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.