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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Late June Yard Update!

Hi there everyone! As June comes to a close I figured now is definitely as good of a time as ever to post on things around the yard!

First a quick look at some weather stats in my yard from the weather station... 

The month of June started off cold but we had some periods of warmer weather after the first few days passed.

We didn't quite make it to 80F for an average daytime high this June which is pretty cool. Here's how every month so far has looked in my yard. 

So far the warm weather months have not been horribly below average compared to winter. April and May were a little above average, but June has been below average by a bit more than a degree here.

The plants aren't really seeing any negative impacts from it though. No impressive growth but everything is on track. 

The front yard is coming together. Similar set up to last year except I added a salvia by the swamp hibiscus, put in some caladiums and a lot more colocasias, threw in some lantana instead of verbana, and I have a Brugmansia squeezed in as well. The Brug is off to a slow start (you guys know my opinion on that one if you read the "Ugly post" haha!
View from the back.

My washingtonia robusta is on its second summer in the ground. It is growing well after winter. The last front it put up was very weird looking which you can see in this pic a bit. It may have been delayed cold damage (the first 2 new fronds of the season were completely normal) but I'm not worried, I think the next frond looks great and it's well on its way.

It takes a lot to bring hummingbirds into a NYC yard, or at least that's what I thought. They have a few favorites in my yard and this black and blue salvia is definitely one of them! I love this plant too, it's quite a vigorous bloomer! 
Speaking of my brugmansia you can see it in this pic. The flowers will be pink when it blooms so if you can't exactly separate the plant from the background in this pic, you might be able to later on this season when it starts to bloom.

 I was introduced to Mexican Sunflowers last year and I think they are pretty incredible. The foliage has a fuzzy tropical look and the blooms themselves look tropical too and attract a ton of Butterflies. I started these from seed and they aren't that close to blooming yet but they are definitely getting closer every day. They were extremely slow to start but are quick growers now that the heat is here. 

The Ensete is definitely the star in the front yard, at least for now!

Philodendron planter. One of my favorite plants.

A view of the backyard from the "Pella Room" It has a pretty nice view of the whole yard with the bonus of AC so you don't have to go into the sun and heat.
I like the view in the sun and heat too though. I think it's hard to beat the feeling summer gives but I can understand this weather is not for everyone. My plants all love it though! 

I got this monstera from shop and stop 5 years ago. Now it's over 6 feet tall! 

I really like the way ti plants and begonias look potted together and I think the color of the ti plants contrasts beautifully with the white siding of the house. These plants are still recovering from a winter indoors but I am looking forward to them being at their former glory again soon.
Got to have a pic of my largest plumeria in every update as I'm sure you might have noticed! haha. 

My largest plumeria seems to get special treatment but it probably gets the least attention in terms of care. I like my other plumerias too and they get the bulk of the waterings and fertilizer! 

I'm not sure if a lot of people recognize the spanish moss I put on my trees vut I love the look. I think its such a relaxing plant and pretty incredible that it's even considered a plant! 

 My Mekong Giant is growing very well for a newly transplanted banana. This first leaf will probably look a little ratty but I think it might start to really look like something nice by the beginning of August which I can deal with! 

So as you all know I love bringing the tropical look to my yard. Over the past few years I have become a little bit more interested in actually getting something out of the yard other than a lot of satisfaction and relaxation. This year I'm trying edible plants out. I haven't been too successful with most of them. The Cucuzza alone gives enough food to make me pretty happy (and it looks beautiful too). 

This is my smaller batch of Cucuzza (and some basil).

So far I haven't gotten any tasty "Lungo Bianco" Zucchini but I've been loving their flowers!  
I stuff each flower with a little ricotta cheese and a basil leaf from the yard and then I dip in an egg batter, cover with flower and fry them up! Tastes great.

Speaking of flowers, although they aren't edible I love the fragrance and size of Southern mags! My tree didnt suffer die back from the winter cold, but it is looking a little bare this year. I think it is in too much shade so hopefully transplanting it into a little more sun will help it out in next year. 

Daylillies are so fantastic.

My plumerias have been rewarding me with flowers nonstop since Christmas time. I don't know what I am doing to deserve so many blooms, but I will take it! 

A good friend of mine gave me this hibiscus many years ago before she passed away. I am really happy that it is still doing well years later. It was on the verge of death just 2 months ago.

Black Eyed Susans

The lilies are up and blooming for their 2 week show. They'll be hidden again for the season in no time.

My Brugmansia in the front hasn't bloomed yet but the one in the back is a repeat bloomer. I think it's 4 years old now. It's so easy to overwinter and not finicky at all during the summer either.

I've killed a few Desert Roses over the years. This one has been around for a few years and it doesn't seem like it is going anywhere. It blooms indoors and out. When it's inside it usually blooms without any leaves on it! 

I haven't been too impressed with the bloom habits of my "Double Yellow" oleander. If it's cold hardy though it would be absolutely worth it! I'll definitely give it some protection but I do not want to give it heated protection this winter although I may have to.

Digiplexis Illumination Flame. I love this plant and it hasn't even bloomed yet!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

I got a Musa 'Mekong Giant'!!

I'm so excited after years of looking for them that I finally found a nice sized one on ebay for a good price.
I'm honestly not exactly sure about the background on Musa "Mekong Giant". It might be the same banana as Musa Itinerans var. itinerans but a more vigorous (and more cold hardy?) form of it. I've seen it marked as Musa itinerans var. xishyangbannaensis or just Musa xishyangbannaensis. Yeah so regardless not a very easy botanical name to pronounce. You'll see me call it Mekong Giant for know on though!
So what makes Mekong Giant different from a Basjoo? They are running bananas (don't worry not vigorous like bamboo - I hope!) so their pups are often much farther from the mother plant then you'd expect from a basjoo. The trunk also is darker colored and the plant itself is supposed to be more tolerant of shade and much faster growing. Cold tolerance should be similar for both. This is all other peoples opinions, hopefully I will be able to give you my own over the next few months, and if I am lucky, years.
So here's a pic of it newly planted next to an also newly planted fig tree. Ignore the state of this area right now. This entire part of the yard is getting replanted after my vegetables in this spot were destroyed by fungus.

Hopefully this banana truly is a Mekong Giant. It does look different than my basjoo and has characteristics of a Mekong Giant but I guess I won't be fully convinced until it makes pups and survives the winter!

Winter Surprises

There are a few plants that really shocked me by surviving the winter!
First up are these Alocasias. I never even planted them in this spot so I am amazed they are coming up!
This picture is from last Fall, you can see at the very bottom of the picture several alocasias that are potted in small pots. This is the same area where about 4 tiny ones have started popping up within the past few weeks. I am not sure what species they are (or if they are even definitely Alocasias), but they are Here you can see many potted alocasias below last summer in the location these are popping up in. I don't know the species of Alocasia (they were sold as Alocasias but they may be Xanthosama). Either way after a crazy winter low of 1F this year, safe to say they are hardy in zone 7!

Here they are sprouting up!

I dug up my Frostproof Gardenia in the front to make room for other plants not realizing it was still alive! I kept it in a pot just in case and am pleasantly surprised to see it starting to sprout again from the ground. My Frostproof in the backyard is also sprouting from the roots. 

My Crown Jewel Gardenia was protected and came out of the winter amazingly healthy, but unfortunately was stepped on while work was being done in the yard, destroying about 80% of the plant. The part that remains is still growing strong and I hope it fills out this season.

My Camellias were the bad kind of surprise unfortunately. My oldest one in the most exposed spot of the yard suffered about 50% dieback. The remaining branches look healthy enough to bloom next year. I will protect it this winter since I have by doubts this winter will be mild.

My camellias in deep shade look much better. Kramers Supreme is supposed to be a zone 8 camellia but I have had a lot of success with it in my zone 7 even after last winters 1F low. No significant damage, but unfortunately it's in too deep of shade to develop proper buds. 

My Long Island Pink Camellia is not very hardy unfortunately despite what it is sold as. It survives normal winters without a problem, but a few degrees is the difference between completely healthy and significant dieback. I'm going to let the ostrich ferns do their work on that area.

I have never had Caladiums survive inside, but these dwarf caladiums did great. They were dormant late Fall until about the new year and have been growing well ever since.

Not a surprise to see my lilies survive their 6th winter since they are very hardy. I always forget about them though and enjoy seeing them.

My Passion vine did receive protection and unfortunately suffered dieback regardless.