Saturday, November 29, 2008

When You Can't Garden, Read!


Margaret Roach mentions her book A Way to Garden on her blog by the same name, not promotionally because it's out of print but among some other old garden books that she recommends. One that she mentioned is Crockett's Victory Garden (1971) --that may have been my first garden book and I still have it.

Another old garden book that is one of my favs is Alys Clancy's Garden Guide (1977). Alys wrote for the News Journal, Daytona Beach. Some of her plants are marginally tender here, but most are just perfect for my garden. She addresses garden chores from pruning to propagation. Her instructions for gathering and growing amaryllis seed are right on.

I gave away Ms. Roach's book to a beginning gardener. I give away many well illustrated gardening books once they're well read here. Some that are full of words of instruction I keep forever, like Alys's.


My copy of Tropicalismo! by Pam Baggett came not long ago, hot off the press. Pam has a wilder imagination than mine, having had her own nursery until recently. Many of the plants she grew as annuals are borderline perennial here. I'm growing Strobilanthes, Pentas, Pineapple sage and others in the greenhouse to have a colorful head start. I'll be looking for plants of Duranta and Tibouchina in the spring. I'll start saved seeds of tender tropicals inside well before the last frost date.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rustic Garden Bench

We were clearing the rubble from the old barn site. I grabbed this beam and enough stone rubble to make a little bench.

This rose was blooming nearby, its name is 'Livin' Easy.'

Monday, November 24, 2008


Jon of Mississippi Garden recently blogged about 'Party Time' alternanthera, a new cultivar.

My favs are old cultivars: the red I've had for years, cuttings from Miss Billie; and Chartreuse, purchased last year.
The red makes a delightful border with salvia coccinea and lantana.
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Cuttings in water in the greenhouse make little nosegays, chartreuse in a mug and red in a galvanized container:
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Note the pot of chartreuse at bottom right.
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Despite the recent bitter cold that blackened the plants in open locations, some alternanthera persists in sheltered beds. That in well-drained spots usually returns, come spring.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Dog Hut, Transformed

Inky's new digs:

Inky was living atop the Dog Hut in a cardboard box, until the weather turned nasty after he returned from his little expedition. He now has a secure bed inside the Dog Hut. When warm weather comes again, we may have to add a penthouse, especially if we find a puppy.

Inky caught another squirrel late this afternoon. We were working under the open tractor shed, when I looked down to see a squirrel scurrying across the dirt floor. He ran under the truck with Inky in hot pursuit. Sounds of squealing, then Inky emerged with the squirrel in his mouth. He strode down the driveway, with purpose, and disappeared beyond the camellia bush.

NPIN: Baccharis halimifolia (Groundseltree)

I meant to make a picture of this plant and mention it before the hard freezes came. Bir says in his book of woody plants that he only mentions it because people always ask what it is. It is kind of weedy, but one that came up in an old fence row by the peanut field was spectacular when nothing else was blooming.

NPIN: Baccharis halimifolia (Groundseltree)

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Cat Came Back

Inky's back! We feared he was gone forever. He 'took his vows' at the vet's on Friday last. Saturday he came home, glad to be here. Monday afternoon he asked for his supper, I fed him. Tuesday morning, all but a few bites of his food was where he left it and Inky was gone.

We searched the neighborhood. No Inky. Joann down the road has a similar cat and more kitties. DH agreed we would wait a week and if Inky wasn't back, we would give the two unopened bags of cat food to Joann for her cats.

This morning, no Inky. Suddenly I hear meowing and there he was, as if he'd never been gone. Fat enough, as if he's been visiting elsewhere. He may have been feeding himself on squirrels and mice.

Anyhow, he's our Inky, loving and purring. Welcome home, Kitty.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bulbs: Promise of Spring

I looked at the foliage of Crinums, Calla lilies, Agapanthus, Amaryllis and Lycoris this afternoon, knowing that a killing frost will take most of them out soon, until warm weather comes again and brings summer blooms. Well, not lycoris radiata; it has nice dark green foliage all winter, great for edging beds.

Then I came inside and ordered Lilies and other treats from Van Engelen's 40% off sale. I skipped the daffodiils; bought a few earlier that I have not yet planted. There are a few tulips in pots chilling in the extra fridge. I did order 10 Festival Blue Hyacinths just to try, those that are supposed to resemble the old hyacinths we used to grow when I was a kid.

Lilies, love those lilies: 5 pink asiatics, 5 pink LAs, 5 cerneum species, for the pink rose bed I call the Briarpatch.

More yellow Dazzle for the front islands, they did so well in previous years we need more.

More Orania; both the butterflies and I found it irresistable.
'Orania' means something like, 'A gift from the Heavens' and is one of the muses.

Another colorful Orienpet called 'Touching' for the upper garden and to make my order meet the minimum, 5 Calla aethiopica to pot and force in the greenhouse.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Camellia sasanqua

The first of the camellias to bloom, always in time for Thanksgiving. Each bloom lasts a very short time, but you can see there are plenty of buds to replace each flower as it 'snows' to the ground, forming a carpet of white.

Late Butterflies

This morning I saw bright yellow Sulphurs, a Dogface Sulphur, a couple of Gulf Fritillaries and a Painted Lady.

Here are a the Frits and a Yellow Sulphur.

The Painted Lady was a challenge to catch, and then he seemed to stay and pose:

Salvia coccinea, considered weedy in some parts of Texas but well behaved here, is still here in spite of light frosts last week. A few lantana blooms remain.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fauna of the Greenhouse

Doodle bugs keep making holes in the floor of the greenhouse and kicking the cypress mulch out of their way. I wonder what the natural enemies of doodlebugs are? For those who missed the childhood joy of encouraging doodlebugs from their cone-shaped holes, antlion is the proper common name, and are of the family Myrientomata.

I learned more about antlions at 'The Antlion Pit' that I ever wanted to know. I was interested to learn that they do sting. I don't remember that we ever touched one, as children, we just stirred in the hole with a grass stem and intoned, "Doodlebug, doodlebug, come out of your hole," which they did. They do eat ants, of which we have an abundance if they eat fireants.

We have anoles and tiny green tree frogs galore, to Inky's delight. Today bumblebees kept coming in the open doors to get to the Pentas blooms.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Another Look into the Greenhouse

I re-arranged everything so that I can walk on the pavers all the way around inside, and reach everything, by putting the kitchen cart and a rough little table in the center.

Pentas are blooming, even tiny cuttings. There's a bud on some pineapple sage cuttings. I'm bringing in all the clay pots I can find to add thermal mass. When we cleaned out the old barn, I found two bonsai containers I thought I'd left behind years ago when we moved. I'm not a fan of bonsai, but I love the containers.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Scattering Seeds

If you didn't scatter saved seeds in September, then November is the time, according to William Lanier Hunt, whose book is my reference for such things. It's an old book, but then I plant old-fashioned seeds.

I've already planted a mixture of seeds in what was to have been the Red Bed -- now the fiesta bed and Spring will be a fiesta if all those seeds come up and bloom.

In the Ruins Beds next the carport:
  • Antirrhinum Tequila Sunrise -- 'An excellent new snapdragon for bedding... with shimmering bronze foliage accompanied by vivid blooms produced in profusion....'
  • Viola Bambini Mixed -- '...clothed in petite flowers of pink, apricot, yellow, red, bronze, lavender and copper, each with attractive, whiskered faces.'

    Behind those I scattered
  • a few white Corn Poppy seed I saved in the Spring, and
  • Pink and Orange Breadseed poppies mixed.
    Somehow the pink and orange got mixed. I figured they mixed anyhow, since they were planted near one another, so it shouldn't matter.

    In the bed formerly known as the Rock Wall Bed before I tumbled the wall down, I planted, back to front:
  • Corn poppies -- I meant these to be at the front, but failed to follow my written plan.
  • Mixed pink and orange Poppy Somniferum -- the same as the ones in the bed above.
  • Bachelor's Buttons 'Black Ball' and
  • Mexican Hats sprinkled around here and there.
  • California poppies toward the front and
  • Larkspur between the rocks.
    Crocosmia will go in front of the rocks behind the row of Salmon Sheen daylilies that are already there.

    Lots of orange in this bed; orange roses across the back; kniphofia in late spring.
  • It's Your Right, and Your Duty