Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August in bloom

A quick peak at what the garden is doing. In the potted section, one of the best things right now, and for weeks past, has been the pineapple lilies. I have never grown Eucomis, before. My mom has them in her Constantia garden and they are native to the grasslands of South Africa's summer rainfall regions. This is Eucomis autumnalis, and it has been in bloom for eight weeks.

Much slower to begin blooming, which is good, because its season will be longer, is Eucomis 'Leia.' I will have to lift the bulbs for winter and store them in the longsuffering fridge (the Frenchman never knows what is going to attack him when he opens its door).

These are also a happy surprise. I have never grown dahlias before, either. I had no idea what to expect and thought they would bloom only late in the season, but this is 'Nuit d 'été' and it has been flowering since early June. The plants dislike very hot weather and the blooms shrivel in response, but we have been having a really mild August and they are thriving again. Thirsty plants. I water daily.

The pineapple lilies and dahlias above came from Brent and Becky's, ordered in February when one is grasping at horticultural straws and prone to shopper's remorse. But both are so healthy and long-blooming that I will get more, next year.

These little dahlias came from Lowe's. I ignore them in the side beds at the back of the garden and they keep on flowering. In general I cannot recommend bulbs from the giant emporium - they are mostly in terrible shape and stored for weeks in hot conditions so that they either wither or sprout and are not viable when you plant them. The dahlias made it.

The heuchera that keeps making more. I have lost track of its offspring. Low maintenance and drought tolerant and flowering late in the growing year,  I find it prefers being dry and squeezed in its pots. This plant (Heuchera villosa) and its children have moved all over New York with us.

The curry leaf trees that overwintered unhappily indoors are thriving, outside.

Inside their bird netting the figs are ripening, at last.

And there is a precious collection of makrut (Citrus hystrix) fruit. I hope they ripen, but it will be indoors, if they do. The skin is intensely aromatic. One tree is flowering and fruiting, while the larger one is not. It's odd. I use the leaves for drinks and cooking.

In wild foods cookbook news: I have reached the final lap: four weeks until deadline. I am now on the photo phase (choosing, editing). The manuscript itself stands at 142,000 words and change. There are still some more recipes to add, test and shoot. Today's testing includes a raised pie with elderberries and a spiced pawpaw bread.


  1. Are you able to leave the eucomis autumnalis in the ground, or do you store those in the frigo as well? I read in catalogues that E. autumnalis is "sweetly fragrant" - is it true? I know some eucomis have a somewhat foul scent. Does Citrus hystris have a common name? What do you use the fruit for?

    1. So sorry, missed this. Citrus hystrix is also called makrut and Thai lime. The leaves are used, mostly, but the fruit has very, very aromatic skin. I use it for infusions and drinks. My Eucomis are in pots and I will be digging them up and bringing them indoors for winter. Faint scent.

  2. Marie? the Eucomis autumnalis? Do you over winter it? I was at Metropolitan Plant in Fort Lee and there were two beautiful pots of this for sale, but no one there knew what they were or if they would be ok over the winter. I so wanted to buy the both but only if I could plant in the yard so they would live for next year.

    1. I plan to dig them up - this will be their first winter. And I will order more next year - one of the very best plants in the garden this year. BTW - my potted plants did MUCH better than the ones in ground, I think the pH was too low for them

    2. are you digging up because this is their first winter and next year will leave them in or is best practices in our zone? Might I ask: when you dig them up, are just letting them dry out and put on a shelf or bag up somehow? I've been on the web, mostly just seeing images and short descriptions but nothing specific about NY\NJ growing area.

    3. Digging because I think in pots they will turn to mush (freeze/thaw/freeze). I lift lilies, too. Will bag them with peatmoss in the crisper drawer. They might be fine in-ground.


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