Although we are well into October the temperatures are still above normal. Just as we had 70 degree days in February which allowed me to read the paper outside, now I still hang out in the garden until the mosquitoes chase me indoors. The fish continue to be hungry and get fed a few times every day.
It is time to assess the garden. Most of the perennials and shrubs planted this spring and summer did well and will only increase in size next year and beyond. The annual potato vines took over their corner of the garden. I planted three different varieties; Blacky with dark burgundy leaves, a bright green variety called Margarite and a tri-color variety. Of the three, Margarite is the most vigorous and Blacky the least. However, the tri-color variety stole my heart and I have already harvested the tubers of this potato vine for replanting next year.
Very early on in my New Jersey garden I planted a bag of gladioli (plural for gladiolus). I didn’t know they were not winter hardy in my zone 6b and it is actually advocated to dig them up as far south as zone 8 and replant them in spring. Like some other “tender” plants, the gladioli were not aware of the fact they should have turned to mush in winter time and the following spring they all returned and bloomed. As the plant grows, the corm (the bulb-like underground bit) will make little offsets which over time will grow into mature corms and bloom. After about three consecutive summers of magnificent blooms I learned about digging up my gladioli for the winter, which I promptly did. But of course, while digging up the corms I missed a few of the offsets which also missed the memo of perishing during the winter. Soon I had gladioli appearing all over my garden; in their original spots and any new spots where they were planted and then dug up again. In about 16 winters in my zone 6b garden I don’t believe I ever lost a patch of gladioli. Now fast forward to my Pennsylvania garden; this summer I noticed several of my hellebores plants from the old garden sported different foliage near the plant. It looks I inadvertently dug up a few of the corm offsets from my original gladioli and transplanted these with my hellebores. In another year or two I should have more blooming gladioli from my original purchase so long ago.
This spring I purchased two bags of green blooming gladioli corms at the Philadelphia Flower Show. I planted them near my Arizona Cypress “Blue Ice” and wondered if the color combination blue and green would work. Well, it did not. But imagine my surprise when one gladiolus bloomed with a bright red flower spike. THAT one stood out against the ice blue foliage of the Arizona Cypress. Earlier this week I dug up all of the green blooming corms, including hopefully all of the corm offsets, and set them aside in a paper bag in the basement. Next spring I will find a good spot for them. The red blooming variety has been replanted close to the Cypress. Gardening may be a leap of faith at times but I am fairly confident there will be a glowing red gladiolus in my future.
With colder weather around the corner and possible frost in the near future I brought in the remainder of my plants. Most of these plants are in ceramic containers and bringing them in through the house and down the stairs was a hassle. I think this winter I will search for nice looking light weight containers and repot each and every plant come spring. It will make my life a little easier in the upcoming years, specially since I plan on doing this gardening thing for another decade or two.