Tag: nasturtium

October reds – Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day

Reds are the highlighted colors in my Connecticut gardens for this October 2012 Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.

Some red shades are in blossom form, like this sedum which shined in pink just one month ago.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

And in the mums, that finally started to grab center stage just before our first freeze two days ago.  I wasn’t concerned when the camera captured them in a frosty coating.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mums often shine after a touch of cold. These recouped quite nicely.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Other, more tender plants, such as coleus, white zinnias, basil, peppers, and ageratum succumbed to the 28 degree temperatures that greeted the October 13 sunrise in my zone 6 gardens. Still, a few hardy souls press on with blooms not as perfect as they were during summer and early autumn. Autumn blossoms are so often a contrast of ugliness and beauty, and life and death.

This rose blossom glows in spite of the black spot that mars its leaves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This phlox, which has been in constant bloom since early summer, is not quite ready to give in to the cold, sending out lovely small flowers in contrast to its dying leaves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Nasturtium are fighting frost with flowers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

And Alpine strawberries chuckle at chilled air.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But these specks of pink and white and yellow are the last hint of summer amongst autumn reds. If, as a New England gardener, you have focused all your gardening efforts on blossoms, you are missing out on the best of autumn … brilliantly-hued foliage.

Trees in southern Connecticut are still in the golden stage of autumn.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Reds are provided by ornamental grasses shining in the autumn sun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

The red foliage of coast leucothoe.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

And the brilliant hues of blueberry shrubs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Even waning strawberry foliage offers up striking reds against a blue strawberry jar.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Northern gardeners relish even the smallest of blooms and slightest hint of color knowing that October freezes will continue to nip away at remaining flowers until all are gone. Then we will relish colorful blossoms and foliage in gardens all over the world by visiting May Dreams Gardens where Carole kindly hosts Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on the fifteenth of each month. Head there now to see what other gardens have blooming today.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Joene Hendry

Nasturtium at work in the garden

Nasturtium is an easy to grow from seed, easy care, cheery, prolific self-sowing annual that will brighten any Connecticut garden.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nasturtium flowers are edible. I often use them to dress up a potato or tossed salad. Nasturtium leaves impart a wonderfully subtle peppery flavor when added to a leafy green salad. But nasturtium serve another purpose in many gardens, they attract aphids.

I’ve planted nasturtium in multiple locations around my house and gardens, in the front beds, rear beds, and among vegetables. I love the intricate flowers and the shape and color of the leaves. Last spring I planted nasturtium in a long narrow raised planting bed (38 feet long with a two foot wide planting area). It’s a bed that does not drain well – I’ve written about it before. I think the landscape fabric lining has become clogged with tiny soil particles and this causes the soil in the bed to really hold water. In seasons with heavy rainfall the soil in this bed becomes downright soggy. To combat the sogginess, and still use the bed for heat-loving vegetable plants while my new raised-bed vegetable garden is being constructed (a two-year project), I plant heat-loving veggies in clay pots that I partially sink into the soil in the bed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The above photo is how it looked in June 2011 before the nasturtium, planted in the soil between the pots, sprouted. The clay pots dry quickly, keeping the veggie roots happy (cherry tomatoes and hot peppers really like life in the pots). Turns out the nasturtiums love this steamy, moist environment. They completely filled the gaps between the pots last year. Strangely, though, I did not see one aphid last year so the nasturtium provided color, lots of it, until frost.

Lots of nasturtium flowers means lots of seeds. When I cleaned out the bed in preparation for winter I let many of the matured nasturtium seeds remain in the bed. I figured I’d have a few self-sowers. When Connecticut’s mild last winter gave way to early spring warmth, nasturtium volunteers started popping up here and there in the bed. So this spring I arranged clay pots full of hot pepper and tomato seedlings around the nasturtium volunteers, moving only a few aside.

By mid-June, nasturtium filled the bed. What a cheery sight!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The self-sown nasturtium were so happy I had to train and prune them to prevent them from smothering the veggie transplants. They stayed happy until recently, when black aphids, hundreds of them, found the row of nasturtium an attractive food source. Aphids are piercing/sucking insects. They feed on plant nectar after poking tiny holes in plant surfaces. Nasturtium parts are filled with the nectar aphids love.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When aphid numbers are small, it’s easy to control them by washing them off with a gentle spray of water from a hose. If this doesn’t work, organic sprays will kill aphids, but will also kill other, possibly beneficial, insects. If you’re lucky, ladybugs move in for an aphid feast. The infestation on my nasturtium this summer, however, required a drastic, surgical control. As the aphids spread from nasturtium to nasturtium, I cut away infested stems. I bagged infested plant material and sent it off with the trash (no composting for bug-infested plants).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Such is life in the world of nasturtium … the plants are doing their job.  If conditions favor new growth and new blossoms in late summer I’ll be doubly … no, triply … blessed. A free, no-work nasturtium show early on, a workhorse plant that attracted aphids away from nearby veggies, and a second showing later.

What more could a gardener ask for after simply standing back and working with nature?

Garden thoughtfully …

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Joene Hendry