Dear friend and gardener. It is a warm afternoon but with a slightly cool breeze drifting through now and again; sitting outside is tolerable. During the warmer months, I try to make it a point to enjoy my lunch outside as often as possible. I just glanced westward, and heavy gray clouds are heading this way. Maybe we will be blessed with rain despite the forecast indicating otherwise. Once can hope! I have spoken about this before but living in an arid climate, every drop of rain is so precious.
In my last post I mentioned that I have had some great successes this year. So begins the story of Sweet Cicely and The Maple Tree.
This story began in May of 2013. I created a post describing my delight in planting some sweet cicely seeds. That was also the day I discovered I have high blood pressure. I would subsequently learn I have diabetes as well. That aside, it turns out May is not the time of year to plant sweet cicely. Cicely seeds need cold treatment to germinate so the ideal time to sow is in the autumn. Not knowning this, I thought something was wrong with my seeds. Months passed without germination.
I belong to an online community called The National Gardening Association. I cannot recall all the details but somehow, I reached out to other members of the site asking for advice on growing cicely. A very kind soul from Belgium reached out and explained I should sow my seeds in autumn. Thinking nothing would come of the seeds I originally planted, she was kind enough to send seeds from her garden. What a blessing! I planted this new set of seeds in December 2013 or January 2014. Because I planted at more or less the appropriate time, I hoped they would germinate after winter released its grip.
Winter blew in then melted away. Then, it happened! I believe it was April when I noticed small fern like foliage emerging. Success! Sadly, the plants did not put on much growth and they did not flower at all. All throughout the season, the plants declined and eventually faded away to nothing as the gardening season ended.
Over the next couple years, I contemplated, and attempted to correct whatever I was doing wrong. Is it too warm to grow this herb in Colorado? Possibly, but cicely should still perform well during the early part of the season. Maybe the bed I chose to grow this plant was too crowded? I had raspberry plants in this bed and if you have ever grown raspberries, you know they spread very rapidly. My raspberries never produced fruit, so I dug them all out. I thought maybe this would help. It didn’t.
I even tried digging up the clump and moving it to a berm in full sun and that failed miserably. The plant languished in its new location and eventually perished. I was certain my desire to grow this fine herb had finally been thwarted.
April came around once again and thankfully the delicate fern like foliage emerged again ever so faithfully. I am sure I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized I didn’t kill it by trying to move it. Whatever root system that remained was enough to produce foliage once again. As it turns out, the root system of sweet cicely runs deep so that is most likely why I didn’t kill the entire plant when I tried to move it.
As the months passed, there were a few leaves but nothing remarkable. I kept the area clear, but the plant once again languished.
2017 faded away as did the leaves of the plant. 2018 arrived, a few leaves emerged but then nothing. By this point, I was determined to successfully grow this herb! So, at the end of last season, I formulated a plan and put it into action.
…To be continued!
Thank you so kindly for reading. This story may be comprised of three parts so please stay tuned. The rest of the story shall be told.
Until next time! Happy gardening and thank you for being a part of my community!
As always, here are some recent photos of my garden.
First, please forgive the amount of time since my last post. Next, as you will soon read, this post was written in late March. I have many more things to write about but wanted to get this posted. Thank you so kindly for reading.
Despite the cold winter, there has been a lot of indoor gardening, and the idea of this particular article has been floating around since November when the Christmas cactus proliferated in bloom. It truly was enchanting but more on that in a bit.
It is the eve of the vernal equinox and I am taking pause to allow for some rumination. In my last entry I spoke of summer giving way to autumn and the eventuality of winter. Not only is autumn over but winter is also officially over as well. Five months, just like that. An equinox and another solstice, finished. I love all the seasons as each provides nourishment for the soul, but I suppose my order of preference would be the autumn equinox, the winter solstice, the vernal equinox, and then the summer solstice. I love cold and the peace that accompanies the short winter days. I love the snow and how it provides the perfect blanket for the slumbering plants. And now, today, a new season is about to begin. The snow has receded and all around, the soil is bursting forth with life. I shall devote an entire entry to the celebration of the vernal equinox but for now I wish to share my thoughts on two incredible plants that deserve celebration.
Drifting oceans of pink sway in the wind as the sun glances upon their perfect flowers. Immediately and significantly the swathes of cosmos sensation I planted from seed have lived up to their namesake by inducing a sensation of appreciation of their old world beauty.
The back border makes one perfect home for this plant, or if you have the space, you could incorporate this into your wildflower patch. Regardless, this for me is one of the more friendly summer annuals. I have seen these naturalized in fields as well as in the English cottage garden and in either setting, they stand tall begging to be noticed but are not so imposing as to overshadow the other beautiful plants and flowers around them.
I am instantly attracted to any flower that has an open face similar to a daisy, and couple that with the fern-like foliage and you have a plant that is a must for the summer border or grown en masse on their own. These flowers greeted me in the garden until the first hard frost came and I shall be forever thankful for blessing me with their beauty throughout the season.
Photos of the incredible, versatile Cosmos Sensation. I have applied some artistic filters to these images and I hope you like what I have done. Any and all of the images on this site can be purchased. For details, please email webmaster (@) bennysplace (dot) com and indicate what photo you are interested in, size, etc.
Admittedly, I have not had much luck with growing Christmas cactus indoors. For whatever reason, previous specimens became unwieldy and tattered looking. Worse yet, once the initial bloom had finished, I rarely saw flowers again. Fast forward a few years and I was given a combination of different colors in one pot. The specimen was indeed beautiful and full of gorgeous blooms but previous experience prevented me from becoming overly attached to the plant.
After its initial bloom, I repotted it, removed the spent flowers and thought to myself, well, let’s see what happens. As winter faded into spring and spring into summer, the plant itself thrived and I allowed myself to become hopeful.
Then, it happened . . .
Just before Thanksgiving the following year, there were buds abound on this lovely plant and I let my excitement get the better of me. I had a thriving Christmas Cactus! It is important to note that in its native habitat, Christmas cacti grow within rock crevices and on tree trunks and branches, so a large pot is not needed but moisture is. In my previous attempts at growing this plant, I treated it as a succulent that required little to no water. Also, because in their native environment, they are shaded by a canopy of leaves, I moved my thriving specimen out of the direct sun and now I think it is perfectly content. So much so that I am about to get some more blooms! This time, white.
The enchanting Christmas Cactus gallery. Enjoy!
As time passes I hope to write more features on specific plants. I thank you all for reading, and until next time which I promise will be very soon – Happy Gardening!