Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Coming Attractions: Tropicals

Crinum buds in front of 'Bengal Tiger' cannas

Purple Datura buds

Esperanza and the buds of Pride of Barbados

Pride of Barbados buds:
I can hardly wait for blossoms!

Critters on Esperanza (Tecoma stans)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Blooms too Soon, Night Blooming Cereus

Yesterday afternoon I noticed that the Night Blooming Cereus blooms were about to open, in their shady secret garden under the cedar tree. I didn't think it would be last night and didn't go back to check. This morning the spent blooms were hanging limp.

Here's one from year before last, on the same date:

There are epiphyllum links on the sidebar to several of previous year's posts.
Later in the summer 2008, there were 12 blooms on 3 plants one night. After I moved them into the greenhouse in October, there were more blossoms.

This is one of my fav flowers, despite the awkward, ungainly plants they hang from. Mama once kept one in the kitchen over the winter and it grew straight up. The stem curved when it reached the ceiling and started back down. My great-aunt used to load one in the back of her DeSoto and haul it all over Dunwoody to show shut-ins, at bedtime.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summer's Bloomers

I saw a big snake today, slithering right across where I wanted to plant some begonias in the ground with a few caladiums that are determined to survive. I think he was a rat snake, but I'm reluctant to go back out there today.

So far all Porterweeds with blossoms are blue/purple. Some of the cuttings were not labeled and I had hoped for red/coral in this bed. The one Porterweed that survived the cold winter to resprout is a red, so far without a blossom. Butterflies are finding the blues, but their fav nectaring spots right now are the lantanas.

Sprirea Bumalda responded to deadheading and has a new flush of blooms, paler than in the cooler days of spring.

The rest of the Magenta/Pink beds have blossoms, but not in proximity so that they photograph well. Stargazer lilies have started, planted near Common Purple Phlox, the ubiquitous Echinacea which has passed its prime and must be cut back and Rose/Magenta Pentas. Orange crocosmia which I expected would add a shock is just now budding. Every year is different.

Promises of things to come: I'm trying not to post pics of what's about to happen, until it happens. I'm finding new buds of tropicals every day.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Lawn Alternatives

This video is an excerpt from Garden Wise Guys Episode 13: Lawn & Order. Visit SBWater.org for more info.

We can't take out our lawn. It holds the rest together. South Georgia has too many snakes to eliminate well clipped surfaces on which to walk, unless we're going back to swept yards of fifty years ago. We don't fertilize or water and mow only when the Bahai grass puts up seed heads.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Magenta Pentas

Bigger leaves, blossoms and stems that any other pentas I grown, this is the also the hardiest. The closest one shown returned; the two upper right were cuttings. Red 'Ruby Glow' managed to survive for many years before failing to return this spring after a hard winter. I kept cuttings of all the other pinks and lavender. Susie gave me a plant of 'Julie Neel's Favorite' white pentas which is happy in the Yellow Rose bed.

Zinnias are coming on fast to join the pentas to provide nectar for butterfly feasts. There are Stargazer lilies opening up nearby and back a ways Common Purple phlox is blooming magenta.

Stray sticks in the beds are reminders to the dog about shortcuts.

I Will Have Another Big Orange

Bengal Tiger doesn't seem to mind the heat that wilted the Black eyed Susans.

An’ I asked this feller that was a-settin’ beside me, I says
“Friend, what is it that they’re a-hollerin’ for?”
Well he whopped me on the back and he says
“Buddy, have a drink!”
Well, I says “I believe I will have another big Orange.”

-- Andy Griffith, c. 1954

Not Cereneum
This lily was supposed to be pink. It will have to join all the oranges in a different bed. It isn't pretty with rose and pink roses.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Heliconia psittacorum

I was so excited to find beginning bracts on my Heliconias this morning. As best I could determine, they would grow in ground here and possibly come back after frost kills them to the ground. I elected to grow in containers. I bought just one last fall, kept it over the winter inside and divided it this spring into two.

I've changed my mind about containers. If I'm going to drag hoses all summer, I may as well just put group everything and drag one more hose over to a cluster of containers. The Bird of Paradise is unfurling yet another leaf. I hope we see it bloom before summer's end.

Factor in what it Feels Like

That's what the Weather Channel Lady just said on TV, in the background here.

Yesterday it felt like we might melt. While we were at a restaurant in Tallahassee about 2 pm, there was a sudden shower of rain outside. By the time we went outside, the sun was shining again and while water was running off the parking lot in a little stream, most of the water had turned to steam. The temperature had dropped from 101 when we left the car to 94 when we returned. A few miles crossing town and it was 100 again, only more humid than before.

Here's a link to the Marianna Airport record, just down the road aways from here. The interesting thing is, it shows a thunderstorm at around 7 pm with 0.12 inch of rain. We experienced the wind, the clouds, the thunder, everything except rain. On the radar, I could see it was just 3 pixels away from us.

On the other hand, the temperature dropped from 94 to 82 from the nearby rain and the humidity climbed. From 3 am to 6 am relative humidity was 96%. Most places, that would mean it was raining! Not here.

(Note: if you're reading this after the 24th when I'm typing it, the weather record will have moved on to the next day. It's a continuously moving 3-day record. I elected not to print to file and post here, it would be teeny print, unreadable. Or just trust me: the temperature went to 100 degrees and the humidity in the wee hours of the morning here was 96. That's why the vegetation here doesn't just dry up to a crisp.)

I think I would feel cooler if I didn't check the thermometer nor the computer weather, turned off the TV and stayed inside.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Solstice

Longest day of the year, and the hottest so far, with temps hovering around 100 and the heat index too hot to mention.

Tecoma stans is starting to bloom, beautiful yellow bells. Blue porterweed has put out spikes and little blue/purple blooms for butterflies, who needed something to follow the pink silene which has gone to seed.

I never expected gladioli so purple as these. Variegated cannas have a bloom spike, soon to be a brilliant orange. Purple Heart and Bulbine are two more that don't seem to mind the heat and humidity so much.

Buffie shows just how hot it is; she spent a good part of the day inside. Lantana just laughs at sunshine, heat and humidity.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Things I Liked Seeing Today

The slideshow was not as popular as I'd thought it might be. The consensus is that most would rather look at some photos with detailed descriptions. Me, too.

These little fellows are seedling melampodium and some Laura Bush petunias, two of my best reseeders. Melampodium literally comes up blooming, is self cleaning and lasts until frost. Its only downside is that it does not attract butterflies, but I have seen Red Spotted Purples light on it just hanging out, not to nectar. Laura Bush (the petunia) is a good mixer, showing up everywhere, but not intrusive.

The gardenia show is almost over with just a few buds still opening. It was grand and romantic while it lasted. Not only do they smell good, they're very photogenic. Confederate jasmine has taken a new fit of blooming so there's strong fragrance to take the place of the heady gardenia.

These last two are one new fav and one standard. I bought two bags of gladioli at a big box store in the spring. The label didn't show such a rich purple. I think they are gorgeous. The others are to have a yellow throat, if they ever send up blooms.

The old standard is my Texas fav, Esperanza, known to some as Tecoma stans. Yellow Bells bloom from the end of June to frost. They'll be joined soon by Pride of Barbados, the ferny plant between the Esperanza and the ubiquitous Laura Bush petunia, which reseeds freely in the Esperanza bed.

When the Thermometer Goes Over 100

Photos are from this morning when it was only 88 degrees and the humidity was only 50%. Now, some plants are beginning to wilt for self-preservation. If you were visiting, we might prefer to stay inside where it's cool looking at the pictures, and not think about a heat index that may reach 108.

There is a tiny green flag at bottom left when you view the slideshow. Clicking in it brings up captions. clicking on the slideshow will take you to the album itself which may be a preferable view. I'm not sure an embedded slideshow is better than scrolling through a dozen pictures in the post. What do you think?

Friday, June 19, 2009


It's hot, the humidity is high and plants that love the summertime are growing like weeds. Last evening, I gave some of the oakleaf hydrangeas a haircut, snipping off all the brown and crispy blooms. They're nice in that pink stage pictured. I find the totally dry heads unattractive.

I read that they may rebloom if the old heads are cut off. I did that last year and can't remember if they did. They have lots of new foliage coming on. Maybe I waited too late. Either way, I like the foliage only version when they get crispy. I had to leave the ones I can't reach, high in the air, but the small shrubs look nice. I just left the brown blooms on the ground like mulch, to disintegrate.

Echinacea and several other perennials need deadheading as other blooms come on. They just can't all bloom together in this long growing season.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hot Summer Daylilies

At 10 am, it was 86 degrees and 76% humidity, in the shade. I was afraid to look at one of those heat index formulas. Yesterday as we left the city of Tallahassee, FL at 5 pm, it was 104 degrees.

This little daylily is a seedling that was forgotten until it bloomed.
Planted among echinacea, it picks up the gold in the coneflower centers.

Will I never learn? Those little bags with the pretty printed picture on a cardboard label always get my attention. This was supposed to be 'Romantic Rose' but the only thing I can match to any description of it is that it is a dormant cultivar. It's hard to get the true color in bright sun, but it's a pretty pale pink.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Meadow Experiment

When the old barn was torn down last winter and the area leveled, I scattered annual seeds that bloom in early spring as a meadow experiment.

Poppies, April, 2009
Poppies, April 2009

April 2009

May blooms include Silene, Corn Poppies and California Poppies.

When weeds begin to overtake the remaining flowers, it's time to mow.
Cattle egrets followed the mower, delighting in the insects stirred up.


After the last mowing and first frost in fall, I'll scatter more seeds for next spring's meadow.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bulbs from A to Z, Bloom Day

Storm Cloud

Storm Cloud and A. africanus species

First narrowing to my favs, bulbs, I realized that I have bulbs blooming from Agapanthus to Zantedeshia, including some fabulous lilies and gladioli. The best of the best in eye appeal right this minute is the Agapanthus.

It's always hard to decide what to display on Bloom day for a quick look while other, better, blogs are waiting to be seen.

Click here to see Other Garden Bloggers' Blooms: Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Lilies of the Fields

Lilies of the Field mentioned in the Bible are believed by some to be Anemones. Some believe Gladioli because they can grow in somewhat dry conditions, and leave woody stems that can be burned for fuel.

Purple Glad

True Lilies:
African Queen


Sunday, June 14, 2009

No Crapes are Murdered in this Garden

Numerous articles are written in gardening circles about 'Crape Murder.' Continued pruning to the same point leaves the trees with ugly knobs in winter, not attractive at all. Proper pruning leaves the exfoliating trunks and branches attractive in winter.

The bypass road around our town has crape myrtles the entire length. As many as 15 of the same color in the median then changes to maybe 8 of another color and then another long row of yet another. Back in the spring, they were lopped back to about 3-4 feet tall, some of the larger cultivars not quite so low. They've all put out growth now and some are blooming. They provide plenty of color all through the summer.

There's room in my garden for large trees with no crape murder, just occasional pruning of wayward branches. This pretty pink is the first in full bloom.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hot Summer Bloomers

To fill empty spaces left by spring bloomers that have finished, Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus rosea) and Melampodium literally come up blooming. I saw a blossom of each, yesterday, on tiny plants less than 6 inches tall.

melampodium,Madagascar periwinkle
Madagascar periwinkle and Melampodium in my garden, September, 2006.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Waiting for Pentas and Porterweed

Butterflies are patiently waiting this year for Pentas and Porterweed to get going. They're nectaring on Lantana and Echinacea and Vitex.

This year, a single red Porterweed managed to put forth a new shoot. The rest are dead stems. Fortunately I kept cuttings over the winter. One blue has blossomed so far, some others have stalks beginning.

All my fav Ruby Glow pentas that I'd had for years and at least a couple would faithfully return each year -- gone! The red cuttings all died, too.

I wonder if it was all the rain this spring, or the two years drought that finally did them in, or more than the usual number of freezes?

Last year's reds

A couple of the sturdy tall dark pink have returned and are budding. I kept a whole dark lavender one in a pot all winter, a number of pink cuttings and one white cutting.

This year's lavender pentas awaits butterflies.

I went out to check their progress and found this teeny little pentas blooming, not 3 inches tall, a cutting that finally rooted. The grassy appearing plants are sisyrinchium, long past bloom. The pentas on the left was not as eager as its little sibling.

The rose color pentas is already an attraction. Just after I took the first pic below, look who showed up!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Strawberry Patch Is Ready for a Hurricane

Back in late winter, I bought a little packet of strawberry plants in a plastic bag, bareroot. Impulse purchase. When I got home and looked them up, it seemed they were more suited in this climate for container planting. I potted up each in a black plastic gallon container, mulched the top with pebbles and pine straw. Today I decided they need to be in the ground, when I found volunteer tithonia plants in the bed where they were lined up behind a 4x4 in front of some old barn timbers that are hollow. The strawberry plants were rootbound and the roots were frying in black pots.

It takes a whole day to plant 11 strawberry plants when the local weather people are saying 'feels like 101' and the dog helps. I found a very ripe strawberry hidden under a leaf, laid it aside. She ate it. She sat on everything, stepped on everything and dug up one whole plant before I could intervene. Things got quiet. I looked behind me. She was picking blueberries and eating them, spitting out the ones that weren't quite ripe. When I watered the plants, she had to drink from the hose, over every plant.

We're finally done after frequent trips into the house to get cool. Pine straw mulch was tossed about. Six Tithonia survive, making an irregular front border of a sort. They need companions seeded in, when Buffie isn't looking.

Sunshine and Shadows

When the cannas bloom next month, the blooms will be orange. There should be crocosmia blooming all around, more orange.
cannasJuly 2008 photo, clickable