Sunday, August 14, 2011

Garden update

Wow, I did not realize how much time had passed since my last garden post.  Texas is still in pretty bad shape water-wise. According to the weather channel the state is about 73% in drought. There's even talk of one town reclaiming their sewage water for recycling for human use [Ewwww! Thank goodness it's not here.]  Many of our playa lakes have dried up or are on the verge of drying up. It's quite sad to drive by and see the birds scratching around searching for water. The two bird baths in my back garden are quite popular. I've had to place a large rock inside one to keep the larger birds from splash out half of the water as they bath themselves. Grackles are particulary messy and loud visitors. We finally received rain this past Thursday. Around 2-3 inches within an hour. We had only received 1.25 inches of the 12 inches we normally received by August when this latest ran occured. Talk about a god send! Now if only we could get more. My uncle in Florida offered to send some our way but unfortunately it doesn't work that way.

Another large problem that the drought has caused is the insurgence of the ant population. They're everywhere, in swarms, to the point where you can't walk with them all over the ground. Many people have had problems with them invading their homes in search of water. The organic ant bait I put out worked for about two days. The strong mint smell brought tears to my eyes but barely effected the ants. Go figure. Two weeks later I put out a ton of heavy duty ant/bug bait. That worked for about two weeks. The ants have bounced back so I guess I'll be baiting again soon. I estimate that about 80% of the "drought tolerant" plants I put in this spring have died. The picture below shows one bed's decline in July. Most of the daylilies have died. Thankfully others in more shaded spots are still hanging on so I should have some to transplant in the fall when the temperatures get below the 100s.
Despite the drought there have been some plants that are still blooming and charging on. This plant came up beside one of the Veronicas. I have no idea what it is and I'm hoping it's from one of the wildflower seed packets I scattered this spring and not some noxious weed taking hold of a flower bed.
I planted a ton of gladiolas this spring. Not even 10 have bloomed. Most of them had dried up before a bloom could appear. This peach one was lovely, pity the rest didn't make it.
I received twenty Costco mixed lily bulbs from one of my best friends. About half bloomed. The other half dried up before the stalks could really form strong leaves. Two of the ones pictured below made it and looked really nice mixed in with the Larkspur and Veronica. Hopefully they'll come back next year as lilies are my favorite flower.
Just about every herb I've planted I've killed. Whether I ignore it or baby it, I generally kill herbs. This oregano plant tucked underneath the plants above actually seems happy with it's location. It's spread over the edge of the pavers and has produced delicate little pink flowers that stand out underneath the taller plants.
Verbena is another plant that doesn't live more than two months in my garden, so I was quite happy to discover this little section had reseeded itself and bloomed just to the left of the oregano. This whole bed is in shade in the late afternoon and I suspect that's part of why several of the plants have done well during this miserable summer.
Behind the oregano is this Veronica Speedwell which has come back from last year. It's done quite well this summer and I've got to remember to buy more of these next time I go to the nursery. The chartreuse green and vivid purple make a very striking combination. The Larkspur has been hands down the best performer this spring through summer. I scattered the seeds all around so hopefully some will return next year.
Some of the dayliles bloomed well in June and mid-July. After that several died completely to the roots. The ones below are still hanging on. "Grape Magic's" large colorful blooms stand out across the yard.
However, I think my favorite this year is the "Romantic Rose" daylilies I planted this spring. I'd really like to spread these around the yard in the future. It's such a soft rose color that blends well with other colors.
The majority of the "Grape Magic" blooms are washed out due to the intense heat and sunglight of this summer.
The "Ditch Lilies" are probably the best performers of the dayliles in the garden. They've stood up to strong winds, intense heat and drought... and this one large plant has four babies coming up behind it. Now this is a plant worth growing in the garden.
Lastly, two of the three Rose of Sharon plants finally started to bloom at the end of July, despite the bushes dropping many of their leaves.
Morning Glory continues to reseed and grow no matter how much I pull them out. Love the flowers but hate the way the vines choke everything around them.

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