Preparing the Annuals for Fall and Winter

As the nights continue to cool, I know that the garden will have to adapt soon to its fall and winter movements. The willow arbor will lose its leaves, and like many of the other tree and shrubs, I will admire its bones for awhile. It is also time to begin considering the fates of many of my annuals. This is a job I never like much.
Unknown Begonia.

The Begonia cuttings I received last year in the mail from another gardener will either be repotted or I will make cuttings from them again. If I am able to save some of their seeds, I will do that too. I will miss them though, so I will also try to keep them indoors under lights if possible. This year for me really has been the year of the Begonia. (This is only one of the five different types I was sent and they all grew so beautifully.)

Unknown Coleus.
Capturing Coleus seeds can be tedious but I will make an attempt this year with all of the different ones I have and there will be many cuttings of them all winter in the windowsills in the kitchen. Some can also be kept as a houseplants, and I may do that again this year if I have the space.
Boston Fern, Nephrolepis exaltata.

When the houseplants all begin to move back indoors the house seems to get smaller and smaller. That’s when I really have to begin making decisions that are difficult. It’s a bit like being the queen in Alice in Wonderland and I feel like I have to say “Off with their heads!” ad infinitum.

Fuchsia ‘Swingtime’.

It will be off with their heads for a few of these gals this year, but at least they will go into the flower press. Up until now I have been pretty bad at saving Fuchsia plants over the winter, but I think this year I will make an attempt after pressing the blooms.

Unknown Petunia.

These fancy hybrid Petunias grown from seed will have to hit that big compost pile in the sky. You can’t save them since in this case there are no seeds to be saved.

Dark leaved white Begonia semperflorens and a Polka Dot Plant Hypoestes phyllostachya.

These two will survive the winter by having their seeds stored. I know for a fact that both are viable and I am happy to grow them again next year.

Impatiens glandulifera candida.

Impatiens have been a lot of fun too this year—even the dangerous ones. This is the white version of a very aggressive re-seeder that is no longer welcome in the Pacific Northwest. I am not sure if you’ve ever met one of these Touch-Me-Nots but if you have, you’ll know why they are so dangerous. When their seedheads are ripe, the pod holding them explodes and the seeds go flying in every direction. If you happen to be collecting them, you have to grab the pod quickly and let it unfurl in your hand. It kind of tickles so it is fun to do. I’ve been playing with these for the last few weeks. Saving their seeds is more sporting than others and I like the challenge.

So as summer begins to turn into fall, this year, I vow to appreciate my perennials more. I also vow to collect every single last seed from every annual I’m able to collect from…

Volunteer Park Conservatory (Seattle): Part Four, The Fern House


The Fern House in the Volunteer Park Conservatory is probably my favorite House, but that is first and foremost due to the fact I am such a plant nerd and this area holds a super special plant right now. It is probably the rarest plant I have ever seen. Now I will share it with you too. It is a coffee relative from Chiapas, Mexico and it has the kind of story I swoon over.

Hard to believe, but a chance encounter between a population of Deppea splendens, and a man named Dennis Breedlove, led to the plant’s survival. In 1981 Breedlove collected seeds of this plant in the mountains of Chiapas where the only known population lived. He sent out seeds to different botanical gardens, and the seeds were grown. In 1986, he returned to the same place in Mexico only to discover the entire area had been tilled under and the plants were gone. It is now considered extinct in the wild but you can find specimens in botanical gardens.

I dug around for the name tag for this draping Coleus, but I could not find one. It reminded me though how not long ago I’d sought some out. Draping Coleus could make a great houseplant in the right place. I’d better get back on that so that next summer I can have amazing drapers.

Chinese Glory Bower, or Clerodendrum chinense, is new to me, but it sure made a great impression with its large leaves and tissue-like multi-peteled blooms.

Angel’s Trumpets scare me because I know they are poisonous to cats, but I love them when my cats are not around. Cats and plants are a funny thing though because I know for a fact I have other poisonous plants but I truly have found that if you offer the felines plenty of the plants they like, they tend to turn their noses up at the others. (This is Brugmansia versicolor ‘Ecuador Pink’.)

Ah, the rest of the Fern House was amazing too. So many of these plants are often offered as houseplants and so often I fall for them.

The laminated placard below explains how ariel roots function. Makes you feel bad for stuffing all of that into a pot and not allowing it to take over an entire bathroom.

At this point in the Fern House I let go of my fact checking.

I knew this was a Passion Vine though.

The ant plant is nice, but I wonder how it survives next to its flashy neighbor. Nepenthes is never a plant you want to be near—especially if you’re an insect who cannot resist it. BEWARE.

This sundew lives by the little pool seen earlier with the ariel roots. It’s a Drosera dichotoma ‘Giant’. I would love to see these in the wild someday. Until then I will rest here beside the pool.

Of course the collection had to contain an Australian tree fern!
An Aristolochia had to be here too.
Feast your eyes as I did!
The view from the final room, looking back at where we just toured, is really verdant. Hey, I like green and I bet if you’re reading this, so do you!