November Bloom Day: early summer

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Technically, because Kigali is a few degrees south of the equator, it is early summer here.

But  — given that the temperature is almost always in the 70ºs or low 80ºs — it is more relevant that we are almost three months into the end-of-the-year rainy season.

In late October, I came back from five weeks in the U.S. to rampant growth in all the planting beds.  Now, I need to wade in and do some serious cutting back all over.

To see what’s blooming for other garden bloggers, visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens here.

Foliage Follow Up for July

Garden Bloggers' Foliage Follow Up for July, Kigali, Rwanda/enclos*ure

I thought I would give you a look at the plants surrounding the hibiscus and shrimp plants from yesterday’s Bloom Day.

Garden Bloggers' Foliage Follow Up for July, Kigali, Rwanda/enclos*ure

First, I would be grateful if anyone could identify the tropical plant with the very large leaves in the center above — and below with clover poking up through the leaves.

Garden Bloggers' Foliage Follow Up for July, Kigali, Rwanda/enclos*ure

When we arrived in Kigali, it was in a big pot on an upstairs porch, where I felt it was not getting the attention it deserved.  It was also really in the way — it’s over 4′ across.

On its left above and in the photo below is a large burgundy-colored succulent — sedum? kalanchoe? — which I also haven’t yet identified.  Does anyone recognize it Euphorbia grantii (aka Synadenium grantii), possibly the Rubra variety.  It’s also called African milk bush and is native to East Africa.

[Thanks to Alison in Australia, who wrote me with the I.D. in November 2014.]

Garden Bloggers' Foliage Follow Up for July, Kigali, Rwanda/enclos*ure

This one is about 5′ tall, but I have seen specimens in Rwanda the size of a small tree.

Garden Bloggers' Foliage Follow Up for July, Kigali, Rwanda/enclos*ure

The burgundy leaves (red, green, and pink when the backlit by the sun — above) look good almost everywhere, so I have cuttings spread throughout the garden.

Garden Bloggers' Foliage Follow Up for July, Kigali, Rwanda/enclos*ure

In the picture above, there’s one in the back of a pink section of the long flower border — or it will be pink if the small shrub roses planted there will oblige me by growing and blooming. They are supposed to push up through the beach spiderlilies (Hymenocallis littoralis).

Below is one of two original plants that were here when we moved in.

Garden Bloggers' Foliage Follow Up for July, Kigali, Rwanda/enclos*ure

In the same planting bed with my two mystery plants are burgundy cannas, variegated liriope, yellow daylilies, and some lamb’s ear that I grew from seed from my parent’s garden in Virginia.

Garden Bloggers' Foliage Follow Up for July, Kigali, Rwanda/enclos*ure

At the ends are shrimp plants, “Fairy” roses, a caladium, and a small cycad (not in the picture).

This planting bed is on the right in the photo below.
Garden Bloggers' Foliage Follow Up for July, Kigali, Rwanda/enclos*ure

I also wanted to show you one of the common mulleins (Verbascum thepus) that I grew from seed taken from my parent’s garden last year.

Garden Bloggers' Foliage Follow Up for July, Kigali, Rwanda/enclos*ure

This one (located not very artistically in the vegetable garden) is 3′ across. The other plants are only 12″.

Garden Bloggers' Foliage Follow Up for July, Kigali, Rwanda/enclos*ure

The plant is something of a roadside weed in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., but it can send up a yellow flower stalk to 10′ tall. The garden writer, Henry Mitchell* liked tall mulleins so much that he wrote, “O for a lute of fire to sing their merits.”

Garden Bloggers' Foliage Follow Up for July, Kigali, Rwanda/enclos*ure

Thanks to Pam at Digging for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Follow Up the 16th of every month.


*in The Essential Earthman.

Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Follow Up: underplanting

First, let me give you a very quick, belated GB Bloom Day.  I was too wiped out to post yesterday.  I spend most of the day transplanting some shrubs and a bunch of Gerbera daisies and asters.  They needed dividing, and it was fiddily work pulling apart all the little roots.  And there seemed to be a battalion of ants everywhere I wanted to put them.

In the last month, as we’ve been renovating the garden, we’ve pulled out about 50 of these beach spiderlilies (Hymenocallis littoralis) from under old bushes and moved them to the front of the newly widened planting beds along the front lawn. They started blooming right away, although they’re a bit sad, since we cut off their leaves as we set them out.

Beach spiderlilies are native to southern Mexico, the west coast of Florida, and Central America, but somehow they made it to Rwanda, where they’re a common garden flower.

Now on to foliage:  the little creeping plant below is a real lifesaver here where you can’t buy that nice bagged mulch to cover all the bare dirt in a newly planted area. I don’t know its name, but we had it in Niger as well. It may be a sedum.

It’s very shallow-rooted, so it’s easy to scoop up a handful, tease it apart a little, and then press it into loose soil under taller plants that need some time to fill out.

It’s grow-your-own mulch. It spreads quickly and can actually get out of hand, but I’ll always be tearing off the overflow for another spot. Or just tossing it — grow-your-own compost too.

In Washington, D.C., I had a spreading stonecrop sedum that served much the same purpose.

This month, I’ve also been pulling various begonias out of pots and re-planting them in semi-shade as ground cover.  They won’t spread as fast as the sedum, but they should make a nice tapestry eventually.

I’m not going to try to name these varieties.

I think there as many different types of begonias as daylilies.

Below is great spreading plant for which I don’t yet have a name.  I found it behind the back parking area, hidden by the curb.  I’ve been dividing and planting it everywhere.

It has true blue flowers.

I’m not really a pots person.  In the last couple of months, I’ve mostly been removing the plants from a lot of the old pots that I’ve found all around the house and putting them in the ground. However, I did recently create this rather pitiful arrangement.

The tree — one of those big-leafed Ficus that you see in chic rooms in House Beautiful — was in another pot at the side of the house, baking in full sun. We pulled it out and pruned its roots and top.  Then, we put it in this prettier pot in the bright shade of the terrace, underplanted with the little round-leafed begonia shown above.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will eventually put out new leaves. [UPDATE: It recovered beautifully.]

To see what’s blooming in other garden bloggers’ gardens, check out May Dreams Gardens, and thanks to Pam at Digging for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Follow Up the 16th of every month.