Friday, December 21, 2012

When What To My Wondering Eyes Should Appear ...

Thank you, Kathy! This was a wonderful Solstice surprise!
You thought it was going to be a butterfly, didn't you?  Nope.  Even more improbably, it's a Colchicum  that was gently and lovingly uprooted from its upstate New York environs in 2011, transported across country to Seattle and from thence back across country to my corner of Katy, whereupon it was rudely thrust into inhospitable heat and humidity.  This was one of several Colchicums kindly given to me by Kathy of Cold Climate Gardening and I didn't expect this fall blooming bulb to survive even that first summer, let alone a second.  Yet here it is, with lush and healthy foliage, looking for all the world like it belongs in Zone 9a/b.  Those who look closely will also spy a second set of leaves emerging from the ground!  Given that it's made it this far, it's not so impossible to believe that it might someday go so far as to bloom.  Hey, if you were willing to seriously consider the possibility that the world would end today, then surely you can acknowledge that a Colchicum bloom in South Central Texas is not so far fetched????!!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Lengths A Gardener Will Go To ...

Inelegant it may be, but I'm hoping that this hastily assembled protection will enable the monarch butterfly chrysalis underneath to make it through tonight's freezing temperatures.  The weather for the next few days should be warm enough to enable the winged beauty within the chrysalis to emerge and soar free.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

We Now Interrupt Your Gardening ....

The Head Gardener and I tend to be rather lax about blogging in the fall ... we wait all year for the cooler temperatures and glorious weather that usually come our way in late October. This year there's not been quite enough of either to suit us but we've been slogging away frantically nonetheless, in an attempt to get the garden into decent enough shape to survive prolonged inattention. That inattention is made necessary by what one of my doctors likes to call a little surgical adventure,which requires two weeks of complete garden inactivity, followed by four weeks of serious garden inactivity. The HG is still haranguing me about the poor timing of this adventure and she's certainly correct that it would have been much easier to be stuck inside in July and August, when the weather was viciousevilmean&nasty. The HG is only marginally appeased by that admission on my part. 

I'm happy to report that yesterday's outpatient procedure went well and we are recuperating at home, somewhat comfortably.  Pain is being kept at bay by non-prescription mede and we have books, magazines, movies and devices aplenty to entertain us during our waking hours.  Per our doctor's instructions, we have advised family members that we are also not allowed to do ANY cooking or cleaning for the next 2 weeks and that we are to be waited on, cosseted, pampered, indulged and humored in our every wish.  They have cooperated nicely these first two days ... whether they can make it 2 weeks is as much of a question as whether the HG and I can stay out of the garden that long!

It doesn't help that overnight, the temperatures and the humidity dropped to our preferred levels for gardening.  We will endeavor to be content with sitting on the patio to savor the weather and admire the garden from a distance.  It should be easier as the week goes on and both temperature and humidity rise.  Another cold front comes through next week, though, and rumor has it that this one will bring the temps down even farther.  Any and all applications for the position of Undergardener will be entertained!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

In The Garden on Bloom Day: October 2012


That's where the Head Gardener and I were ... and where we've been pretty much every day since.  I did run out at the end of the day Monday to take some pictures but I'm only now finding time and energy to post them.  Although the weather is still a little too close to awful temperature wise - in the high 80s and low 90s with beaucoup de humidity - the HG and I continue to slog away in the hopes that a REAL cool front will come through even as we work.  Thus far all we've gotten is teaser cool fronts, that get our hopes up and then dash them cruelly to the ground.  That's evidently going to be the case with the latest front as well. Pfui.
We find comfort in our time of affliction from the bounteous blooms of two fall favorites: the ex-Asters and 'Country Girl' mums.   The Blackfoot Daisies continue to delight as well.

Then there's the Pink Muhly Grass, aka Gulf Coast Muhly.  Would that the HG and I possessed such beauty and grace!

As far as the bees are concerned, there is nothing as attractive, even seductive, as the Coral Vine (Antigonon leptopus).  When we walk by these plants, the air vibrates from the hum of happy pollinators!

Every year I think the time has finally come for me to assert my dominance over the Coral Vine. And every year it gets away from me.  The white CV uses a Texas Persimmon as an arbor, while the pink climbs the fence, a Mexican Buckeye, Sweet Olive, Mexican Bauhinia and 'Pam's Pink' Turks' Caps.

New to my corner of Katy this year are Lespedeza 'Little Volcano' and Pink Surprise Bush (Orthosiphon labiatus) but they lost no time in settling in and partying down with 'Country Girl'.

Thanks to the hostess with the mostest, Carol of May Dreams Gardens, who sponsors the Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day party every month.  Check out her blog, where you'll find links to other Bloom Day posts!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wildflower Wednesday: Deja Vu All Over Again

I posted this for September's Wildflower Wednesday in 2010 and forgot all about it. I even stopped on the back road today to take pictures for September 2012. Then I got home and discovered this old post!  The plant I dug 2 years ago didn't make it but seeds were available from Prairie Moon Nursery.  I sowed a packet last year but only a couple of plants made it to bloom size.  I blame myself for that: I didn't sow them in the kind of conditions they require.  If I can find a spot that meets those criteria, though, I hope to see them blooming on my corner of Katy next fall!

Today is Wildflower Wednesday, Gail of Clay and Limestone's meme for native plant lovers. As I was driving to the Arbor Gate on Saturday, I saw stands of small pink flowers growing wild along the roadside. Being pressed for time, I told myself I would stop on the way back to investigate. But I came home a different way ... so I jotted myself a note, which has been lost in the clutter of the little red truck.

Much to my delight, as I was ferrying the Garden Terrierist to a grooming appointment, I spotted the same flowers growing along the back road that leads to the shopping center.  After dropping Annie off at the pretty parlor, I trundled down the road a bit and stopped to get a closer look at the blooms.  I didn't swoon but I came close ... I am entranced, I am enamored, I am enthused by the delicate beauty of this flower!

Agalinis heterophylla, known as Prairie False-Foxglove or Prairie Agalinis, is a member of the Scrophulariaceae family.  According to the information from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, it grows 1 to 3 feet tall and blooms from June through October.  That site lists it as needing part shade: while that was true of the site where I originally spotted it growing, it's in full sun where I saw it today.  It's possible that the plants receive some afternoon shade from taller vegetation nearby, though.  The long wiry stems have needlelike leaves, and not very many of those.  Since I was wearing sandals, I couldn't get far enough into its habitat to get a good look at the crown of the plant where it emerged from the soil.  I managed to gently wrest one plant from the ground with root intact and I'm hoping I can get it to grow or reseed in my gardens.  

Trundle yourself on over to Gail's blog and check out the other Wildflower Wednesday posts!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

September Bloom Day: What's Blooming at The Arbor Gate

I did something a little different this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day* ... instead of taking pictures in my garden, I took a little trip out to The Arbor Gate in Tomball to spend some time with my blogging buddy Andrea of Grow Where You're Planted and attend the 2nd Annual Bulbs and Buddies Bash.  So I thought I'd share a bit of what's blooming at The Arbor Gate and maybe encourage a few of my local readers to make a visit there.  

Who Stopped The Music?  Cypress Vine/Cardinal Climber  (Ipomoea quamoclit)

Clitoria ternuata, Butterfly Pea Vine
Imagine yourself here!

Outside the herb area, there are colorful plantings AND colorful yard art.  That's true of the whole nursery, actually!

This is a Bauhinia but I'm not sure which one.

A closeup of the blooms

This bed near the seminar seating area is popular with
the butterflies and hummingbirds.

Pagoda flower (Clerodendrum paniculatum)

Potato vine

Salvia miniata in the shade house: if you have 
shade AND hummingbirds, you need this plant!

The new 'Black Diamond' series of Crape Myrtles
is available at The Arbor Gate.

You didn't overdo it on the wine, you ARE seeing a
pink elephant next to the compact Texas sage.

Love those blooms!

Cassia, Hamelia and Crown of Thorns

Cuphea llavea 'Flamenco': those blooms do look
like ruffled skirts!

This bed is in front of the sales office.
Salvia leucantha is putting on a show!

Thanks to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.  If you haven't read her blog, you should!  Mosey on over there and see who else has posted about their blooms for September!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Surprises In & Out of The Garden

I walked outside to get the mail last week and was greeted by a naked lady ... also known as Surprise Lily.  I had no idea that Otahal had included Lycoris radiata amongst the plants he gave me last year ... thus far I've only been surprised once, so maybe he has no idea he did either.  The common name of Naked Lady stems from the plant's habit of blooming on a foliage-less stem.  The climate in my part of Texas is not conducive to growing Kniphofia but I hear tell that gardeners who can grow Red Hot Pokers find it amusing to do so in tandem with naked ladies. The Head Gardener is attempting to put on her poker face and pretend that she is not amused by such a juxtaposition.

During my travels to and from the Garden Bloggers' Fling in Asheville, North Carolina, I was fortunate to spend some time at Fairegarden in Tennessee.  Frances, Gail of Clay and Limestone and I took a little road trip over to Frances' favorite local nursery, Mouse Creek.  As usual, I was unable to resist temptation and came home with quite a few plants that were new to me.  I've grown Ironweed, Vernonia lettermannii, for several years now but a different variety caught my eye and then jumped on the cart.  It refused to be dissuaded from coming home with me and I am so delighted that it did!  It started blooming recently and I am just wild about it.  Now if only I could remember the species and/or cultivar.  

My Meyer Lemon tree is loaded with fat green lemons ... I've had to prune the Persian Vitex growing nearby so I can use that plant as a support for the branches of the lemon tree.  I have no clue why ONE lemon chose to ripen ahead of all the others.  It has now been harvested and juiced and I have only to decide what kind of cocktail I should make with it!

A box arrived at my gate last week ... knowing that I hadn't ordered anything recently, I suspected my sister was responsible for this delivery.  Yep, once again I have been blessed by the largesse of the inimitable Dr. Laura (not Schlessinger and for that I am truly thankful).  Chickens everywhere are doubtless crowing and clucking over this addition to the funk art gallery that adorns the driveway fence.

There was one unhappy surprise ... congestion in my head and a tickle in my chest turned into a nasty attack of sinusitis and bronchitis last weekend.  I battled it on my own for several days before conceding the need for medical intervention.  A visit to the urgent care center netted me a cortisone shot, antibiotics and an inhaler.    You know I'm really sick when a cool front arrives and I spend my days inside!  I'm recovering more slowly than I'd like but I expect to be in good shape by the time the next cool front arrives.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


To those who would tell me *"It's not the heat, it's the humidity" , come on down here to my corner of Katy and let's spend a couple of hours outside,  pulling weeds and spreading mulch.    You will doubtless understand why I disagree most vehemently with that statement.  IT'S BOTH and no one can convince me otherwise. I am unanimous in this.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August Bloom Day: More Than You Know ...

So the 15th has rolled around as it does every month (at least until the Mayan calendar runs out at the end of this year) and Carol of May Dreams Gardens invites bloggers around the world to share what's blooming in their gardens today.  Despite my predictable whinging about the heat and drought on my corner of Katy, the Head Gardener has been humming that old standby "More Than You Know"* to remind me that we are still fortunate in the number of blooms to be found here at Wit's End.  Let's take a stroll around the gardens, shall we?

This one's for Gail of Clay and Limestone,  who's a tireless champion for our pollinators!
The bees really are going bonkers over the Frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora). It's also a nectar source for butterflies and a larval food source for Phaon Crescentspot, Buckeye and White Peacock butterflies.

There haven't been all that many blooms on the Bauhinia yunnanensis  but I still love the orchidlike flowers.  The vine is all tangled up with Salvia coccinea 'Coral Nymph' and a white Cypress vine which had better start blooming soon or suffer the fate of the non-productive!

'Coral Nymph' in the rose bed ... there's a Madame Antoine Mari rose behind that plant,
believe it or not!  I do like how it pairs with catmint.
The rose bed is also home to  moss pink verbena (V. tenuisecta), Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium
leucanthemum), Pink Skullcap (Scuttellaria suffrutescens), Peruvian pavonia (P. peruviensis), Brazilian Buttonbush (Centratherum intermedium() and the stubbornly non-blooming trailing purple lantana (L. montevidensis).

I cut back the various winecups that grow in the rose bed since they get
pretty leggy by August.  One of them produced the blooms above and below
that are so lovely, they make my heart smile.

I wonder if it would come true from seed? I'll save this one and see.
Winecups are Callirhoe involucrata.

I also planted a Rhapsody in Pink (TM) Crape Myrtle in the rose bed .
The foliage is supposed to be a dark wine color but given our summer heat,
I'm happy to see it healthy and dark green.  Will I leave this small tree in that
bed or feel compelled to move it?  The Head Gardener is banging her head against the wall.

One hot daylily for one hot month ... I defy anyone to ignore this gaudy beauty!
It's one of those whose name has been lost to time.

Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpeta jamaicensis) blooms
in sun or shade here on my corner of Katy.  

The delicate pink racemes of Indigofera (I. spp.) dangle above pigeonberry (Rivina humilis).

I beg to differ with the 'Rio Bravo' Texas Sage (Leucophyllum
langmanniae), which thinks it's received rain recently.

This combination of Texas Sage with red-orange zinnias, Batface cuphea
and 'Carmencita' castor bean surely qualifies for a 'clown pants' award.  (That term
is courtesy of the above-mentioned Gail of C&L ... we may have to hold a clown pants-
off between C&L and Wit's End.)

Plantings like this certainly fit the category.  'Carmencita', Bauhinia galpinii,  Panicum 'Ruby Ribbons'
Butterfly Weed, orange Cosmos, and 'Cherry Chief' Salvia greggii are fronted by a Proven Winners lantana  I was given to trial this spring.  Thumbs up, most definitely!

Carmencita with 'Ruby Ribbons' Panicum. Double click to enlarge
so you can see the beautiful blooms on this ornamental grass.

Sundrops (Calylophus drummondii), Yellow Bulbine and Gaillardia hiding
in the grass.

Engelmann's Daisy (Engelmannii peristenia)

Abelmoschus spp.

Another unidentified daylily defies the heat and drought!

Cuphea ignea 'David Verity' behind the Agave

Hamelia, Firespike (Odontonema strictum), Chile Pequin & Shrimp Plant

Pinecone Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana)

One of many Hamelias scattered about my corner of Katy


Okra Mallow (Abelmoschus esculentus) is stunning close-up.

Monarch on milkweed

The Bauhinia galpinii  on the south side of the front gardens
is affectionately known as Cher.  Tina Turner reigns supreme
in the corner bed.

OK, not in my garden but right next door ... my neighbor's Crape Myrtle is red hot!

Susan with cicada shell

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on native Turk's cap (Malvaviscus drummondii)

Gulf Fritillary again

This Aloe bloom is the color of orange sherbet.

A closeup of the firespike bloom with Hamelia behind it and the
red umbrella in the courtyard echoing their color

'Lemon Sorbet' or 'Fruit Cocktail'? It does look good enough to eat!

The Jimson Weed is absolutely loaded with buds but it refused to bloom
in time.  I've cut this plant back at least twice already but it
continues to scoff at my efforts to contain it!

The Head Gardener forbids me to make any off color comments about
the seedpods on the Jimson Weed.

Duranta, sometimes called Golden Dewdrops or Blue Skyflower,
is a reliable bloomer that's drought tolerant AND highly attractive to butterflies. 

Australian Violet is a charming ground cover. 

Clerodendrum buchannii var. fallax, Pagoda Flower would probably
bloom more profusely if I let it out of the pot and into the ground.
Given their tendency to run, I believe I'll sacrifice a few blooms.

Bauhinia mexicana is one of my favorite small trees.   The glaring orange
flag below serves as a reminder that I planted something that
needs extra attention while it's settling in, usually in the form of water.

This Vernonia came from Mouse Creek Nursery in Tennessee, a favorite haunt of
Frances of Faire Garden.  I wasn't sure how it would do in my gardens but
I'm delighted to see that it's going to bloom soon!

Gaura lindheimeri is one of the most drought tolerant plants
I grow. It reseeds with abandon so I'm never without its blooms.
That's one of last year's Serenity Mix verbenas below.

Vernonia lettermanii, Ironweed,a 2009 purchase from Plant Delights Nursery, I think?
I'm always tickled when I see this blooming because I worry every year
that I've lost it.
This is one of the native Ruellias but I'm still not sure which.  Maybe R.
caroliniensis?  It's a prolific little bugger, like so many of its family.

Lantana spp. 'Fruity Pebbles' or 'Lavender Popcorn'
One last picture before I wrap this up ...
Freddie Mercury was relocated this week with assistance
from my neighbor Brian.  He doesn't look quite as evil now, does he?