Friday, April 30, 2010

Name That Clematis!

I know this is one of the Clematis I bought at Lowe's a few years back. Anyone recognize it? Record keeping is not my strong suit. Obviously.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I'll Take What the HECK for $100, Alex ...

So I walked outside a while ago, thinking I'd sit and enjoy the cool breeze as the last of the light faded. That plan was scotched by the mystifying absence of the umbrella pictured above. I realize a garden bed may seem an odd place for it, but there's a method to my madness. This is the spot where the Persian Vitex once resided, shading the toad lilies below. Now that I've cut down the PV, the toad lilies are getting full sun for up to 6 hours a day. I'm trying to decide on what kind of tree I can plant that will grow quickly but not aggressively, but I need to do something in the meantime to protect the plants. This 7 foot market umbrella in my signature aqua color was purchased just this morning from Pier One, together with a sturdy umbrella stand. I brought them home and set them up, situated them to provide the toad lilies with the necessary protection from the sun, and then went off to do other things around the garden. I was back and forth between the front and back most of the afternoon and admired the looks of the umbrella each time.

So it was more than a little disturbing to walk out into the garden and NOT see the umbrella. I must have looked like a classic sitcom character in my perplexity. Yes, it's been windy today but windy enough to lift the umbrella off the pole and send it sailing all the way across my neighbor's yard and onto his driveway? That I did not see coming. It was the most logical explanation but my mind boggled at the possibility and I was briefly convinced someone had sneaked into the back and stolen it. But when I walked outside the gate and looked down the alley, there it was on the neighbor's driveway. I retrieved it, none the worse for its journey, and reinstalled it on its pole. I left it closed in case the wind picks up again. Maybe I should name it Dorothy.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Great Rockout of 2010: Day Six

My attack of buyer's remorse is forgotten ... I'm very happy with how the borders turned out! The crew spent the entire afternoon finishing up the rock work. Since the soil yard was unable to deliver my order today, Otahal and the senores will return on Friday morning to spread 16 yards of soil. You heard that right, 16 yards. Holy moly, sacre' bleu and ay chihuahua! That's a lot of dirt!

No more rocking out ... it's time to get down and dirty! Once the soil is in place, the real fun begins! When I post the final installment Friday, I'll talk a bit about what I'm hoping to plant in each area. Otahal brought me quite a few very cool plants from his plant farm: in addition to designing, building, and refurbishing gardens, he's also a plant grower. He and I have had a great time talking plants while he's been here.

Linda from Central Texas Gardener commented the other day that she wished Otahal could come to her garden: all she need do to make that wish come true is call him! He actually lives in Smithville, near Austin, and would be happy to work more in that area of Texas. (Driving 40 miles to Austin is much easier than driving 110 miles to Katy!) If anyone is interested in talking with him, e-mail me at and I'll give you his phone number.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday's Thoughts

Clematis 'Miss Bateman'

Things have been relatively quiet here on my corner of Katy for the last couple of days. Due to mechanical difficulties and parental commitments, Otahal has been otherwise occupied. He did stop by today to measure the beds for the soil mix needed to fill them and plans to be here tomorrow with crew in tow. With the garden to myself, you'd think that I'd be out there from dawn to dusk. While I did manage to get a few things done, I called it quits before 2 pm, came inside and cleaned up, then took a nap. I don't know if I've gotten so acclimated to cooler weather that I can't tolerate the heat or if there's some other reason for my unaccustomed languor. I don't like it, I can tell you that much.

One of the things I discussed with Otahal while he was here was my dissatisfaction with one part of the design. The double-stacked rock border at the back of the corner bed is just 4 feet away from the double-stacked rock border at the front of the large bed around the water oak. There's not enough definition between the two areas when the borders are the same height. So we're removing a layer of rock on the wall behind the corner bed and adding a third layer around a curve of the large bed.

I hadn't mentioned it here but I woke up the other morning with a serious case of buyer's remorse, convinced that the rocks were all wrong and I hated them. Thankfully, I got talked down off the ledge by some of my friends. There's always at least one point in the renovation process, be it home or garden, when I lose faith in my vision and am sure that I've screwed it all up royally. That's where I was Sunday morning. I think just getting soil in the beds will make a tremendous difference in my happiness quotient.

And, of course, taking myself out for a walk around the garden always calms my jangled nerves and brings a smile to my face. For the last week or more, these Indian Pinks (Spigelia marilandica) have made my heart sing. I've tried and tried and tried again to grow these ... finally I've been successful! They're in totally the wrong spot, color wise, but perhaps I can find a way to work around that. I really hate to move them when they've settled in so nicely.

The soft moonlight yellow blooms of the Republic of Texas rose make me very glad I decided to include it in my garden. As a native Texan, I felt duty bound to grow it. And it also makes me smile because way WAY back in my childhood days at Garden Villas Elementary School in southeast Houston, I once twirled a rope to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas" in a talent show.

This lemon yellow daylily is always the first to bloom in the garden. It's also the most prolific of any I grow. Yellow is my least favorite color in the garden but blooms like these (and those of the RofT rose) make me appreciate it more.

This daylily was the second one to bloom. It's a shame I can't remember its name.

Right now I think I'll go sit outside for a bit and enjoy the cool of the evening. Cheers!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Through The Garden Gate 2010: #3

Yesterday may have been a perfect spring day ... today was a reminder of exactly how fleeting such days are. It was not warm, it was HOT. 88 degrees, to be exact, and I was feeling it. Factor in the increased humidity and it felt entirely too much like summer, so much so that I called it a day at 3 p.m. I'm not ready for this, y'all. I'll bet you can hear me sighing.

Ah, well, even if I'm not holding up all that well to the heat, the garden is looking lovely. Although the poppies are beginning to look tatty and I've started pulling them out, the larkspur are coming on strong. I've started seeing buds on daylilies so it won't be long before that show starts.

The white Callirhoe is covered in blooms. These plants spread quite vigorously but they're easy to keep in check. Just cut them back when they get too friendly with their neighbors ... they'll come back quickly.

Remember all those buds on Otto Linne? Isn't he glorious?

Through the garden gate and down the garden path, this view awaits.

Let's take a closer look.

This white larkspur will soon be eclipsed by the plant next to it. The Triumphator Lily is going to take over the leading role in that spot. I'd moved this lily to another spot in the garden but clearly a bulblet was left behind. I believe I'll follow Tim Gunn's advice and make it work there.

Thankfully, the prognosticators say that tomorrow will be cooler. That would be lovely. A few more days of spring, that's all I ask. Well, that and a pox upon wax leaf ligustrums, red tip photinias and privet that will eradicate them from the face of the earth. The ligustrums are blooming right now ... I'd take skunk over that sickly sweet scent any day!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Just Another Perfect Spring Day ...

Days like this are all too fleeting ... they'll vanish in the next couple of weeks. So it's that much more important to use them wisely and I'm sure y'all know what that means here on my corner of Katy! I'll catch y'all later ... I'm leaving you with this poem from Mary Oliver.

Reckless Poem

Today again I am hardly myself.
It happens over and over.
It is heaven-sent.

It flows through me
like the blue wave.
Green leaves - you may believe this or not-
have once or twice
burst from the tips of my fingers

deep in the woods,
in the reckless seizure of spring.

Though, of course, I also know that other song,
the sweet passion of one-ness.

Just yesterday I watched an ant crossing a path, through the
tumbled pine needles she toiled.
And I thought: she will never live another life but this one.
And I thought: if she lives her life with all her strength
is she not wonderful and wise?
And I continued this up the miraculous pyramid of everything
until I came to myself.

And still, even in these northern woods, on these hills of sand
I have flown from the window of myself
to become white heron, gray whale,
fox, hedgehog, camel.
Oh, sometimes already my body has felt like the body of a flower.
Sometimes already my heart is a red parrot, perched
among strange, dark trees, flapping and screaming.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday Smiles

Taking a break from the hard stuff, here are some of the things I saw around my corner of Katy today that made me happy.

This is Lampranthus 'Red Hots', purchased at The Natural Gardener in Austin. It lives up to its name but mercy, these magenta blooms clash with the orange 'Empress of India' Nasturtiums (so badly that I refuse to show you a picture of them together). I'm already wishing I'd bought a couple of the other varieties available at TNG. Maybe I should make a return trip to Austin?

This will not be a red hot pepper but a sweet one ... I think the variety is Golden Summer.

Y'all remind me tomorrow that I need to fertilize both the peppers and the tomatoes! I might pick my first SunGold cherry tomato this week. It's coloring up nicely. Even more exciting to me is seeing fruit on 'Jaune Flamme', an heirloom variety from France that produces apricot-shaped tomatoes.

'Carmello' has tomatoes, too!

On the back fence, there's a bud on the 'Buff Beauty' climbing rose that I brought home from Amy's garden back in January.

OK, I know this doesn't look like much but those little green shoots are a big deal. Although 'Torchy' is one of the hardy hibiscus, this plant I brought home from the Garden Writers' symposium had me worried. It looked more like a hardly hibiscus ... I'll give it a bit more time to grow on and then I'll plant it out.

I took these pictures this afternoon when I got home from working at the Harris County Master Gardeners' Spring Plant Sale. I brought home a 'John Fanick' Phlox, three daylilies and a 'Republic of Texas' rose. As happy as those made me, the biggest smiles came from meeting Jamie W. and Carol B., who told me they read this blog. I think most of us who blog wonder if anyone really DOES read us besides our regular commenters, so it's a real treat to have someone say that they do. Thanks for stopping by, y'all!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Great Rockout of 2010: Day Four

Otahal and his crew arrived mid-morning and got to work using the rocks I already had. I'd noticed yesterday evening that two of my Louisiana Iris near the end of the front walk were missing, victims of the crew's efforts to clear the area where they were trenching. Since they were 2009 Bulb Mart purchases, I was mildly upset. Otahal was most apologetic and promised to look through the day's trash bags and see if he could find them. The Executive Producer was also perturbed because the landscape lighting he'd worked so hard to install was not functioning. We were able to partially resolve that problem: the crew had severed and repaired some wiring but the system needed to be reset. One section of lights is still out, though, and we're working to figure that out. These kinds of problems are not unexpected: perhaps I should remind them, though, where the gas line runs.

By afternoon, Otahal was getting antsy for the rock yard to deliver. Four pallets of moss rock finally made it here around 3 pm today. At the end of the day, Otahal told me we could use up to four more pallets by the time we're done. Will my corner of Katy rest a little lower when this is done????!!!!

Here's today's photographic evidence.