Friday, November 14, 2014

Dodging Bullets On My Corner of Katy

Gomphrena 'Fireworks'
When the reports first began to appear of a polar vortex swooping down upon south central Texas to wreak havoc and destruction in the form of a historically early freeze, the Head Gardener and I scoffed.  In 17 years on my corner of Katy, neither of us can remember the mercury dipping below freezing before December ... and we were unanimous in that.  That in itself is as rare as a freeze in November!  


'La Marne' rose, Country Girl mum, Salvia 'Henry Duelberg'
But as the forecast dipped lower and then lower again over the course of the week, I confess that we both began to wonder if perhaps we'd been too hasty in our judgment.  By mid-day yesterday, models were showing a sustained period - 3 to 6 hours - of temperatures in the 28 to 30 degree range.  The HG and I had to make a decision: did we unearth the frost cloth and old sheets from the depths of closets and the garage, then venture forth into the chilly and breezy afternoon to cover those plants which were not only tender, but valued?  


Coral vine
Readers, we did not.  We sat in our warm and comfy living room, read the latest Darling Dahlias cozy mystery from Susan Wittig Albert and told ourselves that we'd leave the fate of the garden up to Mother Nature.  The frost cloth and sheets remained in the closet and garage, and we remained warm and comfy.  


Ribbon Bush, Hypoestes aristata
And we chose well ... The HG's first thought upon waking was to check the temperature.  37 degrees is unseasonably cold but not cold enough to damage most of the plants on my corner of Katy.  We haven't gone walkabout yet to survey the garden but when we do, we don't expect to find anything of real concern.  We were ready to say goodbye to the coleus, anyway!
Coleus after being slapped around by Mother Nature

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Where We've Been ... and Where We're Going: July 2014

Bees do love the poppies!
When last we posted, a brief report for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day back in April, the Head Gardener and I were in serious spring gardening mode.  Much to our delight, spring hung around longer than usual throughout the Houston area and the temperatures were remarkably pleasant in May and even into June.  
Rudbeckias blooming at Industrial Country Market on
Highway 71 West going towards Austin

We took full advantage of the balmy weather in May.  In the midst of cleaning out spent spring annuals, pulling weeds and spreading compost, the HG also talked me into enlarging the paths in the back garden, which necessitated moving moss rocks around and toting bags of decomposed granite from the truck to the back.  She SAID that reducing the beds in size would make them easier to maintain and she was unanimous in that.  As frequently happens with these ideas of hers, we traded future ease of maintenance for some damned hard work in the here and now.  First my left knee and hip began complaining and once they'd settled down, the right knee joined the party.  I keep telling her we should hire some stronger younger helpers but she refuses to listen, obstinate woman that she is.  However, she did agree to wait until fall to finish enlarging the paths.  



Pineapple Guava (Feijoa sellowiana) blooming at the
Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum in Savannah. I didn't
know it was even possible for them to be that floriferous!
May was also notable for the long weekend spent in Savannah, Georgia with some garden blogging compadres. We saw some delightful gardens, met some wonderful Southern gardeners and came home refreshed and ready to get back to work here at Wit's End.


Purple coneflowers, all self-sown
June was notable for a less than felicitous reason: as I was working in iPhoto on my MacBook, one second I had 14,700+ photos ... and the next, they were gone.  With the help of the Genius Bar at the Apple Store, perhaps 9500 of them were retrieved.  The rest are gone, including, I fear, those I took at Garden Bloggers' Flings in Seattle, Asheville and San Francisco.  I've stopped kicking myself for not backing up my files but thinking about it does make me sad.  


Last week in the front gardens ... the Crocosmia/Montbretia
have been spectacular this year!
Speaking of the Garden Bloggers' Fling, this time tomorrow the Head Gardener and I will be in Portland, Oregon for the 7th annual Fling.  We're excited to visit a city which we've heard praised for its gardens and we were looking forward to the cooler temperatures Portlandia usually boasts in July.  I say were because the forecast is now calling for 90+ degrees all 3 days.  This happened in San Francisco last year ... I'm beginning to think we Texas bloggers are a jinx.  


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Time Marches On: Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day March 2014

This is the sight that greeted me on the morning of March 4, 2014, a day that shook my faith in my skills as a meteorological forecaster.  Next year, when friends and passersby ask me at the end of February or beginning of March if I think it's safe to plant/prune/whatever, I have an answer ready: "remember what happened this time last year?"


I am thankful to report that despite being laid low by the combination of rain and an extended period of sub-freezing temperatures, the garden has rebounded somewhat as of this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day*.  True,  the toadflax are still flopping, much to the displeasure of the Head Gardener, who would prefer we be much more ruthless in our thinning of seedlings.  


Many of the roses were set back by the unforeseen cold snap: tender new growth and younger buds were damaged.  The blooms on the 'Anna' and 'Dorsett' apple espalier were at a critical point. Tiny apples were just forming and those are now dropping off the branches.  New blooms have taken their place, though.  


And the formerly bedraggled bluebonnets are bursting into bloom!  

*Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol of May Dreams Gardens.  Thanks, Indy!