The Head Gardener Speaks: Bloom Day, November 2009

She Who Must Be Obeyed sent me out yesterday to brave the hordes of hungry mosquitoes so we gardeners here at Wit's End could participate in Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Blooms have we a-plenty but I fear the mosquito population exceeds that of the flowers. I have suggested that the Executive Producer and SWMBO consider investing in the stocks of companies that manufacture mosquito repellents and mosquito dunks so we can at least profit from our misery. A more practical alternative would be the installation of a bat house. Although weather forecasters are predicting a drop in temperatures today or tomorrow which we hope will discourage the pestilential beasts, a bit of Googling suggests that the temperatures must consistently fall below 60 degrees before mosquito feeding activity ceases. Our forecast low is 45 degrees tonight but tomorrow's high is 63 so we are prepared to be slapping and scratching for a while to come.

On to more felicitous subjects! Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, sponsored by Indianapolis gardener Carol of May Dreams Gardens, brings together garden bloggers from around the world on the 15th of each month to share the beauty to be found in their gardens. Here on our corner of Katy, many of the fall blooming perennials are putting on quite a show for us. One thing SWMBO and I have in common is our love for toad lilies. This stand of Tricyrtis is planted under the Persian Vitex and the original plants were a gift from our beloved friend Amy.

Another passalong plant from Amy's garden is what we think is a relative of Philippine Violet relative, a Barleria whose species we've been unable to determine. We saw it growing last year outside the main building of Enchanted Gardens, and since Amy was such a fan of the Enchanted nurseries, we're certain it has its origins with them. We've sent them an e-mail to ask if they know the species and will update this post if they have an answer for us. UPDATE: Denise Riccobono of Enchanted Gardens e-mailed me to say that although she's always heard it described as a Barleria, the botanical name is Hypoestes aristata. Like Barleria, it is a member of the Acanthaceae family. Perhaps the botanical name was changed along the way? Thanks to Denise for the information!

Passalong plants have a special place in our gardens and our hearts, reminding us of the friends and experiences that gardening has brought to us. This beautiful rose was given to us by Mike Kopetsky, an enthusiastic gardener and Rose Rustler. A rare white blooming sport of Mrs. B.R. Cant, this rose has really come into its own this year, most likely because SWMBO has allowed it to remain in the spot where it was originally planted 2-3 years ago. I count this as one of my successes in my ongoing efforts to persuade her that her plants should not be treated as though they have wheels (an expression coined by another gardening friend).

A brief update on the mosquito situation: unhappy with some of the images we shot yesterday evening, I ventured outside to reshoot a few of them. Although I saw several mosquitoes flitting about, not one of them made a landing on my usually irresistible skin. Be still my heart!

Although her penchant for rescuing plants from the clearance racks at Lowe's has often been followed by a trip to the compost bin, such was not the case with this unnamed Lantana. This is ONE plant ... it started life in a 4-1/2 inch pot but once planted, it hit the ground running. A second pot planted on the opposite corner (just visible in the lower right side of the picture) is performing equally well. The butterflies are as delighted with these plantings as we are!

Salvia leucantha also takes up a lot of space in a bed or border but it too more than earns its keep once it starts blooming.

Barbados Cherry (Malpighia glabra) is smothered in tiny pink blooms right now, some of which have already morphed into the small red fruits enjoyed by birds and wildlife.

Bleeding heart vine (Clerodendrum thomsoniae 'Delectum) blooms in partial shade here at Wit's End. We can understand why some people find it too aggressive for their gardens, since it does sucker from the roots. If that gives you pause, perhaps it will help you decide for or against it if I tell you that I do not find it nearly as obnoxious in its suckering tendencies as Passion Vines. The vine in this picture is planted against a fence but was originally situated in a pot against the south-facing wall of the house. A sucker took root in the granite under the pot and survived separation from the mother plant. That offspring is thriving and still blooming despite being disturbed during the recent path laying project.

Mrs. Dudley Cross is planted in the rose bed on the back corner of Wit's End. She's not been the most prolific of bloomers for us and we're still not sure she'll be allowed to keep her spot. If she produces more blooms like this one, though, we'll consider it!

Souvenir de la Malmaison, however, we would never want to be without.

When Coral Woody Penta (Rondeletia leucophylla) finally bursts forth into bloom, we forgive her for making us wait so long.

We used some of our Bullfrog Bucks from Nelson's Water Gardens to buy some fall/winter annuals for this hayrack planter. Stock, 'Spooky' Dianthus, Sweet Alyssum, a Pansy and an Osteospermum should really take off soon and fill this planter with color and fragrance. We might throw some Earl Grey Larkspur seeds in there and see what happens.

It's not hard to understand how this Salvia earned the name Hot Lips.

Clerodendrum wallichii (aka Wallich's Glorybower, Nodding Clerodendron, Bridal Veil or Waterfall Clerodendron) has finally settled into a spot behind the pond and condescended to bloom for us. That's more of Amy's Barleria you see with it.

There are still quite a few summer annuals blooming here on our corner of Katy. We've left a few of the less manky zinnias since butterflies are still numerous and they do love these blooms.

SWMBO must have direct sowed 4 or 5 different kinds of cosmos in various areas of the garden. This plant is one of the two that came up. That's two plants, gentle readers. Had I been consulted before the scatterbrained scattering commenced, I feel certain there would be more!

Leon the armadillo is now wandering through the winecups, having just passed through a self-sown plant of Profusion Apricot zinnia.

Time is of the essence so I'll close this post with an image of one of MCOK's most prolific fall and winter bloomers: Copper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemonii) is just getting started. We didn't plan this combination of Blackie Sweet Potato vine and CCD but we're rather enamored of it.


All that bright color is a feast for the eyes after all the autumnal tints of my garden. I'm glad the mosquitoes cooperated enough to allow you to take photos. I'm so glad I have a digital camera, so I have been able to delete all the blurred images snapped just as I got bitten by one of the little buggers. They like it when you stand still, like when you're taking a shot.
Caroline said…
What an explosion of color! I adore Leon the armadillo. Wherever did you find him? Does he have a brother that might want to come live in my garden? :)
I'm so happy that you are enjoying your garden now that it has cooled a bit...and that the mosquitoes gave you a bit of a break. You have a wonderful assortment of blooms in your corner of Katy!
Rose said…
Cindy, sorry I missed this post earlier--it didn't show up on my sidebar for some reason. But it was definitely worth the wait--what a show you have in your garden! The lantana is amazing--all that from one pot? I don't like mosquitos, but I'd brave them--with a little insect repellant, of course--just to take a stroll in your garden. For the past three days we have had nothing but non-stop rain; my garden is a brown, soggy mess:)
Anonymous said…
What a summer like post! The lantanas, zinnias and that little lemon marigold are all like a warm breeze. Hope those mosquitoes have left the building by now. I am also a big fan of John Mortimer. RIP
I love seeing your unusual plants (at least unusual for me) like clerodendrum and that unusual rose. Things look mighty fine in your corner of Katy!
Annie in Austin said…
Hi Cindy - great November bloom day!
I love the white sport of 'Mrs B R Cant - how cool you got it from one of the famous Rose Rustlers. I'm a little jealous to see your lovely Waterfall clerodendron gets to stay in that genus. My blue butterfly plant was shoved into Rotheca, but the flowers in your photo proves they're still related!

Happy GBBD and death to mosquitoes!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose
Gail said…
Wow Cindy! Your blooming flowers are wonderful...and so many of them...I've only ever seen lantana that happy at the beach in SC! it does love warm weather. Finally the mosquitoes have quieted here, too! It sure makes being out in the garden a pain and who wants to put that spray on for a quick trip to take a photo...sorry I was whining there for a few seconds;-) gail
Anonymous said…
Wow, you have a lot blooming and it looks good. I think your pictures are really nice and you have a good angle on them. I like to see some wide shots like you show. Can't believe how big some of your plants are--they would never get that big in our zone.

I want to thank you for participating in Operation Christmas Child. We raised $800 and made 20 boxes.
Cindy, MCOK said…
MMD, I'm thoroughly sick of mosquitoes. They're one of the reasons I haven't posted since Bloom Day!

Caroline, I'm trying to remember where I found Leon and I cannot remember. I'll let you know if my brain is able to access that info, tho. He's named after Houston Chronicle columnist Leon Hale, one of my favorite essayists.

Leslie, fall is such a great time for gardening here. In spring I'm always mindful that 90+ temperatures are closer than I'd like.

Rose, if you're ever in Houston, I insist that you come stroll with me. Try not to come in July or August, though!

Frances, I have a t-shirt that says SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED. There's a long and funny story associated with it but I think the pictures are lost to time, dang it.

Jean, that Clerodendrum would probably be root hardy for you. I have one potted somewhere that I can save for your next visit.

Annie, I was a Rose Rustler member for a while and have several plants that came from one of their cutting exchanges. It's a great way to get more old roses!

Gail, whine away ... it's nice to have company! I don't know why I think I only need to put on repellent when I'm going to be outside for several hours. Like the mosquitoes will realize I'm just making a brief foray and leave me alone? HA!

Anna, plants do get bigger here. I'm constantly underestimating the eventual size of one plant or another. This is why mine get moved so often!
EAL said…
I love all the flowers of course, but I was mainly struck by the sculpture that opens your post. I really like that type of distressed metal sculpture. It's really neat.
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