Friday, June 29, 2012

My Eyes! My Eyes!

To be filed under the heading of "be careful what you wish for".

For years, I've lamented my neighbor's planting of red-tip photinias on his side of our shared fence.  Not only did their roots steal moisture and nutrients from my soil, but the reddish hues of new foliage did not go well with the mostly pastel colors of my back gardens.  So I rejoiced when he decided to cut down the photinias earlier this year to make room for critical fence repairs.   I never once considered the possibility that whatever he planted in their stead might clash even more grievously.  Put on your sunglasses, my friends, and behold the image now burned into my retinas.

What do you MEAN it doesn't look all that bad?  They're an abomination, an insult to all that is lovely about my garden.  Not only that, I can see them from here at my desk when I'm gazing out the patio door in contemplation and cogitation.

I'm not going to say the cannas must die ... I honor my neighbor's right to plant whatever he wishes in his garden, just as he honors my right to do so in mine.  But something must be done to obscure them from view.  There's no room to plant a 30 gallon tree in that area, effective though it might be in screening the loathsome sight.  And I suspect there are MORE cannas that have yet to grow tall enough to be seen over the fence.  My current thinking is to install some kind of structure ... a pergola, multiple trellises, whatEVER ... on which I could grow vines or climbing roses.  Have any ideas for me?  BRING THEM ON.  PLEASE.  I BEG YOU!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wildflower Wednesday: Mmmmmm, Chocolate!

On a sunny summer's day (which is MOST OF THEM lately), there is nothing that can compare to walking by the corner bed and catching a whiff of the inimitable and heady fragrance that emanates from Berlandiera lyrata, also known as Chocolate Daisy.  I swoon ever time I walk by.  It almost makes being out there in 90+ degree temperatures worthwhile.  Almost.  

My thanks to Gail of Clay and Limestone for the invitation to participate in Wildflower Wednesday (and my apologies for continuing to whine about the heat ...).  Visit C&L to see who else has posted about their wildflowers!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot & Cranky, Cranky, Cranky

As you can see on the sidebar, I've declared THE AWFUL to have officially begun and am counting down the days to October 1st, the date each year when I actually begin to believe that I may make it through another Texas summer.  Strictly speaking, it's been awful since mid-May but I've been in denial.  Too much time in cooler climes spoiled me: the mountains of North Carolina and the streets of New York City were much more to my liking than my corner of Katy.  All month long, as I cut back already overgrown plants and pull rapidly proliferating weeds, my mind keeps slipping away from the tasks at hand.  I lose myself in fantasies of turning my back on the gardens and getting the hell out of Texas, at least for the summer.  At my crankiest, I start a mental list of better places to live.  

When I said this to friends last weekend, one of them laughed and told me "you could never leave your garden."  She was shocked when I answered that yes, I could. I truly believe I could say goodbye to my corner of Katy and move on without lingering regrets. It's not that I don't have these thoughts every summer but this year, for the first time, I've considered it as possibility rather than fantasy that I could someday live and garden somewhere other than Katy.
For now, just the possibility is enough to keep me trudging through these seemingly endless summer days.  Well, that AND my plans for some weekend getaways in July and August!  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Back Amongst the Blooming: Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!

Having missed the last two Bloom Days, I was determined not to let June's pass me by.  I'm doubly determined to get back into the blogging swing of things.  April and May were even crazier months than usual.  They're always hectic when it comes to gardening, since I'm hellbent on getting as much as I can done before the Awful begins.  Stress levels are usually heightened in spring but throw in the travails of a terminally ill kitty and his heartbroken companion, increasing responsibilities for my elderly mother and two big trips within 2 weeks (Garden Bloggers' Fling and a family trip to the Big Apple) ... damn skippy I've been freaking out a little!  

TGIG: Thank God I Garden.  Horticultural therapy is a welcome respite from the rest of my life, at least until I find snails munching the Manfreda and destroying the daylilies, Nodding Spurge and Leaf-flower Weed well on their way to garden domination, and some kind of Mexican Milkweed Beetle taking food away from hard-fluttering Monarchs.  But I digress ... this is supposed to be a post celebrating the many and glorious blooms in my gardens on this June 15th.  So let's move on before the Head Gardener steps in to start ranting about what I haven't been doing to prevent some of those UNhappy occurrences!

Let's start out front, shall we?  I spent some time in late April and early May clearing out the corner bed, removing spent spring annuals and thinning out overvigorous plants (Engelmann's Daisy, I am talking about YOU.)   Yes, it's still pretty full but it's nowhere near as chaotic as it could be!  In the forefront at bottom, you see Gaillardia, yellow Delosperma, Berlandiera lyrata (Chocolate Daisy ... and OH, the fragrance when the sun hits it!), Rudbeckias and the Engelmannii peristenia.  In themiddle, those tall red spikes on the left are Salvia darcyi.  There's a zinnia on the right.  At the back of the bed is the Bauhinia galpinii, affectionately known as Tina Turner.  

Tina is still in early tryouts for her summer tour ... hopefully she'll be her usual flamboyant self by August.  Diva that she is, I suspect she's a bit miffed at my attempts to tame her unruly mane.  But  on the opposite side of the front gardens, as seen below, fellow diva Cher has chosen to extend her tour from my corner of Katy to my neighbor's yard.  She's taken it to cable, as well!

Sundrops, Calylophus drummondii, sport these lemon-yellow blooms year-round.  They're about as low maintenance as a plant can get: the most I do is whack them back when they get leggy.
The daylilies continue to delight.  This is my favorite for 2012.  I'd love to know its name ... but like most of my daylilies, it's a NOID. When Otahal and his crew were here to replant the beds after installing the rock borders, I really did make an effort to keep the daylilies tagged. I even attempted to place them by color and height.  I have failed abysmally on all fronts, according to the HG. 

Although I planted several 'Ella Mae' Agapanthus out front, this is the only survivor.  I'm unsure why the others rotted out and she did not ... but I have to admire her true blue tenacity!  Behind her you see Scutellaria sp. 'Red Fountains'.  Something with orange blooms would certainly better complement the Agapanthus but I'm not moving the Skullcap when it's so happy there.  Perhaps I'll look for a daylily whose colors will tie the Agapanthus and Skullcap together.  Or maybe some Coleus?

Each year when the columbines continue to bloom into June, I applaud them for their bravado.  What's not to admire about a cool season bloomer that thumbs its stamens at temperatures in the high 90s?  This little Aquilegia canadensis (or hybrid thereof) is nestled at the shady base of an oak tree, which is probably why it continues to thrive.

'Fireworks' Pennisetum are blooming near the sidewalk and behind them you see the flame-colored blooms of the Crocosmia (aka Montbretia) and the more muted tones of Abutilon 'Marilyn's Choice'. Back near the courtyard wall there's a red firespike.  You can't see them in this picture but there are also red pinecone shrimp plants (Justicia brandegeana).  

To those who live in the Pacific Northwest, these Crocosmia probably look puny ... they're having a very good year here on my corner of Katy, though!  Most of my Crocosmias came from a lovely gardener who was moving from the West University area of Houston to the Hill Country.  She kindly offered fellow gardeners the opportunity to dig plants from her West U. garden before the lot was razed and new construction began.  The generosity of fellow gardeners is a wonderful thing!

Dicliptera suberecta and dwarf Pomegranate also reside near the courtyard wall.  

My neighbor is such a good guy. He not only tolerates the encroachment of my plants on his side of the property line but enjoys the view.  That's Cher again, strutting her stuff by the street, with Rudbeckias, Turk's Caps, Cestrum parqui, and Miniature Hamelia sharing the space. 
You know, I believe I'll stop here. We never made it out of the front yard but it would take me all day to chronicle the entirety of my corner of Katy! I'm happy to be back amongst the Bloom Day bloggers. If you'll visit May Dreams Gardens, home of Bloom Day creator Carol and such characters as Miss Jane Hortaway, you'll find links to Bloom Day posts from around the world!

A NOTE: If I understood HTML, this post would look a lot cleaner and prettier.  I'm hoping my tech-savvy son can help me clean it up tomorrow and show me how to avoid such happenings in future.  Until then, my apologies!