Lipstick Colored Azaleas

AzaleaA post-summer cold, pre-fall sniffles. That’s what I have, sitting here with tissues stuffed up my nose. No fun.

I’ll have to be honest, these few weeks that we are in is not my favorite time of the year. Everything is weedy and seedy and droopy. Most color in the garden comes from a few resilient blooming annuals in pots, and even they look exhausted. I think when my back is turned they tap their feet and check their watch, wanting to know when this gig is over.

One of the few blooming shrubs that help me fill the gap is Encore azaleas. The flower color I picked is different from the normal white or pinky pink, it is a beautiful coral orange. If I was in a department store buying lipstick and found this color in a tube, it would make me sigh with delight!

The other thing I like is the shape of the flowers, kind of like a pin-wheel or star-burst and not the dainty flowers of the other azaleas. It screams here I am, look at me!

It blooms in the spring and in the fall, a double whammy. And it never ceases to remind me that very shortly everything will be lit up with fall color.  It blooms in the same color palette that the maple trees will soon have on their leaves. It revs me up for the fall color show.

Enjoy the gorgeous photos while I blow my nose. Love to all.

Bits and Pieces and In-Between

I think I have entered that part of the season that I call “in-between.” Summer is coming to a close and Autumn is not really here yet. In the southern part of the United States, it is still very humid and hot! Our little ones are going back to school and fall clothes are still packed away, waiting for chilly weather.

In the garden, it’s a little like the end of a school play. Everyone has witnessed the drama and now everyone is standing around with a cup of punch and a cookie, waiting to go home.

A lot of my perennials have bloomed like mad and are now waning. Flowering trees have done their thing and are setting fruit. Due to the large amounts of rain this summer, some of my annuals didn’t get deadheaded properly, so they are underperforming. Weeds are unfortunately prolific, also due to the ongoing wet weather.

But…there are some interesting things going on.

My lemon grass grew to a huge size. The pictures below are of when I first bought it and today, respectively. I also made sure to use the exact same pencil for scale. I was warned that at the end of a season it could approach the size of a Volkswagen. I was unhappy with the taste of it. It was not pronounced enough for me. It might be due to the overwhelming amount of water it received.

I also noticed that a lot of my plants acquired red or orange leaves due to stress. I have seen this happen in a very hot, dry summer but never due to a deluge of rain.

My Meyer lemon has lots and lots of fruit. Just like the Italians, who grow citrus in pots and move them inside during the winter, I have lemons until the middle of December. People visiting around the Thanksgiving holidays, at first think they are fake. A holiday decoration. They are so sweet and luscious, I try to think of special things to do with them other than just using them for tea.

ZinniaZinnias are one of my favorite annuals and it performed well this year. When I see them, I always think of my oldest son, Nathan. He convinced me to grow them one year. I used to be a Zinnia snob, thinking they weren’t as sophisticated as salvias, roses and coneflowers. They won my heart, pumping out brightly colored discs. The butterflies and birds agree with me.

Catnip in the compostCatnip sprang up in one of my homemade compost bins. After witnessing how well it worked as a mosquito repellent (see my previous post), I didn’t have the heart to rip it out. I hope it reseeds itself around on the ground and anywhere else it wants to grow in the garden.