Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What I Did In The Garden Today

I walked outside this morning to find the first of the poppies blooming. Isn't it a beauty? For the next few weeks I should see more and more of these lovelies on my corner of Katy, although not in such numbers that I fall asleep amongst them like Dorothy Gale of Kansas!

I spent the rest of the day working in the back gardens, which is why this will be but a brief post. I planted all 8 of the Southern Wax Myrtles (Myrica cerifera), which required wrestling first with a pink Turk's Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus 'Pam's Pink') that had to be dug and then with the remains of the Coral Woody Pentas (Rondeletia leucophylla). I'm so bummed that the Rondeletias didn't make it. I thought they'd be able to return from the roots but they show no signs of doing so. I have one plant left in the ground and I may not dig it for another month just in case. (Plus they have a very tenacious root system and even the idea of digging another one out pains me.) I had to move my Erathemum, too, but its root system was much less contrary.

I also planted the Mexican Plum (Prunus mexicana) tree I bought at Discount Trees and Shrubs outside Brenham; the three Rainbow Sunrise New Zealand Flax (Phormium); and a Banana Shrub (Michelia, can't remember which species) which has been patiently waiting in its pot since November.

I'm seriously considering cutting the Persian Vitex to the ground and allowing it to come back from the roots. There's very little green wood to be found on it anywhere except the bottom portion of the trunk. Good news, though: the Mexican Lime/Key lime tree out front has new growth! There's a lot of dead wood to prune but I'm hoping to get to that tomorrow. And just as I was about to abandon all hope of the Angel Wing Jasmine's returning, I spotted a tiny green leaf bud at the very base of the plant! This calls for a celebration so if you'll excuse me, I'm going to pour myself a glass of vino and sit for a spell outside. Tomorrow I'll be back at it again!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Through The Garden Gate 2010: #1

All that whining and sighing and bitching and moaning and wailing and gnashing of teeth over the long hard winter ... and this is what it brought me. I am so in love with the back garden right now. Would I be able to say that if winter hadn't been so harsh? I think not. There's a lesson there and I am taking it to heart.

My self-imposed rule for my Through The Garden Gate (TTGG) posts is to show it just as it is when I walk out to take the pictures: hoses strung through the beds, pots of this and that waiting to be planted, dirt scattered where I was digging because a bright idea hit me ...

Thanks to my fellow Katy resident Rebecca for asking me if/when I'd resume my TTGG posts and thus encouraging me to start a new series for 2010.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Singing the Blues in Central Texas

Just down the road from the Antique Rose Emporium, a field of bluebonnets beckoned. While only parents of small children are obligated by state law to stop for a mandatory photo opportunity, all native Texans are strongly encouraged to do so. It's possible that's all that's standing between Texans and a state income tax. I know my duty ... I did my part.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Southern Charm

Lady Banks Rose

On the way home from our antiques weekend, my friends and I took a detour through Independence so we could stop at the Antique Rose Emporium. And I left there without having bought even one rose. No, there's not anything wrong with me (well, not anything new, at least). There weren't many roses in bloom yet, which made resisting temptation a LOT easier, as did knowing that there's limited room on my corner of Katy for more roses. Although the HG suggests we could take out a little more grass ...

I did buy three 4-inch pots of Verbascum 'Southern Charm', a perennial whose muted colors will look lovely somewhere in the garden. Don't ask me where exactly ... the Head Gardener hasn't decided that yet.

Our answer to the below was a resounding yes!

The building near the windmill is an old stone cottage from the 1800s.

The Beatrix Potter Garden is designed with children in mind.

I'm not sure what these structures for climbing roses are called. They seem too grand to be called tuteurs.

This is the new sales building, which replaces the original structure that was destroyed by a fire in 2008.

This is another of the outbuildings on the premises.

I'll be darned, we CAN grow Hellebores in Texas!

The Texas Mountain Laurels are in bloom but my allergies prevented me from enjoying their sweet grape soda fragrance.
Can you spot the honey bee burrowed inside a bloom?

Since I was with non-gardening friends, this was a brief visit. I'm thinking I should go back in a few weeks, when the roses are in full and riotous bloom, and make up for lost time!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Greetings from Beautiful Downtown Warrenton

The Head Gardener and I find ourselves in the heart of bluebonnet country today and hope to have pictures to share upon our return tomorrow. We're in the company of good friends (none of whom are quite as eccentric as those pictured above) and expect to enjoy some beautiful spring weather as we search the fields of Warrenton for the funky and unusual to adorn our corner of Katy, although not quite as funky and unusual as that below. See y'all on down the road!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Three for Thursday: March 25, 2010

Today is my mother's birthday ... I won't tell you which one exactly but will use the answer she gave when we were kids: "24 plus". In her honor, today's trio is all about her. (And if my aunt Mary Lue is reading this, for heaven's sakes, don't tell my mother there's a picture of her in this post!)

I get my love of gardening from my mother. She grew up on a ranch outside Victoria, Texas, where her grandmother had a bountiful vegetable garden and the house was surrounded by flowers. Probably because she had to work in the veggie garden growing up, my mom hasn't been big on growing her own veggies. She's been more of a foliage plant person for many of her gardening years but as my passion for gardening has grown, it's awakened her interest in growing more flowers herself. She has a talent for clematis which makes me green with envy and I am determined to equal her success!

She's also proven quite talented at growing orchids: the one below is part of her birthday present.
We'll be celebrating her birthday next week ... today she's out in the garden enjoying the fabulous spring weather and I'm headed to Round Top/Warrenton to hit the antiques fairs with some friends. I'm hoping to find something there to bring home for her to help make this year's anniversary of her birth an even happier one.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wildflower Wednesday: Bluebonnets

Imagine a field filled with these beauties and then imagine several of them. Texas Bluebonnets in spring are a sight beyond compare. If you're driving on a country road in Central Texas in March or April, be prepared for the drive to be a leisurely one. Even if you aren't slowing and stopping periodically to gaze in wonder and delight, other folks on the road will be! And those with small children are required by state law to stop and pose said children in no less than three spots. Seriously. I'm a native Texan, I know these things.

I'll be in the heart of bluebonnet country over the next few days but I suspect the show won't be as far along even 90 miles west of me. I'll take my camera along nonetheless!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March Madness: She Shoots, She Scores!

So I trundled over to Lowe's this morning to pick up some black oil sunflower seeds for the birds. Once I'd loaded 40 pounds of that onto my cart, I headed towards the garden center to check out. (Interjection from the HG: FOUL! You headed towards the garden center to buy plants, THEN check out. Penalty will be assessed later.) The crowds were going wild over the racks of clearance plants and although I did join the mob in the cheering section, I refrained from an overly enthusiastic display of team spirit. (Interjection from the HG: Just barely.)

Shon, a star player on the Lowe's nursery team, pointed out that many of the plants he was marking down were in prime condition, ready to play hard for the gardener's home team. (He just needed to trade some of his players so those waiting on the bench could move up to the big time.) That was certainly true of these 10 pink snapdragons in 6 inch pots, full of blooms and buds, seen here waiting for their chance to get in the game at Wit's End.

Five yellow/pink blend snapdragons joined the Wit's End team as well. They'll be refereeing the rose bed court near the Grand Soleil d'Or Narcissus and a hot pink Salvia macrophylla who are constantly fouling out each other. (Interjection from the HG: If she'd just bought one more Snapdragon, we could have had a Sweet Sixteen of our own.)

How could I leave this his Merritt's Supreme Hydrangea sitting on the clearance rack, when I could acquire such a versatile player for the lowly sum of $1.00?

Same for this hanging basket of Calibrachoa, Petunias and Verbena? $1.00 gave me a player that is being tried out in this position to see how talented it is at blocking ugly telephone equipment.

Although I paid the Lowe's team managers the full asking price for several of these Southern Wax Myrtles (Myrica cerifera), I believe all of the Wit's End team members will appreciate them for their stellar qualities. I'm looking to add some evergreen interest and attract more avian members to the team.

These Rainbow Sunrise New Zealand Flax (Phormium tenax) were the HG's impulse pick. She argued that they would be an excellent addition to the team. (Interjection from the HG: Previous penalty voided because SheWhoMustBeObeyed did not argue with my call.)

What we did NOT do today, however, is plant all these purchases. I'll be away from the garden Thursday through Saturday, so tomorrow may be a VERY busy day!

Monday, March 22, 2010

What the Builder Sawed

I spent every waking minute outside today and I'm tired, tired, tired. I was trying to think of something I could share with y'all ... here's what I came up with. These are the new shelves and cabinets I had my contractor and his guys build for me. The cabinets hold my garden magazines, seeds, and all sorts of assorted garden paraphernalia that I don't want to keep outside. The shelves are for gardening books and dec obs to make it all look purty since I'm not a big fan of ugly.

A big thank you to my friend Kathy Purdy at Cold Climate Gardening, who suggested I look at Lee Valley's website for cabinet hardware. They had the perfect knobs ... the Head Gardener and I believe y'all will be unanimous in that as we are!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Request from the Head Gardener

Please remind She Who Must Be Obeyed of her previous words on the subject of Spiderwort. It's a dangerous time of year on this corner of Katy ... the Spiderwort are blooming and SWMBO is once again allowing emotion to hold sway over intellect. The beauty of their blooms seems to have a druglike effect on her sensibilities, causing her to completely ignore my admonitions that we must be vigilant in our efforts to hold this arachnidian invader at bay.

Even rain sodden, she finds them beautiful. I will admit that I have a particular fondness for this particular variety, partially because it is much more well mannered than its relatives. We found this growing outside Zapp Hall in Warrenton, Texas one spring.

Because of its unusual coloration and less aggressive tendencies, I have grudgingly agreed that we can allow Tradescantia 'Zapp Hall Orchid' (our working name for it) to remain in the garden. However, I am insistent (and I am unanimous in this) that we must assiduously deadhead all other varieties and eradicate any seedlings that appear. We'll see how successful I am in convincing SWMBO.

It's Good To Be Queen ...

Amy once described Queen Anne's Lace as her favorite flower, and dismissed rumors of its aggressive tendencies. When I found plants at a local nursery last year, I bought one and planted it in the rose bed, then scattered seeds around that bed when the blooms were spent. Thus far there aren't enough seedlings or young plants to make me regret that action but it has occurred to me that Amy's diligence in mulching heavily each spring may have prevented QAL from being a pest in her garden. I'll keep an eye on it and see how it behaves for me this year.

She liked pink evening primrose too, awarding it one of her highest accolades: "It's so brave." And she's right, it takes whatever weather or soil conditions or ill-treatment by the Head Gardener are thrown at it and not only survives, but thrives. I planted that in the rose bed a few years ago and now I dismay of ever eradicating it. It's a Hydra of a plant: yank a piece out and 7 more grow in its place.