Through the Garden Gate: Monday, July 13th

The view through the garden gate hasn't changed much since last week and the sun is beating down mercilessly in that direction. So I thought I'd show a view through the other garden gate, the one that leads from the front garden to the back. The sign above is one of my many purchases over the years from a booth at the semi-annual Warrenton antiques fair.

Standing at the gate looking into the back gardens, I see that I really need height against the fence. The plants that should provide it have not cooperated. Evidently they are less than happy about the heat and drought. Or maybe they're just in the wrong place. I'll have to do something about that this fall.

This is the view looking towards the street (pardon the neighbor's trailer and truck. He has a bad habit of parking things there and leaving them for months on end.) I still love my dry stream bed. There's a bit of color out here but most of the plants are small flowered so the colors aren't showing up in this picture.

I'd love to know the name of this agave. It's similar to Whale's Tongue in form and color ... if it gets that big, the Head Gardener isn't going to enjoy wrestling it into a new spot.

Okay, true confessions time, in which the Head Gardener admits to not having done her research and is now ruing the day: I planted this Butterfly Vine (Mascagna leptidoptera) on the front side of the fence to the right of the gate. I didn't realize just how vigorously it would grow (hello? It's a vine and this is Houston! What you mean is you were hoping that it would behave as you wanted it to, and not as nature intended.) I've pretty much eliminated all shades of yellow from the back gardens but this little charmer has snaked its way through the fence slats. No way can I untangle it without doing it harm. I've been meaning to plant some butterfly weed there, one of the red and yellow varieties, in the hopes that would bring harmony to that corner. Why the Head Gardener hasn't gotten that done yet, I'm not sure.

In addition to taking a look through a different gate, I thought I'd use these Monday posts to recap the week in the garden a bit. Here's what I've been doing in the small windows of opportunity afforded me before the sun drives me inside.
  • You may recall that the Head Gardener was pretty glum last week because the rain had passed us by. Happily, it did not do so on Tuesday morning. We got maybe 1/2 an inch of rain in 20 minutes. It was enough to refresh both plants and gardener. Just as much appreciated were the lower temps: at 12:55 pm that day, it was 81.2 degrees! Of course, two days later, we were back to business as usual: dry, dry, dry and 100 degrees.
  • The new fountain purchased at Nelson Water Gardens is now adding sound and movement to the courtyard. I bought this at their annual Ding Dang Sale, which started on July 4th, and let me tell y'all, this sucker is heavy. It sat in the truck bed for several days before I found guys to unload and install it. It took 3 guys a lot of effort to get it off the truck and into the courtyard. I think the pump will need a valve added to reduce the flow rate: it's just a tad too rapid and therefore more noisy than soothing! Y'all will have to wait for pictures until I get a little more done in the courtyard. The rock wall remains unbuilt. Yeah, that's what I want to do in the dead of summer, haul rocks around in the sun!
  • My oldest child turned 25 last Wednesday: for the first time in his life, I didn't seem him on his birthday. It was a bittersweet rite of passage for me but I'm so proud of the person he is and happy that he's making a good life for himself. Someday, maybe he'll come to me for advice on gardening but that day will be a long time coming, I think.
  • I harvested about 25 tiny Sun Gold cherry tomatoes. Probably due to lack of attention in the water and fertilizer departments, these were smaller than they should have been but no less tasty!
  • I dug up a Carefree Beauty rose from under a Mexican Buckeye, thinking I'd put the Rangoon Creeper there. Then I changed my mind. The slightly less carefree and much less beautiful rose is being pampered in a pot ... we shall see if it forgives me for disturbing it at this time of year.
  • News flash: a Mexican Flame Vine can be grown in a pot but if you don't water it, it stops growing. Another news flash: if you then transplant it from the big pot into a smaller pot because it's not as well rooted as you thought, and forget to water it, it becomes seriously unhappy. The Head Gardener is forced to interrupt whatever she's doing when she remembers she forgot to water it and run outside to remedy that neglect. Too little, too late?
  • I did some actual planting in the ground on Saturday: two Hamelias, a variegated Turk's Cap, and a Marilyn's Choice Abutilon. The Hamelias haven't even skipped a beat: I shook the soil off their roots a bit (not a peat mixture), puddled them in, pulled the soil around them and then watered thoroughly. I haven't checked on the Turk's Cap (do y'all see a pattern here?) The Abutilon is dropping leaves but looks as though it's only sulking and not in a serious snit.
  • If any of y'all in zones close to mine grow Iris cristata, I'd like your input on whether mine are dying or just going dormant. I can't remember what they looked like last year at this time. I know they were stressed but what I'm seeing concerns me. The fans are sunburned, which doesn't help. Many of them are dying back to the ground and the rhizomes left don't look healthy to me. Chime in, y'all! HELP!
As for the week ahead, the Head Gardener is still less than cheerful about the predicted weather. She's still threatening to run away to cooler climes. Bainbridge Island outside Seattle is a candidate, as are Vermont and upstate New York. For now, however, you'll find her in the coolest corner of the house, waiting for the LAPD to cheer her up once again.


Kathy said…
I vote for upstate NY. C'mon up!
Carol Michel said…
I'm impressed by all the Head Gardener has done, even in the heat. I have great admiration!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens
MA said…
WOW! Things are looking good in the hood there, even if it is 120 in the shade.
I have the same problem of needing something tall against my fence on the outside of the woodland garden. A vine would do the trick nicely and not take up too much space. Then again, maybe it would. As you say, that's Texas.
Pam/Digging said…
Cindy, this heat is a killer, isn't it? I'm amazed that you're planting in it! I do love that cheery yellow butterfly vine though, and I need to find a place for it in my new garden.
Gail said…
You could come here, but it's going to be near 100 in the feel like department! Let's meet in Washington State! gail
Randy said…
Good morning Cindy! I didn't see an email link so I'm responding here.:-) When we make a bed we cut a 45 degree angle "V" about 6 to 8 inches deep (I like them deep but sometimes the ground is too hard). The outer part of the V is as strait up and down as we can make it. Then we cut into it from the inside of the bed at about 45°. That strait up and down cut make is really easy to turn a weed whacker side ways and keep the edges trimmed neatly. :-)--Randy
Yeh, I'm impressed you've done all that in the heat too. All I do is water the potted plants and put out sprinklers. And as early in the morning as I can. Oh, I did start a tomato though. Anyway, I saw your comment on Robin's blog about your monarda. I had a monarda do the same thing. It grew like crazy but only one or two blooms. My guess is because it was in new fluffy dirt that came from the landscape contractors and it must have had too much fertilizer. I think they like it on the lean side. I dug some up and gave it to a friend who planted it in regular soil. She had many blooms and she doesn't even get that much sun!
Rose said…
Sounds like you have been very busy in spite of the heat, Cindy. I'm heading for Portland, Oregon in mid-August, but not to escape the heat--youngest daughter is going to go to school there. I completely understand your feelings about missing your son's birthday; I may be a mess in September:) Brenda and pals didn't disappoint Monday night!
Cindy, MCOK said…
Kathy, I certainly would love to pack up my bag right now and head your way! It's a warm and humid morning. I just don't feel like getting out in it.

Carol, the Head Gardener can get a lot done when she puts her mind to it. She tends to be a bit colorful in her language while working, though. Maybe that's why some plants languish .. their delicate sensibilities are offended.

MA, I try to give an honest view but I also work the camera angles for all they're worth!

Pam, please don't buy the butterfly vine. I can dig one for you really easily. They root where they touch. Repeatedly!

Gail, Washington State sounds good to me. Bainbridge Island is lovely right now, I hear.

Randy, thanks for the info on the edging. I have a daylily bed that could really use that sharp edge. I'll wait till fall to work on that, though!

Jean, thanks for the heads up on the Monarda! I'll move it out to the corner bed where the soil's not as rich and see if that works. I could probably trial it in a few other areas, too, given how it's spread.