Monday, April 29, 2013

Do Over: Daylilies and a Bench

It is so exciting when something commences bloom in the Garden. My impulse is to show every first bloom, or group of first blooms just because they are new. I made pictures of the First Daylily to Bloom, then the first few blooms and today there is finally enough blooms almost worthy to display, so I discarded yesterday's pictures.

Daylilies in the Yellow Rose Bed. Self-planted Spiderwort.

Lavender Nicotiana at the opposite end just starting to bloom.
Nicotiana did not self-seed very well this year. I moved these from the lawn.

I restacked these bricks three times before I was satisfied.
The bench is for looks, but I can sit here to catch my breath if needed.
Before, the pillars were smaller. The brick on each end of the board, idea I saw on Pinterest. 
The board was salvaged from the old barn.
This is the discarded idea, lower by one brick. Before that, pillars
just far enough apart for the board to fit on top.

Early March when it was a simpler bench.
What do you think?


Spiraea japonica

Mama called it 'Summer Spirea' and it goes by other common names. Naturalized here, you can guess from the botanica. name Spiraea japonica where it originated.

Dogwood trees at the entrance to the Upper Garden are underplaned with Spirea.
 LIke other spiraeas, it tends to have twiggy ends. 
Carefully pruned last fall, look at all the new shoots. I'll trim them post bloom.

Few of its companions are blooming this early.
Here, echinacea ventures into bloom.
Kept Deadheaded, Spirea blooms all summer.
It's invasive in parts of Florida, particularly in continually moist areas.
"Gold Mound" is the yellow-leaved cultivar seen in nurseries.
Do you have Spiraeas in your garden? The white Spiraeas are almost done blooming here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Maybe Aerial Views Were not What I Thought They Would Be

Yesterday when He-Who-Mows put me high into the air on a farm implement so I could take pictures with a bird's eye view, I thought we'd get a whole new perspective. I hardly knew where to start.

Here we are in the north drive. I'm looking back at the Longest Rock Bed and down on He-Who-Mows. He reminded me before we started that it is not a smooth upward travel like a bucket truck, more up, tilt, stop, tilt the other way, up. "I'll just close my eyes," I said, "like I do when you run over a curb."

Over in the middle are the best flowers right now. We're kind of looking through the top of a Crape Myrtle at a row of Daylilies not yet in bloom and Poppies and Purple Conflower in the island formerly known as the Rock Wall Bed before I took away part of the wall. You can't really see Lantana and Salvia farinacea and those tiny blue wildflowers from here.
Corn Poppies are just starting to bloom.

 You can see part of the stones still holding the berm in place.

California Poppies and Salvia farinacea 'Victoria'

Corn Poppies follow the early P. somniferum.
Notice Venus's Looking Glass's tiny blue blooms at bottom.
High in the air, you notice things that you didn't see at ground level.
I spent the morning hacking at Virginia Creeper vines climbing the pines along with Catbrier. He-Who-Mows came to help and hauled away a truck load of vines and tree seedlings and azalea bits.
Come July when Gardenias have finished blooming, they will get a big haircut, too. They have tiny buds, promise of a fragrant June.
The weather is perfect for yard work.
I dragged out all my hoses and matched them up with various water outlets. We need two more standpipes and will get supplies we lack for those soon so that one outlet can supply more than one hose. I intend to drag fewer hoses this year with better planning for placement at the outset. 

New Path through Azaleas

In the subtropical climate in which I garden, vines and growth will overtake a garden. Old shrubs will die out and others take over.

I cleared out 3 Shrimp Plants and a very old Hydrangea.
Shrimp Plant.
A hummingbird kept buzzing me when I took
out the other plants. They are in pots for
relocation. Plenty of plants are left for hummer.

The new path begins here. My Birdbath Rock is to the right.

We turned left.

Continuing on. I dug layered azalea limbs that had rooted. 
The path runs between pink Azaleas at left and white Azaleas on right.
The path is where a row of Hydrangeas grew in the 1990s.
Dead end here; turn right or left. Let's turn left.

We come back out on the path in front of the azaleas.

 Looking back the way we came; rough stone steps at the end  go down to the Front Garden.

Can you line up the bare Dogwood tree near the center here with the tree at center above?
Azaleas were in bloom about six weeks ago.
More mowing, less weeding.
Not long after the new path was completed, I came upon a Black Snake on the second path over. Snakes are one of the reasons I like wide paths; room for both of us to pass.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Aerial View of Yellow Rose Bed and How It Was Done

I always envied bloggers who live in two story houses and take photos out an upstairs window. Today He-Who-Mows had a lift attachment on a tractor that he uses for various things around the farm.
I said, "You could lift me high in the air and I could take Garden Photos." And he did.

View of the Yellow Rose Bed in Panorama mode.
Daylilies on the near side hide dying daffodil foliage. The Daylilies are already blooming. In the middle are Shasta Daisy plants and White Pentas are just beginning to bloom. The right end is anchored with a golden Euonymous and the big thing on the left is a white Crape Myrtle. We're a month from Crape Myrtle blooms.

You must realize this is a home-made contraption, with a rail on only three sides. When I was going up and down, I busied myself with things like changing the camera from Panorama mode back to Landscape or to Movies. When I was actually taking pictures, the tractor was turned off and I was stationary. This is a view down onto the Oval Lawn in the Upper Garden, with Dogwood trees on each side.

Here I'm looking down on He-Who-Mows and the View is toward the field.

He parked in four different spots and sat patiently while I played photographer. I was ready to come down after I stayed in the air and he moved the tractor forward about fifty feet, that last time.

Curiously, aerial shots are not always the best views. The ones toward the sun were definitely not good. I was so hoping to show you the buds in the top of 'Little Gem' Magnolia.

We've had a long day. A new path is mowed behind the azalea walk. I had to dig out a huge hydrangea, pieces at a time and dig out some rooted azalea pieces that would otherwise be mowed. I can hardly wait to show you it, at ground level.

Here's the new path (center) through the azaleas. It turns to the left and circles around to come out by the Bird Bath Rock which incidentally has a newly repaired hose and a new valve to control it.

More to come from this old woman who was really 'high' -- in the air -- this afternoon.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Delmar the Toad and Irrigation

Slight chance of rain tonight, slight chance on Saturday. There are transplants that need watering. I started yesterday hauling out sprinklers and such and opening up my water outlets throughout the garden.
The cover says, "Irrigation Control Valve" -- it's really a
faucet in the ground with a lever rather than a handle.
There's an outlet in the lower left corner, hardly noticeable.
Not only does it make mowing easier, there is no worry
in winter about faucets freezing.
I was reading about the late Alan Bloom last night and how he had a 6 acre garden and then carved out another 6 acre garden for his son on the property next to him. I thought, "Oh, I could just go back behind the pecan trees and start a brand-new 6 acre garden with island beds just like Dell Gardens and Foggy Bottom at Bressingham Gardens."

Oh, wait! I'm more than 70 years old. I still have to get the Virginia Creeper vines out of my Gingers bed under the  Live Oak. There's more to do than I can get done and I'm looking out there at a meadow that requires only mowing.

My last meadow trial was not exactly a whopping success and it was only the footprint of the old barn. It's grass now.

The Meadow Experiment is here: Meadow Experiment

Four pipe manifold. Different connectors allow
 attaching hoses and control from the pipe or individually.

It took me half a day to get my in-ground water outlets opened and functional. The first one had the soil fluffed up about 4 inches above the lever that turns on the water. I dug out a 5 gallon bucket half full of sandy dirt before I was satisfied to try to turn on any water.
The connection here is capped. A hose could be attached
here. I use a standpipe in most of them so I can have
a Y or a manifold for more than one hose.

On the next one, I discovered what fluffs up the soil. There were 3 holes in the dirt. When I started digging, guess who I dug up? Delmar the Toad. This is a new Delmar.
Big Delmar is sitting in a flower pot in the greenhouse where only two of the Duranta cuttings I stuck rooted. This week I discovered why. Delmar. Delmar has not left this flower pot in several days. He's a good pest controller for the greenhouse and the cat won't chase him like he does the anoles.

Outlet open and standpipe attached. Hoses
attach to the Y.
I think little Delmar's hideout was where I found the spider, too. It was the biggest spider I ever saw: pale beige with a body the size of a Palmetto bug. Legs and all he was the size of a half dollar. I liberated him with my trowel and set him free in the grass to find a new home and eat lots of hateful bugs.
Some of my sprinklers. The tall ones have a hose
bib either at the bottom or near the top.
There's a spike so they can be pushed into the ground.
The green thing is a meter attached to a standpipe.
Pushing a spiked sprinkler pipe into the ground isn't always easy. He-who-mows put PVC pipe into the ground where the spike can just plug in. Some of the pipes are at the edge of beds where they don't have to be moved for mowing but I still mark them because they get
covered with mulch or plants grow over them when the sprinklers are removed for winter.
How can you find a piece of 3/4" pipe in the grass at ground level?
Flags. In the front garden I have fancy metal stakes like this one.
In the upper garden I use old electric fence posts.
Some time back I bought a kit with 100' of hose and attachements for drip irrigation. Later today we will lay all that out for irrigating the grapevines and blueberries. Funny, they provide 100' of tubing and then the instructions say to use only 50 feet.
Ending with something pretty. Purple Coneflowers and California Poppies.
I pulled up a California Poppy yesterday. They have a big orange taproot
that looks almost like a slender carrot.
The monsters behind are Red Hot Poker foliage, Carefree Delight rose and
the trunks of a tree-form Vitex.
I have to go now and count my garden hoses and decide who goes where. I found two old soaker hoses in a flower bed, pulled them out and tested them; they are still good. Have the drilled pipes that attach to hoses ready . There is no end to the ways to put water on plants and not every plant has the same needs.
What's on your water agenda?  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Flowering Pomegranate

One of the shrubs that I anticipate with joy, Punica granatum ornamental 'Madame Legrelle' is an heirloom, here long before I came to this place.

The flowers are orange with white stripes. Buds are shiny, solid orange.

The shrubs grow to 6 feet;  these were divided from the original which
was crowded by an oak, years ago.

Of Asian origins, pomegranates are not native but highly decorative.
These have no fruit. I've never even seen a tiny seed fruit.
The flowers fade and drop. The only explanation I can think of is
that it may be climate related.
These are a welcome sight, coming after the big show of azaleas and before
small summer ornamentals like Vitex and Crape Myrtle.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Chicken Rose, aka known as Grandma's Yellow

TAMU calls it Grandma's Yellow. I think it started out as Nacogdoches. Janie Varley sent me a cutting. We call it the Chicken Rose, another long story.

The Chicken Rose two days ago with beautiful buds.
It's in a bed with yellow daylilies and white Pentas,
anchored with a variegated Euonymous on one end and
white Crape Myrtle yet to bloom on the other.
The Chicken Rose today.
Grandma's Yellow is another of the TAMU Superstars.
There's a stone in this bed that viewed from a
certain angle reminds me of a chick's head.
I did go back with pruners and take out those dead stems, just one of
today's chores, deadheading and late pruning clean-up.
First Daylily in bloom this year was Brocaded Gown in the Chicken Rose
bed and another across the way.

So far there's a few blooms every day, with many more to come.
H. quercifolia
Next to bloom are Oakleaf Hydrangeas for a really big show.
They were blooming this time last year:

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Reine des Violettes and Belinda's Dream

Two of my favorite Roses. Okay, whoever is blooming well is always the current favorite.

'Reine des Violettes' is an old rose with a peppery scent. Even the foliage smells good.

Translates to 'Queen of the Violets' which it really is. I grow it on a medium trellis with extra rebar.

Belinda's Dream is lightly fragrant and a good sturdy pink shrub rose. One of the TAMU Earth Kind recommended roses. If it grows in in all of Texas it will grow here except for Bluebonnets. These look a little tired because of the rain the night before but you can tell how sturdy they are.