Friday, October 31, 2014

A Last Hurrah

My two China roses - 'Old Blush' and 'Slater's Crimson China' - are still flowering beautifully, even as the fall leaves accumulate around them on the balcony.

'Old Blush'

'Slater's Crimson China'

'Old Blush' again

Also... Happy Halloween! Not my favorite holiday - never been a fan of dressing up or decorations that purposefully try to be ugly, though I do love pumpkins - but I hope everyone is having lots of fun with their costumes and candy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New Beginnings

As almost all vegetation outside is declining, inside some plants' growth cycle is just beginning. About a week ago I repotted last winter's freesia bulbs that had spent the whole summer tucked away in a corner of the back stairwell in some dry potting soil in a clay pot. They began sprouting with impressive speed, much more quickly than last fall.

The freesias (Freesia cv.) sprouting in the sunroom

We will see how they will do this year; last winter they flowered well but then developed a horrible spider mite infestation which persisted as long as the foliage remained and probably rather reduced the reserves that the little bulbs were able to store up for this season.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Settling in for Winter

Earlier this week I moved all the tender container plants inside. All that is left on the balcony now are the roses, a bigleaf hydrangea, and a few perennials, namely Hosta plantaginea and Petasites japonicus var. giganteus. All of these are normally hardy here, but seeing as they are in containers on a second-floor balcony I might bring them inside and put them in a cold, dark corner for the coldest part of winter just to be on the safe side. The sunroom, meanwhile, looks lusher than ever.

The sunroom the other day - when there was sunshine, rather than yesterday and today's gloomy darkness and torrential rain

On a separate note, happy Deepavali/Diwali everyone! दीपावली की हार्दिक शुभकामनाएँ!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cactus Surprise

Since last winter I have had an Epiphyllum specimen which I took to be a Dutchman's pipe or queen of the night epiphyllum (Epiphyllum oxypetalum), associated in much of South and Southeast Asia with a popular fairy tale about a prince, a fairy named Bakāvalī, and the fairy's magic flower with healing powers - in Malay it is even known as bunga bakawali or "Bakawali flower"! Tonight my plant's first bloom opened, and it has turned out to not be Epiphyllum oxypetalum at all but Epiphyllum strictum, very similar but with spidery flowers of even purer white.

Epiphyllum strictum

The flower has a spicy, grassy fragrance that carries quite far. I am very pleased with it. Though of course now I will also have to get a real Epiphyllum oxypetalum.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Last-Minute Success

Today may well have been the last really mild day of the year - temperatures are predicted to plummet tomorrow - and this morning when I looked out the kitchen window, I discovered a single beautiful bloom on the little moonflower (Ipomoea alba) that has been growing slowly and modestly all summer.

Moonflower (Ipomoea alba)

This may well turn out not just the first but also the last flower this specimen manages to produce but it really was gorgeous. I wonder if there is some trick to getting these to flower earlier, or whether it is just a matter of getting them plenty of heat and sunshine.