Saturday, October 15, 2016

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, October 2016: A Tale of Two Salvias

The Head Gardener and I have been busy since last we blogged ... Day-um, has it really been 5 months??!!  There's been a lot going on, both in and out of the gardens.  More on that later.  Right now it's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, hosted by my pal Carol of May Dreams Gardens, and it's time to show off what's blooming in our gardens.  I was all fired up to get pictures of bauhinias, plumbago, echinaceas, cupheas, rudbeckias, asclepias, caesalpinia, aloes, russellia, calylophus, melampodium, cordia, justicias, stachys, anisacanthus, tradescantias, zinnias, and more.

But just as I headed outside to get some photos of my best blooms for y'all, it started raining and I only had time to get a couple of shots.  So October 2016's GBBD is a tale of two salvias, Mystic Spires and Amistad.  

Salvia Mystic Spires*
 It was my understanding that Mystic Spires would be a smaller, more compact version of Indigo Spires.  Looking at this example, perhaps you are inclined to agree.  Think again, my friends: this is one plant, after being cut back approximately 4 times this summer, most recently a few days ago. The bumblebees love the blooms and that is why I am loath to whack it back to bare stems.  

Salvia Amistad
Salvia Amistad, I expected to get this big.  The blooms are such a gorgeous deep rich purple, I just want to wrap myself in their color. It wouldn't be a good idea, though, since the hummingbirds would doubtless fight me for them.  This has been the site of frequent and spirited hummingbird battles throughout the summer.  No matter how tired I am of hot summer weather, my spirits are always lifted when I see the hummingbirds dive bombing each other above this plant.

That's it for this Bloom Day. Take a look at the Mr. Linky list on Carol's post and see what's blooming in other gardens around the world.

* Please ignore the scattered rocks, portions of black plastic pots and outdoor cushions visible in this picture. The Head Gardener is furiously rethinking the back garden and every day finds something else rearranged. The woman wears me out.



Sunday, May 15, 2016

May 2016 Garden Bloggers Bloom Day: It's All About the Daylilies!


This Bloom Day,  it's all about the daylilies here on my corner of Katy!   It's also an occasion for the Head Gardener to lament my inability to properly label my daylilies when I plant them or move them, thereby leading to our inability to identify many of them by name. Please feel free to let us know if you recognize any of them!  

I am a sore disappointment to the HG but she remains hopeful that I will work to overcome this unfortunate flaw in my character and that someday all of the daylilies here at Wit's End will be properly identified.  But until that day, any blog posts on the subject of Hemerocallis will be sadly remiss in the identification area. While the HG puts on her big girl panties and deals with it, on with the show! CARPE HEMEROCALLIS!   FYI: It's been raining since Saturday so the blooms are a bit soggy. 
















Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is celebrated on the 15th of every month and is hosted by the intrepid Indygardener, who blogs at May Dreams Gardens.  Check out what's blooming in her garden and gardens around the world!


Monday, February 15, 2016

February 2016: Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

ACK! It's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and I didn't get any pictures taken! I have a good excuse ... I'm getting ready to head to Seattle tomorrow to meet up with a few of my favorite gardeners and bloggers at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.  I've heard about the wonders of this show for years but it's my first time to attend ... yeah, I'm a little excited! 

I do have blooms here on my corner of Katy so I thought I'd post a list of what's blooming. I won't say it's all blooming profusely but thanks to our mild winter, many plants have never stopped blooming.   When I get back from Seattle, I'll have to go into tough love mode and start cutting back remorselessly!

The List:
Salvia 'Amistad'
Salvia 'Cherry Chief'
Salvia 'Mystic Spires'
Salvia regla
Salvia madrensis
Sweet olive, Osmanthus fragrans
Camellia 'High Fragrance'
Walter's Viburnum
Spiderwort
Echinacea
Alyssum
Pink skullcap
Lobelia
Violas: Johnny Jump Up, Penny White, Sorbet Purple
Leucojum, Summer Snowflake
Mexican Flame Vine, Senecio confusus
Toad lily, Tricyrtis (a few confused plants)
Freesia laxa/Anometheca laxa/Lapeirousia laxa, Painted Petals
Narcissus
Roses: Souvenir de la Malmaison, Old Blush, Mutabilis, Souvenir de St Anne, Caldwell Pink, Peggy Martin, Bon Silene, Chi Long Han Zhu
Giant aloe/candelabra aloe
Pigeonberry
Polygonum 'Pink Buttons' (it's the Schrodinger's Cat of plants here, both dead and alive at the same time thanks to a couple of dips into the low 30s)
Giant Firespike, Odontonema strictum 
Clerodendrum thomsoniae var. delectum
Hirome Cherry (just starting)
Rising Sun Redbud (just starting)
Gaillardia, Indian Blanket
Bulbine
Evening sundrops/dewdrops, Calylophus drummondii
Blackfoot daisy
Pink muhly grass

There may be more but it's late and I've got to get up early tomorrow!  Read other Bloom Day accounts at that Indy gardener's blog.





Thursday, February 11, 2016

Three for Thursday: Signs of Spring on My Corner of Katy!

Spring has come to south central Texas and I've lost count of how many near perfect days we've had since the last week of January.  Those of you who are housebound due to snow and ice are more than welcome to come on down here and visit me. I can promise you some quality gardening time!

'Rising Sun' redbud is getting ready for its big show.

The cooler weather means a deeper purple bloom on the spiderwort.

Our state flower is making an early appearance.

This weather, right here, right now, is what makes me and so many other Texans willing to suffer through our sizzling summers. 
The evils of August seem very far away.

Friday, January 15, 2016

January 2016 Garden Bloggers Bloom Day: In the Pink on My Corner of Katy

Echinacea with my Happy Pill from the Toronto Fling

Peggy Martin Rose

Rose 'Mutabilis'

Echinaceas with visitor

Scutellaria 'Fuchsia Fountains'


Rose 'Old Blush'


Rose 'Bon Silene'

Rose 'Belinda's Dream'

Rose 'Souvenir de la Malmaison'

Upright hot pink Pentas

Amazon Neon Dianthus

Sweet Pea 'Painted Lady'

Pink Firespike, Odontonema stricta
Thanks to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting Bloom Day each month!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

November Blooms on My Corner of Katy: Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day November 2015

Pour Paris et pour tout la France:
a bloom on my Souvenir de la Malmaison rose,
a beautiful reminder of another time in history when
life was fraught with pain and turmoil
It's been a beautiful Sunday here on my corner of Katy and I took a break from working in the garden to just sit outside and savor the sunshine and cool breezes, and do my best to work through the sadness I feel about our broken world.  I was going to say let go of the sadness but I wonder if that isn't part of what's broken in so many people: we don't want to acknowledge, feel or process our emotions so we "let it go" and it becomes angry hateful thoughts that often become angry hateful words and angry hurtful acts.  

My gardens have always been a place of comfort and solace for me and knowing that others find peace and beauty on my corner of Katy reminds me that all most of us can do is tend our own little corner of the world in hopes that it will make a difference. Think globally, act locally.  Do your best to find peace in your own heart. It's a start.  










Thank you to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

August Showers Yield Golden Flowers!

A basket of bounteous beauty to come!

Last Tuesday after an appointment with my recent medical providers, as I turned off the Beltway onto Memorial Drive in heavy rain, I passed a vacant lot with splashes of golden sunshine beaming from various spots.  Those were gardener's gold: beautiful yellow rain lilies popping up to thank Mother Nature for the gift of rain. As I passed, I noted there was a For Sale By Owner sign with a phone number.  

So, yes, I did what any gardener would do: I circled back around and pulled over to write down that number. And then I called and spoke to the owner to ask if I might dig some of those golden delights.  He said I was the second caller in as many days :-)  I told him there were plenty of bulbs for both of us so he consented graciously.  

I confess, even though I'm working hard to keep to my restricted activity level, I went back the next day and dug up a few myself.  Give me points for not trying to dig them in the rain! I was careful in my movements and I didn't dig nearly as many as I'd have liked.  The HG is still chiding for not taking pictures to share with y'all. Hush, woman. 

Fortunately, I'd had the foresight to check in with my pal Otahal and ask if by any chance, he and his crew might be in the Houston area this week. They were indeed working on a job near downtown and Mr. Otahal kindly consented to stop by the vacant lot and have his crew do some more digging for me.   They stopped by yesterday evening with a bounty of rain lily bulbs which he thinks are Zephyranthes sulphurea. 

I have big plans for these little bulbs in the front gardens. I am so appreciative of Otahal and his hard-working crew for doing the hard part of the work.  And for then going above & beyond by taking down the rest of the vitex trunk with their chain saw, which I'd spotted in the back of the truck. The HG considers me a shameless opportunist but Otahal and I go back a long, LONG ways and I'm careful to make fairly minor requests when he and the crew are on the road home after a hard week's work.  I frequently repay him in plants: yesterday he took home a contractor's grade 39 gallon trash sack of Louisiana iris.  He was happy to get them and I was happy to see them go!

David Otahal during the Great Rockout of 2010

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall ...

As might be surmised from my previous post, the Head Gardener and I were beginning to doubt the truth of that old adage. So we were delighted when rain began to fall last Sunday. Over the course of the week, we got almost 2 inches of rain here on my corner of Katy.  Most of it fell slowly and gently over the course of several hours each day so it had a chance to soak in and do some good.  The HG and I are consequently a little happier with how things are looking out back. 

The Persian Vitex in 2008. Why we don't have or can't find
any more recent pictures, is probably due to our lamentable lack
of any semblance of organization in our iPhoto files.
There was one major casualty, however.  The Persian Vitex (V. trifolia) near the pond hadn't been pruned in a while and the weight of the rain on the limbs proved too much for the trunk to support. It split about 2 feet up from the ground, with most of the tree falling forward into the bed and path. 

The Persian Vitex as of August 20, 2015, above and below.


All is not lost ... there are sprouts at the base of the tree and once the EP takes what's left of the trunk down to the ground, it will regrow.  The HG and I are currently in a disagreement about whether or not we had to cut it to the ground after the hard winter of 2009-2010. I think we did; she says we pruned it back to live wood and then let it regrow from there. Whatever.  The point is that we're not worried we'll lose it.  We are, however, pondering whether we want to keep it; replace it with a tree or large shrub that won't need quite as much pruning to keep it in check; or remove it and plant that area with smaller shrubs and perennials. 

I tend to lean in favor of keeping it: I love how the trunk of this species tends to contort itself in such sculptural ways.  It's also a fairly fast growing tree, which is important because there are shade-loving perennials - toad lilies and bletillas - planted under it.  I also have to consider how difficult it would be to take it out since the root system is both extensive and healthy. The HG thinks it should go and is currently enamored of the idea of smaller shrubs and perennials.


There's no hurry for us to decide.  Until The Awful ends and the temperatures drop into the 80s during the day, we have no desire to venture forth even if our activity restrictions are lifted!

The remains of the trunk ... did I mention that the Executive
Producer is not known for his finesse?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day August 2015: These Are The Times That Try Gardeners' Souls!

Pink Skullcap, Scuttellaria suffrutescens, considered one of the most heat
& drought tolerant natives for Texas gardens.  That's how bad it is.
I promised Carol aka Indygardener aka Indy of May Dreams Gardens, the GBBD instigator, that I would post SOMETHING for this month's Bloom Day.  There's precious little out there to choose from, at least in the back gardens which is as far as I can venture this evening.  The Head Gardener and I had a little nipping and tucking done at the end of July and have been on orders to restrict our activity ever since.  Unfortunately for us, our inability to get outside comes during a worse spell of heat and drought than we saw in 2011. Hand watering was all that saved the back garden that year since there's no irrigation system set up for those beds. This year, we can only watch in horror as plant after plant - most of them heat and drought tolerant - wilt, wither and die.  By the time we get our doctor's clearance to get back out there and work, we're expecting much of that work will involve pulling up dead plants amidst much wailing and gnashing of teeth.



The white plumbago has probably been the best performer in the back garden throughout July and this first half of August. It's had no supplemental water that entire time. 



Fireworks gomphrena has absolutely blown me away with its ability to survive without moisture in 100+ degree temperatures.  Once or twice it's gotten a bit droopy in the afternoon but by the next morning, it returns to its usual perky self.  That's ONE plant. 



This is one of a few Serenity mix hybrid verbenas that has managed to keep going.  



And this is, of all things, a rain lily.  We did get a brief intense storm on Wednesday evening and this brave little plant responded as nature intended! 

While we're stuck inside, the HG and I are doing a lot of thinking about what kind of changes we'll make to the gardens when cooler weather is here and we've seen the extent of the summer damage.  The only thing we're sure of is that we've got to simplify ... and we are unanimous in that!