Saturday, September 29, 2007

From My Kitchen Window

Bulb Disappointments

In previous years, one of the stores where everything is a dollar had nice bulbs in packages of four tulips or daffodils, named cultivars. This year's pickings are not so enticing. Only 3 bulbs to a package brings the price up from 25 cents per bulb to 33 cents. The bulbs are not the sleek, plump bulbs of previous years, they're thin and shriveled. I decided to pass. There were mixed tulips, Carlton daffodils and packages of a scant handful of Dutch Iris and mixed crocus. What a disappointment!
Pink Charm, 2007, Dollar Store bulbs

Friday, September 28, 2007

Pride of Barbados

Gulf Fritillaries discovered Pride of Barbados, caesalpinia pulcherrima.
Lavender lantana survived the drought, surrounded with periwinkles and backed by new clumps of salvia leucantha.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Colors of Autumn

Salvia leucantha and dark swallowtails
Gulf Frits on Porterweed.
Pride of Barbados finally ventured open two blossoms.
Red Lycoris. I went to look for yellow lycoris, no sign of them YET.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Butterfly Buffets

I try to have snack areas all around for the butterflies. Why is it the best photo opportunities arise when you have a rake in hand instead of a camera? Gulf Frits were gathering on some dwarf marigolds planted in front of the candlestick senna. No photos.

Both red and rose pentas here -- the rose is bigger, sturdier but not more attractive than the red as far as swallowtail's choice. Zinnias are looking better since the weather is cooler; make a note to plant late zinnias, they won't struggle. Butterflies like to sit on a zinnia as it sways in the wind. Porterweed, while not very photogenic, is always a popular choice with butterflies which flock to the tiny blossoms on those long whips. Porterweeds from seed were slow to get going in the drought. Hopefully, young plants will survive the winter for a good start next spring.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

No More Tulips?

There's a written resolution in my garden journals: NO more tulips! Every year I plant more. Usually half or less bloom, falling to voles, squirrels, and tulip fire/blight or just the vagaries of weather. I have had triumphs; each little oval blossom a fleeting treasure, carefully chilled for nine weeks and planted on a cold winter day with agricultural cornmeal sprinkled over all as a hopeful blanket of fungus protection.
March 2007
I have a plan. Last year I planted Iceland poppies as a trial. They grew, they bloomed with the tulips. The tulips lasted less than a week. Poppies go on and on until the weather warms. I purchased poppy seeds and snapdragon seeds and viola seeds. Iceland poppies are somewhat tulip shaped, perhaps they'll fool the folks passing by who watch to see what sleight of hand I've tried this time.

Tulips are not suitable this far south. A full-color bulb catalog will cause me to lose that resolve every time, as will the sight of tulip bulbs in a little net bag, brown tunics all papery and clean.

Today more slick, beautiful bulb catalogs arrived in the mail. The second round. They know I can be worn down. Maybe just a handful of purples and a hundred 'Petrel' daffodils to stand sentry ringed around each tulip to ward off voles and bloom after the tulips fade....

Friday, September 14, 2007

Rabbit Tobacco

Rabbit tobacco, Gnaphalium obtusifolium. an aromatic herb usually considered a field weed, shown with Esperanza, Tecoma stans. Gnaphalium is the host plant for American painted lady butterflies.
Look closely on the right to see little buds forming on Pride of Barbados, silhouetted against Castor Bean leaves.

Mexican Bush Sage, Salvia leucantha and some other pretties like melampodium have come through the drought fairly well. Periwinkles were late taking off, but they're pretty now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

How to Garden, in Twenty Five Words

Stroll the garden daily.
Weed as you go.
Look at your plants.
Remove what's dying or overcrowding.
Water as needed.
Postpone planting until cooler days.