Air travel is like time travel, particularly if you fly North to South. Went to Dallas for the Garden Writer’s symposium and the dominant theme was how hot it was. Flew back and walked into my cool garden to see the fall blooming Colchicum starting to put on a great show. The Autumn Crocus, a totally different beast, will be along a little later.

Despite the heat, we had a great time in Dallas. Learned a few things, saw lots of new plants and reconnected with old friends. Brought home a few new tools and other products that we will be trying and telling you about. Had to leave all the new plants behind because they were unable to arrange the appropriate paperwork to allow we Canadians to get them back across the border. Did get lots of seeds to try, they are legal. Really wanted to try a couple of the new Echinacea , Raspberry Truffle and Hot Papaya looked wonderful and the Lindt chocolate raspberry truffles they were handing out at the Plant’s Nouveau booth were pretty exciting as well.

The range of knowledge available from the exhibitors was amazing. An apparently new fertilizer, Mater Magic, was being touted by the young man in it’s booth and when I read the back of the label and asked about their 8% Nitrogen, because 6% was listed as water insoluble and therefore not very accessible to the plants, he had no idea what he was selling or what I was asking about, but assured me that it really worked well. I took the proffered sample but don’t expect to hear much about it. He was not at all typical of the exhibitors we talked to. This is an exhibition for knowledgeable garden writers and the vast majority of the people were very conversant with their products and were prepared for the type of questions that this crowd would ask. That’s why we attend and learn so much.

The very sorry looking section of my lawn at the front of the house is now even worse but intentionally so. I killed it before I left and now have to get it prepared and seeded. This is really the best time of year to start a new lawn from seed. My only problem now is what seed to use. I have killed this bit of lawn several times because it consists of narrow paths of turf that get, rather heavy traffic, as we work on and admire the large perennial beds on either side. White clover is making a comeback in lawns after being out of fashion for many years. Maybe I will add some of that to my mix and see how it stands up to the traffic.

It is harvest time in the vegetable sections of the garden and it always amazes me how some vegetables produce so much and some so little in any given year. The good and bad are not consistent year to year and I can only blame it on the weather. The Onions this year were quite small but their close cousins, the shallots, growing beside them did quite well. The Potatoes were very prolific, although there was some variation between varieties as there always is. French fingerling was wonderful and the basket in the picture is the result of planting just 5 pieces in the spring.

The front porch is covered with large boxes containing my usual assortment of new spring flowering bulbs. I don’t plant all of these. I am running out of room but I do find a little space for a few of most of these varieties. The new bed in front of the trellises in the front yard will be filled with an early, Monte Carlo, and a late, Blushing girl, variety of Tulips, interplanted to fill that bed with colour for most of the spring.

It’s amazing how quickly you can use up 200 Tulip bulbs. Maybe the bushy tailed tree rats (aka, squirrels,) will be turned off by the several methods of deterrence employed. Each bulb will get a bit of blood and bone meal in its planting hole and the bed will get some Acti-Sol fertilizer spread on top. This is a product that is made from dehydrated chicken manure and although it retains very little of its original smell, it apparently is repulsive to squirrels. This will be my first real test and I will be sure to let you know how well it works.

Keeping up to date on gardening activities can be followed on a more frequent basis by checking the front page of my web site, It changes every 2 or 3 days to show you what I am up to. That change only takes a few minutes, while producing Dallying is a much larger effort.

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.

Maya asks? For a few years I am growing in pots Clivias and had beautiful blooms. For the last 2 years the bloom starts coming out, but by the time the stem shows, the flower wilts, browns and that’s the end of it. I am almost desperate, because I can't find an explanation wherever I look for it. Please help.

Ken Answers! I personally have never had much luck with my Clivia but many friends bloom them quite well. If your blooms are starting to appear then you are providing the winter cool dry period. The aborting of your blooms could be the result of several things. Have you changed their location to someplace that is much warmer? Strangely enough both over watering, more likely, or under watering could cause your problem. Clivia like to have the surface of their soil get quite dry before any fresh water is supplied. Watch your watering carefully and water when they need water rather than on some regular schedule that does not take into account the changing day length or other seasonal changes.

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