new perennials, including painted daisies, lavender, and dozens of wonderful annuals including a million verbena, petunias, cosmos, zinnia, not to mention a haryd crop of basil!! YUM!
-I will not be buying those tempting body bag roses any earlier than April. I lost all the early ones, and the later ones are doing incredible!
-I will not buy anymore bareroot clematis from Farm and Fleet, as they have all been incorrectly labeled, and I have too many purple, including 3 polish spirit planted too close together (none of which were supposed to be polish spirit, lol).
-I will use Powdery Mildew prevention (Ortho spray). I have much less PM than last year.
-Move those blasted Bee Balm that mold out of control each summer to the back of the garden, not the very front where all can see!
-I will definately fetilize the evergreen shrubs and trees. My large blue spruce and two dwarf tolleymore spruces have responded swimmingly!
-Let's pull all the yellow johnny jump ups our of the fron bed next spring, they make too messy.

I'll continue to add to this list as the summer commences.

Here are some recent delights:
A butterfly that let me follow her around.

Containers and a sign my mom bought me that reads, "Blessed with Grace and Abundance."
Climbing White Dawn
One of many zinnia.
The kids found this guy in the clubhouse and I rescued him from their grasp. he looked right at home on this $6 cement birdbath I found at a yard sale this spring. He stayed here for a long time. He had a yellow belly.

Love Echinacea Tomato Soup!

The dahlias are totally worth the effort, and I will make sure I overwinter them carefully (last year they molded, and I was heartbroken, so I had to start my collection all over again!).
Here's Hamari Gold.
Arabian Night

Kogana Fubuki, my favorite
Mystery Day
Happy gardening!