Monday, March 31, 2014

It's Like Hunting for Easter Eggs

The winds are quiet, the sun is bright and I was out looking for treasures. An Amaryllis bud I'd not seen before, a California poppy blossom, Spiderwort, Gerbera Daisies and other signs of Spring in Bloom were waiting to be discovered.

The first Knock Out Rose

Camellias are almost gone after a harsh winter that was hard on them. 
This candy-stripe is a seedling, not so spectacular but special to me.

California Poppies are just beginning.

It's like Hunting for Easter eggs, all the bright colors blooming now, awaiting discovery.

Spiderwort is a weedy wilding but makes 
a pretty show ahead of many other
spring pretties and such a pretty color.

Another seedling Camellia, late blooming.
This is the one a falling oak limb took off half last year.

Late-planted Daffodils made a great lingering show.
It's like a new discovery every time I see it.

Wisteria blooms are starting -- and they smell good.

Tiny 'Baby Moon' is always one of the last daffodils to bloom.

Blueberry blooms attract bees. 
Some of the early bushes have tiny berries I noticed.

This is a curious thing. These blooms are on the same Azalea, 'George Tabor' which is a sport of Formosa or Omurasaki, depending on whose authority you are reading. This particular George has a single limb of sported magenta, reverting back to its origins.

Around where I placed Begonia pots under a Red Cedar it looked as if hogs had been rooting. Armadillo! Pots were knocked over and other signs: little cone-shaped holes in the earth. Armadillos are looking for grubs, very helpful but eventually they start tunneling under the house and having litters of four which multiply quickly into too many helpers and snacking on grubs and in fire ant mounds turns to feasting on earthworms. I set a trap after I righted pots and transplanted Spider Plants into the urn.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Return of Butterflies Starting with One

Butterfly sightings all this week, one at a time, always when I had no camera. I started carrying a camera. They move so quickly I couldn't capture one or there was a crisis like the Zebra Swallowtail who got in the greenhouse and I had to focus on getting him safely out with a net instead of capturing him in a pic.

Yesterday I was finally at the right place to capture a photo of a Spicebush
Swallowtail  nectaring on George Tabor azaleas. I saw a Tiger but he flew.

They are sheltered from the wind here.

The bed behind Pink Pearl will soon attrect them when the wind dies down
and the rest of the azaleas open.

I could just sit on that little bench and wait but there are so many things needing attention.

They are mostly nectaring on Azaleas and weeds, a good reason to leave
plants like Henbit, Harebells, Toadflax and other nectar plants.
If you can't wait to see butterflies, here is a one minute video from July, 2011.
Tigers are back.

Right now I'm going outside to watch for more butterflies.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Loropetalum: 'Laura Pedlum' in Bloom

Loropetalum is one of the most searched terms my blog receives, often searched as Laura Pedlum. The green form with white fringes of this shrub were brought to the US as long ago as 1880. It never caught on as a particularly desirable shrub. About 1989, pink forms of Loropetalum chinensis were brought in and were immediately a hit.

Miss Billie gave me seedlings from under her Loropetalums ten years ago. 'The ones with green leaves have white flowers,' she said. I ended up with only one white, placed to anchor the corner of the white bed around the pumphouse.
I never call it by common name, 'Fringe Tree'
so as not to confuse with Chionanthus retusus
or American native Chionanthus virginicus.
I counted more than ten cultivars for sale by vendors, only two white, a standard and a dwarf.
Colors range from near red to a pale pink. Dr. Dirr comments that some of the cultivar names are the same plant.

Loropetalum plays well with the pink and fuchsia blooms of our usual Spring bloomers: deciduous Magnolias, Azaleas, Redbuds

I can see these two from my kitchen window, different colors
and a slightly different growth habit.
When Loropetalums were first popular in the early 1990s, it was not really know how large they would grow. Vendors are selling some 'dwarf' cultivars  -- none of my seedlings turned out dwarf. The two above are smaller than most of the rest, but still growing. I suspect their smaller size has to do with their location unprotected from north winds, in open sun and rather poor soil.

New growth tends to be russet red on pinker flowered cultivars, a purple-red on the darker ones. Old leaves turn orange or red before falling off. The white form's old leaves turn yellow.
Foliage is darker in shade. Loropetalum roots are red, too.

I see this group of 3 tree-form Loropetalums from my kitchen window.

Another group of three with white in the distance.

Loropetalums make good companions for a tall tree-form hedge
when planted with Crape Myrtles.
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 7A - 10A
  • Mature Height: 6 to 12 ft   -- this is the opinion of Extension sources, some of mine are taller.
  • Mature Spread: 10 to 15 ft 

  • This plant has not been established as a non-native threat in the twenty plus years since it hit the nursery trade as a big seller. It does seed about occasionally in rich garden soil.

    Around town, I see commercial landscape plantings where Loropetalums planted after 2000 were lovely for several years, now pruned into flying saucers, oversized pillboxes and other contorted shapes. In an effort to keep them contained the graceful habit is lost and many of the blooms.

    I almost forgot to mention that Loropetalums bloom much earlier than Azaleas and the show goes on until May, a long bloom season followed by sporadic bloom through the summer and another minor show about August, lasting until the first hard freeze. 

    Unless you find a guaranteed dwarf cultivar, I would just give them room and stand back. Definitely not a foundation plant, Loropetalums are one of the most colorful shrubs I grow.

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014

    Waiting for the Spring Azalea Show

    Pink Ruffles, not yet to the peak of bloom. Brisk wind from NE.
    I can never wait to reveal the big show all at once.

    Azalea walk along the north driveway. When I planted Gardenias in at the bottom of the slope, I didn't expect they would reach 7 feet tall. Last year I cut them back by a third after bloom. They grew right back.

    At top of the stone steps a secret path winds through the azaleas into what I call the Upper Garden.

    The path turns west toward what used to be an herb garden, now a mass of Rosemay bushes and along a brick-lined path leading back down more rough steps.

    View in the opposite direction.

    North to south path back to driveway. Two paths intersect.

     Path from the steps comes out here. Where? It wouldn't be a secret path if you can see it right off.
    Wire flamingo pinwheels mark where Royal Standard Hostas emerge when they're ready.

     Farther back Upper Garden side of the Azalea Walk. We're looking west again, toward a bench.

    Rustic bench with Formosa Azaleas, rooted cuttings from Azaleas here for more than fifty years.

    Looking back from front of the bench. The Azalea Walk started in 1994 with 17 rooted Pink Ruffles Azalea cuttings from our previous home. Dogwoods grew from seeds I stuck in the ground.

    Pink Pearl

    The Big Show does not reveal itself all at once. Azaleas in two beds on the north side of the Upper Garden under deciduous oaks bloom later than those under pines.  

    Azalea Show lasts less than a month, but worth waiting for every year. It took years for me to learn to add Lorpetalum with its longer bloom time and Philadelphus to keep a show of white Dogwood-type  blooms going later into Spring.

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

    The Present State of Daffodils in the Coastal South

    Most of the early Daffodils are done. Ehrlicheer was later than usual. Sweetness jonquilla was a reluctant bloomer this year.

    Ice Follies was everywhere. Some bloomed 
    earlier than others.

    Sailboat is still blooming.

    Tete a Tete and Jetfire have mostly finished. 

    Hawera, the most persistant of the Triandrus daffodils is
    just coming into bloom. I've grown Petrel, Ice Wings and 
    Thalia in the past. They eventually disappeared. Hawera lasts.

    Yet to bloom are Van Sion, some Trumpets that I planted 
    late, and Baby Moon which has only thin leaves right now.

    The next big show shifts from Yellow to Pink. 
    Scattered Azalea Blooms are opening in anticipation.

    Tuesday, March 18, 2014

    Shirley Tulips

    Tulip 'Shirley' bloomed just ahead of Tulip 'Moulin Rouge' which extends the season. Photos are in sequence showing the progression of bloom.

    Muscari armeniacum planted with the tulips bloomed ahead of everybody else,
    but lasted to the end. Sometimes Muscari reblooms.

    Shirley opens a pale cream. A thin line of purple appears.

    Shirley and Muscari

    As the flower matures, the lines of purple broaden.

    Toward the end of bloom, the purple blush spreads.

    Moulin Rouge just coming into bloom behind Shirley.

    Shirley was chilled in a dedicated refrigerator for 10 weeks.
    I planted bulbs at the end of December which is usual for the Coastal South
    if one is brave enough to plant tulips in the face of possible early heat..

    Weather was perfect for bulbs. I did not have to water and there was
    winter chill all through early winter.

    A look down the throats of a line of Shirley.

     A bag of trumpet daffodils I bought at a big box store are coming into bud, late for here because I did not chill them. Poppy seeds I scattered after the bulb bed was planted are not noticeable in photos but are coming along to hide maturing bulb foliage.

    Had I not won these bulbs, there would have been no tulips here this year because I had decided Tulips were too much trouble and subject to pitfalls like voles and tulip fire disease. These turned out so well, I may plant some dark purples (my favorite) next season.

    When reading about Tulips, Single Late are always mentioned as being most suitable for the Deep South. My experience is that Triumph tulips perform equally well, if not better, in my garden.

    These tulips were given to me by Longfield Gardens as a result of my entering a giveaway on Facebook. Writing about them on my blog was not a condition of my receiving them.