Monday, February 25, 2008

The Weather Is Warm; the Old Age Truck Is on the Prowl

There's a Far Side cartoon that is my favorite, in two frames. There's a man about to step off a curb, and a truck is turning the corner. In the second frame, the man is flat in the street and the truck is now in full view past the man, with "Old Age Truck" in big letters on the side. The caption says, "You never see it coming."

It was so nice out. I found so many little tasks to do that taken collectively leave me feeling like I've had a good bump by the Old Age Truck, especially in the sacro-iliac. I rememeber when I thought sacro-iliac was a joke. It isn't, and we have two of them, one joint on each side of the sacrum.

Despite all the whining, 9 yellow daylily clumps now adorn the Yellow Roses bed where the Chicken Rose is to go. Others have been divided and lined up to edge long beds. Many more to go, but it's a start. It's hard to stop when you're on a roll. When you're digging, other things turn up. A bit of salvia leucantha with green shoots came up with a daylily. That was cause for stopping to divide that into a big, and one tiny, cutting in pots for later use. Then four daffodils came up with another daylily, causing another side stop for replanting elsewhere.

All this, and the temperature is predicted to fall to 25 degrees on Wednesday night. All those lilies that have peeped out of the ground will need covering if we want blossoms. Don't they KNOW it isn't spring yet? We'll be flinging mulch in every direction!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

An Embarrassment of Blossoms

In a word, Gaudy! Bright neon pink. Rain knocked a whole carpet of blooms to the ground and more are already opening. This Camellia is about 45 years old. The one to the left is light pink and almost as big, blooms just a little later and is prettier. The one at the far left is red and the latest of all.

Friday, February 22, 2008

'Nacogdoches' Rose

One the roses that came to me through the mail, known from the source as 'The Chicken Rose' is about to be re-introduced as 'Grandma's Yellow Rose' -- I like the old names better.

It's looking good in the greenhouse. I've already dug a hole at its destination, just waiting to make sure the weather is fit before I re-dig and plant. Its companions will be mostly more yellow roses, daffodils for the off season, yellow daylilies and something blue or purple; spiderwort on the west end surrounding a piece of yellow variegated euonymous that spent the winter rooted, in a pot.

The non-plant feature will be what I always think of as 'the chicken rock' which to me looks like the head of a baby chick. From the other direction, it looks like the head of a native American in full war bonnet. Maybe you have to squint.

You can see the rose here at TAMU: Nacogdoches Rose and Monarch Butterfly

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fairy Houses

It's that time of year. Lots of litter on the ground: lichens, mossy rocks and pieces of bark; sticks, dry grasses, found objects like rusty washers and pieces of glass.

All these and more go into the construction of a fairy house. For how-to go here: How to Build Fairy Houses

With a leaf for a flag, I stuck up a piece of dead oak limb with marvelous shelf fungus on the bottom end. Beside it is a burl piece of petrified pine. All year I collect bits of bark, fallen limbs with fungus growths and mossy stones, putting them in and around my fairy garden. About once a year, I construct an ephermeral fairy house, the bits of which fall down eventually and become detritus of the fairy garden.

Lichens, Shelf Fungus and Moss Up Close
Click on the Fairy Label to see more of my Fairy Garden.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dandelions in the Butterfly Garden, Coneflowers and Lilies

They're everywhere! Not the pretty yellow daisy-like flowers, nor the 'blow-balls' that children enjoy. The yard is full of dandelion greens. They have to be pried out with a transplant spade or other long bladed tool, or the roots break off and a two headed plant grows in its place. The roots look like parsnips, they're so big, in places. There's never time and energy to get them all, but I try to get the worst ones, especially ones that crowd daffodils. One more weed for combat.

While I was digging dandelions, I found a small parsley plant in the lawn which I dug and put over in a butterfly garden bed. Julie Neel says to scatter the parsley plants throughout the garden. If all the parsley is in one place, birds discover it and use it as a snack bar.

New echinacea plants are coming up where I took seed heads and smushed into the ground late last summer when they ripened. I like Purple Coneflower. It blends well with other pink/purple flowers and will fit in a bed where bright yellow is prominent because of the gold center cones.

Patchy frost after 1 am forecast for tonight. I noticed little lilies showing up in the beds. I toss mulch over them when I find them, hoping to keep them from appearing too soon and having the bloom buds killed.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Daffodils are my Favorites

It makes waiting for Spring worthwhile to anticipate daffodils en masse. They come up at different rates, they bloom at different times. So far some ancient narcissus have bloomed and faded. Erlicheer is in full bloom. I've seen handfuls of King Alfreds here and there along with a single bloom of Ice Follies, one Fortune, a whole row of Sweetness in a line is almost open. I moved some orphan muscari from a path today to join this Sweetness line. Some of the others are just now starting to peep out of the ground, like Jack Snipe and Thalia, which bloom late together. Pink Charm is another late daffodil that is just starting to come up.

Every spring is spent noting who bloomed when, moving bulbs in the green that did not fare well and making plans which usually evaporate by fall. Last fall I just planted 200 mixed daffodils at the ends of existing beds that had no daffodils, or old daffodils that made a poor show. Two hundred sounds like a lot; only when you're planting. When they bloom, I'll wish there had been 2,000.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Every Day is Bloom Day

From now on, almost every day is a New Bloom day. Little surprises turn up constantly.

Today I found two little grape hyacinth stalks in bloom in my Muscari 'trickle' which may never grow up to be a river or even a stream. One of the redbuds is pink with buds -- the other is not ready yet. Vinca minor is blooming with blue flowers the size of a quarter to a half dollar. I love when thugs duke it out. Vinca and common yarrow are competing with the obnoxious weed Florida betony.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Saucer magnolias blooming in town when I was there on Tuesday:
Behind the low wall is red Flowering Quince.
Blooming in my garden:
Magnolia Stellata
Greenhouse Pentas

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

Where in the Blooming World Are You?

Jodi from Bloomingwriter asked, "Where in the Blooming World Are You?"

  • At the Center of the Southwest Georgia Universe -- sixty miles from Tallahassee FL going south, Albany GA is 60 miles to the north; sixty miles from Dothan AL going west. Thomasville GA the Rose City, is 60 miles east. Zone 8.

  • Eastern Standard Time -- when our last frost date comes, we'll be a week into Daylight Saving Time with spring five days away.
  • We garden in sandy loam, using lots of compost. We have to dig a ways to find stones, but they're under there somewhere. This is the coastal plain; eons ago this was the bottom of the ocean; our rocks have sea fossils.
  • It never snows. Well, maybe a flurry once a century. We do have freezes, but our winter days are generally moderate.
  • If we have dry years, we're sitting atop the Floridan Aquifer in the land between the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers.
  • Something blooms year around. We have lots of broadleaf evergreens.
  • When spring comes, it brings Azaleas and Dogwoods.
  • When summer comes, we have Crape Myrtles and Hydrangeas.
  • Fall brings Camellia sasanquas.
  • Winter brings Camellia japonicas and narcissus.
  • Hyacinths start to bloom here in February.
  • I used to mourn for tulips, which are too much trouble to grow here. I finally realized that tulips require lots of preparation and weeks of chilling for 3 days bloom. I can get up to 3 weeks bloom from Iceland poppies.
  • Wednesday, February 6, 2008

    Hermodactylus tuberosa, other Bulbs in Bloom Today

    I was out moving mulch around ahead of the pending storm when I noticed a Snake's Head Iris blossom. They're certainly unusual, hardly bloomed last year when I planted them but look good this year.

    The first Hyacinths to bloom are a pretty lavender pink, from mixed collections, so I don't know the cultivar. This one is near the Elicheer double daffodils. It has bluer companions which have not even broken ground yet.
    This one has been planted here long enough to start dividing, so there are two bloom stalks.
    These old daffodils have been here for at least 35 years, planted by Lane's sister. They're reliable early bloomers, despite the poor photograph.

    Early Spring Shrub Delights

    Flowering Quince

    Tuesday, February 5, 2008


    Rose asked to see loropetalums. The first photo is how they looked at night, mid-January. They offer up little fringes almost year around, a few at a time.

    Then mid-March, they make a big show at the same time as the azaleas and sweet peas. Loropetalum flowers last longer than azaleas, however.
    Azaleas are a tremendous show in the south. In town, some ancient clumps are the size of a bus. It's a brief blaze, however. Out in the country, the most dreadful old shacks when decorated with a facade of azaleas and dogwoods in bloom look like fairyland for a few days, beneath a canopy of life oaks dripping spanish moss. Azaleas do stay green year-round. Some cultivars have prettier foliage than others.

    Mystery Bulb Solved

    Rhodophiala, August, 2006
    Two years ago, Janie mailed me two bulbs. They were similar, maybe not exactly the same. In August of 2006 one bloomed, followed by foliage. Later on the other one had similar foliage.

    This September, the same bulb had even more red blossoms followed by foliage, followed by foliage on the second bulb. The blooms are shown here with 'Black Pearl' ornamental peppers.

    The second bulb has bloomed!
    White Narcissus, with Pinks foliage in front, Sweet William and verbena bonairensis behind. Foliage of the Oxblood Lily is visible to the right of the narcissus.

    Monday, February 4, 2008

    Taiwan Cherries

    There's enough pink here to tell spring is coming.

    I pruned some loropetalums today that have grown into trees. They were hanging over the shy 'Juanita' daffodils, so I hacked them back, pruning the bottoms into tree forms. Loropetalums have little fuchsia fringes of blooms already, too, except for the two I planted in what was to be the 'red bed' last summer. They have no leaves, but the stems are still green when one is nipped off and there are little buds. They're in a bare area beside a 40 acre field to the north across which the coldest winds blow.

    I planted 16 lilies. When they bloom, I'll wish there were 10 times that. It isn't too late to buy more.

    Sunday, February 3, 2008

    A Jumble of Spiraeas

    Botanically, they're spiraea; the common name is spelled Spirea without the extra 'a' -- Bridal Wreath Spirea.

    Starting with the summer spiraeas, which caused me to think of this post, is Spiraea japonica and its hybrids, Spiraea x bulmalda. All are low summer bloomers with pink flowers. 'Goldmound' 'Goldflame'
    'Limemound' 'Anthony Waterer' and 'Coccinea' are a few familiar names. I pruned my S. bulmaldas, nameless cuttings given me some years ago, and stuck a few pieces to see if they would root this time of year.

    Now to the spring bloomers which were here before I came here:
    S. prunifolia -- 'Bridal Wreath' double flowers like little white roses, dark green leaves turn yellow or reddish brown in fall
    S. thunbergii -- 'Baby's Breath' a smaller shrub with single white flowers all along bare branches in early spring. Leaves are blue-green and rounder, turning reddish in fall.
    S. vanhouttei -- single blooms on clusters on arching brances. Dark green foliage, yellow in fall.

    There are perhaps 80-100 cultivars of Spiraea, these are the ones I grow. They are most spectacular if pulled up with the tractor and divided and planted as a long hedge, perhaps with azaleas for the few days of spring fairyland these shrubs provide.

    I am taking longer looks as less popular shrubs like philadelphus (Mock Orange) which follows dogwoods and puts on a more lengthy show, blooming for weeks instead of days following the azalea/dogwood display.

    Saturday, February 2, 2008


    Iceland Poppy Seedlings
    Larkspur seedlings at left, Breadseed poppies at right, Corn Poppies Upper right. Round leaves are Black Eyed Susans.
    Viola Seedlings
    Larger seedlings at left and upper right are Corn Poppies. Wispy seedlings near the bottom are California Poppies.

    Violas lower left, Poppies right.
    I talked with Susie today. Susie maintains a large Butterfly Garden at a University Lab work site. She must keep a neat garden because visitors view the gardens. She laughed about the wonderful combos that Mrs. Julie Neel and I see in our butterfly gardens because we don't have to keep 'too neat' for volunteers. Mrs. Neel is a butterfly garden expert; I just dabble.

    Friday, February 1, 2008

    Sky Watch, Bud Watch

    The sky was a uniform blue today, so I put buds in the foreground so that those of you farther north can see that spring is coming.
    Fat, Fuzzy Buds of Magnolia Stellata 'Leonard Messell' with one teaser.
    Taiwan Cherry; soon little green cherries will appear, the birds never wait for them to ripen.
    Oakleaf Hydrangea promises buds in early spring.
    Camellias are just beginning to show color. Every freeze sets them back.

    Sky Watch Friday is brought to you by Dot of Strolling Through Georgia.