Sunday, October 31, 2010

End of season inventory at Kennedy School

Last winter I remember drawing inspiration from watching how the plants at the Kennedy School Gardens responded to the weather. In anticipation of another “difficult” winter I thought it may be prudent to check out what’s growing now (and how they look), for comparison come January, February and beyond. And please note if you see a “?”…my i.d. is just a slightly educated guess…

Perhaps a Beschorneria?
A couple of Squid Agaves (Agave bracteosa). I watched at least one of these sail through the winter cold with no problem. I went ahead and planted one in my garden. We’ll see.
Sedum palmeri, they've planted a lot of this.
Maybe a Puya? Or a young Dasylirion?
Yucca linearifolia?
And I think perhaps Festuca punctoria (?) with more Sedum palmeri.
I believe this is an Agave toumeyana, one of the few kinds of Agave that made it through last winter in my garden.
I guess Agave gentryi “Jaws” but it could also be a few others.
Manfreda undulata 'Chocolate Chips.'
An Opuntia variety.
I can get confused between Agave parryi and Agave ovatifolia, especially when they're small, but I think this is A. parryi? It's a beauty.
So maybe then this is Agave ovatifolia?
And this a Yucca rostrata, I believe.
I’m guessing an Agave americana? I’m also starting to think I should have just posted pictures and not tried to identify any of them, this is getting ridiculous with all my question marks! I don’t want to mistakenly identify something and have it be wrong, if anyone wants to go out on a limb and agree or disagree with me please do! And Eric (the Kennedy School gardener extraordinaire) if you happen to be reading please share your knowledge!
This one I know! Manfreda macho mocha.
Euphorbia stygiana or Euphorbia mellifera? I planted an E. mellifera early this spring that I picked up at Garden Fever for a song (it was on it’s last leg). Mine is looking good and I’m praying it survives, I know they can be on the border of hardy even in a good year.
I love it when the prickly pears get a tinge of purple to them!
Leaving KS and heading towards home I encountered a mass of what I instantly thought of as hoverflies, as they were just hovering in the air (thus my identification, my knowledge of the insect world is pretty pathetic) can you see them?
The end. (I love a sunny fall day).

Wishing you...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Shade Pavilion Greenhouse, and not a moment too soon

As I mentioned earlier in the month my husband was working on a plan to enclose our shade pavilion and turn it into a greenhouse of sorts.

Goal #1: keep the container plants dry and yet still give them have plenty of light. In prior years these same plants have spent time in the garage, where there is only one tiny north facing window.
Goal #2: in the event of an arctic blast a (yet to be determined) heat source will (hopefully) keep the plants from an unhappy death.
Unexpected benefit #1: the plants will avoid the freeze-dried effect of the cold winter winds.My husband started sketching ideas a few months back. But this is the sort of project that you end up inventing as you go along. Once he started the ideas unfolded and things happened. His desire was to create something that doesn’t compromise the existing structure (no new holes drilled) and can be reused year after year.
The project got kicked into high gear last weekend. The magical fall sunshine was over and the rains were beginning. We needed to take action. (I say "we" but really it was he, I was just an extra set of hands). As designed the framework works with the structure so no new holes were drilled.
The sides and top consist of a heavy sheet poly that fits into a metal channel and held tight with a clasp pressed into place. The 2 x 4’s that support the sides are held in place by a metal plate attached to the existing hardware. The ends are a rigid plastic, one with a door complete with a handle and lock (lest the plants escape).
All the pieces are labeled for easy assembly next year! (have I mentioned that 'modular' is my husbands middle name?)
As luck would have it Sunday, the day we’d scheduled to complete the project, was the same day as the first big storm of the season. Big downpours and the winds were whipping. Not ideal conditions to be working outside.

Mr Big (my Agave americana ‘Variegata’) was temporarily under cover…shedding the 1”+ of rain that fell that afternoon. I could tell he was eagerly anticipating his new home.
I had already moved a lot of the plants under the pavilion earlier in the week, hoping to avoid the rains soaking them. Nothing like working in close quarters with lots of spikes huh? We had a few welcome sun breaks in between the downpours.
The poly sheeting went up when I had run in the house to retrieve a tool. I’m still not sure he got it up and over those tubes by himself.
Before we clamped down the sheeting we needed to move Mr Big into place. He’s the one plant that will not fit through the door. He went in and then the sides went on.
Close up of the metal channel and fitting that holds the poly in place.
The last rigid plastic panels go on the end opposite the door. The greenhouse roof is under the existing corrugated metal roof so most of the rain will already be kept off the plastic. What does manage to get through will mostly flow off due to the built in angle. What doesn’t can easily be brushed off with a broom.
Look at them…all snug under cover. Time for us humans to go inside and get warm with a nice bowl of cioppino. Organizing the containers and moving the rest of them inside will have to wait for another day.
After all that rain the water lovers were happy. Water was pouring over the edges of their containers.
The wind sent pinecones falling like torpedoes, this Gunnera leaf was impaled.The patio gets pretty messy when a big storm is a brew’in. The price we pay for the tall Fir trees behind the patio.
And the leaves were falling everywhere…making a mess of the gravel in the front garden. (a pretty mess)
This cold seems to have come out of nowhere. Over night it seems the Hosta leaves are golden.
As are some of the Tetrapanax leaves.
The Peonies look fabulous with their fall colors.
And the golden Water Canna leaves are capturing rain drops.
Wednesday we had a break in the rain and I went out to organize the prisoners and move some others in. These Phormium will have to stand guard outside. They are a tucked under the “eves” so they’ll stay a little dryer.
But it’s amazing how many plants can squeeze in there!
I kept picking up and moving in containers until I felt like I could fit no more.
Funny thing I picked up a large container and found these…
Opps! I thought that banana was dead when I put that pot there, guess not.

It’s a good feeling to know we are giving these plants a chance at a dry winter. The “greenhouse” isn’t air-tight but I think that’s a good thing, since they all got a little wetter than I would have liked before we moved them in and a little air circulation is probably a good thing. If this winter turns as nasty as predicted we’ll fire up a heat source. Still investigating what that might be.