Thursday, March 31, 2011


I've lived in Texas for several years now and have never had the chance to be in south or central Texas during early spring when all the wildflowers are in bloom. I tried growing some from seed a few times, including using seeds from the Wildseed Farm in Fredericksburg, but to no avail. The only flower that came up so not what was planted! Seriously, someone must have mixed up a batch of seeds. Can't remember what actually ended up blooming but they sure weren't Bluebonnets or Dame's Rocket. Then, yesterday, I was attending a meeting on a satelite UT campus in Austin and was thrilled to discover the wildflowers were in full force. What a treat - Bluebonnets, Coreopsis, and Gaillardia were happily swaying in the breeze in the fields around campus. During a meeting break a few of us wandered outside to get pictures of the bluebonnets. They really are absolutely gorgeous en masse! None of us thought to bring a camera so we had to settle for a camera phone. I can finally now say I've seen the Texas Bluebonnets blooming in the spring, yay! It was a bit chily though so we did not linger outside for too long.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Little Too Early?

It was pretty cool until late afternoon today so this tired gardener decided to take the day off and catch up on some ILL DVDs that are due next week. The warm sun called me out to the garden around 5 to walk around and see what was new. It seems like everyday there's something new showing up in the garden. Inspecting the roses I was shocked to find rose buds already. It's not even April yet! I don't recall the roses have buds before April before but then we've had a lot of warm days in the last three weeks. Albeit not consistently warm days but obviously enough to cause the plants to grow like their on drugs.

The rose bush above had 5 little buds on it. It's a creamy yellow rose that I planted last year. Must find the tag to identify it.

This bush had three buds on it. Another one I need to find the tag on. I had planned to put in plant stakes next to the roses last year and never got around to it. This one is a very soft yellow, different from the one above. 

This bud is on the one of the three Climbing America rose bushes. I highly recommend this rose if you want a large gorgeous pink rose that grows well. My friends planted three of these on a three legged metal arbor. One side is well over 7 feet tall and I have to use a ladder to clip off expired buds. The other two are around 5 feet or so. Not only is are the flower's a gorgeous color of pink, they are so very fragrant. And all three also are "two-fers" in that they were apparently grafted onto the root stem of a red rose. Last year both red and pink blooms covered the branches. It was incredible. The red did not have as much fragrance as the pink but it made up for it in vigor. Entire branches is covered in red like they were on fire. It was so incredible.

Above is a photo from last year showing the two different roses growing together on the same plant. It's truly a blessing to have your rose bush offer two gorgeous blooms at the same time. My only concern right now is that it's not yet April and we're having another cold front coming in on Tuesday. A cold front last year froze the top half of my lilies and while they still bloomed they did look a little off with shriveled brown leaves on the upper half of the stalks. Hopefully this year's cold blast won't harm the tender growth popping up all over my strolling garden.

[FYI - Blogger is not working right tonight. The photos are not showing up but if you scroll over the blank spot between the text you can click on the image to see it. I don't know why it's doing this but I've been having some problems with Blogger lately. Sometimes I have to publish my post between uploading photos to get it to allow me to upload a new image. So annoying!]

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fertilizer Friday - March 25, 2011

Today was a gorgeous, very warm day. The plants are basking in the two weeks we've had of warm weather, despite the still cold mornings and yo-yoing temperature changes of 15-25 degree from day to day. Moving around the garden beds I was surprised to see several things that weren't there two days ago. For example, three irises had buds on them in the back garden and three in the front garden bed. It seems awfully early for the irises to be blooming. I could have sworn them don't start blooming until the end of April.
A new variety of daffodils, my favorite little ones, have finally started blooming too. Aren't they sweet?
The first of the perennial salvias had its first bloom too.
The salvia stalks are popping up all over. Can't wait for the purple blooms to start waving in the wind.
Since the weather was so nice I decided to tackle another garden task - dividing up the congested side bed. There are two beds in the back gardens that seem to do well for growing beds. Plants grow and spread in these two spot more so than any of the other beds and the last two years I've transplanted plants from here to other spots in the garden. Last year I planted two catnip plants in the side bed for my brats. They were thrilled with the fresh mint all summer long. Apparently the catnip was happy too because it's gone wild in the bed and is crowding out the scabiosas, daylilies, salvias, other plants in that small bed.
I finally dug up two-thirds of the catnip and put them into pots to be shared with friends with felines. Don't you just love plants that you can share with others? It's a great deal when you consider that a small container of the stuff costs around $3 each, making one of the long planters below worth probably $15 worth of catnip.
The salvias also had a good time in the bed. Last year I planted 4 salvias in this bed. This one spot had six of them - a momma plant and five babies. I dug several up and placed them around the garden so that they may grow and prosper. Not a bad deal for a $3 plant! Also transplanted four scabiosa plants into other beds too.
I should have taken a picture of the bed before it was all dug up and plants move so you could see how overstuffed it was but the sun was so bright today I wouldn't have been able to get a good shot. It is a hassle not having any shade in the yard. Anyway, everything in the bed below came back from last year.  
Still need to transplant four of the oversized daylilies. They're huge! Can't wait until they bloom so I can see which ones they are. This is the problem with having a cottage-style garden and moving plants around all the time. You forget what's what until it blooms. Notice the large hollyhock in the lower right bottom? Seeds blew across the yard the year before and took root around the edge of the patio. There are four of these growing around the patio edges and I haven't the heart to rip them out. They are so happy there. And who doesn't love a happy plant that showers you with beautiful flowers?

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

Saturday, March 19, 2011

To move or not to move?

Talk about surprises. A week ago the clematis plant in the skinny front side bed started greening up. Quickly inspecting the front beds last night I was shocked to discover that same clematis has more than doubled, is covered with leaves and now there's at least 12 buds on the plant. I had not expected it to grow this fast. The two in the back are only a third this size. I guess it's true what they say about clematises [or is it clemati?] - they really do leap in the third year!

Above is a close up of several of the fuzzy buds. I thought they were leaves about to unfurl until the got bigger and more almond shaped. I can't remember which variety this one is, hopefully the tag is somewhere in the baskets in the garage so I can figure out what the name of the clematis is finally. The blooms are a gorgeous blue-purple color. The rare rain we had this morning, little though it was, is probably just going to encourage more growth.
So, here's my dilemma: Should I dig it up and relocate it to the back arbor and leave it alone? Do clematises transplant well? Any advice would be great! I don't want to drill in the brick and this bed, which is very small and runs between the garage wall and the front sidewalk, is not deep enough [as there's concrete underneath after about a foot] to put in a taller a trellis - which is why I've got three smaller trellises side by side - and, most importantly, I'm about the most unhandy do-not-do-it yourselfer out there. I originally thought about putting s-hooks into the small overhang from the garage and hanging chicken wire from the hooks. Problem is I'm afraid to drill holes into the overhang. And with the high winds we sometimes get, particularly in the spring, I wonder if the wire would be ripped away from the wall. So, what would you do?  Dig it up and move it to the back yard arbor or take the risk and rig up the s-hook/chicken wire trellis?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bloom Day for March, 2011

There's not much color yet in the garden to film for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day right now. Mostly everything's just green, which is much welcome after a winter that seems to have gone on forever. We're having summer-like weather this week in West Texas and the plants seem to be responding by doubling each day. The blue Scabiosas did so well in the small bed last year that I've already dug several up and planted them in the other beds. The only pink one I had died within the first two months.
A few of the Dianthus survived and this little one is the first to bloom.
About two-thirds of the Snapdragons croaked it seems.  This one plant is full of buds though so it will interesting to see if there's more colors than yellow on the plant.
 Candytuft is a plant I've never been successful in keeping alive to long. This one was planted two weeks ago. Hopefully it will still be alive a month from now. White is the main color I want to increase in the garden this year.
Finally got a decent shot of the yellow mini-rose I planted yesterday. Such a cheerful little thing.
The Daffodils are going to town in the garden. It was a bit hard to shoot them due to the breeze again.
There are lot of plants coming up everywhere that are announcing spring is here. The lilies are breaking through the ground and reaching for the sun. The Asiatics particularly are growing like weeds. I left a small portion of their stalks last year so that I wouldn't make the mistake of accidently digging up the bulbs again this year. In the background, the Irises and Daylilies are perking up too.
The Veronicas are leafing up and mounded up into small bushes now. Everyone should have these!
And the Morden Pinks (at least I think that's what it is, I have to find the tag for it) is coming up too.
And I know this isn't a plant but artwork adds color and fun to the garden. This piece caught my eye at Hobby Lobby and I plan to go back and pick up a few more of these metal flowers.
For more Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, go to

Monday, March 14, 2011

A not so sunny day

Wouldn't you know it? I take today off to be able to play in the garden [and get an extra day to recover from daylight savings - a pointless hour of torture for a non-morning person in a southern state] and it was rather chilly most of the day. In fact, didn't finally push my yellow wagon out of the garage and into the back yard until 3 pm.  And it was still a little nippy.  The low 60s wouldn't have been a problem if it weren't for the cool breeze. 

I couldn't really work on continuing the bed expansion since I was hurting pretty bad from the night before [darn that shoulder surgery! Almost 6 months later and it's still not completely unfrozen and back to normal]. So, today's task was to start planting the small plants, seeds and bulbs I've collected so far.

From the seed pile, about a quarter were planted today. Now, I KNOW we will have another cold blast between now and mid-April. The weather here always gets warm, fools everything into expecting several warm days and then bam! A cold front comes in and damages/kills things. So it's stupid to plant seeds. But I did it anyway, the every hopeful garden nut that I am.

The day before I managed to wrestle out the yellow Lady Banks rose bush which was suppose to be thornless and was definately not. It scratched up everybody walk by the north arbor. And to add insult to injury it grew twice as fast as the white, thornless Lady Banks on the southern arbor. In the bare spot I now planted Moonflowers and Black-Eyed Susan Vine to climb up the arbor. A beautiful miniature yellow rose was planted at the base on the other side of the arbor, with Larkspur seeds spread around the rose. This should be a pretty combination if all goes well.

All around this arbor I gleefully noted that lilies and daylilies are coming up, as well as Larkspur seedlings planted last weekend. Two annual cut flower mixture seed packets were also scattered around the bed. I should confess that I have mostly a black thumb when it comes to growing plants from seeds. I can probably count on both hands the number of plants I can grow from seed. So we'll see if I can break that record. I probably wouldn't have tried it but Lowe's had a buy one get one free deal so I thought what the heck.

I also managed to get several of the lilies planted before it started getting really cold and dark.  I've always wanted Tiger Lilies but have not run across them here in the nurseries for a reasonable costs, so I was excited to find a packet of 5 orange ones at Walmart. I've actually had good luck with their flower bulbs and they're so inexpensive that if they don't take you don't feel too guilty about replacing them. In fact my oldest  Asiatic Lily from Wally World is a gorgeous deep magenta color that reached over five feet tall last spring. I loved it so much that I took the bulbs with me when I moved into my new house four years ago and it bloomed despite being replanted two months earlier. So next time you run across those tempting bags of bulbs at Walmart consider giving it a try. It might turn out to be a great performer in your garden.

Back to the Tiger Lilies, I was glad that I read a small blurb about them in The Gardner's World magazine on Friday which warned that they should not be planted next to other types of lilies. As there are lilies planted in the bulk of the beds that basically narrowed down where the Tigers could go.

Next up were the pinks.  I had also picked up a gorgeous deep pink miniature rose this past weekend along with that yellow one. Both were really hard to photograph today as the colors in the photos didn't come close to the real thing. The yellow was impossible for some reason. Anyway, planted the fragrant pink one before the Irises. I plan to pick up two more of these to repeat the color.

And here I must make another confession. I have a cottage garden because I am not disciplined enough to follow a color or plant plan. I see it, I want it, I buy it... only to then to come home and say "where the heck am I going to cram this thing?!"  So I'm trying to be a little better about repeating either colors or plants in the beds this year to add more cohesion to the garden. Along with the rose, I planted three Romantic Rose daylilies and 5 Pink Heaven Trumpet Lilies. Both packets are also from Wally World. So here's to things coming up "rosy" in the garden.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The long wait is almost over

Three years ago, one of my best friends and her hubby visited me at my new home for the first time. They helped me paint my fence, put in new flower beds and plant a tree in the front yard. The tree I had selected was a flowering Bradford Pear tree.  It was a skinny, toothpick of a tree, not much taller than 8 feet and anyone else would have probably taken one look at it and called it a Charlie Brown tree. But it had two important requirements - it actually fit in my small car and it was less than $30. As the tree was finally planted visions of white blossoms danced in my head. I couldn't wait to see it in full bloom the following spring.  These trees are everywhere here and gorgeous when covered with flowers. 

And so when the next year rolled around and spring had come and gone I was bummed to find not one blossom on my tree. It had gotten a little bigger and I figured it would need another year.  So another spring rolls around and still no blossoms. Now, I'm annoyed.  I had passed a twig in someone's yard that was smaller than my tree and yet it was covered in white flowers. Where the heck were my flowers?!  Did I buy a tree with an incorrect tag? Surely not since the leaves looked like those on a Bradford pear.  My tree had gotten even fatter and had grown at least six inches. And I had feed it tree fertilizer two years in a row... and still nothing.

Well, imagine my surprise when I wandered in the front yard late in late evening to spot what looked like flower buds.  I'm sure my neighbors who were barbequeing across the street thought I was nuts as I gleefully climbed into the flower bed with a camera and took several shots of the buds. Hey, they didn't have to wait three years for a darn blossom to show up!  We're suppose to have winds of up to 50 miles tomorrow so hopefully my little Charlie Brown will hang on to its buds and leaves. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll actually get to see the buds open up to beautiful white blossoms in the next two weeks.

Update: I climbed into the flower bed again today (3/14) and finally got a semi-decent picture of the blossoms. There was a bit of a breeze today which made it rather difficult to shoot anything in focus. I was also sweating bullets though trying to be careful where I stepped in the bed. There's gladiola bulbs scattered here and there, with no plan whatsoever. Hopefully nothing was squashed!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ground Force

The big difficulty with early spring in West Texas is that it's early spring, complete with unpredictable weather, whipping winds and 20-30 degree temperature differences every three days. One way to soothe the gardening bug is to catch up on other good gardening blogs on the net. Sadly, many of the garden shows I loved are no longer on the air and no videos seems available to watch back shows. Gardening By the Yard, Rebecca's Garden, and my favorite, A Gardener's Diary, were a great way to get new ideas and live vicariously through other amazing gardens. Thank goodness P. Allen Smith is still airing.

Imagine my joy to discover that a few DVDs of the BBC series Ground Force had been released. Luckily there are numerous libraries that have the dvds and are willing to loan them via Interlibrary Loan (ILL). This worldwide lending program is so important to patrons who either cannot afford the item(s) and cannot find the item due to rareness. For Texans ILL will be even more important this coming legislative session as proposals for massive slashing for libraries are proposed. So I'm going to take advantage the program now and request as many items as possible before September. Several garden themed books and dvds are hopefully on their way to me.

The first dvd received is the a great show I haven't seen in years. "The Best of Ground Force: Garden Rescues" starts off with screen tests for Alan, Tommy & Charlie, an explanation of how Ground Force came about [BBC wanted a companion show for Changing Rooms with a garden twist] and shows the cast sharing various antedotes on past gardens they've developed along with corresponding show footage. Alan Tichmarsh's last episode is highlighed and it seemed so sad that he left the show when the cast fit together so well. My only fault with the dvd is that its highlights and not full episodes themselves, which is what I was expecting. Especially since I had not seen some of these episodes originally.  Oh well, it was still fun to watch.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Garden in March

Late tonight I heard the most amazing sound - a soft tapping on the window which increased in intensity. It couldn't be I thought but, sure enough, a trip to the window confirmed my hopes. Rain, glorious rain! A sound that's been few and far inbetween this winter. It lasted less than an hour but oh what a great hour it was. All in all it's been a decent week in the garden, despite the yo-yoing of temperatures from day to day. On Wednesday I came home to discover that a few of my daffodils have started to bloom. And those wasn't the only plants waking up from their winter slumber.

The daylilies are peeking up everywhere. Love the striping on the daylily below, which is coming up around the fringed leaves of the larkspur that thankfully reseeded itself. I am so thrilled with how the larkspur flourished in the garden that I've bought 6 more seed packets last month. Now if only the weather will stablize more so that I can sow the seeds. It will be interesting to see what colors appear on the plants, especially the daylilies next to the Larkspur. These were planted last fall and I've totally forgotten what variety they were. Must dig through the tag pile after they bloom to match up their names. The majority of the daylilies have been gifts from a co-worker whose home garden seems to multiply daylilies and irises like Tribbles. And I have been on the receiving end of that generosity. Last count that was about 50 irises and probably 40 daylilies. Everyone with a young garden should be so blessed to have a friend like this!
The Salvias, Veronicas and scabiosas are bushing up too. The rose bushes are leafing out. Trimmed off the died rose blossoms off the Knockout Roses. I know they're suppose to be "self cleaning" but all those dried up buds were so untidy looking. They are also a good lesson to me about reading the plant tag. The Knockouts have tripled in size and overshadowed the underplanted irises and daylilies, so it's transplanting time for those plants this spring.

The Clematis plants are also a lesson in verticality. The saying "First year it sleeps. Second year it creeps. Third year it leaps." totally applies to this plant. I almost ripped one out in the second year when it seemed like the plant was underperforming and would never amount to anything. Boy was I wrong. Last summer that plant went gangsters in a matter of days. I even bought two more to add to the back garden. This week, within two days, several leaves have appeared on all the Clematis vines. Ah, the promise off large, gorgeous blossoms to come.

While poking around in the beds and clearing out dead leaves, I even saw one leaf of my earliest Asiatic Lily coming up underneath the mulch. These lilies are stunners. Around 5 feet tall with deep magenta coloring. Wish I could plant more but these came from one of those bags of lilies one finds at Walmart and I've never seen them again. Hopefully mine are putting out little babies and multiplying in the bed. The only thing better than a pass-a-long plant from a friend is a free, naturalized plant already in one's garden. Here's hoping your garden is waking up from its slumber to reward you with glorious green leaves and a promise of beautiful blossoms to come.


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