Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summer Fragrance

One I'd never noticed is that beautyberry (callicarpa) flowers have a delicate fragrance.
Grown for stunning purple fall berries, beautyberry is not a significant plant for blossoms.
When I investigated the fragrance I noticed as I bent over to turn on a faucet,
I also noticed the foliage has that acrid odor when crushed, like lantana, in the same family.

Another delicate fragrance sometimes overlooked is the sweet smell of crape myrtle blooms.
Not all smell as good as others. The crape myrtle that used to be known as 'Watermelon' has aroma of melons.

Butterfly Summer

About the time of Summer Solstice, the butterfly garden begins to really put on blooms. Pentas held over in the greenhouse have been blooming since mid-spring. Those that made it through the winter in-ground are blooming now. Pentas are planted on both ends of what I call the Upper Lawn. Pentas are sometimes sold as Egyptian Star Clusters. The blossoms are rounded clusters of tiny individual florets, each tiny bloom worked by the Swallowtails, who ignore purple coneflowers when the summer blooms appear.

Pink and Rose Pentas

Another favorite is Porterweed (stachytarpheta) a tropical plant that is not always reliably perennial here. Last fall I brought in a piece that broke and put in a vase. To my surprise, it rooted in water. I potted it and kept it over the window. It is the first to bloom of the porterweeds, which come in red and blue, actually a sort of coral red and a purple. They grow taller and taller and the tiny blossoms grow up a long whip. More spikes come on as the old ones bloom to the top.

Blue Porterweed

In the butterfly garden, I tuck parsley for the caterpillars of Dark Swallowtails among the nectar plants. In the following photo, parsley is hardly visible between rose Pentas and a porterweed on the end. Scattering the host plants throught the beds makes the caterpillars harder for birds to find.

The first tithonia bloom appeared yesterday. Gulf fritillaries should be soon visiting the tithonia which is paired with orange giant marigolds in another bed just for them.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Garden Fairy Tale I

I tell myself fairy tales when I'm planting:
"This will be just beautiful and everything will bloom at the same time, all summer long," is my favorite.

Today's fairy tale is about a white crape myrtle that remained far too long in a pot while I decided where it was to go. In a word, it was abused. Sometimes I forgot to water it. Meanwhile, a similar one florished on the south side of the yard.

Lately, I decided the little crape should go at the end of the yellow rose bed which is just getting established and has little to show off, so far. The other day when I went to water the little crape, I noticed it had buds all over. Now it has an open blossom.

The fairy tale I told myself is that in a year or two it will be as big as this one, and bloom with yellow roses and yellow daylilies as well as Black eyed Susans.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Heavenly Daylilies

Registered in 1967, described as lavender, Catherine Woodbery is a pretty pink daylily in my garden.

These caladiums make a much better show with companions than they did in a row in front of shrubbery. The little alternanthera to the left will spread to about 12" before summer's end. In shade, it has streaks of pink and cream.

The white lilies are starting to drop petals as gladioli come into bloom. Salvia leucantha (Mexican Bush Sage) will grow up to hide the lanky ankles of the bulbs as the tops ripen.

A different view, different day and blossom.

Heavenly Lilies

The Asiatics bloomed, the LA hybrids are still blooming. This is an Orienpet called "Orania" -- one of my favorites.

Ourania: Derived from Greek ουρανιος (ouranios) meaning "heavenly". In Greek mythology she was the goddess of astronomy and astrology, one of the nine Muses.
Pronounced Ora knee uh. My Greek friend whose child has this name rolls the 'r' when she pronounces it.