Posts Tagged ‘horticulture’

As you may remember, I started both Morning Glory and Moonflower vines from seed this year to grow along the railing of my balcony. An earlier post titled “Night and Day” captured the beautiful deep purple Morning Glory blooms as well as my remorse for the lack of action from the Moonflowers.

Moonflower Opening at Dusk

As the Morning Glory blooms began to fade with the cooler fall weather, the Moonflowers were brought to life by the full moon and this amazing flower burst into full bloom. As the name suggests, the Moonflower blooms at night. Each flower is about 8″ in diameter and the hue is delicate white.  They have an intoxicating rich fragrance that permeates the evening air. This aromatic spectacle is short-lived since the flowers last through the night and drop the next morning.

The fragrant bloom at night.

Even though the planter was large, the limited soil space of a container most likely stunted the growth of the vines over the course of the summer. It is important to keep up with watering  if you don’t have an irrigation system. The constant flux of moisture and drought can severely hinder plant growth. Witnessing this one flower definitely made up for months of nursing the seedlings and daily watering all summer long. Gardening takes patience but the rewards can be magical.

A Single Moon Flower Glows at Night


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While shopping at a local nursery this past spring, I decided to satisfy my urge to start seeds despite my northeast facing apartment with meager late winter sun.  As you can see, my perseverance paid off with this stunning purple Morning Glory  that catches the sunlight better than a stained glass window. I started a packet each of Morning Glory and Moonflower seeds to grow on the railing of my apartment balcony.  The idea was to have the Morning Glory color during the day and Moonflowers to grace the evening hours.  While the Moonflower vines are quite profuse in growth, they are not living up to their promising name of nighttime flora.  The Morning Glory is shorter in growth but most definitely has a better show.

The photo above is from very early April. The four cells to the left are the Moonflower vines (with bigger leaves) and the four cells to the right are the Morning Glory plants(leggy seedling with small leaves).  Once they grew larger, and the outside temperatures rose above frost danger, they were moved to the balcony to flourish.  Hopefully by the end of the summer the moonflowers will produce the show they are supposed to!  Stay tuned for that event.

Moral of the story: patience pays off in horticulture!

Article and photography by lilyofthevalley for Jeffrey Erb Landscape Design.

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Is it possible to grow a successful garden without really trying? The science of horticulture is intricate and complex. Do you wonder if your soil acidity  is optimal for  nutrient uptake through plant roots? Are your light levels in balance with available moisture levels in the soil? Are you experiencing nutrient deficiency, pests, fungal diseases, bacteria, viruses or problems with plant hardiness?

Trial Garden at Longwood Gardens

All of these things can  weigh you down and blind you from what gardening is really about. The key to a successful garden is simple: enjoy it. That’s it. That’s all it takes. It doesn’t matter if a portion of your Arborvitae hedge doesn’t make it through the winter or if the new type of Caladium didn’t like your shade garden. It’s all about trial and error. Gardening is about learning step by step. The beauty of the seasons (at least for us here in zone 6) is that we get to try something new each season.

Trial Garden Structure and Sunflower at Longwood Gardens

Each time we experience a planting triumph in the garden, we become more intimately attached to that understanding, and thus connected to the garden experience as a whole. As a gardener of 15 years, I assure you that the enjoyment I get from my garden is just as  much about the “failures” as it is the “positives.” As for the science of it all, that’s why we have professional horticulturists.


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My mother has a winter ritual of getting lost in a pile of seed catalogues. It can be very enticing to see all of the new cultivars of our favorite flowers grown to perfection under the careful watch of a team of horticulturists. I love looking through these too, but the difference between the plant pictured in the catalog and the one growing in your garden can be like night and day. Just be careful not to drool too much over that new flower hue or leaf size you see in the picture. In any case, check out this new cultivar: Heuchera ‘Green Spice.’ It has a striking green and silver leaf with contrasting red veins.

Heuchera 'Green Spice'

Check out the plants available at the Burpee and Proven Winners websites. There is always a thrill in experimenting with a horticultural oddity. Remember, that the more breeding and cultivation a plant goes through, the more susceptible it is to pests and disease.  




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