Sunday, May 30, 2010

Mystery plant?

Ever have something come up and have no clue what it is? Should I pull it out? Or leave it and hope it's not some noxious weed? I had this problem last fall. Four plants come up at the end of the long bed. Had no clue what it was but since it was a nice bright green and seemed happy I decided to leave it alone and see what happened.

My best friend have given me a package of wildflower seeds packed into clay balls and I thought perhaps these plants were some of those wildflowers. When these plants survived [and stayed green!] during the winter, with our usual amout of snow fall, I began to worry. What kind of wildflower is green in the snow? Had to be a weed I thought. But something kept me from pull them out. Good thing too!

I think I figured out today that they are Scabiosa (Pincushion) plants. I think [and hope]! I vaguely recall looking at a packet of Scabiosa seeds last fall but don't recall planting them. Which doesn't mean much since I'm a flower nut and forget what I've already planted... which is the main reason I decided to start this blog. [P.S. didn't notice the spider on the blossom until I posted it on the blog. The bugs are already out in force, unfortunately].

Anyway, it looks like the plants have different colored flowers on the same plant. More bang for the buck, which thrills me because I'm not very sucessful with growing plants from seed unless it's a Morning Glory, Hollyhock or Four O'Clock.  The plant's leaves look different from my blue and pink Scabiosa plants, but the flowers look so similar. So far the pink has opened, a white blossom about a 1/5 open and it looks like some will be a deep purple. Looking forward to seeing those blossom.

What do you think? Is it the same plant?
This is a pink pincushion plant I planted in the west side bed two months ago. Pretty but not as showy and vigorous as the blue [which looks more light purple] version. At least not so far.
The blue version, which flourishes happily in the garden beds. I've already divided the plants once this past fall and will do some more dividing in the fall. During the summer the butterflies and bees can't pass these up.

Follow up: My best friend's mum confirmed this is a scabiosa plant. Hopefully it will survive the winter and come back next summer.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fertilizer Friday - May 28th

It's been several days since I've posted, thanks in large part to a virus that attacked my computer. It's still not back to normal but at least working again. During that time though I've been faithfully documenting my garden's grow. Wednesday was exciting because I discovered two dragonflies soaring about the yard, neither of which would stay still long enough for me to photograph. I never saw any last year so this is a good sign. Dragonflies are good bugs for the garden.

The Bird of Paradise Bush is covered with blossoms whose shape always makes me thing of upside down pineapples. Bees, Hummingbirds and butterflies are drawn to this plant. There's no scent but I love the delicate leaves on the plant. Reminds me of Mimosa trees, which I think this plant either is a variety of or is related to. The only problem is it's trunk was turned sideways so its growing horizontally as well as vertically. Another problem is I had no idea how large these things get until weeks after I had planted mine and saw one at another house when driving by. That thing was a tree and taller than the house. Some pruning may be needed in the future to keep this baby in check.
This Asiatic Lily is one that I've had for at least six years. I dug up the bulbs from my old place and planted them at my new home and within four months it bloomed. It's got to be close to 4 feet tall and makes a nice statement in the middle of the bed. It's about 3/4 opened today.
The color is a little off in this image, as it's more of a creamy white color. It was bought at Home Depot last year and its tag stated it came from a nursery in Texas. A nice tall daylily, up to 3 feet tall, which is lightly scented. I had divided the 1 gallon pot when I got it and planted it in different spots in the garden. So far all seem to be doing well. This bloomed for the first time today and was a nice surprise! I think it might also be a rebloomer but so far have not been able to find the tag to confirm this.
The Hollyhocks have started blooming this week and they are one of my favorite plants. They are fun in how high they grow and the fact that their flowers open from the bottom and work their way up. This one is a medium pink, double petaled. Rust spots are a problem with the hollyhocks here but the blossoms [and bees] don't seem to care so I try to ignore the ugly spots.
The color on this one is off too. The bright sunlight made it hard to film this very pumpkin orange Asiatic Lily. Another one I dug up and brought to my new home. The lilies, including the Orientals, have been surprising hardy, withstanding snow, high winds and sweltering sun. Everyone should grow lilies if possible.
The [blue] Pincushion flowers (Scabiosa) are needing some deadheading. This is another plant I highly recommend. I started with three plants two years ago and divided them last fall to have about eight plants. Three of the plants will need dividing again this fall because they've gotten wider and are crowding out nearby plants. The plants bloomed into December until the hard freezes and snow finally knocked them down to dormancy. The butterflies love this plant, which thrills my four legged children who's cat stand resides right in front the window outside of which the side flower bed is located. Today there were three of these butterflies sweeping about in the garden, enjoying the wide variety of flowers and nectar available. There's also this creature that resembles a hummingbird but has an antanne that loves to buzz around these plants at dusk. They're always on the move so it's been impossible to photograph one. Someone said they might be a "bee killer" moth. Anyone ever heard of such a thing?
Finally, this gorgeous minature yellow rose is starting to blossom. It's one of my bargain finds from last year. Lowe's had a bunch of minature roses on clearance after Mother's Day and this one was a sad, sad little plant. At $1.25 it was barely a twig but had a few good leaves and I figured it couldn't hurt to try to nurse it back to good health. A large number of my garden plants are either division gifts from friends or clearance plants. This rose is doing well and the bright dash of yellow adds some spice to all the reds and pinks planted nearby. It also has a nice scent. I have about 25 different roses, minature and full size, and all seem to thrive here. Two of my bargin roses from last year died but they were pretty sad looking to start with.

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

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Surprise Sunday

Day two working on expanding the beds to make room for the new plants. Meanwhile, a few of the established plants decided to bloom for the first time this season. It was amazingly cool and cloudy [though a bit windy] for a good part of the day, the perfect weather for working in the garden.

Stella D'Or is a hardy daylily that can be easily found. I divided a large clump last year and all are doing well. Behind, the Russian Sage is sending up stalks and will probably bloom in two weeks or so.
This hollyhock was determined to survive. Some seeds blew into a crack between the patio and the circular side bed. I tried to dig it out twice but its roots had burrowed down so deep that I ended up cutting the stems off. After the third time I came up I decided to let to do it's thing. There are seven stems now, at least 5 feet tall. Sometimes you just have to let the plant have its way. The strange thing is that the plant that these seeded from were a double, while the offspring are only singles.
The first butterfly to visit came today and alighted on one of the Fairytale Veronicas. Poor thing was hanging on for dear life due to the strong winds [which also explains why this photo and the hollyhock one above is kind of shaky.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


About two years ago I noticed a plant the backyard of my friend's new home. It looked like a striped minature hollyhock and the leaves of the plant also looked similar to a hollyhock. But no one seemed to know what it was and I couldn't find anything like it in my numerous gardening magazines or books. I went back to my friend's to collect a few seeds only to find out her hubby had cleaned out that whole bed, which had become overgrown. Some time later I saw this very plant in one of the gardening catalogs that came in the mail. It was a Zebra Mallow.

However, I have only had a 50/50 percent success rate with plants ordered through the mail. In fact, the bulbs I've bought from Sam's have proved to be larger and hardier than the ones ordered in the mail. Others must have discovered this since Sam's was wiped out of the large gladiolas very earlier on. There were none left when I stopped by. Good thing the ones I planted last year have survived and are coming up everywhere. But I digress as usual...

Last fall I discovered my school's greenhouse garden had a Zebra Mallow and I collected a few seeds, careful not to harm the plant in any way. The garden is a teaching garden and just a nice place to stroll to see what's blooming during the season. I planted the seeds this spring and got... nothing. They were kind of sad looking seeds but I was hoping for at least one seedling to come up. Then last weekend I visited a local nursery and there it was, tucked inconspicously between Stella D'Or daylilies and mixed verbenas. I was so thrilled I didn't even mind paying a bit more than I usually do for a plant. Since it's a perennial, it's totally worth the cost. And if it does well then perhaps its seeds will put out new ones next year. The pot label said it will grow up to 36" high with 2 1/2" spires and hardy to zone 2.

The Zebra got planted this morning, along with several new purchases. I managed to expanded a small part of the side bed before having to call it a day at around 12:30. It was miserably hot already, so it shouldn't have surprised me late this afternoon that the temperature had reached 100 degrees [according to one bank I drove past]. 

Edited post on 5/28:  When I went to check on the plant this morning I discovered that it had two different flowers blooming. Some of the flowers have a white background with the stripe while others are purple background with the stripe. Very cool!

In order to make room for some of these plants, I had to move others around. A few irises got moved, along with some small daylilies. Planted were 20 new purple and white asian lilies, two Margarite daisies [who have such nice scents when you rub on them] and my other great plant score - a "Goodness Grows" Veronica.  I have two other varieties of Veronicas and they are such good plants. Beautiful spires on hardy, strong stems. Again, I found this plant hidden among piles of other potted plants and immedately recognized the flower. And the best part was that I only paid $3 for it at Walmart. Usually Veronicas run between $6-7 a pot. Granted, this pot was about half the size what I normally see (1 gallon) but it'll grow and spread within a season. Still have one other to plant but need to expand the bed some more to plant it. The purple spires will contrast nicely next to the pink spires.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Another Blustery Day

The two big work deadlines for next week haven't left much time to work in the garden. The winds and 90s degree weather hasn't helped either. It's not yet June and we've already had several days in the 90s. Course, none of that has stopped me from plotting my next garden schemes, reading about gardening or hitting the nurseries last weekend for plants. I do have to get on the ball and put more time into the garden though, before it becomes so hot that I can't work in the yard after noon.

Here are some images of what my strolling garden looked like in spring, about a six weeks ago before the roses and irises burst alive with the bulk of their blossoms. The garden is going on three years old now. There was no landscaping when I moved in, except for the bermuda grass the builder had put down two weeks before I moved in. I HATE that grass. It creeps, crawls and leaps everywhere, particularly in my flower beds. Someday I hope to have all the grass removed [except maybe for a very small plot] and replaced with either gravel or a hardscape of some kind. But I digress... annoyance over the grass can do that!
This is looking south. The grass along the right edge by the fence will hopefully be gone by this summer to expand the bed. Then only the grass walkway through the arched arbor will remain. The plan is to have this walkway end at the back bed and to the left of that stepping stones would lead me out to the main grassy area to the left. The Dutch irises had just started going to town around this time.
This view is taken from that grassy walkway looking east. The winds ripped the pretty bird house off the top of the pole so that's something that will need to be replaced. The stone bird bath in the background sits in a small circular bed which will be a herb wheel.

The three-legged, metal rose arbor is still standing... though it's already starting to rust. Have no idea what I'm going to do if and when the thing falls apart. The roses, Climbing America, are going strong. One bush is already over six feet tall and had over 100 blossoms on it when it started blooming.This rose really lives up to its claim to be a vigorous grower. The bush in the foreground is a Bird of Paradise bush that is starting to bloom this month. The bees and hummingbirds love it.
This is the beds in the southeast corner of the yard. It was the first one I dug up and looking back I probably would have put the arbor at an angle in front of the bed but oh well. That's gardening. It's ever changing and I think that's a big reason why people garden. There's always something new. Plants expand, produce "babies" and/or die which requires the purchase of new plants. It's a living canvas which you can make as monochromatic or vivid as you, the gardener, want.

A third matching arbor is sitting in the garage, waiting to be erected. Just have to expand one of the beds to put it in, which would require me to dig out more of the Bermuda grass. Did I mention I HATE the grass?

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Windy Day and Not Much to Watch on TV

With winds clocking up to 59 miles an hour today, working out in the yard after work was out of the question. Did manage to water the newly expanded bed and sadly wilted re-planted perennials which had been dried out by the high winds. So many roses unnecessarily de-flowered by the wind. Grrrrr.  Oh well, got my fix by watching some saved gardening shows on the dvr. How sad is it that HGTV no longer carries many of its popular gardening shows anymore? I loved "A Gardener's Diary" and have about 8 episodes saved. I would have saved more episodes had I know that HGTV was getting rid of the "gardening" part to move towards only being a DYI show revolving around fixing up, decorating, and buying/selling the home. Some online research revealed that the network has no plans to release the episodes on dvd nor re-air any episodes anytime soon. Even shows such as "Gardening By the Yard" and "Curb Appeal" are rarely aired. Thank goodness for PBS and a local church channel air new episodes of P. Allen Smith's two gardening shows.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Little Black Magic

Today was cloudy, cool with a soft but steady wind and, for the most part, quiet outside. A gardener's dream day to work in the yard. I'm suppose to be a "gentle gardener" for the next 8 weeks, per doctor's orders, to help heal an injured shoulder but it's so hard to ignore the call of the green thumb. What started out as only a short expansion to a corner in order to dig up a white salivia that was overgrown and crowding out other plants ended up being a 5 hour dig-o-rama complete with the digging up of several plants to relieve overcrowding. [Oh well, advil and icy hot patches here I come tonight.]
     It's always thrilling to find that plants have grown so well that they now need to be divided and you get a two (or more) for the price of one situation. Gardening is an expensive hobby, despite all the claims that it's a cheap hobby with everything being able to be grown from seed. I can only grow a few select plants from seed. Everything else comes store or nursery bought.
     Speaking of dividing, I have probably 100 bearded iris plants in the front and back gardens. All but 5 of these were gifts from friends. Well, mostly from one friend who had purchased a home with huge iris beds. Once a year she and hubby divide the overgrown beds and I (and others) are luckily on the receiving end. I knew I had two different types of purple irises from her but this past week discovered that wasn't true. There was another purple, a white and a yellow. [More about the yellow irises at a later date.] Anyway, as I was inspecting one bed I discovered a "new" purple iris. It's a deep purple, almost black. Don't know if the iris somehow got cross pollenated or if this one was there in the last two years but didn't bloom until after I had divided the bed this past fall. Sigh. That's one of the pluses to gardening. It's always a surprise what you find blooming the next time you walk along the beds. My only regret is that I should have photographed the bed before I began expanding it so that I could do a "before" and "after" comparison.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Bouquet of Roses

There is nothing like the scent and beauty of a rose. In three short years I have added twenty roses to the strolling garden. Hoping to add images and descriptions of each variety I starting taking photographs like crazy... and learned that the colors of the photos don't come anywhere close to the vividness of the original item. So keep that in mind when looking at the images as they are added.

Left:  Climbing America is an amazingly vigorous plant with large salmon colored blooms with a "spicy" fragrance (so claims the tag that came with the plant). It has proven to be very hardy here in zone 7. It has doubled it's size in two years. One plant literally has over 100 buds on it and has grown to over six feet tall. If you plant this keep in mind that it grows out horizontally in addition to vertically. I have one massive branch over almost 6.5 feet tall growing away from the arbor and there has to be at least 40 blossoms on it alone.

Close ups of blossoms captured when a few rays of sun escaped through the clouds.
My friend, Tony, had planted two of these at the base of a three legged metal scrolled arbor. A white rose, whose name I forgot, was planted at the base of the third leg. They weren't large plants but hardy. However by next spring I had three Climbing America plants... all three were salmon pink! Weird but still beautiful. This year I noticed that two of the plants have a deep red roses entertwining in the branches. My co-worker, an longtime gardener, told me that the deep red was probably due to one rose being grafted onto another variety. The deep red is probably the original, hardy plant with the America being grafted onto the stem. Either way, I ended up two rose bushes that are "two-for's" having salmon and deep red rose buds. Both varieties seem health and compliment one another wonderfully.

It's already May... and I'm already behind!

After coming across several great gardening blogs I was inspired to do my own. One of the joys of gardening is that there is always change... a new volunteer pops up in an unexpected place, a flower I can't remember planting appears, or the daylilies make a break for it across the lawn. There is always something new to behold and new ground that needs to be cut out to expand the beds.
     This is also a problem if you're a gardener. I tend to forget where I planted what bulbs and which plants are where until late spring when everything seems to come up at once. I began photographing parts of the garden in an attempt to record where things were, particularly the 500 bulbs I've planted, but flipping through the images on the camera didn't provide the "garden diary" I hoped it would. I'm hoping this blog will help with that. I want to record what has been planted and the growth of my strolling garden over the years.


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