Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year Went By So Fast: 2009

January: The earliest daffodils bloomed.
Ike the cat and I lunched in the warmth of the greenhouse when it was cold outside.
By the fifteenth, there were a number of blooming plants. Taiwan cherry is one of the earliest.

February: There were daffodils galore blooming. Hyacinths began to bloom.

A big box store had bareroot roses. We got a puppy.
I pruned everywhere: Boxwoods, Vitex, vetiver grass, lantana, crape myrtles, roses. This February it starts over, more pruning.

March: Poppies! Azaleas! Wisteria!

Tornadoes! I planted gladioli bulbs.

April: Poppies and Larkspur, Roses and Lilies; wildflowers and big rains.

May: Oakleaf Hydrangeas, more Lilies, New plants.
Agapanthus and other South African plants.

June: Gardenias, Daylilies, and more Lilies.

July: Tropicals: Pride of Barbados, Gingers,
Shrimp Plant, Heliconia, Epiphyllums, Crinums.

Pride of Barbados and butterflies in July at right.

August: Alternanthera and Persian Shield; begonias and ruellias.
Pentas and Pears.
Tithonias and other delights for Butterflies.

 September: Zinnias and Cassias;
Pentas and Pineapple Sage

Native plants. Tender plants moved inside out of the wind.

November: Butterflies lingered. Even a Monarch showed up, lazily flying through the garden, to nectar on the last of Salvia leucantha.

There were Gulf Frits and Dogface Sulphurs as well, mostly on the Lantana, some on Salvia coccinea.

Zinnias persisted along with lantana.
I planted mostly orange Violas.

December: White Camellia sasanqua started the winter show.
Amaryllis and Christmas cactus bloomed in the greenhouse.

Roses still bloomed as hard freezes were delayed

This is not the whole story, if you haven't been reading along during the past year, the archives menu is at the bottom of the sidebar. Please read along in the coming year. Some of the same blooms will turn up. New plantings are planned. Where the big stump fell down will feature Muhly grass and beautyberry. I hope to add some cryptomerias.

Happy New Year!

Jean reminded me that there should have been a pic of Buffy as she is now, digging for voles. Puppies grow up fast; she's only a year old. Janie has promised me that in time she'll be a lady. Right now she's all teeth and can literally levitate. Could that come in handy later?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

There's a new poll on my blog, first on the sidebar --you can't miss it.
This one is about Blotanical. Choose as many statements as apply to you.

Never Complain, Never Explain -- Blog in the New Year

The first two lines in your blog should be the best part. Why? That's what we see in the posts lists. Invite us to come see what you're blogging about in the first enticing sentences.

You need not waste a post to say you haven't posted in a month. We noticed. We want to see what bloomed while you were gone, or what you were doing.

Never Complain, Never Explain.

I saw that on a needlepoint pillow once. The quote has been attributed to Henry Ford II, Kathryn Hepburn, Sir Francis Bacon and Benjamin Disraeli. William H. Seward said it to the father of President William H. Taft, who took it for his own motto.

Mention the pretty blossoms you're showing, not the ugly trash cans in the background. If it was impossible to move the camera slightly to the right, or crop the offending unpleasantness, then ignore it. Talk about your flowers. Everybody has a garden hose. Don't mention yours unless it is truly unusual and you are inviting discussion of it.

Plant a tree or a structure near you, in the sight line between you and an offending neighbor. Leave a path behind shrubs for pets to run along the fence. As the shrubs grow they won't be distorted on one side by the fence. They'll hide the pet run and everybody can be happy.

Apologies are not necessary for less than professional pictures in the blog of an amateur. Show the plants and hardscape of which you are proud, offering discussion. If pics are truly out of focus, consider whether to do them over or omit.

Please do explain when pictures you are posting are not your own. Give credit where due.

Make lemonade of your lemons. Instead of ranting about your cracked patio, explore possibilities with other bloggers for making it an asset. See Tara's example about Knowing Who to Ask.

Winter is the time to explore evergreens, seed pods, buds on the witchhazel, tracks in the snow, new tools, plant lists. Do give the dates of bloom when you show out-of-season plants, so those of us who use such things can plan.

Camellia 'Mathotiana' December 28, 2009

When I included a question about advertisements in one of my polls, nobody said they bought from commercial ads in a blog. One person of 69 responding said they bought from an Etsy shop. So why do so many blogs feature advertisements ahead of the best parts of the garden blogs we're visiting? Who is buying? Could they find those ads nearer the bottom? If you came to my house would I meet you at the door with a request to buy candy from the softball team, or would I tell you my best news first?

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

"No Crinum Ever Died"

"No Crinum ever died," or so says Billy Welch at TAMU. A few have sulked along the way and refused to bloom when not treated well.

Red Dirt Ramblings wrote about crinums recently. I think Meems at Hoe and Shovel still has crinums blooming.

Following are some crinum pics from my summer garden from the past three years. All are either crinums that were here before me, or pass-a-longs from other garden friends. The two that I was sure of the name at one time, I have confused with one another and moved one of them.

These Milk and Wine lilies have been here for seventy years.


This crinum Jagus opens at night and has the sweet fragrance of vanilla throughout the next day.

Blooms last for a day; they bloom in sequence.

Crinums play well with other tropical bulbs like cannas and crocosmia.

The foliage of some crinums here has already disappeared. A few have foliage persisting, with leaf ends bitten by  frosts. A hard freeze will blacken them. They are slow to emerge in spring.

This 'string lily' crinum plays well with colocasia.

If you're interested in real names of crinums, you can look for Marcelle's Crinums on the net, or Dr. Joe Shaw (Conroe Joe) who are two crinum experts -- Marcelle hybridizes, Dr. Joe identifies.

Elizabeth Lawrence wrote about Crinums. She addressed both Crinums and other Amarylliads which can be read on the TAMU site.

A search for 'Crinums TAMU' turns up crinums and other members of amarylliadaceae, more than can be imagined. There are 63 amarylliadaceae genera listed.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Roses in December

... a scarlet blossom braves the winter gloom.
A trace of summer lingers here and there

on bushes as disheveled as the hair
of sleepers roused from winter-darkened rooms. --Tiel Aisha Ansari, Roses in December

Friday, December 25, 2009

Buffy Digs a Garden Bed

As best I can determine, Buffy is digging for voles. She chose this area under a live oak to dig long trenches in an area where 'Minnow' daffodil bulbs are in place in front of some gingers, including the green Cardamon ginger visible in the pics. At the end are some other bulbs, none of which surfaced as she dug, hopefully further underground.

Buffy and I discussed the feasibility of my raking this area smooth and scattering a few seeds soon. We also spaded up a little area by the stick house for putting in some sweet pea seeds that should have gone in last month.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lavender's Blue

Lavender's Blue and so are some other plants with glaucous foliage in the garden at this time.

This was labeled 'Spanish lavender.' Situating it on a little slope beside a stone seemed to make it happy.

I was never able to grow lavender through our hot and humid summer until I planted it in sandy soil between two stones. I forgot the name of this one.

Rose Campion spreads itself around the garden:

Bath's Pink Dianthus foliage in the foreground, California poppy foliage, also blue, in the center and foxtail fern, looking chartreuse in the sunlight. California poppy seeds around easily. Dianthus roots easily from small bits, to spread around the garden like marmalade to hang over stone walls.

... and a glimpse of the robins in the oak tree. They sit in the oak, then fly over to the red cedar next to it to eat juniper berries, which are also blue.

Can you see them? There's one very visible in the upper left; the others are in the branches feasting.

They are out there every morning, lined up for the bird bath, then flying straight from tree to tree.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Cactus

Opening right on schedule:

This is not the Christmas cactus like the one my mother used to put by my bed in winter so it didn't freeze, as if I could breathe on it to keep it alive. That one had magenta blossoms and smoother leaf segments.  I'm happy to have Christmas begonias, too.

The dog and I planted daffodils yesterday: 100 mixed daffodils along where I planted a white crape myrtle that will be leafless when the daffodils bloom.

25 Tahiti daffodils went in where the big stump fell down last summer. A nearby bed already has these double beauties. By the time we got to the 25 Ice Follies, I dug two big holes and one smaller. Ten, 10, 5 bulbs went in the shallow holes. As I was covering them with compost to give the proper depth and a little height to the bed, Buffy sat on one group of ten waiting to be covered.

Ice Follies from a Previous Year

It seemed like a lot of bulbs when I was digging. In the spring I'll wish it had been 1500.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Robins Are Here

The first few were around the birdbath yesterday morning. Rainwater had refilled the bath, but there were pecan leaves in the bottom. I emptied and filled it with fresh water. This morning when I looked out, there were dozens, in the trees, on the ground and taking turns for a drink. Some sat around the bird bath, some on the ground below as others fluttered up into the pecan trees above and opposite.

WELCOME, welcome, little stranger,
Fear no harm, and fear no danger;
We are glad to see you here,
--by: Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)

My photos were taken through a bedroom window, so the quality is poor. If I'd gone outside, the dog would have chased them away.

There are abundant berries and seeds here for them. I don't remember such a huge flock in winter before. Usually they show up in February just prior to heading north.

The bird on the faucet is brass. He's the handle.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Puddling Butterflies

On a recent post, butterflies puddling brought questions. Frequently in warm weather I see little groups of tiny yellow sulphurs grouped around a wet spot on the ground.

The Butterfly Lady in this area, Julie Neel, tells in her lecture on butterfly gardening of having a bowl of wet sand to attract butterflies to puddle. It was never very successful until one day when her small grandson, helping in the garden, said, 'Nana, I need to go tee-tee.' She waved over in the general direction of the edge of the butterfly garden and told him to just go over there. Next thing, she looked up to see him urinating in the sand bowl. After that, the butterflies found it very attractive. Plain damp  spots seem to work, too. Butterflies don't take baths.

Different butterflies are attracted to different minerals in the soil and nutrients in rotting fruit and animal dung. I found wonderful articles by CL Boggs, LA Jackson and CE Sculley where you can learn more about butterflies' puddling habits and how it affects their reproductive process. My links didn't work. These and many more articles can be found by searching for 'Butterflies Puddling' through Google or another search engine.

'Nectaring' on a dirty dog bed
I've even seen Red Spotted Purple butterflies land on the dog's dirty bed and graze a while.

Friday, December 18, 2009

...and a Mockingbird in a Pear Tree

On the first day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me,

A mockingbird in a Pear Tree.

Two Hostas sleeping

Three Persian Shield

Four hardy bulbine

Five wild doves

Six butterflies puddling

Seven native grasses

Eight Agapanthus

Nine Lily Bulbs

Ten black violas

Eleven dormant daylilies

A dozen boxwoods pruning

and a Mockingbird in. a. Pear Tree.