Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Seed Germinates

While knocking around in one of the gardens at Atlock Farm a few weeks ago, I spotted a tiny but colorful plant and immediately went over for a closer look. To my surprise, it was an infant coleus. While volunteer coleus may be commonplace in areas with warmer winters, in central Jersey it’s quite rare for me to spot one coming up from a seed that most likely spent the winter outside.

I carefully pulled the seedling out of the garden with a little soil attached and then nestled it into roomier quarters – a four-inch plastic pot of a nice, open growing medium – and set it among the rest of the coleus in one of the greenhouses. Since then it hasn’t missed a beat, and already I’m fantasizing about introducing the next ‘Alabama Sunset’ or ‘Inky Fingers’ to the world in a year or two.

Well, chances are my little rescue will remain merely a gleam in its stepfather’s eye. I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and some eyes are a bit myopic. Also, I’ve been around the neighborhood long enough to be aware that the already changeable foundling may well mature into a homely ogre. Some calamity may befall it before I have a chance to make a few cuttings from it to test its vigor and genetic stability (think colorfastness, if you will).

But I have hope. Something special could be in the works here.

And so it is with the Coleus Society. Just last week this website went live, and already there have been 171 hits on the site – two more since I sat down to write this! I know that any number of futures, from rosy to ashen to something in between, awaits the site and the Society. But for now I’m happy to watch the seedling Society grow and to help nurture it as others interact with it.

PLEASE NOTE: no reasonable person expects an infant to run the 100-yard dash or to engage in a spirited debate. For the time being, this site and the incipient Coleus Society may appear to develop slowly, and my blog will take the form of a weekly monologue. However, kids inexorably grow up, so perhaps with your interest and input the Society will in time become a strong, healthy, and vigorously interactive member of society.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Welcome to the blog!

Welcome to the blog! Allow me introduce myself: I’m Ray Rogers. I usually describe myself as a freelance gardening author and speaker (see, but in this sphere I’d like to express my alter ego as a long-time coleus enthusiast and someone who wants to help create the Coleus Society. This site went online just a few days ago, so please bear with me as the kinks get worked out. Not that there seem to be many, thanks to the creative and diligent efforts of my website designer, Cie Stroud (

OK, enough for now with the introductions. I’ll be sharing plenty more about myself and others as the site and the Coleus Society develop. Today I’d like to encourage you to explore the site and fill out the survey linked on the Membership page (if you haven’t done so already). The information you provide will be carefully considered and will help make the Society a reality.

Sometimes I call myself a horticultural missionary, so I view this blog as my personal pulpit (call it a soapbox or stump, if you like) for proclaiming my zeal for all things coleus. It’s my hope that as the site and Society develop, many opportunities and outlets will arise for us to share our enthusiasm and knowledge. Until this site offers a more direct public method for give and take between you and me, please feel free to contact me at Typing “coleus society” or something similar in the subject line will be appreciated.

I’m looking forward to meeting many coleophiles (my pseudo-technical word for coleus enthusiast) through this site and in person. Perhaps by this time next year we’ll be putting the final touches on the plans for the first meeting of the Coleus Society. A coleophile can dream, can’t he?