Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflections on 2010

It's hard to believe that another year is about to end and a new one to begin. This year has had a number of challenges, mostly due to having surgery on my shoulder, and garden plans had to go on hold. The third arbor has still yet to be erected. The out of control varigated artimesia needs to be pitchforked up... NEVER plant this plant unless you want it to run wild, good grief! And the beds need to be expanded so I can buy and cram more plants into the yard. Don't know what I'm going to do when I run out of gardening space. Guess I'll have to buy a new home. Meanwhile, in reflecting back on this year, these plants come to mind as the successes in my strolling garden:
Roses were never big on my gardening plan because I had read that they were difficult to grow and keep health. Well, they do have black spot and can be grumpy and lose their leaves at time but given the chance they were totally worth the effort. I've planted about 25 miniature, climbing and shrub roses in the three years in my new home. Their amazing floral displays only makes me want to plant more next year.
The Oranges and Lemons Gaillardia were favorites of mine. Loved how the color contrasted against its surroundings and the flowers were long lived. Butterflies seemed fond of it too.
It's funny how you can plant something and totally forget about it. I scattered some Scabiosa seeds in late fall, wondered what the heck were those "weeds" that were coming in the beds and was delighted by early summer to see that it was the mixed pincushion seeds I had planted. What a great surprise. I don't do well with growing plants from seeds so I was totally rocked to have something survive my black seed thumb. Even now, with the temperatures in the low 20s the plants are still alive and hanging in there waiting for spring to come. Can't wait for spring either. Being cooped up in the house due to the cold is no fun.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Last of the Summer Roses

Pictured above: A gorgeous reddish-orange minature rose, one of probably 10 planted in my beds. The color in this image doesn't do justice to the real thing.

A swift and sweeping cold blast blew into town on Friday. A light rain wet everything down and everyone went in search of coats and scarves. When I got home I had the joy of wrestling my scarecrow decorations and decorative flags into the garage before they flew across into the next block. It was so cold that I lit up the fireplace for its winter inauguration and the cats and I enjoyed a toasty night while the wind groused outside. Looking out Saturday morning I discovered frost on the ground and roof tops and the bird bath frozen solid. Luckily the winter weather didn't come down too far because two hours away in Amarillo they had received a few inches of snow.

Winter is my least favorite time of year. For months I get to look mournfully out the window and wish I could work in my garden. Now, in the past, I have been crazy and planted in the snow. But that was in a small side bed that was protected from the winds by a tall fence. Here in my current home it's just a wind tunnel with little wind break.

Sunday turned out to be a nice day. A little chilly but otherwise nice. Most of the plants are dying down or have died down to the ground. The mums are over halfway through with their fall show. However, here and there, a few of the roses have put out a last blossom or two, revived by the cooled weather.

The rose below is some unlabeled rose that I really don't remember how I ended up with. Probably some bareroot rose I bought at Walmart or Home Depot. This rose is very vigorous and, unfortunately, very thorny. I refer to it as "the Octopus." I planted it in the corner adjacent to a neighbor's yard whose dogs have had a habit of breaking into my yard [with one who sometimes tries to come over by standing on the dog house]. Its blossoms are beautiful but I'll probably have to dig it up next spring and move it to a different spot so that I and the lawncare folks don't loose a limb or two. Whatever the name of this plant, it was made to be a security plant that would prevent anyone or thing from going by without getting snagged.
The knockout roses are also putting on a flush of flowers. The pink one, shown below, has been a compact grower so far and the flowers are nice but are not near the performer that the red variety is. The two red Knockout bushes have doubled in a year and their color glows in the back far corner.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Pumpkin Trail

Yesterday evening I attended the 2nd Annual Pumpkin Trail at the Lubbock Memorial Arboretum. The three day event officially began at 6 but I went half an hour earlier in the hopes of getting a decent parking spot. Good move on my part. The place began to fill up as more folks arrived. Some brought their kids in costumes and there was reportedly even a dog in a pumpkin suit. I expected a lot of folks to attend as the night before, which was opening night, was interrupted by winds, a lot of hail and pounding rain. There were still rain puddles but most of the gravel path was dry enough to easily maneuver.

The temperature was just right, cool enough to wear a light jacket if one chose, and the hot cocoa sold at the event was perfect. There were 1,550 carved and/or painted pumpkins that had been donated by various individuals, businesses and civic and social groups. What a fun community event! And the pumpkins were amazing. Some were grouped into themed settings and there were also several dressed up scarecrows decked in full costumed regalia, purses, hats and all. Below are a few of my favorite pumpkins.

This one would have one first prize from me if I was handing out awards. It's a dancer holding up her skirt and was donated by the Aztlan Ballet Folklorico.
The Edgar Allen Poe pumpkin was my next favorite. So well done, almost like a woodblock cut. Too bad the donor didn't place a raven on top.
For some reason, Einstein was carved upside down. Or perhaps the carver accidently cut the hole for the candle on the wrong end, who knows. It was the only pumpkin that was upside.
Here's part of the Buddy Holle pumpkin grouping. Holle was a Lubbock native and the museum named after him donated these pumpkins.
The Day of the Dead pumpkin grouping was colorful and fun. It should be the winner for most fun display.
And of course no pumpkin display is complete without the pumpkin eating pumpkin.
There were a lot of cat pumpkins. This one was really nicely carved out.
Toward the end of the trail was a dual display of good and bad fairytales. The good display had butterfly wings, ribbons and mini pumpkins hanging from the tree. Below, a variety of pumpkins were grouped together. The owl trio was so cute.
The princess theme, complete with a coach pumpkin, captured a lot of people attention, particularly the kids who liked to get their photos taken in front of the display.
The swan gourds also got a lot of oohs and ahhhs from onlookers. The speckling looked like feathers.
And, since this a gardening blog, below are a few shots from the large flower beds at the back part of the Arboretum. My previous visits had been for plant sales and I had never wandered back far enough to see the far back beds. They were beautiful and putting on quite the show for visitors last night. Their zinnias hadn't faded away yet, unlike in my garden. The marigolds really stood out, making me wish I had some. Unfortunately, this is one plant I have never been able to grow. Don't know why, but I always kill them.
It would not surprise me if all these plants were raised from seed. The plantings were dense and beautiful.
I was hoping to post a slide show of the rest of the pumpkin photos. However, after an hour of trying to do a slide show on Picasa I've given up. Could their instructions be any more confusing? ARGH!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bloom Day

October 15th marks Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, a monthly event hosted by May Dreams Garden Blog. Happy Bloom Day to all the gardeners out there. Here, there's still quite a lot blooming in the garden but unfortunately I haven't gotten around to photographing this week. So below are some of the images I took last week.

The zinnias are about at the end of the bloom cycle. The stalks are drying up as the temperatures begin to drop. Love the orange color of the first one. And the red was so vibrant and beautiful.

The gaillardia "Oranges and Lemons" still has a few blossoms on it, but is being overtaken by the purple heart which has gone wild and is flattening many of the plants around it. The Coreopsis is still hanging on too. This is the first year I haven't killed it and the larger deeper yellow ones are still alive too, yay!

And last but not least, the two Turk's Caps are still doing well and blooming. I have high hopes these make it through the winter as I've seen several enormous bushes of them around town.
To see what's blooming in other gardens, visit May Dreams Garden's blog.

Fertilizer Friday - Fall Mums

Recovering from surgery has left me uninspired towards posting anything of late. However, today, the floral show outside reminded me to update the blog. The plant that speaks of fall to me are chrysanthemums. And they are in full show in the front and back beds. The color that seems to stand out the most is white and that's no different when it comes to mums. The combination above, white mums and a Iceberg rose, compliment each other well and glow against the back fence in the evenings. If I had any self control I would have a Moon Garden with all pale colored plants but that's never going to happen. I buy whatever catches my eye, which is why I have a "Cottage Garden" run amuck. The upside is the variety of plants and colors seems to attract a variety of wildlife, some wonderful and some I could totally do without.
The thing about mums here is that they grow well, they spread like weeds and if you cut them back after they're done blooming you can get 2-3 blooms a year, though the blooms will be smaller. There used to  be a lot of experimentation and planting of mums here in Lubbock back in the 1960s-1970s when there was an attempt at naming the city the mum capital of the world (or something along those lines). However, the hard water here would kill off the plants or stunt their growth over the years. However, I've not really experienced a lot of that. More like mums running amuck. Case in point, the one purple mum in the picture above. Over a one year period, I have pulled out sections of the plant and transplanted them to other spots in the front bed that lies on the other side of where this tiny long bed resides. Both are on either side of the sidewalk to the front door. Now, those small mum transplants have taken over the front long bed, crowding everything else out. So I'm going to enjoy the show this year and then will have to do some heavy cull [and possible transplanting] come spring. The mums are covering the Shasta Daisies, which are a lot more valuable to me due to their pretty white color and the fact that they are a lot harder to find in town than mums.
All said, I highly recommend planting mums. They're easy to grown, easy to transplant and are the plants that keep on giving and can easily to given to friends as freebies. Also, as far a vigorious show and striking color, the whites, then bright yellows, and then the purples seem to be the order of showmanship. They also seem to be pretty pest free. Their scent isn't exactly the most appealing but then who goes around smelling a mum?

Want to see more? Visit Tootsie Time to see who else is participating in "Fertilizer Friday" and showing off what's blooming in their gardens.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Dog Days of Summer

The unrelenting temperatures of high nineties is discouraging much gardening. Fall cannot get here soon enough. Right now it's still in the high 80s at 8 pm at night. Can't wait for the cool weather and being able to leave the windows wide open for cool air to flow through the house. The garden always looks long in the tooth in August and early September. Everything's wilted and appears baked. Checking in on what's doing well or not so well in the garden, I discover that the five coneflowers I planted are not faring well. Three are already dead.

I love coneflowers. They're leaves are scratchy and their heads hurt if you lean down to fast and end up smacking your nose onto them,  but oh do they put off such a sweet scent. No garden should be without their perfume, particularly early evenings. And the white version, Virgin, glows at dusk. But unfortunately this plant, along with Marigolds and Lavender, seem to be plants that I am destined to be unable to grow. I suspect the sprinkler system has a lot to do with it. Guess I'm just going to have to accept that this and stop buying them annually.
Did I mention it's miserably hot here? At 10 this morning Yertle waddled over to his "pool" for a short swim. I was so surprised to see him climb into the dish that I quickly ran for the camera to document it. In the five weeks that I've had him, this was the first time I saw him soak and drink out of the pool. It was so cute to see him climb into the center, sink down with his head underwater for a bit and then come up and almost sigh with relief. I'll have to go look for a larger drainage dish next weekend so he can have a larger "pool" to soak in. Now if I could only get him to eat something besides the dry Iams cat food.
This lovely hardy hibiscus survived the winter despite part of it dying off. It was such a nice suprise to find it blooming along the back fence where much doesn't want to grow, other than the morning glories, which I love but have had to pull out because they keep strangling everything. Too bad the hibiscus doesn't have any scent.
Turk's Cap should do well here... theoretically. The one I planted two years ago did not survive the winter. And the two I planted this month are already dropping leaves. I saw a huge clump of them growing on the east side of Rudy's Barbeque this weekend, so perhaps I'll get lucky and mine will flourish. Course, there's that tricky problem with the sprinkler system again.
The Ruella, thankfully, has prospered in the spot it was planted in two years ago. Planted along the west side of the fence, one 6 inch pot has expanded to about two feet long and a foot wide and stands over three feet tall now. It's such a beautiful shade of purple and I'm hoping to plant more of them around the yard next year.
This plant has proved to be such a great surprise. Three years ago I found this little 6 inch pot at either Lowe's or Home Depot, can't remember which, with a few brillant red flowers. The tag read "Flame Acanthus, Hummingbird Bush" [or Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii]. There was even a cute little hummingbird icon on the tag, something I had not seen before, or since. The bush has grown a bit beyond the 36 inches the tag promised and is covered with blossoms. I haven't seen a hummingbird on the plant but dragonflies and bees don't seem to mind it at all. I'd love to plant more of these if I could find it again!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Turtle Tales

You hear things about turles growing up. They're slow as molasses. They're favorite thing to eat is bugs. They're reptile like and have no personality. You can't train a turtle. Uh huh. Well, Yertle really isn't a turtle, he's a land tortoise but that's a mouthful to say and tortoise doesn't rhyme with his name "Yertle." He does have beady red eyes and his head kinda slides out like a snake, particularly when he just "pops" up out from beneath a flower bush. But he's turned out to be such a amiable little fellow. He's probably only 2-3 pounds at the most, just barely wider than my hand. And yeah, that little sucker can book it across the yard. Turtles are slow my foot. I have to say when he's waddling away on his tiny little legs and swaying little tail he's pretty damn cute.

Well, he showed himself after a week of hiding in the back yard and freaked me out when he started to "race" toward me instead of away from me. I was so surprised I shrieked and ran inside, but then quickly returned with a little cat food. He practically threw himself at the food. I thought his kind was suppose to love snails and bugs but no, he loves the Iams cat food I gave him. Those small pellets are almost too big for him to get into his mouth but he manages to crack them in half to swallow. Which is good because I REFUSE to give the hymlich (sp?) manuever to a reptile. Even one with a cute little waddle.
He now regularly has a bad habit of just popping up and startling me when I'm in the garden. And he now always comes to me. By the time I dash back into the house to get him something to eat he's usually half way across the yard heading for the back door. He remembers me and knows I have cat food. This past Saturday I thought I'd give him a choice of things to eat - a selection about half the size of my palm consisting of diced up cucumbers, bananas, a little roasted chicken and the cat food. Wanna guess what was the only thing he wanted to eat? So much for my hopes that he'd wipe out the pill bug population that torments me annually. It appears to be cat food or nothing. Gotta give him props, he must know Iams is some pricy cat food. [in this photo you can see one of the food pellets, it's pretty small stuff so that gives you an idea of how big he is.]
Sunday morning I'm chilling in kitchen enjoying breakfast and perusing the sales ads. My cats are sunning in their cat tree and on the window ledge enjoying the scents of the outdoors. At 9:30 am it's not yet hot enough that the windows have to be closed for the AC. Basil, who's half tabby half Siamese and a major yappy pants, gets excited and talks up a blue streak. His brother's head is moving around too but he saves his vocal cords for either begging for food or calling for his brother to play chase. After a few times of yelling at him to shut up I finally walk over to see what's got his knickers in a twist. Expecting a bird I burst out laughing at what I saw on the other side of the window. There's Yertle, halfway on the small patio, playing stare out with the cats. He had came to the back door for breakfast! If he ever starts knocking on the door I'm packing his butt off to the Jay Leno show for one of his pet segments with Jack Hanna. [pictured above is Basil, who was finds Yertle a very peculiar "bird" roaming around in his back yard]

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Herb Circle

Well a month has past since my last post. I've been dealing with a shoulder injury that has prevented me from doing much work in the garden, plus it's so miserably hot as well, so the inclination to do much gardening has not been there. With a month of images to post I thought I'd start with the herb circle. Early last fall, an article in one of my gardening magazines caught my eye. It showed a small bed divided into triangular shapes using bricks. It was beautiful. Figuring on trying it on a smaller scale, I cleaned out the very small circular bed a co-worker helped me put in. First, it needed something in the center to serve as a focal point. Glancing around, I quickly realized that my favorite bird bath with dragonflies would fit the bill and placed a cement paver underneath to stablize it. Some rocks for drainage, soil and sedums quickly filled up the basin. Some rocks dug up in the garden were placed around the plants to add more texture. Don't the sedums look great? I love the feel of running my hand over them. [too bad two of the three have now almost bitten the dust since I planted them. Two weeks of rain came down after they were planted and I guess their roots got water logged. bummer. At least the Dragon's blood one is still alive... so far anyway.]
I was going to originally divide up the circle into pie pieces with rocks but being such a small bed it seemed a waste of planing space. Also, the herb circle soon became part herbs and part temporary bedding space. Several divided plants ended up here - a bunch of Stella D'Or daylilies, Coreopsis, Shasta Daisies, and Gallardia. All of these seem to really enjoy the bed because a year later they've spread and some of them have been move to other beds in the garden. The herbs I planted this spring, on the other hand, are hit and miss. The catnip is doing well. The Genovese Basil and Thai Basil wanted to go on life support a few times but finally seem to have taken root. The three different types of parsleys and the dill were quickly found by the caterpillars and eaten to ground level. I actually had expected that and was willing to sacrifice those rather than the other plants in my garden. And the butterfly population has gone up this summer. And if those little buggers would stay still long enough I'd have non-blurry images to prove that! The two plants that are really struggling are the lemon balm and spearmint, which is odd. Both should be doing well in the heat and dry dirt. But then, killing plants that are supposedly "easy growers" and "the plant you can't kill" seems to be my speciality!

Friday, July 23, 2010

An opportunity almost lost

Last year the Garden and Arts Center had one of its plant sale fundraisers and I picked up what looked like a small iris bulb. The volunteer told me it was a Blackberry Lily, which I had seen pictures of in one of my gardening magazines but had never seen in person. It was a steal for $3. Well, after a long year wait, I discovered it had started blooming already. Seems I missed the other three blooms and got to see the last one. That's what happens when you're so busy that you forget to stroll the beds to see what's bloom! Hopefully I won't miss the full show next year.

I Spy

About three weeks ago I came home to find someone waiting for me on my front stoop. Well, in the floor bed by the front door to be exact. A tortoise was munching on some scraggly pansies and, upon seeing me, froze and tried to blend in. I was going to ignore him and leave him alone until I thought about the neighbor kids getting ahold of him or worse him getting run over. So, just grabbed him and placed him in the back yard. He could have his own garden of eden of sorts. I've no idea how you tell a male from a female tortoise so I'm just gonna call it a him and named him Yertle the Turtle. Isn't he cute? Hopefully he'll earn his keep and do bug patrol. I did learn later after some research on the net that Yertle probably was in my front yard munching on a few stray bits of cat food I had left out for the neighborhood stray. Yertle confirmed he loved cat food after I put a small pile of it in front of him and he immediately pounced on it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fertilizer Friday - June 4, 2010

The lilies have started unfurling and putting on their show. I have probably 500 bulbs in the beds around the house, half of which were gifts from friends. The height, elegance and colors are what make liles one of my top 5 favorite flowers to grow. The irises make up the bulk of these bulbs but my lilies and daylilies are pretty spectacular and are worth mentioning.
Above is an unnamed white Asiatic Lily that I've had for years and brought with me to my new home. The color white is such a stunner in the garden. It stands out and helps the colors around it shine. And in the evenings, light colors such as white glow and make the garden feel ethereal... which is probably why Moon Gardens are so popular. They invite you to take a stroll in the dusk, when scents seem to be stronger.
The tallest daylily in my garden so far. They were given to me by my co-worker so wanted to remove them from her vinca bed. Even though we had dug up all the daylilies there must have been parts of the roots left behind because she has more lilies popping up in her bed this year. She said these color of daylilies were called "Ditch Lilies" in the south because they often grew wild in ditches alongside the road. I love the height they offer in the gardenbeds.
Another type of "Ditch Lily" with a lighter color.
Another unnamed Asiatic Lily. This one is the tallest of my lilies, reaching close to 4 feet tall. Can't really say there's much of a scent, partly because it's in the center of the bed and I can barely reach forward to grab it. The color makes a strong statement, that's for sure. It's also the first of the lilies to bloom each year.
This little beauty was planted this spring. Home Depot gave out a buy one, get one free coupon for their spring bulbs and I picked up a mixed bag of unnamed lilies and a bag of frilly peach gladiolas. The lilies are pretty small, maybe 12-18 inches tall but hopefully will grow taller next year. Below is another lily from the same package and has a little white around the center.
Below is a fragrant daylily I purchased from Home Depot last spring. I bought two pots and divided up the lilies before planting them. They were scattered around the garden and have done really well. They are also rebloomers and get around 3 ft tall. The original tag stated it was a "Polynesian Delight Daylily" but the image on the tag, which is a pink flower, looks nothing like the one below. 
A "Darius" Daylily planted two weeks ago in a section of the side bed I'm working on expanding. It's suppose to grow to be about 22 inches tall.
The common "Stella D'Or" daylily is very hard, multiples each year and adds a nice splash of yellow around the garden. That said, it doesn't get very tall and is probably my least favorite of the daylilies.
This one might be a "Stella D'Or" too, I'm not sure. I think it came from a friend's garden. Garden gifts from friends are the best because not only are they free but they are a reminder of the person who gave them to you.
And last but not least is another unnamed Asiatic Lily from the Home Depot purchase from this spring.

Want to see more? Visit Tootsie Time to see who else is participating in "Fertilizer Friday" and showing off what's blooming in their gardens.


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