Monday, March 30, 2009

Through the Garden Gate: Monday, March 30th

I thought I'd offer some different perspectives this week, so I used the zoom on the camera as I was standing at the gate.

Looking north towards the dining room patio
(that's Purple Iochroma)

Spiderwort and Opie-M poppy

The back fence

Looking south: not that great a shot, but it shows my white Redbud in bloom (and my neighbor's red-tipped Photinias, one of the banes of my existence)

Rosa 'Hermosa', a passalong from my neighbors

Looking east from the front garden gate at the Calliandra in full bloom

A closeup of the Calliandra: I broke my TTGG rule and
walked into the garden to get this shot so y'all
could see the screaming red of the blooms!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pop Go The Poppies ... Well, Some of Them ...

Shirley Poppies (Papaver rhoeas)

Surely these should be sporting buds by now ... but they're not and I still call them Shirley. (I know, this is Sunday, not Punday, but I do enjoy a bit of wordplay.) I direct sowed seeds from Renee's Garden in one of the back beds exactly 3 months ago today. I've not had much luck growing Shirley Poppies from transplants so I wasn't really expecting much from them. It was a nice surprise to recognize the seedlings and watch them grow into lush clumps of plants. I've not seen any buds on them yet, though, and I'm wondering if they're too crowded by other plants (or each other ... as is my tendency, I didn't thin them out after they sprouted.) I checked Renee's online catalog information but it doesn't say how many days till bloom. Anyone know?

While I was out there, I took a picture of the Carefree Beauty rose that burst into bloom this week, surrounded by Opie-M poppies. You almost can't tell which are roses and which are poppies!

Then I spotted this beauty in the process of emerging from its shell. Just after I took the first picture, a gust of wind blew the last of the husk away and just that quick, the bloom was open. Can you spot the bee on the lower right side of the bud? S/he wasn't that happy about being interrupted in its endeavors and buzzed my head a couple of times to let me know s/he had staked a claim on that blossom!

Friday, March 27, 2009

That Was The Week That Was ...

What was marvelous on Monday:

Double Opie-M Poppy

What was over the top on Tuesday:

Texas Betony and Laura Bush Petunia scream for attention in a back border while Sweet Alyssum attempts to keep the peace.

What was wonderful about Wednesday:

The first bloom on the Buttercream California Poppies, which appears to be curling its lip at me. These were purchased from Renee's Seeds and direct sown.

What was thrilling on Thursday:

Aquilegia dichroa, Purple Columbine/Blue Columbine (I've seen it labeled as both)

What was fabulous on Friday:

Doot, doot, doot ... looking out my back door late this afternoon
after the rain had passed

Monday, March 23, 2009

Through the Garden Gate: Monday, March 23rd

The Gate Itself:

By the way, that red rose in the clay pot in the first picture? It's there because the Head Gardener wasn't sure where she wanted it and the thought of having to move it more than once was too daunting to contemplate today.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Through the Garden Gate: March 16, 2009

This is the first of what I hope will be many Monday morning posts
sharing the views through my garden gate.
Spring is my favorite time in this part of the garden.

OK, this one wasn't taken through the gate but it's such a good picture that I must beg your indulgence. This is Annie, the Garden Terrierist.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bedraggled but Beautiful: GBBD March 2009

This is today's view of the Oriental poppy seen in my last post.

We're now on day 5 of rainy weather, for which I am truly grateful and appreciative ... it could continue for another five days and I'd still feel that way! There's a lot blooming on my corner of Katy but many of those blooms are indeed bedraggled. What's a gardener to do when the rainy day coincides with Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day (hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol of May Dreams Gardens)? Well, if you're this gardener, you invite your fellow gardeners to commiserate with you on the soggy state of affairs! So I'm starting off by sharing pictures of some of the dampened darlings on my corner of Katy.

None is more pitiable than the Spiderwort below. I call this cultivar
Zapped, since I dug my original start of the plant from beside Zapp Hall in Warrenton, Texas. The name certainly fits its current condition.

The roses are feeling the weight of the rain and holding their heads up is impossible . Doesn't Old Blush look sad?

Laura Bush petunias are blooming prolifically but most of those blooms look like the one below:

The delphiniums are singing the blues:

Earl Grey larkspur are a delicate shade of mauve which does not hold up well to repeated dowsings.

Lobelia 'Candy Corn', however, is loving the moisture!

Bluebonnets and toadflax intermingle happily in the rose bed.

Toadflax and verbena are blooming throughout the back garden.

The rain hasn't deterred the monarch caterpillars from continuing to munch.

I think of Texas Betony (Stachys coccinea) as one of the more xeric plants so I'm pleased to see it continuing to bloom enthusiastically. True confessions time: that is indeed Laura Bush Petunia hiding amongst the orange Betony blooms. Why I planted the Texas Betony there when it's not compatible with the color scheme, I don't remember. I meant to move it but I don't have the heart when it's doing so well. I just have to find the right companion plants to tie the colors together. It could happen!

I think next year I'm going to plant bluebonnet seeds all along the side wall of the house in the granite path since they seem to thrive there. The Head Gardener is threatening to try sowing bluebonnet seeds in the St. Augustine grass out front as well, just to see what happens. The Head Gardener does a lot of that kind of thing.

Right now, however, the Head Gardener needs to stretch her back, which has been giving her fits since she dug up and moved a sizeable Bridal Wreath Spirea just before the rains started. If only that new shovel she ordered from Gardener's Supply had gotten here sooner ...

Happy Bloom Day, y'all!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Waiting for the Rain No Longer

The first poppy of spring

I jokingly said that I was going to head outside with my camera and see if that would bring on the rain. No sooner did I step outside than a passing shower began to fall. Emphasis on the passing, mind you ... by the time I took this picture and stepped inside, the rain had stopped. :::Cue sound effect of heavy sighing::: I'm doing my best to stay optimistic and believe in the prognostications of the dirty rotten scoundrels who call themselves meteorologists. It requires a huge suspension of disbelief, however, given how many times they've let me down. It does seem that they might actually be right this time. I hear that Austinites got measurable rain overnight, and I'm delighted for them because they need it even more than we do. Here on my corner of Katy, the forecasts call for tomorrow to be cold and rainy. It's chilly and damp today, and the wind is gusting, which is why I'm sitting at my computer rather than toiling in the garden as I have been. It's a good day to ramble on in a blog post about this and that (what Annie in Austin calls thought pops).

I've been watching a pair of house finches lunch at the dome feeder. Wild Birds Unlimited calls them Dinner Bell Feeders ... and that reminds me, for readers in the Houston area, the WBU store on Kirkwood and Memorial is for sale. The longtime owners are retiring and hope to find someone equally passionate about birds to take over. Spread the word! In other bird news, I've had a pair of chickadees at the streetside feeders recently ... although other folks in the area have had them on a regular basis, last week was the first time I'd seen these delightful little birds.

For the last few years, I've done a lot of talking about renovating the courtyard just outside our front doors: putting in paving, making a bench out of the low brick wall that lines one side of the house, changing up the plantings, adding a water feature and a firepit/chiminea. I've finally taken some steps towards actually doing that. I've ordered flagstone for paving and I have a contractor who should be able to do it ... he's been incommunicado for a few days, though, so I may have to find another one. In a perfect world, I'd have a bountiful budget with which to accomplish the transformation from drab to dynamic. Since imperfection rules here at Wit's End, however, I will be unable to rip out the pea gravel sidewalk and entryway path and replace those with flagstone. I'll have to settle for flagstone paving in the bare dirt area you see in the first frame of the collage below. Most of the time the Executive Producer, our darling daughter and I are the only ones who see the courtyard, which is why it's been such a low priority for so long. It's gone through several incarnations and was heavily planted along all sides at one time. Man, looking at the pictures and imagining how other gardeners will view this, I'm really eager to get busy with the renovation. Don't judge me too harshly, I'm begging you! (Pre-Hurricane Ike, I did at least have wall art on most of the walls.)

I'm wondering about replacing the moss rock that borders the small bed with flagstone and then extending that along the wall, then adding another level to make a shelf for a chiminea/firepit (not the one that's there now). In frame 5, you can see the low wall that I had built along the side of the house, thinking I'd be able to add soil almost to the top and plant into that. The bed that ran along that part of the house was problematic because of plants spilling into the path. No one informed me otherwise until AFTER the wall was built that my intended planting scheme would be an invitation for various kinds of disaster (water getting into the house, termites, minor things like that). I've tried planting things that will grow and drape over the wall; I've tried setting pots down inside the enclosure on risers; and I've tried setting pots and planters all along the ledge of the wall. Part of the problem is that watering the area creates a perfect environment for mosquitoes, not exactly the most welcoming of ways to greet one's guests. So I'm pondering the idea of making the low wall into a bench instead. There's an electrical outlet on the house wall, so I could put a water feature there too. Your ideas and input are most welcome, by the way.

And now for some good news ... actually, some GREAT news ... IT'S RAINING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My pond guy called a few minutes ago to reschedule his planned visit for a spring cleaning and tutorial on pond maintenance; he says he and his crew are soaked to the bone and headed for hot showers and clean, dry clothes!

In honor of this momentous occasion, I offer my first ever video:

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Tulips Are Blooming

Amy's island bed,
January 14, 2009

I posted back in January about the day I spent at my friend Amy's, planting Ivory Floradale tulips in her memory. A trip to Enchanted Forest this past Friday, a nursery where we spent many happy hours together shopping for plants and enjoying the beautiful surroundings, left me tired, dispirited and missing Amy badly. So I had to work to persuade myself I should continue on to her garden to check on the tulips' progress and do some spring cleaning in her front beds. Even as I drove down her street, I told myself I wasn't going to stay. But the sight that greeted me in front of her house changed my mind.

Amy's island bed,
February 27, 2009

I ended up spending a couple of hours there, tidying up the beds along the curbs and visiting with Amy's husband Ken. He was particularly delighted that the tulips were blooming in time for their granddaughter's baptism on Sunday, so the family would be able to see and enjoy them afterwards. When I left there late Friday afternoon, it was with a lighter heart, thankful that I was able to be there and see for myself that Amy's spirit lives on in her garden and in the family and friends who loved her.