Sunday, October 13, 2013

What's fourishing in the garden this year part 2

As I happily listen to the rare sound of rain and thunder, something I haven't heard for almost two months, it's good to reflect back to more of the gardening successes in the strolling garden this year. I had the best results from seeds this year than ever before. The zinnias were awesome and have bloomed for over three months. I planted two tall varieties and there are still buds on them now. I plan to scatter more seeds around the garden next year to attract even more butterflies and bees to the garden. I've also seen a lot of Hummingbird moths buzzing around. They're so much fun to watch diving around the garden and thankfully Miss Penny the Pill hasn't caught any as she stalks around the garden on the lookout for intruders to her yard.
The zinnas grew up to three feet and were a non-stop riot of color. Loved them.
The zinnas were great companion plants to the Scabiosa, Sedum, Salvia, and roses.
Another plant from seed that did well this year were the Cosmos. They did so well in fact that they became a bit of a problem because apparently I didn't read the packaging well and planted them in front of the bed. When they grew to be over five feet tall it became difficult to weed and reach all the plants and herbs behind them this summer. I finally chopped them all down this weekend and have a large vase full of pink cosmos to enjoy from the bummer crop.
They bloomed in various shades of pink, white and burgandy. But mostly pink.
 The Zebrina Mallow reseeded like crazy the second year and was covered with blooms all summer too. It's so much better behaved than its much taller hollyhock cousin, of which I've had to pull out many this year due to their overgrowth and reseeded everywhere. Hollyhocks are so wonderful in a cottage garden but on the windy plains they're often growing sideways and falling over.
Well, off to read a good book and enjoy the steady pitter patter of rain. If only I could have one day a week of this. We're still over six inches below our average, which runs between 18-24 inches a year, and today's steady rain is a god send to parched West Texas.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

What's flourishing in the garden this year part 1

The strolling garden is doing much better this year due to better rainfall (though we are still under the normal average rainfall) and less days of triple digit temperatures. The herb circle is now in phase three. The first, pictured below, was heavy on chamomile and dill plants that had reseeded from last year. Nice fragrant combination and I love the little cheerful flower heads of the chamomile.

The caterpillars love the dill and chew it down to the ground but there's so much of it reseeded, including in the grass, that I had plenty of full grown dill plants with their fragrant umbrella-shaped seed heads. I always make a point of brushing against the plants to release their scent too. Pity I dislike salmon as dill goes so well with it.
The second phase of the herb circle was dominated by the reseeded Dalhberg Daises, which I am grateful for since it's very difficult to find these in plant or seed form locally. I planted two six packs 3 years ago and they came back this year. Their nice spicy scent is a favorite of mine. Miss Penny the Pill here enjoys padding through the circle on her daily marches around the yard as she secures her yard from other trespassing felines. Quite a feat for her since the neighbor seems to be collecting cats and then letting them roam free to terrorize the rest of the neighborhood. The next phase will be the Gaillardias at the front of the circle which have now developed flower buds and will eventually brighten up the circle with its red-orange flowers that beckon the butterflies and bees to linger longer in the garden.
Salvia is the garden plant that keeps on giving. It blooms it's heart out, gets a severe trim to clear out the spent flowers, and then sends out more flower spikes within 6 weeks. I have three varieties that I've been transplanting around the front and back yard over the last four years. Love the white and purple color combination of the three varieties and the yellow Coreopsis likes to reseed itself among the salvia, making for a vibrant color combination. Don't think I could ever have a garden without some salvia plants.
The Flame Acanthus, also known as Hummingbird Bush, is gorgeous when in full bloom. Haven't seen any hummingbirds since the severe drought started three years ago but there are plenty of butterflies and hummingbird moths that flit around it.
Amazingly, I have managed to grow one hearty bush of marigolds. This is quite a feat considering I have killed every marigold plant I've tried to grow. Sad, I know, considering it's labeled "the plant you can't kill" and it's grown in children's gardens. The plant below was grown from seed and has been blooming non-stop for almost two months now. My grandmother, from whom I inherited the gardening bug, always had marigolds around her little house that she'd grown from seed and so there's a lot of sentiment attached to this plant which is why I keep trying to grow it despite failure year after year.
 And finally, the Verbena Bonarensis from last year came back and flowered from over two months. I cut it back down to the ground this week after it was done flowering and hopefully it'll come back next year. The butterflies loved it too and I loved the height it added to the back of the bed.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Summer Recap

Wow, I hadn't realized how long it's been since I last posted. In the last two months we've had the usual constant sunshine and ever present wind, but we've also been very blessed with rainfall. To the point where we're up to around 9 inches for the year, which while under our normal amount of rainfall is still more than last year. And the difference is so apparent in the garden. It's so much greener and lusher than last year. The wind's pretty strong today, making taking any decent garden pictures impossible, so I'm posting some pictures I took earlier in the summer.

Finally gave into temptation and purchased the cute little potting table from World Market I'd been eyeing for two years. It was fairly easy to put together and has been sealed with waterproofing. It's tucked against the wall near the garden gate and adds some vertical interest to the garden. To the left of the table you'll notice the daylilies are doing amazingly this year. In fact, the entire garden is the best it's been in over 3 years.
The larkspur, whose color never seems to film well, went gangbusters this year. And the Gaillardia looks stunning in contrast to the vivid purples of the larkspur.
I have no idea what this plant is. The tag said the tiny plant would grow up to be a foxglove. This isn't a foxglove. It took a year to finally bloom and put out these large cup-shaped white flowers which had a strong vanilla-ish scent that the bees and butterflies adored. And the flowers lasted for a good two months. The down side was the plant got so top heavy the tall stalks flopped over and flattened the plants around it. Anyone have an idea what this plant is?
Love the spring combination of yellows and blues. The Tickseed Coreopsis reseeded underneath to add a golden sea under the roses and larkspur.
Another view of the showy larkspur display. The cute garden bench is from World Market. The cushion is starting to tear apart in the second year so I'm planning to buy some waterproof fabric and recover it.
 The larkspur blocked the pathway through one of the arbors but was so pretty I waited until the blooms started to wane before pulling it out. I also removed the flower bed in the background as it never did that well and constantly pulling out the grass was a losing battle. The bistro set works better in that spot.
The salvia, pincushion, and snapdragons were very happy in the east side beds. Found the cute owl stand and snail at Ross. As the garden is maturing now I've been adding more fun bric-a-brac accents like these to add some whimsy to the garden. It wouldn't be cottage garden without whimsy and bric-a-bracs.
Penny the Pill, aka the garden cat, loves all the cushioning added to the garden bench. As do I. It's the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the color of the strolling garden.

One thing I do need to do eventually is find another site to host my garden blog. Blogger is an absolute nightmare to work with. It took 7 tries and two different browsers to be able to add images today and even then trying to change the order of the images was difficult. Any suggestions for a different blog site?

Anyway, Happy Fertilizer Friday! My garden's doing lovely. How about yours? Visit Tootsie Time to see who else is participating in "Fertilizer Friday" and showing off what's blooming in their gardens.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Fertilizer Friday, May 31st - The Roses

The Strolling Garden is a flush with color, blossoms and bees this month. Not a drop of rain, despite all the storm systems in the area in the last two week so thank goodness for the sprinkler system and hand watering. We're on water restrictions so the sprinklers can only run at certain hours and only twice a week. The rest of the time I'm out in the garden at either early morning or dusk handwatering close to the base of the plants and changing out the water for the birds. A blackbird has been visiting this month which is exciting as I've never had one visit before. But onto the purpose of today's post - the roses. I have about 25 rose bushes of different variety planted around the house and they are all in full bloom.
Here's the front side bed by the drive way in full bloom. Planted this in the hopes of keeping the obnoxious neighbors on their side of the property line but the kids used the plants as 1st and 3rd base for the dodge ball games, at least until the bushes were about 2 years old. With all the thorns they don't mess with the flowers as much anymore.
I have two Peace Roses in the front side bed and they're fabulous bloomers. Completely understand now why my co-workers love this variety of rose.
Heirloom is a steely heather colored rose with the most intoxicating scent. Should have planted this in the backyard so I could better enjoy it.
Can't remember what the name of this white shrub rose is but it blooms all summer long and is covered with large white flowers.
The "Kordes' Perfecta" Rose tag said it was going to bloom pink but it actually blooms yellow and fades to white. Pretty with a sweet scent and you can't have a garden in Texas without a yellow rose.
Queen Elizabeth lives up to her name with her tall, stately shape and elegant pink blossoms. One of my favorites among the roses I've planted.
This unnamed miniature rose has a vibrant orange color and faint scent. One of my cheap clearance finds at Lowe's three years ago.
The Love Rose looks better from a distance as the underside is a lighter color and it looks a bit messy up close. However, it does bloom like crazy. 
The yellow one is an unknown variety since the tag said it was going to be a pink one. Ah, the dangers of buying a plant that has yet to bloom - like a box of chocolates you never know what you'll get. 
This little miniature rose is a cheerful rainbow of color. Another cheap clearance Lowe's plant that is doing well in my garden. The shade from the Cleveland Pear tree I plant back in October is probably part of the reason it's doing so well.
Finally, Pinata is a climbing rose that blooms in shades of yellow, orange, pink and red. It grows slower than my other climbing roses and is worth considering for your garden. Also has a light scent too. Ever notice a lot of modern roses today don't have much of a scent? Which is a pity because the scent is part of the reason we all love roses.

Well, these are some of the roses blooming in my garden this week. How about yours? Visit Tootsie Time to see who else is participating in "Fertilizer Friday" and showing off what's blooming in their gardens.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May 15th Garden Blogger's Bloom Day

It's been a while since I updated the strolling garden blog but now that things are green and starting to bloom I hope to update more regularly. The rain situation is still dire out here in West Texas. Rain is hit and miss here and the Lubbock area has not had even 3 inches since January. Cotton farmers have delayed their plantings in the hopes that May rains would occur but so far we've only mostly had a few sprinkles with little measurable rain. And the temperatures are suppose to hit the high 90s before the end of the week. Not good news. We just need a good, long soaking rain to penetrate the ground.
All is not bad news though. The garden is green, vibrant and blooming this month. It's easy to forget we're in year three of severe drought when wandering around in my back garden. The fence repairman made my day when he described my garden as "zen" as he walked around checking out the plants. And I didn't even prompt him. Blooming abvoe is snapdragons, dianthus, pincushion flower, and and purple salvia. The irises, hollyhocks, shasta daisy, and rose blooms are still to come. The wonderful thing about this whole grouping is that it is all perennial to my garden. Didn't have to plant one thing here this year as it all came back from last year.
Close up of the angel statue and rose bush planted in honor of Basil, my sweet tabby cat who passed away. If you want a very robust, striking plant that will keep multiplying I recommend this white saliva plant. I had three originally and have dug up seedlings to put all over the garden. Great as a background filler plant. It does spread out though, so give it some room.
This pretty, small (not even 2 ft. tall) iris bloomed unexpectedly this past weekend. It's the first time in 5 years it has bloomed since I planted it and I adore the color. Softer colors such as pastels and particularly blue-purples stand up to the intense sunlight and heat of West Texas better it seems. I have probably 100 irises scattered around my small suburban property but only about 20 percent ever bloom each year. I must be planting them too deep, or rather the dirt shifts over the bulbs due to dust storms and watering.
Neepeta Walker's Low is a must for the small garden. Blooms for months, the blue colored flowers are like a soft blue cloud in a flower bed, and the bees love it. I'm afraid of bees, and especially wasps, and yet I want to encourage the bees to come into the garden to pollinate the plants and the fruit trees I've planted this spring.
Been dividing the pincushion plants and spreading them around the garden. Awesome plant and I like how their blue heads bob and sway in the wind, which is something we never seem to lack out on the open plains here. The larkspur has reseeded everywhere in the grass and I've been slowly removing it by hand. Will have to get the lawnmower to finish off the rest otherwise the walking path is hard to navigate. Penny the Pill, my garden cat, loves to romping around in the larkspur stalks but she's very naughty and uses it for camoflauge as she tries to sneak closer to the birds feeding in the center of the garden. She gets rather dismayed when I reveal her location to the birds.
The Zebra Mallow got its first flowers this weekend too. They're only about 2 ft. tall and so much better behaved than their taller cousins the hollyhock, which are reseeding everywhere. Have chopped down the same hollyhock plant underneath the dining room kitchen twice now and will probably have to do it again. It would grow to 8 feet tall and block the window otherwise.
One of three clematis blossoms so far. The vines were doing so well and had climbed up to 4 feet on the Climbing America rosebush when three rounds of late spring freezes, the last one being last week which broke a weather record here, killed most of the buds and leaves. Doubt I'll get much of a clematis display this year.

There's lots more blooming in the strolling garden. I'll post more later. Meanwhile, please check out what's blooming in other gardens for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Snow Day

So apparently reports of an early spring were a bit premature. From a nice 60 degrees early yesterday we are now at 28 degrees and it's still snowing. Schools and colleges have been cancelled so much of the area is enjoying a snow day at home. We were at the southern edge of this blizzard. I imagine Amarillo and cities north of that have seen 2-3 times the snow we've received.
View from the living room window. At 10 am it's still snowing hard and the wind's a whipping.
Symon, my 13 year old half siamese half tabby, is frisky today and chasing his tail and toys around the room. He can't figure out why he can't see anything through the bottom halves of the windows which are snow covered though.

I just hope all the ranuculas (Persian Buttercups) survive this latest round of freezing cold. Everytime they start poking out of the ground and greening up the cold kills the new growth. Also found the California poppy seeds my co-worker gave me back in the fall and will scatter those this weekend when the temperatures go back to the more tolerable 60s ranged.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

In Between Days

Today is a beautiful day... just made for gardening. What little wind exists is gentle and the plants poking up everywhere are soaking in the warm rays of the sun. Hard to believe we have a 30% chance of snow tonight and the temperatures are going to drop 15-20 degrees tomorrow. The Lubbock area of West Texas has had little in the way of a real winter. We've gone from a very cold fall to a chilly spring, but no freezingwinter as we enter the third straight year of severe drought. Each year gets a little better though so hopefully this one will be even more wet than last year. We had about 11 inches last year and so far we've almost reached 2 inches since the start of the year. Things are looking good so far! 
Miss Penny checking out the daylilies, pincushion plant, and catnip flouringing in the bed underneath the dining room window.
In the garden, the larkspur is coming up everywhere, including everywhere in the grass. A good mowing will fix that later on. The rose bushes are budding out everywhere with striking red and dark green foliage.
Red leaves budding our everywhere on this rosebush, which was planted in memorial of my cat, Basil. The serene angel was a gift of a co-worker and watches over his deep red rose bush year round.
The daffodils are still short with no flower buds yet but they normally don't bloom in my beds until April anyway. The shasta daisies, sedums, nepeta, salvias, and daylilies are greening up nicely. None of the trees and rose of sharon bushes are showing any signs of green so far.
The flower-shaped heads of the sedums are coming up nicely, even in the shade. 
The month of February is such an in-between month. Can't really plant much because the ground is still freezing in the early mornings. Watching numerous episodes of Cottage Farms on QVC is only making the gardening bug more impatient. I keep eyeing the reblooming daylilies and fruit-named butterfly bushes and have to remind myself that I should try to buy more locally this year as the drought has been hard on our local nurseries due to city watering restrictions and little annual rainfall.  February and early March is the clean up months. Need to repaint the wood fence, expand flower beds, dig up weeds and put in a ton of humus and top soil. The earth seems to inhale the compost and new top soil the way I drink iced tea. Seriously, I can't figure out where the tons of dirt/compost I put down each year goes. The beds don't seem to get any taller. 
The Pill insisting her picture is taken. Half the shots I took today had either a tail, furry head or behind in it. There is something relaxing about having a garden cat following you around the yard... well, until she starts rolling in the dirt or chasing the butterflies around. Thankfully she's never caught one that I'm aware of. Don't think she really tries to catch them but rather just enjoys the chase itself.
As soon as the ground freezes are over I also need to start cramming plants into every open spot of dirt. Four neighborhood cats, three of whom actually belong to people around me, keep using bare spots in my flower beds for their litter boxes. The fifth culprit is the stray I adopted, Miss Penny the Pill. The tight planting would also help cut down on weeds in the beds.

Adding oranges and orange peels has so far not deterred the cats from digging into the beds. Bummer. The green pictured here is one of the shasta daises in this bed. Their flowers are so cheerful swaying in the summer breezes.
The weeds got so bad last year that I finally consented to having pre-emergent put down on the grass. We'll see if it was worth the cost later on. I'll have to put down more bug pellets this summer too since the lack of winter is going to make the bug situation bad in the summer months. 
Well the basil might have died. The dill and cilantro, on the other hand, is coming up everywhere in the herb circle. I just love the weeping seed heads of the dill and so do the butterflies. The dill is also coming up in the surrounding grass and thin side bed of the east side of the fence.

The raised veg bed didn't work out so well last year due to the drought and baking temperatures. What did work well was all the mint, cilantro and basil plants tucked into the cinderblock openings. The chocolate mint, mojito mint and orange mint is reviving itself in our warming temps. I suspect I'll need to reseed the basil.  
The cilantro is quite happy in the cinderblock too. Must add more this year. I think instead of veggies in the larger opening I'll add some flowers and turn the rest of the raised bed into a herb bed, most of which will be mints. Will have to look for apple and pineapple mint to add to the collection.

Update: By 5 pm the wind was whipping and the sky was dusty pink with dirt in the air. The cold wave is definately headed our way.


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