November came in riding high on the shoulder of summer! By noon, the temperature had climbed to warm, a perfect day for gardening. The seasons do indeed appear quite mixed up, and we've nought to do but take the days as they come.
Plants are already beginning to show stress from the long summer drought. A lovely Daphne odora, generously budded for early springtime, wilted to death almost overnight. It is still well anchored in the ground, has had good drainage, so perhaps the over-abundance of rain was too much of a shock.Leucothoe species proved very intolerant of heat and drought. These plants have lost limbs, beginning in mid-summer. There is still live growth, but as the dead wood is cut back, the cascading beauty of the plants is quite marred.
The Virginia willow, Itea virginica, has not fared much better. It is, after all, a plant of swamps and wet woods. Its white racemes of flowers are pleasantly fragrant, and open in May and June. It is not noted for autumn color, however.
The sweet pepper-bush or white alder, Clethra alnifolia, is another swamp or moist woods dweller. It too has shown stress from summer's punishment. Its honey scented racemes of flowers, either white or pale pink, are delightful.
C. acuminata inhabits rich woods in our mountains, but proves quite happy in gardens here. With age, its reddish bark tends to peel or flake, adding winter interest. Its flowers are less fragrant.
Several gardens have vowed to ``give up' on Azaleas and Rhododendrons. Many of these plants died during the summer, and chances are there will be more that will not survive. Good mulch, and water during winter droughts, may help.
Edyth and Bob Long are experts at propagating Azaleas, and usually have a wonderful selection of these plants for sale. ``I simply could not keep some of them alive,' Edyth lamented in mid-summer. ``Keeping the plants watered did not seem to help.'
One little plant apparently thrived on the erratic weather. The hardy Cyclamen have never bloomed quite so profusely in This Garden before. And their subtle fragrance has perfumed the garden on warm days.
One bulb or corm, the size of the palm of a hand, had over 50 flowers in bloom at one time. It will continue to produce flowers until the first hard freeze. According to Billy Hunt of Chapel Hill, the bulbs will live 50 years and may eventually be as large as a salad plate.
It is futile to try and keep the bulbs covered. They always come to the top of the ground, and have very few anchor roots. They have lovely crisp leaves throughout the winter, and reseed freely on their own. A choice plant.
Flowers will be scarce from now until springtime, so to compensate, you might want to attend the Triad Orchid Society Inc. meeting at 1:30 this afternoon at the Natural Science Center at 4301 Lawndale Drive.
Dr. Hasegawa of Paphanatics Unlimited from Anaheim, Calif. will be the guest speaker. He is an AOS judge, Cymbidium Society judge and a dentist.
To see summer flowers in transparent water color, plan to attend a one-woman show next Sunday, Nov. 18, from 2-5 p.m. at Create-A-Frame located in the Golden Gate Shopping Center.
``Margaret R. Godwin's watercolors are close-ups of nature that give a sense of assurance in our hectic world. She treats floral subjects with a combination of integral detail and impressionistic finesse. Portrayed in vibrant colors, her paintings convey an intimate, translucent quality.'
Santa arrives at the New Garden Gazebo's open house on November 18. And on November 19, Tony Avant of the N.C. State Fairgrounds will speak at 7:30 p.m. at the Guilford Horticultural Society at the Natural Science Center. A busy month!