Monday, November 29, 2010

The Pleasures of A Rainy Monday ...

Here comes the rain again ...

And what a beautiful sight it was to see.  Note the use of the past tense. Judging from the radar, the showers have moved on to the east.  The sun is doing its best to shine the clouds away and given the current temperature of 74, it's about to get steamy out there!  I'm heading out shortly to take my mother to her follow-up appointment with the retinal specialist.  She thinks there's been some improvement in her vision since the treatment with Avastin and I hope the tests they run will show that she's right.  

Birthday celebrations (mine & others'), Thanksgiving prep and execution, and good weather for gardening have all conspired to keep me from blogging much.  There's lots going on in the garden, most of it good.  Saturday I planted 30 each of  Narcissus 'Thalia' and Grand Primo'.  Another 30 Narcissus 'Geranium' await interment.  There's a drawer full of bulbs from Southern Bulb Company in the outside refrigerator and a few impulse purchases from Cornelius Nursery.  Later this week I'll do my best to get those in the ground and scatter Linaria seeds.  And Agalinis seeds. And Oriental Poppies.  And Bluebonnets.  And whatever else needs scattering.

One of the Linaria that reseeded from last year has a bud on it!  If it gets nipped by the expected low temperatures tomorrow night, I'm going to be really bummed.  Predictions seem to range from 31 degrees to 36 degrees ... since last Friday night's predicted low of 31 didn't materialize, I'd be surprised if it gets that low tomorrow night.  We did have a light frost Friday night, though.  I've found damaged foliage on Lantanas and a Pandora Vine. The Zinnia seedlings weren't affected but the mature plants drooped a bit.

There's a bloom on the Philippine lily out front, which surprised me, but then I went a-Googling and discovered that it's a late summer/fall bloomer.  I'm not sure I like where Otahal put them ... I'll leave them alone and see if plants around them fill in enough to make me happy with their placement.

I'm 99% certain that I spotted an American Goldfinch in the back garden yesterday!  I'm looking forward to the arrival of the hungry hordes.

I had to leave before I could publish this, so I'll add an update on my mom now.  I'm happy to report that the doctor saw great improvement in her vision and the condition of her eye since her previous visit.  She received another injection and instructions to return in 4 weeks.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Three for Thursday: Thankful

For my family and friends, who enrich my life beyond measure.
For gardens, my own and others'.
For my readers and their kind attention to my words.

Hope it was a fabulous day for all!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wildflower Wednesday: The Head Gardener's Wildflower To Do List

From the way the HG is whinging and moaning, you'd think the list had enough chores on it to keep her busy from now through Christmas.  In reality, it's pretty simple. 
  • She needs to soak the bluebonnet seeds and then scatter them in the spots I designate.
  • She needs to tell me just what in the heck she was thinking when she ordered four ounces of Toadflax (Linaria maroccana) seeds.  Good grief, woman, this isn't Green Acres!  If Toadflax begins springing up in random spots around Katy (and indeed the greater Houston area), it is on her shoulders.  
  • She needs to consult with me about the best spots for the Agalinis seeds we purchased from Prairie Moon Nursery a while back, and then plant those.
  • She needs to get over the idea that we can grow Drummond Phlox, the gorgeous red variety that we see in fields and along roadsides in spring.  We've tried and failed several times. Yet here's another packet ordered from Wildseed Farms.  If her shoulders are sagging, she only has herself to blame!
  • She needs to be commended, however, for ordering Callirhoe involucrata, Winecup, seeds.  That's my favorite Texas wildflower and we only have the white variety blooming here.  
  • She needs to scatter some of the umpteen varieties of wildflower seeds she's saved over the past couple of years and let nature take its course. 
  • And finally, she needs to give serious thought to thanking her lucky stars she lives in Texas, where the spring wildflowers start blooming in February and brighten our corner of Katy immeasurably!
Wildflower Wednesday is the meme of my dear friend Gail at Clay and Limestone. Mosey on over to her cedar glade and see what's happening there!

Friday, November 19, 2010

But Wait, There's More!

So I made a little trip out to Nelson Water Gardens this afternoon to spend my Bullfrog Bucks and came home with a lovely assortment of cool-season annuals, herbs and ornamental grasses.  This flat is crammed full of Parsley, Sweet Marjoram, Salad Burnet, Toffee Twist and Red Rooster sedges, Phlox, Pansies, Violas, and Calendulas. 

Of course, I had to check the DingDang remnants from their annual summer clearance ... that's where I found another blue ceramic pot for the courtyard.  I love the angular lines of this container, which I'll plant with a Red Rooster Carex, that vividly hued Strawflower (Bracteatum spp) and something yet to be determined.  

I stopped at one of the chain garden centers on the way home, looking for pink skullcap.  I didn't find that but I did come away with some Cyclamen for hayrack planters, a small Agave, some Tassel ferns (Polystichum) that will work nicely under the trees out front and a 3 gallon Color Guard Yucca (not pictured).  The Agave and the ferns were only 90 cents each on clearance.  Maybe I should have gotten more!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Three Four Thursday: Mellow Yellow

It's a bright and breezy fall day on my corner of Katy and yellow is most definitely the color of the day, at least in the front gardens.

Berlandiera lyrata, Chocolate Daisy 

Calylophus berlandieri, Sundrops/Texas Primrose

Tagetes lemonii, Copper Canyon Daisy

Engelmanii peristenia, Engelmann's Daisy
It's much too lovely a day to spend inside, which is why I must bid you Adieu, Aloha, Auf Wiedersehn and Au Revoir, don my gardening togs and head out the door for a good day in the sunshine!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Something Wicked This Way Comes ...

Amy Stewart brings us news of more wickedness ... don't blame me if you freak out the next time your nose itches!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Gloomy November Bloom Day ... Or Maybe Not ...

The skies are overcast and there's a chill in the air this November morning.  There's a goodly amount of damp in the air as well since it rained last night; there's a slight chance of more today.   I'm not complaining, mind you ... we are still lagging behind where rain is concerned and I'm happy any time rain falls.  I'm also smiling because on dismal gray days like this one, the blooms in the garden are even more uplifting than usual.  Cooler temperatures intensify flower colors and overcast skies give those colors an opportunity to shine that sunny skies deny them.

Zinnias, those stalwarts of the summer garden, are lovelier than ever.  For those of you who  garden in areas with similar climates, I'm noticing that the 2nd, maybe even 3rd, generation Zinnias are much stockier and healthier than their predecessors.  Many of us deal with fungus and mildew problems on our Zinnias in the summer and my plants tend to get overgrown and lanky by August.  I leave those 1st generation plants in place, manky though they may be, until the next generation has reached bloom size since butterflies don't care how ugly or leggy the plants may be as long as they're blooming!

Gartendirektor Otto Linne seems to be a deeper shade of pink each day.

Senorita Rosalita Cleome is loaded with blooms like these.

Rose 'Aloha' has a fragrance as lovely as her flowers.

'Souvenir de la Malmaison' makes me sigh in appreciation.

I'd swear that when I first started growing 'La Marne', her blooms were much darker than this, almost fuchsia. A rose rustler friend confirmed that he remembered the blooms being more vivid, too, so 'tis a puzzlement.  Perhaps they'll continue to deepen in color as the weather grows ever cooler. 

'Caldwell Pink' has certainly grown more colorful.  It's closer to Souvenir in color in summer months!

I love how Pink Skullcap looks against the rocks.  A Pigeonberry seeded itself  in the gravel just underneath. 

Leonotis leonorus, Lion's Tail, is roaring along in the corner bed.

Clerodendrum paniculatum, Pagoda Flower, was one of the plants Otahal suggested for the front garden renovation.  The flowers definitely have the WOW factor!

'Madame Antoine Mari' is one of my favorite roses for her soft blend of pinks and apricots, as well as her blue-green foliage. If she had a fragrance, she'd be perfection!

Echinaceas fascinate me with the variety of forms and colors they sport over their bloom cycle.
This rose was a passalong from a neighbor: it's either 'Hermosa' or 'Mrs. B. R. Cant'.  Melampodium leucanthemum, Blackfoot Daisy, nestle beneath.
'Aloha' and Happy Trails to GBBD November 2010! Visit the instigator, Carol of May Dreams Gardens, to see what's blooming around the world!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Three for Thursday: Cloudy With A Chance of Starshine

There were many stellar new additions to the front gardens during the recent renovations but Farfugium japonicum 'Jitsuko's Star' definitely stands out right now.  I had admired the compact mound of rounded deep green foliage when I saw this plant at The Arbor Gate in September during Heidi Sheesley's and Chris Wiesinger's talk on bulbs and companion plants. When Otahal and I made our trek out to Treesearch, this plant was on my 'must have' list, even though I expected to be less than charmed by the bright yellow blooms when they appeared.  Yellow has always been my least favorite color of flower, although in recent years the cheery profusion of sunny golden blossoms on Copper Canyon Daisy has persuaded me that it's a color worth including.

Then 'Jitsuko's Star' began to bloom recently and I can't help myself ... I'm smitten!  The double yellow blooms, daisy-like though they may be, remind me of trumpet Daffodils.  I may have to underplant the Farfugiums (a/k/a Leopard Plants) with Narcissus as my own private joke.

This shade-loving perennial should be able to handle our hot and humid summers; it's hardy below zero so we don't need to worry about its succumbing to even our coldest winter weather. According to the  Plant Delights Nursery website, this variety is also known as 'Yaezaki', which they say means 'double flower'.   The blooms are borne on tall scapes that PDN says can reach 3 feet but are about 18 inches high on my plants.   On this cloudy and damp fall day, the bright yellow flowers are a welcome splash of color.

I hope you'll join me and post your own Three for Thursday.  Pick 3 pictures of plants from your garden ... tell us about 3 books you've read that you want to share ... rant about 3 things that bug the heck out of you ... show us 3 pieces of garden art or 3 photos of egregious crimes against gardening ... you choose what your three will be.  Just have fun and feel free to be wildly creative!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Through the Garden Gate & Down The Garden Path ...

I've spent several days this week, including today, working in back to clear the overgrowth.  Every fall my vision for the garden changes and I rework things to bring it closer to what I see in my mind.  The back gardens are my most personal gardens: I let myself play and make frequent changes because I enjoy the process as much as I do the results.
I walked out with the camera and took a shot from the dining room patio.

Then I walked over to the gate for the usual views.

Looking to the left from the gate, you can see a lot of bare ground where I cleared Pigeonberry, cut back Rock Rose Pavonias (P. lasiopetala) and took out some Barbados Cherry. Never fear, they'll come roaring back in spring.  They're indestructible & mature plants have an impressive root system.

The rusty metal circles will be used to mark the planting spots of various bulbs on their way to me from the Bulb Hunter, Chris Weisinger, at Southern Bulb Company.  I've been inspired to include more bulbs in my plantings, thanks to Chris AND the fellow garden bloggers who hang out on Plurk & talk about their bulb ordering frenzies each fall.  It's contagious!

The purple blooms at the front of the fireplace bed are what's left of the Symphyotrichum formerly known as Aster. My other Asters don't seem to thrive the way this one does but I'm giving them time to settle in before I get too worried about their lassitude.

Lots of bare earth in the back bed, it's true ... I'll scatter Toadflax, Larkspur and Poppy seeds in the next week or two.

The big plants at the front of the bed are Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis).  They're way too big for that spot but the butterflies are enjoying them too much for me to pull them yet.  Next year I won't let them stay that close to the path.  The NABA butterfly site described them as low-growing. Uh, NO.

The fireplace wall bed will also be seeded with linaria and perhaps some larkspur.  Alyssum and Violas will provide groundcover. 

The Pigeonberry (Rivinia humilis) had really gone crazy in the Robert E. Lee Persimmon bed.  Before you go searching for that variety, allow me to explain.  I have two Texas Persimmons, one in each corner of the back fence.  The tree in the North corner is Ulysses S. Grant, and in the South corner, we have Robert E. Lee.  I will not go so far as to only plant Southern specialties in the latter corner, or Northern in the other.  Although that's an intriguing idea ...

Never let it be said I don't show it all, including strung out hoses and open bags of soil/mulch.  The Almond Verbena is the centerpiece of this bed.  Why I thought a Southern Wax Myrtle would have enough room to grow right next to it, I am at a loss to explain.  I will be moving it shortly.  I added those Wax Myrtles (Myrica cerifera) in spring for evergreen interest and structure.  Not working out so well for me in some areas.

I've considered painting the trunk of the Persian Vitex to make it even more of a yard art piece.   I spent a lot of time cutting back 'Pam's Pink' Turk's Cap today (Malvaviscus drummondii).  Underestimating mature size of plants is an ongoing problem of mine.  (The Head Gardener could say a lot on the subject but is not allowed.)

The fireplace wall bed has quite a few roses, some poorly placed Porterweed and Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) and needs more structure.  That's a pot of Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) that I might plant in front of the picture window.  It bugs the heck out of me to look inside and see the back of the television!

Stay tuned for further developments ...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Three for Thursday: Things That Make Me Smile

Not counting the cool and crisp fall weather, which is a joy and a delight like no other ...

When I worked the Master Gardener plant sale back in September, several of us were lamenting the lack of blooms on our Bleeding Heart Vines (Clerodendrum thomsoniae). Last winter's low temperatures set their bloom time back by almost a month. Happily, my vines (C. thomsoniae var. delectum)are now blooming beautifully.

Two or three years ago, I bought Lobelia chinensis at Mercer Arboretum's March Mart.  It struggled along in its spot near the southwesterly corner of the house, not really doing much of anything.  This past spring I moved it into the rain garden over near the pond and to my delight, this small-leaved groundcover responded to its new location by actually growing!  Even better, it started blooming last month ... isn't that bloom the cutest thing?

My favorite fall perennial makes me swoon every time I look its way. Prepare yourselves for a really awful pun: I am ribbited by the sight! Even I'm groaning ... sorry. Despite the crispy edges of the foliage due to too little moisture and too much sun (the latter caused by freeze damage to the Persian Vitex which shaded the Tricyrtis), the plants are hopping with blooms.

Since I'm a day late, I'll throw in a fourth for Friday: this is my Mary Rose, a David Austin rose that I planted in memory of my cherished friend Mary Beth. Her birthday is a month from today and I will spend it as always working on her gravesite, then toasting her with a split of champagne. MB's physical presence is just a memory but she is very much with me at this time of year and I smile to think of all that we shared in our many years together.  Cherish your friends, y'all, and even more importantly, let them know that you cherish them and all that you have been and will be to each other.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Three for Thursday: Post Pending!

As a meme leader, I'm regrettably deficient ... today is a glorious fall day and full advantage must be taken.  I'm heading outside to the garden where I know I'll find subjects for my three for Thursday post.  Check back tonight!  

Meanwhile, I hope you'll post your own Three for Thursday. Pick 3 pictures of plants from your garden ... tell us about 3 books you've read that you want to share ... rant about 3 things that bug the heck out of you ... show us 3 pieces of garden art or 3 photos of egregious crimes against gardening ... you choose what your three will be.  Just have fun and be creative!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Let It Be Known ...

That the drought on my corner of Katy ended at approximately 1:15 a.m. this morning!  I'm not sure how much rain we actually got but think it was less than an inch.  I could see a definite difference in the garden, though, when I went walkabout this morning.  Plants that have been sulking and drooping were standing taller and the shades of green were richer and more intense. I see that there's a 60% chance of rain tomorrow ... bring it on!