Sunday, November 25, 2007

Christmas Open House

Even this time of year is a busy time for us here at Big Bloomers. After the quick Halloween, fall and Thanksgiving seasons there is a big flurry of decorating to get ready for our Christmas Open House. I managed to sneak a few videos and pictures in before friends and customers showed up Sunday morning. Thank you Jo for all your hard work, wonderful refreshments and lovely company.

Don't forget to check out our Christmas store 'Beyond the Garden Gate' located in the Riverbirch Shopping Center. There we offer a variety of holiday decor as well as select holiday plants, candles, gifts and stocking stuffers.

Plant of the Moment-Barleria cristata (Phillipine violet)

Barleria cristata (Phillipine violet) is not a violet at all. Belonging to the acanthus family Barleria cristata is not even native to the Phillipines but rather to India and Myanmar. This shrub-like perennial grows strongly upright to 2-3 feet. It is a lovely, undemanding and drought tolerant plant with handsome foliage. It will grow in full to part sun. In our southern climate it seems to be happier in morning sun.

I planted one in a 4" pot from our semi-sun section in early spring. I potted it up in a large pot where it bloomed all spring. With the heat of the summer months it stopped blooming but was still a very nice specimen plant. In late September it started blooming again. I planted it in the ground a little while later and was pleasantly surprised a couple of days ago when I noticed it had put on its fall coat of many colors. I have read they are very easily propagated by planting a sprig in moist soil. In my mind's eye I am seeing a lovely hedge row of them in all their fall glory somewhere on my property. For this reason it is my "plant of the moment".

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Plant of the Moment... A Tale of Two Tagetes

The plants of the moment have to be the two tagetes blooming in our herb gardens now. They will both bloom into December and for that quality alone they both deserve to be plant of the moment.

Tagetes lemmonii is a wonderful, sprawling shrub-like plant with airy, delicate foliage. Late in the season and especially while blooming it can be a thug, falling over whatever is growing near it. Its such a delicate plant though that it doesn't seem to smother things like the late asters and chrysanthemums can sometimes do. People refer to it as "fragrant". Most people I know think it stinks. It is on the stinky side. Brush against it anytime of the year and you will certainly smell it.

Tagetes lucida on the other hand is more of an upright, orderly and sweetly fragrant plant. This one requires more of a "brushing against" to enjoy the fragrance, but crush a leaf or a stem and you will certainly be rewarded.

I love them both. They bloom this time every year oblivious to freezing temperatures when most other perennials have said goodbye to summer. I have planted them in most of my gardens... one because of its scent and one in spite of it.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Plant of the Moment-Orthosiphon labiatus

Very popular as a garden plant in South Africa, this long blooming member of the mint family forms a 3’ x 3’ shrub topped by showy, 1”, pink, tubular flowers held in whorls on many upright stems. Easy & fast growing in rich, composty garden soil. It’s also extremely drought tolerant once established but looks much prettier with regular water. Excellent used in mass planting in large beds or parks. In a small garden use singly or in small groups. Cut back to 1/3 height every couple of years to keep it fresh looking. Attracts butterflies

Last week I was in the greenhouses helping a customer ID a sprig that she brought in from a small tree growing in her yard. It looked like a hardy, bitter orange that we had talked briefly about on the gardenweb a couple of days before hand. I've actually have the same bitter orange growing in a pot outside for a couple of years now. I just couldn't remember the botantical name that day or where it was located in the greenhouses. All I could remember is that it was referred to as Flying Dragon. The customer and I went into the greenhouses but I could not locate the plant so she mentioned the computer and I could have kicked myself for not thinking of it first so I googled and found the name of the plant she was trying to identify, Poncirus trifoliata, Flying Dragon. But poncirus trifoliata is not what we are talking about today.

While in the greenhouses with the customer I got a tad bit distracted when I glimpsed a haze of pink blooms in a row ahead. Of course I was intrigued and I googled. I was disappointed to see that Orthosiphon labiatus is only hardy to zone 9. Hum, I thought.... I've pushed a zone or two before and this is certainly a worthy plant to try it with so today I will plant three Orthosiphon labiatus. I will try them in a west facing bed up against the side of my house. In this bed I've had good luck with another zone 9 plant which remains evergreen all though winter.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Plant of the Moment-Spiranthes odorata

This will be an ongoing blog. It is plant of the moment and not plant of the week or plant of the month for a reason. I am a very fickle girl and here at Big Bloomers we have a huge selection. I am always seeing something new out in the greenhouses or in the back field or my favorite way of finding a new plant, one that a customer has brought up to purchase.

Anyway I noticed the spiranthes odorata walking through the greenhouses about three weeks ago. A small nondescript plant that you would probably walk past a hundred times without noticing had suddenly produced strongly held flower stalks about 8 inches high. I was intrigued. I googled. I found I needed to have this plant called Spiranthes odorata: Best grown in moist, boggy, acidic soils in part shade. Plants spread slowly by rhizomes to form colonies in optimum growing conditions.

Lady's tresses (sometimes also called fragrant lady's tresses) is an orchid that is native to marshes, bogs, swamps and other wet areas in the eastern United States from New Jersey and Tennessee south to Florida and Texas. It features small, very fragrant, hooded, white flowers densely arranged in vertical, slightly spiral-like rows on spikes typically growing 9-18" (less frequently to 24") tall. Blooms in late summer to fall, often to first frost. Lance-shaped, linear leaves in basal rosettes, with some leaves extending up the flower spikes.

I had the perfect spot for it in a small northern exposed bed right off my covered front porch. This is the only spot in my three acres that I can plant moisture lovers since the ease of keeping this one small bed moist is no problem because of its close proximity to the house. Typically we are rescued from the heat of summer in late September. Things cool down. Its nicer to be outside and garden. I've been looking for plants that last into the fall and especially start blooming in the fall. Spiranthes is not your typical looking fall bloomer, reminded me more of spring blooming lily of the valley much like chrysanthemum nippon. daisy 'Fall Glory' reminds me of spring blooming daisies. Which just might be my next plant of the moment.....

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hummingbird Day

We were very pleased to have been able to welcome Susan Campbell back to Big Bloomers Flower Farm. What a wonderful speaker she is and what a wealth of information. The day started out slowly. All our hummers decided to be skidish that morning and it was not until around 2:00 in the afternoon that we bagged the first one (literally, as you will see).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Where is Alley?

This is our cat Alley. There's something about working at a place that allows animals that brings a smile to my face.

From time to time we will post about our girl. She's a rascal for sure.

Sunday, September 9, 2007