Thursday, July 31, 2014

Finally a First Bloom on new Pride of Barbados Plants

Plants that are taken for granted in more tropical gardens are sometimes a real trick here. We're plenty hot in the summer but our winters tend to get too cold for Plants that stay green all year in say, South Texas and South Florida. Root hardy, they lose all above-ground growth.

This is a third-year seedling. I'm hopeful of the 2nd year seedlings blooming this year too before cold weather. They rarely show new growth from the roots until mid May just as I'm giving up.

In the same bed, there's a new bud on Agapanthus (the bright bud at upper right) and a spent bloom on the far bottom left has seeds turning yellow. I have seedling Agapanthus that I think will remain in a pot until next spring.  When these seeds are ripe, they need planting too. 

White Shrimp Plant bracts finally are showing tiny pink

Plants are getting crispy. We are hoping for rain the next day or two. Farmer Danny is watering peanuts now. While I was putting a soaker in the bed above, I found a snake skin about 2 feet long. Startling. I hope he finds rats to eat.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Not Quite Muhly Grass

Yesterday I wrote about Muhlenbergia capillaris, commonly called Gulf Muhly Grass. Alison mentioned that it did poorly in her PNW garden. Today Peter showed us a rough pink grass he saw in Alaska not quite suitable because of issues with the seed heads. I mis-identified a grass that blooms pink here in the spring as Eragrostis spp. as a substitute where pink blooms are wanted. Actually this is Agrostis hyemalis.

Agrostis hyemalis, not Eragrostis

This is Eragrostis, Love Grass 2011, half the size of Muhly.

This is Gulf Muhly, 2012

Eragrostis is native to much of the eastern half of the U S. As best as I can determine, Muhly and Love Grass are related but do not come from a common ancestor. 

I had Eragostis in my garden before I knew its name. I dug it off the roadside. It finally died out because it was not in an ideal location. I may try again.

Agrostis hyemalis is a perennial grass that blooms in early spring, opposite the fall grasses that also bloom pink.

It has not been easy for me to stop considering grasses as forage, hay or weeds and start to think of them as other than either lawn or weedy in the garden.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Planning for Fall: Muhly Grass

Sometimes a plant gets lost in the exuberance of those around it. That's what happened to Gulf Muhly Grass starts that I planted at the back of the bed where Muhly grows down the side. Tithonia came up and I left it for delight of butterflies, forgetting the struggling grass that got shaded out completely by Tithonia.

Muhlenbergia capillaris in the Rock Wall bed. 
We're doing better this year. Backlit by the sun from the west it makes a fall show.

Zinnias near Muhly

This year's Muhly grass starts are happily growing in front of Daylilies and in the midst of Lantana montevidensis, two big clumps and some wispier bits over out of sight on the right. There should have been clumps along the edge of the island in the background, had I not forgotten to pull Tithonia that shaded them last year. 

Let's move forward to the bed where Tithonia grows:

Somehow the mower got too close to the clump of Muhly in the center. 
All might have benefited with close mowing in late spring.
Tithonia on the north side of it may have to be thinned out if it starts to shade.

Moving around to view from the street side: Lantana crawled up into 
the Muhly clump and Melampodium planted itself in front.

Duranta is finally blooming to the left.

 Tithonia commenced to the North. Gulf Fritillaries found it.
You have to look hard to see the butterfly.
Next pic picks up the bed in sight at upper left in above view.

Madagascar Periwinkle, happy in the worst heat of the season. Untidy, but the dead plant next the rock is seed for next year's Black Eyed Susans, now on the wane. Beside it is a Lily, storing up energy for next year's blooms. 

A garden is never static. Last year, this bed had large clumps of Lemon Grass along the back edge. It is struggling this year after a cold winter and not every clump returned. You can see Gulf Muhly, Lemon Grass and Vetiver here in last October's post.

We've toured part of the front part of the Front Garden, where I plant the west sides of beds for view by passing motorists and the unseen back sides for my own amusement. 

Gulf Frit 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Will the Real Pink Lily Please Stand?

Do you see subtle differences in the two blooms?

"Cape Lily"

"Surprise Lily"

Neither is a true lily. Both are called by a number of common names ending in Lily.  Both of the Amaryllis family with bulbs that are not attractive to rodents.

Besides the obvious differences like petal and bud shapes, here are other differences: 

Crinum species

 Crinums grow from a whorl of leaves that may or may not remain green through the winter. Here they usually die back to the ground after frost. Flowers appear on leafless stalks among the leaves mid-summer to frost.

Lycoris squamagera

Lycoris squamagera is frequently called 'Naked Ladies' because the bloom stalk emerges from the ground with no accompanying foliage. Another name is 'Magic Lilies' -- not magic, they have no fragrance. When bloom is over there is no further activity above ground until the following spring when lush strap-like leaves appear. These leaves wither away in early summer and the bulbs are dormant until late July when a stem suddenly appears with dark pink buds, blooming within 5 days after first noticed. 

There is no rule against calling a flower that grows from a bulb and has a trumpet shape a lily. Knowing botanical names just helps distinguish one from another to other gardeners. I had trouble determining whether my Naked Ladies were really Lycoris or Belladona Amaryllis:
“The wooden spoon philisters call Amaryllis
Jersey Whites, swain and slatterns know them as
Belladonna Lilies, but only a
Mephistophelean megalomaniac such as yourself
Would dare the Naked Lady sobriquet.”
“Oh you wooly-headed arbiter elegantiarum,
You mad Corinthian, Linneaeus settled this mess
Once and for all, it is lycoris squamigera
To all but unreconstituted dilettantes.”  -- Bill Sigler, Cutting

This is not a new subject, discussion of the various cultivars known as Lilies of one kind or another:
The genus Lycoris is closely related to Amaryllis, Hippeastrum and Crinum, all of which have flowers very much alike in general appearance. Hippeastrum, several species of which are cultivated tinder the name of Amaryllis, differs from Lycoris in its hollow stems and in its flattened instead of swollen black seeds. Its species all belong to the warmer parts of the American continent. The true Amaryllis belongs to South Africa, and, like Crinum, has large, round, green and fleshy seeds, and the fruit never opens by valves as in Lycoris and Hippeastrum. S. W.   Garden and Forest 3: 176 (April 9, 1890)
Pacific Bulb Society members discuss these and other common names at length.  Sometimes I continue to think of Lycoris squamagera as Pink Spider Lilies to distinguish them from Red Spider lilies which will bloom soon.

Unlike the rose, which 'would smell as a sweet' by any other name, Lilies have varying degrees of fragrance and can be identified by scent only if there is one.

True Lily, bloomed in June.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Project Completed for Relaxing in the Back Yard

A Pinterest Board for Yellow Striped Cushions for chaises longue in the backyard can now be recycled for using up the last 4 yards of Yellow Chintz. My cushions are done.

An assortment of light summer reading: Book of Short Stories, French Primer, a favorite Garden Book, a couple of autobiographies (Ram Dass, and Lauren Bacall's first autobiography. All are fine for dipping into without having to finish the whole book. Fish Bookends are Florida souvenirs from 60 years ago.

The View: Corn crop finished except for field drying and peanuts are growing.
Lawn at different heights = Tara Turf.  Note more Fish at right.

Fish Sticks

Ceramic Fish swim through pots of summering Amaryllis.

Water comes from a well -- pitcher and glasses, not bottles.

The cushions are for comfort and utility, not to impress. They're light enough to toss into the washer, the batting was once a polyester mattress pad. Short pieces of elastic hold the top end in place. Plastic lounges are hot to sit on. 

Detail on the back of a pillow cover made from an Hawaiian
Shirt that hung in the closet for a long time, waiting.
The other cushion has real ocean pearl buttons.

I finished my morning coffee out there.

Hat and gloves are to remind.... Wear a hat in the sun, 
gloves for work. Drink plenty of water, rest frequently.

Have a great summer.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Micromanaging the Macro Garden

I'm out there every day, sometimes in the rain, looking and planning.

One Lantana montevidensis died during the winter. At one time all the Lantanas were lavender. I added a white a year or two ago. Cuttings are easy from Lantana. I filled the void where a lavender plant died with a white cutting.

Purple Heart and Lantana have commenced to twine around one another. I like the look.

As Black Eyed Susans die back and are pulled, more Madagascar Periwinkles take their place. I used to manipulate them and pull either the pink or the purple according to the whim of the season. Now I just let them grow. Next year I may try to introduce some white Periwinkles to the mix.

Notice there are some blank spaces in the mulch? They were filled this afternoon with white Lantana.

There are still some Lantana cuttings and a trio of Chartreuse Alternanthera. On the end are two Duranta cuttings that are intended for winter bloom in the greenhouse. Duranta outside is very slow this year. They've finally started.

And oh, there's some red Alternanthera and some bits of herb seedlings and cuttings.

While we're in the midst of Dog Day rains, I need to get some projects finished in the house. I managed to finish pads for the folding chaises and made a pillow cover from an Hawaiian shirt with yellow Hibiscus that hung in the closet for too long.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

Random Blossoms

Julia Child

White Shrimp Plant, Justicia betonica
What you see are bracts. Tiny pink blossoms come later.

Rose de Rescht after a short rest.

Ruellia elegans or Brazilian Ruellia
Its companions come and go; this hardy plant slowly spreads.

Angel Wing Begonia along a dry stacked wall.
Hardy in a sheltered spot, too tender to leave out in a pot.

Lycoris squamagera

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Devil's Trumpets, Angel Trumpets

The only Datura I have this year returned from its roots.

Purple Swirl Datura
This Devil's Trumpet is my favorite one because of the black stems. 

Last year I planted Daturas and Brugmansias together so there were Datura blooms near the ground under the Brugs. I didn't start new Datura plants from seed in the spring so that didn't happen this year. The small white Daturas are good for underplanting. I depended on their weediness and it didn't happen.

Part of the garden just had to plant itself with Melampodium.

 Here is a sequence of bloom over the past few days:

At night they're even more spectacular as the ballerina skirts of the Angel Trumpets open wide expecting pollination from night-flying insects. Add to that the fragrance and they're breath-taking.

I'm already making plans for next year and still planting for this year. Today I used a spading fork to loosen grass along bed edges to make grass easier to pull. There's a little plot of daffodils that can hold some shallow rooted annuals for fall color.