Behold, the beautiful leaves of this Rex Begonia I bought last winter. It’s flowering!
The trick to growing this particular begonia is shade and humidity. My time hiking through forests in Dominica really drove that point home in a clear way. I often found begonias growing in surprisingly dim spots underneath thick tree canopy and near to a water source where the humidity was high. Rex Begonias are known for demanding more of both.
When I first bought this plant I had a difficult time finding that balance. I got the humidity part right but gave it too much light. Rexs without enough humidity end up with crispy leaf edges. And when the light is too bright, they lose their vibrant color.
From the moment I first laid eyes on an Oxalis palmifrons I knew I wanted to take a picture of it with a tiny model train figure standing underneath the leaves as if she/he was a tourist posing among a bank of palm trees.
This photo isn’t quite what I had in mind.
Our new place has a cold, south-facing, window-filled mudroom. It was the porch at one time and still has the original stone window-ledge, window, brick facade, concrete floor, and functional doorbell. It’s not a very functional living space, but it makes a perfect cold greenhouse!
Since before the move, my poor plants have been suffering through weeks of neglect and life in less-than-ideal conditions. They’ve spent the last 10 days or so sitting in boxes; some getting too much light and others not enough. Several were in the cold room that shouldn’t have been, while others were baking in the heat without adequate water. A few were even stuck in the basement without any light or water at all! I haven’t lost anything completely, but I’ve come close and just about nothing looks like it did before we began the moving process.
The original window is still intact. This is the view from inside the living room.
I knew from the moment we saw the place that that mudroom would become my personal greenhouse. Last night, I finally had a chance to do a cursory setup of the plants along with a good watering and some pruning back of dead and broken branches. Hopefully the plants will bounce back from the abuse they’ve suffered. In the meantime, my friend Barry gifted me five new oxalis plants and a potted Scilla peruviana. Barry grows his in his cold greenhouse and I’m hoping mine will be just as happy in my setup.
When I went in there this morning to check on the plants, I was shocked and happily surprised by how earthy and greenhouse-like the room smelled. When those really cold, miserable days of winter start to get me down, I can putter around inside my little greenhouse, touch some greenery and smell fresh soil. This move is turning out to be better than I had imagined!
Oh how I dread this time of year.
It’s cold. So cold. I am a wimp. The days are growing shorter, and darker. My hands are like ice cubes almost all of the time. The days of fresh tomatoes and basil are coming to an end. Sweaters, warm socks, and months of dust are coming out from the back of the closet. My book manuscript, photos, and designs are due soon.
It’s getting cold enough at night now that most of my cold sensitive houseplants need to come back inside for the winter. This process takes time. Lots of time. It involves a lot of repotting, shifting, and rejigging my haphazard indoor growing situations (I can’t give these homemade contraptions a more formal description) to make room for my most beloved plants.
Now is the time when I am forced to make decisions about what stays and what simply can not be shoved into a window or underneath a light. Just how did I end up with 10 agave plants? I often wonder if the local cops have looked up at one of my south-facing windows and considered what goes on there. Surely no one would bother to put forth so much energy, time, and money into growing plants without a street value?
Davin jokes that I need a plantervention. Either that or more space and bigger windows.
One thing I do like about this time of year is taking the time to appreciate the great plants I am growing and seeing them in a new light after they’ve had months replenishing outdoors.
Back in July I posted two photos of lithops plants my friend Barry grew from seed. Here’s one of the plants blooming for the first time! Worth the patient effort don’t you think?