Thursday, May 26, 2011

Three for Thursday: The Odd Susan Out

In the midst of a stand of Rudbeckias, I found a trio of pale yellow blooms that stood out amidst the usual sunny gold flowers.  When I traced the stems back to the ground, I could see that all of the differently-colored blooms were on one plant.  I'll be monitoring that plant and saving the seeds, hoping to get another generation of Rudbeckia 'Lovely Lemon'.  Maybe I'll call that plant Liz for now ...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday: Gaillardias Galore!

Gaillardia growing in a crack in my neighbor's driveway
If you're looking for a tough native plant that can handle heat, humidity, high winds, drought and the occasional trampling by errant wildlife (usually dogs and/or gardeners), I believe we can all agree that Gaillardia, aka Indian Blanket or Blanketflower, certainly has earned that distinction.

Gaillardia growing by a telephone pole

Gaillardia growing in a path

Gaillardia growing in the rocks alongside the corner bed

Gaillardia growing in between rocks and a hard place

Gaillardia growing in the street????

Not really, it's growing between two moss rock boulders

Gaillardia growing in the corner bed

Gaillardia at 703 Wit's End

Gaillardia and rosemary

Gaillardia spilling over the curb and into the street

Gail of Clay & Limestone hosts Wildflower Wednesday on the last Wednesday of each month.  Drop by C&L and see what she's featuring, then check out other bloggers' Wildflowers of the Month!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Swallowtail Suite

This winged beauty interrupted me as I labored in the garden earlier this week.  Such a perfect specimen of lepidopterahood demanded nothing less than my full attention so I took a break from my duties (and allowed the Head Gardener to do the same).   After snapping 2 or 3 shots with my iPhone, I took a chance that this Tiger Swallowtail would stick around and ran inside for my camera.  I came back out and spent several minutes following my visitor as she flitted from one cluster of Lantana blooms to another.  I used the zoom lens so I wouldn't get too close to the dining diva and scare her away.   33 shots later, I turned off the camera and spent a few more minutes just watching and marveling at her perfect beauty.  I'll spare y'all all 33 pictures and instead show you only 19.   The HG thinks that's still too many but, hey, she's not the one posting! If you make it through all 19 pictures, there's some information about this form of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio (Pterourus) glaucus.

According to authors John and Gloria Tveten in BUTTERFLIES OF HOUSTON AND SOUTHEAST TEXAS (1996, University of Texas Press), male Tiger Swallowtails are always yellow but females can be either yellow or black.   Male Tiger Swallowtails have very little blue on their dorsal hindwings, however, leading me to identify this one as a female.  A Duke University site confirms that identification.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Into Each Life Some Rainlilies Must Flower ...


When rainlilies (Zephyranthes spp.) began to bloom in the back garden early last week, albeit sparsely, I could only shake my head and laugh at their folly/confusion.  No rain had fallen here at Wit's End for almost three months.  The Head Gardener and I have been at our wits' end and hanging on by a thread for about that long.


Our countenances were far more woeful than that of this little cherub.  And then ... then came Thursday afternoon, when the heavens opened and precious, lifegiving rain began to fall.  The Katy area received approximately one inch of rain over several hours.


By Friday afternoon, new bud stalks had emerged throughout the gardens of Wit's End.  And as Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day approached, blooms began to open. 



And I wonder ... did they know somehow that rain was coming?



There are many other blooms to be found in the garden but it seemed only appropriate to celebrate the rainlilies on this May bloom day.   To see what's blooming in other gardens around the world, visit May Dreams Gardens.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

And The Cobrahead Goes To ...

Rebecca, e-mail me with your snail mail info and I'll give it to Noel so he can send your new favorite tool straight to you!

Thanks to everyone who entered!  I hope you'll all consider heading over to the Cobrahead site and ordering one for yourself!  I promise you'll love it!

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Head Gardener Is Feeling Generous ...

Since the Head Gardener's return from her April 1st adventure, she has been a stern taskmaster indeed, proving that my title of She Who Must Be Obeyed is nominal at best.  The continuing combination of drought and high temperatures, augmented by wind gusts up to 20 mph, has taken a severe toll on my corner of Katy.  Having previously decreed that the poppies be removed, she then turned her attention to the rapidly declining toadflax, larkspur and violas.  She recommended (nay, demanded) that as we removed those spent plants and a few unwelcome weeds, we also work on gently loosening the parched and nutrient-deficient soil.

Our tool of choice for these arduous and time-consuming tasks was our trusty Cobrahead® Weeder and Cultivator, the invention of Noel Valdes I purchased my first Cobrahead from Noel's son Geoff at a farmer's market in the parking lot of Austin's Wheatsville Co-op way back in 2002 when they first started marketing their product.  I'm proud to say I was one of the first gardeners to use the Cobrahead® That first Cobrahead® is still in regular use and as I posted last summer, it has been joined by two others.  

My Cobrahead made the daunting task of cultivating my depleted soil much easier and as I worked, I thought about how grateful I was to have such an excellent tool at hand and how I wished more gardeners had the opportunity to use one.  The Head Gardener suggested that perhaps the folks at Cobrahead® would be willing to provide one for me to give away on this blog.  I e-mailed Noel and he most graciously agreed. 

All you have to do to be the lucky recipient is leave a comment on this post.  I'll pick a winner on Friday, May 6th.  This is my first ever giveaway and I'm very grateful to the Cobrahead® folks for making it possible!