Thursday, October 31, 2013

Little Shop of Halloween Horrors

Not much happens on Halloween here. Children celebrated Halloween at their Grandmother's house down the road. I caught Buffy the Dog trying to sneak off down there when she heard their shouts and laughter.  Earlier in the day I rode up to the wild meadow and here's what spooky things I found.

Dead 'possum on the dirt road. 

Buzzard waiting for me to leave so he can 
check out the possum.

The critter was not 'playing possum' -- I made a later pic but thought 
better of displaying it.

Spanish moss and Sumac

Scary dead tree. He-who-mows proposes to take it down. 
I wonder what all makes a home inside?

This looked spooky to me. The red leaves covered in Spanish Moss are
a Black Gum tree, I think. Notice huge vine on tree on left.

Snag from a fallen tree. Home for something.


More of the Beautyberry grove under ancient live oaks.

That's about it for Halloween here. 
Joining Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie Time Flaunt

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cotton Candy Drama: Muhlenbergia capillaris

Muhly Grass bloomed the whole month of October, still going. I grouped the 32 best and then culled them to 9, actually 8 of the infloresences and a pic of a young plant among some Lantana, a hopeful of 3  for next year's show. These are in order of bloom.

Muhly is best viewed backlit by sun. This cloudy-day pic turned out well.

Young muhly plant among Lantana.

There were three young plants at right angles to the pretty ones. I let volunteer Tithonia overcome them and they died for lack of sun before I noticed what was happening. I was always looking at butterflies. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Christmas Cactuses Bloom when They Are Ready

What I have is called by most gardeners 'Thanksgiving Cactus' but mine do not bloom at Thanksgiving. Growers sell them as Christmas Cactus and some people call them 'Crab Cactus.' I think it solves the puzzle to just call them Schlumbergera without distinguishing which is buckleyi and which is truncata. S. truncata are the ones I have. S. buckleyi is the old oval-leaf form that my mother and your grandmother grew and handed down. I let mine die.

Last December 15. 

I've been looking at pics of previous years' blooms. There are many places on the web where you can find instructions on growing and bringing these jungle cacti to bloom. You know that my tips are haphazard at best. I leave mine outside in summer. This year they got too much water, I'm sure. The Easter Cactus resented that water, and has some virused-looking leaves to show for it.

Bloom in 2011 on a plant I bought for $1.25 after Christmas, 2008. 

I brought all cactuses inside the greenhouse early. They are forming buds. The business about day length is correct but I cannot explain how the security light outside does not prevent their setting buds, maybe the light levels are just not that high.

Yellow. It must be viewed beside a white
to verify the color.

Nights are cool now, which also has an impact. The GH is unheated until temperatures reach near-freezing, then kept not much above freezing. We had one cool morning in the 30s so far.

Schlumbergera mix well with plants with similar requirements. 

This one bloomed early 2013, too late for Christmas.

Mama would say these two clash beautifully.

I forgot to say that none of these have an ID.

It doesn't really matter to me if they have no names. When I watered today, I was so happy just to have nice plants. If a piece breaks, I root another plant. When they get leggy, I pinch back to good form and root more plants. Mr. Subjunctive suggested that I start hybridizing and grow seedlings. It's a marvelous idea but I need to stop growing things that take until I'm nearly 80 to bloom. 

I need to start growing in the here and now. I have tiny Camellias that may not bloom for 5 years. My cycad seedling is 4 inches tall; will I see it to adulthood? The Alyssum seeds I planted last week are coming up -- I need more of that kind of instant gratification while I wait for Agapanthus seedlings to sprout and Parsley to return from going to the devil and back before it shows up.

Bloom, tiny bud like a baby's tooth and a bud.

I hope you enjoyed seeing Christmas Past as much as I did. If you want specifics about growing Schlumbergera, both Mr. Subjunctive and Mr. Brown Thumb have excellent posts giving the history and care of these plants.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Harvest End: Green Tomatoes

I hate when frost takes out plants and they're all dead when you go outside. I pulled up my remaining two tomato plants while they're still green, a Black Krim and Flamme.

Maybe there are enough to fry green; I'll eat the orange ones.
I ate a couple on the spot, dirt and all.

I tugged the rebar posts out of the ground and put them away. The stick cross pieces I tossed along with the vines and the rest of the Tithonia I pulled up nearby. Next month I'll be ready to scatter larkspur and California poppy seeds where the Tithonia grew in the adjoining bed. I did not save Tithonia seeds, counting on the seeds that fell to know when to emerge late next spring. They always do. The bed in the picture has Verbena bonairensis on the front and the north end now; Verbena on a Stick is a great reseeder. In early spring I can count on wild yellow Corydalis to bloom there.

The makeshift tomato trellises just after I finished in June.

I left two Tithonia that have sprawled on the lawn and two young ones at the end of the rock wall bed. Bees and a few Gulf Fritillaries were still working them as if to say, 'Please, just a few days longer.' I think I know how they feel with frost coming.

I fertilized my cabbages, broccoli and kale yesterday. They need some red pepper flakes sprinkled around to discourage pets' digging. Maybe a little pine straw and some pine cones liberally added  too. Pine cones are a good deterrent and they break down in just a year adding humus. 

Are you ready for winter?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Annual Monarch Sighting

Every year I see a Monarch Butterfly. Just one. He doesn't hang around. He was here yesterday and lingered long enough for me to get 4 fuzzy pics in which he could be identified, sort of.

There's all this Lantana montevidensis and some Salvia leucantha which 
Monarchs usually find attractive. Instead, he flew up, up and away
across the highway to a patch of weeds on the right of way.

So what did I find? I think this is Perilla, not the purple kind.

In addtition to the Perilla, cypress vine and cardinal climber,
both with tiny red flowers. 

No Monarch but I found a Sulphur among the weeds
willing to pose with folded wings.

We're ready for cool weather now, the annual Monarch sighting is done. Do you think it would improve the number of visitors if I had one of those signs designating my garden as a Way Station or some other official approval?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Last Look at Brugmansias

Near-freezing temps predicted for later in the week may mean the last blooms for this year. I am not taking cuttings, hopeful that at least one plant will somehow come back from the roots no matter how rough this winter gets. White fly is the bane of the greenhouse when Brug cuttings are in there, nor do I want a bulky
full sized plant dropping leaves all winter until a little tuft is left at top of a long stalk or two.

At night, Angel Trumpet blossoms open wide for night-flying 
insects to pollinate. The fragrance is incredibly sweet and spicy.

Buds grow into a pod shape from which the bloom emerges.

A husk is left when the bloom turns lose from the stem 
with the long pistil hanging out like a piece of string.

Unopened blooms are graceful with petals swirled together ending in points.

The awkward stalks will remain in the garden until spring when they are cut to 
the ground and a new plant grows from the roots.

Goodbye to Summer. Soon I'll pull Melampodium and Periwinkles whose seeds
have fallen. Remaining will be Graptopetalum, mostly, along the brick edging.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Grasses in My Garden

I made a post of the Meadow Grasses last week, most of which I don't even know their names. In the Gardens proper, I have only three Ornamental grasses and those came reluctantly because I was brought up thinking grasses were "Weedy!"

Gulf Muhly Muhlenbergia capillaris

Senescesce has set in, not only in the Autumn Garden but in the gardener. I forgot to link to Tootsie for Fertilizer Friday and then I failed to link only to the post I meant to link and linked the blog in general so you will end up here for a day or two. Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie Time Then the link didn't work. sigh. I think it works now.

Vetiver Vetiveria zizanioides
now reclassified as Chrysopogon zizanioides
Vetiver is a grass native to Southern India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
Vetiver has fallen out of fashion and become forgotten or unknown.
It is grown for the fragrant roots for pot pourri. It makes a lovely screen. 
The ends of the leaves fall forward and make a unicorn's horn late in the season. 
Lemon Grass Cymbopogon citratus
Used in Thai cooking and making a tea. Pets love it to chew.
I didn't include lawn grasses. The lawns here are a combo of Centipede grass, Bermuda and Bahia grass. Bermuda takes the rich, sunny places and hates traffic. Centipede will grow in shade and doesn't want nitrogen added. Bahia is a pasture grass that survives drought. All are winter dormant. Sometimes I overseed with rye grass for the winter.
After all the summer rain, Dichondra -- not a grass -- has formed turf in many spots.  Dichondra takes over weak spots; well maintained turf will choke it out. It pulls out easily like unraveling crochet where it creeps into flower beds. I take a benign view of it.
Which are your favorite grasses?Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie Time

Monday, October 14, 2013

Blooms Despite the Senescence of Autumn

I thought about skipping Bloom Day this month. Well, maybe I would just take a pic or two.

Melampodium, Rose Pentas and PurpleSwirl Datura.

Gulf Muhly not quite in full bloom, with Lantana.

Carefree Delight rose with a Mockingbird nest.
I stopped deadheading roses. Only White Dawn has hips.

Pentas are still attracting butterflies and Skippers.
My Skipper pictures were out of focus. Butterflies showed up later.

Last Hurrah for Angel Trumpets.

Dried Agapanthus heads, purple Alternanthera, red Pentas, white
Shrimp Plant and yellow Melampodium. Dogwood foliage turning in background.
Oak leaves will fall from now to spring, just enough to need weekly raking.

Porterweed. I brought in some seedlings just
in case these don't survive the winter.

 Esperanza Tecoma stans still blooming and just look at the seed pods!

Enjoy Bloom Day.