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?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Business As Usual On My Corner of Katy

Clematis unknownus (Ramona, is that you?)
First off, an update on my Franken-leg, as Dee Nash of Red Dirt Ramblings called it.  Increased swelling in one spot sent me back to the ER on July 30th and necessitated the removal of 4 staples so the nurse-practitioner could check the wound for infection.  They sent me home with a different antibiotic and instructions to keep resting and elevating the leg. By Wednesday, I was still feeling a bit anxious about it so I made a call to my orthopedist.  Blessings be upon Dr. Alan Rechter and his staff for working me in and reassuring me that my complications were minor.  They did prescribe a new cleaning and dressing regimen to minimize the risks of staph infection, including the ever-attractive Ace bandage.  I returned the following week to have the remaining staples removed but am still under orders to keep it bandaged until they see me next week.  It's looking much better but that's going to be one heck of a scar.  Having a tattoo designed around it has been suggested.  I have not completely ruled out the idea.

Gulf Fritillary nectaring on Verbena bonariensis 
I did get clearance after my first visit to Dr. Rechter to resume my normal activities as I felt able.  So I've been getting out into the garden, despite the hellatious heat, attempting to tame the overgrown mess that I see in the back gardens. The rains we had in early July sent the plants into a frenzy of growth.  The lack of adequate rainfall in recent weeks, though, means there's not enough moisture in the soil to keep that growth healthy.  I hand water as I can but much of the back garden has been left to fend for itself.  It's not doing such a great job of it in some areas.  When even the drought-tolerant plants are drooping in the morning, I know it's too dry!

The centerpiece of this planting is Brazilian Buttonbush.  That's ONE plant, y'all. ONE.   
The front and streetside gardens are watered regularly by a sprinkler system so they're mostly in better shape.  This planting in the rose bed has really taken off.  Plants in that area include Catmint, Brazilian buttonbush, pink Cuphea, purple trailing Lantana, moss Verbena, 'Fuchsia Fountains' Scutellaria, pink native Scutellaria, and white Alyssum (go figure what that's doing blooming when it's supposed to be a cool season annual). 
The Coral Vine is using a Mexican Buckeye tree for support.  The bees LOVE the blooms.

As always this time of year, my enthusiasm for gardening has taken a nosedive. I reach a point every summer where nothing looks good to me and I want to rip out most of what's planted.  What stops me from doing so?  This year it's the abundance of bees and butterflies that visit the blooms. They don't care how it looks ... they're happy to have so many nectar sources.  I'm working towards being more like those pollinators, content with what I have rather than what I don't.

'Caldwell Pink', a found rose, is rarely out of bloom.