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The Colorful Time

Friday, October 12, 2018

It was such a hot and weird October. Until it wasn't. I've never seen an autumn like this one. I had to get out before it was light to get my run in before it got too hot. The flowers loved it, blooming there was no tomorrow.

86 degrees on October 8. The wind was like a blast furnace, the sun’s hand heavy. Yet it was oddly cool in the shade. Meadows and trees go about their business of coloring up, as the shortening days demand. I weary of the sweat that rolls down my back. Nothing seems right in a hot October. It’s grabbing a cold glass of Coke and getting hot coffee. And then this meadow at dusk, with the crickets and katydids going full bore, a screech-owl quavering, the sound of ripe pears clunking to earth.

It's all been so beautiful, so odd, so overwhelming. 
  If only we could take a bit of this color and spread it out through the gray months. There's ever so much out there right now. More than anyone needs.

The fuchsias are ringing their coral and pink bells.

Fuchsia Gartenmeister Bonstadt

Fuchsia Trandshen Bonnstadt

  I managed to get a few cuttings rooted of this pink beauty. I'll have it in the greenhouse over the winter. This plant stands 4' high in the garden, and the hummingbirds were all over it until they left October 9.

 The red Knockout rose squeaks a few flowers past the Japanese beetles. I love this rose, and the shell-pink zinnia behind it. Who says pink and red don't work well together?

 The zinnias are almost never without monarchs as the insects feed frantically before flying south.
My Garden Way cart is in constant use this time of year, hauling potted plants to the greenhouse, pots to the garage.

 I go around the yard, seeing things. Morning, Mrs. Neoscona. Is your husband available? Or is he tied up at the moment?

It's a banner year for Neoscona crucifera, the arboreal orbweaver. There are so many of them their webs overlap, and then things like this happen.

I mentioned color. Pineapple sage has been giving up its leaves for my cooling iced tea all summer long. It never blooms until it's sure all the hummingbirds have left. And then it bursts forth with this. Well, joke's on you, sage, because I saw a very late hummingbird sipping from your flowers on October 9.

 I love this plant. I just wish it'd get its act together before mid-October. Clearly, it's on Mexico time.

Everywhere I turn, I think of my kids lately. I saw something in the back of the mailbox, covered with dust. It was an ancient little foam letter that had been Phoebe's. Who knows how many years it's been in there.

I walked back to the house thinking about my 5'9" redhead. This zinnia is exactly that tall.
 And totally by chance, the next zinnia over is a blonde. And it's wicked tall, too. Phoebe and Liam, growing right in the front garden bed.

Wonderfully enough, there are still three stalks of tuberoses sending their perfume out into the bedroom each night. It was a fabulous year for them. They love rain. 
 I had to do one more cleaning of the pond before winter, and I had to do it soon, because the Sheffield Pink mums are in bud. Now why would that be? Well, once they start opening, there will be so many honey and bumble bees on those flowers, I won't be able to sprawl around on the rocks as I shovel up the muck. I'll get stang. So I had to clean it now!

Just look at all those buds!

Me, wearing a bell hat, looking at a mountain of glory.

My old iPhone 6 captured the blue a lot better than this one. This new 6 makes it too red. It's weird how individual the cameras are on these little miracles. Ah well, it's closer than my film camera ever came.

 Morning shadows.

Strangled by its own ambition.

 And the ungodly thick and strong underpinning of it all, the morning glory vines I started in the greenhouse in early April, and had to protect from the rabbits. These were the only ones that made it. Rabbits got all the others. I fought hard for every one of these flowers. And by gum I'm enjoying the heck out of them now.

 This never happens. Question marks aren't flower fans. They're looking for fermented fruit or coon poop. Total fluke to have one land on any flower, much less a morning glory. Maybe she thought it was beautiful.

In back, my path past the pond to the morning glory altar is completely blocked by flowers. What are you gonna do? Whack blooming crape myrtle back? And what's it doing, blooming now? Isn't it supposed to bloom in July? I'm not arguing with any of it. Y'all can just do what you do. Everything is beautiful. When I tried to right some of the zinnias that had flopped over across the sidewalk, whole sections of them just broke off at the main stem. Don't mess with us! they screeched. And so I haven't. And I can't use the sidewalk at all now. But I  love it, this having too many flowers. This is a wet year. Everything just went haywire.

 Beautifully, crazily, perfectly haywire. Just like I like it.

 Impatiens lava flows in slow motion down the steps, seeding itself all the way. All the seed babies seem to be orange. How does that work, I wonder? I like orange. It's nice to have abundance like this. Soon enough the frost will get it all and I'll wish it back even as the flowers collapse. That's what the greenhouse is all about.

 In a delicious bit of irony, the morning glory is smothering the hardy kiwi to the left of it. Under all that biomass used to be a raised deck. I haven't seen it in some months.

The plants are in charge here. I'm just their servant.
I doted on this standard gardenia since I bought it half-price in August. It bloomed like mad, and then it made a bunch more fat buds that looked like Christmas tree lights, and dropped all of them but one. This one. 

It was as if that plant wanted to make the perfect flower, and kept throwing away the prototypes. Well, it did. And I thanked it by bringing it into the greenhouse yesterday, where it is perfuming the whole space. There are no more buds on it after this. I just gave it a big load of manure and acid stuff. We'll see what happens. Probably good things.

Thank you for walking around the yard with me. Wish you could see it in person, but this will have to do.

xo jz


So many gorgeous photos, but I especially liked Mrs. Neoscona, with you and your camera in reflection. I saw a similar spider while I was riding my horse in the arena yesterday, but by the time I came round again to take a photo, she had disappeared. Wonder if it was the same kind....

Oh, the beauty you've cultivated and nurtured there on Indigo Hill! I was smiling during the entire tour. Thank you for taking us along. XO

"Strangled by its own ambition." Powerful writing there. Definitely a keeper. Thanks for the tour! Kim in PA

What a lovely tour this chilly morning. I enjoyed every step.

Julie I have a? Re birdbath ( copper). It’s old & patina(d)?
& I just read that some copper mugs are dangerous to drink from. What about birds?

Wow you come up with the best color combos! Such a lovely place. I think I want to have a moon garden next year with lots of white plants near my patio. Ever tried that?

So beautiful! Thanks for sharing your abundance. A question: do you know the variety name of the zinnias? They’re one of my favorites, especially the tall single-flowered forms, but those aren’t easy to find.

@Joy thank you! I think these are "Bling Bling" Heirloom Cutting Zinnias from Renee's Garden. My favorite ever are Blue Point, from Shepherd's Garden Seeds. But I haven't found them for some time. I'm going to plant more cool colors next year. I had gobs of hot orange and red, and only one yellow and very few pinks and purples. That's because I need hot colors by the time I'm planting them in early spring.

Here in Oregon, it hasn't rained in the last six weeks. First time in my 40 years here that's happened.

Thanks for the walk through your yard. Loved it. I revel with you in the strange October. You have inspired me to dream about a green house in my backyard. Can I ask where you purchased yours?
I feel you on missing the children and thinking of them ever so often. Raising children is such a flurry of activity, and then they are giants. Mine aren't as old as yours, but I already feel the bitter-sweetness of time zooming by.
Blessings to you Julie.

@Emily Smith, thank you for your kind comments. Although I get a great deal of pleasure out of the Rion Prestige greenhouse, I have to be honest, it is a P.O.S. as far as ease of assembly and design and overall quality. Get something else. Please. If you want to read the whole sad tale, just search Julie Zickefoose Groanhouse and you'll get a slew of posts about what it was like to try to put it together. Ridiculous, terrible, not recommended. I hope you get a far better model for yourself! Wish I knew what to recommend. This was in my price range. You definitely get what you pay for.

Thanks for the walk in your garden!

I was so lucky to walk these gardens with you to see all the beauty in person. And oh, the zinnias as surrogate children!

Boy, those first two sentences really nailed it.

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