The dear dog of it, the garden, never halts, never rests unless it be December, when it seems determined to nap, to jump less, to be without surprise, to be a bit less demanding, indifferently nose an old bone. Yet bulbs keep coming, late bulb sales tempt and daily postings bring next season catalogs. Houseplants need turning in the light, grooming, and feeding, and some, like daturas and tibouchinas, a goodly cut-down and may join pails of alocassia and caladium in peat and the cool dark cellar for a winter of rest. One of the giant cycads after a summer spurt in the garden has come down with mealybugs and is sprayed with an alcohol solution and will need the tending again. Around the mind goes the question of winter feeding. Does one slack off, stop entirely while light is slant and weak, or continue as before? A bit less is my decision but just as frequently and this gives me unease and I look for signs of rejection although husky plants should not remind one of fat children in highchairs flinging oatmeal. Plants do not evince dudgeon or malice.
The double-flowered Christmas cactus, so very like a hose-in-hose primula, is a candidate for a double dose of food as is any plant in floral position. Fish emulsion is the best. Nothing for the clivia. Neglect is their nutrition and drought as well until they, in February or early March, begin sending up flower stalks. For the nonce, pot-bound is their joy and away from strong sunlight their preference. Rewarding, nutritious quaffs would be their ruin, loving as they do unforgiving ground under trees. The long spout of the Haws watering can must pass them by. Another undemanding performer, oxalis, goes on and on, crew cut after crew cut, flooded, starved, to it all is the same. I always keep one ebony-hued alocassia in a Siebert and Rice rolled-rim pot on the dining table where, evening and morning, a bead or two of indoor dew will collect on the foliage, clear, shining, a bit of indoor climate inevitable and a bit awesome.
The last of orange-cupped daffodils are to go in tomorrow, next day, definitely this week (there will be rain one day, wind the next) edging the main pond where two sorts of liriope are, margined Solomon’s Seal too as well as blue camassia. Last week two big sacks of praestans fusilier, a favorite scarlet species tulip, went into the primula bed, there to be munched by squirrels, squirrels up to a point, squirrels rapidly tiring of such fare so that I expect to lose a quarter of them before squirrel peace is declared and they turn to other ruinations.
An elderly weeping mulberry near the aforementioned pond is getting too much shade from nearby magnolias and will be moved this same week to the terrace next the potager in front of a latticed screen as a handsome offsetting frame. It is a mule and doesn’t bear and that is all to the good. I recall sitting under a fruiting one for a sweet old Russian aristocrat’s name day, in white, as we all were until catbirds began feasting and digesting.
Quiet December will begin the setting out of bird feeders. And pruning. And plotting the coming season. It is then I can admire the stranvaesia and begin peering under stephenandra incisa for the sight of earliest snowdrops.