Sunday, March 31, 2013

There's One In Every Crowd ... and Garden!

Long ago, I decided to banish hot colors - the reds, the oranges, the yellows - to the front gardens and limited the color palette in the back gardens to various hues of pink, purple, blue and white. The poppies I chose to plant in back were singles and doubles in a glorious shade of pink, as seen above.

Last year I was perplexed to find some red poppies blooming amid the pinks but I carefully removed the pods before they ripened and popped open to scatter their progeny.  Yesterday morning, when the bloom on this poppy opened, I swear I heard Mother Nature laughing.  Or maybe it was the garden fairies.

It's smack dab in the front of the pastel plantings along the south fence line.  So much for any illusion of control ... what a beautiful way to lose it, though!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

So Long, Farewell, Goodbye, Auf Wiedersehen

 For as long as we've lived on this corner of Katy, a pine tree has towered over the north side of the house.  It's been in decline for several years now and each spring, I've asked my tree guy Shawn Geiman of Shawnee Trees whether it was time to take it down.  This year the answer was yes.

Healthy pines have lush dark green needles. This tree's needles were a sickly green with a yellow cast, browning at the tips.  The west-facing side of the tree had as many dead branches as live ones.  At 30+ years old, this pine needed to be put out of its misery.

Shawn and his able assistant Josh arrived mid-morning in the dump truck, chipper in tow, and got right to work. 

Shawn settled himself into a comfortable (???) spot in the tree and got busy with his chainsaw.


2+ hours into the project, there was no comfortable spot!

And by mid-afternoon, the tree was gone, leaving the Arizona Cypress 'Carolina Sapphire' to reign over that part of the gardens.  Without the pine to block the morning sunlight, the cypress should fill out nicely on the east and south facing sides.

Not all of the pine has left the premises: at my request, Shawn cut thick slabs of the trunk to serve as stepping stones.     I didn't get any pictures of those ... another time!  Many thanks to Shawn and Josh for their excellent and careful work!  These guys cheerfully make the extra effort to protect my plants and tolerate my input on tree trimming equally cheerfully.  If you live in the Houston area, and you're in need of a tree guy, I recommend Shawnee Trees highly!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Three for Thursday: Three Things That Made Me Happy Today

I've been working with the same old rusty shovel for most of my gardening life.  The edges are dull and the wood handle is roughened, both things that could be improved with some filing and sanding.  The Head Gardener and The Executive Producer always seem to be somewhere else when I want their help with such a task, though.  Today, after returning home from another trip to Treesearch, I decided that I not only needed a new shovel but by golly, I deserved one!  So I headed to Lowe's and ankled it over to the garden tools display.  I had another shovel in hand when Lowe's employee Kevin suggested I take a look at this Truper 2-in-1 shovel and edger they had just received.  He unwrapped one and handed it to me.  It felt good in my hands and I decided it was worth a try.  As soon as I got home, I put on my gloves and took the Truper for a spin.  OH, MAMA.  Where have you been all my gardening life??????

As I was tidying up later, I saw that another Louisiana iris had opened.  This is 'Wine Country'.   That picture doesn't convey the deep rich velvety tones of this bloom.  It's my new favorite until another variety opens and seduces me with its charms!

Finally, I stopped at New Nurseries on my way home from Treesearch and was fortunate to find a 'Rising Sun' redbud.  I've coveted this tree since I saw it at the Garden Writers' Association convention, I think in 2010.  It's said to tolerate heat and humidity well and I'm optimistic about its future here at Wit's End.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: March 2013

Today was a beautiful sunny day, albeit a bit windy, and  instead of showing what's blooming on my corner of Katy, I thought I'd show you what's blooming out at Treesearch Farms, my favorite local grower and wholesale nursery. I consider myself a horthead but Treesearch owner Heidi Sheesley makes me look like a poser ... she's been gardening since she was a toddler and her enthusiasm for plants has made Houston a more beautiful city.  Before I got down to the serious business of selecting plants, I strolled the grounds of Treesearch with my camera and added a few plants to my wish list in the process.   

This is Bartlett's Bauhinia, B. bartlettii.
It's one I've never seen before and if I could
only figure out where it would fit, I would
consider it a must have!
I forgot to get an ID on the tree but look at the Silver Mound Lantana
growing underneath.  That's a Salvia greggii on the left behind it.

I do believe this is the coolest arch I have EVER seen. WANT.

Seriously. This is beyond awesome.

'Coral Beauty' rose ... I used to have this.  Wish I still did!

Rose pink Achillea ... do you say Uh-kill-EE-uh or Uh-kill-LAY-a?
Several of the garden bloggers had a discussion about this but
failed to resolve the issue.

Rose 'Safrano'

Callirhoe involucrata, Winecup, has been my favorite spring wildflower
since I was a child.

You can surely understand why when you look at this bloom!
'Homestead Purple' verbena planted with 'Passalong Pink'
verbena is stunning.

I have 'Homestead Purple' but I brought home a
'Passalong Pink' for the express purpose of creating this combination.

Coral Salvia greggi with a snapdragon 

Iris 'Cemetery White', a Southern favorite

If you're a Texas gardener, you are legally required to plant
bluebonnets. Well, you should be.

This may be Rudbeckia 'Irish Eyes', I didn't see a label. 

It's as pretty in the midst of opening as it is in full bloom!

Lemon shrimp plant with Paco's Possumhaw in the background

Cestrum (Orange Peel?)

This fellow obligingly posed for me on the banks of the pond.

This small tree was my favorite plant today.  It's a
big-flowered Silverbell (Halesia).

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is the brainchild of Carol of May Dreams Gardens.  Visit her there to see what's blooming in other gardens around the world!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Three for Thursday: Views from the Chair

These were taken with the iPhone because I was enjoying the cool of the evening too much to get up from the chair and go get my camera.  The weather has been as close to perfect as it ever gets here on my corner of Katy.  Spring is always a bittersweet time for me ... it's my favorite bloom season but the knowledge of what lies ahead weighs heavily on my mind!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Three for Thursday: It's Louisiana Iris Time!

From bud to bloom, 3 stages:

When I first started growing them, I had grand plans (HG says more like grandiose) to create a river of Louisiana iris along one wall of the garage.  It didn't turn out quite as I envisioned - the HG says it was more of a rivulet - so I moved the iris to another spot ... and another ... and another ... and so on.  Over the years, they've multiplied and been moved and divided many times, and I've continued to add new varieties as the mood strikes me.  (It struck in New Orleans last February at American Aquatic Gardens. Fun place if you're in the Big Easy.) 

It really would be great if I could identify each and every iris growing here on my corner of Katy.  Many years ago, my friend Amy suggested that we attend the Houston Bulb & Plant Mart in early October.  The first thing you saw as you entered the room where bulbs were sold was the Louisiana iris booth.  Pictures of the varieties on offer were displayed above the boxes of rhizomes and those pictures were all it took to get me hooked.  I don't recall how many I bought that first year or indeed any year thereafter.  It became a running joke between us that Amy was not to let me go overboard.  I always did and she always laughed and shook her head.  

I do remember the names of some of the varieties I bought ... Clyde Redmond, Black Gamecock, Chacahoula ChaCha, Eolian, Puddytat ...  I wish I'd kept an inventory of them. (The daylilies too but that's a post for another time!) I still have some but not all of my Bulb Mart catalogs and could probably come up with a rough list of what I purchased.  I wish to state for the record that I did start out labeling them in the beginning.  But labels aren't that much use as the iris multiply and intermingle.  It becomes increasingly difficult to tell which fan belongs with which rhizome.  And I might have bought several that are similar in appearance over the years ... I kinda have this thing for blues and purples.  But given the choice between sitting inside at a desk to catalog  plants or sitting outside in a comfy chair to enjoy the blooms, the HG and I are in rare agreement as to which we'd choose!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Head Gardener Speaks: Somebody Call The Waaa-mbulance!

We were bluer than these Texas Bluebonnets!
It has come to my attention that the last post on this blog was exactly one month ago today.  Contrary to what our readers may fear, She Who Must Be Obeyed has NOT come to her wits' end and abandoned the gardens here at Wit's End, the blog or all hope.  

Beaten up by the wind but still beautiful
While it is true that both SWMBO and I were grumpy, I am unanimous in my belief that whereas a few moments of whinging and wringing our hands can be therapeutic, it does neither of us any good to carry on for hours or days on end.  I therefore was forced to issue an edict that such whinging would cease and desist immediately.  For once, SWMBO listened to me and we are at this moment in fine fettle  mentally, if not physically.  The pollen count has risen alarmingly with the onset of oak tassel season.  We'll be congested and itchy-eyed for several weeks to come.  

We're working on achieving the sunny attitude of this rudbeckia!
My apologies if anyone was worried by the gloomy nature of that last post and my thanks to all who expressed understanding and support.  We are doing some serious cogitating on reworking the front gardens to make them more manageable and hope to begin implementation of a plan soon!