Friday, July 31, 2009

Container Gardening

Container Gardening is not something I wanted to do. Somehow I ended up with far more container plants than I meant to grow. Little rooted cuttings just hanging around, tropicals too sensitive for certain soils, some urns for the front -- suddenly there are containers everywhere.


Rooted Rose Cutting with various rooted bits.

Mandevilla -- no longer in a pot, blooming on the rose/grape arbor.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

How to Build a Trellis

Jim Long talks to P Allen Smith about making a rustic trellis using found wood.

"Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise." Sylvia Plath

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Propagating Plants

I have a rose cutting blooming in a pot. I failed to label it. Labeling decreases my chances of their rooting. Rooting plants requires a certain amount of magical powers.

The rose that is blooming looks much like this one.
It's raining outside, so you can't see a picture of my little cart of cuttings.

Most of us 'get lucky' if we stick enough cuttings and plant enough seeds.
It is very helpful to have a good book on propagation instead of buying yet another pretty book that doesn't tell you much about growing.
Knowing certain things increases our chances of success. When you learned from another gardener who broke off a piece of a plant and said, "Here, stick this in the ground and it will root' and it did, it seemed too easy.

It's helpful to know:
What kind of cutting -- greenstick, softwood, hardwood. What does that mean?
When to stick -- spring, summer, fall, winter.
Does this cutting need to take up water, or does it need to form a callus before it's stuck?
What about nodes?
Can a particular rooted cutting go into the ground right away or does it need to be potted up for a while?
What is the best medium for this cutting?

Will cuttings work for a particular plant or do you need seed?
Does a certain desirable plant throw viable seeds?
How long before I can expect seeds to sprout -- some take up to a year.
Do these seeds need a cold period? Bottom heat?
Should I plant seeds from these bulbs? How long before I'll see a bloom?

What happens if the dog is chasing the cat and the cat steps on the seedling? -- Don't laugh, it happens.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Top Topics

Top Five searches that bring visitors to my blog:

1) Pride of Barbados
Texas Gardeners sometimes call Caesalpinia pulcherrima 'Red Bird of Paradise.' I am waiting and hoping for my African Bird of Paradise Strelitzia reginae to bloom.

2) Purple Datura

3) Heliconia

4) Lilies
Stargazer is the most commonly searched. These are Regal lilies.

5) Shrimp Plant shrimp plant
Red shrimp plant is easier to bring to bloom; the white Justicia betonica is more exotic. I've only coaxed it to bloom in the greenhouse.

Interesting that all except lilies are Tropical Plants. Many visitors are looking for a source of seeds or plants. Tropicals are available at local nurseries. In this climate, it is possible to grow in-ground some of the less tender tropicals offered as house plants. I order off for seeds and bulbs from commonly known online sources. Trading with a friend is how I came to have the white shrimp plant and seeds of Pride of Barbados.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Oh What a Night (blooming)!

Last night night was a night of blooms on the Ephiphyllum oxypetalum (Night Blooming Cereus), two blooms on each of two pots. Another pot has 2 buds in an early stage.

By 8pm, the buds were beginning to open just a bit.

Ike of the Jungle, getting into the Act.

By 10 o'clock, the blooms were almost open.

I wish you could smell the incredible fragrance.

Blooming in a pot on the same ledge, tibouchina has finally opened.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thoughts of the Winter Greenhouse

When summer comes, all the plants leave the greenhouse so they won't cook in the sun. I open the doors and take off some of the rear panels so the wind can blow through in hurricane season and the cat takes it as his summer sleeping spot at night. His food dish is in there as well and he returns to it after sundown when things cool off.

I have a list of all the plants that I'm to take cuttings in late summer and the tropicals that will winter in there including my new Red Emerald Philodendron, small Areca Palms and White Anthurium. It will not be warm enough for tender tropicals like orchids, just borderline houseplant-type tropicals and tropical cuttings from things like pentas and porterweed that sometimes fail to return here.

Photos from previous years:

The part I look forward to is a snug place out of the rain and wind, like a child's playhouse. Furnished with a folding chair or two and a folding bamboo table, it can be a place to read or have lunch. I enjoy simple decorations among the plants, mostly seashells and stones.

Black Magic by the Fountain
Ike's Drinking Fountain


Gingers and heliconia
Seashells, Gingers and Heliconia

Tonight is the night for the Epiphyllum to bloom. Buds look like the one in the pic above. I'll have a post of Night Blooming Cactus blossoms tomorrow.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Garden in Motion

Black Magic' elephant ears tossing in the wind like the ears of real pachyderms reminded me of how alive the garden seems when there is motion. Nearby tall grasses gracefully swayed and a fountain's spray created more motion as well as sound.

Flower treats are usually fairly static unless there's a stiff breeze. We note fragrance in the garden, hear bird songs, feel texture and other tactile experiences of leaves and blossoms like the velvet of lambs' ears. Motion is yet another garden experience. Right now I'm getting lots of movement from butterflies.

Spicebush Swallowtail on Lantana



Pride of Barbados and Esperanza

I once had a cute little plastic yellow jacket whose wings were a pinwheel, but he fell to the mower. I always wanted one of those copper motion sprinklers that form patterns.

What is in motion in your garden?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Butterflies are Free

The first time I heard this phrase, I thought it meant you didn't have to buy them. That was not the intent of the movie title, but they are free. Everybody can have them, if they provide for the simple needs of a butterfly.

I haven't tried as hard as previous years to photograph butterflies. They look the same as previous years. Gnats are bad, weather is hot and my patience is short.

I did run back for the camera when I saw two Zebra Swallowtails. Only one showed up when I came out again.

Zebra Swallowtail on Lantana

There is not a formal butterfly garden here as such, but there are areas devoted to their delight. Across the front are bands of yellow lantana and bands of lavender lantana. Bloom is not continuous, but almost. I've added a plant of white lantana with a yellow eye. I watched a butterfly flit all around it and always land on the lavender. Oh, well, it looks pretty.

In the upper garden are two areas with butterfly nectar plants. One has three shades of pink pentas. At the other end pentas are mixed with zinnias, porterweed and crocosmia, all blooming now. The butterflies don't seem to prefer one of the flowers I've named to the others. Tithonia, yet to bloom, is always a favorite.

White pentas, new to the garden this year. They're popular with Spicebush Swallowtails.

New Garden Bed

Just what I didn't need in the heat of July was a new bed, but circumstances of the old vine covered stump just made it so.

Three big stones were plucked by machine from other beds. I'll be moving smaller stones with hand trucks.

Moving Crape myrtles will have to wait for first frost. Some scattered seeds can hold the place and the thought until permanent plants are chosen. More soil has to be hauled in. The dark stuff is well composted gin trash.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Daturas: Devil's Trumpets because they Point Upward

Brugmansias, which hang down, are known as Angel's Trumpets. Daturas, whose buds and fresh blooms point upward are called Devil's Trumpets. The Fragrance of the blooms are quite heavenly. If you've smelled Four O'clocks, the fragrance is similar but Daturas are a more delicate scent and can be caught on the slightest breeze. The scent is best at night, when it attracts Hawkmoths.

Easily grown from seed, they can be treated as annuals, started indoors and planted out after frost. The yellow pictured returned from the roots, the only yellow this year. All the purple are new this year. The leaves have an acrid smell and all parts are poisonous, except to the insects who enjoy them.

Photobucket Hawkmoth nectaring on Lantana


One of the easiest and most common annuals, they need no introduction.

One of my favorites, it reminds me of a sunset.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bulbine frutesencens

I had a hard time getting a picture of Bulbine that shows off the pretty blossoms, maybe because I always try to get the Purple Heart shown off from the front.

Bulbine is a South African plant, which means it should do very well here, one of many. Succulent leaved, it looks sort of like a skinny aloe. Hardy to 10 degrees F. according to what I read, but it had a hard time with cold in the previous location and I totally lost the yellow. Love this 'tangerine' and it seems sto be happy in its new spot, near some water hogs, but at the top of a slope by a huge stone so the drainage is perfect.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Yellow Roses Mean Gladness and Caring

In Victorian times yellow roses symbolized jealousy. Today it represents friendship, joy and affection.

Julia Child

Sunny Knockout

These are newly planted this year with 'Moonbeam' coreopsis, bringing joy and gladness to the garden.

I just think these pictures are too, too big. It's as if you have your face in the life-size rose. What do y'all think?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Floating Solar Fountain

I always wanted a floating solar fountain so I could have moving water far from a power source without 300 feet of electric cord. Grandpa's old Syrup Kettle has a big piece broken off the rim, and evidence of ancient repairs that eventually failed. It still holds ample fluid for a water feature.

When I searched for solar fountains in the past, many complained that the floating kind eventually became waterlogged. This one has 90 days to decide if it wants to do that. It was inexpensive as compared to 4-5 years ago.

The plants around the syrup kettle are all water hogs, so frequent topping off will make them happy.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Foliage Friday

Foliage Friday is the grand idea of Blackswamp_Girl Kim, who expounded on Frances' idea of Weed Wednesday. I'm like my florist friend Mr. Ramon who refused to sell dead flowers to a football team who wanted to send them to their opponents. 'I don't sell dead flowers,' he said. I don't show weeds if I can avoid it, unless for identification or commiseration. Most of the time you can just name a weed and people know what you're talking about. I'll not give them much bandwidth.

I'm all for Foliage, though.

Clockwise from the left: Persian Shield with Licorice Plant, White Caladiums with variegated 'Mariesii' Hydrangea, 'Bengal Tiger' cannas with 'Black Magic' caladium,
Purple Heart and Bulbine, and in the middle, Red Caladiums I've forgotten the name with Cypress Vine, which I guess qualifies as a weed.

Wait! Steve Silk has featured Fab Foliage Friday on his blog since last year.
I kept thinking I'd seen this before, and then wandered onto his blog from my Feeds and recognized where I'd seen it. He has about 40 Fab Foliage posts, if you are out of ideas. He never invited anybody else, so I guess this is different.

The Big Stump Fell Over and Is Gone

The second pic is of the rat snake that lived in the stump. He had to seek a new home. Did you know it is against the law in some states to kill a non-poisonous snake?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blooms You Didn't See Yesterday

From upper left: Julia Child Rose and Moonbeam Coreopsis, Julia is new.
Crocosmia. Carefree Delight Rose. Purple Datura.

Row 2: Salvia farinacea, I think it is Victoria; view across the salvia to where the big stump fell over in the windstorm. More pics of that and the snake to follow later; Bird of Paradise foliage behind Hydrangeas in various stages of bloom.

Bottom: Wax Begonias along the azalea/gardenia walk; daylily 'Brocaded Gown'

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bloom Day and Butterflies Attracted to the Blossoms

It's so hard to decide what to feature on Bloom Day? Shall I expect others to scroll through 18 photos or turn 18 into 3 collages? Or shall I choose just one? Oh, you should see the Heliconias and Pride of Barbados and the Hydrangeas!

Since it is July and new butterflies are showing up daily, I decided to combine blooms with visitors and just show what was nectaring when I was out with the camera, mostly on Zinnias and Pentas. I didn't show the Lantana, also popular.

I really wanted to show you the neat snake I saw, but he's not a blossom.
I also wanted you to see the purple Daturas; some are on yesterday's post.
Come back tomorrow to see what the storm blew down yesterday.

See the official list and many other blooms at May Dreams, host Carol, who is a gracious gardener.