Of all the dahlias I grew this year, 'Senior's Hope' is my favorite. It's hard to see in this photo, but the reverse of each petal is a blackcurrant-syrup color that makes the blooms very dramatic when viewed at an angle. It brought a lot of depth to the flower arrangements I used it in, and looked great with Amaranthus tricolor 'Red Army.'
A friend gave me my first carnivorous plant earlier this year, a Drosera of unknown species (probably capensis). It was an exercise in eco-friendly biocontrol: The intention was for this stunning little bug catcher to help clear up a rash of sciarid flies that were plaguing my houseplants, and by extension, me.
Like most houseplants in my dark flat, the Drosera got pretty unhappy, fast. It quit producing dew, which is what it uses to lure and trap its prey. Trapped insects are ultimately digested using enzymes on the leaf surfaces. With no dew, the plant wasn't able to eat.
So I did what I do with all my failing-to-thrive houseplants: I exiled the Drosera to purgatory--also known as outside. I didn't expect it to survive the transition to much cooler temperatures and blowing Scottish gales, but within a week the increased light had induced a flush of fresh new leaves. Soon the Drosera was regularly dewing again, and trapping flies. Here is one unlucky guy who posed for a final portrait as his feet were being digested.
I'm not sure what I will do with this plant when temperatures get below freezing. I'm afraid it will be terribly unhappy inside again, so I may just leave it out to see what happens. Certain Drosera spp. are native to Scotland, so maybe this beautiful little plant could survive the winter outside? If anyone has overwintered their Drosera outside, in a similar climate, let me know!
Oh, and I finally got rid of the sciarid flies by taking the houseplant they'd colonized outside, removing all the soil (where the flies live and reproduce), washing the plant's roots clean, and repotting it into fresh, clean soil.