Friday, September 5, 2008

Fabulous Friday

Bauhinia galpinii

While my fellow gardeners in cooler climes are lamenting the passing of summer, those of us who live in Texas are celebrating! Yesterday morning, I was roused into wakefulness not just by EM's alarm going off but by a voice on the radio telling me that it was a cool 75 degrees outside. I found out why the word cool was used when I went out to feed the fish: a weak front had blown in, bringing us drier air and making that 75 degrees an absolute delight. I'd told myself that I'd take yesterday off to run errands, blog, and take care of other minutiae, but one step outside and I was a gardening goner! Such a beautiful temperate day this early in September is a gift that requires the proper appreciation :-) I haven't been able to stay outside past noon for months now but yesterday I didn't come in until almost 3:00 pm. While it's not quite as pleasant today
, that's OK. Yesterday was a harbinger of good things to come ... that first breath of fall enables us to hold on until it's well and truly here. I love the way my garden looks in spring, but I love the way it feels in autumn. Dee at Red Dirt Ramblings posted earlier this week about hearing this time of year referred to as Second Spring. I'm not sure I can get behind that phraseology: spring being followed inevitably by summer makes that term less than felicitous in its associations for me. The best thing about fall for me is knowing that once the mercury drops below 90, and the humidity levels decrease, I have 6 months of reasonably pleasant temperatures to enjoy!

The lack of humidity yesterday made time toiling in the garden a much more enjoyable task. I spent most of my time outside working on the corner bed. The red bauhinia (B. galpinii) continues to wow me with its show of blooms (andwoe me with its seemingly indeterminate growth habit).
The area in front of the bauhinia has been a riot of color all summer with Zinnias, Rudbeckias, batface Cupheas, Texas Betony, Calylophus, Tithonias, Red Rocket Russelia and white Gaura. Heat and drought have taken a toll on the Zinnias, Rudbeckias and Tithonias. It's difficult to yank the Zinnias when the blooms are still plentiful but I made myself do it, since there are plenty more in other spots in the gardens. I did leave a few here and there but will probably pull them in the next week or so. Manky zinnias, you're on notice! That word is a British term for horrible or disgusting. Garden blogger Carol at May Dreams Gardens won an award for the Mankiest Tomato this week, courtesy of the Emsworth Village Show. You didn't have to be a Brit to enter ... had I known, I'd have entered a manky Zinnia! (The one below is only semi-manky.)
As I work in one spot and another, I'm finding myself craving a bit more structure and symmetry to the garden. There's no rhyme or reason to most of my plantings; although passersby and garden visitors may not see the lack of design, I do! Since I'm the one who sees the most of the garden, it behooves me to listen to myself on this matter, don't you agree? The fine folks at Texas A&M's AgriLife Extension Service are offering a 2 day garden design course later this month, which I plan to attend in hopes it will help me formulate more coherent and cohesive planting schemes for various areas. I really enjoyed this post by Frances at Faire Garden: our thoughts have been traveling along very similar garden paths!

One area that I've been working on is coming along nicely: the pond is already becoming my favorite spot to relax. I visited Nelson Water Gardens last week to buy plants for the bog and fish for the pond. Three gorgeous Japanese fantails now call my corner of Katy home. Their names are subject to change upon a whim: since their arrival, they've been dubbed Larry, his brother Darryl and his other brother Darrell. (Unlike their namesakes, they move fast, too fast for me to get a picture!) The bog is now planted with Louisiana Iris, dwarf variegated Acorus, Melon Sword (Echinodorus osiris), Red-leafed Crinum, variegated Acorus, and water purslane. It looks a little bare to me but I'm giving the plants some time to settle in before I add more. Heaven knows I have a surfeit of Louisiana Iris to find spots for, so I can always add those to the bog area! This is a view of the pond from yesterday evening. The water lily bloom is Lindsey Woods; a closeup of the bloom is on my header. It's not only beautiful, it's meaningful and purposeful. This article from Nelson's website tells the story of its propagation and the courageous young woman in whose memory it's named. Since 1999, Nelson's has donated over $31,000 of their sales proceeds from this waterlily to Texas Children's Hospital. I like being a part of their effort.I spent quite a bit of time this week working on the area behind the pond. With EM's assistance, I vanquished (well, I hope I did) the stump of the messy vitex that was sited behind the pond. I say I hope I did because I did NOT dig the stump out. After sawing it off, EM and I hacked at the subterranean remains with a hand ax, severing the roots and hopefully pretty well destroying any chance of viability. Am I overly optimistic? I guess we shall see. After pouring a bit of stumpicide on the shreds of its dignity, I got to work filling the area with a mix of compost, manure and humus. I'm undecided what I'll plant in the space where the vitex was (just to the right of the blue vase/urn/jug in the picture). There's a Clerodendron wallichii not quite visible to the left and I may move it to that spot. It would get a bit more sun there, and fit in nicely with the rest of the plantings. I originally thought to go with a green and white color scheme in the bog and behind the pond. The danged red-leafed crinum interfered with those plans. It's a very cool plant, though, and I think I can forgive its horning in on the pond party.

On the other side of the pond, behind the as yet undisguised electrical box, I've removed an untold number of Barbados Cherry plants (Malpighia glabra). Over the years, they've become aggressive to the point that nothing else could grow in that area. To keep them from spreading, and from growing too high, also requires a fair amount of regular attention. Regular attention is in short supply here at Wit's End and that's one of the considerations in retooling my planting schemes: maximum beauty with minimum effort is becoming a focus when choosing plants. I still need to add new soil to that area and perhaps some organic fertilizer/soil conditioner to help rejuvenate the existing soil. The Harris County Master Gardeners' group usually offers a pelletized chicken manure fertilizer called Microlife at its plant sales: September 20th is the fall sale, if you're in the area. Rabbit Hill Farm products are good, as are those from John Dromgoole and the Natural Gardener, but the granddaddy of organic gardening products in Texas for me is Gardenville. I think I've just talked myself into a trip to town to purchase some!


17 comments:

flowergardengirl.com said...

Autumn brings those kind of feelings around here too. I get out my cinnamon scented candles and reflect just as you have done. It does renew me with hopes of next year's possiblilites. I enjoyed your post today and so glad you got a taste of more comfy days to come.

Meadowview Thymes said...

Wonderful post. I am reading this at work (bad girl!) and dreaming of a spade in my hand. Your pond looks fantastic. I am so impressed with the lily and so touched by the story. Such a tribute. I think your post has inspired me to get going with fall!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Weather like that calls for a change of plans. I see the dilemma with the Zinnias. They're still blooming but the foliage looks skanky. Hard to pull something in bloom, but I think you did the right thing. The pond & pond garden look like they're off to a great start. Too bad you didn't get any photos of the fantails, they are so pretty.

Carol said...

How nice to get caught up on you and your garden. I am envious of the design class, and would love to find one in my area.

Thanks for the nice link!

Pam/Digging said...

I savored that cool morning temperature too. We've got to drink up those days as they arrive with more regularity. Fall is coming! (But it definitely ain't here yet.)

Gail said...

You needed a break from summer, glad the weather cooperated!

It sounds like you have put a great deal of thought into garden changes. To be able to visualize the whole is a skill I wish I had....It's going to be a pleasure to hear your garden plans. Btw, you did a great job on the pond!

Gail

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Hey Cindy,

Glad you're enjoying your fall in the garden. Those lower temps are inviting after such a dreadful summer. Your pond is looking really wonderful after so short a time. I don't know Fantails, but they sound flashy.

Thanks for the linkage love too.~~Dee

Meadowview Thymes said...

Cindy, I loved this post so much,and I love your blog. I left you something on my blog, please visit. I hope you don't mind-I mentioned this post on my blog--I was truly touched by the water lily.

Cindy, MCOK said...

I had a nice set of replies to comments all finished and Blogger went all wonky on me. Now I'm trying to remember what I said.

FGG, today was much more summery than autumnish. I guess the fall preview is over!

MT, thanks for the award and I'm happy to have you mention the waterlily on your blog. Perhaps it will inspire someone else to buy one.

MMD, I'd like to pull the rest of the zinnias but I can't: the butterflies are enjoying them too much. You inspired me to try to get some pictures of the fantails and I was successful, much to my surprise. I'll post them soon.

Carol, one of the teachers for this design class is Bill Welch, who writes about antique roses and perennial gardens for the south. He's a great speaker, and very knowledgeable. I should come home greatly edified!

Pam, you Austinites deserve better weather after the summer you've endured! I'm glad we all got a breath of fall to tide us over until it's here for real.

Gail, I have put a lot of thought into the garden ... it's carrying out those thoughts where I fall short! I can't visualize the whole, either, just parts of it.

Dee, I know you'll be almost as glad as I am to see the last of summer!

Thanks for stopping by, y'all!

Brenda said...

You are so going to enjoy that pond! It looks so inviting. I spend so much of my time outside around my little pond. Once I purchased this house (it was a rental) I dug out a tree just behind the pond. Stuck a heavy rock over the stump and have been pulling shoots out from under it. Have to likely do what you did. But so far it's not bad.
Brenda

Annie in Austin said...

The red in that Bauhinia looks just right for September, Cindy and you've taught me a new word...manky. My few zinnias are borderline manky too- but as long as the butterflies want them, I'll hold off on pulling them up.

It's so funny to hear about Barbados Cherries gone wild and being invasive! My two plants survive winter with some damage and then have to regrow each spring. They're small and haven't had a single flower this year.

The pond looks great! I hope Larry, Darryl and Darrell enjoy their soft life at the Corner of Katy Inn, swimming around the water lilies. But it's a little too hot down there for you to be wearing sweaters every day.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Nicole said...

My bauhinia glapini bloomed for the first time a few weeks ago and I just love the color of the flowers. If yours is an indication of what I can look forward to then that is great!

Cindy, MCOK said...

Brenda, there's only so much heavy digging I can do in the summer heat & humidity. Which has returned with a vengeance, it seems. I knew it would but I'm still feeling despondent about it!

Annie, I have some Barbados Cherries in other areas and they've just started to flower again. My friend Amy bought a couple of one gallon plants several years back and like yours, they never have taken off. She found it very frustrating!

Nicole, when I planted it, I had no idea the red bauhinia would be such a rampant bloomer. Once I saw what it could do, I planted another one over on the south side in front. It seems to take a couple of years for it to really come into its own. I know you'll enjoy yours as much as I do mine!

Tex in the Garden said...

I'm trying to propagate Texas Betony from seed, but I can't find the seed! No matter what time fo year, the seeds seem to drop and scatter before I can get to them. Have you tried propagating Texas Betony, and if so, what is the secret?

Thanks,
Tex in the Garden

Cindy, MCOK said...

Tex, I've managed to propagate it by cuttings but I've never seen it reseed. I'm not sure what the trick is to seed collection ... evidently the folks at the Wildflower Center aren't either. http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=STCO

Sorry I can't be of more help, but let me know if you find out anything!

Anonymous said...

Your garden blog is fabulous! Why didn't I know about it already?? It's amazing how much work you did by the time we saw your garden. Ike truly left his calling card, but you would never know it now. I stand amazed at your expertise.

Tricia said...

Your garden blog is fabulous! Can't believe how lovely your garden was when we were there. From the pictures, I can see how much work you have done. Ike certainly left his calling card, but you would never know it now. Hafta say, I stand amazed at your expertise!