Friday, May 31, 2013

Blue Hortensia

Just like the last green in a colour pot
So are these leaves, withered and wrecked
Behind the flower umbels, which reflect
A hue of blue, only more they do not.
But suddenly some new blue seemingly is seen
In just one umbel, and we muse
Over a moving blue delighting in the green
(Translation by Guntram Deichsel: Blue Hydrangea, Rilke)

Hydrangea by the bird bath gets sufficient water where a faucet drips continuously for birds' water.

Hydrangea serrata, 'Woodlanders' that I've had for years, a Lacecap.
It was pink when I bought it and of course reverted to blue in our soil.
Hydrangea quercifolia and Hydrange macrophylla in the Upper Garden with Lilies and Daylilies.
The Blue Hydrangeas whose original source was here 50 years ago.
Many cuttings were struck from these and except for one plant that was
a gift, the only big blue hydrangea I grow.
Another Lace-cap, Mariesii variegata. Early buds on one or two indicate these are
pink, rooted in potting soil. Eventually they will revert to blue under Pine trees.
A blue surprise! Blueberries are ripening.
Getting crowded around the Cycad.
It's 90º in the shade here this afternoon.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Summer Bulbs A to Z: Agapanthus and Butterfly

First on my list of summer bulbs, Agapanthus. I could hardly wait once the bud stalk appeared.

In the background this morning was a surprise: Gardenias blooming!

These two are smaller, with a bulb sheath still hanging off one.

Joining Tootsie for Fertilizer Friday.

After I made the initial pictures, I came back to Agapanthus and made
more, as I am prone to do. While I was focusing, I was joined by --

 A butterfly!

I bought these at a local garden center. He identified them as A. africanus, which I wonder. We had a mild winter and these stayed green all winter. I have Storm Cloud, from a different local nursery. It has not yet sent up a bud.

This was the surprise I saw when I looked out this morning. Here we are looking back
toward beds where the agapanthus grow.
When summer comes, there are surprises every day in the garden. What was your latest surprise?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Waiting for Zebras

Earlier in the Spring, Zebra Swallowtails visited during a few warm spells. They have an open invitation to visit any time.

Their host plant, Asimina auguxtafolia, is blooming at the edge of the Upper Garden anong Lantana montevidensis. Yellow Lantana is starting to bloom adjacent.

Later in the summer, Zebras will visit Tithonia and Pride of Barbados, but their first stop is usually Lantana.

Tigers are already back; the Zoo awaits Zebras. I'l be waiting among Lilies and Daylilies at the other end of the path.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Year of the Lily

Ample Spring moisture and cool temperatures brought forth true lilies like I've not seen in a while.

'Easter Bonnet'

 Longiflorum lily that I don't remember planting. Fragrant. This is a species lily.
All the others are Hybrids.

I gave all lilies a handful of wood ashes when they first came up.

I think I may have given them a spoonful of lime as well.

 These lilies were planted to take advantage of contrasting blue companions.

I think this is 'Blackout' Asiatic

Longiflorum-Asiatic Hybrid.
I'm calling it the Year of the Lily; officially the National Gardening Bureau calls this the Year of the Gerbera. Maybe we can just say that Lilies are the Bulb of the Year.
Which Lilies are your favorites?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

What the Butterflies Found

Butterflies are back!

Tiger on Echinacea

Pipevine Swallowtail on Silene/Catchfly.
American Painted Ladies are here.
Seems that dark Swallowtails like blue and purple flowers and the yellow butterflies go to
yellow and gold. There are always birds singing in the background -- maybe it is disguise.
There's no butterfly in this picture but they're starting to really notice
Pentas, from this light pink to Ruby red.

 If you are in a cooler climate than my zone 8b, look for them coming soon.
If you're in a warm climate, notice whether there are host plants nearby if not in your garden.
If you've a little space, scatter some Zinnia seed or some Tithonia. 
Chemicals have no place in a butterfly garden. Insecticides do not distinguish between bad bugs and beneficials. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Red Cascade

I should have used Red Cascade for Wordless Wednesday -- it speaks for itself. Hybridized in 1976, it is classified as a miniature. The only thing mini about it is the size of the blooms and leaves.

 I try to keep it corraled. It would rather be groundcover.
It doesn't ask much.
 I wonder if there's a miniature in another color as sturdy as this one?

Duranta and Larkspur, Blues for Butterflies

Linking to Tootsie's Fertilizer Friday meme. I fertilized this morning: a little Superthrive and Schultz's on my newly planted Heirloom Tomatoes. Fertilizer Friday is a good thing.
A more uncommon Larkspur color, pale lavender, with bright blue.
Pipevine Swallowtails find Consolida ambigua irrestible.

Larkspur is a seed scatterer's dream. Tossed into bulb beds in late fall, they are almost fail-safe.
Seeds are large and easily collected.

Good example of Larkspur intended for disguising ripening daffodil foliage.
On the left is Duranta returning from roots after being killed back in winter.

 Progress in the Front Garden. Near the center is a large Duranta that was not killed back this winter.
Chartreuse Alternanthera is one of my favorite summer annuals. I grow them from cuttings. Purple Heart, another favorite, survived the winter. California Poppies are starting to wane. There's one Black-eyed Susan blossom in the cluster near the center. Madagascar Periwinkle seedlings are up behind the Susans. Lantana at far left is not quite ready to bloom.

Duranta erecta up close with a Swallowtail visiting on the right.
There are a number of common names for this plant including Brazilian Sky Flower and some other names that reflect the golden berries that form when the blooms fade.

Even closer. Duranta lasts all summer. New plants are easily started from cuttings.

There was a Tiger nectaring on Echinacea this morning. They're not far away if you are in the South and coming to your garden soon elsewhere. Have you seen Butterflies yet?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Butterflies are Back

More butterflies show up every day. Some of the Pipevine are so newly hatched the blue on their wings almost glows. They've found the petunia bed that planted itself.

Petunias got a haircut and a drink Tuesday.
Lesser Fritillary on Echinacea. I also saw a Gulf Fritillary today, a Cabbage Looper and
a Sulphur, all around this bed.
Echinacea is a favorite now until Tithonia and Lantana start blooming. Some butterflies 'dive' in
daylilies for nectar. I try to provide a variety of nectar plants.
This bed had some existing liriope; I added more at the right end. Bricks are temporary to keep soil in place until the roots establish. Agapanthus toward the left is about to bloom. Some of the newer red Pentas are blooming. Pentas that came back from roots are sturdy plants but not yet in bloom. There are two Gomphrena plants from last year. I scattered more seed. Picture before i watered.

Red Pentas, their favorite and mine.
A little water, a little more shade and 24 hours made the difference.
Pipevine Swallowtail and American Painted Lady on Catchfly.
It was hot Tuesday, near 90 º and we watered most of the afternoon.

Duranta is popular with Pipevine Swallowtails,
after I watered they were all over it.

Summer is here!