Looking at topics that begin with N in this alphabetical series, the first plant that comes to mind is the naked lady - also known as surprise lily, magic lily, resurrection lily, or more formally, lycoris squamigera.
This bulb is great fun to grow. The strap-like leaves appear in spring along with other bulbs, but no flowers grow at the time. The leaf clumps remain until early July and then disappear. In late summer, all of a sudden, rosy pink fragrant flowers appear on long bare stems. They shoot up in just a few days.
This plant likes to grow under trees, as it did in its place of origin, Chinese woodlands.
My favorite rose is new dawn, a vigorous climber that produces beautiful shell pink double flowers in May.
New dawn has great disease resistance, although my rose does get occasional black spot in the fall, right before the leaves drop. Mine is seven years old, and grew from beside the front door up to the second-floor windows and across the width of the house. Then, a few weeks ago, the twine tying the heavy branches to the window frame gave out, and I am in the process of cutting back all the fallen prickly stems.
Next year, I am sure it will start the climb again, and I will have to use some stronger ties. Lovely for cut flowers, but I wish it would bloom a little longer.
Nimblewill is a variety of grass that is noticeable mainly in spring when it is still brown and dormant while other grass has greened. It has bluish green leaves up to 2 inches long on wiry stems that may reach 10 inches. If not checked, nodes along the stem will root at and spread outward. Nimblewill loves hot, dry conditions and will flourish in times of drought when other grasses have gone dormant.. The best time to root it out is while it shows brown in early spring.
A Norfolk Island pine makes a very good Christmas gift for an invalid or someone in a nursing home. They are available in all sizes, from 10 inches or so up to a fully grown 3-foot specimen, and need minimal care.
Decorate one with some of those miniature ornaments for the season. Growth is fairly slow, but your pine will need repotting every two years and will appreciate some water-soluble fertilizer every month or so.
Have you ever pulled a plant (probably an ailing one) from the ground and found little white bumps all over the roots? This damage is caused by little pests called nematodes. They exist in most areas of the world, preferring tropical areas, but able to live in all soil and climate conditions.
Primitive beings, without brains or sight, nematodes nevertheless make their way to any root, latch on to it, pierce the root and lay eggs, causing knots to form. The plant then dies due to lack of nourishment through the root. Mulching and using organic matter in the soil help to protect crops from nematodes.
For those who say they like to keep up with my family, we have a new baby, my first great-grandaughter. Sophia Carmen was born Oct. 27. She had a lung problem and spent her first week at St. Vincent's, but now she is at home - healthy and happy - with brothers Noah and Owen.
And my foot adventures are almost over, just a few stitches to come out next week, so all the news is good.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.
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