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.
Over the past few months, I have been inundated with emails about my potting shed. Most people want to know where they could purchase the same kit. When I explain that the shed is Joe’s original design, they want specifics.
So with a lot of help from Joe, here is a post that has been a long time coming. Additional photos and information can be found in “The Potting Shed” tab above.
Before there was a potting shed, there was me — on a mission to start seeds in advance of the planting season, and Joe — on a mission to reclaim the kitchen and dining room from trays and flats of new sprouts. Surveying my long and leggy seedlings, I said, “If I had a potting shed, I’d be dangerous.”
Little did I know that that sentence, a seed traveling on waves of sound, would eventually settle into one of the folds of Joe’s brain, taking root and springing into action.
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.
Joe and I made the drive from New York to South Florida, and in 24 hours, we experienced three seasons. We began our journey in winter and then arrived in spring by the time we reached South Carolina. Once in Florida, it was all-out summer.
This trip is why I didn’t start any seeds in February. There would be no one to take care of my seedling babies during the final week of March. Needless to say, I missed working in the potting shed and watching geraniums and impatiens and petunias make their debut onto the world stage.
It’s the main reason why I’m taking this walk down memory lane, a repost of last year’s seed starting experience and a chance to reminisce. By the way, seeds will be started when I return to Long Island: zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos — seeds that like to be sown where they’ll grow. Now that I read that sentence, I like to think of myself in the same way. I like to be planted where I can grow.
I hope you don’t mind, but in honor of Thanksgiving, I’m offering some leftovers — in the form of a repost. I’ve reworked it a bit to make it more palatable, but the gist is the same: a couple of crazy Long Islanders will do just about anything to give their yard a tropical look. Besides, it’s way to cold and blustery today — too cold to hold the camera to redocument this process.
Enjoy — and fresh material is on its way.
I may be the gardener of the house, but Joe also has his landscape loves. One of his greatest is palm trees. His absolute fave is Cocos nucifera, the coconut palm. If it were up to him, coconut palms would be growing everywhere. We often joke that he would be to coconut palms what Johnny Appleseed was to apples — only he would be called Joey Coconuts, which does sound a little — alright, a lot — like a character from “The Sopranos.”
Florida? In summer? Are you nuts?
If you’ve read any previous posts, you already know the answer to that question. But in this case, there is a reason to the madness. In a nutshell — a coconut shell, that is — South Florida will someday be our new home. About one month before Hurricane Andrew arrived in 1992, Joe and I purchased a house. Each year since, we have traveled to Fort Lauderdale several times a year to do the most relaxing of vacation activities: yard work. And as we go about our palm tree trimming and bundling and bagging of debris, we do a lot of planning and dreaming.
I’m in love with a terracotta pot. I’m not sure if that’s even possible, but the truth is there is one pot in my collection of which I’m especially fond – and each spring when I remove it from its winter storage, it’s like reuniting with a long lost love. I know its curves and warm tones and textures. I accept all of it, even the irregular sizes of its pockets. Yes, the terracotta pot of my dreams is the three-foot tall strawberry pot. And today is the day that I am going to demonstrate my love for it. It’s planting day.
The pot holds a place of honor in the garden, nestled among ferns and hostas and bleeding hearts. It’s tall enough that it provides not only a focal point, but some vertical color in an area of the garden that is heavy with foliage.