Where have I been for the past 2+ weeks. The wedding came. The wedding went and the flowers were exquisite until the bride showed up and then they paled in comparison. Since then, time has just disappeared as I discover the myriad of chores, garden and otherwise, that got put on hold for the wedding preparations. Suddenly I realized that “Dallying” hadn’t been published for about three weeks. The wedding flowers were primarily pink oriental Lilies with a few pink Cymbidium Orchids and some ivory Roses mixed in. Lilies are always interesting to work with. The stamens with their large load of “stain everything they touch” pollen add a certain visual element in the large displays where no one will be near them but they must be clipped out for bouquets etc. A large yellow stain on “the dress” would have been a disaster and would surely have been my fault.

It’s September and I’m trying to fit in the new Sept. jobs with the August jobs that somehow got forgotten. The late vegetables are still in the seed trays and are never going to make the garden this year. We can live without Pak Choi in October. I have been growing a wonderful trailing Begonia called Bonfire this year. Slender tubular flowers and delightful foliage. All of the other potted begonias have succumbed to powdery mildew this year but it remains bright and green and unaffected. It would look great on the garage wall planters. The Sweet Peas that I tried there this year were a great disappointment. I will need about 40 Begonia plants to fill these containers and I’m too cheap to actually go and buy them so I have tried taking some cuttings from them. If it works then they will spend the winter under my fluorescent lights and be ready to fill those containers next spring. It’s certainly the time of year to take cuttings of Geraniums and Begonias that we want to propagate for next year. If we get too much cool weather, then those plants start to harden and the cuttings are much less successful.

My other excuse for being slow in publishing “Dallying” is my computer. It died. After two weddings this summer the budget did not call for a new computer but we were left with little choice and it’s amazing how long it takes to setup a new computer with all of your programs and to restore all of the data. At least I was diligent enough to have a very recent backup. When all of your critical photographs are digital, you learn to back up the computer on a regular basis. This newsletter is being generated on my shiny new laptop; now if I could only get it to talk to my old printer.

The sod that I laid just before the wedding has done amazingly well and I should get up from this keyboard and give it its first cut. I should have done that a while ago but it has been hard to get it dry at a time that I am here to cut it. Now to give proper credit, cutting the grass is a task usually performed by the Assistant Gardener but she has also been playing catchup since the wedding. The trick to establishing new sod is regular deep watering. Mother Nature has been very helpful with that lately. It’s easy to get the actual sod wet and that will keep it green for quite some time but you have to get the soil under it wet as well so that the sod will send down roots into that soil. No deep roots plus 3-4 days of dry sunny weather equals dry crispy grass that’s not coming back. It would have been a good time to start new grass seed but the need for instant cover before all of the visitors to the garden arrived, forced me to unroll the living green carpet.

Garden Treasure is here and planted! My Itoh hybrid Peony with the large bright yellow blooms has been a much anticipated new arrival this year. I had a birthday in April and some of the children asked what I would like that I would never buy for myself. Garden Treasure was the answer. They ordered it and I spent the summer planning where I would plant it. Peonies are dug and divided in the fall and mine arrived on Sept 01. Itoh hybrid peonies are a cross between the standard herbaceous Peony and the Tree Peony. They will not come true from seed and it grows quite slowly so that it takes some time to get a dividable root. In the nursery business, time equals money. That’s why I would never buy one for myself. (See the begonia section above where I admit to being a touch frugal.) The root that I received had several, (read eleven,) buds on it and I anticipate great things next June. Peonies are one of those plants that should be purchased from a specialty nursery because the size of root that you should be transplanting would need a much larger pot than most garden centres would use for their perennials.

My newsletter subscribers get to ask me questions. Just ‘reply’ to the email newsletter. It is always interesting to read the questions; mostly to see if I actually can answer them or if I have to wade into the textbooks to research the answers. If that happens then we all learn something.

Victor Asks??
Have you any ideas as to why so many of my shallots went to seed this year. Not for lack of water, even the few dry spells early on, I made sure they had adequate water. It is normal for some to go to seed with me, this year more than I like.
Ken Answers!
I have to confess that I have never had a shallot or any other of my Onions go to seed in the year I planted them. A few that have stayed behind and survived the winter will seed in the second year. Do you start your Shallots from seed or from small sets. If you are using sets then the plant can think it’s in the second year of its life cycle and want to produce seed. As you point out keeping them with enough moisture so that they stay actively growing also should help. If they were to dry out and then start to regrow that could induce the second season seed set response. I will dig deeper into my resource books and see what else I can find.