Thursday, June 28, 2012

Butterflies and one more Crinum

Black Swallowtails found my parsley. I first saw eggs and now caterpillars are munching away.

The most abundant butterfly is Pipevine Swallowtail, maybe because of the abundance of pipevines in the far backyard.

I caught these on Tithonia this morning:

Unknown Crinum cultivar

The winds from the outer bands of Hurricane Debby caused minimal damage here and brought scant rain. Now we've moved into usual June weather. Hot, hot, hot and predicted to get hotter.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Herb Garden Planter after 2 Weeks Growth

Chives on the second level tend to lie down.
More chives are in a pot to the side.

Top level has Bush tomatoes.
A large container tomato broke and I rooted suckers
Second level, Thyme and parsley, chives at back.
Bottom level has oregano on two sides,
rosemary at the back.
Lettuces and and violas tucked here and there.

There's a little tomato!

Violas despite oppressive heat.
They'll be followed by basil if
I ever get seeds planted.

If you missed the tomato in the
pic above, here it is again,
near the bottom.

It's really handy to have herbs at the back door
instead of far from the house.
I can run out and get some lettuce for tacos
until it bolts in the heat.

This is the cedar planter that I won in the giveaway on Garden Rant a few weeks ago.

Monday, June 18, 2012

More Adventures of making Gardenia Dusting Powder

The original recipe for Gardenia Dusting Powder that I tried to follow, sort of, called for cornstarch and optional talc in which fresh gardenias were to sit until they faded.

And fade they do. I've dried gardenias before by keeping them in a dark cool place. They lose a little of their whiteness but not to the dark ecru color that they reached when enveloped in a mixture of cornstarch with talc, kaolin and other compounds in the baby powder I added because I hoped its fixatives would hold the fragrance better.

The powder still smells more like babies than gardenias. I discarded the brown flowers and added fresh today. The gardenias are almost done in the garden. The cornstarch mixture was lumpy when I opened the container but it smooths into fine powder at a touch.

A vintage refrigerator dish makes a fine powder-making
 container, I thought.

I saved the discarded blooms for some vintage projecct
not yet thought of, layering them in paper towels to dry.

Now that they're almost gone, I should have tried drying gardenias again for other future notions.
They do lose their fragrance when air-dried and some of their whiteness but hold their shape.

I read a recipe for making essential oil the other day, using a crock pot to 'cook' the blooms, catching the vapors on the underside of the inverted lid and then letting them drain back into a suitable small vessel. Recipes for making dusting powder using essential oil of gardenias use only a few drops, which is probably as much as I could manufacture in a crude evaporator.

 Perhaps I should just return to my long-ago plan of making Irish Crochet Roses in my retirement years. After a wasp popped me on the wrist on Saturday I gave up pruning boxwoods for now and sought indoor activities.There for a day or so my arm felt like a club it was so heavy with edema.

If all else fails, I'll ask for Oscar for my birthday, or White Shoulders.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bloom Day June: Goodbye Spring, Hello Tropicals

Happy Bloom Day! I almost forgot. Usually I get pics on the 14th to make sure I have blossoms on the fifteenth. It rained 1.1" yesterday.

Pentas are among butterfly staples blooming now.
Ruby Pentas. The shadow on the leaf confirms the common
name, Star Flower.

Pentas are one of the best butterfly plants,
Pipevine Swallowtail here.
Colors range from white to pink to rose to red, even a
lavendar. These pale pinks are blooming with Persian Shield,
Mexican Hats, and Graptopetalum not seen in pic.

Representative of daylilies now in re-bloom.
These are today's blossoms; not every daylily blooms every day.

True lilies are almost all done. Orania still has a few blooms.

All these are at the end of their best bloom period:
I am experimenting with taking blooms, snipping off the calyx
and putting them in a mixture of cornstarch and talcum powder
until they fade, to make a homemade dusting powder with
that incredible fragrance. I'll let you know if it works.

Purple coneflowers are starting to
fade. Cutting them back will
bring more blooms but they've
passed that glorious time when
butterflies swarm them.

Hydrangeas are in the fade stage.

So, if many are fading fast, what will bloom through the summer?
Daturas and Brugmansias. The purple datura pic was
not of good quality; brugs are between blooms.
This white Datura smells very sweet after dark.

Tithonia is just now opening. The Duranta behind it is slow to
put on blue blossoms, but they're coming. Mexican hats are
showy, but they attract no butterflies as does Tithonia.
Ratibida will soon need a haircut to make room.

Porterweed, Stacytarpheta is a popular butterfly
garden plant also just now starting good bloom. Those little
purple flowers will bloom all the way up the spike.
I stuck rooted cuttings in several beds for butterflies
to nectar, and tucked in Parsley plants as hosts for
Black Swallowtails.

Alpinia gingers behind do not bloom here but add color.

Pride of Barbados, only the second bloom, and Tecoma stans.
I started more plants of both from seed this spring,
planting out as they reach good size. 

Eleven is my target number for showing bloom day pics. Roses are still blooming, crape myrtles are in full bloom except for the white and lilicina which are later than watermelon red and early pink.

I'm trying not to have plants in the greenhouse when the temperature reaches triple digits. So far we're managing but for every pot I plant out, I start seeds or cuttings to replace in spite of myself. Gerbera daisy seeds that I planted last week are sprouting, 3 so far. Baptisia seedlings need bumping up to a pot from the tray where they finally sprouted.

Are you compelled to grow more and more, or can you follow a plan?

Happy Bloom Day! Join the fun at May Dreams Gardens where Carol graciously hosts.

Please remember to leave Carol a message when you add your blog to the list.

Monday, June 4, 2012

An Herb Garden grows Upward in a Triolife Planter

Lucky winner in Garden Rant's giveaway, we have assembled the Triolife cedar planter and made an herb garden, all in one day.

The instructions said to point one of the corners north and leave room to move around. I placed mine in a SE corner beside the back door near the heat pump which will not interfere. In our climate, even sun lovers need afternoon shade.

Assembly was easy. There are only a handful of parts: three uprights that form a stair-step to hold the 3 shelves. There is a triangular core piece with pegs that fit into predrilled holes in the uprights. A base piece forms the bottom as it fits into the bottom shelf. The only modification we made was to put three countersunk screws into the core piece through the upright pieces. That might not be necessary but it's the way we assemble things.

Everything for the herb garden was already here. I have basil seeds that were never planted. I might sprinkle in a few of these when the violas fade. I had 2 thyme plants rooted over the winter that were in a bed with Daturas -- not a good idea. I lifted them. Four oregano plants that I put into the pots where violas faded were also rescued for this project. A clump of parsley was lifted from one of the butterfly host beds. It promptly wilted but I think it will stand up by tomorrow.

Super Bush tomato cuttings that I rooted when wind broke one of my tomato plants were ready at just the right time to put into the top tier as suggested.  Their roots can go right down the center core of soil all the way to the bottom.

Making the planting hole near the center core insures the roots can go straight down.

The instructions suggested putting landscape cloth in the bottom to keep soil from sifting out the bottom slats. We used fiberglass screen because that's what we had.

Planted and watered.

In addition to thyme, oregano and tomatoes, there are 2 Parsley plants, and a rooted rosemary cutting and chives grown from seed on the back side.

Tucked here and there are tiny lettuces from my lettuce project and some violas that seeded themselves into the lettuce boxes. Even a volunteer alyssum from the lettuce boxes, too.

It's exciting to be a winner. I did nothing to receive this gift except to comment on Amy's post with how I'd plant it if a winner. I was not required to make any comments or endorsements. Ben of Eartheasy, who supplied the planter for the contest did ask that I share photos when I finished planting which of course I am delighted to do.

Some of my previous herb garden adventures can be seen Here. Do you grow herbs?

Friday, June 1, 2012

First Views in June 2012

First June Views from the Upper Garden where Hydrangeas are at their peak, Lilies are in bloom and other delights are to be found.

Orania Orienpet Lilies

Kniphofia are blooming with Black eyed Susans and other summer favorites like
Lantana and Purple Heart.

Bird of Paradise and Ferns; Curcuma gingers are just coing up to the right.
Shell gingers to the left. I still have hopes for Shell ginger and Stretlizia blossoms this year.

Rudbeckias self-plant everywhere.
Here they act as annuals. I pull them when they pass their prime.

We are still enjoying the fragrance of Gardenias.
Butterflies are still enjoying the blooms of the Vitex tree in
the distance and they'll soon have Duranta and Tithonia
blooming in the front garden on which to nectar.

June came early this year, which means we'll have flowers in
early June that usually bloom in July. Tecoma stans is
blooming in the Fiesta bed and Pride of Barbados has
fat buds. I still have P of B seedlings to plant out.

Such a busy time of year, so much heat.

What's June like at your place?