Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tired of the Monkeys Stealing Their Idea, the Cardinals Strike Back!

Risking the wrath of simians around the world, the cardinals enlisted the aid of a sympathetic sculptor to capture them in the pose too long miscredited to a menage of manky monkeys! At long last the true originators have been revealed. Rumor has not yet been substantiated that the accompanying catchphrase was also mangled by the monkeys' machinations and that the final word was originally "weevil".

Another rumor can be substantiated, however: the Head Gardener can verify that the blogger from this corner of Katy celebrates her first blogiversary today. My first post was written for my blog on the Houston Chronicle's website on December 29th, 2007. It's been an eventful year in this blogger's life, with too many of those events unhappily memorable ones. But along with the sadness that has been so much a part of this year, there have been many happily eventful moments, more than a few of which resulted from my becoming a blogger. By far the most memorable of those events was the Garden Bloggers' Spring Fling, held in Austin April 4th & 5th. Although I'd only been blogging for a few months, and knew very little of other blogs and the whole blogging process, any hesitation I felt about joining in soon vanished. Being amongst fellow gardeners and writers was an experience I look forward to repeating in May of 2009, when garden bloggers assemble in Chicago for the 2nd Annual Spring Fling.

I said back in October that my goal for my second year of blogging was to post more frequently, even if many of those posts were briefer. I'll see how that goes ... what I love most about the blogs I read is how clearly each person's voice shines through and how well you come to know them through their blog. Staying true to MY voice may mean I continue on the rather rambling journey which blogging has been for me this past year. Or perhaps it will be a different journey entirely, given that much of this year has been colored by my grief over the loss of my beloved friend and gardening compadre Amy. Wherever it takes me, I look forward to this journey, to the company of fellow gardeners and bloggers I've already met and come to know, and to those I'll meet along the way. My life is richer for it all.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Still Colorful on My Corner of Katy!

"You might give some serious thought to thanking your lucky stars you live in Texas."

It's the 15th of the month and savvy garden bloggers around the world know that's the day on which Carol of May Dreams Gardens invites us to share what's blooming in our gardens. Despite last week's unexpected and unusually early visit from Old Man Winter, it's still a bountiful Bloom Day here on my corner of Katy. The picture above is a view of the garden in back. Note the lovely new fence enclosing the back, with which I am very happy EXCEPT for the fact that we waited years to replace the old fence, secure in the belief that a hurricane would decimate it. Not one picket was damaged by Ike's winds, not ONE. Hmmphh. The executive producer used this as an argument against replacing the venerable fence: "If a Category 2 hurricane didn't blow it down, it's in good shape." The Head Gardener, however, also serves as the Head Trustee of this corner of Katy and as such was the one in charge of decidingwhether a new fence was needed. Since the Head Gardener also serves as Chief Financial Officer and as such is in charge of disbursement of funds, the executive producer was overruled. The new fence certainly does set the backyard blooms off nicely ... and thus I segue back to the subject at hand ...

The roses are loving the cooler weather. First, a collage of some of the roses that are blooming right now:
I'm really tickled that worked! I've been attempting to teach myself some new tricks blogwise and here's another example of what I've learned (with thanks to Vertie at Vert for her how-to post). Here are closeups of two of those pictured in the collage, the eternally lovely Souvenir de la Malmaison and blushing beauty Reve D'Or. (Upon publishing this post, I saw that the pictures were too large to fit into the post frame so I've edited them to fit better. Obviously I still have some tricks to learn!)

The front garden is hot, hot, hot despite recent chilly temperatures. Clockwise from the top left, we have Copper Canyon Daisy, Rudbeckia hirta (one of the Susans that Gail of Clay & Limestone loves so much), Fruit Cocktail shrimp plant, Salvia regla, Salvia coccinea '
Forest Fire', the seed pod of Yellow Butterfly Vine (Mascagna macroptera?), Cuphea macropetala, Mexican Turk's Cap, Salvia blepharophylla and Variegated native Turk's Cap (a little weatherbeaten):

Batface Cuphea (Cuphea llavea) is so cute that it gets a closeup of its own, which shows exactly why it deserves its name!

Amongst the plants blooming in the back gardens you'll find Purple Coneflower and alyssum, Sweet Almond Verbena (Aloysia), Clerodendron, Salvia farinacea, Purple Fan Flower (Scaevola), Madame Antoine Mari (actually in the rose bed on the alley corner), Gartendirektor Otto Linne rose, Pansy, Fernleaf Lavender (Lavandula multifida), Lilac Penta, Ruby Crystals grass, Pandora/Bower Vine, Amazon Dianthus, Salvia 'Otahal', Scaevola again, an old rose that might be Martha Gonzales and might not (it's not Knockout although it does look very much like it), and Coral Woody Penta (Rondeletia).

Much to my delight, the multihued Melusine Amaryllis decided to get in on the Bloom Day festivities, opening two blooms today. The veining on her leaves is actually much greener than I could capture with the camera. I still think I need more Amaryllis!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Amaryllis By Morning

Most of the Central Texas bloggers will be posting about yesterday's wholly unexpected and totally bizarre snowfall, although I expect our friends in more northerly climes would quibble about our calling it that. Nonetheless, to experience snow flurries at all is out of character for us and to experience them before our average annual first frost date is just plain weird. Here on my corner of Katy, the flurries were so light as to be too miniscule to capture on camera. So I thought I'd share something else unusual here: the beauteous blooms of two very different Amaryllis.

I purchased the charming Chico from Isn't he the cutest thing? I love the way his blossoms twist and turn. What a character he is ... he makes me smile every time I look at him.

For sheer drama, though, I am in complete and total awe of Red Pearl. This photograph is the closest I've come to capturing her amazing depth and intensity of color. I've never been that big a fan of red Amaryllis but I am SO glad I took a chance on Pearl! Not only are her blooms immense, but they're such a deep rich red they're almost black. She has four huge blooms on one stalk and another stalk is close to budding out. She is definitely a gem! While I purchased this bulb at Enchanted Forest, I did a Google search and found several sources for it online.

As for the rest of my Amaryllis, La Paz has 4 blooms open on its second stalk and the 3rd stalk is budding out. That's LaPaz in the back of the lineup. Melusine is the middle child, preparing to burst forth with her first blooms, and that tiny little guy in front is Moonlight.

Papilio is also growing more slowly than his compadres. I'm willing to wait for him and Moonlight: every child is different, after all, and their times will come, too.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Little Mama Gets Into The Holiday Spirit!

Much to the surprise of the Head Gardener, the Executive Producer here on my corner of Katy suggested that the new trellis would look quite festive lit up for the holidays. Little Mama sparkles and shines in her Christmas finery! (She's that green blur on the right side.)

blog post photo

Less than 3 months post-Ike, this is Little Mama as she looks today:

A recap for those readers who are new to my corner of Katy: Like so many others throughout the Houston area, my yard and gardens took a hit from Hurricane Ike. I reported post-storm on the downing of the trellis outside my breakfast room window, which was planted with angel wing jasmine. Less than a week post hurricane I had a beautiful new trellis but was faced with a decision. I'd initially hoped to save most of the main vine, dubbed Big Mama, but it very quickly became clear that her considerable size made that a much more arduous and lengthy task than I was willing to undertake. So after some research and consultation with other gardeners, Big Mama went on a drastic weight loss program and was renamed Little Mama. If you'd like to read more about Little Mama, check out my posts on September 15th, September 28th and October 5th.

Monday, December 1, 2008

See Beautiful La Paz Without Leaving Home!

Our tour of La Paz begins here, where we see this beautiful jewel in the light of the morning sun.

La Paz looks very different in the shadows:

And casts its own shadows in yet another view:

I was a little puzzled as to why this Amaryllis was named LaPaz since it's not particular peaceful in appearance. After reading the seller's description of it, though, I assume this Amaryllis is named after the city in Bolivia: Exuding the warmth of steamy South America, La Paz reveals a saucy allure rarely found in amaryllis. Dark coral upper petals and lighter lower ones suggest movement, dance, the tango, perhaps? Pot up La Paz to warm your winter home or plant La Paz outdoor for an early season heat wave. Whatever the origins of its name, I am muy contenta that it was one of the amaryllis I purchased from the website I wrote in my ten year garden journal that I received my order on November 12th, not quite 3 weeks ago. Since two stalks were already showing on La Paz, I planted it within a couple of days of receiving it. My November 17th entry notes that La Paz had 2 stalks, one 9 inches tall and the other 5 inches. There are 3 stalks now so I'll be seeing a lot more of lovely La Paz in the future.

I owe my newfound interest in Amaryllis to my friend Twerp, who encouraged me (in no uncertain terms) to buy Neon Rose when we were shopping at a local nursery. When it bloomed 2 weeks after being planted, I was hooked. I made a return trip to Enchanted Forest and came home with Red Pearl, Melusine and Moonlight. Red Pearl promises to be a stunner, with huge velvety blooms so red they're almost black. Melusine is described by
m as like just picked strawberries and cream mixed together. Moonlight, the slowest to break dormancy thus far, is just now showing its tips. Eventually it will have lovely cream and pale green blooms. Once I got those potted up, it occurred to me that perhaps there were other amaryllis available online, which is how I came to find They wooed me with exotic amaryllis: how could I resist Chico, described as having petals that arch backwards like the wings of a fantastic tropical bird, in shades of ivory, green and burgundy? Or Papilio, the most famous of the butterfly amaryllis, and Rembrandt Van Rijn, white with crimson veining across the top of the flowers. So there are now 7 pots of Amaryllis scattered about my living room (Rembrandt Van Rijn still awaits potting ... I'm holding off until I see tips showing, hoping to extend the bloom season).

But you know, I had to go back to the website to check descriptions for this post and I think maybe I should have ordered Giraffe and Lima. Ruby Meyer, too. They're still shipping ...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Autumn's Golden Gown

Fall color is quickly becoming a dim memory for gardeners in colder climes but here on my corner of Katy, it's just coming into its own. The Copper Canyon Daisies which started blooming on November 1st sport masses of yellow-gold blossoms and they're not yet at their peak. Tagetes lemonii is the botanical name of this awesome perennial. I raved about it on November's Bloom Day and you'll probably hear me rave about it again before winter is done with us!

This river birch is the only plant left here on my corner of Katy that was planted by my mother. My parents bought this house in 1990 ... it's just blocks away from our first home in the neighborhood. My dad passed away in 1995 after a long illness and until 1997, my mom rattled around here by herself. When EM and I decided that our family had outgrown our small one story house, we offered to buy this one from my mother. Bless her heart, she's watched me systematically dig up everything she ever planted ... except this tree!

One of my favorite small trees is Mexican Buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa). It has both fall and spring color: before the leaves emerge in the spring, the branches will be covered with small pink blossoms. I also love it for the architectural growth habit: the branches bend and curve very gracefully.

Looking at these pictures, I was reminded of a phrase from the Moody Blues song, "Forever Autumn", so I chose that as the title of this post. Long ago, far away, I was introduced to the Moody Blues, and many other wonderful musicians, by my first love. The romance didn't last, but the memories and the music have stayed with me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Anyone Recognize This Fine Fellow? Or Lovely Lady?

I walked outside late Monday afternoon, thinking I'd put something decorative up on the front wall at the south end of the house. As I turned the corner, I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a magnificent hawk sitting on the wall. Never before have I been that close to such a bird: it was truly an awe-inspiring moment. We regarded each other briefly, and then s/he flew up into my neighbor's pine tree. Not wanting to miss even one second of watching it, I called to my daughter to bring me my camera. She was as awed as I was to see it and watched with me as I took the hawk's picture. I was only able to get this one shot before s/he flew away.

I'm hoping a sharp-eyed reader will be able to confirm his identity for me. Based on this picture and the description I gave to a birder friend in Iowa, we think it's a Cooper's hawk. Although sharp-shinned and red-tailed hawks were a possibility, we ruled them out based on size. The wall s/he was perched upon is just over 36 inches long and there were only a few inches of clearance on either side of the hawk. Its coloring was more of a light to medium brown than gray, and its very broad breast was streaked with that color. Its tail was rounded at the end but I didn't get a close enough look at it to see the bars that would have definitely IDed it as a Cooper's. I was too shocked and thrilled to notice!

UPDATE: I posted this on my blog at the Houston Chronicle and the estimable Birdwoman confirmed that it is indeed a Cooper's.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Yesterday Was Bloom Day but ...

I was too busy actually working in the garden to take pictures. Fall weather finally found my corner of Katy: I took full advantage of the cool temperatures and sunny skies and did my best to ignore the stiff breezes. I finally took off my gloves about 4:30, came in to grab the camera and proceeded to snap my way around Wit's End.

I planted these Amazon Rose Dianthus a couple of weeks ago. I think I may have to add a few more around the garden.

This is 'Teresa', a Salvia greggii mutation discovered by Texan David Steinbrunner and named after his wife. I bought this plant at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center fall sale in 2006 and was so underwhelmed (despite their rave reviews) that I had almost given up on her. Earlier this year I moved milady Teresa to this spot under an east facing window, where she's protected from the afternoon sun, then pretty much forgot about her. Evidently she thrives on inattention! Note that she's reverting to her parental hot pink on one branch.

One of my favorite old garden roses is Gartendirektor Otto Linne, seen here with the first bloom on Winter Honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima. The latter's leaves still show the stress of too little rain over the summer and too much Ike in September.

It's not a bloom, per se, but the rosettes of this Flapjack Cactus, Kalanchoe thrysifolia, are as lovely as any bloom in my gardens.

I think I've found just the right spot for the Salvia regla, Mountain Sage. This one has been growing in front of my courtyard wall in the front garden for a year or so now. It's a little leggy, but I think some judicious pruning next year is the answer. When I saw one gallon pots of it at The Arbor Gate recently, plants that were covered in these red-orange blooms, I admit it: I succumbed to their lure. I need to get planted out today!

While I don't have much fall color in the usual sense of the phrase, I do have an abundance of fall colors in the garden. The Copper Canyon Daisy, Tagetes lemonii, is just getting started. Some gardeners find this plant an overenthusiastic grower and complain about its sprawling habit. I'm not one of them, though: how can I not love a plant that will soon be covered in these bright yellow blooms and continue that way through January? It responds well to pruning, even welcomes it. It's also a great passalong plant, since it roots where it touches.

Cigar Plant, Cuphea macropetala, sports tubular yellow and orange blooms.

Butterfly Vine, Mascagnia macroptera, clambers up, over, around and through whatever's nearby. It snakes along the ground and roots where it touches, making it another great passalong.

This purple Lantana is an upright variety introduced here in Houston by grower Heidi Sheesley of Treesearch Farms. Her description of it: Lantana trifolia - Fruity Pebbles Lantana – An unusual lantana, featuring highly ornamental fruit clusters. Flower clusters are lavender-pink. As the blooms fade, flower spikes elongate to form popcorn-like spikes of shiny lavender
fruit. Tough, perennial shrub averages 3’ tall. Sun, Moist, well drained soil. Also known as ‘Lavender Popcorn’ Lantana. The name comes from the fragrance of the flowers: they do have a faint aroma of Fruity Pebbles cereal!

One last picture and we'll call it a Bloom Day ... this is Purple Iochroma, Iochroma cyanea. I love these blooms but the plant gets a little rangy. I'm wondering if it would respond to more frequent light pruning but now is not the time to find out!

Thanks, as always, to Carol of May Dreams Gardens, our congenial and entertaining host for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Check out her Bloom Day post and those of her commenters to see what's blooming around the world!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

So Much for Good Intentions ...

Didn't I say recently that I was going to make an effort to post more often? I wish I could say my failure to do so was due to my spending hours on end in the garden each of the last 10 days. I've actually spent more time inside than out, highly unusual for me at this time of year. Looking back at my ten year garden journal, here's excerpts from my entries:
  • November 4th: Cloudy & humid. Replanted Reggae Time agaves because they were rotting. Put them in small pots on DR patio. [That was all I did that day.]
  • November 5th: Worked in back, spread pea gravel beside pond ... manure/compost/humus in River Birch bed. Feeling out of sorts, not enjoying my time in the garden.
  • November 6th: Come ON - when is it going to feel like fall again?
  • November 7th: Weather a bit cooler, very sunny. Worked in rose bed and along DL bed.
  • November 8th: Clear and cool at 8 a.m. First flock of geese today! Worked in back ... Worked on streetside vitex/pruned. [I was out most of that day, I remember that, because it was so lovely.]
  • November 9th: Arbor Gate with Mom. 2 Salvia regla, 1 Anthony Parker Salvia/lavender (why did I let salesclerk talk me into that?), 1 Stokesia, 1 Purple Woods Aster, 2 Mexican Oregano, 1 Clerodendrum Musical Notes ...
  • November 10th: Raining at 8, started up again later. ... Rained most of afternoon. No gardening today.
  • November 11th: Unpleasantly warm & humid. Sun in & out. No rain as of 3 pm here.
  • November 12th: Major storms from midnight till 3 am or so.
So I've only spent significant time in the garden 3 out of the last 10 days. I wish I knew what in the name of Chipping Sodbury I did the rest of the time!

The pictures are of my Neon Rose Amaryllis. Purchased on October 25th and planted on the 27th, the first blooms opened on November 10th, exactly two weeks after planting.

Monday, November 3, 2008

How To Get Ready for A Day In The Garden

Roust yourself out of bed and begin searching for your gardening togs. Once you have found them, assuming they're not in the laundry room which can't be entered because that's the dog's sleeping chamber and you don't want to get her up yet, place the clothes upon your body and reassure yourself that that hole in a strategic area of your shorts really isn't that noticeable and you'll be careful not to bend over with your back to the busy street.

Put the water on to boil for coffee, and tell yourself for the 222nd time that you really ought to just use the danged coffeemaker even if it does take up valuable counter space. While water boils, check e-mail, Plurk, Twitter and gardening blogs.

Make coffee and head out, balancing mug in one hand and generous pinch of fish food in other, to feed the fish and take a walk around the gardens. Savor the first sip of coffee, being careful not to inadvertently eat fish food instead.

After feeding fish, spot noxious weeds that must DIE!DIE!DIE! and yank them while sipping. Look around to find where you put the weed bucket for that area and realize you need to deadhead a whole truckload of plants.

Slap at mosquitoes who are unaware that you haven't really started your day in the garden and are therefore off-limits to them. Spill coffee in process of slapping.

Acknowledge that mosquitoes have limited intellectual capabilities and therefore don't understand the rules.

Stand and stare at one particular spot in the garden. Contemplate. Slap another mosquito and return to house to fix another cup of coffee, eat breakfast and read paper.

[INTERMISSION during which above activities are accomplished.]

Unable to resist lure of computer, stop at desk to check e-mail and Plurk. Make self step away without answering anything.

Unlock front door, removing "good" clogs as you do, step out door and into garden clogs, open front gates. Remind self you need to put on insect repellent to discourage the wee beasties.

Remember that bucket with garden tools is in back, walk all the way around the house and go through back gate to find tools.

Stop to admire the view from the gate and sigh in delight at the beauty you see. While squinting, realize that wearing visor would be a good idea. Go inside to find visor. Stay well away from computer. Realize that you need gloves, as well.

Put on gloves, then recall that you never did put on insect repellent. Take gloves off and apply OFF. Put gloves back on.

Find keys to truck so you can move it and unload the bags of soil. Discover that it's hard to put key in ignition with gloves on. While taking them off, think to yourself that it might be a good idea to make a visit to the necessary room.

Upon exiting necessary room, see that dog needs to go out. Let her out in the back and think about what you can do out there until she's ready to go in, since she had surgery recently and shouldn't be left unattended.

Putter in back while dog does her thing. Remember that you need to move that tool bucket out front before moving truck, so leave dog briefly to walk through house with bucket. On way to put tools outside, pass rolling plant saucer that has been sitting by the front door since Hurricane Ike and think to self you really need to do something with the 2 pairs of pruners, hammer, sprinkler, fairy house and disgruntled fairy that are lying on said saucer.

Return to back and look for dog. Call dog several times before she limps into sight. As she makes her way inside, hear cardinal calling and realize that bird feeders are empty. Put dog in house and go out to garage to get birdseed.

Fill feeders, apologize to birds for not doing it sooner, pause for a moment to watch a butterfly in flight. Return to garage, put up seed bucket, find keys in pocket and move truck out front.

Think to self that unloading and spreading soil does not really feel like gardening. Give self stern talking to and FINALLY ... start day in garden!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday, Monday ...

It's a cool and windy Monday morning here on my corner of Katy. But the sun is shining and the sky is blue, so like Dear Prudence, I hope to go out to play in a bit. I thought I should spend a little time here playing catch-up first, not having posted since Bloom Day. I have every intention of posting more frequently in the months to come since I know my readers are crushed each day that passes without my posting. (Humor me, people, and play along with my fantasy.) It's not that I find myself at a loss for things to talk about ... it's more that I don't have the time to spend writing a lengthy post each day. I should have been an editor: to write, refine and rewrite each post takes at least 2 hours. I'm always thinking of a better way to say something (I just rewrote this sentence twice). I'm approaching my first blogiversary and so I'm setting a goal for my 2nd year to post more often and use fewer words! It's occurred to me before that I don't always have to write at such length ... I tell myself that shorter, pithier posts are possible. Are they probable? I suspect oddsmakers would say not!

At the risk of being accused of Egregious Garden Gloating (EGG ... see this post by Carol of May Dreams Gardens), I can account for my absence by saying that we've had some beautiful fall weather here recently. I've been so busy gardening that I've had no time to write about what I'm doing. And before I get more EGG on my face, let me also say that the spells of good weather have been rudely interrupted by a return to heat and/or humidity several times during the last 12 days. Each time the temperatures drop, I think we're finally done with summer ... only to be stunned within a couple of days by 85 degrees, high humidity and mosquitoes that put Dracula and Lestat to shame. I'm optimistic that by next week, however, the 80s will be behind us. Note: the '80s, however,
appear to be making a comeback: I saw legwarmers in this week's Target ad. A whole new generation gets to be embarrassed by their fashion choices.

I hope I will not be similarly embarrassed by my plant choices when I look back upon this fall's purchases. A trip to Houston's annual Bulb Mart on October 9th netted a Clerodendron wallichii (to replace the one I dug up that took grievous albeit not fatal offense at the indignity); an Alice Staub Toad Lily, pictured above; a Callicarpa dichotoma, Dwarf Chinese Beautyberry; Pipit jonquils; Kronos hyacinths for forcing; and 100 Ivory Floradale tulip bulbs (there's a story behind those, which I'll tell in a forthcoming post.) On a visit to Enchanted Forest Saturday I picked up another Aster oblongifolia (Symphyotrichum oblongifolia). Below, a picture of my aster.

I snagged not only the last aster they had, but sitting amongst a group of shrubs, I heard the plaintive cries of a misplaced plant and discovered Agastache Black Adder. I've not had much luck with Agastaches in the past, although most of them have been the more drought tolerant A. cana varieties. I'm hoping this one will be be so grateful to me for having rescued it that it will settle in and reward me with a profusion of blooms to be enjoyed by the butterflies and hummingbirds.

Yesterday my mother and I took a little trip to Tomball to visit The Arbor Gate, which I've not visited in several years. As it turns out, the directions I found online routed us the VERY long way, taking us 38 miles via I-10 and TX 249 to the nursery's location on FM2920. We learned from a nursery employee that we could take a much more direct route to return home to Katy: Cypress Rosehill Road, which eventually becomes our own Fry Road, intersects 2920 just a couple of miles from the Arbor Gate. I will be making much more frequent visits to the nursery: not only is it closer than I realized, it's an absolute treasure trove of plants. What's more, the nursery staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and kind enough to allow us to overstay our welcome past the stated closing time of 5:00 pm! A bounteous bevy of beauteous botanicals now await planting here at Wit's End.

Clockwise from the bottom right, you see:
  • a Creme de Cassis Hollyhock
  • an Aristolochia fimbriata, Dutchman's Pipe Vine. Pipevine swallowtails, please take note, I bought this for you!
  • two Proven Winners Agaves, Blue Glow and Reggae Time. Both of these pots have multiple plants in them, so I'll be able to divide them and trial them in several different spots ... woo hoo!
  • Phlox Pilosa 'Forest Frost'. The tag says it's pink, but local plantswoman Heidi Sheesley says it's a pure white variety. Dang it, I wanted the PPPP so beloved by Gail of Clay and Limestone. Now I have to buy another plant. I might even have to make a return trip to Arbor Gate this week. Dang.
  • Stokesia 'Peachie's Pick'. The Peachie's Pick I planted last year bloomed so well that I knew I needed more. If I divide it carefully, this one gallon pot should provide me with at least 2 good-sized clumps of Stokes' Asters.
  • Holmskioldia tettensis, Chinese Hat. I looked this up to find out what the species was and had a bad moment when I feared I'd inadvertently bought H. sanguinea, which has bright red blooms. I wanted the pink and purple blooming variety, and fortunately this is it.
  • White Mist Flower, labeled Eupatorium havanense. My blue mist flower is doing so beautifully this year, I decided I'd take a chance on the white one.
  • Salvia Regla, Mountain Sage. I have one plant already, bought either at a fall sale at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center or at the Corpus Christi Botanical Garden. It looks lonely by itself ... in fact, I think maybe I should get one more. I can't plant in even numbers, it violates a cardinal rule of gardening!
  • Not pictured are one Black Prince pansy and a Silver Lace artemisia. I'll stick them in pots somewhere.
It's 11:09 am as I wrap this up, 2 hours since I started writing. What'd I tell you?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Rainy Bloom Day

My sentiments exactly, a fact known to my good friend Genny, who gifted me with this sign recently. It's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day so I shall demonstrate herewith that I am indeed incapable of having just one! But first, a visit to Little Mama: since I last posted, she has rebounded from the drastic pruning I gave her and is now sporting several of these tender green shoots on her carefully rearranged trunks. By next spring, I do believe she'll be lovelier than ever and well on her way to reattaining her original moniker of Big Mama.

We've had some lovely rain showers the last two days. The rain was much needed and therefore entirely welcome ... but it does make photography sessions in the garden a little problematic. I walked outside this morning, camera in hand, intending to take pictures and then spend the morning inside composing a brilliantly worded and beautifully illustrated post. That intention was foiled by the absolutely horrendous humidity level, which caused my camera lens to fog. No matter how quickly I wiped it and then focused, I wasn't quick enough to beat the humidity. I gave up and focused on other things instead (cleaning and organizing the garage, taking the dog to the groomer, more c&o of the garage, picking up the dog at the groomer, watching DVR of HOUSE with daughter). By the time I'd done all those things, there was a break in the rain and I headed back outside. This time the lens didn't fog so badly and I was able to get a few pictures of flowers (with raindrops). (As I review this post before publishing, at approximately 10:15 pm, it is raining again ... that's the second time tonight.)

Summer bloomers continue to provide bursts of color throughout the garden.

Bauhinia galpinii is still recovering from Hurricane Ike but continues to bloom.

Although I've pulled out the older ones, another generation of Zinnias insists on making their presence known in the garden. I love this color with the Blackie Sweet Potato Vine.

Red firespike is strutting its stuff ... I hope there are still some hummingbirds around to enjoy it!

This is a recently planted Dianthera candicans
(kindly pardon the white sheet in the background which
is protecting the roots of a shrub form Evergreen Wisteria
[Millettia] which I liberated from its container and then forgot to plant
before I left for a long weekend in Santa Fe.)

One of many Abelmoschus which have seeded themselves
throughout the gardens.

Although the summer bloomers are loathe to give up their place in the spotlight, autumn beauties are coming on strong.

The leading lady of the back garden right now is this lovely aster.
Formerly known as Aster oblongifolius, she now goes by
the more exotic name of Symphyotricum oblongifolium.
Her tendency to be a rangy beauty can be checked by
cutting her back in spring and summer.

I've also learned this year that toad lilies respond
well to a little pruning in summer, at least here
in south central Texas.

The Cassia splendida/Senna splendida is also coming into its
own as fall makes its way to my corner of Katy. This particular
Cassia can be a shrub or tree. Most of the Cassias at Wit's End are
in the 4 to 6 ft range but I've seen one towering over the roof of a
garage at a fellow gardener's home. One of my favorite things about Cassias:
they're a larval food source for butterflies in the Sulphur family.

There are a few plants that seem to be confused about the season, however, one of which you see below.

After being blown about by Ike and then experiencing an early cool front, the Bridal Wreath Spirea decided it must be spring. I wonder if this will affect the spring bloom?

The roses and clematis can bloom year round here at Wit's End. Roses in bloom right now include Carefree Beauty, Souvenir de la Malmaison, Caldwell Pink, Martha Gonzales, Mutabilis, Madame Antoine Mari, Lafter, Reve D'Or, Highway 290 Pink Buttons, The Fairy, Old Blush, Belinda's Dream and Perle D'Or.

Perle D'Or

This Clematis is either 'Fireworks' or 'Doctor Ruppel'. It's one of the
100 pots of Clematis I brought home from Lowe's clearance
shelves last year. The price? $10.00. Yep, ten dollars.
I distributed them amongst my friends, family and myself. The old
adage that a clematis wants its head in the sun and its roots in the shade
has held true with this one: it's growing in the midst of more
Blackie Sweet Potato Vine.

And now for a list of everything else that's blooming in the garden today (in the order in which I remember them): Cosmos, Verbenas (various), Gaura, Pink Skullcap, Lavender Skullcap, Rudbeckia, Erythrina crista-galli, Batface Cuphea, Hummingbird Cuphea, Echinacea, Rosemary, Silver Oregano, Salvia 'Anthony Parker', Salvia Leucantha, Salvia greggii, Salvia coccinea, Calylophus, Salvia miniata, Turk's Caps (Pam's Pink, Native Red, Mexican), Cuphea ignea 'David Verity', Cuphea macropetala, Pentas, Pink Salt Marsh Mallow (Kosteletskya), Blue Mist Flower (Eupatorium), Duranta, Hamelia, Justicia spicigera, Justicia (Pinecone Shrimp Plant), Bottlebrush, Calliandra, Clerodendron (red/lavender vine), Coral Vine, Sweet Almond Verbena, Persian Vitex, Verbena bonariensis, Ruby Crystals Grass, Miscanthus sinensis, Anisacanthus, Lantana (Denholm White, native pink/yellow), Salvia 'Henry Duelberg', Salvia 'Otahal', Salvia 'Indigo Spires', White Plumbago, Barbados Cherry, Coral Porterweed, Profusion Apricot Zinnias, Spiderwort, Jatrophas (Pink & Red), Rangoon Creeper, Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium), Philippine Violet, Pigeonberry, Australian Violet, Texas Betony (Stachys coccinea). How in the name of Chipping Sodbury did I end up with so danged many plants????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!