Friday, November 19, 2010


Hardy cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium) offers beautiful new leaves for me to admire as I do my November gardening.

Bright yellow clumps of naturalized asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) pop out of the November landscape, offering interesting subjects for 60 mph botanizing.

Where I live in Ohio, November is the month we realize fall is over and the bleakness of winter is upon us. There are, however, a few features of the landscape that belie that verdict. One of my previous blogs at about this time of year featured the flowers of our native witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana), another the late fall color of yellow root (Xanthorhiza simplicissima). I have noticed that dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum) stands out in early November with its bright yellow fall color. Of course, callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) is well known for its late fall color, and as I drive around town in mid November I am reminded how overused that tree is. Asparagus naturalizes in fence rows and can be easily spotted in November because of its bright yellow fall color and fine texture. These plants pop out of the otherwise bare November landscape. It makes for some fun "reading" of the landscape and gratifying features in my garden to greet me as I try to get as much done in the garden as possible before winter really does close things down.

Monday, November 1, 2010

More on Self Sowing

Largeflower Fameflower (Phemeranthus calycinus syn. Talinum calycinus)

In my last blog I described the difficulty in making any sort of composition out of a garden of directly sown seeds. The distribution of plants is so randomized the garden lacks interest in spite of abundant color. Another approach I have used is to let only one or two selections self sow in an otherwise more or less fixed garden. I had some nice success with the mullein Verbascum olympicum which, because it is a biennial, is pretty much an obligatory self sower. The downside to Verbascum olympicum is that it is so big it buries smaller plants. I also had success with the common horticultural columbine (Aquilegia) which is a perennial but is both prolific enough to make a sort of light wash over a garden by filling in bare spots and small enough not to be intrusive.

My most recent example of a self sowing plant freely distributing itself over my garden to good affect is largeflower fameflower (Phemeranthus calycinus, syn. Talinum calycinus). It is the sole survivor of a group of hardy succulents I tried in my newest rock garden. I like the way it adds a wash of color over the garden while not pushing other plants aside. If it becomes too thick it is very easy to remove.