Friday, October 17, 2008

End of the Season

The weekend forecast for the New River Valley is for low temperatures near freezing Saturday and Sunday nights.  Sigh, the garden season has come to its end.  I'll be picking all the remaining tomatoes, tomatillos, sweet peppers, and basil on Saturday.  Most of the plants have already died back, but my pineapple sage (Salvia elegans), with its brilliant scarlet blooms and delicious scent, is still going strong and I'll be sad to see it bite the dust.  My lion's ear (Leonotis leonurus) never bloomed this year, but it started growing tall and forming buds at the start of October.  I've been delusional in thinking that it, and that last late cosmo, might bloom before frost.  At least the curious spiky bud balls of the lion's ear will make an intriguing addition to the vase of coleus cuttings that I plan to take.  I had half a dozen different types of coleus in various pots this year.  Coleus is one of my favorite foliage plants, especially the very brightly colored ones or those with duck-foot leaves.  I often take cuttings to root throughout the summer, but I never recognized that they make a beautiful bouquet until just a couple of days ago.  I prefer pottery vases that hide the stringy roots that develop in the water.  If I'm going to root coleus, I might as well use them as a substitute for cut flowers.

Another chore for this Saturday will be moving the potted plants back indoors for the winter.  I'll have to set up a table in the basement for the gazillion amaryllis (amarylli?) bulbs I've kept over the years or started from seed.  Then there's the 4 foot tall dwarf banana, a Musa zebrina 'Rojo', I think....there wasn't a tag with it when my husband gave it to me for Easter 5-6 years ago.  It's done very well this summer and has 4 large pseudostems in the pot along with 2-3 smaller pups at the base.  At this point the banana has become just another member of the family and I hate the thought of losing it.  

What was I thinking when I decided to start all those different packs of basil varieties???  I had lime, lemon, cinnamon, blue spice, globe, and Red Rubin basil.  I think I had been enthralled with the idea of all those different flavors and scents and wanted to try them all at once, but in the end I never really used them, even though I had dozens of plants.  The lemon basil consistently reminded me of the smell of furniture polish each time I popped a leaf in my mouth.   At least the bees seemed to appreciate all the basil flowers, and the 4 x 4 foot patch of alternating purple and green basil I transplanted in the corner of the back yard was very pretty in late summer.  Next year I think I might just stick with the Genovese basil for pesto and an ornamental red variety for color.  Well, maybe just another couple of blue spice basil plants for variety.....oh wait, that's exactly how things got started this past spring. 

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