Field of Science

Plant migration of a sort

 It's the 25th of October, and still no frost, which is now over-due by about 2 weeks.  Fall color may be a bit of a bust this year because the first freeze may be a hard one and not the lighter series of frosts that promote leaf color change.  The area is still pretty green.  But TPP got a bit nervous and started the plant migration shortly after mid-October.  This is when all of the tropical plants, or at least non-hardy plants, get taken inside after their nearly 5 month R & R outside for the summer.  The fluffy tailed tree rats decided to simply chew up two epiphyte cacti, so-called Christmas cacti, not actually eating, just chewing up.  Mrs. Phactor thinks they needed replacing anyways.  A number of plants are a bit confused by the weather pattern and some break-through flowering is happening even though the foolishness of this has been explained (stoopid azaleas).  Most of the tropicals flower quite well during their winter inside (just check out past Friday Fabulous Flowers during January and February).  A couple of tough bonsai trees that seem to do well with a taste of cooler weather a are all the remain outside.  Now the sun room porch looks cheerfully vegetative.  

Friday Fabulous Flower - Toad lily

 Another late blooming perennial is called toad lily.  This native of Japan has never quite been hardy in TPP's gardens, but we're trying again.  There are  some differences among varieties in flower color, but most are light- colored with dark purple spots and splotches.  Nothing particularly toad like about it that TPP discerns but common names are common names.  In a shady spot, and protected location, this lily can make a pretty nice clump of flowering stems especially in.  Tricytis hirta is the species that they are placed in October, of course TPP still has tomatoes on the vine.  Thank you global warming.   

Friday Fabulous Flower - nearly last, not the least

The growing season is winding down, but not over as yet.  So far if anything the growing season has been extended a week or so.  But both this FFF and next week's too never have flowered before October, unless conditions have some plant confused, e.g., a yellow azalea has flowered a bit here in September and of course some of our Corydalis has never actually stopped flowering.  Roses are also putting out a few new flowers and so is the Abeliophyllum.  Interestingly enough this late flowering plant is also one of the first plants to sprout in the spring, and so far it has never been frost damaged.  By now the clump of stems is 5-6 feet tall, and drooping if they haven't been staked.  The entire plant is quite toxic, so nothing eats it, (true for many buttercup family members) and helps account for it's common name of wolf bane.  The shape of the flower made by petalloid sepals provides another common name, monk's hood.  This is probably Aconitum napellus, the most commonly cultivated species .

So no herbvorous pests, no pruning, no transplanting (doesn't like being moved).  By October most gardeners have forgotten that they have this plant.  Ours grow well in light shade, and so are sort of in out-of-the-way corners of the gardens.