HELEN LANG: Not time for the balcony garden to have a rest

The balcony is looking pretty sad, it seems to feel that its done its bit but I have plans for it that don’t include a rest

This week, I’ll be lucky to make the Peninsula News Review’s deadline.

There have been so many distractions: visitors, telephone calls, meals to make, shopping … a lot of things that got in the way.

The balcony is looking pretty sad now. It seems to feel that its done its bit for this season and it’s time to have a rest.

I have plans for it that don’t include a rest. I intend to plant bulbs in early September. Some are sitting in a basket in the utility room ever since being up-rooted after their foliage died down in early summer. I’ll have to buy more, of course.

Buying bulbs gives me a lot of pleasure. It reminds me of years ago when I sold bulbs out of our garage on Melissa Street. I’m also reminded of choosing varieties of bulbs from a grower in Richmond. Those were wonderful days for me.

“Himself” wasn’t that impressed when I talked of the attributes of fritillaria imperialis as compared to frittilaria melagris. He used to say, “Who did you say had what disease?”

He knew a lot about flying aircraft, but next to nothing about growing plants, which was just as well … no arguments that way.

This reminds me of another bulb (actually a rizome) called schizo- styllis coccinea (crimson flag) which flowers in the fall when other flowers are dying, or already dead. These flowers look somewhat like dwarf gladiola. The foliage is similar but they considerbly shorter and come only in pink, rose and scarlet.

I used to see clumps of them in a bed outside the entrance to the Jubilee cancer clinic, where my darling husband “himself” used to go for treatment. It is so nice to see new blooms when everything else is looking tired.

The balcony is fading fast, although the geraniums continue to put on a show and the purple petunias are still trying their best, but there comes a time to make a change and I’m afraid that time has come.

I think I’ll seed some spinach — it’s pretty hardy — and maybe some lettuce. I hate it when the choices get limited but everything changes, even the weather.

We could do with some rain, but not too much, please.

I’ve asked Steve, our esteemed editor, if I might ask a friend, a knowledgeable gardener if she could write some garden articles in my stead and he agreed, so Annie Zarath is going to be a guest columnist every so often. I don’t want to quit, but I’m getting older and only have a balcony, which does limit what gardeners who have a proper gar- den might enjoy and find helpful. Oh, darn, I’m crying, and don’t even have a kleenex.

I’m not gone yet, and certainly am not in a rush, but you deserve a change, just not immediately. This is just a hint that things are a-changin’. After all, it’s been more than 30 years and I’ve loved every minute of those years of columns. I’ve made so many friends, it has been wonderful.


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