September came and went. Suddenly it was fall and just as suddenly the weather got warm and dry. After a very damp spring and summer, for which I was grateful, we now haven’t had rain in weeks. Although it is October, it feels like May and I have resorted to watering those plants which show the most stress. While plants can stay outside a little longer due to the weather I have started taking cuttings from the various coleus in the garden. Coleus plants are very easy to start from cuttings as long as you keep the potting soil moist until the cuttings root. Once you start seeing new growth on your cuttings you know you have succeeded. Then it is just a matter of keeping them under lights to keep them from growing leggy. Usually I get to take more cuttings through the winter from the newly rooted plants and by May next year I will have a nice amount of plants to put back in the garden.
Last winter I brought in all of those plants which wouldn’t make it through a zone 6-7 winter and suddenly rooms were overflowing with plants. This summer we finished the basement and while carving out different spaces it suddenly hit me; I could carve out a space for myself and my plants. First there was the “man cave” or workshop for The Spouse. The mechanical room houses the heating and AC unit, sump pump and provides us with additional storage space. Then there is the new bathroom and the main space for parties or family or friends to stay overnight. But off to the back side of the house there was this 7’ by 22’ space with a window which would be perfect for me and suddenly the “plant room” was born. I found a barn door on-line as the access door to my room. The contractor installed cabinets and a sink as well as shelves in a corner. I found plant shelves and together with some old cabinets, a new table and two chairs I transformed this room into not just a “plant room” but also a space to hang out in winter and do crafts. It is painted a nice calming pale yellow, a heart warming color during cold winter days. I unpacked the remainder of my “Dutch stuff’, pictures, cups and saucers, trinkets and items once belonging to my parents and grandparent on either side. I created a room which contains memories of life in Holland and the family I left behind and it makes me smile every time I walk in there.
The orchids suffered last year while being outdoors; too much sun burned leaves and they were basically unhappy. This year I kept them indoors and they grew new roots, leaves and flowered with abandon. A gardening friend visited a few months ago. When I showed her the spare bedroom she immediately identified it as “the orchid room” and they are happy in this west facing bedroom.
Meanwhile some of the larger agaves will overwinter in the east facing bedroom. Everything else will go downstairs. The ponytail palm tree, which in reality is an agave, has already been moved to the basement together with other succulents as well as the clivias and fuchsias. For now the begonias and cacti are still outdoors, but soon they will come in for the next six to seven months.
Last winter my plants took over most rooms. This year I have a dedicated “orchid room” and a temporary agave room. The mechanical room houses all of the cuttings while “the plant room” houses everything else. I have a place to hang out when life in the garden is too bleak. While I always look forward to a few weeks of downtime in late fall/early winter, I think I have created enough spaces in this new home to make it through all of winter. And then of course there will be spring again and the whole cycle starts all over again.