Monday, May 30, 2011


The three-day Memorial weekend was a waste for this gardener. It's been three days of 100+ temperatures and starting last night through today we've had strong winds whipping around, draining moisture from everything. I was able to deadhead and do some handwatering for about 2 hours early in the morning but that's about it. Even at 8 at night the high temperatures are holding so I've not been able to sit in the cottage bench with a cold iced tea and enjoy the view. Heck, even the birds seem to be hiding from the heat. I have been diligent in filling up the bird baths for the poor things.
Strolling by the beds I realized that the intense, non-stop heat has really done a number on my garden. Several of the Asiatic Lilies, most of which were planted this spring, have burns on the upper leaves. Less than half of these damaged lilies have been able to complete the flowering process. Only one flower bud survived on this stem. These two have afternoon shade and still they baked. 
In the ten years I've gardened in West Texas I've never had this difficult of a time with my plants. Several plants have already croaked, despite hand watering in the late evenings. About half the seeds I planted never took. The 15-25 cilantro and parsley seedlings were doing good then just turned brown and died this weekend. On the roses several of the leaves are turning into a crisp. The miniature rose above has the most incredible pink roses and I've been babying it in the hopes it will survive. It's twin is down to two stems and hardly any leaves. Wah! 
 A large patch of dayliles are suffering too. The buds are turning brown, drying out and falling off. The leaves are also turning yellow. Never had this happen before and I don't know if it's because of lack of water or the lack of rainwater - there's a difference because our water is hard. Rainwater is important because it doesn't have all the salt. And with barely an inch in almost 8 months the garden has been relying almost solely on our groundwater.
The buds on these Shasta Daisies are not doing so well either. They were divided last year to make two clumps. The other clump, which is literally maybe three feet from this clump is doing great. Both are getting handwater but I don't know why the first clump is not doing so well. At least it's leaves and stems are healthy. These plants are really important to the garden. They add height, coming in around three feet tall, add brightness in the evenings, and the butterflies love to land on the blossoms. So far there is definately a lack of butterflies compared to previous years. My dill plant actually matured and bloomed because there were no large groups of caterpillars munching on it. Love that the plant is doing well but I sure do miss the butterflies.
The holleyhocks are all shorter than previous years. None have gotten more than 4 feet tall. Normally the stalks and their flowers can be seen over the top of the 6 feet tall fence. A few of the stalks also split and collapsed this weekend, probably from the deadly combination of heat, wind and no rain.

On the upside, there's a 20% chance of rain tonight through tomorrow evening. That's huge around here. So, fingers crossed for a good, long shower with no hail. Life requires water... and a healthy garden requires life. Butterflies, bees and bird bring a garden to life. So, bring on the rain... PLEASE!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Arkansas Part 2

Little Rock had several fun things to see and do. Here's a few highlights from my brief visit:
The Peabody Hotel's famous marching ducks were a lot of fun to watch. They were very personable and obviously used to people. You could sit on the fountain ledge really close to the stairs and they would walk up the stairs and flirt with you. Though one time this duck [pictured below] filled up with water and I swear I think she briefly considered squirting me before swallowing!
The friendly Duck Master lines the male and 4 females up each day at 11 am and 5 pm.
 The Dr. Seuss banner on the Clinton Library was a surprise considering the location. Good for them having a fun family friendly exhibit.
We headed off to a short side trip to Hot Springs, despite the rain, thunder and lightening. It was a surprise to learn that Arkansas was famous for its hot springs, bath houses and that for years the rich and famous came here to relax and heal. 
Many of the historic, beautiful buildings have been restored.

This building served as a visitor's center and you could go through the various floors and see how men and women used the bath houses in the past. They had separate bathing, message and parlor rooms.
An amazing stained glass ceiling in the building above.
This stone overlook was terraced and gave visitors different views down onto Bath House Row.
Off to the side of the stone steps were some small grottos with steaming water from the hot springs. Apparently the waters used to flow around this area but were capped off at some point.
Okay, can't sightsee without looking out for plants. The magnolias along Bath House Row were beautiful. I miss them. They can grow in West Texas but don't really prosper so well. The Hot Springs ones were obviously very happy and were full of blossoms. Even in the rain their scents were noticeable as you got close to the trees.
On the level of the stone staircase were these wild roses blooming. I started to go over to see if they had a scent then reconsidered, just in case a snake was in the tall grasses.
Have no idea what this plant was but the airy stalks and white popped in the gloomy atmosphere. I thought it might be Queen Anne's Lace but the heads didn't seem wide enough.
It was gray and gloomy, with rain off and on. There was an incredible mist up on the mountains that I had never seen in person before. And then up on the hill was this tall imposing structure. My friend thought it was a rehabilitation hospital. All I saw was insane asylum with a mad doctor in the window crazily laughing. Totally a perfect movie location for a psycho film. [No offense to anyone working at this place or having healed there.]

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Arkansas Part 1

This is a little departure from my garden in West Texas. This week I was attending a conference in Little Rock and was amazed how beautiful this place was. So lush and green... and there were bodies of water nearby! So different from home. I don't know why people knock this place. It's beautiful and the downtown area we were staying at had a river path surrounded by sculptures and gardens.  During a break in the meeting I got to pop down and tour this amazing garden by the river.
 The thing that most intrigued me were the berms around the garden. Patina-ed metal sheets backed the berms and small bushes with flowers in shades of purples added color splashes.
 Grasses also gave height to the landscape.
 Looking closer I realized the plants were herbs and ran my hand lightly over the plants. What a lovely smell. I think these were oregano plants. I just planted one at the front of one of my strolling beds and hope it blooms like these plants.
 Some of the berms were backed by rocks and the herbs seemed to be very happy growing in between the crevices. My friend thought they were lavender plants but I assured her they weren't because I've killed every variety of lavender I've come across. Totally cannot grow those things here no matter how much I try to amend our clay soil.
I loved the dancing rabbits sculpture. They reminded me of the wild jackrabbits running around town.
 If I was a sculpture this is the place I'd want to be placed, right next to a flowing river.
 I did not see labels on the sculptures but then I didn't have a lot of time to look for them.
Now this is a blue bird you wouldn't want to tangle with in the garden!
This deer looked right at home among the grasses.
The startling blue of this scultpure called one over to have a closer look.
 In a set off circular part was a little rose garden with a sculpture in the center. The knockout roses fit so well with the dark sculpture of a woman holding a single stemed red rose.
Little Rock seemed to have a lot going on with the arts and cultural events. Who knew?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wet Wednesday

You know the old saying "Into every life a little rain must fall"? Lubbock has been in a drought since about October. In fact, the weather man two nights ago reminded the viewers that we've had less than an inch of rain since January and that the last time we've had this long of a drought was in 1950 to 1951. The cotton farmers around here desperately needed the rain to start planting and a prayer call for rain has been held. I guess many of us got our prayers answered today. I heard we might have gotten almost as much as .22 inch today. Not bad for a day that only had 20% chance of rain. Course we all joke about 20% being a better chance of rain than 100% around here.

Around 5 am this morning I was awoken by thunder and what sounded like massive hail assaulting the roof and windows. It was absolutely amazing! I was starting to think we'd never see the wet stuff again. A stroll around the garden found a lot of perky, happy plants. Our water here is really hard and salty, so I'm always thrilled for the pure stuff.

The roses are starting to wane out and have to be deadheaded for the second rush of blossoms. I fell in love with this rose after seeing it in several gardening magazines two years ago and was thrilled when I found it at Home Depot. "Paprika" ended up not looking quite as orange-y in person as in the photographs. In fact it's more of a lite apricot, which is fine, but I was expecting brighter blossoms that would stand out against the bright white of the Dusty Miller. It's still a nice plant but will probably be moved at some point.
 "Heirloom" has the most incredible scent, not to mention a beautiful color. I planted it off to the side of the yard and wish I had planted it closer to the front door. If I run across another one it's going in the front bed.
"Kordes' Perfecta" Rose is wonderful with cheerful blossoms. At least I THINK that's what this one is. I can only find a tag for one of my two large yellow rose bushes.
This is the other yellow rose blooms yellow and lightens up to a cream as it ages. Also has a nice scent.
Close up of one of the blooms.
This is an lovely pink rose whose tag I have long lost. It doesn't have much of a scent but makes up for it with an abundance of flowers.
I have two red Knockout roses that I scored for $3 each when I first moved into my house. Four years later and they're both over three feet tall and at least two feet wide... and very thorny! But they bloom into early winter, can't beat that!
"Iceberg" is one of my favorite roses. It has a soft, sweet scent and glows in the evening, which is why I planted it opposite from the kitchen window so that I can enjoy the flowers until the darkness sets in. I added a second one to the west side border last month. The first one took a year to really establish, I guess I should expect the same with this one. Plus, both seem to have the same problem with something munching on the leaves. I don't seem to notice the same leaf damage on the other roses.
This is one of my 15 miniature roses. There was no name on this one but it's a stunner when it blooms. A definate pop of color. I have five of the pink ones seen behind this bush. And they all were on clearance for a $1... and have thrived in the flower beds. I love a good garden deal!
There was a little damage from the rain. I lost two more stalks on the same daylily bush below my kitchen window. These are the tallest of my daylilies, with stems around 3 feet tall, and not only rebloom but also have a scene. In fact they are the only scented ones I have. Bummer to lose even more blooms. I plan to move them later in the fall to the front bed which will hopefully have more protection from the cursed wind.

I hope others who are facing drought have been blessed with some rain today!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bloomin' Wednesday

A little mid-week recap on what's bloomin' in the strolling garden:
 This lovely asiatic lily is new to the garden. I THINK it was one of 20 mixed lily bulbs my best friend sent me as a surprise gift following my shoulder surgery. Seated and very slowly planting with one hand while trying not to move the wrong way with the recovering shoulder was an interesting experience. It will totally be worth it to see all the different lilies blooming this year.
This very short asiatic lily was planted a month ago. It should come back taller and bigger each year. It was the first one to bloom this spring and the color popped from across the yard.
Three blossoms have opened up on the Bird of Paradise Bush. It'll be covered with blossoms for the next 4 weeks or so. The bees love this plant so if you're allergic to bees don't plant it anywhere near places you occupy often.
 I planted quite a few seeds this year and amazingly many of them took root. Only problem is I can't remember what the heck this plant is. Every day I stop by to see if it's bloomed but no luck so far. It looks a little like a gaillardia but I don't recall planting any of those. Oh well, something fun to look forward to!
And on a sad note, when I left for work this morning this tall stalk held up 7 small flower heads that would have been gorgeous pink daylilies. Bought this fragrant variety of reblooming daylily from Home Depot two years ago and already divided and replanted some this past fall. This clump was one of those divisions. Came home to a headless stalk, thanks to the strong winds today. So that's 7 blooms I won't see this year. As I do not own a wind turbine nor lease out my land for one I can honestly say that the wind sucks and I wish it would bug off... at least for a while. Sheesh! My lawn is covered with rose petals that have been ripped off the plants. You'd think there'd been a wedding under the three-legged gazebo.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Perfect Bench

When I began the garden I knew I needed seating areas to kick back and enjoy the view. After all, gardening is a heck of a lot of work. You really do need to take time to smell the roses, especially after you've spent the day being stuck by their thorns, lugging over pitchers of water with diluted rose food, and dodging waving stalks that reach out and try to grab you as you walk by. Heck, you might even need a sangria or two after all that.

I've been on the look out for the "perfect" seating area for the strolling garden for quite some time. The main problem with the back yard is that it is hot as blazes when the sun is shining up high. There are very few spots that get some shade in the late afternoon. Whatever bought needed to fit in these areas and blend well with the cottage-styled gardens. Some cheap temporary patio furniture was purchased the first year... which then flew across the yard several times due to the spring winds, taking out a few plants like bowling pins. Plastic or lightweight furniture was definately out of the question.

 In the second summer I bought a very heavy patio table, matching heavy metal chairs and a bright colorful tropical umbrella. Such a cute set. Then the spring winds kicked up and the umbrella bounced around like mad. I still use the set but the umbrella has to stay in the garage and be brought out on days when the wind is not blowing hard.
I have finally found the perfect bench for the strolling garden. World Market had a great sale on the outdoor furniture and this white bench fits well among the roses, irises, and daylilies.
The only thing missing in this picture is me!  The winds this past week have pretty much prevented much appreciation of the bench. I did get to sit on it for a little bit Thursday afternoon during a lull in the wind. Seriously this spring has been yo-yoing like crazy. While other parts of the county are getting hammered with rain and tornados, we're getting hammered with a serious drought, constant strong winds and wildfires.
 The garden fairy agrees the bench is perfect. This little statue was a gift from a cousin and enjoyed reigning over the garden until a neighbor's cat knocked it over while stalking poor birds and broke her head. A little bit of super glue and a new location and the fairy is happily back to peaking out under a rose bush, in this case Iceberg. And the cat gets the sprinkler treatement whenever he gets caught in the backyard.
 Naturally she's reading a book on flowers, she is a garden fairy after all.
And this is the view from the bench looking towards the house. Once the daylilies, yarrow and lilies bloom the view will be even more colorful. Two of the asiatic lilies [the orange spots in this photo] did bloom this week. They were planted 6 weeks ago and are really short.
 A closeup of one of the irises trying to hold its head up in the wind. Love the color combination.
My lovely yellow iris. I forgot I had one and have been mentioning I wanted one to friends, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it blooming this weekend. Had to hold onto the stalk to block the wind in order to shoot the photo.

The temperatures have dropped 30 degrees in two days and there's a possible freeze tomorrow morning [oh joy]. Hopefully by the time we get to the middle of next week the temperatures will be back up, the wind way down, and I will be enjoying this view from my new bench with a nice cold drink in hand. Now that would be perfect!


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