Saturday, November 12, 2011


Just when you think it will last forever summer is over in a flash. Jack Frost pays your garden a visit and takes away with him much of your lingering color.

We have had two freezes in the last two weeks. The first one dipped into the 20s.  It was just for a few hours but what a difference those few hours made. Gone are the tithonia, gomphrena, most of the zinnias. The garden is taking on her winter cloak. A sudden bareness.

Yesterday, in a more sheltered, shady spot by the front entry gate, it was time to deal with the mountain of potted pothos that had grown during the summer, trailing and rooting alongside the wall. After taking a few cuttings, to root in a glass jar, I sat down and began a serious cutback. I was just pointing out to a visitor last week that I never sit on this bench. I was wrong.

It was the perfect place to sit and do the job. I also trimmed the tips of the A. demettiana, which will go inside for the winter. I'm not the one who has to carry this inside and I'm very cognizant of things that could cause eye damage these days.

Then I turned my attention to the sunken garden pulling out the faded zinnias and the masses of gomphrena.

What lies beneath would make a good title for a posting. So many things come to light after removing the summer planting. This ice plant can now enjoy the spotlight.

Billowing mounds of alyssum need to be cut back so that they will once again take on a more compact form.

It isn't easy to cut back flowering plants but I am thinking now of spring. I want my alyssum to look like this one which was cut back to nothing several weeks ago. Although I love the deep purple one I have all shades from purple down to white. It is another of my reliable re-seeders. The bees love it and it perfumes the air with its sweet honey fragrance.

While crouching down removing errant seedlings and weeds I noticed that the blue gilia, Gilia rigidula, is once again in flower. I have never seen this plant in a nursery and I don't know why because though a delicate looking and diminutive plant it is as tough as nails. Several plants on the chalky hillside have gone without water all summer and although not blooming like this one are starting to leaf out again. It seems to seed readily although I have yet to see the seeds. This one is growing by the rock in the center of the sunken garden. The soil is poor and dry and the constant shedding of the surface of the stone makes for a very alkaline soil.

I am certainly going to try to propagate this little beauty.


  1. I have never been able to grow alyssum. I'm always amazed at yours.
    But then, I'm always amazed at your garden period.

    We've had two lows of 24 so far. Doesn't bode well for this winter, I'm afraid.

  2. We're still waiting for our first frost here in seems like it's later than usual...but I could be wrong. I know I'll miss things once they die back for the winter, but I'm ready for it now...things have looked a bit scraggly for the past few weeks now and I'm ready for a fresh start this spring! You're so right about how you find yourself appreciating different things once you've cut back summer's remains. I usually don't cut anything back until spring, and even though it's VERY bare-looking for the following few weeks, I find myself really noticing every little detail!

  3. The blue gilia flowers are so cheerful. They remind me more of spring than fall. The foliage is so light, the flowers almost seem to float. We haven't froze yet where I am, but it's just a matter of time.

  4. And your garden still looks lovely compared to my north german Garden!
    We had a few nights with frosts , all plants lost their leaves and flowers. One of a hard kind seems to be alyssum just as in your garden it still blooms but not as beautiful.
    I love the Gilia, I wonder if it would grow in my garden.
    Viele Grüße

  5. Wonderful photographs as always! Just love your blog!

  6. Gilia Rigidula is beautiful!
    It seems a lot, some varieties of Helianthemum, but they are in other colors.

  7. That blue gilia is beautiful--that blue is gorgeous. I hope you have some luck propagating it.

  8. That is very nice, considering it is after a couple frosts or freezes. Same here...but I won't complain!

  9. I love that blue gilia. But I also haven't had luck with alyssum...

  10. That Gilia is superb! I'll keep that one in my memory banks. My alyssum always dies out, but you've inspired me to try some more in the sunny rock garden area of my garden. I think there must be at least two that can take the heat and one that prefers only cooler weather. Yours survived the summer? Wow!
    David/ :-)

  11. Frost came our way, too and then it was warm again over toasted and limp plants. I've pulled some; others wait for cutting down.

    I look at it as time to make way for the glories of winter blossoms. Camellia sasanqua blooming now, C. japonicas full of buds.

  12. The blue gilia is so pretty...I would like to propagate it also!!! Nice to have it re-seed. Your whole garden is lovely...a true paradise!!!