Marty's Gardening Journal, October 18th, 2011

The goldfish from the front pond have been taken indoors and they adjusted to their 20 gallon tank without complaint. They are so called “lionhead” goldfish because of the hood or head growth and have short, deep bodies with nicely arched back without a dorsal fin. They quickly realized who was feeding them. Now, as soon as I come downstairs, they are begging at the top of the tank for food. Named Jip and Janneke, after two characters in a Dutch children’s book, they provide a bit of entertainment for me while sitting in my office downstairs.

The koi in the large pond in the backyard are slowing down a bit with the lower temperature of the water. I still feed them a little in the afternoon, but they are not as hungry or eager to gobble up the food. I have cleaned out dying leaves from the water lilies and the water hyacinths, sub- tropical floating plants, have been scooped up and thrown on the compost heap. A pump has been added for additional aeration and the filter media in the waterfall unit has been giving a hose down after removing a large papyrus plant which was housed in the waterfall. It took a bit of work prying the roots of this plant from three layers of filter media, including a bag of volcanic rock, but in the end they parted company and with luck this plant will survive another winter indoors.  Having cleaned the pump for the waterfall as well, all pieces of equipment are now operating well and I should be ready for winter’s ice and snow.

Trees and shrubs everywhere are changing colors. Some trees have already dropped all their leaves, while others are just about ready to turn gold, red or crimson. A lot of perennials don’t look so hot anymore; the hostas are a bit slug-nibbled and here and there fungus or rust is rearing its head. Of course, after all the rain we had this year I am surprised my plants looked as good as they did and as long.

Bulbs ordered months ago from have now been delivered. They carry a wonderful selection; their bulbs are without a doubt TOP quality and since you order larger quantities, you get wholesale prices. As an added bonus they provide combination packages (hence the name Colorblends) which will give you a colorful blend of different bulbs or varieties without giving it any thought. Several years ago while visiting Chicago’s Magnificent Mile in spring I marvelled at the planters with the most beautiful spring flowers on both sides of the road. Only later I found out Colorblends provided the bulbs for these outstanding floral displays.

Chicago in bloom May 2009

Another yearly spring display on my way to work uses Colorblends bulbs and every year is another eye catching show. But, what was I thinking when I ordered 100 more daffodils and 100 snowflakes. The daffodil bulbs are huge and while I expected to put them all in newly dug beds in the back yard, I soon ran out of places to put them. Once more I am walking around the gardens with bulbs in hand trying to find another spot to cram them in. The snowflakes or Leucojum Gravetye Giant I thought would be a minor bulb such as the crocus. Wrong! These bulbs are just about the same size as a regular daffodil bulb from the store and consequently I need more space for these as well. Not only that, but having coveted them for such a long time, I jumped at the chance of ordering them without realizing they like a damp spot, which is not something found in abundance in my garden. I have put them in different spots, hoping they will like it here and there and come back. If not, 100 snowflakes will soon turn into 50 snowflakes and go down from there. Oh well, nothing ventured nothing gained, although finding out what the requirements of the plant are before purchasing them and then putting them in the right place does make gardening more predictable.

My begonias are still going strong, as well as some of the fuchsias but they will need to be brought in before frost arrives and kills them off. One variegated fuchsia refused to bloom all summer and will ultimately find its way to the compost heap. Such is life in Marty’s garden these days; you don’t perform, especially two years in a row and you are history. There are too many other plants to be tried and not enough room to coddle them all.

A trip to Pennsylvania brought me back to Longwood Gardens, which was just as pretty as it was in May. Longwood Gardens 2011

Chanticleer garden, not far from Longwood, in Wayne, PA, was smaller but just as charming, while a lot less formal than Longwood. Fall blooming crocuses, hundreds upon hundreds, had been planted in the lawns and for that the $10 entrance fee was more than justified.

autumn crocus

The ruin and gravel garden provided some stunning views and entertaining hidden corners, while the gigantic koi in the ponds enchanted me. Another small pond revealed other surprises.


Last but not least, The Spouse and I visited the Morris Arboretum and Gardens in Northwest Philadelphia. All in all, this trip was a mini vacation on a long weekend with the best (sunniest) weather we had in months. Oh, and while I dragged The Spouse to all these horticultural events, I also made sure I kept him well fed (Morton’s steakhouse, for one) and hydrated (beer anyone?). He even wouldn’t mind doing it again, ah, several months from now, just in time for the Philadelphia Flower Show!

Enjoy the fall foliage, the sunny days and crisp nights. It won’t be long before the first frost arrives and gardeners are given a break from their work.  I am ready for one, although probably not for the lengthy break north-eastern winters dictate.