Monday, April 21, 2008

Earth Day Report from the Head Gardener


In my previous post, I'd talked about feeling a need to simplify, to bring a bit more order and design to my corner of Katy. Standing out in the north 40 yesterday, I was once again feeling overwhelmed: everywhere I looked I saw weeds and unruly plants. That and the fact that summer heat and humidity made an early visit to our area combined to make me a not so happy Head Gardener. There are no Under Gardeners, which is the main reason I feel the above-mentioned urge to downscale. Said urge peaked yesterday midway along the daylily bed and I even briefly contemplated reducing the size of the bed and allowing the grass to grow back. One thing to be said in favor of grass: at least weeds blend in when they're in the midst of the lawn.

But over the course of the day, several neighbors came by on their daily walks and each time, they stopped to talk to me about the garden and exclaim over one plant or another. Some of them thanked me for my efforts. One woman told me that as she walked with her 9 year old daughter and daughter's friend recently, the friend exclaimed at seeing so many flowers. The daughter informed her friend that "one lady takes care of all this". "ONE lady?" "Uh-huh, only ONE!" And THAT reminded me that there's more to why I do this than my own love for gardening or personal satisfaction: it's a way to make a difference in the world and in other people's lives. The visitors to my gardens don't see the weeds and disorder, and if they're overwhelmed, it's by the beauty of the blooms. In honor of Earth Day, here are a few of the blooms they've been seeing. The opening picture is a shot of the rose bed with pink larkspur, white winecup, Gulf Coast penstemon, toadflax, pink evening primroses and pink skullcap all vying for attention.

This is a close-up of the foliage and blooms on the red bauhinia. Carol of May Dreams Gardens, I think you're right: it would not be happy on your corner of Indy! It's hardy to 20 to 25 degrees ... you get a little colder than that, right? ;-)* The winter of 2006-2007, we had enough freezing weather that I had to do some very heavy pruning and take it down to about 3 feet high . This past winter, though, there was so little cold weather that frost damage was minimal and I've only done a little pruning to shape it thus far. I'd been perturbed by how many yellowing leaves I was seeing, thinking that perhaps the lack of rain was making it unhappy. I learned at the website of San Marcos Growers, though, that it tends to be deciduous in spring and should be refoliated by summer.
This is Tecoma stans 'Tangerine', aka Esperanza. I haven't ruled out moving it to a spot where it gets more sun, since it's not blooming as prolifically as it should. I'll give it the summer before I decide .
Here's a stand of Gaillardia at one end of the corner bed:

A close-up shot of some of the blooms on these Indian Blankets:
My oakleaf hydrangea is starting to bloom. We can grow some of the same plants as you more northerly gardeners, we just have to accept that they won't look the same as they do in your pictures or in catalogs!Then there's the Perle D'Or rose in the back garden. I've never seen it this loaded with blooms!

Pam of Digging posted pictures of her Clematis texensis 'Duchess of Albany'. I think mine is 'Gravetye Beauty'. Now that the plant has finally settled into her spot, I think she's a beauty indeed.
One of my garden angels. I was trying to get a shot of the purple columbine blooms (there are 2 of them about 2/3 of the way down her wing). My little Nikon Coolpix isn't up to capturing the shot I wanted (or maybe it's the Head Gardener's lack of photographic ability). Mother's Day is coming up ... I think a new camera might be the perfect gift.

6 comments:

Pam/Digging said...

You make a good point about the giving nature of a garden. It's a gift to the neighborhood when you garden out front. I can see why you'd want to downsize in this heat and humidity though. I felt that way this morning when I went out to trim back the Mexican oregano, coneflowers, and roses, which are already looking a bit jungly in this heat.

That's a pretty clematis you have. I've never seen it before. Also, you remind me that I really need to plant Indian blanket next year.

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

Our style of gardening seems very similar. And as temperatures start to creep into the 90s and the humidity weighs heavily on us and the gnats and mosquitoes start whining, I get the same overwhelmed feeling. Like you, I feel the need to rip all the chaos out and straighten up, to take control.

I think it's a seasonal thing, though.

(After reading your last couple of posts I think I need to get a lot more bags of mulch...or maybe have a truckload delivered.)

Cindy said...

Pam, I hope that cool front forecast for this weekend makes it to Austin AND Katy! It feels way too soon to be dealing with sultry weather. And I imagine y'all need rain as much as we do.

I wss trying to remember where I got that clematis but it eludes me. It might have been March Mart at Mercer Arboretum. I'll look forward to seeing your pictures of Indian Blankets next year!

Cindy said...

Mss, you're right, it IS a seasonal thing. We know there's not much time left before summer weather is here to stay ... definitely not enough time to accomplish everything we'd like!

As for the mulch, I Twittered the other day that there's not enough mulch in the world. There are some areas of my garden that I'm convinced are going to be weedy no matter how much I mulch. Now if I had a full time staff of UnderGardeners ...

Annie in Austin said...

That corner bed looks good in the photos, Cindy, and in person must be a traffic stopper - and with butterfly plants in there you'll attract both butterflies and butterfly lovers ;-]

I've seen white and pink bauhinias but not a red one - very cool!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Cindy said...

Thanks, Annie! I do enjoy seeing passing cars slow down to take in the view. This morning as I walked my garden terrierist (whose name is Annie, and who is also from Austin, BTW), I tried to take it in from the viewpoint of a passerby and I liked what I saw. Sometimes it's good to step back and look at the big picture.