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Presto! Chango!

Though the weather has been scrumptious, it is the time of year for change in the garden. I don’t always like admitting it. I’m having to accept that my wonderful tropical season is nearly over.

That soon the land will be covered in a deathly blanket of brown and gray. All my intense oranges, bright pinks, and glowing chartreuses will be gone. GONE! Just like that.

And then, then I’m faced with life filled with neutrals. It’s almost too much to bear. Not that I don’t appreciate the change in the seasons, but come early February……. sheesh!

I usually wait until frost before removing annuals and tropicals, getting every last drop of summer beauty from the plants. Plus some of the plants I overwinter go dormant a bit better if they are hit by frost before digging – elephant ear (Colocasia, Alocasia), Canna, dahlia, and banana (Musa, Ensete) are good examples. All of these can spend the winter in a state of suspended animation in the basement. Tropicals that cannot tolerate cold and are kept growing over the winter do, of course, need to be dug before frost.

But if my tender plants are in a garden area that gets a winter treatment, well, you do what you must. Some years you cannot wait ’til frost and you have to respect the available time for doing the change-out. Thus was the case this week with Nonie’s Garden right in front of the main museum building entrance. Over a three day period, the garden went from summer glory to winter joy.

The garden had filled in rather nicely.

The salvias were in full bloom, the tall S. splendens “Van Houttei” and its dwarfer color echo, S. splendens “Vista Burgundy.”

The Justicia fulvicoma (Mexican plume) was at its peak.

Now, not everything was at its peak, I admit. The Leonotis leonurus  (lion’s ear) was just beginning to show color. The Hedychium “Tara” (ginger) I planted to fill space (and hoped might bloom despite a late planting) did fill space. It was not that great a summer for growing, even the tropicals.

On the other hand, the Colocasia esculenta “Elena” was beautiful.

The Canna x generalis “Intrigue” was stunning in its tall upright smoldering bronze foliage and peachy-orange blooms.

Perhaps most fabulous of all was the Dahlia hortensis “Karma Choc.” Without a doubt, this is my new favorite dahlia. Dark foliage with bronze overlay and the most incredible flowers.

The color. How to describe the color. Black cherry chocolate red burgundy.

They are just too much for mere words. And they make superb cut flowers.

Anyway. It all had to go. Time for the winter show.

I had planned on blue lions hunting in the Serengeti plain. Which is to say Picea pungens “Glauca Globosa” (a dwarf globe Colorado blue spruce) among Calamagrostis x acutiflora “Karl Foerster” (feather reed grass). But…….. well, you know how sometimes the best laid plans go astray? Mine strayed. I could not get the grass with flower/seed heads still attached. Oh, they would tell me they still had the seed heads but when I got there – no seed heads. So now my blue lions are a bit exposed on the Serengeti.

The effect is still good but not so dramatic. I suppose there is enough drama in the world these days already. But I do like a lot of drama in my designs.

In spring, the planting will be enhanced with tulips and pansies for a badly needed change to some color. So don’t fret, cause you know a change, a change is coming. Just hold on.

Filed under: Art and Nature Park, Greenhouse, Horticulture

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