The fall is upon us… the excitement of the NC State Fair, leaves blowing and swirling, critters foraging… colors now yellow instead of the pervasive green. Hits of pinks, reds and oranges – emerge across the horizon.
Over the last few days with temperatures dipping to 38 degree F., we are hunkering down for winter at Entwined Gardens.
The careful lists of selecting which tropicals to dig up, re-pot and drag into shelter for the winter, have been checked off the ‘To-Do” list.
The Korean Mums by the white garden gate – lovely with their peach tinged petals are open for diners – the last of the visible pollinators. I notice that these two insects have the same striped markings – the one on the upper right is quite a bit smaller, wings perpendicular rather than angling, as they feast on nectar.
Dendranthema rubellum – Korean Mum
Walking the paths, I reflect on each plant as a quest or gift from a friend. The Dendranthema – a division from Gail Ingram – from the back of her pickup truck after a Master Gardener meeting in 2000, a feeding frenzy of outstretched arms… hoping to feel the plant material fall into their fingers… What Joy!
Hence my Motto:
“It’s always a great day when you bring home a plant!”
Entwined Gardens has been the recipient of many such plant shares and trades from amazing horticultural giants and mentors – I’ll refrain from much of the name dropping.
I’ve dug, dragged, dumpster dived (from the JC Raulston Arboretum ‘plants only’ dumpster), put on waders bogged and slogged on a quest. Shopped till I’ve dropped, then traveled hours with a with a coveted Acer palmatum ‘Okukuji nishiki’ – a lovely variagated Japanese Maple specimen – stuck between my knees on a road trip from Athens, Georgia to sweet home North Carolina! Thanks goodness my friend Jean was driving!
Over the years, friend Mitzi has shown us how to pack in the plants on these expeditions. And in the horticultural Mecca of the Triangle, it is not uncommon to see all types of specimens in all shapes and sizes of vehicles being driven on highways and byways!
Nearby I reflect on a stand of Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ which will stay in the ground. Although only known to be hardy zones 8-10, it over wintered well in my Zone 7B garden last year.
To date, in all my shameless, plant obsessive (OK, addicted) escapades – my 5’2″ frame was no match for the these elephants!
I laugh every time I think of this Elephant Ear… a share from friend and divine garden writer Helen Yoest.
I arrived at Helen’s Haven with some thick gauge heavy-duty giant lawn bags. Gratefully, Helen had already heave-hoed them out of the ground for sharing. How sweet was that!
Elephant Ears like their large mammal name sakes, must hold a heck of a lot of water which is the only logic I could give to their weight. I struggled to lug their root balls into the bags. I strained to budge them around the side of the house and down the garden path without trampling one of Helen’s borders. I tried dragging, then pushing them in the heavy gauge plastic. I think a stubborn Pachyderm would have been easier to coax than this Colocasia gigantea!
Laboriously breathing, I finally made it to the intersection of walkway and driveway… I wondered if I could roll them down without damaging the magnificent leaves and roots, but decided against this option. I walked around the house and couldn’t locate any thing with wheels.
Dazed, my short arms straining, I took a breath pondering, “If only I had a real elephant… an elephant could easily use its proboscis or trunk to transport these down the drive – easy peasy… and most likely for a couple of bags of peanuts. This would really give the neighbors something to talk about!”
Reality check… when did Helen’s driveway get so long and steep? Even going downhill it seemed like an abyss!
My desire for these plants once again snapped me back – pushing me forward like a goat in quicksand… I was one with them, I was not letting go – and then it hit me like a ton of elephants, if I do get to the street, how will I ever hoist them up to the bed of the pick up? I wanted to weep.
I felt like I was in an Abbott & Costello escapade, but I sure wished Abbott (my Hubby) was there as I struggled comically down the driveway. I would take a few steps, teetering with the weight over head, stop and walk around this stubborn as a mule plant predicament – barely budging a few inches.
I thought for sure Helen would find me in heap at the end of the drive, trampled by an elephant stampede.
The neighbors would complain… about some horticultural circus act gone very wrong, peering out behind a jungle of designer draperies, but afraid to come outside of their climate controlled environs.
What seemed like hours later, I climbed into the truck bed, positioned myself on bended knees and prayed for strength… I wish I had thought to bring some rigging and a winch for the aerial act that ensued!
Focus. Rest. Sip some water. Bend the knees. Pray to the Almighty Horticulture God and by some miracle… it was in the truck for the transport home. I have no earthly idea how these were hoisted or levitated from above or below or what kind of other worldly pact might have been made.
That night and the next morning, I ached everywhere… but the prize was mine!
There is nothing like a shared plant from a friend’s garden. This gargantuan punctuation in the garden unlike any other. In my mind I hear the sounds of loud (click listen and hit back button to return) Elephant trumpets which then elicits a break into an enormous ‘laugh out loud’ every time it comes into view. OK sometimes I preform the elephant walk… a joy of living in the woods!
So once again I will leave it in the ground, keeping my fingers crossed that it will be a star attraction, after the spring migration of warmth summons it forth.
A last peek behind its big top ears finds a surprise – tree frog hunkering down against the incoming frigid air.
Did you know: that the American green tree frog, Hyla cinerea
converts glycogen into glucose – acting like anti freeze – during cold months?
Listen to the (click listen and hit back button to return) song of the tree frog.
A second, smaller clump of ‘Thai Giant’, also dragged from Helen’s Haven, spent the winter inside the barn last winter. It emerged at a reasonable time last spring. I planted it out, but it stopped growing at a mere 7 1/2 inches! Although planted just feet from its giant friend, perhaps planted in an area where the light is being shaded, but definitely a freakish curiosity.
I laugh at these tiny leaves… “That’s IT??? That’s all I got for pulling my back muscles out?”
I am delighted none the less.
Thanks, Helen for your amazing gift a giant plant, a story to tell, Elephant Trumpets in my ear and being a friend with Horticultural Benefits.
Helen’s new tome is available for preorder: Plants With Benefits: An Uninhibited Guide to the Aphrodisiac Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & Veggies in Your Garden
Perfect for Valentine’s Day!
Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife
NC Certified Environmental Educator
Garden Conservancy Regional Representative