Saturday, May 30, 2015

Vitex agnus-castus

Vitex is not a native but has been cultivated in the southern US since the 17th century. It fell out of favor some years back and was re-discovered about 15  years ago when Vitex was named to the list of Texas SuperStars.

This was the view I saw yesterday when I walked toward the front. A second look noted the dead rose limb I'd cut and failed to drag out of Carefree Delight, a companion of Vitex agnus-castus in our garden. I took the offensive thing away.

Closer look at the blossoms.

Lush, just lush. A new flush of roses is just starting.

For the past month, a favorite of beneficials was Ratibida, here with Larkspur. 
Insects have abandoned nearby Mexican Hats which are getting seedy, for Vitex.
I'll cut back Ratibida and encourage Tithonia which is coming on.

There's a constant hum.

There are some areas near the coast where Vitex is discouraged because of weediness. Do not confuse V. agnus-castus with Vitex rotundifolia, Beach Vitex. 

This is the view north standing in front of the Vitex tree.

Vitex shrubs in the Upper Garden are not yet in bloom. Bloom may be scant because of increasing shade. Next year I will cut them back and see if they improve or need to be removed, too big to move. I could start new, easily rooted.

This daylily, whose name is Persian something or Something
Princess, but not Persian Princess, is next the Kniphofia.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Corn Is as HIgh as a... What?

Irrigation took care of it and now we're getting rain, real thunderstorm rain with thunder and lightning.

♫ ... and it looks like it's reaching clear up to the sky. ♫ ♪

My batteries died and the thunder got closer before I could get around to the east where sweet corn is tasseling. The silks look like sweet baby curls.

Gladioli, love the color.

Agapanthus. You know how proud I am of this. I didn't expect white.
The little yellow spots outside the greenhouse wall are calla lilies.

Mixed bulbs. All yellow so far.

The great hot weather indoor tomato experiment goes on.

Between showers, grass was rooted out and a little side dressing of fertilizer
laid down along my okra, which has grown some since this baby photo.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

All in the Family: Daylilies

Many of us still have the old Ditch Lily daylily somewhere in a back corner.  Like Narcissus, the oldest cultivars surviving tend to have desirable characteristics.

I took pics of Ditch Lilies and Salmon Sheen and prepared to write about the evolution of modern-day Daylilies. Oh, Wait. I did that last year:

Evolution of the Daylily

-- and here they are again this year. Salmon Sheen on the right is one of my favorites. Introduced in 1951, it won the Stout Medal in 1959.  Dr. Stout gave the characteristics of a great daylily in a speech in 1957. They include:

  • Winter hardiness. 
  • Long season of bloom. 
  • Flower color that does not bleach out and petals and sepals do not curl or wilt prematurely. 
  • Flowers drop quickly after bloom on their own. 
  • Flowers stay open in the evenings. 
  • Flowers sit high enough above the foliage so as to be seen. 
  • Scapes are neither too heavy to overwhelm the plant or too thin to allow drooping. 
  • Full, lush and green foliage.
Hybridizing as far as getting new seeds is easy; bees do it.  If you want certain parents, it requires isolating the pod parent and dabbing with pollen from the other desired parent.

The hard part comes with isolating a really great daylily from a bunch of dogs. Steve Muldovan said that one of a hundred might be worth considering and one in a thousand might be a keeper.

I have 3 plants from a handful of seeds I collected from a neighbor's pretty plants last summer. I hope one is a keeper. I've been lucky before and I've discarded many plants after 3 years of hoping for beauty.

Let us then consider two other daylilies, this time dark red:

The one on the left was here when I first visited here more than 50 years ago. MIL called it 'my red daylily' and I never found a name for it.

The one on the left is Dominic. The parents of Dominic are Royal Ambassador and Baja, each a lighter red in the photos I've seen.

Many of my beds are seen at a distance, so I like similar colors en masse: reds here, purples there, oranges over by some blue hydrangeas.

This is my first seedling, hardly fashionable by today's standards but a tough plant with lasting flowers in hot sun. I call it garden name of 'Saddle Oxfords' -- a name not found in the database of thousands. 

There is a Daylily Show near here next month. Maybe like Rock Rose I'll find a keeper at their sale. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Bah, Bah Boxwood: Stung by a Wasp

I was not thinking about wasps being around when one popped my on the hand.

I was pruning these, twice as big as last year (this photo) and decided to see on the back side how far down I could cut to reveal the trunks of the topiary trees. 
I had put these off when I was pruning boxwood because they take so much time. 

He-Who-Mows suggested just cutting off the meatballs. I thought to prune up the spheres as small trees and cut the bottom squared off part (they are more square than the pic shows. The insides have a lot of dead limbs from lack of light. 

The trunks are huge, the part with the topiary. I would have to take the electric chain saw to them so I decided to just hand prune the dead parts. Then the wasp got me.

About 10 years ago I had a pretty severe reaction to a wasp sting and took a series of shots. I have an Epi pen. Before resorting to a dose of Epinephrine, I thought to just take some antihistamine and use all the home remedies for the bite site that are on the net. Well, maybe not every one. I didn't use a cut onion, nor vinegar and baking soda.

So I took the only Benedryl left in the house and some purple elixir. I put Absorbine Jr. on the site and then soaked my hand in ice water for 10 minutes or at least it seemed like 10 minutes. I found some tablets for Domeboro solution and used that as a soak. I read that Caladryl was better than anything else and lacking that, used some poison ivy cream that I think has the same ingredients as Caladryl.

I've not had any allergic response other than mild swelling of my hand, in 2 hours. 

He-Who-Mows and resorts to extreme measures sprayed the whole end of the boxwood with wasp remover. Trimming that bush may be moot. It will probably die. 

Those boxwood are there for more than 50 years. They could all be cut down, next year after Christmas when the wasps are frozen. Cut to the ground, they will come back, or not.

My pruning may be curtailed until summer is over.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pandora, Again

I included Pandora's Box Daylily with some others a couple of days ago, promising to visit Pandora Again.

Pandora's Box is a small Daylily; plays well with others.

You must be close to appreciate this little bed on
the left. Opposite it is a hedge of Gardenias.

A couple of years back I extended the bed under 
a white Crape Myrtle by just heaping pine
straw underneath for the winter. Grass died.

Pandora's Box was performing poorly elsewhere. It seems
happy enough here as the season begins, with
Purple Heart and Chartreuse Alternanthera that reflects the
eye and throat of Pandora.

... and a bonus:
Blooming for the first time this year: Byran Paul

Paw Paw

Not the baby's Grandpa, the plant with the custard-like flavor fruit, or so they say. The one I ate was kind of alkaline tasting.

Paw Paw here is not a tree, it is a low shrubby plant,
Asimina augustifolia or Slimleaf Pawpaw, often called
Dog Banana and attractive to critters.

Green fruit of Pawpaw

Asimina augustifolia is the host plant for the larva of Zebra Swallowtails. 
Zebras always nectar on yellow and lavendar Lantana near the Dog Banana.

I am linking to Outlaw Gardener's Post on Paw Paws. He asked about readers who know and grow Pawpaws. His are not the same as mine. These are native to the southeastern US, growing scattered along woods edge, not in a cultivated patch.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Daylilies, Again

In my mind, I've already shown you a bunch of daylilies. When I looked back, it was only a couple on Bloom Day and an earlier look at the new one.

Little Business, a near match for Knockout Roses,
except that Knockout had an early flush of bloom and 
they are not synchronized.

Byzantine Emperor. It melts in the sun; this was early today.
I looked at last year's pics: Same Daylilies.

Pandora's Box, wonderful with Purple Heart.
These are under a white Crape Myrtle with a frill of 
chartreuse Alternanthera that you'll see when there is 
more than one bloom at a time.

Salmon Sheen with Kniphofia and Echinacea's golden centers. 
Come fall, we'll see Echinacea with clouds of Muhly Grass.

A Seedling with the garden name of Saddle Oxfords.

Bitones are not very popular but I like this one with Lantana.

MIL called them "Lemon Lilies' -- truly heirlooms.

Silver Veil and an insect.

My Red Seedling, best color in early morning.
By late afternoon, they either melt or turn brick color. 

We had another 0.6 inch of rain last evening. You can almost see corn growing. 

The electricity was off for a while during the storm. The TV stopped working. Parts are ordered and the repairman will call next week. At least we escaped the hail they had in town. 

My okra is coming up! Life is good despite the heat and humidity. Ninety degrees in the shade.  

If you are in a place where the weather is hot, stay in the shade if you can. If it is still cool where you are, summer is definitely on the way, starting here.


They take up a lot of space and the wait is intense.

Worth the Wait.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Butterflies are Back!

They've been showing up, a few at a time. There are enough now to say that I saw dozens today: half a dozen Pipevine Swallowtails in one place on gold Lantana.

Saturday they were swarming daylilies:

I am always amused to see Pipevine Swallowtails 'dive' into daylilies.

Today I told myself that I need not stand outside in 91º heat and sun to take pictures of the same kinds of insects I snapped every previous year and posted here. To amuse myself, I went back to May of every year's archives and sure enough, they are there.

Here's a link to a good sample of what we see in May: Butterflies of May.

Today I saw Pipevine Swallowtails, a Tiger, many tiny duskywing skippers, a Fritillary and Buckeyes. Last week I saw a Cabbage White, Red Spotted Purple, the inevitable Sulfurs and some Gulf Fritillaries.

Now that I found my tripod and all its parts, I might try again for videos on a cooler day where only the butterflies flit about and the hands of the blogger might be still.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Foliage Follows in May

A favorite on Bloom Day was Burro Tail Sedum. Here it is from the opposite side, no blooms in sight:

Only one Neoregelia promises a bloom soon.

Cycads have brand new foliage. Behind the one at left is a small Brug.


I spread Persian Shield around like Marmalade. These are returning from roots.

Purple Heart, like Grape Jelly.


They play well together, Setcreasea and Strobilanthes.

Around a large stone, grows Ebony Spleenwort and one the stone, Resurrection Fern. Nearby is a red Daylily. Crocosmia, a thug, marches right in to get pulled.

I keep adding more and more Cannas, an easy tropical look that returns easily from roots.

Two more tropicals that return from roots: Lemon Grass and Variegated Shell Ginger. They make a quicker show if pieces are wintered in the greenhouse. I intend to buy more Alpinia.


This tough succulent endures the worst winters here. Many plants are lost to squirrels, who love to chew the leaves when water is scarce.

Most of my favorite foliage plants are common. I like to try to display them in uncommon ways. 

Joining with Pam Penick and friends for Foliage Follow Up:

Foliage, Common Plants in Uncommon Ways