Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sunshine and Shadow, Grape and Lemonade

It was very helpful when I read about Valerie Easton's garden palette of Darkest Purple, Palest Yellow, Chartreuse and all shades of Orange. Her plants grow in a different climate so our choices are not similar but at last I had a plan for the front garden that keeps me from sticking in reds and pinks -- most of the time.

Sulphur butterflies love Lantana, here with yellow violas and rooted cuttings of chartreuse Alternanthera which take the place of violas when hot sun takes them out soon.

Buckeyes on yellow Lantana.

Once trailing Lantana is established there is little maintenance: too thick for weeds, drought resistant and one or the other color is in bloom in all but the coldest weather, so I grow two colors.

Persian Shield is a good indicator of when to water. When it wilts, it's time.
'Julia Child' is one of my fav yellow roses.
Beneficials on Shasta Daisies in the yellow rose bed.

'Easter Bonnet' LA lily in shadows of Loropetalum
Roses to the right stole the spotlight from April's yellow daylilies, now faded. Among the roses in this bed are Julia Child, Grandma's Yellow Rose which we call the Chicken Rose, Eclipse and Sunny Knockout. They kind of take turns being the Star.

The Upper Garden has areas with a similar palette that fades on the ends to reds and pinks. Pinks and purples together make easy beds too, isolated by green shrubbery. Echinacea plays well with others: pinks and purples are happy with it or it can go in with strong oranges and yellows because of the cones.

Tecoma stans or Esperanza if you will, plays happily in the
Fiesta Garden with Silene for now.
Pride of Barbados is putting on buds.

Monday we worked on repairing the screens on the front porch. Ancient boxwoods are too close to the house and make work difficult. He-who-mows proposed pulling up the boxwoods and "Just have pine straw and some flowers on the outside out of the way."  'She-who-prunes the meatballs and hedges' is torn between continuing to prune and changing to maintaining more flower beds.

On Saturday I invited in the 7' mower to back over what Mama used to call a 'Growed Up Mess' of Flowering Quince, Euonymous, Catbrier and who knows what else, narrowly missing an ancient deciduous Magnolia, a Nandina that was only saved because the Magnolia shielded it, some Asparagus that is never noticed until it puts up ferny tops four feet tall and a badly overgrown boxwood that got a little mangled. Part of it has rooted and formed new plants. Much pruning will rejuvenate it over time. Everything else is history.

Flowering quince has never been high on my list of early spring plants. Thorny, too bold a color to bloom with Redbuds and azaleas, and not thick enough to prevent catbrier from growing up through it. Euonymous is a thug. All these plants are from 50 years ago. I can remember when beside them was a rose trellis, long since rotted away, with what I think was "Paul's Scarlet" that my MIL enjoyed seeing out the window.
We could gather all the yellow daylilies in front of some Lantana....
Elysian Field (above), Pineapple Crush, Brocaded Gown....
Maybe some Hydrangeas?
A plan might be to move some Hydrangeas and mow where they were.

I'm sharing on Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie Time. Do come join us, please.

I'm using a high phosphorus fertlizer to see if it helps with blossom end rot on my tomatoes. I've already added lime and mag sulfate and topdressed the containers with more potting soil.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Urban Stone and Old Brick for a Greenhouse Floor

I wonder if Pinterest users actually recreate the garden items they 'pin' to boards or if they're just for looking?

UPDATE: A better photo from this morning before the sun cast shadows across the floor.

I recently 'pinned' a photo from the LA Times featuring a driveway paved in Brick and Urbanite. It was just what I needed to pave the center of my greenhouse where I'd put pavers around the perimeter and left the center for possible planting, which is not going to happen.

The floor's purpose is not only for a suitable walking surface and decoration. The mass of bricks on edge and thick concrete pieces act as a heat sink. During the winter, heat is stored in rock, concrete and brick during the day and slowly released when the sun goes down. Not enough BTU's are stored to actually heat the structure but there is enough to help with mediating the temperature. In this case, the stonework is an adjunct to 200 gallons of water stored behind the blue skirt. Heating on freezing nights is done with electric heaters or heat lamps but every little bit of stored heat helps.

The floor was already partially paved with Urban Stone and Brick, but not in the Copacabana pattern of swirls and random pavers. The paving elements were just laid on the ground and stuck up above the pavers, a hazard for walking.

Twelve gallons of soil were removed to try to make it level enough to safely walk.

The random tiles at the bottom are a tribute my late friend Sally Shirley, who picked them from a trash pile on her morning walk. She brought them to me because she knew I used scraps for projects. They were left as they were.

The bricks are from an old chimney and the Urban stone was once a concrete area in front of the old barn door, broken into chunks when the barn was torn down.

The mister apparatus that helps with humidity and cooling leaves wet areas on the floor. Moisture can soak right in the cracks.

Have you pinned any projects on Pinterest and carried them through in your Garden?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What Is a Laneway?

First noticed on Pinterest, on a pin that I can't find now was something called a Laneway. When I saw it, I thought, 'Oh, we have one of those!' From what I can determine, a Laneway is what we call an alley, or a field road. The one pictured on Pinterest had two narrow ruts the way our field roads and lanes look.

Most of the pictures of Laneways that I found were from Australia. Other parts of the world show something called 'Laneway housing' which I never quite understood how the term applied.

A Laneway adds another element to a garden
 We never set out to 'build' a Laneway. It evolves from the path that machinery takes going to and from the field. Curves follow the corners of a field.

Laneway tracks in this part of the country are packed sand. Grass grows
between the ruts formed by big tractor tires. I never gave much thought to
field roads until someone on Pinterest considered it desirable to add.

What are Laneways called in your part of the World?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Fried Green Tomatoes by Default

Yesterday we had considerable wind. Some of the pepper plant containers blew over. No harm done. Then I looked at the tomato side. A big plant had broken off about 5 inches from the soil line. I snipped it off as cleanly as I could.

Three limbs are left. It will come back.

No use to waste even the tiniest of tomatoes.
I picked them off, sliced and battered them and cooked them for supper.
Just a tiny serving each, but so tasty!

Neither my mother nor my MIL ever fried green tomatoes.
My brother's wife used to fry some green tomatoes in with the okra when
there wasn't enough okra for a full dish when the season was just beginning.
If there's any vegetable better than fried green tomatoes it is okra and green tomatoes.

We'll eat eggplant soon.

Anytime now for peppers. 

Is it just my imagination or does it seem like summer?

Oh! We had fresh blueberry pie yesterday.
He-who-mows picked enough berries for a pie.

Friday, May 18, 2012

What Is It That Daisies Don't Tell?

Daisies don't tell is a line from a song from a hundred years ago. Daisies add a shape in the garden that complements spiky blooms and tall plants with trumpet shaped blooms.

Gerbera jamesonii. This particular flower is a very old cultivar, likely
a species daisy. Note the single row of very pointed petals and pink center
unlike today's hybrids. These were first here about 1970.

 A small Shasta daisy, seedgrow.

Echinacea purpura
Purple coneflower is attractive to butterflies early in the season.

Black eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta also called Gloriosa Daisies. Sometimes they have a mahogany strip on the petals near the centers.
Stokesia laevis is native to the Southeast.

Ratibida columnifera, dancing here in a line.

Gaillardia and Coreopsis planted in February are not yet blooming in the garden.

What Daisies are in your garden and what do they tell?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Where I Come From on Bloom Day

I was reminded of a country song about 'Where I Come From' when I read Lady Bird Johnson's quote, "Wherever I go in America, I like it when the land speaks its own language in its own regional accent." I grow a mix of natives and old favorites under and around oaks, pines and pecan trees.

It's the time of year here when native Hydrangea quercifolia is starting to fade.
Mophead hydrangeas are not native but are a staple in the southern garden,
blue where the soil is acid. Daylilies bring daily surprises as later cultivars
open. True lilies are just beginning. Crinum lilies have no buds so far.

'Lullabye Baby' and Oakleaf Hydrangea which
has turned from white to a delicate pink as
blossoms fade. Regal lily foliage seen.

'Byron Paul' daylily in front of Larkspur.

Larkspur was not as plentiful this spring, maybe because
of the mild winter. I know some poppies perished in early
heat. California poppies persist, not native here but they
seem to make themselves at home.

 Persian Shield, Mophead Hydrangea and native Stokesia
for a range of blues and purples with a spot of
dappled sunlight.

Pipevine Swallowtail on Lantana montevidensis
We are seeing more and more butterflies, including Tigers and Zebras.
You might read about them in the previous post.

This view has been a long-lasting one with Echinacea and 'Salmon Sheen' daylilies. Salvia farinacea  behind not quite visible. Vitex at right starting to bloom as 'Carefree Delight' rose goes out of bloom.

Bi-tone seedling daylily with Yellow lantana, another butterfly fav.

Gardenias are blooming. I wish you could catch the fragrance.

Pentas and Daylilies in this bed are joined by
Laura Bush petunias for a rose-colored medley.

Hibiscus syriacus, which we call Altheas, between Gardenia bushes.
Hummingbirds visit Altheas. This is the only color I grow.
They come in lovely pinks, lavenders and whites. Some
have single blossoms.

It was hard to keep images under my self-imposed limit of fewer than a dozen.
Many thanks to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting Bloom Day.
Be sure to visit, add your blog and leave a comment.

Happy Bloom Day!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

It's a Zoo with Tigers and Zebras

Tiger Swallowtail and Zebra Swallowtail butterflies have come to my garden along with Buckeyes, American Painted Ladies, Dogface Sulphurs and Variegated Fritillaries. Numerous little skippers and moths are here too.

Tiger Swallowtail on Echinacea

Zebra Swallowtail on Lantana

Asimina augustifolia Slimleaf Paw Paw
Host plant for Zebra Swallowtails. This one is
next to a large swath of yellow Lantana. Handy!

Spicebush Swallowtail on Pentas
I am seeing both Pipevine and Spicebush
Swallowtails, often nectaring on the same plants.

Variegated Fritillary at left. An unidentified moth  and a dark Swallowtail at right.

Echinacea is very popular when it first blooms.

Dogface Sulphur. It is nearly impossible to catch them in flight with
open wings. I'm grateful to get a good look at them nectaring.

American Painted Lady

 Another look at a Zebra.

Spicebush Swallowtail at center, Pipevine Swallowtail at upper right, both nectaring on
Lantana montevidensis, equally popular with yellow Lantana and Echinacea.
Notice there are still yellow Violas blooming. I tucked chartreuse Alternanthera in with them because
Violas will soon wither away in the heat here.  

What I haven't seen yet is Black Swallowtails. I have parsley plants tucked in many of the nectar beds, ready for their arrival to lay eggs.

What butterflies are you seeing? What have you planted to entice them?