Look at this picture, isn't it just heart meltingly cute?



I tried Black Eyed Susan vine before, but this is the first year it actually bloomed, and it contines long into the fall.

Did I mention that if you ever planted Malva Sylvestris you will have it forever and ever? I started this flower from seed four years ago, and, though annual, it's been with me ever since, whether I wanted it or not. You can pull it, you can deadhead it, but you can never defeat its heroic mission to propagate.

I gave up after a while, because who can look at its flowers and not love them, but it is relentless, I tell you! It likes to grow tall (it's nickname is High Mallow for a reason!) and spread out, choking all competition in the process, and will fill out all the space available if you don't work around the clock to keep it under control.

If you are going to have these in your garden whether you like it or not, might as well put them to good use. All mallows have emollient and mildly astringent properties, which makes them very useful for skin hydration and wound healing.

The gel extracted from their roots and leaves calms and smoothes rough skin, restores bounce and shine to damaged hair and provides relief for minor irritations, from sunburn to diaper rash. It is especially great for those who suffer from winter dry skin.

Its flower tea can be used as a rinse to cover gray hair, but be careful because it stains everything, skin, nails, countertops and sinks, so handle it with gloves and protect work surfaces.


Cold, wet and early


I am grateful for the rain after the mini-drought in September, one can almost feel how relieved the plants are to have their flowers and leaves washed clean and replenish their exhausted water reserves. The zinnia blossoms shine with a renewed vigor that makes their petals shimmer like metal in the cloud filtered light.

Between the dry weather and the colder than normal temperatures, plant life decided to call in early this year, wrapping up the season with less than average mess.

Though somewhat disconcerted, I'll take this opportunity to remove the tomato chaos sooner and trim the almost dormant perennials to a more visually appealing countenance for the cold months.

Hard as I try every year, mine is not a pretty fall garden, there is always too much bulk, too many spent plants and, despite the heroic efforts of the stone crops, never enough flowers. A couple of reluctant garden mums are just now trying to put out some blossoms, and since I haven't pinched them they are tall and not covered in flowers end to end, like they are when they come from the nursery. I kind of like their wilder look, it feels more natural, especially in a garden of assertive perennials like mine.

Woe, the dark times of fall clean-up are upon me, 'cause it's getting really cold, really fast! Even the sedums sped up their turning from chartreuse to deep brown this year, it feels like everything is in a rush to close up shop for the winter, which makes me wonder how close it really is. Needless to say, I'm not a big fan!

Even more of a reason to tidy up early this year, raking leaves in the snow is not a feature.

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