Saturday, July 31, 2010

If It Speaks To You ...

You should listen.

And follow in the direction it leads ...

If you walk away ...

And find yourself coming back around to that which is calling ...

Take a closer look and ask yourself ... If I let this go, will I spend days, weeks, maybe even months and years lamenting that I passed it by?

I've walked away from art that spoke to me before and the voices of those pieces haunt me still. In the case of this Doug Sargent sculpture, discovered at Urban Roots Community Garden Center in Buffalo, I listened. Doug creates his sculptures from recycled materials: the slate top of this "Table With Legs" was once a blackboard in Buffalo public schools. I am so very glad that I listened to the voice within telling me that this sculpture belonged with me. And I am even more grateful to Doug for all that he did to get it from Buffalo to my corner of Katy. His careful crating ensured that it made it to me intact.

I set the Staghorn Fern on top because I wanted something there and that fit. I'm not wild about it, though. I'm seeing some kind of ornamental grass or spiky succulent. The table is currently placed in the courtyard but I'm not welded to leaving it there. If I find a better spot, even inside, then I'll move it. (Which statement caused me to roll my chair over to size up a nearby wall ...) I'm not sure my courtyard is worthy of the sculpture ... perhaps if I clean the bricks and place some container plantings around it, I'll be happier with it there. Maybe the wall needs to be painted ... what I'd really like to do is create a mosaic/found object wall similar to that of Jill Nokes in Austin (a tiny portion of the wall is visible behind her in the picture on her website). To heck with resale values ... I'll be in this house long enough to make it well worth my while!

Whatever I do or wherever I place "Table with Legs", it will remind me of my trip to Buffalo and the wonderful people of that city. I must repeat my heartfelt thanks to Doug and say that I don't believe this will be the only piece of his work to find its way to my corner of Katy.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Too Much Summer

It's the only time of year when the days feel oppressively identical. The same light, the same heat, the same lethargy ... - Carol Wolper, Secret Celebrity

I read this passage in a book recently and it struck me so forcefully that I had to write it down. It's precisely that feeling I'm battling on this sunny summer afternoon ... that I battle most summer afternoons on my corner of Katy. It's why the recent rainy spells were so welcome and why I already miss them. Even in the shade out front the sun is so bright it hurts my eyes.

Shoot, even INSIDE the light is so bright it's painful ... and I find myself longing for just the smallest of tropical storms to make its way in from the Gulf. No hurricanes, though.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Three for Thursday: Screaming Pink Zinnias

Every year I have a hard time deciding which color is my favorite ... these are always a top contender!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wildflower Wednesday: Wild Petunia

I'm not positive but based on the hairy leaves, I believe this is Ruellia humilis, commonly known as Fringe-leaf Wild Petunia, Hairy Ruellia, Low Ruellia, or Low Wild Petunia. If you take a look at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's listings for Ruellia, you can see why I found it difficult to be certain. It could be Carolina Wild Petunia, Ruellia caroliniensis ssp. ciliosa var. cinerascens. I'm hoping it's the R. humilis, since that one is a larval food plant for several species of butterflies, including Buckeyes. The LBJWC says the plants prefer moist soil, which might explain why they're doing so well this summer. In my garden, the plants range from 6 inches to 14 inches tall, some of them upright, some sprawling. I much prefer these pale lavender flowers to those of Ruellia cultivar 'Katie' and I also prefer the mannerly behavior of this wild variety. Although it reseeds for me, it does not do so aggressively and seedlings are easy to pull. The behavior of 'Katie', on the other hand, is best described by the words of my friend Genny, who has spent years attempting to eradicate it: she calls it "the cockroach of the garden".

Thank you to my delightful friend Gail at Clay and Limestone, who sponsors Wildflower Wednesday. Mosey on over to C&L and check out her Mr. Linky list of other WW posts!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I'm Just Sayin' ...

After the drought of 2006, I swore that no matter what the circumstances, I would never again complain about too much rain. I have kept that vow for the most part and even renewed it last summer, when I despaired of moisture ever falling on my garden again. I want to go on record as saying that this post is in no way a complaint. It is merely an observation on the recent state of the weather on my corner of Katy. Which more often than not this month has been wet.

True, we've woken up to sunshine most mornings recently. As the day goes on, the clouds build as rain showers and thunderstorms move onshore from the Gulf of Mexico. Today's rain came mid-morning ... most days it's late afternoon or early evening when it hits. Annie the Garden Terrierist is not so fierce when it comes to thunder and lightning; just the sound of rain makes her start to quake. The Head Gardener says I've spent more time soothing Annie's frazzled nerves than working in the garden lately, but even she thinks that's as it should be. She's got a real soft spot when it comes to animals, especially the canine variety.

Since the ground has been so soaked, we've been reluctant to dump the pails and tubs of rain we've accumulated onto the ground. At the HG's suggestion, I turned one of the new trash cans into a makeshift rain barrel: each day I empty the contents of various containers into the 'barrel', check to make sure there are enough mosquito bits left to keep the wee beasties vanquished and then replace the lid until the next time. All too soon this rainy spell could end ... when it does, I'll have something saved for a non-rainy day!

Monday, July 26, 2010

It's Here!

And I'll bet your first reaction is "Great, so what IS it?"

Despite appearances, it is NOT a hot water heater!

All shall be revealed later this week. The Head Gardener and I require assistance in uncrating and setting up the sculpture I purchased in Buffalo. It will take pride of place on the courtyard wall by the front door, where all who enter can see it. Many thanks to the sculptor for his careful crating of his work of art; I've decided that he shall remain nameless until I can show you the piece in situ.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My Week In The Garden: July 19-25

The corner bed, currently delighting passersby with Zinnias, Cosmos, Castor Bean 'Carmencita' and Bauhinia galpinii (aka Tina Turner)

Once again, here I sit, trying desperately to remember just what it was I did in the garden this week. Last year I was much more diligent in recording my activities in my Lee Valley Garden Journal ... this year, I have been sadly remiss, especially as the days got longer and the temperatures rose. Perhaps I need to set it on the table near the back door where I could jot things down each time I ventured inside for a break. I'll ponder that later ... back to the matter at hand ... I'm going to note things as they occur to me and not attempt to place them in chronological order.

The Heart of Gold cantaloupe vines, started from seeds sent to me by Carol of May Dreams Gardens, are in sad shape. This isn't the first time I've grown cantaloupe but it's been 12 years since my surprising success ... surprising because I knew next to nothing at the time. Now I know more but you certainly couldn't tell that from the state of these vines. Perhaps Indy (as some of us call her) can put her head together with Hortense Hoelove and tell me if the problem is, as I suspect, too much rain.

One of the happy surprises this week was finding the Ironweed (Vernonia lettermanii) blooming. I bought one of these plants at Plant Delights Nursery and only after I got home did I discover that I had a second one, a trial plant donated by a GWA vendor. They're both small and there aren't a lot of blooms, but I'm hoping that they will increase in size and vigor as they mature. The Head Gardener says they're a lot more likely to do so if I don't move them, as is my wont. Know-it-all.

Another happy surprise was to find that the 'Attraction' Buddleia I purchased at PDN is not only alive but has buds on it. It's hidden behind a Copper Canyon Daisy, which I believe I'll cut back a bit so the Buddleia can be seen. Dang, I forgot to take a picture when I was out with the camera. It's not like there's much to see yet, though.

My Tina Turner Bauhinia was not so privately dancing across the path behind the corner bed. I whacked her back a bit but she really needs some judicious pruning in all directions. It was just too hot and humid on that sunny corner to do more today.

In talking with some of my fellow garden bloggers, the subject of mulch versus closely planted groundcovers came up. For many gardeners, the latter are effective in suppressing weeds. I offer the picture above to illustrate that it is not the case here on my corner of Katy, at least in the sunny areas of the gardens. That's something we call leaf-flower weed that came up in the midst of golden oregano. It's an evil, despicable weed that can grow up to a foot tall. Hate hate hate loathe despise and hate it. If anyone knows the botanical name, please tell me.

Hemerocallis 'Bittersweet Holiday' wins the prize this year for the latest repeat blooming daylily on my corner of Katy. Usually it's the unidentified pale lemon yellow daylily that takes the honors.

Speaking of lemons, I decided I should repot my Meyer Lemon tree, which is having a hard time standing erect due to the heavy weight of the fruit. When I first bought it in late spring, it had over 60 lemons on it. I was perturbed to see them withering and dropping off each day but now I see that the plant couldn't possibly support that many fruit at this size. I chose not to move it into the ceramic pot just yet because I feared it would lead to root rot. It would probably fare much better in the ground. Question for the citrus growers, since this is not my area of expertise: the leaves are not the healthy dark green they should be and I'm not sure what they need. That reminds me: after several years of allowing it to languish in a pot, I planted the Evergreen Wisteria on one of the side trellises. It too has pale greenish yellow leaves which should be a dark green. What do y'all think? Do they need more nitrogen?

One more thing before I go: That pot was one of several purchases at Nelson Water Gardens' annual Ding-Dang Sale. I came home with 3 gazing ball/pot stands; this pot; and 2 birdbaths, all for less than $75. Those in the Houston area might want to make a run over there to see what's left: they've taken further markdowns since I was there on Tuesday.

OK, enough for today. It's time for MAD MEN!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hail-latious Saturday

I managed to get in a couple of hours outside before the hellatious heat and humidity drove me in for the day ... all the while chanting "68 more days, only 68 more days" to myself. I spent most of the afternoon languishing/lolling on the sofa, reading and napping. By late afternoon I was sufficiently recovered to contemplate a trip to the grocery store with the Executive Producer.

As we headed out to run dinner over to the working girl, I noticed that there were some serious looking clouds building to the south/southeast of my corner of Katy. I think most gardeners are avid amateur meteorologists ... certainly the ones I know are as consumed with the weather as I am. Today's storm clouds were especially interesting because the professional (ahem) soothsayer for our local paper showed NO chance of storms. Partly cloudy, he said. Had I checked the radar and animated the map before we left to shop, I'd have been prepared for what was to come. I only recently discovered the delights of animating the radar map and take an inordinate pleasure in watching the storms' movements and announcing to anyone in the vicinity of my computer (even if it's just the dog) that heavy rain is seconds away. That proved to be the case today ... only minutes after we entered the store, we heard a loud crack of thunder and then the pounding of rain on the roof. By the time we checked out, there were reports of hail in the area. The EP was designated to make a run for the car while I waited with the groceries (because as a fragile flower of Southern womanhood, I might melt in such heavy rain, you understand).

We made it home and into the garage safely, unloaded the groceries and then I heard it ... crack, ping, clink ... hail fell fast and furious! My first reaction, of course, was to get the camera and record this. The hail was more than pea-sized (maybe edamame, as I commented while shooting) and lasted for about 3 minutes. Unfortunately, I cannot share the video with y'all due to creative differences amongst the photographer, the camera and Picasa. For some reason, the video is not being downloaded and I have no idea why. Ideas?

Friday, July 23, 2010


Think back to my posts of last July and you will understand why I am so delighted to tell y'all that tonight was the kind of balmy summer evening that was everything a summer evening should be (minus the mosquitoes, but I can't have everything, now, can I?) I sat in one of portable Adirondacks and sipped some wine, gazing towards the pond and wondering just how many Japanese fantail babies are really in there. My eyes wandered just a wee bit to the right and, oh joy, oh rapture, oh frabjous day, the variegated Hymenocallis is blooming! I bought this plant before I left for Buffalo and sank it into the bog. The flowers were already tissue thin when I took this picture tonight ... but there are more buds so I'll have more blooms to savor!

While I had the camera outside, I went scouting for more photo ops. This is one of the large-flowered rainlilies I added this year (I think it's Zephyranthes grandiflora).

Now that I know Senorita Rosalita Cleome is muy bonita, I plan to add more of them.

This planting makes me smile. It's all Mother Nature's doing ... my only contribution was to leave the plants where they seeded. This felicitous combination includes Salvia 'Otahal', Zinnias, Moss Pink Verbena (V. tenuisecta) and Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthemum.

See y'all tomorrow ... time to have a EUREKA moment with the Executive Producer. The Head Gardener finds such shows fascinating. She claims she enjoys poking holes in the scientific theories ... I know better.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Three for Thursday: Serenity

On a gray and misty day in Buffalo, the Garden Bloggers visited the Japanese Garden in Delaware Park, designed by the legendary Frederick Law Olmsted. Even with a busy freeway nearby, the garden was a peaceful and welcoming spot. On a sunny day, I doubt we'd have been able to fully appreciate the reflections of the trees and statuary in the lake. I'm so glad we were able to see it in weather that invested the views with a sense of mystery and eloquence.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

That Face, That Face, That Fabulous Face ...

Should I tell her she has a little something on her cheek?

These two lovelies were spotted in Mike and Kathy Shadrack's woodlands garden outside of Buffalo. Are there any amateur entomologists who can identify the spider for me?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Miss Buffalo ...

As I was walking Annie this morning, I was thinking how much more enjoyable it would be if these were the houses I passed along the way ... shoot, how much more enjoyable would it be for each and every one of us if we lived in a city that celebrated gardens and gardeners the way Buffalo does? The Garden Bloggers were just a small part of that celebration ... the real festivities are this weekend when Garden Walk Buffalo takes place! If you're going to be there, enjoy these sights and more for me, will y'all?

Those who have met me already know what I love about this house aside from the gardens: for those who don't, turquoise is MY color!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Through the Garden Gate: #8

I spent several hours this morning cutting back Echinaceas and pulling weeds out back. Much to my delight, the hybrid Texas Bluebells (Eustoma grandiflorum/Lisianthus) are blooming prolifically. Only one problem: you can't see the blooms too well because the plants are so floppy. I'll have to do something about that later this week: I was interrupted in my gardening efforts today by the latest round of storms. Saturday night it was the lightning that was awesome ... today it was the thunder, rumbling long and low over and over again. Since Annie the Garden Terrierist is unnerved by even the least little bit of thunder, I kept her company during the worst of it ... we decided the best place to do that was on the bed, where we could cuddle up and try to nap. I don't know about Annie but I did manage to doze off for a while.

As for the view through the garden gate, I ran out just as the sun was setting to capture this shot. I'd have taken the time to get a better picture if I weren't afraid of dropping the camera every time I slapped a mosquito!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Pleasures of A Rainy Sunday ...

Ligularia in Buffalo: I haven't seen this red-veined variety here. If someone can tell me what it is, I think I need it!

Not only did we get some gentle showers on Saturday evening, but rain began to fall again this afternoon and continued into the evening. There were several bands of heavy rainfall and I suspect the cul-de-sac flooded, but I won't know until tomorrow. All this rain has been most welcome ... and who needs a sauna when all you have to do is walk outside once the rain stops to be surrounded by steamy heat? I keep reminding myself that all this moisture and humidity has to be beneficial to my complexion!

The Garden Bloggers didn't let a little rain stop us from enjoying the beauty of Joe and Scott's garden. Here you see Gail of Clay and Limestone and Monica of Garden Junkies admiring and discussing the fungi planters I showed in an earlier post. Gail was the first garden blogger I talked to in person at the Austin Spring Fling in 2008 and she is as warm and delightful in person as she is online. I met Monica for the first time in Buffalo and we quickly realized we have much in common ... if you haven't read her blog, be sure to read the possum story!

Today the Executive Producer and I took advantage of the weather to laze around the house and catch up on some of the TV we'd missed while I was in Buffalo. Perhaps tomorrow I'll have time to get out in the garden. There's not much to summarize about this past week: other than a couple of hours puttering in one area or another on Tuesday, I haven't done a doggoned thing!

Balloon Flower (Platycodon): mine never look like this!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Well, Aren't You Nice!

An anonymous benefactor left this fabulous piece of potential garden art on my driveway while I was in Buffalo. Whoever you are, THANK YOU! I absolutely love it, as you clearly knew I would. I'm not quite sure where its semi-final resting place will be (because as most people also know, I like to change things up!) but I'll post a picture of it when I do.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Foliage Follow-Up: Hostas

Pam of Digging has designated the 16th of the month Foliage Follow-Up and I thought I'd share pictures of some of the many gorgeous Hostas that I saw in Buffalo. (Very few were labeled so I can't share their names with you.)
Mike Shadrack created his version of an Alpine garden using miniature Hostas and rocks: he calls it his Octopus' Garden in the Shade. I think all of us were charmed by Mike, a former London bobby who purchased a property previously owned by a Buffalo Bills' football player and set about making gardens with his wife Kathy. I'll post more about their place when I can gather my thoughts ... it was one of my favorites and I could have happily spent even more time there.

I'd try his trick of planting miniature Hostas in a galvanized tub except for one thing: they'd steam to death within a day here on my corner of Katy, even in my deepest shade areas!

I might be able to use this trick of planting in a hollowed out log, though.

Out in the woods, nestled amongst ferns and other shade loving plants, I sighed over this plant.

Chartreuse really lights up shady areas. I love the rocks Mike and Kathy used for borders, too.

In Jennifer's garden, some of which I showed you in last Sunday's post, I loved this Hosta.

This magnificent specimen was spotted at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens.

Across the street from Elizabeth's house, the gardeners used several Hostas as edging.

I won't tell y'all I didn't come home longing to grow more Hostas. I may yet add to their numbers on my corner of Katy!