Monday, August 29, 2011

The Song that Never Ends

Do you know this song?

This is the song that never ends,
It just goes on an on, my friends.
Some people started singing it not knowing what it was,
And now they can't stop singing it forever just because...

Yes, that's the Song that Never Ends.  And you either love it or you hate it.

I realized that I was humming that song today.  And it was very, very appropriate.  Because I realized I was doing the same chore over and over and over (and over!) again.  In fact, this chore never ends!

What chore could I be talking about?  Weeding!

I would love to eradicate this weed from my garden!

If you're a gardener, you know all about weeding.  It's something that just goes on and on, my friends.  You can't stop doing it forever just because...  because if you do they'll take over!  I learned my lesson the hard way.  I thought one little weed looked so pretty, I'd keep it.  HA!  I'll never be fooled again!

If you're a gardener, you probably like weeding.  It's a mindless activity that allows your thoughts to ramble.

If you ever got in trouble as a child for daydreaming, this is for you!  You can daydream all you want, think of so many things - important things, trivial things, solutions, problems, humorous things, sad things, so many different things!  (Unless you get the Song that Never Ends stuck in your head!)  And do you get in trouble?  No!  People think "Oh, poor thing!  Out there weeding all day!".

And it's so satisfying!  So much better than housework.  So much better than a job.  So much better than a project you complete, and then you're done.  Because this never ends.  It'll always be there.  Anytime you want to daydream, just go weed the garden.  If you're lucky you'll be rewarded with a weed-free garden.  At least for a day or two.

And you'll know all the solutions to life's biggest problems.  And if you don't, well, you can think of that next time you weed.  Because this is a chore that never ends!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Happy New Year?

This is the time of year when gardeners start planning for next year.  An assessment of the garden is usually performed and decisions are made: where plants are needed to fill in, which plants did well, which plants did not, design changes, additions, subtractions, etc.

"We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.  Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential.  ~ Ellen Goodman

I have not started the fall assessment of the garden yet.  Plants are still dying from the heat and drought that have overtaken most of Texas this year.  The potential of the garden has been impossible for me to imagine.  

But since we received that little 1/2" of rain (and one night of lower temperatures), my garden reminded me that there still beauty, and a glimmer of its full potential.  The potential it had if only this year had been a wee bit cooler, with a bit of rain.  I was truly amazed how good the garden looked after just a little bit of relief.

'Peace' looks peaceful.

Even 'Frontier Twirl', surrounded by Boltonia and artemisia, is happy.  Which is amazing - Frontier Twirl is hardly ever happy in my garden!

'America' just needed an excuse to bloom.

'Lady Hillingdon' looks lovely.

'Tamora' is tickled.

And even 'Pat Austin' is perky!  Pat has not bloomed much for me this year - she is waiting to be transplanted as she's in too much shade.  But that didn't stop her from showing me her potential if given the right conditions.

We are back up to triple digit heat, but this has reminded me of the garden's potential, and what might have been.  And what still may be.

No wonder the gardener's favorite saying is "There's always next year!"

Friday, August 26, 2011

Best Groundcover, August 2011

Since it's been so very hot here, I thought it would be fun to give a 'heat award' to the plants that are taking our temperatures in stride.

Apple Blossom Flower Carpet Rose won in the rose category.

Pavonia won in the perennial category.

The last category is the ground cover category.  I must say when I started really looking at my ground covers, I was quite surprised.  These were the hardest hit of any grouping of plant in my garden.  Perhaps it's because ground covers generally spread, so their roots are shallow.  They rely on more moisture in the soil since their roots don't go deep.  And the heat that bakes the soil also bakes their shallow roots.

And of course, the ground covers that are in full sun are in much worse shape than the ones in some shade.  Even if they are supposed to be able to take full sun.

It's so bad that even my asian jasmine is scorched and parts are dead!  Anyone in Texas will tell you, nothing kills asian jasmine!

So, I was quite surprised when I realized that Lamb's Ear (stachys) is the best looking ground cover in my garden!  Yes, I know what you're thinking.  It has always dried up and burned a bit for me in years past.  It has been a plant that I always considered to be a bit unhappy in the heat.  A plant that I really was pushing too hard to make it through our summers.

So why is it looking so good now?  I have a theory.  It think it all has to do with water.

You see, I don't usually water my plants very often.  I let Mother Nature take care of that.  But this year, Mother Nature is not doing her part.  So I had to take up the slack.  And I think this has been the only year that lamb's ear has been watered enough to pull though our heat without dropping dead.

I'll have to remember that next year.

I'm truly amazed how well it's looking.  It may be a fluke, but it's a nice fluke.  Surprisingly, the best ground cover award for August 2011 goes to... Lamb's ear.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Streak

Are you old enough to remember "streaking"?  For those of you who are not, streaking is running naked through someplace, usually a football game, assembly, or ceremony.  It was popular in the 70's, and there was even a humorous song about this fad by Ray Stevens called "The Streak".

Now, I was too young to streak (thank goodness!), but I do remember the fad.

Well, the awards ceremony has been interrupted by - a streak!

In case you don't know what awards ceremony I'm referring to, I have been naming plants that have been doing very well in this heat.  I have already awarded 'Apple Blossom Flower Carpet' rose as the best rose, and Pavonia as the best perennial.   Today, I was supposed to award the best ground cover.  But it will have to wait until tomorrow, because this award ceremony has unexpectedly been interrupted!

What kind of streak interrupted the ceremony?  A streak of rain!!!

That may not be so unusual for you, but for me, that was shocking!  We have had no measurable rain since June 22 (the only day it rained in June!).  None.  Nada.  Zip.

But yesterday, out of the blue - a streak of rain came through!!!  We laughed, and cheered, and jumped up and down.

And when it was through, we had received .5" of rain.  Ah, relief.  Maybe not enough to really help the trees, but certainly enough to make most of my plants smile.

We will return to the awards ceremony to name the best ground cover tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Best Perennial, August 2011

I'm picking the best rose, the best perennial and the best groundcover this month for their outstanding performance in our extreme heat.  Apple Blossom Flower Carpet Rose won in the rose category.  And today I'll unveil the winner for the best performer in the perennial category.

Drum roll please.......  (You have to imagine that - there is no sound here.)

And the winner is.....

Pavonia!!!!  (Here's where you jump up, cheer, and clap.)

The vote was unanimous (of course, I was the only one voting!).

The heat has not fazed this beauty one bit.  It continues to grow, bloom, and spread.  It's oblivious to the harsh climate it is being subjected to this month.  It's a real joy to see it blooming so abundantly each morning in the garden:

I've written a post on Pavonia HERE, so I won't bore you with details.  But, if you want more information, just click on the link.

Since Pavonia can't speak, nor write, there is no acceptance speech.  So, on to the next award.  Tomorrow I'll tell you the best groundcover.  And you'll probably be just as surprised as I was!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Best Rose, August 2011

August here is hot.  Dry.  And this year it's been very, very hot.  Very, very dry.  When I go outside, I'm amazed that the plants can take this weather.  I can't take it!  I run outside to check out the garden early in the morning, snap a few pictures, and retreat back into the shade and relative coolness of the house.  But, because of these conditions, I thought this would be the best time to show you what's been doing well here.  The best rose, the best perennial, and the best groundcover.   At least, what looks best this month!

We'll start with the best rose.

'Apple Blossom Flower Carpet Rose'

Roses come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and colors.  They can be disease resistant or not, popular or not, good for exhibition or landscaping, grow tall and upright or crawl along the ground.  Roses are different from most other shrubs because each rose has different qualities.  One of the qualities of Flower Carpet roses is that they are generally very easy to grow.  I like that quality in a rose.

I've had these roses for a number of years, planted in front of some low windows.  I can see them from inside as well as out, and that brings a smile to my face.  They don't have a large area to spread, so they do get a bit high, but I keep them to a manageable level (about 3 ft.) with my electric hedge trimmers.   Yes, I admit it - electric hedge trimmers!  I told you they were easy care!

Not only easy to grow but also disease resistant.  And still blooming abundantly in this heat.  Normally the blooms would be a bit more pink.  Heat affects the color of a lot of rose blooms, and Apple Blossom has been no exception.

Above shows its true color, a picture taken from this spring.

And don't forget to bring some joy into the house!  Although they have no scent, I still love to put a spray of these in arrangements, and think they would be lovely as the main feature of, or just an accent to, a bridal bouquet.

If you're wanting a low growing, spreading rose that will bloom abundantly in the heat, you may want to consider 'Apple Blossom'.  It's been a winner for me.

Want more information?  Click HERE to go to the official Tesselaar fact sheet.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

True Confessions

Want to know a secret?  I have a confession to make.  I wanted to keep it a secret, but it's been going on so long now, I just can't hide it any longer.

I haven't been gardening.  Nope.  Not at all.  I go outside for perhaps 15 minutes a day.  Total.  And I only do that to walk around, take pictures, and refresh the hummingbird feeders.  No pulling weeds.  No new beds being created.  No vegetable gardening.

What could make an obsessed gardener stay inside all day?  The heat!

Tufa Girl posted about it today.  100 degrees at 9:00 p.m.  Lows in the mid-80's.  Highs way too high.  95 degrees feels cool!  Who wants to go outside and work in this heat?  Who wants to see the garden in this shape?  Not I!

So, I've been doing what Hanni has been doing.  Canning.

Apricot butter in the making.

It's thrilling to see the jars lined up on the pantry shelves.  Yum.

Tomatoes, peas

My vegetable garden burned up, so I've been getting most of my vegetables from the local farmers market.  The markets here stay open through October.

Pickled okra

It's addicting.  And so rewarding!

Blueberry jam - it's fabulous!

I have a goal of canning enough vegetables to last us through Christmas.

I even canned a few potatoes!

Will I make it?  I don't know, but the longer this heat continues, the closer I get!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Reality Check

Most of the time, I post close up pictures of whatever's blooming in my garden.

That makes for a pretty picture.

But, if you look beyond the close up, you see an entirely different picture.  A reality check.

As most know, Texas is in an extreme drought.  I water the garden close to the house, but where nature rules, the plants are suffering.

The damage to the hardwoods is striking.  Large, beautiful, old hardwoods that have lived for many years are now dead or dying.

Smaller trees died months ago.

The pines generally have a longer tap root, so they continue to live, although they are showing signs of stress.

I wonder what the woods will look like after this drought with no hardwoods left.  I wonder if the pines will make it.  I wonder how the wildlife will fare.

I wonder about the places that have been even harder hit.  I wonder how many inches of rain it will take to soak down to the roots of these large trees.

I wonder how much longer this drought will reign.

I wonder all this as I see the discrepancy between my garden area and mother nature's.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bloom Day Roses

It's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day again, and yes, there are blooms in the garden!

Mrs. Dudley Cross

Spireas, cannas, hibiscus, coneflowers, blanketflowers, gardenias, hydrangeas, pavonia, and many more flowers are still blooming and bringing color and cheer to the garden.

About Face

Last month I posted a list of roses that were blooming at that time.  I wondered which roses would be blooming again this month.  There are fewer roses blooming now than there were last month, although I have begun watering them faithfully.

Monsieur Tillier

Why would there be fewer roses blooming?  Well, since then, we have had temperatures of over 100 degrees F every day.  Some of the blooms are smaller, but they are still cheerful!

Carefree Celebration

This is a list of roses blooming today:

  About Face
*America (climber)
  Carefree Celebration
  Carefree Beauty
*Carnival Glass (mini)
*Cinco de Mayo
  Ebb Tide
  Flower Carpet (Appleblossom)
*Home Run
*Julia Child
*Knockout (double red)
  Monsieur Tillier
*Mrs. Dudley Cross (old garden tea)
  Red Cascade (mini climber)

* In bloom for last month's post also.

Carnival Glass w/ Red Cascade in background

Roses may look delicate, but they are tough workhorses in my garden.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Today's Joy

A new joy is revealed each day in the garden.  The daily walk around the garden lifts my spirits and gives me hope.  It is during that walk I can tune out the rest of the world for just a brief period of time.  And focus on the beauty that is there.

Today's joy came from my white crape myrtle.

It has draped itself over the arbor.

It looks planned, but it was not.

Tomorrow it will not look exactly like this.  Next year it will certainly be different.  It may not drape over the arbor but for a few weeks, or a few days.

Such is the reality of the garden.  It is always changing.  You can't hold it back.

But you can take delight in the beauty that is there each day.

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