Wit's End of the Week Report: May 9, 2010

Some gardeners have bluebirds nesting ... I have starlings. Today there were 4 of these fellows atop the birdhouse at one point. Shortly thereafter, one bird made his way inside, to the intense displeasure of another. The second bird appeared to be trying to pull the first out from the house. I could see something in his beak on which he was tugging mightily, but I believe it was a piece of the nest and not a leg of the other bird!

I have cantaloupe seedlings! I've been very remiss about making notes in my garden journal so I can't remember exactly which day I planted these ... I think it was Tuesday or Wednesday. I have Dr. Hortfreud's favorite patient, Carol at May Dreams Gardens, to thank for the seeds for Heart of Gold melons. Here's hoping I'll be thanking her for tasty fruit in a later post!

I know this yellow Stokesia came to me from the GWA symposium in Raleigh last fall. I just can't remember if I bought it at Plant Delights or it was one of the trial plants I received. Overall, I'm happy with the plants I bought at PDN. Only one, the 'Attraction' Buddleia, has struggled to survive. I've moved it twice thus far and it's now sitting in a pot waiting for a new permanent home. As permanent as a home as any plant ever gets here at Wit's End ...

I've spent a lot of time yanking spent Violas and Toadflax lately. That segued into pulling some manky Verbenas in a couple of areas out back and the Head Gardener is muttering about the need to pull more. Though their blooms are as lovely as ever, the foliage is not a pretty sight. What's more, they've rambled rather wantonly through the beds, to the point that they're almost matted, causing them to crowd the more shy and retiring types of plants. So the HG is probably right that they've overstayed their welcome. If we go ahead and pull them, we can add compost to replenish the soil in those areas. Perhaps that will help it retain more moisture when we water (since rain appears a very dim hope).

As I surveyed the rose bed earlier this week, I noticed a blossom that was unfamiliar. Woo-hoo, the Calochortus my sister gave me are blooming! I wasn't sure how they would do here so I'm pleased to see blooms on them. Admittedly, I only saw TWO blooms out of the five to eight bulbs that were planted. (The blooms were gone before I could photograph them.) The HG says we should categorize them as iffy and count it as a happy surprise if they return next year. The same goes for the Scilla, a few of which came up but don't appear too happy about it. The heat will probably cook them before they can bloom. The Babiana stricta bloomed, though ... this isn't a great picture but it does show how intensely blue they are. Babiana are South African natives and should be adapted to hot, dry conditions but judging from the singed foliage, Texas heat and drought aren't much to their liking.

A perplexing and frustrating matter is the failure to grow of the Ipheion bulbs I planted in one bed. When I discovered that several of the Hyacinths in that bed had rotted out, I thought perhaps that was the case with the Ipheions, too. It seems odd not to find any rotted carcasses, though. Out of 50 bulbs planted, I retrieved 12. I've cleaned them up and brought them inside; I need to consult Brent and Becky Heath for answers. Ipheion grow and naturalize well here ... I've had them before ... so that's not the issue.

There is some good news, though: the one remaining Coral Woody Penta (Rondeletia leucophylla) is putting out new growth way down at the base of the plant! I'd already dug up a couple of these shrubs in back, having been told by a local nurseryman that they wouldn't return from the roots. This particular shrub was planted earlier on in the life of the garden: it's just outside my kitchen window and while it's a lovely sight, it's been obstructing my view for a number of years. Until this winter, it had never received anything worse than tip damage during winter. I was going to have Otahal's guys dig it on the next visit but I may wait so I can see just how fast it grows after a hard winter and whether it even makes it into bloom.

Speaking of winter reminds me ... that plant I thought might be Kaleidoscope Abelia? It's not. Even more surprising is its true identity: it's a Bougainvillea! I certainly didn't expect this tropical plant to survive. The variety is 'Raspberry Ice' ... it was one of those Lowe's clearance plants that cost me no more than 50 cents.

'Torchy' Hibiscus is coming on strong ... wasn't it just tiny stems last week?

I'm sure there's more that I'd like to report but retrieving that data from my brain is not so easy. My goal for the coming week: write more down!


Anonymous said…
Cindy, you appear to be in full garden swing there in Katy. My hibiscus have suddenly grown leaps and bounds. It's amazing how they are. You *were* fortunate to get that abelia. Yum.

Your story of the birds made me laugh.~~Dee
Ah, well, Starlings deserve their privacy too. I'm sure it must be easy to take it out on one another when no one wants Mr. and Mrs. Starling to move into the neighborhood.

Love those 50 cent plants. At that price, you can give them new names!

Can you explain what manky means? I can guess, but would love an explanation.
Cindy, you have so many unusual plants! Can't believe you remember all of them. I planted something last year, a good rock plant--and for the life of me, I cannot remember the name. Arghhh....it's tough getting old!
Cindy, MCOK said…
Dee, those starlings are most entertaining!

MG, from the context in which I've read the Brit word manky, I've always taken it to mean ugly in a run-down sort of way. Checking online, tho, they say it means inferior or worthless. That still works with the verbenas, but isn't what I intended!

MT, I try to keep records of my plants as best I can. I'm very visual: if I see it, I can usually remember what it is.