Thursday, October 6, 2011

October Mishmash

October has been a blur of routine, distraction, contingency and a couple of rare travel opportunities -- all at a time when it would have been nice to be gardening!  It will be another week or two before we plant bulbs or get to any of the many other necessary chores that are waiting for us.  But the garden continues to grow even during these times of neglect, and I wanted to show you a few of the developments.

Have you been moving your houseplants inside?  I like to leave mine on the (unheated, enclosed) porch for a few days to ease their transition to the drier, warmer air inside, and so I can inspect them for bugs and worms.

Currently in the holding area is Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata).  This plant sets buds not long after the autumnal equinox, or toward the end of September. I've been inspecting mine regularly for buds; you have to get your nose right up to the tips of the terminal segments.  Finally, I found this one just forming.  There are a few more but I hope to see lots in the next few days.

This strange-looking plant is mistletoe cactus (Rhipsalis micrantha).  It is, of course, not really mistletoe, or even related to it, but is named so for the white berries that form after the tiny white flowers fade.  (Floral remnants are still attached to the ovary/berry in this picture).  I haven't been able to detect a pattern to its blooming; it seems to randomly flower throughout the year.  If I had to guess, I would say there's a wet/dry cycle it responds to.  Heaven knows I'm not the most consistent waterer, which may actually be good for this plant.

Friendship plant (Pilea involucrata) is blooming.  The plant is covered with these tiny dark pink flowers which, like the Thanksgiving cactus, you have to get up close to appreciate.


Outside, there are a couple of plants coloring up for fall, but our peak leaf color will be early to mid-November.  We have a lot to look forward to yet!  Take a look at these photos from November 2010, and see what I mean!  It was one of the best years for leaf color I can ever remember.

Dogwood's silvery, onion-shaped buds rise like tiny minarets above the dropping red leaves.  These leaves will be deep maroon red before they fall.

Native oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) never fails to delight this gardener or any garden visitors. It is beautiful all year long, from the first tiny green sprouts of spring, to the lush snowy panicles of summer, to the deep reds and oranges of fall,and finally the crispy brown florets and peeling bark of winter.   'Semmes Beauty' is coloring earlier than the others, which at this point are all still bright green.

What is wrong with this picture?  Well, I'm sure we could make a list.  But, I'm cringing about the garlic chives with their floppy heads dropping minute black time bombs all over the flower bed.  I should have done what I told you all to do and cut them off already!  I like the colors of the sedum and wood aster, though, and the black-eyed Susans are still making the birds (and me) happy, too.

Mahonia eubracteata 'Soft Caress' is blooming!  I didn't expect flowers until January.  I don't know if this early bloom is typical for this Mahonia; we just added these shrubs this spring.

Another winter bloomer, Paperbush (Edgeworthis chrysantha), is forming a bud.  My plant is young and only about two feet high.  This will be its first blooms.  Yellow, sweet-scented flowers will be so welcome when all else is gray outside.

Finally, I planted the stockpile of colorful I showed you in September. Two containers are on the front stoop on either side of the door (I kind of have a thing for symmetry, or at least balance); another is at the foot of the steps at the side entrance to the house.  Several plants went in the ground with the other perennials as well.

I think they make a nice fall greeting for family and neighbors alike. I feel cheered, too, everytime I walk by them.


Has October been a blur for you, too? What's going on in your garden?  Have you found a good plant sale where you are?


  1. Your photography is awesome! Love this post.

  2. You really have some nice plants, and I've enjoyed reading and looking at the photo's. I bet the plants do look good on the steps of your porch.

  3. I wait until the last minute to move my plants inside, usually running around foolishly in the dark. When I saw the first photo of your christmas cactus, I thought it was some kind of beetle.

  4. I will have to look more closely at my Thanksgiving cactus to see if there are any buds. All my plants are still on the screened porch. Last time I went to water the T. cactus, I thought the stem was a bit withered (oh no, hadn't watered in a while!!) but it was the tail of one of my little anole friends! hahhaha
    Never have seen a Mistletoe Cactus, very interesting.
    Great description of the flower buds on the dogwood. Little minarets. My oakleaf hydrangeas are just starting to turn....still think they need more sun, but hate to move them (again).
    Come December/January/February you are going to LOVE your Edgeworthia!!! Mine was in a container in Virginia and once I put it in the ground here in SC, it went gangbusters! It is about 4 feet tall now and full of buds. I bought a second one to put next to it...they are shading my Sarcococca from the sun. (think the S. is the lower growing ground cover hookeriana var. humilis)