Hi everyone! My Camp Nano project is going decently well; I’ve managed a few hundred words nearly every day this month so far.
Today was gorgeous out, so I took a break to get some of my garden beds in order. Two weeks ago we had some beautiful crocuses near our front steps.
But now the flowers are gone, so I needed to get the dead oak leaves and acorns out, and put mulch in. Because I was too lazy to do this in the fall.
Everything looks much neater now. I have some snapdragons in that bed that somehow keep coming back every year, so I pulled all the crocus leaves out of the way to give them some space and light.
Foliage from bulbs, like crocuses, can’t be cut right away because it’s producing the food that the plant will need to bloom and grow again next year. I tied mine in loose bundles with some string, which is still not ideal since it can limit the amount of photosynthesis the leaves can do. But as you can see, we have a lot of crocuses and I won’t cry if a few don’t bloom next year. I’d rather the snapdragons not die.
Humanity takes the wild beauty of Ecuador and cultivates it into a garden. La Ciénega is a centuries-old manor house near the base of Cotopaxi mountain that has played guest to many important people such as Alexander von Humboldt. We ate lunch there after hiking in the Cotopaxi cloud forest. Both the house and the gardens are beautiful.
Unfortunately, our ridiculously cold and long Ohio winter killed off some of my plants in my yard. A lot of my lavender did not make it, and I had to prune my hydrangea way back because so many of the branches died off.
I’ve got some nice annuals now though, including pansies in my window-boxes and these twin planters that I made up on my front porch.
You may recognize the tall, red-and-green leafy plant in the back. It’s called coleus and it is a very cool plant.
The name “coleus” actually refers to a defunct genus of plants. These plants are now classed in the genera Solenostemon or Plectranthus.
Coleus is wonderful because it provides height, texture, and color all the time without the blooming/dying cycle of flowers. It is very easy to grow.
It is also very easy to propagate. You can take off a bit of stem and plop it in some soil or water, and it will start rooting and growing into a plant of its own. This is called striking or cutting.
As I was making the planters, I accidentally broke off a side-shoot off one of the coleus plants, making it less “bushy” than the other one in the matching planter. So, I just stuck the broken stem in the soil next to the actual plant. The stem is still perfectly happy, and the planter looks just as visually full as the other.
You may also recognize coleus as the Eddisian “coward’s leaf” from Megan Whalen Turner’s book The Thief. It does have a distinctive leaf shape, but here in the real world it is not known to be poisonous; at most it may be mildly toxic for pets (but I have found no studies to back this claim).