Monday, August 23, 2010

Late Bloomers and Collecting Seeds



The sun has assumed the brilliance seen in early spring and fall, signaling that summer is almost over and the cool days are soon approaching. As the garden is winding down for the season note the plants that are performing valiantly and plan to include them next year. Fortunately some save their show for the end of the season, indicating perhaps the best has been saved for last. The colors of the late bloomers seem deeper and more vibrant… as though the stressful conditions of the August heat has given them an extra boost. The annuals that appear their best now include the lovely Morning Glory and the cheerful Zinnias. The Crepe Myrtles must be included for they are providing an excellent show now.

The magnificent Morning Glories seen climbing a pole, tumbling over a trellis, or creeping along a fence are reaching their zenith now. Ever popular, the traditional blue has been joined by a vast array of colors and now include a new stripped cream and burgundy. They require full sun, are extremely drought tolerant and from now until frost will provide glorious beauty.

The Zinnia is another annual which is quite prolific in harsh conditions. A member of the Aster family of plants originating in Mexico they come in single, double, cactus, dahlia, ruffles, or pompon and their joyous colors certainly remind of a fiesta. They are easy to grow from seed, attract butterflies, require little care and will freely bloom until frost.

For several weeks it has been delightful to see the Crepe Myrtle giving her full show of fuchsia, crimson or white flowers. Originating in China, the Crepe Myrtle was first introduced to the South in 1747 where it thrived in their moderate winters. Then in 1950, the cold hardy Japanese Crepe Myrtle arrived, placing the tree on the national agenda. With lovely bark coloration, resistance to powdery mildew, and even a dwarf variety available, it is suitable guest in every garden. If spent blossoms are clipped, the Crape Myrtle will continue blooming until frost.

The seeds of your annuals are ready for collection now. The parent plants will have sent forth acclimated seeds which will allow for better performance than those you may purchase next spring. Following collection, allow them to thoroughly dry before sealing them in zip lock plastic bags. Label and include a slip of paper in the bag with information about color, height, heat tolerance, and where in the garden they performed well. By Spring you will have forgotten the details your notes will provide.