Book Review: 1493


When children recite, “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” perhaps a more appropriate question would be, “From where does your garden grow?”  That’s the question I ‘m asking myself this Columbus Day weekend after reading the best-selling new book 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, by Charles C. Mann.  This meticulously researched book examines the world after Columbus set foot in North America. 

While Columbus certainly has his critics, there can be no mistaking that his arrival in the New World placed the entire world on the globalization frontier.  The author’s position is that much of what we enjoy today can be traced back to what he calls the Columbian Exchange, a means of moving plants and seeds and animals from one part of the world to another part.  It is why, for example, that tomatoes arrived in Italy and citrus arrived in Florida.  So much of what we take for granted wasn’t always so; and much of it would not be if Columbus had not set the process in motion. 

I myself am a bit of a mutt: English, Scottish, German, French, and Italian.  My paternal ancestors arrived in North America in 1675; my maternal great-grandfather entered through Ellis Island.  While this is my gene pool, I wonder just how diverse and worldly is my garden? 

Thanks to the Internet and Google, I learned that what I plant has traveled a long way to be planted.  In fact, my garden could be a lesson for world leaders seeking peace.   Although it heavily favors Asia and Central and South Americas, there is little conflict in plants from many lands successfully sharing common ground.   (Note to self: bring Australia into the mix, but wait until full-out global warming for Antarctica to come into bloom.) 

And to think my melting pot only took 518 years — and still counting — to plant. 

Happy Columbus Day — and enjoy the weekend in the garden.

Bloomin’ Update 10: Autumn Joy


My plan was to have a post featuring the blooms of the waning days of summer.  With camera in hand, I captured bees tending to their chores on a day that felt more like July than September.  If you could see their bee faces, I’m sure they were aglow with autumn joy.

 Then, in a matter of hours, a cold front roared through.  The clouds thickened and darkened, the wind grew stronger, and fat drops of rain splattered everything.  And all the while, the temperature plummeted — so much so, that by sunset, it felt like late October.  When I looked out of a window, I saw the last canna bloom (was that a shiver?) glowing.  I again grabbed the camera, this time to capture the canna’s last stand — and I was blown away by the vividness of color.

 
I wondered what other flowers and plants would look like surrounded by chilled darkness and then the glare of a flash.  I was limited in my selection because of the time of year, but I did (surprisingly) capture a noisy cricket in the ivy that climbs up the maple tree.  He’s resting on the large leaf at the bottom of the photo.
 
   
Now the Zinnias, a little battered and chewed up, but still holding on to their color.
 
 
 
This Blanket Flower is probably wishing that it had a blanket.
 

A few of the old standbys:  a faded Hydrangea (take that Madonna!), Liriope spikes, Coleus “Tartan,” and a Caladium close-up.

 

The Sunflower Sisters, one streaked with orange, the second like a faded version of the first, and the third looking more like celestial eclipse.

Finally, another glimpse of “Autumn Joy” Sedum.  The bees were probably in a state of suspended animation at this hour and temperature.

My late-night expedition into the garden was a wonderful way to close-out summer.  (Note to self: Next year, don’t wait until the end of summer for a nighttime photo shoot.)  Looking back on this growing season, it was exciting to enter the blogging world and to share my life and garden with you.  I appreciate greatly all of the comments and encouragement.  Now, it’s time for cleaning up, digging and storing tender bulbs, protecting terracotta pots, and the never-ending raking — in other words, the joys of autumn.

I’ll Show You My Plants, If You’ll . . . (Part II)


These are Cherry Splash Hybrid Impatiens (left).  I started the seeds in February.  Everything I’ve read indicates that impatiens seeds need light to germinate, so do not cover them with soil.  Each time I’ve done that, the results have not been great.  Two years ago, I began to cover the seeds lightly, and this appears to work much better for me.  I think it helps to keep the seeds moist.  In any event, it is always very exciting when plants bloom while in the greenhouse.

 

On the right is a group shot.  On the left, the plants with the red blooms are Easy Wave Red Petunias.  Moving upward are Gerbera Daisy Crush Mix, and Blanket Flower Arizona Red Shades.

 

Here we have a variety of geraniums: Orbit White and Horizon Red Ice.  The grassy looking plants just below the geraniums are Gazania Daybreak Petticoat Mix.  These were also planted in late February.  Actually, I find growing geraniums by seed relatively easy and rewarding.  The seeds are large enough to handle (as opposed to the impatiens seeds), and I usually get a nice return.  When I begin the seeds, I plant about five of the seeds in a single pot.  It’s also important to water from the bottom to keep the soil from compacting and allowing the roots ample space to grow.  At this stage, the seedlings have been given their own space in which to grow.

 

These are various zinnia, cosmos, and sunflower seeds.  These are the easy seeds, which can be planted where you’d like them to grow.  I planted some of these outside already.  I’m not sure, though,  if the weather has still been too cool for successful germination, so I planted extra seeds in these flats — kind of an insurance policy.  After they develop their first set of true leaves, I’ll move them into the garden.  The seeds are: Zinnias Elegans Queen Red Lime, Zinnia’s Pastel Cutting Mix, Italian White Sunflower, and Cosmos Double Click Cranberries.

 

This is Coleus Carefree Mixture.  Coleus is one of those plants that bring me back to childhood.  I like the variety of colors.  I like the texture of the leaves.  I like being able to pinch them to encourage branching.  And I really like the ease of propagation: clip, water, root, plant.

 

I  purchased Caladium bulbs while on vacation in Florida.  They’re a souvenir — a very colorful souvenir that will eventually be planted in very large pots that receive dappled sun. 

 

Well, that’s the tour of the greenhouse and what’s growing inside.  Here’s hoping to a season of sun, just enough rain, lots of blooms, and very few pests.