Sunday, August 31, 2014

End of Month Views, August

August is a long month. We went from ample rainfall to drought. Judicious watering has saved most everything. I've mostly stayed inside except when I venture out to water, pick Pears and eat Scuppernongs.

Butterflies continuously visit the Tithonia bed. Gulf Muhly grass at bottom left will bloom in the next month. Crape Myrtles are faithful bloomers, too.

 Chartreuse Alternanthera, Purple Heart, Periwinkles on the end of another bed anchored by 'Lilacina' Crape Myrtles. I added more white Lantana cuttings here and in other places.   

Moving to the Upper Garden by way of rough steps.

At the top of the steps a dry stacked brick wall has 
Begonias. Sentimental Stepping stone in the path. 

Just keeping the Upper Garden watered to keep plants alive 
is a chore. Here, Persian Shield and a seedling Camellia. 
When the weather is cooler I'll pull the Virginia Creeper 
and Crocosmia. Crocosmia got out of hand this year.

Scuppernong grapes are ripening across the field road from the Upper Garden.
Everything along the field road was watered yesterday when Peanut field was watered. An inch and four tenths of irrigation. 

Esperanza and friends were among the plants that got special water.

The dark green band beyond the big pecan tree is Peanuts, with corn beyond.
Corn is ready for harvest and Peanuts will soon be ready for pulling up some green to boil. They're harvested later, mature and dry. 

In the near view is rough meadow grass kept short during snake season.

Joining in the meme at Helen's blog, The Patient Gardener's Weblog End of Month Views. Please visit and join the fun.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Three Perennials for August Bloom: Pentas, Shrimp Plant and Lantana

I wrote about Lantana first of the month. It has held up through the drought with minimal water. I almost let my white cuttings die and thought of the ones in the ground just in time. The ones left in a flat are goners. Good thing they're easy to root.

White Lantana montevidensis. I forgot the name again.
The purple tends to thread through its companions.

Broader view of the lavender Lantana, above and 
Yellow, below.

Pentas wish they'd get some rain, here with Persian Shield.
This rose color one is a big strong grower.

All the palest pink failed to return from roots except for this one under a Crape Myrtle. Nearly all the white returned. They need great winter drainage.

Miss Julie's favorite Pentas. Pink.

Pentas stand a good amount of dry soil but finally faint when they get thirsty.

 I saved Shrimp Plant for last. Justicia betonia, white Shrimp Plant returned from roots and I put out some rooted cuttings.

Tiny pink flowers have started showing in the white bracts.
There's a late-blooming Agapanthus in the background. 

As hummingbirds pass through on their migration, they'll find Justicia brandegeana. Its white flowers are inside the red bracts. These are quite hardy but last winter nipped most of them back to the ground.

The above Pentas, Shrimps and Lantana will bloom until frost. They'll be joined next month by Salvia leucantha and Salvia elegans. Pineapple sage is a thirsty sage and wilts most days here. Salvia blooms better in sun and August sun is brutal. Salvia farinacea has bravely continued to bloom after I cut back the first flush of summer bloom. 

Gerbera Daisies went dormant and will bloom again in cool days. They are another thirsty lot.  Blue Porterweed is blooming.

I hope for rain tomorrow or Saturday or my watering rounds will start over. I get anxious when shrubbery starts to wilt.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Three Favorite Annuals: Zinnias, Tithonia and Periwinkles

Zinnia and Tithonia are two annuals usually called by their botanical names, unless you happen to call them "Old Maids" and "Mexican Sunflower."

Both these flowers delight butterflies. I planted a small row of mixed Zinnias. The Tithonia bed is 12 feet across, self-seeded. It has companions including Duranta, Muhly grass, a bit of Lantana and a Datura.

Zinnias in a row in a bed of Lantana and Gulf Muhly. Tithonia at upper right.

Once Tithonia is established, it will reseed. The seed pods look similar to those of Echinacea. I pull whole plants and lay them on the surface after frost.

I collect Zinnia seeds. Zinnia blooms are peculiar in that they have two kinds of flowers: Ray flowers, the colored part that I call petals and Disc Flowers, 'the yellow center' part.

When a bloom stops making the little yellow flowers in the center and starts to dry, I clip the stem and let it finish drying in a little wire basket. Pulling the dry petals reveals a dark shield-shaped seed at the end of each Ray flower that was pollinated.

There are enough Tithonia blossoms for each butterfly to have his own bloom. Sometimes they like to share.

Catharanthus roseus Madagascar Periwinkle

I prefer to call this annual by its common name of Periwinkle and use the Madagascar name to distinguish it from Vinca minor which some call Periwinkle. Some people call these Periwinkles 'Vinca' which adds to the confusion. Somebody mentions how much they like 'vinca' and somebody else says it's a thug. Vinca minor is a perennial thug. Catharanthus roseus is a reseeder but not a thug.

My first Periwinkles came from a Mrs. Cox who lived down at the Lake. I pulled seedling plants from her flower bed in the rain. She said they would thrive and next year I should just go out and gently stir the soil and they would come back. They did. Every year I stir again. 

White Periwinkle with a pink eye, new this year.
I am saving seed from this one.

Madagascar Periwinkle seed are in slender pods an inch or two long along the stem. I pick them when the black seeds are visible though the seed pod and let them dry. Enough pods will escape me and burst open that the present bed will reseed. 

Zinnias, Tithonia and Periwinkles are my favorite annuals. Dwarf Marigolds have grown large and are attracting Gulf Fritillaries and Pipevine Swallowtails. Maybe next year we'll have whole hedges of Marigolds instead of a few.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wooly Aphids Mistaken for Snowflakes in the Garden

It looks as if snow is swirling in the air outside. I thought it was mealybug adults swarming, maybe.

Wooly aphids caught in a spider's web.

When I commenced to google, I found this fantastic look at the things:

Fuzzy White Flying Bugs

The above photographer saw these things in a different perspective than I could.
He saw fairies; I saw little devils with the possibility of plant destruction.

Wooly aphid on a Camellia leaf

Specific questions brought more answers:
Woolly aphids feed by inserting needle-like mouthparts into plant tissue and withdrawing sap. They feed on leaves, buds, twigs, and bark, but can also feed on the roots.
Symptoms of feeding include twisted and curled leaves, yellowed foliage, poor plant growth, low plant vigor, and branch dieback. Physical injury may result when large numbers of woolly aphids attack young trees or unhealthy, stressed trees.
Fortunately, severe woolly aphid infestations only occur periodically and are generally kept in check by natural enemies. In addition to the physical damage to the plant, accumulations of wax and shed skins are sometimes very conspicuous signs on the leaves, twigs, and bark.
Then I confirmed that wooly aphids that attack Camellias:

American camellia Society

Or maybe Crape Myrtle Wooly Aphids? I went outside and surveyed pears, crape myrtles, camellias and everything else to see where they're coming from. Crape Myrtles and Pears seemed not to be affected. They seem to be thickest where Camellias are. Then I noticed the boxwood under the Camellias.

Boxwood Psyllids

Good Grief! They're on Wisteria. Last year Kudzu bugs attacked Wisteria. This year it's wooly aphids.

We need more spiders!

I take little comfort from this, but maybe the beneficials will catch up:
Woolly aphids are an important resource for natural biological controls such as lacewings, lady beetles, hover flies, and parasitic wasps. Tolerance of aphid presence is one way to encourage beneficial insects.
Flying adults are a wonderment. They are intriguing, not harmful. When adults are migrating the feeding and honeydew production on the maples has been accomplished and no control is needed. Relax and enjoy the fascination of Nature.
Tolerance of aphid presence is one way to encourage beneficial insects.
I feel better for visiting U Fla web site:
Aphids are attacked by a very large number of predators, parasites and pathogens. Some of the common predators include several species of lady beetleslacewing larvae and syrphid fly larvae.
Many small hymenoptera parasites infest aphids, most being species specific. Parasitized aphids are easy to detect, their bodies turn a tan or cream color, become hard and shiny and are commonly referred to as mummies. When the parasitic wasp emerges from the aphid, it leaves a small round hole in the body.

 I'll give beneficials a chance and if the bad bugs hang around I'll give them a soapy shower. Perhaps a better control would be to use oil spray next spring before eggs hatch.

Have you seen the air full of white fuzzy critters?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Painting instead of Planting

The ground is too dry to plant; August is not an ideal planting time, so I spent time painting outdoor furniture instead.

I sanded and painted this old wood rocker Navy Blue and put it on the porch.

Weary of the two-seater glider showing up in every picture of the Upper Garden, blue in the distance, I chose brown to blend with the landscape.

Vintage metal chairs that match the glider got a coat of brown and a spritz of Rustoleum Hammered Copper. I really liked them best when they were red primer color before the final coats. It looked just right when I saw it out the kitchen window. 

Vintage settee looks out over cultivated fields.

Next year I may try Hammered Bronze. 

I'm wondering if the current trend to bright colors in the garden for accessories may turn to colors from nature like this shelf fungus I found the other day.

I'm happy with the bright Lagoon Blue and Lime that I painted my folding chairs that are mostly hidden behind shrubbery. When I painted the old patio table a kind of faux zinc and finally painted its legs, I liked that even better.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Foliage Follow-up Following Bloom Day August

I'm inspired to make a Foliage Follow-up post because of the Hydrangea on Alison's Bloom Day Post. She didn't identify it, just linked it to Cistus. I couldn't find it.

Alison's variegated Hydrangea looks to have green leaves with a yellow edge which I wondered if it was the light or are they really yellow? The blossom is a true blue, just like my Variegated Hydrangea, now past bloom.

Subtle variations in Hydrangea leaves include a gray-green the same color as Halcyon Hosta. Unfortunately Halcyon died here. I believe this Hydrangea to be Mariesii Variegata, sometimes called Maculata. Mine were cuttings off Miss Billie's Hydrangeas so I can't be positive.

The blossom died and withered away, early.
Bloom color varies with soil acidity.

Yellow and green of Alpinia 

Canna Pretoria, or Bengal Tiger, if you will 

Chartreuse alternanthera and Purple Heart

Purple Heart with Persian Shield

Angel Wing Begonia, root hardy here.

Mistletoe cactus and pots of Burro Tail Sedum

I guess I should have made pics of my pots of Calla Lilies, which are not inclined to bloom in hot weather. The foliage is nice, green with white speckles. They like a lot of water.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Butterflies and Blooms Day

They're finally here in numbers enough to make counting harder than one or two.

Tiger, Spicebush and Pipevine Swallowtails, Gulf Fritillaries, American Painted Ladies, Sulphurs and tiny Skippers and Duskywings are among our visitors.

They're nectaring on Tithonia, Lantana, Pentas, Pride of Barbados, Esperanza, Marigolds and Zinnias.

Most of the time there are enough Tithonia blooms 
for each butterfly to have his own blossom.

Zinnias are popular.

A Gulf Fritillary stands his ground on Caesalpinia.


Pentas are also in shades of pink and a bright red. 

White Pentas had the best posed visitors.

Lantana is popular at certain times of day.

Nectar Plants attract for feeding. Parsley, native Pipevine and Passiflora, wild Cherry, Paw Paw and grasses are among the Host plants for Larvae that I cultivate.

Zinnias and Lantana in near view, Tithonia and Duranta in background.

This is not the extent of blooms here in August, but most representative of the Butterfly nectar plants. Porterweed, late Agapanthus and Duranta are just coming into bloom.

Happy Bloom Day.  Linking to Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens.

More and different Blooms without butterflies are on my Wordpress Seedscatterer site.