Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Between Seasons

While the garden recovers from the rigors of intense heat, drought and humidity, I'm taking a break from posting to Seedscatterer. Candlesticks are budding. When they bloom fully, I'll resume here.

You're invited to visit my ongoing blogs meantime. Click on the titles to go there:
RHS 1960
-- Memories of high school days while we prepare for a reunion.
Could Have Been a Cowboy
-- A family blog with bits and pieces
Dotty Pants
-- A personal blog from a grandmother's perspective
Notes from the Dying
-- Stories of people I've met, most of whom were dying. Not as morbid as you might fear.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Tithonia has come through the drought rather well. Seeds planted later have come up in strategic spots to carry into the fall.

I was reading an old journal and noted that I'd written that October was perhaps the prettiest time of year here. Mexican bush sage is already starting to show color in the buds. I won't pull up melampodium until frost hits it this year.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hooray for Rain!

We finally had a good rain: 3.4 inches between 7 am and 10 am. Blooming now: tithonia, zinnias, porterweed, lantana and pentas for butterflies; datura and floribunda roses for show.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Away with Hostas

It's hard to garden in the hot and humid south when you're reading garden magazines with photos of hostas and peonies. Somebody should write a book on substitutes. Hostas are slow to emerge here. I read about planting daffodils with hostas so the foliage of the hostas will cover the dying narcissus foliage. Daffodils have withered away when I see hostas, which never really cover anything.

Daylilies are a better choice with daffodils, spaced in a way that one views daylilies with withering daffodils behind, not noticed. Gingers would be a good choice, if daffodils flourished in shade, of which there are few.

Gingers have the advantage over hostas in that gingers have a unique fragrance of their own, the foliage and roots. Among my favorites are Alpinas (pictured); Curcumas, which bloom well, and cardamon ginger which does not bloom in our shorter tropical growing season but has a most fragrant leaf suitable for using on food trays.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

No Crinum Ever Died!

Milk and Wine crinum. They were in severe drought for weeks under pine trees. A good rain brought them out again.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Botany Challenge

I understand about Mendel and the peas. I thought I understood about hybrids; I understand about mules. Seems there are other elements to plant heredity.

Saved seeds from my orange zinnias produced gold and pink zinnias. For a number of years, I saved seed only from pink zinnias and many turned out orange, so I started saving seed only from orange. Random colors in either case.

My formerly all-purple periwinkles are pink, white, rose, magenta and rarely purple this year? None of the red periwinkles that I planted several years ago returned any volunteer seedlings.

It's a good thing I'm usually happy with what comes up and blooms, or I'm satisfied to pull up the really non-desirables.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Anybody in the south who 'can't grow' gardenias probably loved theirs to death. Gardenias don't ask much, except they hate when somebody (!) gets the idea to try limbing up one to make a little tree, but they're forgiving.

Changed my Mind

I opted out of the online seed swap.

I frequently save Sweet William seed (dianthus barbatus)by color. Invariably the 'red' are mostly pink spotted, the 'white' turn out mostly pink spotted and the pink are frequently white or red, just like Mendel predicted.

Once in a while there's a really stunning auricula eyed dianthus by chance.

I understand about the thrill of a whole bunch of seeds from afar. I've already ordered from Thompson and Morgan some fresh seed that I thought would enhance my little species bunches next spring.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Purple Passion

I've waited weeks to see this.
The fragrance is incredible.

Dog days. Hurricane season. Lightning.

NOAA radar shows a fat cloud sitting just at the county line, less than a mile away. We can see the rain in the distance. It isn't moving on the radar screen. Drizzle here, the kind where a cloud just kind of settles over us, but no downpour. It's no cooler, just hot heavy air to breathe that wraps you like a blanket if you venture out. Cur and I stick our noses out the door and retreat.

Hurrying to upload my post before the cloud moves to obscure the satellite beam.

Drink up, water only. Wear cool layered clothing and a hat.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


Mama used to make everyday bonnets with gathered crown, quilted brim and a skirt across the back to shade one's neck. There were little ties that gathered up the skirt to fit and long ties that tied under one's chin. As a child, I resisted wearing a bonnet, claiming they were 'countrified' and preferring a straw hat. I wear a straw hat now and long to have a bonnet again, made of tiny blue gingham checks like Mama always used.

In later years, she abandoned the bonnets in favor of a hat. Once she had a coolie style hat and her 4 year old grandson, just back from 18 months in Okinawa where his Dad worked for the U.S. Missile Command, asked, "Is Grandmama a Papasan?" when he saw her in the garden.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Next Year Man

I'm a next year man. -- Johnny Mack Butler, noted rosarian in the next county, speaking of future plans for his flower borders.

Important considerations:
  • Write down your goals:
    Season long color? Butterfly and hummingbird nectar sources? Low Maintence does not mean NO maintenance and Low Water does not mean not getting them established first.
  • Species plants will usually persist where named cultivars fail, i.e., the newest echinacea fads vs. tried and true purples; 'Common Purple' tall phlox rather than the newest finds.
  • Search university hort sites for plants that have tested best in similar conditions (UA, Auburn, MissSU, UGA, TAMU.)
    Look for titles like "Gold Star" plants.
  • Work from a plan: can be simple lists or an elaborate sketch.
  • Plant early in the spring so plants get a good root system established before hot, hot weather.
  • Figure out how long to wait between waterings and how deeply to water-not-sprinkle.