Thursday, January 17, 2013

Three for Thursday: How Low Did It Go?

There was frost on the rooftops this morning so I wandered out back to the nearest birdbath to see if we had indeed gotten below freezing.  Yep, I'd say so.

When I went to break the ice, it was harder than I thought.  So I picked up that rock that's in the middle of the birdbath, thinking I'd use it to break the ice.

Guess not!   The patterns in the ice were so pretty, I hated to let it melt away in the winter sun ...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

We're Still Here: Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day January 2013

Gartendirektor Otto Linne blooms year round.
So here's my dilemma: do I stay inside on this wet and dreary winter's day and use old photos of the plants that are blooming here on my corner of Katy? Or do I bundle up and venture outside to take pictures of those blooms in their currently bedraggled state?  The Head Gardener thinks I should buck up and get out in the garden ... she says it's misleading to post old pictures.  However, as the Queen of Everything here at Wit's End, I hereby proclaim the use of pictures taken in more felicitous weather to be acceptable ... and I am unanimous in this.  

Disclaimer from the Head Gardener: In this, as always, I bow to She Who Must Be Obeyed (SWMBO). HOWEVER, I register herewith my formal disapproval of this slipshod and lackadaisical practice.

White plumbago prefers heat and drought but they continue
to bloom nonetheless.
Excuse that interruption. Between the HG and the furry-tailed rodent attenpting to finagle his way into the birdfeeders, I'm not making much headway on this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day post.  At least the HG isn't as bad as the garden fairies who periodically commandeer GBBD hostess Carol's blog at May Dreams Gardens (because they are garden fairies and they will have their say).  

I always feel a vague sense of guilt this time of year for having so danged many blooms when others are lamenting their lack thereof.  Much as I'd like to take credit, I think my corner of Katy is a sweet spot when it comes to cold weather. Why else would tropical plants like Bauhinias still be blooming?  Both B. mexicana and B. yunnanensis are hanging in there valiantly, protected as they are by the back fence.  Out on the corner, though, the Tina Turner Bauhinia (B. galpinii), took a hit during one of the light freezes and blooms no longer.  No worries, she'll be fine.

Cuphea x ignea
 I'm a litte surprised that this cuphea is still blooming out back and in the rose bed on the alleyway corner.  I think of it as more tender than the bat-face and David Verity cupheas that are planted out front.  This flirtatious cutie goes by several names, including Starfire Pink, Twinkle Pink and Pink Bunny.  I still think of it as Hummingbird Cuphea because that's the first name I heard it called.
We've had enough rain lately that Souvenir's blooms do NOT look anything like
this beauty.  I adore them nonetheless.

In addition to Rosa 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' pictured above, a number of other roses are still blooming, albeit not prolifically.  Those include Souvenir de la Malmaison, La Marne, Belinda's Dream, Caldwell Pink, Bon Silene, Ducher, Mutabilis, Chi Long Han Zhu, Highway 290 Pink Buttons/Rouletii, Mrs. Dudley Cross and Moby Dick, a white Storybook Rose I brought home from a GWA meeting.  

Pink Skullcap (Scuttellaria suffrutescens)
Pink skullcap is one of my go-to plants for the fronts of the borders and some of them have gotten quite large over the years.  They've also gotten quite leggy, which is why this past week found me outside cutting them back.  Even if the cold weather nips them, they'll be fine come spring.  Another go-to plant, Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthemum), is also still blooming.

A snow-dusted coneflower in 2009
Purple coneflowers have been reliable year-round bloomers here.  This is the first year since 2009 that I can remember seeing so many of them going dormant, albeit briefly.  The temperatures always warm up enough after even the most bitter of cold spells that the Echinaceas put on new growth quickly.  I've left the dead seedheads on most of them in hopes that they would appeal to the goldfinches currently in residence.  

I can also count on alyssum to be blooming most of the year here, even though it's supposed to be a cool season annual for us.  This lavender alyssum is one of the 'Blushing Princess' plants sent to me earlier this year by Proven Winners to trial in my garden. I've been impressed thus far with how well it's performed.  That is my unsolicited endorsement, in case the FTC is reading.  And this one IS a current picture, taken through the window with my iPhone. In addition to 'Blushing Princess', reseeded alyssum in shades of white and purple can be found all over the gardens.

Duranta 'Sweet Memories' is planted along the south-facing garage wall in back ... I suppose the protection of that wall is why it continues to bloom.  The bees and butterflies that are still visiting the gardens, as well as a lone hummingbird still in residence, seem quite pleased.

Holy moly, it's 5:00! I've worked on this post off and on all day and never even got out of the back gardens!  Since the Executive Producer and I are meeting friends for dinner at 6:00, I should start wrapping this up.  So just a quick rundown by name of what else is blooming in back ... maybe tomorrow I can post about the front.  

Salvias: Henry Duelberg, Augusta Duelberg, Wendy's Wish, S. darcyi, S. greggii.  Sweet Olive. Pink Turk's Cap. Sweet Almond Verbena. Persian Vitex. Tilo (Justicia pectoralis). Chinese Lobelia (L. chinensis). Dianthus 'Firestar'. Pigeonberry (Rivinia humilis).  Osteospermum in pots. Dianthus in pots.  A white Lantana from Proven Winners whose name I can't recall. Pink Muhly Grass. Clerodendrum thomsoniae x delectum.