Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Power of Enthusiastic Desire

I just love my lotus plant.  The large leaves.  The exquisite bloom.  The pods that stay after the petals fall off.  I love it in every stage.

It blooms in the summer.  I always wish it would bloom in the spring, but summer is its season.  It bloomed yesterday for the first time this year.  Which is a couple of weeks earlier than it bloomed last year.  I don't know if we're early this year from all the heat and drought, or we were behind last year from all the cold and rain - either way, I was thrilled to see it blooming!

Not knowing much about lotus plants, I wasn't sure if I could keep it alive, but it has thrived in the years I've owned it.  I put a fertilizer pellet made especially for water plants in its pot each spring, and miraculously, it blooms without fail.

Other lotus plants that I've purchased through the mail have bloomed the first year, but didn't return.  This lotus is better than pretty.  It's dependable!

I found this lotus several years ago at a retail establishment specializing in garden decor.  I didn't buy any arbors, benches, or gazing balls that day.  I was in love with the lotus.  Although not technically for sale, the owner sweetly sold it to me.  Never underestimate the power of enthusiastic desire!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bring Home a Souvenir!

I suppose everyone has a picture in their mind when the word 'rose' is mentioned.  For some, it is a frilly, multi-petaled bloom.  For others, a simple, five-petaled flower.  I don't know how we get these ideas in our minds.  Perhaps it has to do with what we experienced when we are children.

For me, the word 'rose' brings to mind a soft flower with delicate shading, with petals more than five but not numerous (called semi-double in rose talk), and fragrant.  Like the picture on the rose-scented powder my maternal grandmother used each evening after her bath.

As a child, no one I knew grew roses.  So, the only rose I knew was the picture on that bath powder.  And the fragrance that wafted from that small steamy room each evening when we would stay over for a visit.

For me, 'Souvenir de St. Anne' is the embodiment of that perfect rose in my mind.

And for many reasons other than that, Souvenir de St. Anne is one of the favorite roses in my garden.  It blooms abundantly.  It blooms all summer.  And oh, my, is it fragrant!  So much so, that the fragrance wafts throughout the entire garden.

Sometimes I'll be walking by, lost in thought, and realize I can smell something wonderful.  Then I remember - it's Souvenir de St. Anne!  It's so delightful to have that happen.  Visitors walk by this rose on the way to my front door.  A nice accident, since I certainly didn't know much about this rose when I planted it there.  I hope they appreciate its scent, too.

Souvenir de St. Anne is a rose that was found in a garden at St. Anne's in Dublin, Ireland.  A sport (mutation) of one of the most famous of all roses, Souvenir de la Malmaison.  (There's a lot of roses with Souvenir in their names!)

I love to look at this rose.  It has the most delicate coloring.  Almost like fine bone china, with a touch of pink.

Tested for heat, drought, and pest tolerance, Souvenir de St. Anne is also designated as an Earthkind rose by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.  The Earthkind roses do well here.  I've heard people in other areas of the country say they are not so impressed, but it's a great idea, and worth looking into if you have hot conditions and want to grow easy-care roses.  I often mention Earthkind roses to people new to roses when they ask me for a general recommendation.

Souvenir de St. Anne is hardy in zones 5b to 10, resistant to blackspot, rust and mildew, and is fairly shade tolerant.  Fragrant and beautiful.  What more could you ask for?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Heart Hydrangeas

When I was a child, we were allowed to stay with our grandparents for a week in the summer.  In reality, this was so our parents could go on vacation without us children, but we didn't know that, and we looked forward to it as much as our parents did!  I don't know if my grandparents looked forward to it, or just accepted it, but it was the highlight of our summer.

My paternal grandfather was a farmer.  Watermelons, mostly.  The secret to watermelon farming is to get them sold by the 4th of July weekend.  After that, the public's appeal for watermelon quickly subsides.

My paternal grandmother was a hard working woman.  Mostly in the kitchen.  We would play outside, but we could always look at the kitchen window and see Grandma standing there at the kitchen sink.  No dishwashers back then, except the human kind.  Dinner always took hours to prepare.  Freshly caught, plucked, and fried chicken was a staple.  Fresh tomatoes, fresh corn, beans, peas, or whatever was picked from the garden, was lovingly prepared.  Watermelon, of course.  Hot chocolate milk, the old fashioned kind with sugar and cocoa stirred in and heated on the stove, was a bedtime treat.

I don't remember my grandmother having a garden of flowers.  In fact, the only flowers I remember her having were two giant hydrangeas flanking the porch steps.  The large blue mopheads captivated my imagination.  I was amazed at the size of the blooms, and of their beautiful sky blue color.  At night we would sit outside and gaze at the sky.  We would locate the north star, big dipper, determine the phase of the moon, and sometimes see a falling star.  It was magical.

And the hydrangeas were witness to all our conversations.  I could make out their shape in the moonlight.  It was mesmerizing.

I grow hydrangeas as a remembrance of my grandmother.  And, too, of my childhood.  Of that wonderment and amazement I remember every time I see their blooms.

I heart hydrangeas.

I think they heart me back!

I'm linking up with Tracie at Fishtail Cottage for Cottage Flora Thursdays.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Most of my lilies are new to my garden.  That makes them especially exciting for me to watch.

First day:

The anticipation grows.  What will be inside that pod?  When will it pop open?  This lily is quite large, larger than the palm of my hand!  I am giddy with excitement.

Second Day:

Just beginning to open!  I am thrilled beyond words.  I am mesmerized by its perfection.  The beauty of this lily as it begins to unveil its charms is almost miraculous.  I wonder if the bees and butterflies came by to welcome it to the world.

And, yes, I realize I need to deadhead the roses in the background!

Third Day:

Fully opened!  It's entrancing.  I can't take my eyes off of it.  Each time my eye scans the garden, it is caught by the loveliness of this grand bloom.  It welcomes a closer encounter, as each tiny part is perfectly formed.  Butterflies begin to flutter in my stomach - I have fallen in love!  I can't wait until the other lilies begin to pop open.  Come July I will be ordering a lot more of these beauties!  

I am deep in the middle of a lily infatuation.  What plant is infatuating you this year?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Copious Crooks

Well, the time for lettuces is past.  Most of them were eaten by the deer, but the few that were left have bolted.  The spinach has bolted, and gone to seed.  The radishes, too, have gone to seed.

All of which is very exciting to me.  You see, I purchased all heirloom plants this year with great plans to save the seed.  I am anxious to see if I will be able to figure out all the ins and outs of seed gathering and saving.  The book that has become my reference on this subject is entitled "Seed Sowing and Saving" by Carole B. Turner.  Thankfully, it has pictures as well as instructions!

I like thinking of the "vegetannual" example in the book "Vegetable, Animal, Miracle" by Barbara Kingslover .  As the leafy vegetables die out, tender young vegetables that fruit on the vine start to come into their season.  Look at our very first harvest of squash!  We picked just as many two days later!

Isn't that gorgeous?  Yummmmm - I look forward to using squash in a diverse number of recipes.

The tomatoes are still green.  The corn is showing tassels:

And we're still fighting the deer.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pucker Up!

I think the biggest hummingbird magnet in my garden is 'Hot Lips' sage.

'Hot Lips' in front of 'Knockout' roses

'Hot Lips' is supposed to be white with red on the bottom "lips" of the bloom.  Most of the time, there is a mixture of all red, all white, and some with the intended "lip" coloring.  No matter what color the individual bloom, the entire plant is an eye-catching addition, and attracts hummingbirds with an amazing appeal.

Salvia macrophylla 'Hot Lips'

This cheerful plant is a beautiful and striking addition to any garden.  'Hot Lips' likes to stay hot, and is only hardy in zones 8 - 10 (worth trying in 7 - 11).  But whether you can plant it in the ground or need to use it as an annual,  I highly recommend putting this unusual salvia in your garden.

'Hot Lips' with 'Homerun' rose in front

Grows in full sun, can take part shade, drought tolerant, and deer resistant.  Really, what more could you ask for?  Supposedly an evergreen, but I would consider mine deciduous.  Use it as a companion planting under climbing roses, as a filler plant for a large bed, in a large drift in your perennial garden, or as a container planting.

'Hot Lips' under the climbing rose 'America'

Just remember - wherever you put it, the hummingbirds will be puckering up!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Who are You?

I planted some 'Stargazer' lilies in my garden last year.  They were a fun surprise to see in the garden when they bloomed.  A beautiful, cheerful pink, with dots and frills.  I fell in love.

(Lilies from last year)

Filled with confidence, I ordered more lilies.  Some pink, some white, and a few more 'Stargazers'.  So, imagine my surprise when my lilies began to open and this is what they looked like:

Hmmm..... they don't look pink.  Definitely not white, and they're not 'Stargazers', either.  Frantically, I started trying to figure out this mystery.

Was I sent the the wrong lilies by mistake?  I went to the vendor's website where I had ordered the lilies, and determined that it looks a lot like Lily 'Cappuccino'.   A mix-up in my order sounds plausible.  Well, I decided, I must have received the wrong lily by mistake!  As pretty as they are, they are probably not something I would have picked out.  I didn't order this....did I?

Maybe it's not a mistake.  Maybe I actually purchased this lily.  Was that the only order of lilies I placed this year?  I began to thumb through my plant tags in a final effort to positively identify this mysterious interloper.

And there it was.

One bag of lilies picked up on impulse.  They were only marked as "Oriental Lily mixed".  Hmmm..... Lily 'Cappuccino' is supposedly an Asiatic hybrid lily, not an Oriental.   So, perhaps they're a different lily.  But, still, they look like 'Cappuccino'.  So, maybe they're not from my impulse purchase mixed lily bag!  Which leads me back to a mix-up in my order.

It became clear I will never figure this out.  I don't know if they are from the 'mixed' bag, or from a mix-up.  I just have to admit - I don't know who they are!  :(  I hate that!

Do you like to know the names of "everyone" in your garden?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sing to Me!

I didn't expect to really like this rose.  I expected it to fill a spot.  To coordinate in the garden.  To be part of the chorus, not a star.  It has surprised me.  I fell in love with this rose the first time I saw the sun streaming through its glowing, gorgeous, big, frilly petals.

It's a rose to love from up close, and from afar.  I can see this rose from my kitchen window.  It glows.  It shines.  It makes me smile each time I look outside.

What rose is this?  None other than 'Pearlie Mae'.  Named for the famed singer, Pearl Bailey.  It starts out in a round ball, but soon opens to reveal an imperfect form, which is actually quite charming.  Full and frilly, it's one of those roses that is enchanting because of its ability to surprise.

Almost a light yellow on one side, the back of the petals are a lovely, rich pink, which gives this rose its peachy hue.  It's that combination of the two colors that makes this rose seem to glow in the sunlight.  As the rose matures, the yellow intensifies, changing the color of this rose from a light peach to a darker shade of apricot.

Blackspot and mildew resistant.  This rose will not fade into the background, unnoticed.  This rose is not just part of the chorus.  This rose is a star!

I'm linking up with Tracie at Fishtail Cottage for Cottage Flora Thursdays.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Fascination with Flyers

A lot of gardeners begin a fascination with flyers when they begin to notice the birds in their garden, or start feeding the hummingbirds.  Then they move on to bees, butterflies, and dragonflies.  This is usually a sign that your garden is full of life.  Most of the time, it's a sign that you garden organically and with a variety of plants.  

No matter which winged creature captures your imagination, flyers are fascinating.  In fact, I find myself looking closely at all the tiny bugs in my garden.  It varies for me which flyer captivates my attention from week to week.  Right now, butterflies seem to make my heart skip a beat.  I figure, when your garden has butterflies, you know you're doing something right!  Now, as I'm taking pictures of my plants, I also am on the lookout for butterflies.  Here are a few I saw this past week:

American Painted Ladies.  
It looks like they love this echinacea!

But they'd rather not share.  Good thing I have just enough blooms to satisfy them!  I've given information about them on an earlier post, so we'll move along.

Mexican Grey Hairstreak
Costa Rica to Texas.  Host plant unknown, thought to be crotons.  Interesting that they are so widespread, but the host plant is still unknown!

Common Scootywing
Throughout most North America, except for Florida.  Makes you wonder what they have against Florida!  Host plants include Amaranthus, malva rotundifolia and chenopodium album.  That last plant is commonly known as pigweed.  We have lots of weeds, so I'm sure there's some pigweed around here!

Pearly Crescentspot
Newfoundland to S. Mexico.  Eggs laid on asters.  Adults take nectar from asters, fleabane, and thistles.  I have planted a lot of asters in my garden.  Nice to know they're appreciated.

Orange Sulphur
North America.  Legumes, alfalfa, and white clover.  Also known as the "Alfalfa butterfly".  Well, I don't grow alfalfa, but there's fields of it a few miles north of us.  If he would have opened his wings for you, you could have seen why they call this an orange sulphur.

Great Purple Hairstreak
I often wonder if the people that named things long ago were colorblind!  All throughout the US, predominately in the South.  Eggs laid on mistletoe.  Unfortunately, we have lots of mistletoe.

Golden-banded Skipper
Arizona, New Mexico, all of Southeast, north to New York.  Hollyhocks, bramble blossoms, ironweed and buttonbush.  Not a great picture, but he was a bit camera-shy.

Checkered White
All of United States, lower parts of Canada and northern Mexico.  Host plant includes many kinds of cruciferous vegetables.  Now I know who's been nibbling on my cabbage!

Sorry, fella, you're colorful, but this post is for butterflies only!

Which flyers are you interested in this week?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Where There's Smoke....

I'm here to tell everyone that GBBD (Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for those that don't know) is dangerous!  Dangerous, I tell you!!!

No, it's not the envy of beautiful plants and flowers that bloggers all over the world flaunt on the 15th of each month that's my concern.  No, this meme hosted by May Dreams Gardens can be detrimental to your health!  Take care!

Donna of Gardens Eye View recently posted about distraction.  But, this was not distraction that almost caused calamity.  It was concentration.  Full and complete concentration, on GBBD.

You see, I was so wrapped up in looking at everyone's posts, drooling over their blooms, listing plants I would like to consider for my own garden, noting everyone's remarks about their weather, checking their planting zones and whether their gardens were in early spring or early summer, when I was interrupted.

As you can see, I had a lot going on with those GBBD posts!  And I was totally unprepared for the sound of someone yelling "What's on fire?".  That's right!  Fire!  But, it wasn't fire, really.  (You can relax a bit.)  But there was a lot of smoke.  How could I not have noticed?  How could I not have seen?

Because I was concentrating on GBBD!

I had cooked a fine lunch, and so anxious was I to check out GBBD posts, that I completely forgot to turn off the burner.  (OK, Donna, maybe a little distraction here.)  The beans that were green were now black as soot.  No moisture left in the pan.  The entire kitchen flooded with smoke, and that smoke was billowing throughout the entire house.

But I never saw it.  You know what I was doing.

So, beware!  GBBD seems like an innocent prancing of beautiful flowers.  But you must not forget - turn off the burner first!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunshine for Bloom Day

The majority of my plants are now in bloom.  
But the ones that are new to make an appearance lately have been mostly yellow. 
They bring a ray of sunshine, a bit of cheer, and a splash of bright color to the garden.


These are a dwarf variety that stay around 2 ft. tall.
Every year their blooms gets bigger and better.

Threadleaf coreopsis. (Asteraceae verticillata)
Isn't this the sweetest little thing?
And the foliage is fabulous!

Yarrow.  (Achillea millefolium)
I especially love the foliage.
I'm not sure I love the flowers, but they are certainly showy.

Coneflower. (Echinacea)

It was fascinating to see the petals unfurl.

 Peruvian lily. (Alstroemeria)
For some reason these flowers remind me of a bridal bouquet.
These have a variegated foliage.

Hey!  What's this?  How did this get here?  
This is supposed to be an empty bed.  I'm waiting for fall to plant a camellia here.  
I guess Mother Nature decided to plant a little spot of sunshine instead!

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