Friday, February 27, 2015

Lady Gaga Sighted On My Corner of Katy ...

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while may recall that the corner bed was formerly graced by a Bauhinia galpinii known as Tina Turner, because she took the worst that (Hurricane) Ike threw at her and came out better than ever.  That was 2008 and as the years went on, like any true diva, she took over the stage.  The Head Gardener and I finally had to tell Tina it was time to retire and let another diva shine.  

Now Lady Gaga commands the attention ...

She is surrounded by her beloved Little Monsters, nestled close and making it difficult to get a picture OR evict them from the stage.  

Monday, February 9, 2015

Hot Color on a Hot Day!

I can't say I'm thrilled that the temperature reached 91° today on my corner of Katy. It's made slightly less appalling by the first blooms of the Freesia laxa, also known as Anomatheca laxa, or my favorite of its many botanical names, Lapeirousia laxa. Roll that baby around on your tongue!  The common name for this wee beauty is Woodland Painted Petals. 

I am even less thrilled that a mosquito was buzzing me as I was outside writing this post.  Wrong. Just plain wrong.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Let's see how this mobile blogging works!

This morning, as I was wandering the perimeter, some neighbors stopped to tell me how much they enjoyed my garden. Chuck and Christina moved here from Alabama in August. They are eager to create gardens at their new home and I'm delighted at the prospect of having some fellow gardeners in the neighborhood.

I told him how to find my blog and suggested they look at the past posts to see the evolution of the garden. I admitted somewhat ruefully that I have been remiss in posting in recent months. Got me thinking: what if I tried blogging using an app on my phone? How would that work?

So here we are, about to find out! It's a beautiful spring like day on my corner of Katy and I am sitting outside with coffee and breakfast, enjoying the sunshine and mild temperatures. That's the view from the chair at top. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Dodging Bullets On My Corner of Katy

Gomphrena 'Fireworks'
When the reports first began to appear of a polar vortex swooping down upon south central Texas to wreak havoc and destruction in the form of a historically early freeze, the Head Gardener and I scoffed.  In 17 years on my corner of Katy, neither of us can remember the mercury dipping below freezing before December ... and we were unanimous in that.  That in itself is as rare as a freeze in November!  

'La Marne' rose, Country Girl mum, Salvia 'Henry Duelberg'
But as the forecast dipped lower and then lower again over the course of the week, I confess that we both began to wonder if perhaps we'd been too hasty in our judgment.  By mid-day yesterday, models were showing a sustained period - 3 to 6 hours - of temperatures in the 28 to 30 degree range.  The HG and I had to make a decision: did we unearth the frost cloth and old sheets from the depths of closets and the garage, then venture forth into the chilly and breezy afternoon to cover those plants which were not only tender, but valued?  

Coral vine
Readers, we did not.  We sat in our warm and comfy living room, read the latest Darling Dahlias cozy mystery from Susan Wittig Albert and told ourselves that we'd leave the fate of the garden up to Mother Nature.  The frost cloth and sheets remained in the closet and garage, and we remained warm and comfy.  

Ribbon Bush, Hypoestes aristata
And we chose well ... The HG's first thought upon waking was to check the temperature.  37 degrees is unseasonably cold but not cold enough to damage most of the plants on my corner of Katy.  We haven't gone walkabout yet to survey the garden but when we do, we don't expect to find anything of real concern.  We were ready to say goodbye to the coleus, anyway!
Coleus after being slapped around by Mother Nature

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Where We've Been ... and Where We're Going: July 2014

Bees do love the poppies!
When last we posted, a brief report for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day back in April, the Head Gardener and I were in serious spring gardening mode.  Much to our delight, spring hung around longer than usual throughout the Houston area and the temperatures were remarkably pleasant in May and even into June.  
Rudbeckias blooming at Industrial Country Market on
Highway 71 West going towards Austin

We took full advantage of the balmy weather in May.  In the midst of cleaning out spent spring annuals, pulling weeds and spreading compost, the HG also talked me into enlarging the paths in the back garden, which necessitated moving moss rocks around and toting bags of decomposed granite from the truck to the back.  She SAID that reducing the beds in size would make them easier to maintain and she was unanimous in that.  As frequently happens with these ideas of hers, we traded future ease of maintenance for some damned hard work in the here and now.  First my left knee and hip began complaining and once they'd settled down, the right knee joined the party.  I keep telling her we should hire some stronger younger helpers but she refuses to listen, obstinate woman that she is.  However, she did agree to wait until fall to finish enlarging the paths.  

Pineapple Guava (Feijoa sellowiana) blooming at the
Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum in Savannah. I didn't
know it was even possible for them to be that floriferous!
May was also notable for the long weekend spent in Savannah, Georgia with some garden blogging compadres. We saw some delightful gardens, met some wonderful Southern gardeners and came home refreshed and ready to get back to work here at Wit's End.

Purple coneflowers, all self-sown
June was notable for a less than felicitous reason: as I was working in iPhoto on my MacBook, one second I had 14,700+ photos ... and the next, they were gone.  With the help of the Genius Bar at the Apple Store, perhaps 9500 of them were retrieved.  The rest are gone, including, I fear, those I took at Garden Bloggers' Flings in Seattle, Asheville and San Francisco.  I've stopped kicking myself for not backing up my files but thinking about it does make me sad.  

Last week in the front gardens ... the Crocosmia/Montbretia
have been spectacular this year!
Speaking of the Garden Bloggers' Fling, this time tomorrow the Head Gardener and I will be in Portland, Oregon for the 7th annual Fling.  We're excited to visit a city which we've heard praised for its gardens and we were looking forward to the cooler temperatures Portlandia usually boasts in July.  I say were because the forecast is now calling for 90+ degrees all 3 days.  This happened in San Francisco last year ... I'm beginning to think we Texas bloggers are a jinx.  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Time Marches On: Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day March 2014

This is the sight that greeted me on the morning of March 4, 2014, a day that shook my faith in my skills as a meteorological forecaster.  Next year, when friends and passersby ask me at the end of February or beginning of March if I think it's safe to plant/prune/whatever, I have an answer ready: "remember what happened this time last year?"

I am thankful to report that despite being laid low by the combination of rain and an extended period of sub-freezing temperatures, the garden has rebounded somewhat as of this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day*.  True,  the toadflax are still flopping, much to the displeasure of the Head Gardener, who would prefer we be much more ruthless in our thinning of seedlings.  

Many of the roses were set back by the unforeseen cold snap: tender new growth and younger buds were damaged.  The blooms on the 'Anna' and 'Dorsett' apple espalier were at a critical point. Tiny apples were just forming and those are now dropping off the branches.  New blooms have taken their place, though.  

And the formerly bedraggled bluebonnets are bursting into bloom!  

*Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol of May Dreams Gardens.  Thanks, Indy!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

It's Not Like I Haven't Thought About It ...

Blogging, I mean ...

I thought about it when I was in Austin at the end of October, enjoying the spectacular views from Mount Bonnell and the balcony of my friend Marcia's amazing home nearby.

I thought about it in mid-November when the Mexican Plum and 'Rising Sun' redbud put on their fall colors at least 6 weeks ahead of their usual time.  

I thought about it on my birthday on November 23rd ... which was one of those milestone birthdays that you can't imagine yourself actually being when you're in your 20s. 

I thought about it in the unseasonably cold days following my birthday, when temperatures dipped almost to freezing on a couple of nights.  Truth be told, I was glad to walk outside when it warmed up and see that the blooms on the coral vines had been zapped by the cold.  I'd been wanting to whack that vine back for a while but I held off so the bees could enjoy it as long as possible.

I thought about it when I saw the first goldfinch of the year at the feeders during that cold spell.

2009 Confinchion
I thought about it when I did whack the coral vine AND the passion vine back the weekend after Thanksgiving. When I stopped in the middle of the process to check my FitBit tracker for my step count, the FitBit wasn't there, necessitating a careful but worried search which took me almost an hour.  I finally found it in the pile of discarded plant material on the patio, caught on one of the vines.  

There was almost this much vine to go through. Picture from 2008.

I thought about it when I built a fire in the firepit I created from what I think is an old sugar kettle found at an antiques shop on Magazine Street in New Orleans, old grates from a Jenn-Air cooktop and a firepit cover plucked from a neighbor's on trash day.  

I thought about when I made my annual pilgrimage to Glenwood Cemetery on December 5th to work at my friend Mary Beth's gravesite.  She always made much of the fact that I was 12 days older than her and affectionately called me an old hag.  Since it was a milestone birthday, I spent some time enlarging the area to include her parents' gravestones, then took a break to go shopping at Wabash Antiques and Feed Store on Washington Avenue. My sincere thanks to the good folks at Wabash who loaned me a watering can so I could water in the herbs I bought from them to plant in MB's bed. Just after I began to dig, the sprinkler system in that part of the cemetery kicked on.  Oh, how MB would have laughed to watch me attempting to dig and plant in between dodging the sprinklers!

Today, though, I didn't just think about blogging ... I did it!  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: October 2013

The lantana was purchased on clearance at Lowe's a couple of years ago for
 the whopping sum of 25 cents. I believe this plant has offered the best rate
of return on investment ofany in the garden!
The Head Gardener and I are cautiously optimistic that we have seen the end of 90+ degree days ... we're not celebrating just yet but give us another week and we'll break out the good champagne and congratulate each other on having survived another summer. It was touch and go there for a few days in early October after a trip to San Francisco had us fearing our ability to tolerate hellacious heat & humidity had been forever compromised.   But what a difference rain and cooler temperatures have made in the gardeners and the gardens of Wit's End!  Smiles are plentiful and blooms are bountiful!  Here's a sampling of the latter for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

The ex-Asters are in full and glorious bloom.

Russian Sage, Fernleaf Lavender & Ex-Asters share a
bed with Rock Rose and Pink Muhly Grass.

The purple Salvia 'Amistad' has been spectacular.
That's white lantana in the foreground.

It's been a good year for the coral vine.

Cassia splendida 'Buttercream' 

Hamelia, Pink Turk's Cap and Thryallis
are the dominant plants in this picture.

The corner bed: Cuphea, lantana, Bauhinia, Abelmoschus,
Pink Muhly Grass ... and more!

Another view of the corner bed: Pink Muhly Grass, Gaillardias,
Calylophus, Lantana, Turnera ... and more!

These zinnias keep pumping out the screaming red-orange blooms.
The HG shudders at the mankiness of the foliage but I remind her
that the butterflies, like honey badger, don't give a ...

The bed along the garage wall has been a real feast
for the eyes this year.  Giant aloe, spiderwort, coneflowers ... and more!

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is hosted by Carol of May Dreams Gardens on the 15th of each month.  Thanks, Indy Gardener!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wildflower Wednesday: On The Road to Round Top

It's that time of year again ... just when the Head Gardener and I are both thoroughly sick of summer, and quite certain that nothing could make being outside worthwhile, the roadside fields of Central Texas go wild.  All along Highway 237 and Highway 159, they'll be popping up everywhere ... those harbingers of fall that bring joy to even the HG's hardened heart.  

I speak, of course, of the antiques and junk dealers who blanket said fields with all manner of rusty stuff.  Heat be danged, the HG and I are on a mission!  We saddle up FloraBob, the little green truck, and we're off to explore the highways and byways in search of yard art.  Sometimes we also find botanical treasures that make our heart sing and so it was today.  All along the roads to Round Top and Warrenton, we saw white rain lilies blooming profusely.  Happily, we were able to pull over and grab some quick pictures to share with y'all for Wildflower Wednesday.  

And, yes, not only did Central Texas get some blessed rain this past week ... so did my corner of Katy!!!!!