Whose Clothes are These?

Fall is here in North Carolina.

In addition to moving tender plants in,

I am also tackling the task of switching out summer for fall clothes in my closet.

What an eye-opener this has been.

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You see, I buy clothes for the person I WANT to be.

I do not wear them because I am NOT that person.

It looks like at my age I would be over this,

but it seems to be worse than ever.

I found many items that I have never worn. Some even had tags attached.

I sat and stared at this strange assortment and realized I am further away

from the intended wearer of these clothes than I have ever been.

I am not sure I can get there from here.

FLOWER

Herb Vinegars

 I wish I could send all these lovely aromas through the internet.

It has been a long time since I have made herb vinegars.

These are experiments.  If you want a tried-and-true recipe, there are many on the internet.

I chose to make my own recipes using my nose.

First I clipped various herbs from the bunny yard/herb garden.

I placed these in labeled, separate bags.

They were then washed and patted dry.

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I clipped pieces and placed them in a dish to check out the aromas of the combos.

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I then placed these combinations in heat-treated bottles.  I used a chop stick to push pieces into the bottom of the bottles.

I heated (not boiled) the chosen vinegar.

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The recipe for each bottle was written on a sticker and put on the bottom of the bottle.

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Since these were experiments, I did not fill the whole bottles.

I used white wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar.

Strain the apple cider vinegar because it has debris in it.

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This would make your vinegar ugly.

I will allow these bottles to steep for a few weeks and then taste test.

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Do not put these in a sunny location. They will fade and heat up.

I will let you know if I have a winning combination.

FLOWER

Gifts from my Lumberjack

Halloween is quickly approaching,

so it is fitting the Mr. Flower brought home a witch’s broom.

That is a nickname for a clump of mistletoe, a semi-parasitic plant that grows on trees.

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No, not a sprig folks. He brought me the whole clump still attached to the branch,

He had been cutting firewood. The tree just happened to have some mistletoe on it.

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There were two rather large stow-aways in part of the trunk.

Giant beetle larvae/grubworms.

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These are the gifts my man brings home.

No fighting ladies. He’s ALL mine.

FLOWER

 

 

High Tech Plant Tag

No more plant research for me!

Now all I have to do is buy plants with QR codes on the tags.

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Scan the code with my QR Code Reader App.

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Then type in the plants’ name…

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VOILA!   Instant information.

Now that I have shown you the tag, I will let you see the irresistible flowers.

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Plectranthus  ‘Mona Lavendar’

Who could resist that tiny purple face?

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What lovely little buds!

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It is not cold hardy.   You know what that means?    Another plant in the house all winter.     Hooray!

FLOWER has a flower fetish.

Before or After?

Frost is a four letter word to a gardener.  (Ok.  Not really, but you know what I mean.)

There are many tender plants that need to be lifted BEFORE frost.

There are also plants that must be “bitten” by frost,

and then taken inside AFTER the first frost.

This count-down is not quite as dramatic as the “Countdown to 32″/freezing

that I blogged about last fall, but it is an important time for bulbs, corms, rhizomes or tubers.

I finally wrote a BEFORE and an AFTER list inside the cover of my gardening journal.

Here is my ‘rule of thumb”.  (Gold Nugget is what this was called when I taught biology.)

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If mostly water (turgor) holds up the plant, it needs to be bitten and wilted down by Mr. Frost.

Also: Does the plant look “done” for the season? Did it bloom weeks ago and is the foliage wilting down? DONE.

I know this is too simplistic. What it means is,  if you cut down plants with juicy stems you will be hauling in a lot of water.  The plant needs to bring in nutrients and drain its own water out to start dormancy.

Also, frost seals the tissues to prevent rot.   Think of it as a “cold cauterizing.”

When the time is right .   Dig up the bulbs, corms, tubers or rhizomes.

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Clean off the soil, wash, dry and store in labeled bags with dry peat moss.

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Here are MY lists for ZONE 7.

BEFORE:  Callas/Zantedeschias (Hot Chocolate can stay out, but bring one in as your stock plant just in case),  Acidantheras,  Glodiolas ( babies and mamas)

AFTER: Elephant Ears/Calocasias,  Dahlias,  Tuberoses (babies only)

Your lists will be different based on your HARDINESS ZONE.

I always err on the side of caution and bring in some of each of my special plants to use as stock plants.

Wet winters can be as bad as cold ones because roots rot.

 

POP QUIZ

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Thomas Edison Dahlia

1.  Before  or  After?

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Hot Chocolate Calla

2. Before or After?

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Priscilla Gladiola

3.  Before or After?

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Mojito Elephant Ear

4. Before or After?

 

(Answers =1 dahlias/after , 2 callas/before, 3 glads/before, 4 elephant ears/after)

FOLLOW the FLOWER to FROST.

 

 

 

 

A Conch On An Oak

This is a rather large and lovely fruiting body of a fungus.

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Although I was happy to find it, it is a bad sign for the oak on which it resides.

This is a Ganoderma lucidum.  It is also referred to as root rot or butt rot.

This part of the fungi is called a basidocarp. These can get several feet wide and over half a foot tall.

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The top is a mixture of oranges, browns and whites. The top is hard and leathery or rubbery.   The underside is white with tiny pores.

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These two were found around the base of my neighbors’ oak.  This is twice as bad as finding one because it means the decay is more severe. (Sorry M & N.)

I also spotted the one below downtown, which I plan to report to our local arborist.

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The Conch is lovely but a deadly delight.

FLOWER

 

Another Mother

I have posted on another Mother-of-Thousands,

This one is also called Mother-of-Millions, Alligator Plant and Mexican Hat Plant.

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It also goes by several scientific/genus names; Bryophyllum, Crassulaceae or Kolanchoe.

Even the species/specific epithet may change from daigremontiana to pinnata.

No wonder it had no label when I purchased it from a greenhouse.

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The leaflets on the mama leaves are held by tiny pink “spoons” along the edges.

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Some grow roots before they drop off, but most do not.

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They do not get far from the mama plant.

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Cute, but crowded.

FLOWER

A Plant that Feeds Ants

I was thrilled to discover my first Red Passion flower bloom last week.

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When I checked on it the second day, it had all ready closed.

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Upon closer examination, I discovered it was covered with tiny ants.

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These ants were busily scurrying between tiny green discs on the outer edges of the sepals/calyx.

I at first thought these green discs to be aphids,

but they were too uniformily spaced.

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I had to do a little research to discover their identity.

They are tiny nectaries, produced by the plant to feed the ants.

These ants in residence provide services in return.

They guard the plants against aphids and caterpillars.

If you have been following the FLOWER, you have seen my caterpillar photos,

many of which were taken on my wild Passion flower vines.

I have not seen one caterpillar on this Red Passion flower vine.

So the Red Passion plant has pet ants.

Who knew?

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FLOWER

Red October

I started this post yesterday as Red October.

Today, as I finish it, I wonder if its title should be Wet October.

I can finally stop watering thanks to hurricane Matthew.

My thoughts are with my friends closer to the action. (ShrubQueen)

For all of us who are safe, but not dry, here are some colorful photos for this dreary day.

This last one is a picture of a dogwood sprig thrown down to me by a thoughtful squirrel. What a nice little bouquet.

Hang in there folks. This is no Hugo, or is it?

FLOWER