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Thursday, October 27, 2016

A few of my ferns

Ferns are one of the most versatile plants in the world. Where there is water there are bound to be ferns somewhere! Some grow in trees in the tropics and subtropics, others grow as trees providing a beautiful canopy in exotic forests and beautiful gardens, and the rest grow close to the ground. Here are some photos of my ferns. I have a few species of ferns not included in this post because they are young and not as photogenic. I'll make a separate post for those soon!

Here is my Staghorn fern. It's an epiphyte which means it gets its nutrients from the air and does not grow in soil. Because of this you can do lots of cool things with them like mount them on a piece of driftwood, hang them from a tree (or mount them to trees like they grow in the wild if you live in a warm climate). I have mine is growing in a tiny glass pot which makes it look really interesting. It grew FAST this summer and the plant is now swallowing the pot. I'll be repotting it in the spring for sure if I can keep it happy inside my house this summer. I have no idea how I will manage to repot it so stay tuned in the spring for that!

I just brought my Staghorn Fern inside today. It's going to spend the winter in my bathroom where it should be happy. It's got a skylight so there is plenty of natural light and it is of course pretty humid in there. We will see how it holds up! 

This next fern is the most common fern growing in yards around here. In cooler climates they can handle some full sun but in my yard they definitely are lovers of the shade. They can actually get pretty large. Unfortunately they do lose their leaves in the winter. Ostrich Ferns are their name if you want to get your own. I warn you that they are a little weedy but they are native! I have them growing in a confined bed so it doesn't act up. The light green fronds are called sterile fronds and make up the majority of the plant. The funky looking fronds in the center of the plant are called fertile fronds and that is how this fern species releases its spores to reproduce. Ferns have been around for a VERY long time so they are sometimes a bit weird and primitive which makes them all the more interesting to grow.

Here's my newest fern planted this past spring. It's called a Tassel Fern (Polystichum polyblepharum) and it is reported to be evergreen in my climate. There are not a lot of evergreen fern options for my area so I think this will be a really valuable addition to my landscape. It'll definitely add some tropical vibes to the winter garden. 

I am very surprised that it is growing this time of the year. I wonder if the new, tender growth will survive a hard freeze.

The "trunk" reminds me a lot of a young tree fern. The fronds do too actually. This is a very tropical looking fern. Not sure if it will prove to be evergreen but it is reportedly hardy down to -20F so it will definitely survive the winter if that is true. Looking forward to finding out!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Late October Update

We had some beautiful weather this October with temperatures in the mid 80s last week. We've recently seen some much colder and more wintery weather with temperatures now approaching the 30s in the overnight and highs failing to get above 60F on some days. I do think that the amount of warm days left are numbered, but there will still be a few before winter. Here are some photos of my plants as we approach the end of October. The garden still looks great, but I am starting to bring the tender plants indoors.

Love the adondilas. All it takes is one to bring the tropical touch. They love our hot and humid summers.

Another view with my largest plumeria joining the shot.

In this view you can see my Queen palm which is just about the tallest plant in my yard (although the castor beans, banana cannas, and my largest plumeria are close to the same height). I am not sure where the queen palm will fit inside my house but I'm determined to figure it out!

Back to the pool area you can see my huge clump of Hedychiums. I bought these plants as two very tiny bulbs from Hawaii. They sell them as plants in airports and gift shops for tourists. Here's some living proof that if you treat them right they will get just as big as the beautiful clumps in Hawaii and the rest of the subtropical world. While Hedychiums are pretty cold hardy I bring mine into the garage each winter because it is so easy to lift up the bulbs.

Here are some of my bananas. I've been saying it all summer but I can't say it enough, my Mekong Giant (to the left in these photos) has just been amazing. It outperformed my Basjoo by FAR. I protected it with christmas lights last year, burning it to the ground. This year I am just throwing leaves on it. My Ensete will spend the winter in the garage. Also check out the Farfugium at the bottom of the pic. Such a cool plant. Beautiful foliage and alien like blooms. The blooms are kind of like dandelions.

Here's a view from indoors.

Thanks for looking!

Monday, October 24, 2016

My Agave Collection: AGAVE BLOOMS ON THE WAY!

I've been patiently waiting to update everyone on this exciting news - one of my potted agave plants is flowering! I have never seen an agave flowering in a pot, but always hoped I would see mine bloom one day. When I got this plant at the age of 15 years old, I remember envisioning what it would look like in bloom. Now I'm 22 years old and that day is finally here!

For those of you who are not familiar with Agaves, Agave plants are "succulents" loving dry weather and sandy soil. They are desert plants that thrive in places few other plants will - but most are not very cold hardy in the wet Northeastern US. I like to grow agaves in my yard because they remind me of California, southern Europe, and the beaches in the Caribbean, in other words... vacation! I keep mine as potted plants and while my Agave americana and Agave parryi spend much of the year outdoors in their pots (only going inside when temperatures drop below 20F), my Agave desmettiana is more tender and go inside before the first frost of the season. At the end of an Agave's life (which can be anywhere from 10 to 100 years long) they use ALL their energy to make a massive blooming stalk. So the sad news is that I am about to lose my largest Agave, but it will be going out with a big BANG (and I'm sure I'll have lots of baby plants underneath it to carry on its mothers legacy.

I got this Agave desmettiana 6 years ago as a nice sized 3 gallon plant at a local nursery. This past year was actually the first year I repotted it. It's a sharp and heavy plant so I was not excited to repot it, but I got it done and just 2 months after giving it a large pot it decided to start blooming! So now I am the proud owner of a blooming agave plant here in my zone 7 yard in New York City. Yes I cheated a little because it does go inside every year, but I think it is still well deserved after poking myself for 6 years dragging the 100 pound beast inside my house every winter!

Summer 2012

Spring 2016 (repotting)

There is not a lot of detailed information about what to expect when a potted agave is about to bloom so here is my experience! Before the plant bloomed, the leaves got smaller. Once the stalk starts to appear things start to happen very quickly. For my Agave desmettiana, it took about 6 weeks for the stalk to reach its maximum height (about 6 feet tall). Agave desmettiana are small growing compared to many other species which is why they are perfect for growing in pots. The flower stalks on many of the larger agaves easily reach 20 feet tall or more (sometimes 5 or 10 times taller than the rest of the plant) so A. desmettiana is much more manageable in comparison. Oh yeah and if the blooms don't sound cool enough, when the plants mature little new plants called bulbis develop ON THE STALK. Not only does it look cool but it sure beats having to grow plants from seed. I don't think mine will stay healthy enough to mature to its fullest because winter is almost here, but it did get this far!

Agave blooms are VERY attractive to hummingbirds so if you get lucky enough to have yours bloom during hummingbird season you'll see lots of those birds enjoying some lunch!

I'll post an update when these buds open up. We have some cold weather coming this week so I'll be storing it inside my unheated garage during the overnight hours to keep the buds from getting damage.

I hope you enjoyed. Thank you for looking!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

October Blooms Around The Yard

The weather is certainly cooler but don't try telling these plants that! Many flowers are still going strong despite the change in the weather and the noticably shorter days.

You'll see Mandevilla, Mums, Cleome, and Hibiscus in these photos

First, my Summer Storm Hibiscus has proven to be an absolute winner. It is the first to start blooming of the hardy hibiscus and it seems like it will never stop blooming. Seeing big and beautiful tropical blooms year after year from July to November without having to do ANYTHING is pretty incredible. This cultivar is far superior to Kopper King.

Can't complain about the beautiful Cleomes either! 

Who knew Mandevillas and Mums could look so awesome together! 

Cannas are going strong as well! 
Not quite a bloom but Southern Magnolias do have some pretty awesome seed pods this time of the year worth sharing. When I was little and saw these trees in Florida I called them "Artichoke Trees" because that's what I thought they were. Happy to have an "Artichoke Tree" in my own yard!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Butterfly Ginger (Hedychium coronarium) thriving in New York City

I fell in love with Butterfly ginger in Hawaii 6 years ago and could never imagine the tiny touristy pieces of ginger root I brought home would fill my yard with ginger blooms for the past 4 years. The bloom season usually starts in late August. The plants bloom heavily until the first frost of the season, usually in November. October is the best month for blooms since the weather is comfortable and there are lots of flower buds!

The foliage from these plants alone is beautiful. Dark green, glossy, and graceful - about as tropical as it gets! But the real treat comes with the blooms. The blooms are a beautiful white color and the fragrance is incredibly strong. I grow brugmansia, jasmine, and several gardenia which are all fragrant plants but nothing compares to butterfly ginger.

Here are a few photos of my ginger.

The foliage alone is pretty beautiful.

This is the largest head of blooms I have ever had on my ginger. It's amazing!

I wish I could share the fragrance on this blog. 

A view from above. You can see my trachy frond in this distance.

And a view from below. The ginger blooms are everywhere this year.

Here is a similar look during the daytime.

And a few more close ups.

Thank you for looking. I hope you all enjoyed!