Roses in the snow

Well, WE got walloped yesterday with snowfall. I’ve never in my life seen snow like that. I went out to scrape the car, and I felt snowballs pelting me in the back. I looked all around, but no one was in sight. Then–POW!–another snowball hit me! I realized the snow was actually FALLING in snowballs, great big clumps of it. It was uncanny. I had a bunch of errands to do, so off I went in the car. Every time I parked, when I came back out to the car I’d have to scrape another three inches of slush off of it.

I was so curious to see what would happen in the garden, not to mention to the houseplants I hadn’t quite gotten around to bringing inside yet. Out I went today, in the bright sunshine, and found … well, it’s a mixed bag. I’m pretty sure my gorgeous nicotiana are done for. What was great mounds of bushy tobacco-leaf foliage two days ago is all shriveled up now. Some zinnias are poking through the slush, and I have one peacock lily still standing tall and proud. I think the amaryllis I hadn’t brought in yet will be fine, along with the hibiscus I’d left on the front porch. And a jalapeƱo pepper plant that was drenched in snow yesterday is perky in its pot today. And look here! I went out to fill the birdfeeder, and the beautiful raspberry-scented ‘Madame Isaac Perriere’ rosebush is still blooming strong! I couldn’t quite reach the flowers over the mounds of snow, so I brushed the petals with my hand and inhaled that glorious scent.

Last garden ghosts

There’s a definite hint of fall in the air these days, though last night we were the warmest place in the entire nation, apparently. I went out and picked a few more dried hydrangea stems for arrangements before the frost, inevitably, hits. My gorgeous Nicotiana alata are still perfuming the sultry evenings, and the peacock orchids continue to bloom. I have a lot of sort of scraggly-looking Impatiens balsamina, mostly the fat, ready-to-pop buds along the stems, and the chrysanthemums are just starting to come into their own. Oh, I must remember to mention the toad lilies, which are blooming their pretty little heads off. But the summer flowers are just about over and done. These zinnias provide one last dash of sunshine, a memory of lazy summer days.

A coleus kaleidoscope!

I’ve never been that big a fan of coleus. I mean, I like flowers, not foliage. No matter how zany leaves are, they’re still just leaves. But for some reason, last spring I decided to plant a large planter on my back patio with four different kinds of coleus. And I have got to tell you, I’ve gotten more pleasure out of this planting than just about anything else I’ve ever done.

Those coleus took off! Something about the site and the container, maybe even the soil, just suited them perfectly. They got big and fluffy, they branched out, and they even all grew at sort of the same pace, filling out the planter and creating a garden focal point that really made me proud.

In past years, I’ve tried to grow flowers in this shady spot, but I’ve never had success like this with any varieties I planted. I’m afraid I’m a convert. From now on, it’s coleus or nothing for me!

And yes, I do realize I should either clean up before I take photos in the backyard or else learn how to crop photos. Probably easier to clean up, considering my technology aversion. Sorry about that!

Just in the nicotiana of time!

Remember how worried I was that my big, lush Nicotiana alata, also known as jasmine tobacco, wouldn’t get around to blooming before frost, since I hadn’t started them indoors the way the seed packet said to? Well, thank heaven for this stretch of extra-nice Indian summer, because these babies came through. They smell so wonderful at night! And they have much more substance than the smaller hybrid nicotianas (which I also love, by the way, even though it’s hard to understand why breeders allow fragrance to pass out of a plant like this). I am admiring them greatly and wondering what strange, monstrous moths and night insects they’re attracting while I’m safe asleep!