An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

September 24, 2011

Welcome to the Jungle

As I write this it is again raining, ruining a second weekend in a row for most outdoor activities.  This is not a complaint, but is more an observation.  We were blessed this summer with fairly regular rains, at least in the second half, and that fact combined with our normal heat has caused many of my plants to put on some rank growth.  Space is always an issue in my small garden, but especially in late summer as the annuals and tropicals are at peak and tend to crowd out the year-round residents.  Late September is usually when I start itching for the big fall cut back and begin reaching for a machete.

Here is the arbor leading up my front steps.  If I lived in a less laid back neighborhood, I would have long since received a visit from the city's code division with a neighbor's complaint. 

Front Arbor

Climbing the arbor is a plant I have waited two years to bloom, Millettia reticulata.  This plant goes by the common name of Evergreen Wisteria, but it is not a Wisteria, and here, it is not evergreen, but is hardy.  This vine should reach about 15' tall and is supposed to bloom in late summer.  In this picture it looks as if it is covered in frost, but that is actually a very fine dew.

Millettia reticulata

Another plant I have been waiting to bloom is Ruellia brittoniana, commonly known as Mexican Petunia.  Several of my neighbors have it, and for them it has obtained near-weed status, perhaps that will come in time for me.

Ruellia brittoniana

Salvia leucantha (Mexican Bush Sage) is another indicator of the season, and mine have just started to bloom.

Salvia leucantha

It rained so hard yesterday that my Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale) was beaten down to the point I doubt it will ever stand up.

Colchicum autumnale

Also beaten down is my unstaked Dahlia x 'Bishop of York', but Dahlias do not need much of an excuse to flop.

Dahlia 'Bishop of York'

This trio is Golden Jasmine (Jasminum officinale 'Aureum') and two varieties of Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides).  The red one is my favorite, Big Red Judy and the variegated one I think is called 'Stained Glass'.

Coleus and Jasmine Combo

Another sign of late summer in my garden is the fruit fall from my Hardy Orange (Poncirus trifoliata).   We were working on a bumper crop, but Irene culled quite a few before they had a chance to ripen.  However, there are still plenty more yet to fall, for the neighborhood kids to pick up and throw and for me to step on in the driveway. 

Poncirus trifoliata (2)

I have chosen this second Poncirus image as my entry in Gardening Gone Wild's Picture This Photo Contest.  Though not as traditionally pretty as a blooming flower, fruit falling to the ground is one of the things that says "late summer in the garden" to me.

Poncirus trifoliata


  1. Here's hoping my Poncirus doesn't go and produce any fruit! It looks a little messy...

  2. I hear ya Les, my garden is looking a bit unruly at the moment too. Not much I can do with the constant rain we've had this week. I got stuff to plant but it's too muddy to be digging in the dirt. Hope we get some much needed sunshine soon. :)

  3. It's a gangly plant, but I find Poncirus trifoliata kind of magical and full of mystery. I carry a map of them in my head. There used to be a beautiful example on 17th Street just a block off Union Square Park. I've got to find a place for one in my new Brooklyn garden. I agree, the profusion of rank growth after all this rain (incessant here) makes me look forward to cutting things down, even to the spring when I can burn it all and have emptiness for a while.

  4. I really like your garden, especially the Jasmine and coleus combos. We are finally getting some much needed rain. I am happy. Good photo for the contest.
    We had (maybe still do) the evergreen wisteria in the Learning Garden, it never bloomed the whole time I was there. Sure do love the purple!!

  5. Your photo is wonderful--good luck with the contest. I want that wisteria named plant and wonder if it works in 6B.

  6. As usual an outstanding photo entry for the GGW contest. But I'm blown away by the Millettia reticulata image. I think you've inspired me to try yet another plant that is outside my range. I think I'll wait until spring so that I don't kill it immediately...:)

  7. I LOVE your Poncirus image for the contest. It's a beautiful composition with the fruit and the sidewalk cracks.

    I sure wish we could have some of your overabundance of rain.

  8. Great garden, the Ruellia brittoniana is my favorite! Wonderful pictures Les!

  9. I rather like your lush jungle look, but I can understand the desire to tidy it all up, I am fighting the same impulse in my own back garden at the moment, as I hate staking things. I love the Millettia reticulata, some plants are worth waiting for. Your macro shots are exquisite, I love the extra texture from the dew and the rich colour. The shades of purple are great, but I think it is your poor battered dahlia that has stolen my heart. Yet another for my ever expanding list.

  10. Your jungle look is fantastic, Les. The city of Norfolk should have no basis to make you alter it. (That would be sour grapes) Frankly, there is not enough full growth in our city's gardens. Great photos. I planted a Satsuma mandarin this spring in my yard.

  11. Hi Les, A great entry for the GGW contest- cracked fruit on cracked pavement- I like the symmetry. The Millettia reticulata was worth the two year wait. What a gorgeous aubergine color!

  12. The Evergreen Wisteria looks intriguing. I love the color.

  13. I like your GGW submission very much, it looks more art than garden. If you don't focus on the plant and only the composition, it looks like a piece to hang. I always look forward to your choice for GGW.

  14. Millettia reticulata is spectacular, Les. Don't get the machete out too early!!!

  15. We haven't had the rain you've gotten so I am thrilled when it arrives. But, I know how frustrated it feels to itch to garden and not be able to~ The cooler days are just made for transplanting. Hoping the skies clear over your Tidewater garden soon. Judy, Judy, Judy is a great coleus! gail

  16. That non wisteria is beautiful. It's so worth the wait sometimes. I recently saw a hardy orange in all its glory. Very interesting. The fruit were a bit tart but I am guessing edible. It's a pretty plant. I wish I could find a spot but the thorns and need for sun scare me. I think your garden looks wonderful.

  17. I think I like the fallen fruit image the best. Not to downplay your always beautiful floral and landscape images, but sometimes it's that quirky scene that is no so conventionally beautiful that says the most.