Thursday, October 31, 2013


My daddy often mentioned shoe-make, a shrub I later learned as sumac. He was not concerned with the beautiful red autumn leaves of sumac, nor even with the crimson berries of staghorn sumac. His interest lay in avoiding poison sumac, a plant that he and many others are violently allergic to. Poison sumac ( Toxicodendron vernix ) has berries of a white or dull gray, and it tends to fall into the background, where you may accidentally contact it when you least expect. Many people consider poison sumac the most toxic plant in the United States, worse than its cousins poison ivy and poison oak. If it is burned, the smoke taken into the lungs can cause edema and death. All parts of it are poisonous. 
Staghorn sumac is not only beautiful in leaf and berry, but is a favorite food for birds. A word of warning here, though. Do not pick it and put it out for the birds to eat, else you will find it appearing in your flower beds and its eradication is not something to be taken light-heartedly. Above is a picture of a sumac that grew in my flower bed for a couple of years as a result of my bird feeding activities. Once I realized its intent to consume this bed, I began eradication procedures:digging and herbicide. It took 2 years of constant vigilance to rid myself of it. Lesson learned-enjoy along the road side, don't bring it home. 
Humans also like the taste of staghorn sumac when it is made into a wonderful lemonade. If you would like a recipe, here is a link to a good one.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Tree Frog

While putting my plants into the greenhouse for the winter, I found 2 of these little frogs hiding among the leaves of my elkhorn ferns. The distinctive X on their backs made them easy to identify online. They are spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) and the males make a whistle-like call in the very early spring. Some might mistake their calls for crickets, but crickets only call in the late summer and fall. they live in wooded areas near water and mate and lay eggs in water on underwater twigs.
Spring peepers eat small insects so I welcome them into my greenhouse, along with anoles, toads, and garden spiders. They hibernate in winter in colder areas and can even survive being partially frozen. They won't have that trouble (hopefully) in the greenhouse. It will be like a winter spent in Florida.
Yes, that appears to be either an insect or a spider to the right on the picture. Maybe just lunch.

Poem by ee cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing

by E. E. Cummings
i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pot Lady Vandalized

Someone threw a rock (clearly visible in the 3rd pic) and broke the Pot Lady's head to bits. The force of the rock was enough to shatter the pots into small shards for the most part. Some of the pieces may have fallen on her arm and broke 5 of the 7 pots that made up her arm. Her hat lies on the ground amidst terracotta pieces. It made me very sad. I guess someone was just so jealous because they did not have a Pot Lady that they decided to destroy her. I mean hey! she is on Google Street View!  I can probably fix her head with extra pots, but the arm will be a problem. The arms were so difficult to do in the first place. BooHoo. If whoever did this wanted to make me sad, they sure did.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Perilla and Coleus

Perilla and Coleus are often confused . I was confused myself and did a little looking around to try to find out more about whether they were the same plant or not. They do belong to the same family; both  are mints, both have toothed leaf edges, although Perilla has sharper "teeth". Generally Coleus does best in shade while Perilla does well in both sun and shade, but produces markedly different leaves depending on the amount of sun. But even this distinction is being called into question with the advent of the new "Sun" coleus. The one on the left above in one of the sun coleus and is called 'Alabama Sunset'. The more sun it gets (up to a point) the more red tones appear in the foliage. When grown in shade the leaves are mostly yellowish green. The plant on the right is Perilla 'Magilla' and it's foliage develops more purple in the sun, having more cream and green in shade as the one in the picture does.
The Coleus genus has undergone a lot of shifting in recent years so that plants that used to be Coleus are now Plectranthus,  My mother used to grow a Perilla that she called Blood of Jesus, but if you google Blood of Jesus, you find a green plant with a spot of red in the leaf and it grows in the Holy Land. The important thing to take away from all this naming confusing is that both Coleus and Perilla are great plants in shade and sun and can bring refreshing color to the late garden. If you have procured some named varieties, you can easily root pieces to carry over for next year as they won't stand the frost.  Neither 'Alabama Sunset' Coleus nor 'Magilla' Perilla produce seed  so you will need new plants next year. They will root in water, but why not just stick the cuttings in soil to start with. It gives them a better start and they will actually grow in winter rather than becoming smaller and thinner as they pine away over the winter. They will wilt at first, but keep them moist and in a couple of days they will be perked up and looking like miniatures of their parents.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fall Flowers in Bloom

Fall is here but many plants are still putting on a show. Seems like some plants save the best til last.I still have lots of zinnias blooming altho the foliage on many of them is very spotted. I planted some  seed in late August so I have some fairly young zinnias also. The Perilla (Magilla-what a hoot for a name) in the foreground looks better all the time It has been lovely all season, but now is creating a welcome fresh point in the flower bed among other plants that that are winding down. It roots easily and I usually just take cuttings so I will have it next year, and leave the big ones in the garden. Behind and to the left of the Perilla is a Tibouchina with purple flowers. It is a late bloomer and adds a fresh touch so late. In the back is one spot of bright yellow. It is Turneria.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall Roadside Wildflowers

                                                          Goldenrod and Ageratum

                                                      Goldenrod, Eupatorium, and Gerardia

The roadsides have been glorious these last few weeks. They still look good, even though some of the flowers are fading. None of these flowers would I ever plant, especially in a flower bed, as they are all thugs, but on the roadsides and waste places, they are  just perfect. Golden and blue flowers accented with white and pink.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Blackberry Lilies

My blackberry lilies (Belamcanda chinensis) were really beautiful this year.The flowers are displayed atop wiry stems, and are spotted, resulting in another common name -leopard lilies.  After blooming for weeks in late summer, they set the black seed that gives them their name, and the seed hang on for weeks, too.  These are beautiful carefree plants, once hailing from China and Japan, now happily at home in America. They are persistent, but not a nuisance. They can spread by both seed and rhizomes; they are irises so they grow from a rhizome, not a bulb. Mine are growing in a grassy area and are having no trouble competing with the grass. They grow in both sun and light shade and are at home in almost any type soil. Sounds like they could take over the earth, doesn't i?  But never fear, privet bushes and Kudzu will beat them to it.

Monday, October 7, 2013

October Spider lilies

                                                                     Red Spider Lilies           

                                                      Red Spider Lilies beside Encore Azalea

Most years my red spider lilies bloom in late August and September. This year they were a full month late.TI saw spider lilies blooming in August, but mine stayed below ground. Was it that dry, that they could not bloom? Whatever the reason for their lateness, they are just as beautiful as always. The second picture shows some spider lilies that came up right next to an Encore azalea, and they are close to the same color.
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