Learned This Year

As mentioned last post, this spring I tried new annuals from seed.

Dahlias worked well; next year I want to grow the pompom style, if I find them in a catalogue.

Geraniums worked well. Most came out the typical red, though I got one hot pink.

Hens and chicks started easily, but stalled at about the quarter-inch size, and not having a good place to nurture such tiny things, I lost them.

Of tuberous begonias, I got two examples, an orange-red, and one too small yet to know what color. They didn’t germinate especially well.

I got nothing from the exotics I tried, although I scattered the remaining ginseng seeds (that stayed dormant in pots) under an oak tree, so possibly a winter will start them. The pitcher plant seeds never germinated.

I discovered it’s hard to tell what certain seedling trees are, and easy to misidentify them. From now on, unless the seedling is a distinctive species, I’ll wait longer and not share a mistaken ID. I was gifted an ironweed this year, but early on posted it as a Joe Pye weed. As abundant as ironweed is in SE Ohio, I’d always wanted one to find its way into my yard, and it never happened until this year. Now I have a few seeds to spread into my meadow area.

Meadows increase insect life, and it doesn’t matter altogether if the plantings are native. Not to say natives aren’t preferable, but where I have mostly ground ivy, I still have seen the smallest butterflies make use of the shelter. They need safe places to roost at night, as well as host plants for their eggs. 

Above, a late display of tender plants, coleus and strobilanthes, looking bright and beautiful. Being in a sheltered bed, they’ll probably keep going until a frost or two. In photo two, my small paw paw tree (not so hard to recognize, both for the big leaves, and their habit of attaching at a 45 degree angle to the stem), notably chewed up at the end of the season, hopefully bringing zebra swallowtails next spring. This reinforces the point that native trees support insects from the time they start growing leaves. You don’t need a park-size specimen to offer nature the benefits of a host tree. 



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