Thursday, October 21, 2010

And so the end is here…

The end of another patio season that is. Unexpectedly we’ve been enjoying a remarkably wonderful fall. Early on it wasn’t looking so bright (literally) but things have been sunny and dry for the last few weeks, reports are that ends tomorrow, at least that’s what the weather guys are saying. One is even going so far as to announce that as of Friday we are in the rainy season. That’s my cue. The plants that need protection from the endless rain are coming indoors. Their summer vacation is over.
I’m not sure who enjoys summer more, me or the plants?
Truth be told I pulled in a few things in before we left town last week, the Bromeliads we bought from Rare Plant Research last spring, and a couple others that I wasn’t sure about how they might respond to the predicted cool temps.
The night we returned home there was a frost warning for outlying areas, (that’s not us, we’re in the city) I wanted to be careful and pulled in the Agave Attenuatas. Turns out it only got down to 38, but that’s the coldest temperature we’ve recorded yet.
But, now it’s time to bring the tender drought loving succulents inside. The water lovers (Colocasia, Alocasia, Papyrus) can stay outside a bit longer, until the temperatures drop. And the hardy succulents (those good to 20 degrees and below), which will be living in the shade pavilion greenhouse, are staying outdoors too.

This is a good time for looking at each plant up close and personal as I bring them in. Making sure no nasty scary bugs or slugs are hitching a ride (so far I’ve dispatched two slugs, countless spiders and a confused box elder bug). It’s also a great time to discover little agave pups just starting to peak their heads out.
The tools for this task: a metal letter opener and a paintbrush. They help to dislodge debris form the spiky plants without getting hurt (or at least not as much).
Bringing the Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire' inside I finally notice just how orange it has become, beautiful.
The Mangave 'Macho Mocha' also colored up wonderfully this summer. Lots of purple spots that will fade with the reduced light conditions. I could leave this one out in the “greenhouse” (it’s hardy to 10F according to the San Marcos site) but since I’m not so sure the pot it’s in could handle a deep freeze it comes inside anyway.The variegation on my tiny Agave victoria-reginae variegata from the California Cactus Center is returning. Earlier in the summer I thought it was dead, so glad that it’s not.
Maybe someday it will look like its mom (picture taken at the nursery...I didn't buy this one as is was $80!)
This guy starts out spring looking like dead sticks but puts on a nice show with lots of little green leaves once it warms up (a little water helps too). I hate knowing they are doomed to dry up and fall off in the coming weeks.
So, would you believe yesterday I made over 49 trips from the patio, to the driveway (where I cleaned the plants and pots and checked for bugs), and then down the basement stairs and back up again? Maybe when you see this picture you’ll believe.
Whew. This year I got a little smarter and put the big heavy pots on some old rolling trays from IKEA. That way they’ll be a little easier to move around for even light exposure through the winter.
I also managed to talk my husband out of our heavy duty rolling Metro shelf. I figured I would gain some vertical space, the open wire of the shelves allows a little light to filter to the plants below, and I can turn it from time to time so everyone gets their day in the sun (or something like that).
I guess it’s not all bad; it is nice to have some of my plants inside where I can see them. The only part of this ritual that I don’t like is admitting that I’m not going to be spending so much time outside anymore. That makes me SAD (and don’t even get me started about daylight savings time ending).


  1. I'm sorry that your patio season is at an end. But what a fine display that makes indoors. Too bad it's in the basement! Then again, lucky you have the basement to put everything in. They don't build basements in central Texas.

  2. Noooooo...ahem. What I meant to say is, to every thing there is a season, etc, etc.

    Truthfully, that is one fine looking basement you'll have to gaze upon this winter.

  3. Nice preview of how I will spend my weekend. I will not complain, because my task pales in comparison to yours...Richard thanks you.

  4. What a nice set up you have in the basement. I hope it includes a lounge chair, with a cup holder.

    I am hoping to make it to early November before the ordeal of dragging the plants in, and so far the temps are cooperating. We have gotten to 49, but that was only once so far.

  5. Loree, your babies are indeed well cared for. It must feel great to have them safely tucked in out of the inclement weather. I bet you slept good that night.

  6. Pam, I've recently learned that the east side of our street tends to not have basements...where as the west side does. Isn't that strange? My house in Spokane didn't have one either...luckily I had an attached "shop" where the Christmas decor, and odd furniture could be stored. I do love basements!

    Denise, I suppose. But I will still always fight it. And yes, doing the laundry is much more enjoyable now.

    ricki, did you get it done before the hideous rains hit on Sunday? Guess what we spent Sunday doing....working outside on the shade pavilion coverings. Yikes!

    Les, great idea!!!! The temps are actually okay here. It's the 1" + rain in 24 hrs for multiple days on end. Well, and plus the temps that will inevitably follow.

    Grace, oh are so right! It really did.

  7. Looks fab for the plants in your cozy basement. I'm curious about your lights: are they fluorescent fixtures and what "color" Kelvin are your bulbs? I'm setting up a small similar arrangement in my basement for the first time. I have a fluorescent fixture, but I don't know if a traditional "grow" lightbulb (very low color temperature) or a higher Kelvin (5000 full spectrum daylight or 6500 K) would be best. Any tips?

  8. Jane, how exciting that you are setting up a little grow area! Most of my bulbs were purchased so long ago (3 years, maybe 4?) that I can't remember what they are for sure! But I think I remember reading that they should be replaced every year or so (obviously I am not good at following the directions) and it's past time I should buy a few new I went and took a look at what I have. They are a mixture of OTT-LITE Natural Lite Supplement (which are very white, and I can't find any wattage) and Philips Plant & Aquarium 40 watt (which are very pink in color). I can't find any Kelvin reference on either. Sorry I'm not more helpful. I'd love to hear if you find anything out from a better source than me!


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