Garden Without Deer...and Unsuspecting Sisters... You Can Grow That!

I wish I'd been home when it happened. My sister Donna was visiting from Michigan and hadn't gotten out of bed yet when I realized we needed creamer. I returned from the store to find her looking like she'd been involved in a water balloon fight. One side of her hair was flattened and soggy, her shorts were drenched on one hip and she greeted me wringing out the front of her shirt. And I'd only been gone a few minutes.

"I was strolling in your garden," she said. But her tone was accusatory.

"Did it rain here," I asked, thinking perhaps we had finally had an anticipated cloudburst while I was in the store.

"I thought you got a new garden ornament--something abstract, but with eyes," she said. "I was standing there with my cup of coffee and stooping down for a closer look..."

"Oh no!" I exclaimed. "The Scarecrow!"

"Is that what you call it," she asked, more calmly now and with her humor and dignity returning.

I explained that the Scarecrow is the name given by Ortho for its deer deterrent sprinkler that emits a high pressure spray of water along with a sound whenever a deer (or unsuspecting garden stroller) was detected.

"Did you finish your garden stroll," I asked her.

She hadn't, which is a good thing, because she might have thought I was out to get her. I also had one of the new Havahart Spray Away Motion Activated Sprinklers near the tomatoes. The regular Havahart Spray Away works much like the Ortho Scarecrow. It has additional features like a lighted low-battery system, adjustable sensor and larger coverage area. If my sister had encountered the Havahart model first, she probably wouldn't have gone in for a closer look. The Spray Away looks very much like what it is, its red light and sensor right up front and making no attempt to look like a garden ornament. I am still experimenting with its range and peripheral vision, and it seems to detect movement only in front of its sensor, while the Scarecrow goes off in a more unpredictable fashion--not a bad thing for deterring savvy deer or other wildlife.
Havahart Spray Away Motion Activated Sprinkler

Both systems must be connected to a hose, and I've added shut off toggles to each of them so that I can disarm them before entering the garden. I've gotten used to the last spurt remaining after turning them off from the hose connections. On warm days, their ineffectual final burst is refreshing.
Clever shut-off system.

The sprinklers were sent to me by the companies that make them. But if that had not been the case, I would have invested in them anyway.

I've been using the  Scarecrow for two seasons, the Havahart Spray Away for just a month. The models that require a hose hook-up are priced around $60 each. Google them and you'll find both available at a fairly wide range of prices.
The hose-free sprinkler is much pricier, coming in at no less than $160. When the Scarecrow first came out many years ago, it could be had for around $100. Contech has perfected it since then and lowered its price. If I had to choose between the two hose hook-up models, it would be a toss-up. Of course, if I'd chosen the Havahart, I wouldn't have gotten to enjoy envisioning my sister's surprise as she bent in for a closer look at my new "garden ornament."

This blog is part of the You Can Grow That campaign where garden bloggers gather to offer their insights, experiences and photographs. Check out the link for more offerings.



Flowers and Spirits in Northwest Michigan

While our vacation this year to the Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan wasn't to visit flower farms (it was too late in the season to have that much going on.), I was able to revisit one I'd discovered a couple of years ago.

The area, which contains a clutch o.f charming towns, has become known for its wine producers, with a generous supply of wineries in a variety of sizes. 

We even visited a distillery in Lake Leelanau called Northern Latitudes. I tasted a few of their offerings, and ended up purchasing Limoncello di Leelanau, Mackinac Island Fudge Liqueur, and Horseradish Flavored Vodka, which I'm told makes wonderful Bloody Marys. 

Pre-distillery, I visited Omena Cut Flowers.
Just down the road in Leeland, my designated driver and I stopped in at Good Harbor Vineyards, where I tasted a few wines and staggered to the car with a box holding a 2016 Pinot Gris, a red blend called Collaboration, and a Pinot Noir Rose, plus some stemless wine glasses with doggie paw prints. 

That afternoon of tasting taught me three things: It's not much fun to taste alcohol, no matter how good, by yourself; it might be a good idea to limit tastings to fewer than two per hour, and I'm a serious lightweight where alcohol is concerned.

Zinnias, Scabiosa, Lisianthus and Dahlias from
Omena Cut flowers lasted more than a week in a vase.
Before I put myself into an alcoholic stupor, we found ourselves in Sutton's Bay, where Carolyn Faught operates a u-pick farm she started 20 years ago. Omena Cut Flowers is a place for brides and florists alike, while locals and visitors to the beautiful area come by for a bunch or an armful throughout the growing season.

I was happy to see her farm was still going strong, with a few Zinnias, Dahlias, and a smattering of smaller flowers numerous enough to make a bouquet that lasted more than a week. They traveled home with us, where I added a few flowers of my own to make a bounteous bouquet.






T

What Would Your Shed Look Like?

Dictionary.com offers up two conflicting description of the word SHED as:  
1.a slight or rude structure built for shelter, storage, etc
2. a large, strongly built structure, often open at the sides or end.
Vocabulary.com defines a shed as:
an outbuilding with a single story; used for shelter or storage. The site goes on to list five types of shed, including an apiary or bee house, a boathouse, coal house, toolhouse or toolshed and a woodshed (which, for some reason is described as storing firewood AND garden tools). 

Have you heard of she-sheds? Other terms include hen hut, and lady lair, but it’s a structure, typically built in the backyard, that can be designed with a look that's anywhere between a hut and a palace. Why the apparent trend? Lots of reasons, many of which I can rattle off from my own life, including: I had to always share a room with my sisters, I can think better without distractions, (including laundry that needs to be done and deadlines that need to be stretched), and I could decorate it any way I want. I'd describe it as an adult playhouse. Whether it is a structure for women is up for grabs in my mind. But if a man designed it for himself, it would reflect his taste and hobbies. But it would be called a "man cave." Whatever.

In her book, She Sheds: A Room of Your Own, Erika Kotite presents examples of sheds built by and for women all over the world. From a reinvented corn crib and transformed metal shed to built-from-scratch retreat, the sheds in the book are as diverse as their uses. Kotite was interviewed on Central Texas Gardener, where she explained a bit about how the idea came into being.
If I had a she-shed, it would have a double entry, the first one a netting curtain to discourage the mosquitoes. It wouldn’t deter them. Not much does that. But it would at least slow them down and possibly lower the number of blood suckers from following me into my sanctuary. The vestibule, let’s call it, will contain a few plants. Shade-lovers, but disposable from year to year. These, I hope will serve to distract the mosquitoes while I dart into the shed.
My shed would be modeled somewhat like the Year-Round Potting Shed on page 32 of the book She Sheds. One of the features I liked is the spigot so conveniently located on the outer shed wall. 
One of the sheds (pages 104-109) in Kotite's book even features a bathroom, a fully-functioning kitchen, and a sofa bed! Hmm... It sounds tempting.
My shed would be brightly lit, courtesy of a series of awning style windows on three sides to provide a nice cross-draft.
Furniture inside couldn’t be too frou-frou. We have lots of humidity, so it would be the outdoor type--two tables flanking an anti-gravity chair, which I find really comfortable. Okay, I’ll make sure there is enough room for a second chair. I would want flexibility, so there would be a two-person settee that can be hoisted up to the ceiling and out of the way unless I need seating for four.
This gorgeous, working sink would have
a cutting board that would slide to close
it for added work space.
There would be one large, lazy ceiling fan that would not infringe on the ability to hoist the two-seater. And it wouldn’t make a sound. My shed's walls would be insulated, the insulation sandwiched between the siding and wood paneling painted white. The walls would have places for movable shelves and bins that could contain books, light throws, pillows, caps, and containers for fresh cut flowers.
The dominant and most used feature would be a Butcher block counter and a comfy bar stool with a back. The counter would have boarded in storage below with a little door that allowed access to a trashcan. The counter would have a hole covered by a tight-fitting lid that would be flush with the table surface. This would be for cutting flowers, and easily pitching the scraps to clean up in between vases. 
Of course, I'd landscape around it, so the windows would have window boxes. There would be a door large enough to put the lawnmower inside, but the lawnmower would be a rechargeable electric type so there'd be no gasoline smell. The place for the mower would be walled off from the rest of the space, and be just large enough to store the mower with an electrical outlet so it could be charged. There would also be at least two outlets in the main area.
That's all I have for now. But as soon as my fantasy builder finishes the outside of my fantasy shed, I'm sure I'll think of additional features. She Sheds: A Room of Your Own offers instructions on how to build a shed from a kit and some pretty cool options for windows, flooring and more. There are lots of books out there about sheds, but Kotite's book provides a ton of ideas and inspirations. If I had one, I'd consider it one of my best coffee table books. Since I don't She Sheds is one of a handful of books that will be left near my reading spot. 

Into the Garden, Potted and Pruned

You don't have to live a gardening life to appreciate the chapters in Potted and Pruned by Carol J. Michel. It's one of those little books you can carry around and read, snippet by snippet, when you have a spare minute or two. Or leave on the nightstand to sample before falling asleep. Chances are, you'll drift off with a smile and wake up with a new way of looking at things.

From the first chapter when Michel admits to being an eccentric gardener, to the ending with a prompt to garden forward, Michel's missives make you think. And she knows how laughter makes thinking much more pleasant.

Take Chapter 27, The Gardening Equation. Michel actually comes up with an equation, which scared the heck out of me at first, until I realized it contained no x's or y's, meaning it probably wasn't one of those quirky conundrums that gave me nightmares in school. So I figured at first that it was a Dave Barry-style chapter. (I'd describe Barry as a humor writer who makes the ridiculous sublime.)


But no. Chapter 27's equation works--and without having Bob get on a train and figure out when he'll get to Poughkeepsie if the wheels rotate 27,386 times.  Michel points out (but in a nice way) that you don't have to be a math major to figure out how much mulch to buy to cover, say, the row of yews in front of your house. But this chapter is essential if you think you might be doing something wrong, or even if you're not certain you should grow anything at all for fear of being ridiculed by your neighbors.

While long-time gardeners will see themselves in most of the chapters, Michel hopes her book also might fall into the hands of the "Great Ungardened." She doesn't use the term in a negative way, but as a way to describe anyone whose interest is piqued by a potted plant or even by the concept of growing a few vegetables.

Potted and Pruned: Living A Gardening Life is a small book that packs a big inspiration. It's best taken in a bit at a time, like a recipe book for ideas and little stories you'll find amusing, sentimental, or just what you needed to coax you into the garden.

More of Carol Michel's work can be found at her award-winning blog site, www.maydreamsgardens.com.

What do Hummingbirds Like?



Gladiolus 'Atom' tempted hummingbirds in mid-summer.

The hummingbird and I scared each other this afternoon when he buzzed around the corner and right past my ear. He was busy, as most hummers always seem. Only this time of year, he's stocking up for his journey to a warmer place.

Fuchsia magellinaca 'Riccartonii' is considered hardy, but only to Zone 7.

Nasturtium 'Troika' bloomed all summer and into fall,
luring hummingbirds to their nectar.
I really thought he had already left, which is why I brought in the Fuchsia. The Salvia he likes are still in big-time bloom, but I grew four different varieties of Fuchsia in pots that I'm sure he'd love to visit. I hurriedly dragged them out of the garage.

Looking back over the summer, I got the feeling I'd let the little guy down because I'd concentrated on flowers for cutting, and plants with gorgeous leaves. But here are several I know any self-respecting hummingbird would never pass up.

Justicia carnea reaches just 12" tall in a summer, but what a bloom! 

Justicia brandegeeana, or shrimp plant.

Digitalis, or foxglove.
There is nothing like Salvia to make hummingbirds come buzzing over. 
Kniphofia 'Echo Yellow' (torch lily) has the
hummingbird's favorite flower shape.









Cape fuchsia (Phygelius x rectus) 'Winchester Fanfare'
is hardy to Zone 7, but made it through our mild winter.












Scadoxus (blood lily) grows from a bulb native to South Africa. It is related to Amaryllis.

Digging Tropical Flower Bulbs for Storage

I especially wanted to save Gladiolus 'Atom'.
Digging bulbs can be be a cinch if you know where you planted them. I grew several non-hardy bulbs this summer, some of which were hard to find, tricky to cultivate, or incredibly attractive, making me want to grow them again. 

Two of the tropical bulbs I planned to dig and store were the Gladiolus, especially the varieties 'Atom', 'Starface' and 'Lucky Star'; and Peruvian daffodils (botanically Hymenocallis.) 

Gladiolus 'Starface'
I'd never gone to the trouble of digging Glads before, but I'm completely in love with the lipstick red 'Atom' with its delicate white edging. The variety called 'Starface' is one I don't plan to be without, with its tropical peach and yellow coloration.

Gladiolus 'Lucky Star'

And then there is 'Lucky Star', which actually bloomed twice from one bulb and has such a non-glad look I couldn't let it go.

It made it easier when it came time to dig the glads because I'd left the foliage on the bulbs so I could find them. Here are a few handy tips you might find helpful:
Gladiolus corms after digging
  1. If you even think you might be digging bulbs in the fall, leave at least part of the stem on the plant. In the case of Gladiolus, it's easy, as healthy leaves don't detract from the garden, nor do they take up much space. But there's another advantage to leaving on the leaves. They take up and store nutrients gathered from the sun, shoring up strength in the bulbs for next year.
  2. Use a digging fork and dig a few inches further out from where you imagine the bulbs are so you don't skewer any of them. 
  3. Let the bulbs dry for a couple of days before storing them, making sure any soil that might have adhered to them is removed. I didn't rinse the Gladiolus bulbs (more accurately called corms) because I can't count on any dry, sunny days in late October.
  4. Finally, during the summer, take photos of the flowers from bulbs you might want to save so that you remember where they are in your garden. It will also remind you how pretty they are. 

Hymenocallis front and center, just weeks
after I'd planted the bulbs.
The other tropical bulbs I planned on digging were the Peruvian daffodils, or Hymenocallis 'Sulphur Queen'. I'd planted the three large bulbs in a large container with other plants, and amazingly it bloomed by late May.

The Peruvian daffodil put out two stems with blooms out of the three bulbs I planted. But they lasted a nice, long time.


The problems arose when I went to dig the bulbs up to store indoors for winter. The foliage had died back in July, and by October the only thing left on the surface were a few limp, dead leaves. I knew the bulbs were down there, but they seemed to have sunk to a level I couldn't reach without dumping the entire container upside down and then prying the clump of bulbs from the cold, damp soil's grasp.

Three bulbs became several, but the original three were the only ones of good size. Then I read that the most successful method of overwintering Hymenocallis was in soil, so I planted them in potting soil to which I'd added medium granite chicken grit for drainage and watered them very lightly, just until water came out of the bottom of the pots.

Next season, the Hymenocallis will get their own pot, either one large container for all of the bulbs, or two of medium size. They'll be much easier to store for winter that way.
Hymenocallis 'Sulphur Queen'
Freshly dug Hymenocallis bulbs.
It could be awhile before I can actually put these bulbs and corms to bed for the winter. They're not completely dry yet, and it hasn't stopped raining since I dug them up. I'm sure I'll find a way though. I'm really looking forward to growing them again next season.

Blooming Potential in Succulents

Echeveria 'Topsy Turvy' flower.
While many of my inside plants got to play outside for the summer, a few hung out on the light table. Two are blooming now!

Echeveria runyonii ‘Topsy Turvy’, which I bought last November, sent up a shoot in early September and has been putting on a show for weeks, each flower, from the bottom up, opening slower than a striptease.


It's a busy time of year for plants. Some have already been brought indoors, as others hover in plant purgatory, waiting to make as sure as I can that they don't have bugs. 

I've dosed anything that is remotely a candidate for wintering indoors with a systemic insecticide. There, I've admitted it. The sprinkle-on-the-top-of-the-soil-and-water-in product is just part of the arsenal of prevention I engage in throughout the winter. 



Meet Sandy, wintertime host of Albuca spiralis.


Yes, I'll admit that, in my heart, indoor plants are a tad more valuable that the ones I've left outside to fend for themselves--even the hardy ones. Those are like the Cubs to a life-long fan--not expecting much but a happy surprise if they're successful. 


Back to the indoor candidates and graduates. One I brought back with me from Arizona, called Albuca spiralis 'Frizzle Sizzle', pretended to bite the dust in late spring, but valiantly began to sprout little stems from the top of what looks like a bald bulb, somewhat like Ryne Sandberg, only with a bright green scalp. 



Albuca spiralis sprouts from its little green "head."

I'm enthusiastic about 'Frizzle Sizzle', not just because of its cool name, but because it turns out it did what it was supposed to in summer. It went dormant. That is, its leaves fell off and it just sat there and did nothing. It's winter-growing, you see, and according to Fred Dortort in The Timber Press Guide to Succulent Plants of the World, it produces dramatically spiraled rosette of narrow leaves around the time is spring flowers begin to fade. 

It didn't flower last spring, probably because I ripped the poor thing from the Arizona climate in the middle of winter. It spent the past seven months recuperating from the shock. Albuca spiralis, which shares a family with asparagus, is from South Africa, a place I've become particularly interested in for its really cool plants.


Faucaria tigrina shares a pot with other succulents.
Another South African plant is Faucaria tigrina, also known as tiger's jaws, or shark's jaws. It lived indoors during the summer, and was therefore kept bug-free, green and compact with the lights close above the pot. It's a pretty fast grower, and soon will outgrow its container.

Many plants won't bloom until they're pot bound, and it could be true with tiger's jaws. It shares a small terracotta container with several small succulents, but that didn't stop it from sprouting bright yellow flowers that demand attention. They close up at night or when I turn the lights out. 


Faucaria tigrina in bloom.
Even though November is breathing down our necks, I'm getting little signs of spring, thanks to plants from another part of the world.









The Four-Season Maple

If you're looking for a tree that stands out in every season, find yourself a paperbark maple. Botanically called Acer griseum, it's a stunner from May, when its leaves begin to slowly unfurl, the horticultural version of a fan dance.

Plant just about anything beneath it for an instant vertical accent--coppery hues of curled bark, like cinnamon far from Ceylon.

Beginning in October, the leaves slowly change--darkening and becoming mottled in bright pumpkin shades before turning to bright orangey-red.







Weird and Wonderful Flowers

Cape fuchsia blooms all summer.
Who doesn't like weird flowers? Not just unusual, but unexpected. They pop up at different times throughout the summer, the headliners of my summer.

I can never know if I'd have a long enough season or enough sun, for that matter, to get some of these plants to thrive or to flower.

Cape fuchsia surprised me when it came back to life this spring after wintering over in the ground. I hadn't mulched or protected it in any significant way. But I've had two sequential seasons of enjoyment of this nearly-tropical plant, which is like an upright fuchsia, but it's actually Phygelius capensis, and is from the Cape region of South Africa.

Hummingbirds like to visit its flowers, which dangle on upright stems rising above the compact plant. The flowers are coral-rose-colored and open from the bottom upwards. Give it partial sun and average water, and it will bloom all summer long. Who could ask for more?

A plant as cute as its name: Pinguicula.
My friend Carol gave me a whole bunch of orchids, which aren't blooming yet, but the one I've had the most fun with this summer has been the butter wort. It's a carnivorous plant, botanically known as Pinguicula, that uses a sticky substance on its leaves to lure, trap and eat insects.

I was really excited to see this little cutie flower. I did some research and learned there are dozens of species and several hybrids, so I don't really know what exactly this one is. But its flower has lasted for a couple of days and I'll let it go to seed and see what happens.

Polianthes 'Pink Sapphire'
Last year I purchased a few tuberoses (Polianthes tuberosa). These are the typically white and waxy spikes that exude a scent like a hyacinth with super powers. For me, the fragrance is pleasant outdoors or indoors during the daytime, but I have to move cut stems to another room during the night. One of the more exotic, because of its color, was the double-flowered 'Pink Sapphire'.

I planted the tuber (I only bought one) in a container along with a tropical rain lily, a fuzzy foxglove and a Brunfelsia that still hasn't bloomed, which is a story in itself.

The pink double tuberose finally bloomed last year in mid-August, and it wintered over in its pot in the garage. This year it sent up two stems, the first one on August 20 and then on September 20. I will keep feeding it and perhaps it will give me another flower on October 20.

Normally, I'd store the container again in the garage as I did last winter, but first I'll have to extract the Brunfelsia, which is an early spring bloomer.

I don't want to disturb the whole pot until at least mid-October in order to give all the plants every opportunity to grow good roots for next year.
Polianthes 'Pearl'

This spring I ordered five tubers of 'Pearl', a double white Polianthes. They came from Old House Gardens.

It wasn't my first tuberose rodeo, I have to say. I'd tried them before, only to have them rot in the pot. Scott Kunst, founder of Old House Gardens, told me the key was to get large tubers, "the size of a man's thumb." And that's what they sent.

The first one bloomed July 16; the second August 28, the third September 3, and number four on September 22. The fifth one still has a chance, as it's been really hot for late September.

I will keep growing Polianthes as long as I have a place to store them. We had a mild winter last year, but I have little nooks and crannies in the garage and the workroom behind the garage, areas that don't usually dip below about 40 degrees.

For colder spots, I'll make sure the soil in the pot is completely dry before placing the pot into newspaper or Styrofoam-lined cardboard boxes. I keep the boxes out of drafts caused by opening the garage door, and off the cold floor on shelves. It's worked for me so far and for many plants besides the tuberoses.



Deterrent Blasts Delinquent Deer

Did you read about the woman from LaVale, Maryland, who contracted rabies after an encounter with a deer? Strange, to say the least, and an incident that made me think of a recent visit by a hungry deer. I was filling the birdbath in the back of my yard when the young deer just popped out of the woods. Despite the drought, the woods behind my house is thick, so things tend to just pop out of them. The photo shown here was taken more than a month ago, but it's probably the same deer, now in the hungry teen stage of life. Anyway, the strange part is that she just stood there looking at me and didn't seem at all concerned that I was flailing my arms and yelling. She finally scampered off, but it pushed me into a little pro activity.

I figured these deer are pretty thirsty by now. The one I saw was probably hoping for a drink at the birdbath. And that's fine. I wouldn't mind seeing Bambi saunter up for a sip or two now and then. But would she stop there? I think not. Just a little to the left of the birdbath are some really healthy tomato plants. Both 'Legend' and 'Japanese Trifele' are grafted plants that have grown to amazing size since planting.

'Legend'


I reached for the big gun in my anti-deer arsenal. It's called the Scarecrow, sent to me by the manufacturer to try out in my garden. This "motion-activated" animal deterrent is easy to set up without dowsing yourself to the skin (which of course I didn't do with the first one I got years ago) and should be just the ticket to keep marauding ruminants from munching on my tomatoes.


The Scarecrow reminds me of Heckle and Jeckle
They HAVE been eating the phlox, however. I wondered why everyone else was talking about their Phlox and I hadn't seen any sign of mine. They'd all been "deer-pinched," a delicate operation made possible using only the lips. (Pretty amazing when you think about it.) Imagine how good the tomatoes would taste to a deer on a hot day.

Putting the Scarecrow together was easy, and putting the facial decals on was kind of fun. I can't help but think about those crazy Talking Magpies when I look at it, though.

So far, the tomatoes haven't been munched and the birds are too small to set off the high-pressure blast from the Scarecrow. I'll let you know if I see the deer playing in the sprinkler while they're eating tomato sandwiches. 

Fragrance Far From Home: Flowers from Africa


The first bloom of 'Lucky Star' came in July.
Don't you love surprises? I had a great surprise this month when Gladiolus 'Lucky Star' bloomed for the second time this season! It's good that I left the stem after cutting the first bloom that emerged from the stalk, because that's where the second flower stem came from.

I'd ordered three bulbs from Old House Gardens in Ann Arbor, MI, and learned that 'Lucky Star' is one of the rarest in their stable of heirloom bulbs. This particular Gladiolus was hybridized by Joan Wright of New Zealand and introduced in 1963.

This hybrid of the African Gladiolus murielae is fragrant in the evening. Also, I learned that if the bulb (more correctly a corm in the case of glads) is large enough, it will send up a second bloom. From now on, once I cut off the first bloom of a gladiolus, I'll continue watering and feeding it, just in case.

Tulbaghia, AKA sweet garlic about to open.
The fact that 'Lucky Star' produced a second spike of flowers also speaks highly of Old House Gardens, which might offer it again next year, depending on the harvest. I sure hope so. I'd like to buy more next spring.

Another bulb from Africa that I've grown since last year is Tulbaghia simmerli, or South African Mauve Onion. I purchased just one bulb from Glasshouse Works last spring, and it sent up one or two blooms throughout the summer.

I'd planted the bulb February 2016 in a small pot with very well-drained soil. In May, I repotted it into a 10-inch diameter clay pot, which I stored in the garage through the winter.

Tulbaghia sits in a saucer of water.
The first surprise was that it lived. The second surprise was how quickly it multiplied this year, and the final surprise came in August when I saw how much water it requires. This is because its pot is jam-packed with roots because the one bulb has increased to at least a dozen and they're thirsty little devils.

The flower of this species is said to be fragrant. The leaves are fragrant, too, but smell like garlic. Another of its common names, in fact, is Sweet Garlic.

According to the Pacific Bulb Society, Tulbaghia simmleri typically blooms in late summer through fall in the Northern Hemisphere.

As I had last year, I'll be sure to give this plant a warmish winter home where temperatures don't go below around 40 degrees F. I think I'll have better luck knocking the bulbs out of the pot and dividing them next spring. They apparently like it on the crowded side to promote bloom, and that's what they're getting until they go dormant when I bring them inside before the first frost.
This bouquet includes both the Tulbaghia and the Gladiolus 'Lucky Star'.



What's Stealing the Show in Your Garden?

Caryopteris 'Beyond Midnight' is just starting to open its fluffy,
blue flowers. It's a perennial I planted along with a red Pelargonium
and coleus 'Coleosaurus'.
Beauty is coming from all sources in the garden, from foliage color to texture, with just a smattering of flowers to give me something to look forward to and gauge the summer.

The biggest scene-stealers are the coleus, with both large and small varieties reaching their peak size by now.

I've been waiting all summer for Caryopteris 'Beyond Midnight' to start blooming. Turns out, it looks good with a deep red Pelargonium and a colorful coleus.
This coleus, 'Diane's Gold', has lots going for it, from its swirly leaf shape and evenly-jagged edges to its
variation on the green theme that includes one of my favorite foliage colors--chartreuse.

The Spanish lavender isn't blooming, nor is the scented-leaf Pelargonium. Their colors
are similar, though, as are their cultural preferences, which makes them perfect companions.

I love the variegated leaves of Nasturtium 'Orange Troika'

Even though each tuberose has bloomed by itself, it's always
exciting to see and smell this lovely Mexican bulb.