Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Last Look at November

A few long views now that hard frost, chill rain and  brisk winds have changed the landscape:

Part of the Upper Garden featuring deciduous trees, pines and broadleaf evergreens. Oakleaf Hydrangeas still have reddish leaves. Fifty year old pines shelter from western winds.

A falling limb took off one side of this small Camellia seedling last winter. 
It has recovered nicely, if one-sided; has lots of buds like the others.

Gerbera Daisy from seeds. Gerberas are fairly hardy.

Knockout Rose bud.

At the opposite end of the Upper Garden I transplanted 3 young Camellias at the ends of long beds.
It pained me to have to pinch off some buds to put their strength into growth. 

South of the Upper Garden is a row of Gardenias, six feet tall.
I pruned them in late June. I didn't allow for their growing back so quickly.

Front of the house where we took down a Dogwood that grew in the middle of the 
Philadelphus to the left of Gardenias.  It was slowly dying.

Cutting a really huge Pecan limb did little damage here except 
to a volunteer Holly tree. The stub to the left is all that's left. 
The strappy foliage is ancient Narcissus.

Winter is the best time to do garden work here when weather is cool. 

I have tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and muscari to plant soon. 
All except daffodils are chilling.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Edit and Prune

A recent storm broke limbs on the cedar tree north of the greenhouse. Once a tree is broken more pruning is necessary to even the bottom limbs. There is more we are considering but will look at it for a few days before the final cuts. Hard to replace if too much is cut.
Sacrificed in the process was a Spirea thunbergii here for more than fifty years. To be removed will be the last green Euonymous which used to abound here. Pulling that by the roots so it doesn't return. I looked at the gardenia hedge and wondered why so much Euonymous was rooted and planted and only two Gardenias were here. One died that I remember and about 25 years ago I began the gardenia hedges. Both shrubs are broadleaf evergreens, only Gardenia has a desirable blossom.  
Once we start, there's nothing to do but continue while the cutter is on the tractor. A big limb on a pecan tree at the front hit the ground -- hit the house too but no damage except a little scrape to a screen. Better it goes down now than in a high wind.
While the equipment was in place, a Bridalwreath Spiraea -- the kind with little blossoms that looke like tiny roses -- was cut to the ground so I can cope with all the vines growing through it. Behind it was a surprise: narcissus foliage that was probably in too much shade to bloom this year but hope for years to come. The Spiraea will grow back from the roots, come spring.  
Before the debris was hauled off I cut plenty of pine and cedar for Christmas decors. The cedar had lots of blue juniper berries. The pine had a few new full sized cones and lots of baby cones forming. I have two big trugs full behind the tool shed.
A dying volunteer Dogwood at the north corner of the porch came down, miraculously leaving the Philadelphous where the Dogwood sprouted in the middle about fifteen years ago.

Two low hanging pine limbs over the driveway were cut. Limbs on two more cedars (Junipers) were cut.

Crape myrtle in the back yard that almost reached the electric lines was trimmed back. Crape murdered? Hardly; just top growth. Next time I'll use an electric chain saw and prune differently to keep from having that knobby growth that comes from repeatedly topping the same joints.

There are no photos; when the cutting starts I need to pay attention. Once it stops, I am on stick patrol getting ready for the machine to come and pick it all up.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Late-Season Butterflies

About two weeks ago, I caught another glimpse of a Zebra Longwing butterfly, gone when I returned with a camera. It happened again today. Susie told me there were many at the Butterfly Garden at the Plantation. These late Zebras have greenish stripes on black.

A Skipper marked the place where the Zebra Longwing left.

We still have Gulf Fritillaries and Sulphurs on Pentas protected
from the recent frost.

Cloudless Sulphur 

My goal is to capture a Sulphur as it flutters open its wings. 
This was close.

Another tattered Skipper, Cherry showed one too.

Late blooming Gerbera daisy, too pretty not to share, with Liriope berries.

Zebra Longwing post from July

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Celery Secrets

One of the most popular Pins that I see is the 'grow celery from the bottom part' showing new growth coming from the root end of a stalk of celery.

My celery end after a week or so in the soil. 

I searched every photo I could find. I have yet to find a photo of a fully grown stalk of celery that was grown from the cut-off end. Several comments on blogs where someone showed planting an end and the subsequent early growth indicated that someone had indeed grown celery but I found not one picture with more than a single rib smaller than a pencil a few inches tall. Blogs abound showing the planting steps. I found no blogs showing celery being harvested.

I did find some tips:

One blogger offered that celery is a biennial and that second year growth is for seed formation. Before seeds can form, a plant has to reach eating size, doesn't it? 

A second tip was that homegrown celery tends to be bitter unless blanched. What is blanching? Cover with some paper or burlap or hill up the soil around it until the plant bleaches white or at least as light color as what you buy in the store. Green celery will have intense flavor, a good thing in soups.

Many of the photos and videos that I saw showed starting the growth process in a dish of water. Why? Maybe because seeing growth is encouraging. There are no nutrients in water. 

I did read where a grower said their celery grew best in rainy season. I can see why.

Here is what I believe about celery:

  1. Celery needs rich soil and ample moisture.
  2. It has a long growing season, up to 120 days.
  3. Seeds are usually started and then transplanted because of their size.
  4. Ideal growing conditions are cool weather and partial shade from hot sun.
  5. Blanching makes a sweeter celery -- hilling of soil or covering with something.
  6. Whether a new stalk of size can be grown from an end remains to be seen.
I covered the stalk end that I started this bunch from.

I would like to hear from anyone whose celery experiment went farther than greenery and short stems. Meanwhile I will grow mine on as far as it will go

Linking to Tootsie's Fertlizer Friday

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Melancholy Bloom Day

The expected freeze happened on Wednesday night, just enough frost to blacken things like Brugmansias, Daturas and Periwinkles in open ground. I pulled many things like Melampodium in anticipation so I wouldn't have to see dead plants..

Hearty Camellia sasanqua is not affected that much, still heavy with white blossoms. Freezing temperatures were for a short time and only one night, so we bravely soldier on.

I made no photos. A lone Kniphofia blossom is still bright orange, Duranta's purple blossoms are unhurt but nothing exciting enough to display.

I clipped some outer Black Kale leaves after the frost. Sliced and sauteed and added to potato soup they were special.

I am not linking to Bloom Day this month.The greenhouse has blooming white wax begonias and Schlumbergera buds. Two of three Amaryllis bulbs bloomed. They were not what I ordered.

Maybe next month.

Friday, November 8, 2013

It's Like Losing a Good Friend

I went to my old web site tonight for the first time in a month or two. I created that site in 2003 and years subsequent.

This site will be taken down by AT&T on Dec 4. I am in a big project now to salvage all I can of these, work of 3 years or more. I appreciate them leaving them up as long as they did, because I haven't had an AT&T internet account in years. I can easily tranfer the HTML text but the photos will have to be saved and reentered when the AT&T site goes away and the links are broken. Some of the pics are already broken. As best I remember they probably were on Photobucket, who also made changes. Sigh.

If you'd like to look at it, the link is in the lower right hand corner of this page. The pages have links to one another and even I get lost in there, lol. There is a recipe site, a memorial to the Monkeyman, old family photos, and of course, lots of garden pages. Oh, here's the link: Foxes Earth.

My immediate plan is to put the text on Wordpress with the pictures still linked and sort out the links within the new web pages later, so there will be broken links for a while. Transferring HTML loses the background colors and who knows what else. It isn't deathless prose but I probably can't remember to say it again, so it must be saved. I hope that most of the photos are on a CD here someplace but I'll try to download them to save a search.

In the general scheme of things, does it matter? Should I just transfer it all to Pinterest?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

White Camellias

Camellia sasanqua starts the season. I perceive these as a little early or is it later than I think? Usually I anticipate bloom by Thanksgiving. This ancient tree will bloom until mid-January.

White petals will carpet the ground underneath as blooms mature and shatter, followed by many more buds opening. When it rains, the fragrance of tea hangs on the air. 

In January these will finish bloom and a C. japonica beside it will
commence with larger, more formal blooms.

Camellia japonica January 27, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Datura's Dramatic Season Ends

Sensitive to the changing season, flowers fade and huge seed pods form.

From June through October, Datura was spectacular.

Much Drama in these plants. The stems are black and shiny as if they
were lacquered. The blooms have a heady fragrance in the night. The leaves 
give off an acrid smell when crushed. 

Seeds are collected and put away for next year.

In some previous years, I planted yellow Datura.  2009.

Friday, November 1, 2013

How Do Crape Myrtles Look in Autumn?

Crape Myrtles are counted on for summer color when all else is dry and wilted. All Crape Myrtles are not the same. Shapes are different, colors differ. Some have deep colored leaves in fall. Natchez, the graceful open vase shaped Tree with white flowers has yellow leaves that tend to fall early.

This is my favorite Crape Myrtle. It's a vintage cultivar called 'Lilacina' and all mine came from suckers around a single plant at the edge of a small Pecan grove along the far meadow. Above, the trees are planted with Loropetalums that have red fall leaves in addition to their usual dark purplish leaves.

My pale pink Crape Myrtle in the back yard still has some panicles of bloom and the leaves remain green. The watermelon color is turning orange but is not as brilliantly colored as these. They will likely lose all leaves before much color is displayed.

Many large trees in our landscape are oaks that are either evergreen or lose their leaves without turning brilliant colors. Some turn brown, many hang on and fall a few at a time throughout the fall to the disgust of He-who-mows. Across the highway, trees are still green and the color feature is muscadine grapevines that climb high into the trees, looking like yellow festoons in the woods.

Gulf Fritillaries, bees and the last of the Tithonia.