Marty's Garden, November 8th, 2017

After a dreary, grey and rainy day the sun reappeared again. The temperatures are now heading into the 50s and in a few days we will have the first hard frost.


So far the hardy annuals are still going although I am expecting most of them to kick the bucket with this hard frost. The cuttings taken from the coleus plants have rooted and they are actively growing. One of the bigger varieties is putting on a growth spurt and in a few weeks I should be able to harvest a few more cuttings from this plant. At this growth rate the basement will be overflowing with coleus plants come mid-winter and the garden will be filled with them by mid spring.  I heard someone referring to coleus as the “Hawaiian shirt of the garden” and they definitely have a point. These plants come in so many different colors, sizes and shapes and they can be rather loud. But how they light up a shady spot! Today you will find coleus which can take a fair amount of sun too so you can add pizazz to a sunny border as well.


My Castor bean plants (an annual for this area) grown from seed last winter developed into impressive specimens. It was a decade since I grew them last and I forgot how big they get and how fast they grow. I put one castor bean plant near the bog so it could shade a few shade loving plants which were unhappy last summer when they received too much sun. Well, these plants were happier this year with all the shade provided by the Castor bean “tree” but I lost my view of the waterfall from my favorite chair. Another one nearly blocked my path by October and I cut it down to size. The tallest one close to the waterfall now stands at seven feet with leaves about 18 inches across. Quite impressive for something that stood 4 inches tall in May.



Now that the back (and side) gardens are mostly in place I have started on my nefarious plan of converting front lawn into gardens. Last year I carved out a six by six foot spot for the Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica glauca). Trees prefer not to have grass growing right up to their trunk so I gave this tree a nice big mulched spot. As the builder is putting up the last house on this block, right next to us, I thought it would be nice to add a bit of screening between us and our (very nice) new neighbor. A few forsythias will add privacy within a reasonable amount of time and I added some purple ninebark (Physocarpus) to the mix as well. On either side I also put beautyberry (Calicarpa) which will provide fall interest with its bright purple berries alongside the branches. Yellow flowers for spring, green (forsythia) and purple (ninebark) foliage during the growing season capped off with purple berries for fall. Of course I can’t just grow these plants in the lawn. So, the corner of the lawn where these shrubs are growing will be mulched over.  And wouldn’t you know that these shrubs extend just about to the corner of the mulched bed for the Blue Atlas Cedar. Suddenly I find myself with a perfect south facing spot to put some outdoor furniture come spring as long as I mulch over a very generous corner of the lawn, say 20 by 30 feet. There still will be plenty of lawn left over in front of the house; well, at least for now.