Monday, November 30, 2009

Respite from the Coming Cold

The predicted freeze failed to take out lingering pretties. Butterflies came out to play again yesterday when the sun warmed the garden. I found more flowers that begged display here.

Randy of Randy and Meg's Paradise Garden put forth the possibility of butterflies getting their name from Sulphurs, who look like pats of butter, nectaring here yesterday on Lantana montevidensis.

Even a Monarch showed up, lazily flying through the garden, to nectar on the last of Salvia leucantha.

There were Gulf Frits and Dogface Sulphurs as well, mostly on the Lantana, some on Salvia coccinea.

A few zinnias hold on still. Gomphrena glows in the background, and the blue-green foliage of Bath's Pink will be a show all winter after I pull the zinnias and scatter California poppies and Larkspur.

Knockouts keep on, here pink and red.
Also in the Knockout bed are Rose de Rescht which I did not capture, and late blooms of Reine des Violettes. These have spotty foliage late in the season that needs picking off. They'll come back spotless in the spring.

The tiny red blooms of Red Cascade need more support, as the canes want to grow horizontally. I have red cedar limbs from the last pruning waiting to construct an improvisational trellis to support them.
Physotegia grows around another improvisted trellis of heart pine.

The Chicken Rose (Nacogdoches) and Butter-colored Julia Child, each with a bee.

Dogwood berries sparkle in the sunlight against the green of a young Live Oak -- young, I've been nurturing it for more than 15 years -- set off by the last foliage of a crape myrtle.

Rain predicted for tonight; cold in a couple of days. Please notice my header photo. That is as close as I could get to a Pileated Woodpecker, who flew every time I approached. His 'perk, perk,' cry I could hear across the field, as if he were laughing at my efforts. When he's on the pecan limbs, I hear a 'pock, pock' as he gathers insects.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I was chosen by Anna of Green Tapestry and Pam of Pam's English garden as a 'Best Blog' site. I appreciate the honor, and the time and thought they put into their choices.

I'm linking back to them so that you may visit those Best Blogs, too.

My Best Blog choices are on my sidebar, too many good ones to choose just 15.
Now, on with Blogs and pictures of the garden and conversations.

Can I Start a Butterfly Garden Now?

What? Butterflies are gone for the season? Think about that next spring! Maybe not. One early spring night I went out to photograph hyacinths in the dark. When I came inside, there were Sulphur butterflies in the pics. Hyacinths are a choice for nectar plants. I'm about to plant more hyacinths.

Parsley can be started inside or seed scattered outside to come up later as a potential spring host for Black Swallowtails who will be coming to nectar on Azaleas in late March. Beds can be laid out now, paths put into place and shrubs planted.

What butterflies prefer depends on what is available. Echinacea is listed as a nectar plant. It's popular in spring before more enticing plants start blooming in summer, ignored later.
The same is true of vitex.

When I discover a popular plant, I plant lots of it. Lantana planted along the edges of the garden on the west side near the open highway right of way attracts many different species. Lantana camara blooms well when the weather gets extremely hot and dry. Lantana montevidensis blooms best in cooler spring and fall and doesn't die back as much as L. camara, which disappears with the first  freeze.

A pair of Zebra Swallowtails on Lantana.
Lantana is frequently visited in summer by the floaty zebra swallowtail, which drifts on over to a native Asimina triloba that planted itself in a great spot for caterpillars.

PawPaw in Bloom, Zebra Swallowtail host plant.

Tropicals like Pentas, Stachytarpheta and Tithonia are popular nectar plants with Swallowtails of all kinds and Gulf fritallaries.

Tithonia is popular with Monarchs.

Pride of Barbados must be started from seed inside, late winter, to bloom in summer.

Native gaillardia is popular with fritillaries and some tiny checkerspots.

Sites abound on the web to discuss which host plants attract which butterflies. I've noticed that native plants vary among states and regions.
Spicebush is usually listed as the host for Spicebush swallowtails. Here they are found on Sassafras, another aromatic.

Tiger Swallowtails, Georgia's State Butterfly, are hosted by wild cherry in my garden; elsewhere they seek out sweet bay or tulip poplar. Tigers appear with azaleas in early spring, then return later when other nectar plants are blooming.

Painted Ladies visit rabbit tobacco, thistles and peavines to lay eggs, by availability.

Buckeye larvae may be found on snapdragons, plantains and toadflax, where available. In fall, Slender False Foxglove, Agalinis tenuifolia acts as a late host and nectar plant for Buckeyes. Goldenrod is another nectar source for fall butterflies.

Sulphurs lay eggs on various hosts, including both wild and cultivated cassias.

There are many other nectar sources; zinnias are popular with butterflies from summer through fall. Butterflies, their hosts and nectar sources fill entire books. Minno and Minno's book was recommended to me as a good book for southern garden butterfly information.

Information on Butterfly hosts was obtained from Ichauway Plantation, site of the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center and by personal observation.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Last of November Flowers

Here are the rest of the pics from when I finished pulling up Madagascar periwinkles because I could not bear to see them all black and ruined when the freeze predicted for today came. I was asked about planting poppy seeds and other spring annuals. When I pull up summer annuals that are done, the soil is crumbly like chocolate cake, ready for scattering seeds for the next season. I try to scatter ahead of a predicted rain. If the ground slopes a little, I might scatter a little compost over the seeds. Otherwise, they just settle into the ground, especially tiny seeds like poppies.

Red Alternanthera made the Late Show with Salvia coccinea.
A few late melampodiums linger with Purple Heart. Dead stems mark where lilies hide and there's even a Black Eyed Susan. Those are so tough, and coming up in the paths in the upper garden.

Lantana, and Mexican Bush Sage and Crape Myrtles; see the big pile of periwinkle plants at right rear?
Mrs. Cox down on Lake Seminole told me to go out in late spring and stir the soil where periwinkles grew the previous summer and they would come up well. Instead of stirring, I pull up spent poppies and larkspur and other early annuals, which stirs just enough for periwinkles to come to the surface. If I'm doubtful of whether enough seed fell the previous fall, I scatter a few saved seeds, or some newly purchased seed if I want a new color.

The North Wind has reached us and we are almost prepared. This morning's freeze was not quite that. When I got up at 6:30, the temperature was 35 F. The sun was soon up and the day was not unpleasant.

Crape myrtle trees dance where leaves are almost gone; a few Knockout Roses persist on a bush that will need pruning in February for a big spring show. Oakleaf Hydrangea on the right has vivid color in the sun.

Vetiver Grass, African Iris, and striped Cannas with some bright foliage in the background, a little vignette of fall.

Pineapple sage; I have cuttings inside. Melampodium reseeds; I have begonias potted up.
The last of the vivid flowers will be gone very soon. We bought ryegrass seed to scatter for green color when grass gets frostbitten.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fruitcake with Coffee in a Sacred Mug

People who dislike fruitcake just never had a Golden Fruitcake, which has neither candied fruit peel nor candied citron. Citron is a nuisance melon that grows wild here.

One ingredient in Proper Fruitcake does grow in my garden: Pecans.

"As Christmas time approached, Sook made elaborate fruitcakes, dark and blond, to be given away to important people, and some not so important. This undertaking required much work and thought." -- Truman Capote, A Christmas Memory

My proper fruitcake has tasty fruits like glacee cherries and pineapple, golden raisins, a quart of pecans and/or walnuts, some coconut, perhaps a few dates, all held together with a minimum of rich cake batter. The exact proportions of the various ingredients varies by the cook. I have tatterred handwritten copies of various recipes of cooks who have gone on, including Mrs. Jimmy Hatcher's White Fruitcake. 

Another, called Golden Old Fashioned Fruitcake I laboriously copied from Mr. Darcy Nicholson's own index cards shortly before he died. He insisted that I sit there and write down every word. Mr. Nicholson was a retired wholesale grocer, a Daylily fancier and a noted cook.  Mr. Nicholson also grew the tallest castor bean plants I ever saw, at least 20 feet tall, treelike, in the center of the loop  of his driveway.

His recipe includes 3 Tablespoons of rum or brandy flavoring. His Optional instructions are thus: Remove from oven 20 minutes before baking time is completed: brush top with syrup. Decorate with nut halves and candied fruit strips, pressing gently to make them stick. Return to oven for 20 minutes. Cool overnight in pan. Cake is better if baked 3 weeks ahead of time.

My MIL always put her cloth-wrapped fruitcakes in a clean lard can (a popcorn tin makes a good modern substitute) with apples. The cakes mellow and take up the fruity taste of apple. Delicious.

Once aged, fruitcake can be sliced very thin and if the cherries were left whole, gives a look of stained glass windows to the slices. A slice of Golden Fruitcake served with coffee or hot tea in a Sacred China Christmas Mug on a cool December afternoon is just delicious.

I skip through all that beating of batter and dredging of fruits and nuts in flour. Now I just add the fruits and nuts to flour that is going into oatmeal cookies and make Fruit and Nut Oatmeal Cookies, using half the sugar we used to add. If I want to really feel smug, I substitute canola oil for the butter. I could still make a real fruitcake, there's time.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Like Rhinestones on Strings

The sun hit dewdrops on a spiderweb, sparkling like diamonds on a rosebush with little rose hips adding color.

One last yellow Eclipse rose, also with dewdrops.

A last Monarch nectars on Camellia sasanqua.

Gerbera daisies last hurrah before the freeze. Buffy takes a shortcut through a late-blooming bed of Pentas and Echinacea.

A last look at fall colors of crape myrtles, Salvia leucantha, Lantana and red Alternanthera before the first freeze takes them out, possibly this weekend. Our expected freeze date is November 15, so we've had extra days of fall glory. I took out all the periwinkles last weekend and scattered seeds of poppies and larkspur behind the lantana.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Blooms in the Night

I knew yesterday, like an expectant mother, that last night would be the night the Epiphyllum oxypetalum would bloom. When I remembered and ran out in my pajamas with the camera with animals following, the fragrance greeted us at the door. Two blossoms, one out of sight toward the floor, were partially open.

Buds and a bloom supported by the Epi tree, a permanent structure that supports the long ungainly stems of the Epiphyllum. In the foreground is the Christmas (Thanksgiving) cactus with buds. The buds at right are 'Exotica' Hippeastrum. The Amaryllis buds had sprouted long stems when I bought them, so they have to reach back toward the sun to straighten themselves.

Fully open this morning for my birthday.

Ike shows off the two remaining buds that will open soon.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Deep River of Song: Blues

The blues is a blending of African and European traditional music characterized by its melancholy (or blue) notes expressing suffering and deprivation. Songs are typically structured in three-line verses, with the third line summing up, or rephrasing, the sentiment expressed in the first two. Beginning in the nineteenth century, blues music developed throughout the southern United States from slave work songs and field hollers. Later, southern prisoners in jail and on chain gangs added songs of murder, death row, and their treatment at the hands of the wardens.*

Some of my favorite blues in the garden:
Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly

Lacecap Hydrangea 'Mariesii Varigata'  with Mopheads

Hydrangea serrata and Mophead hydrangeas

Saliva farinacea and a blue bottle tree

Two kinds of Hyacinths

 Agapanthus and Hydrangea

*The New Georgia Encyclopedia, A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.

This post inspired by Kiki's 'Essence of Blue' Theme.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blooms Who Moved Inside

The first frost date is so uncertain. We know it is coming, will it be tonight or in two weeks? Conservative gardeners try not to leave blossoms to chance.
Ground orchids are possibly hardy here, dying back to return in spring, but I want to see them bloom all winter.

In a few days, Night Blooming Cereus will open for a single night's glory and fragrance.

So many bloggers have blooms on their Christmas Cactus. Mine still have tiny buds that look like babies' teeth.

It was a hard choice between a red anthurium and the white. That licorice plant needs to be pinched and the cuttings rooted.

Pentas bloom most all winter, inside.

Begonias are everywhere, and some gingers for foliage interest.