Friday, September 2, 2011
55° here on the mountain this morning, 2-3 mph shifting breezes and dark clouds moving over quickly. Even at 5:30 it's still too dark to make a judgment on what today will bring. Karl the Wonder Dog barked loudly at exactly 4 AM when I jumped out of bed and he moved quickly into the warm, vacated space. Boy does he bug me when he does that! I scurried around the house as any arthritic 63 year old gardener does, turning on outside light after outside light--we have three--trying to detect the source of the unrest. By the time I circled back to the kitchen and grabbed the coffee pot, I heard the sounds of dog snores in the bedroom. Did I say "Boy does Karl bug me?"
Late August is the time when a really coarse perennial flower blooms for us. Ligularia. Many gardeners do not like it because it can be a magnet for slugs and bugs but planted in the distance a bit there is nothing better than the scapes of bright yellow and orange on flowers of various sizes, shapes and colors.
These pictures are of Othello and Desdemona with Othello blooming first. We also have two taller types with multiple scapes and small yellow flowers, and hundreds of hybrids of our entire collection. I have tried the one with the common name Leopard Plant because of its yellow spotted leaf. It lasted 3 years but didn't make it but that was not bad for a zone 5 plant struggling in the wrong environment.
Ligularias love damp feet and they will respond with a "2 o'clock droop" if sufficient water is not available to maintain their massive plant structure. Their leaves and stems are large and the leaves transpire quickly so soil must hold moisture.
You would think by now that I would have information on what happens when you cut them for use in arrangements. I can't really remember that we have ever even taken them from the garden as cuts but I bet they'd be special in late summer arrangements. If you give this a try, shake them well as bees in August are looking for a source of food and ligularias are the place they visit a lot.
I think I'll pick a bouquet today and take it to the nursery for the table. We have gallon pots of several varieties for sale and I'd like to see more of them move down the road from our garden to yours. Give it a thought and try to stop by in the next few days. Labor Day is our last official day to be open although we are open many days by chance or appointment through foliage time.
Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where daybreak finds Gail heading out the door with Karl for another walk. In an hour I'll be at the nursery reinstalling the water pump I had to remove Monday morning as flood waters rose 25 feet in the river and lapped nastily at our little pump house. The joys of being a farmer! Be well, come visit!
The Vermont Gardener
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