Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tiny Virginia Bananas!

Recently I wrote a post on my banana plant (a banana grows in Virginia) and wrote I would follow up. Well, here 'tis! My stunning banana plant flower produced these cute little red/pink bananas (probably not edible). As I wrote in the past, bananas like water and a relatively heavy feeders (I give them fish emulsion, but no fertilizer in the winter). They need shelter in the winter (mine do fine in the attic by a window- they look like heck at the end of the winter, but perk up quickly).
Happy gardening! Go bananas!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Eucalyptus Crash

My semi-hardy eucalyptus came down in a recent storm, but many of the roots still seemed to be in the ground. Using my favorite medium ("road crew bamboo" and twine) I made a slanted 4-pole, tee pee-style trellis to hold it up after my son helped pushed it back into a semi-upright position (it had grown on a slant, so we could not completely straighten it). I also had to take off the top 5 feet of the tree. So, we will see if this works and I will report back. I really love this plant, but I can also replace it next spring if this effort fails (eucalyptus lasts 5 to 7 years here: if a storm does not get it, ice does. But it grows fast).

One "bonus" of this damage is that I now have eucalyptus to preserve for wreathes and floral arrangements. You cannot just dry eucalyptus- the leaves will become too brittle. You need to preserve it using a glycerin and water mix (glycerin is available on line, just search for soap and lotion making supplies or get it at an old timey pharmacy). Here are the instructions:

Smash or crush the ends of the stem to allow better absorption of the following mixture: 1 part vegetable glycerin to 2 parts hot tap water to 2 inches deep. Dry indoors for about 1 week. When the leaves feel dry, but still pliable, the eucalyptus fronds are ready to use. Cut off the smashed ends and use in floral arrangements.

Happy gardening!

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Tree Killing Herbicide

I jokingly wrote an entry a while back called "How to kill a tree." Sadly, a new herbicide, Imprelis, thought to be environmentally "better" (whatever that might mean) has been implicated in the death of trees, especially those with shallow roots, like willows, poplars and conifers. For the full article, go to the New York Times at:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Water Hyacinth

I knew water hyacinth was a strong grower when I ordered it in May. Indeed it is banned in frost free climates, like Florida, as it is invasive and chokes waterways and wetlands there. It is fine to grow in an enclosed water garden in Virgina, where it is killed by frost (though all that dead vegetative matter needs to be removed before it rots away). But I have been more concretely reminded of how vigorously this plant can fill any available water space now that I grow it. Above is the water garden after I removed the pile of hyacinth below. Unfortunately, I did not take a photo before I pulled the plants out, but, believe me, it does not look all that different. In addition, this is the third time I have done this since mid-may when I received the 12 little plants!
Happy gardening!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday Lagniappe

(Lagniappe: Cajun for: a little something extra that is pleasurable).

A banana flowers in Virginia! As I have professed before, I have a thing for bananas. Banana plants, that is. This is blooming today in my central Virginia garden, a pretty, exotic touch! Other than needing winter protection, potted bananas are pretty easy to care for, though they are heavy feeders (fish emulsion) and like a lot of water. The second photo shows the part that becomes the fruit-the while, bulbous base to the yellow flower (the ovary).

Happy gardening!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Water lily

Love water lilies but don't have a pond? I have a pond, but the water moves too much- the water lily likes its water still. But if you have a large enough water holding container (thank you Madeline for this galvanized round water trough) you can have a super dwarf water lily (this one purchased from Lilypons http://www.lilypons.com/ ). It was easy to plant in a plastic container without holes (to prevent soil from leaking out) topped with cleaned gravel (ditto). I also gave it a pond plant fertilizer tab and put a quarter of a mosquito dunk (made from the natural bacteria BT) in to prevent mosquitoes from hatching. I dyed the water black with pond dye to hide the pot. In the winter I will lower the water a lot, and put it in my garage for shelter and top it back up with water. I think it looks very nice on my back deck.
Happy gardening!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hummer Fever

We saw a "flock" of hummingbirds at this feeder at the nature center in historic Batsto Village in Batsto, NJ, a great place to view pinelands plants and ecosystems. At times there were a dozen birds feeding. The naturalist said she has to fill the large feeder twice a day! Enjoy the video!

Clary Sage

Sometimes I cannot help myself and buy a plant on impulse (Do I have a place for it? Not really. Does it fit in with a color or landscaping scheme? Nope). I like salvias (sages) and in the spring of 2010 I bought a perennial, clary sage. The first year it did not do much, gathering strength, perhaps, and coping with transplanting. This year, the plant sent up three stalks, with beautiful, pebble-textured leaves and pointed, nodding flower buds. The first bud has swelled, turned into an upright flower stalk- this photo does not do it justice! It is large and striking. So far, a no fuss plant, needing nothing but occasional water.
Happy gardening!
PS a note on "I like..." I am reminded of a college friend who, whenever a song played, shouted "This is my favorite song!" I am like that with plants....sorry!