Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Native Azalea "Alabamense"

Alabamense bloomed this week with its lemon scented blossoms next to clove scented Bath's Pinks Dianthus.

Weeding Florida Betony, I found a
Dogwood seedling. 

A last look at 'Shirley' tulips. They were a joy.

Monday, March 30, 2015

What Happened to George Tabor?

George Tabor Azaleas have hardly any blooms this year. There is evidence there was a blossom formed, and something happened. I think it was the freezes we had that alternated with warm spells.

George Tabor, 2013.

Formosa, 2013

I did not make pics of the Azaleas without blooms, too dreary to bear. George Tabor is a sport of Formosa. When I realized George was not going to bloom other than a random blossom here and there, I looked at Formosas. They also blasted. 

Fortunately, all our eggs are not in one basket, so to speak, nor are all our flowers the same. The other Azaleas have mostly bloomed. The yellow native that was so pretty a couple of years ago failed to bloom but Alabamense had 24 clusters of white blooms and are visited by dark swallowtails, always when I am pulling weeds and have no camera in hand.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Upper Garden Comes into Its Own

It's that time of year. Much to be done. A cool, drying wind today discouraged planting out anything.

This brave Azalea has had a hard struggle:
The Lawn mower ran over it when it was just starting.
A tree limb was dropped on it last summer. 

Pink Ruffles and Pink Pearl, my fav Azaleas.

Calycanthus -- Sweet Shrub

Planted next to Tea Olive, it's like walking past fruit salad.
Incredible blend of fragrances, unintentional.

Sweet Alyssum planted in a rusty well bucket dropped 
seeds on all around it: 
Pot with a red Crape Myrtle cutting, in with daylily seedlings. 
White Lantana at right seems to have escaped hitchhikers. 

Gerbera Daisies look to me as if they need smiley faces.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Butterflies Are Back!

I've been seeing them for days but never with a camera in hand to document them.


The one above could not wait for Pentas to get planted out. He's visiting plants taken out of the greenhouse to harden.

I haven't as many Pentas kept over as cuttings this year, only 4 of these that Susie calls Miss Julie's Favorite and a single pale pink one. I pulled mulch back from white Pentas in the Yellow Rose Bed this morning and see green shoots forming from the roots. I have 7 rooted Porterweeds to plant.

Dark Swallowtails have been visiting Blueberry bushes, helping bees with pollination. They're plentiful on Azaleas today.

This Tiger is fuzzy; I caught him as he flew away.

Another caught leaving. At least I've noted they are here.


While I was trying to get butterfly pics, a Cardinal was perched watching the butterflies. We are already seeing them with those long tails pinched off where they barely escaped. 

We'll see butterflies while Azaleas bloom, then they usually disappear until late April or early May when more broods hatch as another wave of flowers open. 

Are you seeing pollinators?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Return of Shirley Tulips

If you've followed my blog you know that I do know how to trick Tulips into blooming. Once. They seldom return. One year I tried putting them in pots. The puppy ate them.

This year, I left off Tulip bulbs in favor of Hyacinths and Paperwhites.

I was rewarded this spring by the return of a dozen 'Shirley' 
Tulips of the 50 I planted in the fall of 2013.

This is how they looked in 2014. I have 
no idea where the Muscari went.

Vetch is growing in the bed. 2015. It fixes nitrogen, so
I let it grow.

The purple blush comes slowly.

Not a single Moulin Rouge returned. 

I planted out the potted Hyacinth bulbs today. They rarely fail me, that second year. There is that perverse need I have to plant Tulips again every now and then despite their dislike for a warm climate.  

Somebody remind me this fall that I am to plant common Daffodils; no Tulips, no Muscari. Bulbs are meant to last forever. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Path Progress

Perseverance is hard when everything is blooming and there's so much to see and do besides grub around on the ground with pieces of brick and stone and bits.

 Dirt got left on the step and the edges are still rough. The middle is rough too but there's something to fill every spot except for the tiny stones to fill the cracks which come later.

I mostly tried to make sure that there is a firm path to step up to the door with nothing sticking up to trip us. The slant follows the slope of the drive so there's no worry about drainage, Glenda.

I went to an old house site down in the meadow to pick up bits of brick that winter rains exposed. See the leftovers spread out on the left, more than expected.

I saw a photo of Margaret Kerr this week, working on a patchwork design similar to a quilt pattern. She works out the geometrics, sends the pattern to a stone mason, then picks up the cut stone and supervises the work in progress. Sigh. She had scree boards to make sure everything was level. I just step across two pieces and notice if my foot feels secure.  

I turned all but two of the recycling stepping stones upside down for a smooth surface. The square one fit better right side up because it was made in an aluminum throw-away cake pan and the sides slope a little. The round piece broke in half. I used a half and another quarter piece, right sides up because of the little blue glass stones. The blue perforated piece is a metal scrap I found in He-Who-Sometimes Welds' scrap pile.

There's much more to do to this but it is now filled and somewhat safe to walk on if you look where you're going. The less adventurous can just walk up the handicapped entrance (driveway) and come in the big door.

Now I have to find a place for all the brick scraps and pieces of stone and mortar, which means making yet another path somewhere to use up those.

If you wonder why I went to all this trouble instead of just putting a row of 16" stepping stones from the door and a side path leading off to the greenhouse -- my object with every new project is to assure that He-Who-Mows has no corners to back into, no tiny spaces that require weed whacking, no hand cutting. He will be able to mow all the away around the Mule Barn, with a soft turn at each corner in the front. The opposite side has pine straw and a border of Liriope. He's very pleased about the pine straw keeping sand from splashing up on the building.

Oh, and I didn't need another flower bed to weed.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring Comes with some Reservations

I spent much of the morning hauling out Epiphyllums to their summer spot, huge awkward things with 4-foot stems. They're propped next to shrubbery that helps support them and gives them a little relief from late afternoon sun. Now more cool weather is predicted but so far they don't mention frost. Epis and Schlumbergeras are under a big juniper tree so they should be fine.

He-Who-Mows mowed the Upper Garden paths to clear the leaves, now chopped and in the beds as mulch. On the left you see what was a double stacked row of bricks that caught leaves through the winter. I've scavenged from this row for the installation of walkway in front of the Mule Barn.

Progress on the walkway is slow because pulling up and putting down bricks and pieces of concrete is not only time consuming it's hard work for someone who did so little during the winter.

A pattern is starting to form as I work toward a fairly smooth walking area. I made no pics of that today. One thing I did was to turn over the stepping stones that had mosaic bits and and seashells. They look better as plain rounds and squares of concrete since there is such a hodgepodge of materials.

Azaleas are opening more blooms daily.

I thought about a whole post about Loropetalum but I think I did that last year. Most of mine have reached tree size. I looked carefully in town today. A long row of Loropetalum between two small strip malls that were neat shrubs 20 years ago are now huge trees with seedlings that came up underneath them making them into a giant hedgerow. Some few of the seedlings have white flowers, which has been my experience here. Lately planted Loropetalums along the 4-lane road into town from the east are pruned into nice neat pillboxes.   

Wisteria is blooming with its fragrance and graceful draping qualities. Up the road it festoons trees in the woods and along the road. Its a beautiful thug. After bloom, this will get severe pruning as will the 7 foot boxwoods it drapes across.

This view was before He-Who mowed. Notice the pale spring green on Oak trees on the right. Dogwoods are like white clouds. Some of the old Dogwoods have dying branches. I've pruned. Small Dogwoods are coming up so there will be replacements. My MIL could never grow more than the 2 she finally got going as transplants. She didn't know about growing them from seed, which works for me. I suspect that she had seedlings but did not recognize them before the mower took them out.

MIL did not know about the power of stakes. I am forbidden to use rebar stakes now after the 'incident' last year, but the mower will respect a heavy wood stake.

Tulip Progress. They are still pale but
I saw tiny purple lines on the edges.

A favorite late Daffodil. I wish I knew its name. Fragrant.
My best guess is that it is Misty Glen.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring Arrives and Flowers Emerge

It's here with all the joys and surprises that come with Spring's arrival.

Last year I planted 100 tulips, or was it more? About half of them managed blooms and proved that I can too, bring tulips to bloom in the Deep South if I am of a mind to go to all that trouble. I told them goodbye at the end of bloom.

A dozen tulips decided to return this year. I almost missed the emerging foliage but managed to drive a stake just in time so He-Who-Mows would miss them. I believe these are 'Shirley.'



Late flowering Daffodils. The season lasts several weeks when many different kinds are planted. This last one is Hillstar.

 Purples: Purple Heart emerging with daylilies; self-planted Spiderwort in bloom in the lawn. He-Who-Mows is careful to try to miss most of the Spiderwort.  

Dogwood and Pink Pearl Azaleas

Pink Ruffles at left, and Dogwood.

Loropetalum and Dogwood 

Brugs are starting to send up new foliage in warmer locations. Some of them make me wait until I think they're lost.

New here last year: Old fashioned Iris.

Camellias are not done. Yet. As long as it stays partly cloudy, I think they're safe.

I didn't tell you yet that Baptisia has shoots and buds, even 2 seedlings have buds! The Viburnum has Snowballs but they're still green.
Rose Campion seedlings are everywhere.
Sweet William was mowed down but survives.
Hydrangeas have new growth at the base of old stems. I'm waiting to prune.
Larkspur, Poppies and Silene seedlings are showing up.
California Poppies sowed themselves in the lawn.  
Lilies are sprouting. Wisteria has fat buds.
Shrimp Plant was hit hard by hard freezes. Lower stems still have some green.