Tuesday, July 30, 2013

End of Month Views

I enjoy more the fragrance of this planting at night than the flowers in the daytime.

Fragrance comes from Brugmansia blooms, this
purple Datura and White Daturas at ground level.

Across the Driveway, a young white Natchez Crape Myrtle came
into bloom.  In sight at right is the collection below.

Under the shade of an old Red Cedar, White Begonias bloom 
in the company of Spider Plants, a Fern and a curved bench.

The near bed has new stones at the front. Muhly grass will commence
bloom next month; meanwhile Tithonia is the primary attraction.

Freely reseeds.

Pentas in all colors attract a 
variety of Swallowtails and others.

Pentas here are in the company of heirloom 
tomatoes on an improvised trellis. 
Mexican hats and yellow Lantana add to the mix.

Gulf Fritillaries enjoy yellow Lantana.
Frequent rains this month made grass lush.

I finally finished pruning Gardenias in this row of six. 

Smaller Brugs in the Upper Garden are blooming.
Joseph's Coat at the feet of this one will be red in fall.

Salmon sheen deserved the Stout Medal it won 
when I was in high school. 3rd rebloom here.

Hibiscus syriacus. We call it Althea, you might 
call it Rose of Sharon. I have a vase of rooted 
cuttings awaiting planting. Hummingbirds like it.

The views here are tremendous when He-who-mows can 
keep ahead of the grass. It's like a park after all the rain. 
The ruts in the field road have almost filled in.

Was July a rainy month for you? 

Monday, July 29, 2013

New Stones and Pigeon Berries

Stones are not new, they are memories of the landscape all the way back for eons of time. All our stones are mostly limestone and full of fossils. He-who-mows and operates machinery hauled in these new-to-the-garden stones for me yesterday.

These are my newly placed stones, brought in from along a
fence where they used to mark the waterline for a cow trough.
The one above measures roughly 18x24" and is
about 9 inches tall.

This rock is about 16x22" and a little taller than the first.
I gave them a bath before their photo shoot to remove the
loose dirt covering them, lol.
When brought in, they rolled off the root rake and on each side
of an existing stone in front of what I call the stump bed.
I hurriedly moved these smaller stones as the tractor came down the drive, rolling the front two because they are too heavy to lift. One of these goes back in the line. The others get new homes.
Stones edge the low front side of this bed. Grasses at right are Gulf Muhly. Yellow flowers at center front are Melampodium and Tithonia at right. The tall shrubs at center are Duranta erecta, slow to bloom. The stone at left is one waiting to be moved. I've already done some pruning of Duranta today since these pics were taken.
Speaking of Duranta, there is only one that survived the winter without being killed back to roots.
For the first time ever, after all the rain it put on the significant yellow berries that gives it the common name, Golden Dewdrop. Its other common name is Pigeon Berry.
Yellow berries and purple flowers of Duranta.
Not one of the main favorites of butterflies but there is usually at least one Pipevine Swallowtail fluttering among the flowers, just not when I'm making a pic.
My new routine for butterfly pictures is just to point in their direction and click, click, click. When I come inside I discard all but the focused ones with a butterfly. They flutter so quickly that some frames are empty, some too blurred and maybe one in ten is marvelous by my standards.
North side of the bed with the new stones, Tithonia and some Datura, right.
At upper left there is a Gulf Fritillary; everybody else fluttered away when the camera appeared. Earlier in the day there was a Tiger Swallowtail who of course flew out of sight when camera appeared and I gave chase.
If you are farther north, be assured that butterflies are coming to a garden near you. Soonest.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

What Shall I Plant in this Found Spot?

I pruned the lower limbs of what was once a small Natchez Crape Myrtle. They do grow large. The hanging limbs hid this mulched spot.

The stems and leaves on the back and right side that look as if I failed to finish are two seedlings that will move as soon as fall comes. The single plant is nicotiana, done with blooming.

White Crape Myrtle before pruning.

I like Crapes pruned like the one directly opposite on the south side.

The side of the bed next the driveway has yellow daylilies now out of bloom. I am thinking of adding Pandora's Box daylilies on the end.

Pandora is now in a poor bed shaded by trees and shrubs.
She needs to move to a richer sunnier spot where she gets morning sun.

It's a luxury to have a great big bed end just waiting for planting that doesn't require removing grass or some other task before plants can go in. It might benefit by a little compost and of course the edges made crisp and straight. Maybe Pandora would like some daffodils behind her where she can hide maturing foliage.

Some pale pink Pentas on the far side for summer
like these would be nice. Oh, the possibilities!  

Pandora, 2011 in a different light.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Butterflies, Butterflies, Giants!

They're appearing daily in larger numbers. Butterflies seldom stand still for pics.

Gulf Fritallaries are showing up in 2s and 3s where there was just one here and there just a few days ago.

Tiny Checkerspot on Lantana
First Giant Swallowtail of the Season!

Gulf Fritallary on the only Datura blooming.

Gulf Frit on Tithonia
Pipevine Swallowtail on Tithonia. Swallowtails chase
off the Gulf Frits.

Two Pipevine Swallowtails, the second one is hard to see.
They enjoy all those Pentas.

Busy, busy nectaring.

A last Pipevine Swallowtail glimpse.
We're seeing Spicebush Swallowtails, too.

A very fuzzy view of FOUR Swallowtails playing.
Their numbers grow daily.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

White Shrimp Plant, Justicia betonica Is Blooming!

I've been claiming that White Shrimp Plant does not bloom in summer here after I plant it out in bloom when the weather warms. It usually commences bloom in the spring greenhouse and blooms fade shortly after going into the ground.

Justicia betonica's green-veined white bracts hold tiny pink flowers.

This Shrimp plant returned from roots after a mild winter. 

Two kinds of Shrimp Plant, Justicia brandgeeana in the near view, 
Justicia betonica upper left across the walkway.

Copious rainfall is what I think caused such vigorous growth and early bloom.
So much for my theory that  White Shrimp Plant was day-length sensitive. 
I guess I simply didn't water enough. I know that one winter I almost killed the White Shrimps because I wasn't giving them enough water at a single watering and the bottom half of the pots was dry. 

Red Shrimp Plant is hardy here and the plants survive most winters without dying back. White Shrimp Plant dies back to the roots. I always take cuttings just in case. Sometimes I take cuttings of the red just to have them blooming in a pot. 

It took forever to write this post because I found a mail-order source that I'd not seen before and I was looking at all their tropicals and fragrant plants and so many pretties.  I saw a photo on The Outlaw Blog today of Bonnie Lassie Alison being encouraged to go ahead and buy an Angel Trumpet. It's a good thing I haven't anybody to encourage me and I can remind myself of just how many plants I can handle. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Upper Garden and Pie

Sometimes I just don't know what to put in the blog. Rain has left everything lushly green with scant flowers in places.

Panorama of Upper Garden.
These views distort the actual view. The long bed at left is actually parallel to the road on the right.

West end of  Upper Garden in Panorama View

Kniphofia, Purple Heart, Lantana and Vetiver Grass on left, Tropicals on right include Gingers, Stokesia edging and Hydrangeas at far right with azaleas behind. Pic below of  Magnolia and others in far view.

Brugmansia and 'Little Gem' Magnolia

Magnolia blooms are so sturdy, with fragrance of lemons.

Persian Shield with dwarf Pentas coordinating.

Another Brugmansia across from Magnolia.

Rumble of thunder is in the distance. I think the last cloud passed us by but others are forming to the west.

When it isn't raining it's either too hot and humid to work outside or mosquitoes run me inside. Ordinarily we're mostly indoors in late July and all of August but most the weather is so dry we don't have so many weeds and grass to tend. 

There were enough little seedling peaches today to make a small peach cobbler. My father in law loved peach pie and learned to make his own after MIL died. He used to use crescent rolls for his crust; I made oil pastry. He-who-mows and I ate half before I thought of a picture.    

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Physiological Responses to Transient Waterlogging

Physiological Responses to Transient Waterlogging -- that was the name of one of the academic papers I read in my search for why Red Mexican Bird of Paradise, Esperanza and Duranta are so shy about blooming this year.

Gerbera Daisies are starting to bloom again.
Lirope  is blooming early, I think.

Brenda Beust Smith in the Houston Chronicle 2005 said this:

"Drought-tolerant plants that can't bloom with too-wet roots include antique roses, black-eyed Susans, blue daze, bougainvillea, bulbine, cassia, cestrum, coneflowers, Copper Canyon daisy, coreopsis, coral vine, duranta, gaura, hamelia (hummingbird bush), lantana, fernleaf lavender, oleander, pavonia, pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia), Rangoon creeper, russelia, hardy salvia and thyrallis."  -- she gave no source for this information, but I believe it.

We have well-drained loamy sand as soil that had much compost added so that it holds moisture well in droughts. Water drains away after a heavy rain but many of the plants mentioned originate in drier conditions than those we have now. That theory is borne out by the articles that I read, some of which made my head bizzy when they really got down to the cellular level and used bigger scientific words than I know.

 A good haircut brought back Petunia blooms.
Note Sweet Alyssum at lower left in the above pic
and Sweet William in the lower right corner at right.
Sweet William started last fall refuses to bloom and much of it has root rot.

I am expecting late August to be drier and September is almost always a dry month.

Yellow trailing Lantana is starting to bloom. Pipevine 
Swallowtails enjoy it.

Another hazard of recent thunderstorms, lightning struck this Live Oak, 
stripping bark. Some limbs are already dead. Whether the entire tree dies will
be evident within six months.