Friday, August 24, 2007

Summer Killers and Red Cloud

Chuck B. at whoreticulture calls certain plants summer killers. When we see these, we know it's about over for the garden. Chuck is in California. In my Colorado garden Blue Mist spirea bursting into bloom is the first hint the lush days of summer are numbered.
But what strikes terror in my heart is Sweet Autumn clematis. Don't they look like little snowflakes?
Innocent looking, arent' they? I've actually been waiting three years for this plant to re-bloom. It used to cover the roof of a shed on the patio below, until a snowstorm flattened the shed. It broke my heart (and my back) to dig out and haul this 20-foot vine to its new home on the railing, hack it back to 12 inches tall and patiently wait through "first year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap". It's leaping.

Chuck's summer killer is fall-blooming anemone.
Look at that yellow eye, mocking the sunshiny days its very presence will bring to a close.
I'm not even picking the flowers in my garden for bouquets. I let them bloom while they can. Instead I found this rosy pink baby's breath at the grocery store for $4. Have you ever seen this? They're not the washed-out pink ones that grow in my garden - these colors range from light pink to a deep carmine. I looked it up on the Internet and it looks like a variety called Red Cloud. I really like it. That purple and green thing is a super shooter water gun that I bought to harrass the squirrels but it won't shoot. Darn. I have to take it back.
Even though it was 55 degrees when I left for work this morning, there were a bunch of garage sales. I was late to work. I found this gardenia for $1. I'm pretty sure the gardenia will be dead within a couple of weeks but I guess the pot is worth a dollar. You can't grow a gardenia in Colorado and I'm darned lucky this one had an open bloom. A couple of the buds are already brown, but there are two green ones that might (possibly) open. That's if I don't mist the leaves or touch the blossoms, keep it evenly moist, give it plenty of humidity (ha ha) and indirect sunlight, don't keep it too warm, and make sure there are no drafts. This gardenia is history.

But, oh, the scent! I've about sniffed all the goodness out of it. And look at those creamy white petals. Don't they look like little peaked snowdrifts?


Carol said...

55 Degrees is quite chilly, I suspect your summer will end before mine...

The pot was definitely worth $1, as is having the gardenia around to smell for a day or two. But you can keep it alive for longer, I know you can!

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

David in Greensboro, NC said...

Summer killers, huh...after this summer, I'll buy the bullets if somebody will shoot it! If I'm counting correctly, today will be the 10th day in August over 100.

Pam/Digging said...

Summer killers? Bring 'em on. In my garden, they are American beautyberry, oxblood lilies, and fall aster. But even with their lovely berries and blooms, fall is still a month and a half away. I consider fall any week where the temps don't get up into the 90s.

jodi said...

In recent years, we've found that while we've been having crappy springs, we've had glorious falls (aside from that little incident with Hurricane Juan back in 2003, that is). Last year the perennial-killing frost came in November. November!? The thing I don't like about autumn is the diminishing light. Can't decide what might be deemed summer-killers here--perhaps perennial fall asters.

EAL said...

I have had my say about summer killers, but about the gardenia: I've kept a gardenia going for 6 years here in Buffalo, and I know it can be done. Some watering, checking for bugs, some fertilizing in the spring, then take it outside and watch it bloom. Definitely worthwhile.

Mary said...

With the heat we have had, my gardenias are looking well. They aren't blooming as often as they did back in June, but when they do, I can't walk by without taking in the fragrance! You can grow a gardenia, Lost Roses. You do everything else so well!

50's in the morning? Here, at 5:30 a.m., it's already 80. I feel our summer will never end.

Connie said...

The gardenia in that lovely pot was a score for only $1. I love the look of the sweet autumn clematis....can they grow in poor dryish soil?

LostRoses said...

Carol, who knows, we may get a nice Indian summer. I bet you can grow gardenias, but me? I think it got a draft today, it's probably a goner.

David, ohmigosh, no wonder you're looking for bullets! Doesn't sound like you have any signs of fall.

Pam, maybe that's why I think it's so fall-like. The upper 90s days are waning here. Your summer killers are beauties, every one!

Jodi, I think that's a prerequisite for fall - hurricanes aside, it has to be glorious! Yeah, asters are another one that should have been on my list but I swear they bloom earlier every year.

Well, Elizabeth, I'll try but I'm most worried about humidity and light. There's not a good houseplant location in this whole house. I have a choice of south or north-facing windows. And humidity? Maybe I'll put it in the bathroom next to the shower.

Mary, 80 at 5:30AM? Yikes! Good for gardenias, not so good for Mary. And now that you've held me up to high expectations, I may not report the imminent death of the gardenia. But oh, that scent! I'll be enjoying that while it lasts.

Connie, If that gardenia hadn't been in bloom, I'd have walked away from that garage sale! But it is a pretty pot, isn't it? As for the clematis, I think they aren't too particular about the soil as long as it's well-drained. They can be pretty spectacular after a few years growth.

Annie in Austin said...

My gardenia made two sets of blooms before it croaked, and the scent was worth it, LostRoses - maybe you'll do as well as EAL!

This has been such a comparatively easy summer that I'm in no hurry for fall - in other years August was interminable.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Layanee said...

I know just what you mean! Summer killers here? Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and the asters but they are welcome and all things must revolve! Love that baby's breath and will have to look for that cultivar! The gardenia was worth the price. The smell is priceless!

Zoey said...

I don't know that I've ever seen such a delicate clematis. It does look like snowflakes.

I have never seen the brightly-colored baby's breath either. If you had not looked it up, I would have thought it was spray painted. It's very interesting.

This year I am looking forward to summer ending. I guess because my garden died out so early I am ready to get rid of it so it can begin its new life cycle.

CountryGirl said...

We are thinking along the same lines lately. We've had such a great summer after such a brutal winter that the signs of summer ending are really sticking out to me this year. My sedum looks like it's about ready to bloom and I can't stop it! I love your sweet autumn, it looks great on the rail where you have it. I'm glad it blomed again for you. I would love to have that rosy pink babys breath in the garden. It would be great in flower arrangements.

Dianne said...

My blue mist spirea just starting blooming too! I never grew it before and was wondering when it would.
There's something about white flowers that are so special to me and yours are lovely.

Dianne said...

I like the baby's breath too and was wondering if it had be colored. Pretty!

jocelyn said...

I guess I've never thought of these plants as "summer killers", just the next wave of blooms! September and October are two of my favorite months in the garden. It will be fun and interesting to see the lists of flowers by those who participate in Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day on the 15th of each month...I'm always game to add more color to the garden!

LostRoses said...

Annie, I'm sure I won't do as well as EAL (she's a SERIOUS gardener), but you're right that even if the plant last only a short time, the scent is so heavenly. I can't pass it without stopping to smell it.

Do you think all the rain early on made a difference in August in Austin this year?

Layanee, oh yeah, Autumn Joy! I can't seem to find mine and I guess I must have let something else smother it. The thing about the Red Cloud that I saw online is that it only lasts about 2 weeks in the garden and they recommend repeated sowings of the seeds to make its season last longer. I think I'll just buy it in the grocery store!

Zoey, I know you've said your garden died out early but you still have many gorgeous container plantings to see you through the fall! But I don't blame you for wanting to start the cycle fresh.

I thought the baby's breath was painted too, until I looked it up. Pretty cool!

Countrygirl, I think that most people who have four seasons get nostalgic about summer's end, don't you? After all, we know darn well what's in store for us! I love that red baby's breath and I should be able to use this spray all winter in dried arrangements. I'll be curious to see if it retains its color.

Dianne, I love blue in the garden and the Blue Mist spirea sure fills the bill. Especially late in the summer when something new starting to bloom is much appreciated! You're right about white flowers, they're such a mainstay in the garden.

Jocelyn, you're right! I never actually thought of them in those terms before now but of course that is exactly what it means. For me, there isn't anything else yet to bloom! And I do love fall, it's a great time of year, but the very season makes me nostalgic anyway, so summer becomes one of the things I'm nostalgic for!

MariaJ said...

Oh your white Clematis looks sooo beautiful. It's like my Summersnow "Paul Farges". I really like the way it grows and blooms. Unfortunately it isnt so big as usually this year. Maybe the moles...

Bev said...

LR, Your Sweet Atumn is gorgeous! It was certainly worth the wait and hard work. Good for you! Now, I bet you can do the same with the Gardenia? Wow...I love those flowers. And what a great idea to deal with my grackles...a water gun!! My husband will be thrilled with this idea. We usually use the hose. Hope I can get one that works. I've got Autumn Joy and Asters that will end the summer for me. Here's to a wonderful Indian Summer!!!

LostRoses said...

Maria, I looked up Summer Snow on your blog, what a beauty! It has more of the "true" clematis look I think. It looks like a prolific bloomer on your arch.

Oh, moles? Glad I'm not dealing with them!

Bev, it kind of looks like I'm getting another bloom on the gardenia, I'm so amazed! I'm waiting with bated breath.

I can't find my Autumn Joy but the asters are doing their thing...have fun with the water gun!

Green thumb said...

Hi lost roses,
What a contrast! you are anxious about the summers coming to an end, and here in India I am keenly looking forward to the arrival of autumn and then winters.
55 degrees explain your reaction. Even at its best or worst, the tempratures here do not fall below 60 degrees in the day and 37 at night.
The bouquet is stunning. I wish I could smell and feel the flowers.
I was going through your responses to the comments, beats me why they say 'nice' Indian summers, as they are awfully hot!

Dirty Fingernails said...

a buck for a gardenia.. That is a steal!! I live in zone 7b and my gardenias just love it here.. They are north facing. I hope you a have longer than expected summertime..

LostRoses said...

Hi greenthumb, well I guess your "Indian summer" is a bit hotter than ours! We have to get a freeze first which sounds like something you never get. Oh, and about the is beautiful but for some reason the baby's breath has a scent that I found not quite pleasing. I had to move it from the dinner table to the kitchen so I didn't have to smell it so intensely!

Here's hoping your winter arrives soon!

Dirtyfingernails, I'm beginning to think it was worth a buck since it hasn't died yet. Oh, to have gardenias thriving in the garden, I envy you!

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

I didn't think Gardenia would bloom anywhere other than a greenhouse, I know one has never bloomed for me, I can't even keep them alive.

I am noticing "summer killers" also, fall is on the way. Fall is such a beautiful season.

lisa said...

That baby's breath is gorgeous! As for would be a goner in my house, too. My brugmansia (sp?) is amazingly alive after 4 years, but never flowers. It just gets leaves in summer, then drops them and becomes a naked stick all winter...*sigh*. I like your SAC...and since it looks nothing like MY white-flowered clematis, I must have Virgin's Bower. Gotta say I don't mind "summer killers", since our temps were so high all summer. Now it's cool enough for me to get some work done! (Down to 38 the other night-"brug" was looking pissed!)