Thursday, February 28, 2013

Come for Tea in the Greenhouse

Tea and cookies in the Winter Sunshine.

I finally got everything moved around where there's room for the vintage
table and chairs that MIL bought fifty years ago. I sat and drank peach
tea and enjoyed the sun shining in, warm on my legs.
Time to bring out the tulip mugs, Spring on the way.
Animal crackers, our teatime is not fancy.

 Alison suggested hanging something on the back of the potting bench that I can see walking into the greenhouse. I tried a grapevine wreath.


What do you think, do I need something more colorful to hang on the back of the potting bench? A sign? A plant on the shelf that hangs over? I have spider plants.  Pennant flags? Something I haven't thought of? Plant the grapevine wreath with epiphytes in the manner of Rainforest Balls? That's rhapsalis that needs purpose hanging off in the tiny black pot. I have Christmas Cactus cuttings.

Linking to Tootsie Time for Fertilizer Friday, Flaunt your Flowers. Come show us your garden, too!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Azaleas after Rain

It's hard to choose a favorite but I've liked Pink Pearl Azaleas for many, many years. Note the small clump near the ground on the left, layered itself into a new plant. Pink Pearl is a clear pink Kurume azalea, in the family with popular Coral Bells (salmon pink), 'Hinodegiri (vivid red) ,and   Snow (white), none of which I've grown but long admired.

The darker pink azaleas are  Pink Ruffles, Rutherford Hybrids hardy to zone 8.

This is the other side of that long row of azaleas. Toward the far end is one Formosa Azalea, a Southern Indian hybrid which is the most popular azalea group in Georgia's Coastal Plain area. It differs from Pink Ruffles in that the blooms are larger and single rather than semi-double. At the far end are two small Formosas that were air-layered from the big plant.

Pink Ruffles and Pink Pearl Azaleas on the north side of the Upper Garden under leafless oaks have have not opened yet. That extends the bloom season.

Here's what a freeze followed by rain does to Camellias:

Fallen petals form a carpet all the way around.
Ample buds are left for bloom until hot days.
White hyacinths and a faux bunny.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

More Water in the Pond; Overflowing

 We haven't seen this much water in the pond for several years.

The pond is at far right -- all the rest is overflow. This is the first time in years we've seen this much water. First time in a long time we've had 9 inches of rain in four days.

Above is a lime sink. The tops of the bunch of weeds in the center of the water is are 5 feet across. They are groing out of a hole about 4 feet deep. The water table is really high, filling the hole and overflowing. Usually water that collects like this soon drains away. The rain just ended this morning.
Lime sinks are formed when limestone formations in the aquifer dissolve with a resulting collapse of the earth over the dissolved limestone. There used to be a larger limesink in the field on the other side of the facing woods. It was was filled in a few years ago. It is not uncommon in this part of the country for a lime sink to suddenly form, sometimes with disastrous results if a street caves in or some other mishap occurs.

The Flint River is supposed to crest in town by Friday, at flood stage. The last flood was in 2005, I think. We are a ways from the River and on high ground. Spring Creek is not far away but again, we are on higher ground.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Sun is Out and There's Water in the Pond!

I went to see if 4.5 inches of rain the past two days filled the Mayhaw Pond in the North Pasture.
Dry for years because of drought, it has water once again. Grasses and weeds grew up in the dry pond. They'll rot away if the water lasts.

 Mayhaws are blooming! The earliest blooms were likely killed by freezes, but some trees held back their buds.

Post Oak tree full of Spanish Moss has little to do with recent rains,
except that Spanish Moss absorbs moisture and nutrients in the air.
Tillandsia usneoides is an epiphyte, growing on other plants but not parasitic.
We expect more rain tonight and tomorrow.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Signs of Coming Spring: Fire and Spring Bulbs

He-who-mows and Farmer Danny burned fields today where corn grew last year.
Controlled burns are frequent in this part of the country.


Ice Follies
Daffodils blooming in the midst of Lantanas among large stones.
New Lantana growth will hide the dying foliage of bulbs.
This is an established planting. Newly planted bulbs nearby are just
coming up while other established bulbs have foliage, no blooms.
Mixed Pink Hyacinths from previous years.
We are about to enjoy respite from recent freezing nights.

Linking to Flaunt Your Flowers for Fertilizer Friday. Please join us on Tootsie's blog.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Successfully Bringing an Amaryllis to Flower and Flower Again

One of my Last Year's Amaryllis is about to bloom again this year, even though a bit later than I'd planned.

I've been reading and reading various 'tips' for newly purchased bulbs and those that bloomed a previous year where we hope to see a second year's bloom.

There are many instructions online on how to grow Hippeastrums. I am going to share some of my tips and opinions. All photos are my own.

1. You get what you pay for. I've bought sale bulbs, packaged for Christmas bulbs, sprouted bulbs at a garden center. I've ordered off for bulbs. Top size bulbs cost more. They also offer a second bloom stalk, sometimes a third and each stalk will have up to four blooms on that single stalk.

 Relatively inexpensive bulbs from a big box store will bloom. With care, they can be grown bigger for subsequent years. Sometimes you get surprises when they are not true to label.

2. When the instructions say, "1/2" to 2" larger than the bulb" for the pot, 2" all the way around larger is much better. Amaryllis make lots of roots, a pot full of roots. The little plastic pots that sometimes come packaged with a bulb are flimsy and will fall over. I use a sturdy pot, preferably a terra cotta pot.

Glass vases for forcing, used for narcissus the next year.
Reformed after 50 years, I no longer force bulbs in water and stones.

3. Choices of medium are water and stones, coir, or potting soil. My belief is that bulbs prefer to grow in soil. There is no nutrition in water, and little in coir. A bulb brought to bloom in water may as well be tossed at the end; it is spent. Coir is little better. The spent bulb could be planted out and rehabilitated but why not keep it growing the whole time in a pot of good soil?

Amaryllis bulbs in a pot of soil

4. If you have reasons for wanting to force your bulb in water, and people do have reasons, the available kits do not have sufficient stones to hold a bulb upright and give the roots room to grow. Get some extra stones or glass marbles. The pretty kits with glass cylinger vases I bought had less than an inch of stones. Even with added stones and some aquarium charcoal, my bulbs rotted.

5. Unless you want to try sprouting and growing seeds, snip off the fading bloom so energy goes to the bulb and not seeds. Be aware that it takes 3 to 5 years to see a bloom from seeds. I have seedlings now. I haven't seen a blossom.

6. Leave the stalk and let it wither, then snip it off. Keep the leaves growing on the way you treat any other house plant: food and water.

7. The process of drying off the bulb in late summer and then bringing it to life again is not necessary unless you want to time the bloom. The bloom I thought I would see in December is gong to open at the end of February. Very tricky, the timing thing.

8. When I brought out my bulb that was sprouting new growth before the old leaves died, I lifted it out of the pot, put a little potting soil underneath it and gave it a little top dressing, leaving the top third of the bulb exposed. The old soil had settled and this gave it an opportunity to get renewal.

9. If you live in a warm climate: zones 8, 9, 10 and above, bulbs can be planted in the garden.

Blooming in my garden the second year after forcing.

 What has been your experience with bringing an Amaryllis bulb to bloom? Did you get blossoms the second year?

Friday, February 15, 2013

February Gold for Bloom Day 2013

When Spring arrives in full glory, it is all pinks and blues and yellows and whites. February can show displays of gold.

Live Oak leaves against the dark pink of Loropetalum

Live Oak Trees are shedding old leaves. Unlike deciduous oaks that shed their leaves in fall, Live Oaks lose their leaves as new leaves grow in late winter. Old leaves here are gold colored as they are pushed off by new growth.

Tetè a Tetè among Live Oak leaves of gold.

A closer look



Julia Child floribunda rose blooming ahead of season,
happy in emerging sunshine with a raindrop still on her petal.
I think the early blossom is the result of protection from the
Golden Euonymous on the north side of the rose.

Camellia seedling with golden stamens, one of
six seedlings in the garden. All but one have
bloomed. That one has fat buds.
New seedlings have sprouted in the greenhouse.


View out my carport door: More golden stamens on Camellias.


Blooms in the greenhouse are on Dotty Plants Journal blog.
Blooms of Hyacinths, Persian Shield, Begonias, Kalanchoe, Pineapple Sage and Persian Shield are there.
Carol is hosting Bloom Day on May Dreams Gardens blog.





Monday, February 11, 2013

Azaleas in the Upper Garden

We are nearing the big Azalea show.

A little path through the Azaleas to the Upper Garden. It cuts at a
slight angle so it isn't noticeable from the center of the garden on either side.

Formosa Azaleas in the foreground have grown here for more than 50 years. These pictured were rooted cuttings twenty years ago, as were the Pink Ruffles just starting to bloom at left. Notice how much darker the foliage of Forosa is than the light foliage of Pink Ruffles, just one consideration when choosing Azaleas.

Another view of Formosa. Behind is a small glimpse of Poukahense

starting to bloom, a deciduous Azalea with Lavender blooms


I can hardly wait for the whole show, as blooms open and color intensifies. Usually Dogwoods bloom simultaneously with Azaleas. Dogwoods still have tight buds. The small trunks of understory trees are dogwoods under tall pines, some that I planted seeds, some bird-planted. Both Dogwoods and Azaleas enjoy high shade in this climate.

Looking to the opposite direction from the Azalea line. Paths are mown grass in summer. Plans are to cut the long beds in half with mown cross paths. There are more smaller azaleas under the oak trees at upper left, not yet open because they get north wind directly off the field.

I can hardly wait. Perhaps I should go back to a 2010 album where all the azaleas are in bloom.
I do go back and look at previous years on my own blogs.

We had 2.5 inches of rain since early this morning, grateful for every drop.


Friday, February 8, 2013

How Mother Nature Plants a Flower Bed

I noticed lots of lush green along the side of the driveway where it loops around to the equipment barn.

Lush, green, lots of weeds.
I could not identify this big plant. It looks
as if it might be good to eat.
I saw Cudweed, Ladies' Bedstraw, Chickweed, Dandelions. Ryegrass reseeded from last winter.

There is a Dog Fennel, Bittercress, wild Violets, Dichondra;
fewer Henbit and Florida Betony than I'm seeing elsewhere.

There is even a rose campion seedling.

Then I saw this. Clumps of this as if they'd been sown among the chickweed and grass.
I felt the leaves. They are fuzzy, almost sticky. Familiar!
Then I saw these!
Laura Bush Petunias.
There are dozens of plants, covering a space more than 30 feet long.
As best I can tell, those are seeds from the Petunias that used to grow and 
reseed in front of the boxwoods here. When I swept the driveway back
in the fall, seeds collected on the other side of the driveway and then
the lightweight seeds were scattered like dust on northwest winds.
I pointed out this planting to He-who-mows and I marked it with rebar posts so he doesn't forget.
I'm thinking of what to add: Sweet William? There are two trays of perhaps white Dianthus barbadus waiting to be planted. Seeds of Purple Alternanthera? Sweet Alyssum?  This is probably not going to be a permanent bed but I'll see how well I can weed out the undesirables, leaving cudweed for American Painted Lady butterfly larvae. 
It would have been too much trouble to have started a flower bed here. It's a rain garden, planted by Mother Nature and watered by rain pouring off the tractor shed.