Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Potpourri for July

 

SNAP. CRACKLE. POP. Firecrackers, fireworks and even laser light shows celebrate the 4th of July. We see flags displayed throughout towns and neighborhoods even red, white and blue market lights a blaze at night. Everyone wants to say Happy Birthday to our country in their own way, but please be aware of the dangers of the myriad fireworks. Always have a safety plan in case things go south.

Now lets turn our attention to the garden setting and size up what needs to be done. First of all, I am aware that much of the vinca, geraniums, lambs' ears, and other drought resistant flowers have drooped with the rainfalls and depressed sunlight. All of these plants need to dry out. My potted geraniums were in larger outdoor pots, which held water and just about drown these. Always check for soggy pots, and remove the plants before implementing drainage control. I just took out the smaller pots of geraniums out and drained to larger pot. My problem turned out to be a clogged drainage hole.

Gardening in the shade is one topic I am having more and more interest in since my neighbors' trees and my oak trees are practically forming a canopy over most of the area. I did have a tree man limb up some of the lower branches to let in more light, but now I have partial shade. In a border with the most shade, I have planted several varieties of hosta, along with hydrangeas as a back drop. Instead of impatiens or begonias, which are go to plants for the shady environment, I planted stands of coleus, Lime Wizard (lime colored), Volcano (rusty red), and Bellingrath (variegated green, salmon and cream) which are readily available varieties in our area. And to make the area look a little more dramatic, I added giant elephant ears in three spots.

I have always liked to have my cake and eat it too. And we can do this by designing portable flower centerpieces for the home. First of all measure your indoor containers, and obtain outdoor pots with drain holes to grow the plants. These can be terra cotta, black plastic or any type really. They will need to be smaller than the indoor container. If some of the outdoor container is taller than your indoor container, purchase Spanish moss to hide the edge. Now decide what flowers to plant that will fill the pot to be brought from outdoors to indoors and placed into the container. The pot can contain one variety of flowers, such as Dragon Wing begonias, or the newest variety of landscape begonia call "Big", or get creative with herbs and flowers, or flowers paired with trailing succulents. Referring to the landscape begonia "Big", the leaf shape is similar to the regular mounding types, but much larger. I recently purchased a small tray which are a beautiful creamy pink. You can experiment not only with different flowers, herbs, succulents, but also bulbs. Anyway, keeping the plants growing outdoors in the proper light situations, allows you to have instant indoor pots of flowers when needed.

PLANT OF THE MONTH--BLOOD LEAF (Iresine herbstii)

I have been reading some articles on tropicals, and ran across this plant. If you like giant fancy coleus, you will love blood leaf. It is a tropical perennial in zones 9-10 which would include the panhandle of Florida and even New Orleans I, but an annual in our zone 8. We would have to protect it in our winters. Blood leaf grows quickly and spreads up to 3' across. The bright magenta foliage is quite a sight. It hails from Brazil, is tolerant of neglect, and grows well in bright shade,. To propagate, take cuttings to root, or sow the seeds in potting soil and barely cover the seed. The variety that is the showiest would be Purple Lady. My sister in Athens, Georgia has bought me a plant which I will immediately plant in a large outdoor pot. I will keep tabs on it progress and report later.

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY AND GOOD GARDENING.

 

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