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 ...