Deer Gardener says: begonias shine now

  • Oct. 23, 2009 11:00 a.m.

By Elaine Nyeholt-Fibrous Begonia, (the tender perennial begonia, usually grown as an annual) gets to shine this month. It’s tolerance of light frosts make it so valuable. As I contemplate next year’s autumn show, placing these interesting gems closer to the window seems like a good idea. Or perhaps just more of them in my spring/fall plots.Spring/fall plots have spring bulbs and annuals like Primrose, Calendula, Fibrous Begonia and Snap Dragons, to name a few. Summer /winter plots have Lilies, St. John’s Wort, Periwinkle, Cotoneaster and Iris, plants that don’t need to be disturbed often. If you can visualize a two season plan, you will have areas that look good and others that can be worked in without disturbing flowers that are just coming on. I’ve learned not to plant bulbs all over the place, gardening is just simpler this way.From visiting another garden, I learned that planting only Dahlia in a separate bed makes them easier to patrol for slugs, and they seem to like growing amassed. It’s a very showy spot this time of year. I would never have thought of it. Good job!Dahlia will tolerate a light frost if they are sheltered. As they get that glazed look, make plans to dig them out and hang them upside down for a week or so in a shed, to dry out. Then lop the stems off, leaving a handle on the tubers and store them in shavings or dry sand in a cold but frost-free spot.Our spring bulbs should be getting planted now. The tiny flowers like Snowdrops, Crocus and bulb Iris (reticulated Iris) need to be planted where you can enjoy them early in the spring. The flat growing inclination of periwinkle provides a lovely base for these early harbingers of good news. Its matted growth gives strength to the slight spring flower stems, when the rain pounds down on them. The bulbs will grow taller through the deep green foliage, if necessary to show their beauty. You can pretty much forget about getting under the periwinkle to dig up some bulbs though. Fortunately, the tiny bulbs of spring don’t need to be moved. This blend gives terrific erosion control. The removal of bulbs and ‘stuff’ from my final really bad garden patch is coming along. It takes me three hours to clean out an area 1½ metres square. I have two more sessions to go before I can start to haul in sandy soil and compost. The salmonberries are remarkably well established, probably because I kept whacking them off. The roots became tenacious. This patch has a rotten log surfacing that has caused me much consternation. Give up and plant a shrub comes to mind, but no, I am just as stubborn as the bull-dog. I will win!The bulbs I’ve removed from that patch are mostly depleted. So, I can replant them in a nursery area and feed them well for a couple of years to bring them back to flowering, or chuck them out and buy new ones. Hmm, that wasn’t hard to decide.The geraniums I potted and placed there are doing so well I’m tempted to move in a couple of begonia so they can be enjoyed longer.If the last of the gladiolas would hurry and finish I’d like to be done with putting them away for the winter, too. The zucchini growing near these have melted with the frost; a disgusting mess. Touching it doesn’t appeal, but how else will it get to the compost heap? Just do it. Contact me at

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