Friday, May 30, 2014

End of Month Views, May 2014

Little Business Daylilies work well with Knockout Roses. 
Roses need deadheading. I will get to it.

Little Business

Gardenias are everywhere as Oakleaf Hydrangeas 
finish bloom and Crape Myrtles start.

Gardenias on both sides of the north driveway. The ones under pines are slower to open. The fragrant walk to the mailbox is exciting. They bloom into July.

Looking back from the view in the photo above. 

My smaller cycad has 21 new fronds. The big cycad
is slow to put up fronds, the tiny ones are starting.

The Vitex tree at the end of this bed is starting to bloom.
Red Hot Pokers hide a Daylily, seen below.

I don't know its name.

Hemerocallis lilio-asphodelus

End of Month Views is hosted by Helen at Patient Gardener. We leave our links in comments there and link to her blog from ours.  

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Secret Love, Purity and Joy: Gardenias

I am going to try to say as little as possible about these flowers that make one want to babble on and on.

They make great hedges.

In this picture are Oakleaf Hydrangea at left on its downhill slide toward pink then tan, Gardenias in the foreground and white Crape Myrtle just starting bloom.

Gardenias are usually reported to be difficult to grow. The leaves turn yellow and gardeners panic. Give them some water. Pick off the yellow leaves, they are old. New ones take their place. Gardenias like good soil, excellent drainage and bright light. A spritz of oil soap for white fly and sooty mold and they're good.

Last year I gave a good pruning to these six along the driveway that I enjoy on my hike to the mailbox. They are bigger than ever and just starting to bloom.

I picked some to put in the sunporch so we pass them as we come in and out. The heady, earthy fragrance is quite different to the sweet intoxicating scent of Brugmansia just outside and very unlike the lemony perfume of Magnolia farther from the house.

MIL called them Cape Jasmine. One of my favorite broadleaf evergreens, Gardenias.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

At Long Last. Swoon. Brugmansia

Alison's Brugmansia bloomed this week. I was so envious. One of mine finally formed that Y stem they must have before blooms appear.

Then the oldest bud got that furled up 'skirt' and I kept looking, looking. Never mind the blue trug in the picture. I put it there to hold the boxwood clippings I took so I could get to a spigot. Everything I read says they need oceans of water and ample fertilizer.

This plant has three stems, starting bifurcation, no buds but it's trying.

This afternoon this one began to unfurl the ballerina skirt.

... and tonight

... an Angel trumpet, with more to come.

The nighttime fragrance is so intoxicating, a delightful scent. There are horror stories on the web about people falling asleep under a Brug, never to wake. 

Last year I kept Brugs over the winter inside as cuttings. I took a chance this past winter and just hoped they would come back from the roots, which they did. Remember, this is zone 8b. Some took a long time of thinking about returning before they showed any green. These are in a more sheltered location in raised beds and sprouted quickly. 

This is an anticlimax as far as fragrance. Gardenia hedges bloomed first. 

Busy Work in a Hot, Humid Climate

I worked on this for days. It isn't finished and may never be completed. At least the pole cuts are not piled on the ground where they were dumped. I like working with things that roll. Rolled into place, a single heave sets them upright. Always start with logs at the top of the hill, it's much easier. The bed at left is in the photo below.

Hydrangeas are beginning to bloom. This bed also has 
azaleas, St. Andrew's cross, Baptisia alba and Stokesia.

View from my kitchen window. After I place something, I go in and look out the window. If it looks 'wrong' I fix it when next I go out. Next project is to paint the metal chairs that overlook the field beyond our grapevines and fruit trees. 

There is a red coffee can and a basket with a grapevine ball in several of these views. They are place markers for a double helix row of Narcissus bulbs we will plant in the fall. I keep moving them. 

The project began here. The flat timber on the ground is a sill from the old barn. The short poles were cut from old electric poles left on the property when new poles were placed.

A different view of the layout above.

 These are barn sills salvaged from the old barn. They never quite pleased me as garden seats.

So I trucked the sill pieces over to the new project and put them atop the long sill piece. Seventy-five years ago these were square. Termites and dry rot have eroded the centers leaving the pieces as you see them, heart pine full of rosin.

The tree obscures the view of my tomato patch and herb wheel in progress.
At one time this garden bed had azaleas and hydrangeas. Vines commenced to take it and I am returning most of it back to grass except for 3 azaleas, nondescript except for 3 weeks in late March when they bloom.

I moved a planter of Stobilanthes and Purple Heart between the sill pieces. It just fit and I didn't measure before hand, just plunked the sills down.

As I moved the pole cuts into place, I used my handy dandy measuring wand to assure that the mower can easily go between everything. This is a piece of 1/2" pvc conduit exactly the width of the mower deck and marked every 6 inches so I can easily measure things. The white piece on the end is for when I use it as an extension piece for the brush I use to wash the greenhouse.

The view back toward the house.
The wood piece on the right is something I moved from the project area. 
It fell over and I haven't touched it. Yet.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Will Butterflies Find a Welcome Feast?

They're back! Pipevine and Spicebush Swallowtails in pairs have shown up. Yesterday I saw a Gulf Fritillary and today a Tiger Swallowtail. Some Swallowtails were here in April for the Azalea Feast, disappearing when the blooms faded.

A tattered Pipevine Swallowtail nectars on Silene armeria.

I used to worry about what Butterflies would find when they returned in May before there were plenty of Pentas and other tropicals that start blooming in June.

Among the dependable May blooming plants that attract butterflies are Dianthus, especially Sweet William -- Bath's Pinks have finished blooming; Petunias and Daylilies. I love to watch a butterfly dive headfirst into a Daylily.

Spicebush Swallowtails seek out Petunias.

Catchfly, Silene armeria is one of those reseeders whose seeds need scatterering in fall. It blooms with Larkspur, usually follows Poppies. This bed has Porterweed seedlings coming on and Pride of Barbados second year seedlings coming back from the roots. Meanwhile, butterflies feast on Silene.

Verbena bonairensis which I call Verbena on a stick because of the height attracts many beneficials and butterflies. I saw two kinds of Skippers yesterday.

Lantana seemed kind of slow this Spring but is catching up. Almost every house from here to town has this, a plus for Butterfly gardening.


Nearby in the Upper Garden, butterflies and beneficials find a feast on Echinacea. There are Echinacea seedlings everywhere, including where I threw seeds along the field road.

Wild Pipevine is plentiful, as is Sassafras (Spicebush) and Wild Cherries (Tiger) for the various Swallowtails' larvae. Gulf Frits depend on plentiful wild Passionflowers. There is Parsley for Black Swallowtails and Paw Paw for Zebra Swallowtails. Yes, we have 5 kinds of Swallowtails. I saw a Zebra today but he eluded the camera.

Are you ready for Butterflies?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Good Year for Lilies

So far it is a good year for all flowers that come from bulbs and bulb-like structures like corms and tuberous root structures. Without research, I suspect that the rains we had in late winter was beneficial.

Easter Bonnet
Finally, a Lily that I remembered the name.

A closer look at Easter Bonnet, a LA Hybrid Lily

Queen Elizabeth Roses and LA Lilies

I don't remember if this was a named Lily or one of a group
of Mixed LA Hybrids that I planted years ago. You can 
recognize their Longiflorium origins by the Easter Lily habit.

Another look at Blackout Asiatic. This year the Asiatics and LA
Lilies are blooming at the same time. Again, I suspect weather.

Not Lilies, these Gladioli, members of the Iris Family, are among my favorites.