Changing leaves and cooling temperatures can only mean one thing. It’s time to complete the saving process. By now, elephant ears and canna have been drying out for about a week — and now I have to get them ready for their long winter’s nap.
The final step is pretty much the same for both elephant ears and canna. You will need peat moss, some kind of storage containers (like brown paper bags), a shovel, and a room that stays relatively dry and evenly cool so that the plants can be lulled into a deep sleep without freezing. If the final storage location is too damp or warm, the plants never get a chance to rest and they are at risk of rotting away — and after so much work getting to this point, that would be a shame.
The October weather has been strange. There was a moment when it felt like autumn, but then it became more mild and humid — and so I let my tropicals stay in the ground. But how much longer will I be able to get away with that? At some point, it will become cooler and frost will arrive — and these tropicals need to be stored for the winter.
This will be my weekend project — and since I’ll be a bit busy, I thought it was the perfect time to re-visit a previous post that chronicles the process. Up first are the elephant ears.
A year ago, April temperatures were warm. This year, it’s been cool — especially the overnight temps, which have approached the freezing mark. As a result, my patience to get my hands dirty and to get my tropicals into the ground has grown thin. My solution? An experiment.
Since I did not start any seeds in the potting shed this winter, it’s quite empty. My plan is to plant the Elephant Ears and Canna in pots, place the pots in the potting shed, and then let the heat get their juices flowing. And that’s the purpose for this repost — I’ll be doing exactly as I spelled out a year ago. Happy gardening.
Attractive, aren’t they?
The last time I saw my Elephant Ears, they were clipped back, packed into peat moss, and stored in a cement bunker. With the very warm April temperatures, I couldn’t resist opening up their winter palace. But unlike Geraldo Rivera and Al Capone’s vault, I found my treasure.
Okay, maybe not in the entire world – but certainly in my world.
This is the first weekend where fall really feels like fall – as in leaf fall, temperature fall, and mood fall. As much as I would love to live in denial and believe that I can still put on a pair of shorts and sandals and play like it’s July, the cold front that came in last night has proven that the calendar is indeed correct.
Today was a day to begin cleaning up the fall.
The first order of business was to hack and dig the tropicals and prepare them for winter storage. The sensible voice in my head knew that this was a mercy killing, a necessary evil so that the canna and elephant ears may live to see another summer – at least in my zone 6/7 garden. But the emotional voice inside of me said, “Waaaaaahhhhhhh.”
There is a certain sadness when I look about the waning October garden. So many blooms have faded and turned to seed; so many leaves have dulled.
And then there are the red hot flowers, looking a bit out of place and overly made-up amid the first flush of autumn’s golds and yellows and rusts.
Celosia — a few plants from last summer reseeded themselves for this year’s garden. Surprise!
And that’s when my imagination takes hold.
I know. This is a gardening blog and this post will not exactly be a gardening one – but I will try and find a connection. It may be a stretch, but it will be a gardening connection of sorts. Besides, how often can anyone say that they’ve had the chance to meet themselves – or at least their 20-year-old self?
In past posts, I’ve explained that there is a cement crawlspace behind a closet in my house. It’s my winter storage bunker for elephant ears and canna. What I never told you is that my perfectly dry and evenly cool space also holds some boxes and crates filled with my past.
I’ve always thought about cleaning things out, but whenever I’m in the bunker, I’m either loading or unloading plant materials – and gardening, like time and tides, waits for none. So, my past has remained undisturbed for the 25 years that I have lived with Joe.
Until the other day, that is, when a local cable guy arrived to rewire the house and I had to empty out the bunker – without the excuse of elephant ears and canna. My personal time capsule would, at last, be opened.
It seems fitting that after an interesting amd intense couple of days, I have to extend my thanks to a few people.
First up is Cheri, a WordPress editor, who selected my previous post about 9/11 to be Freshly Pressed. That means that my blog, for a few days, was one of the featured sites on WordPress — and the response, as you can imagine, was overwhelming.
That brings me to the other people I would like to thank. You. All of you. All 2,400+ readers and the 200+ who chose to follow this site. I cannot even begin to explain how much your comments and likes meant — and how absolutely moving your comments were. I’ve had the chance to “meet” people from all over the world, to read of their memories, and to visit other amazing blogs.
And now that the rush has fallen off, it’s time to get back into the garden. The September garden is an interesting place. Some plants are worn out and tired, while others appear to be putting on quite a show — like a fireworks finale. I’m not sure if the hint of cooler weather is rejuvenating their energy, or if they somehow know their end is near.
One thing is certain, though. All of the plants — and this gardener, as well — are ready for a chance to re-energize for the next growing season.
So, without further delay, here is a stroll through the garden and a look at the blooms from the closing days of summer.