16 August 2022

Green Thumb

How I wish my giant hibiscus would last a little longer!

The flowers generally last one day each. This year, only three of the eleven branches produced. So there will be far fewer blooms than last year. Please forgive me if I go a little crazy photographing these babies while I can.

I think this may be the most majestic plant I own!

My other hibiscus, which came with the house as in-the-ground as opposed to a pot that comes inside each winter, had been steadily getting bigger and bushier after annual prunings I didn't know I should be performing the first 15 years or so I've lived here. It was three scraggly branches when we moved in, and it would make about ten flowers each year. It was never a big deal to me until the first time I witnessed a hummingbird sipping from the delicate flowers.

Which, of course, never would have happened if I hadn't been allowed to work from home. I snapped photos through my bedroom window while I worked.

Now this beautiful bush has approximately 44 branches, and it literally sprouts 20 to 30 flowers each day. Each flower lasts only one day, but with that many blossoms for about six consecutive weeks, I hardly notice anymore that the blossoms don't last long.

Although most of my garden has bloomed and gone to seed, there are a few flowers hanging tough, and I may still get another full month of flowers, depending upon first frost. There are marigolds, balloon flowers, cosmos, bird-planted fuschia, love in a mist, larkspur, canterbury bells, cupid's dart, chicory, and, of course, sunflowers.

Our little lavender farm is thriving, in spite of the wildlife. Deer tromp through it, bears wallow in it, and squirrels are continually trying to bury or dig up whatever they can find. I had to stop feeding the birds two months ago, which absolutely breaks my heart, thanks to pesky squirrels and raccoons. So far, it hasn't helped. We now have THREE squirrel nests in one tree! I am hoping we might be able to begin feeding the birds again next spring, but in the meantime, I have to continually redo the mulch around the lavender. But the lavender smells so heavenly, how can I complain?

The Spanish lavender I bought last year did not survive the winter. The two plants I bought this year to replace two of the lost plants did not survive the summer heat. So as pretty as it is, there will be no more Spanish lavender in our little lavender farm. I haven't ruled out a pot for indoors, but outdoors just can't handle what Colorado throws at them.

Interesting trivia: The lavender plants I buy in Cheyenne (Wyoming) and Castle Rock (Colorado) thrive more heartily than the plants I buy in Littleton or Highlands Ranch (both in Colorado). Not all of the low-elevation lavender I've bought has died, but they definitely are slower growing. I've always known my home's elevation is a bit higher than Denver, but I didn't think our thin air made THAT much difference. Future purchases for the lavender farm will be via higher altitude markets.

Same goes with the poppy plants I purchase each year. They might all be from Lowe's, but the ones I buy in Castle Rock last longer and bloom more prolificly. And sometimes return the following year.

I attempt to grow both poppies and lavender from seed every year. Purchased seeds don't have a great germination rate in my soil, indoors or out, and homegrown seeds have had limited long-term success. Well, except for the volunteer lavender, which is doing even better than the purchased lavender plants. I'm considering digging the volunteers up this fall to plant in the lavender farm. Most of the poppies I start from seed grow either extremely small flowers, or the plants fry without maturing by the end of June.

This year, I tried something new. I purchased a huge bag of peat pellets. Many of the seeds I plant outdoors become bird or squirrel food. I cannot tell you how many mornings I've gone out to water the garden only to find all the most recent seeds dug up and missing. The first few pellets I transplanted also got dug up and emptied. So now, I'm letting the seedlings mature a little bit longer indoors before transplanting them. This means a greatly reduced growing season at this point in mid-August, but the seedlings have a better chance of surviving critter attacks if they have a bit more root.

Now when I move seedlings from the windowsill greenhouses, I put them in pots to give them legroom.

The pellets also have given me greater germination than I've ever had outdoors. I've never had such overwhelming success with lavender seeds!!! I may put each of these in a pot of their own so I can try to mature them indoors. I can't even imagine having this many new lavender plants without buying them next year!!!

1 comment :

  1. I could never get lavender to sprout from seed. Great idea about the peat pellets!


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