Counting my summer successes

Every winter, it’s the same story. I go bonkers with the seed catalogues and order far more packets than I could possibly manage. I try most everything; many experiments fail. But I’ve had a few successes about which I’m very pleased. When I’m in the gardening doldrums this month I will count those successes and plot a reformed seed-shopping future that we know will never actually come to pass.

Nicotiana langsdorfii

I love Nicotianas, the scented, ornamental tobaccos. My collection of Nicotiana packets is second only to my array of hollyhocks. In the past, I’ve successfully germinated perhaps thousands of these plants, but have transplanted them out too early, or forgotten to water them at a critical point in May when the temperature spiked to 90 degrees, or committed some other sloppy mistake. This year, I pledged to thin my seedlings. And, teeth gritted, I did.  I now have one plant that has flowered and is setting seed, and three or four others that are preparing to flower.

nicotiana langsdorfii 1

The plant grows from a lush basal rosette of foliage. Its gangly stems would look much better pushing through, say, a summer-flowering aster or maybe even a low-growing rose. But I’m thrilled that it’s filling in a small spot in a large expanse of plants that are not on their A-game this summer.nicotiana langsdorfiiI adore this chartreuse green color, and the tubular flowers’ charming shape is like nothing else in my garden. Pods of mite-sized seeds have just started to crack open on this plant, which is still flowering like mad. I’ve laid a thick bed of compost around it to catch those seeds as they drop. If I’m lucky, next year I’ll be swimming in these neon green blossoms.