No, not my garden of weeping conifers and colorful maples. Nor my garden of ornaments. But the latter *is* nearby.
The garden that is fast going, going as the sunlight shortens and the nights lengthen and chill – that fading garden – is my compost garden. I've often talked about how plants sometimes do well after being tossed onto the compost, how I've put plants there with the intention of getting them to grow, then removed them and planted them in the larger garden.
Now, the compost garden has become more permanent, an established part of my gardening life. Two spaces, each about 4 by 6 feet, make up this garden: Compost 1 and Compost 2.
This year has seen a bumper crop of compost plants as I spared down, shedding excess. Especially container plants that want constant watering in the brutal heat and drought. Some, like elephant ear, went to the compost way back in May, starting as tubers and growing with abandon. Now it's a race between the appearance of a hard freeze and a spath; the plant sure looks vigorous enough to produce a spath. I'm counting on the peppers (in the image below) to come back from seed next year. They'll certainly be more successful in the compost than they were in pots; their pods were not worth eating.
|In Compost 1, peppers and elephant ears grow better than when in pots.|
|In Compost 2, agapanthus (right) and cymbidium await autumn leaves for winter insulation.|
Compost 1, left, continues to expand. A nun's orchid (foreground left) and a coffee plant wound up here because of non-performance; they didn't bloom after years of excellent care in pots indoors. This move might be just the inspiration they need.
The compost amounts to an eclectic group, including the ill, the dead, the excess, the un-bloomers. Some may live long. Some might not. But for those that survive and thrive, there is a special bonus.
For a while, I have thought about – and discussed with other gardeners – the idea of making compost heaps visible features of the garden. Some of us wonder: Why should compost be relegated to the back of the property? Hidden from view. I enjoy looking at what's happening in these piles of plants, leaves, food scraps and such.
So, here's the deal: If the current compost plants get through the winter, I will make sure to offer every visitor to my garden up-close looks at Compost 1 and Compost 2. Shopping for passalong plants will be optional.