A Gardener’s Diary: Flowers are still in bloom

Jocelyne Sewell puts her garden to bed for the winter, but finds much to enjoy outside during the fall

The rain was very welcome after the long stretch of fantastic weather we’ve been having. I had planned on putting my garden to bed sooner but everything was still growing so good. The frost that came in the first week of October didn’t do any damage to my garden except for one big zucchini leaf and a touch on one of my tomato plants. All I have left now are the beets, carrots and parsnips which can take a bit of frost until I am ready to harvest. I dug out some sweet potatoes and a few were a nice size. The red delicious apples will be picked after the frost. I find the flavour is best that way.

On my list to do and very soon is the planting of garlic, tulips and daffodils. The deer take a shortcut between our house and the neighbour’s so the tulips will have to be planted in the back yard where they don’t have access. They have nibbled on the leaves of the raspberry canes as they go by but they have left the berries for me. How kind!

Once a month I try to write the names of the plants that are blooming. I just did it on the 14th and it is hard to believe that I have so many blooms at this late date. My hanging baskets are still in good shape. Looks like the petunias don’t mind the cold weather. Some of the geraniums are in the greenhouse but will move into the house this week for sure. My angel trumpet, which I think is a Brugmansia, has 40 buds and some of them are ready to open. Brugmansia differs from Datura in that it is woody, making shrubs or small trees and in that it has pendulous flowers, rather than erect ones and have no spines on their fruit. Datura species are herbaceous bushes with erect (not pendulous) flowers, and most have spines on their fruit. I will spray with insecticidal soap before bringing it in the house because it had white flies and they will wake up in the heat. By the time I bring all the plants I want to winter over, we might need a bigger house.

Late in the spring I bought some primulas and pansies that were past their prime. The price was right at 10 cents for a four-inch pot. With a bit of TLC they bloomed all summer and are still blooming. Rudbeckias are worth having in your garden. They bloom very early in the season and keep on going until the heavy frost kills them. Another one is my white corydalis which is blooming since the middle of May. At one point I cut off a few of the old stems and it came back better than before. If you don’t let your perennials go to seed and cut them as soon as they finish blooming, many of them will put on another show of flowers later. This is the case for my lavender and oriental poppy. California poppies are not so demanding. They grow so easily and at this time, the bank is bursting with orange blooms. The best of show right now are the dahlias and zinnias. Zinnias make very good cut flowers, they come in such bright shades and they don’t make a mess in the garden as they don’t drop their petals and stay on the plant until you cut them.

If you have more than you can use in your harvest, Upper Room Mission and the food bank are always happy to receive your surplus.

For more information: 250-558-4556.

Jocelyne Sewell is The Morning Star’s gardening columnist, appearing every other Wednesday.