Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Retraction

The gardener is gone!  She will be out of town for a few days, with no internet service, so I thought I'd jump in and let you know what I think about her!

I think the gardener owes us an apology.  She is not as good a gardener as you might think.  She bad-mouthed us bush lantanas in this post.  Just because I had a little case of powdery mildew.  I was soooo mad!!!  She actually called me lazy, lousy, and loathsome!

Well!  I was quite insulted!  I wanted to jump up and slap her!  But, of course, I am a lantana, and it's hard to jump up out of the soil.

Thankfully, she moved us.  About time!

She has been very happy this year to see that we are getting used to our new homes.  I think we are the star of the garden, but she just considers us a companion to her precious roses!  Since we bloom pink and yellow, she has planted a pink and yellow rose next to us.  Makes me sick!  Why not something purple?  Or something white?  Really!  She has no imagination sometimes!

Anyway, we now get lots of sun.  That was the whole problem!  She should have known that.  I bet she did, but she just decided to blame us instead.  Does she think I liked having powdery mildew?  NO!!!  And we haven't had any more since she moved us to a better area with MORE SUN!  HELLO!!!

Instead of bad-mouthing us, if she were to be fair, she would have informed you that we green up late in the spring so we aren't damaged in a late freeze!  And we bloom late in the year so we can feed migrating butterflies!  She didn't think of that, did she?  She just called us lazy!  Harrumph!

You just wait.  In a couple of years she'll write some silly post about how gorgeous her lantanas are, as if all the credit should go to her!

In case you get the wrong idea, we lantanas are usually a much cheerier lot.  We usually don't speak out against our gardeners.  But, if you bad-mouth us, be warned, we will demand a retraction!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Oh, no!

My flower carpet roses should be blooming like this:

Instead, most of them look a little bare of blooms:

What's going on?  Well, upon further inspection, I noticed this:

Deer tracks!  Oh, no!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What's Pink and Hairy?

Muhlenbergia capillaris, pink muhly grass!

Isn't it beautiful?  And so fun!

It's quite eye-catching when the sun's rays hit it just right.

I've just added some of these to my garden.  I wanted this area to be a focal point in autumn.  So, I decided upon pink muhly grass.  The problem was, they weren't available this spring.  They weren't available this summer.  Finally, they became available at the local garden nurseries!  I guess they didn't think they would sell until they were pink and fluffy.

Pink muhly grass will grow to 3 ft tall by 3 ft wide, and is hardy in zones 6 through 10.

Pink hair - well worth the wait!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Garden Book Reviews September 2013

Creating Small Formal Gardens

by Roy Strong

I've had this book for a long time, and it was a pleasure to pull it off the shelf and look through it again. I love formal style, and although I love it best when mixed with an abundance of loose plantings, its the geometry, the symmetry, and the neatness of formal gardens that appeal to me.  As the author explains, a garden can be as formal as you like, or have just a touch of formality to "give both order and style to what is otherwise a random planting".

One of the appeals of a formal garden is the fact that are as beautiful in winter as in summer.  He also explains that formal gardening does not mean high maintenance, instead many formal gardens only need "seasonal mowing and an annual trim and prune."  In fact, he believes that formal gardens actually offer "ease of maintenance with maximum effect".  He also says that the layout of many formal gardens would fit easily into the area of many lots today.  If you have a large garden, you may incorporate several designs to give a feel of different rooms connected through vistas and pathways.

Included in the book are many photographs and examples of formal gardens.  Just thumbing through the pages of this book is a visual delight, and gets my creative juices flowing.  But don't just stop at the photographs!  He explains the difference between "old" formal gardens and newly planted formal gardens.  In fact, a large majority of the photos in this book are from gardens that were planted in the 15 years prior to this book.

What I liked best was the fact that he would give options, and advise which options would need more maintenance.  He also advises how long it would take for a garden, planted in the examples shown, to mature.  And he points out potential problems that may arise!  The entire book allows you to determine what would be best for your own space, with the time you have for gardening, and a realistic time frame for completing the garden.

Whether you love gardens with straight lines overflowing with abundant flowers, want to plant a potager, imagine yourself walking along evergreen pathways in the winter, or just want a touch of the formal to compliment your garden, this book will give you lots of ideas.

Photos are of the Annie duPont Formal Garden taken last October.


Now it's your turn!  Please join us on the 20th of each month with your own garden book review.  Any book with a gardening influence qualifies.  And as always, please take the time to visit the other participants.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Excuse Me! You're Intruding!

We have a feral cat that showed up one day, beating up the other cats, and intruding upon their territory.  He was determined to get to the porch where there was ample food, and an abundance of soft chairs for sleeping.

We named him The Intruder.

The Intruder got 'fixed', and he received all the right shots.  He has tamed down quite a bit, although his personality has not changed.  He still loves to intrude.

purple fountain grass

Take my purple fountain grass, for instance.

I loved walking out the front door and seeing the combination of purple fountain grass with yellow Julia Child roses.  It made me smile every time I saw it.

Until this morning.

This morning, the fountain grass was not looking quite right.  It was not standing up straight.  It was hanging down over the urn.

Hmmm....  looks like we have an intruder!

He seems so proud to have found a super soft bed where he is also (partially) hidden.

Looks like he has a friend waiting in line to try out the new bed, too!

Purple fountain grass.  A beautiful accent plant.  Pairs well with yellow.

Just watch out for intruders.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lemon Fizz

I hate to bad-mouth any rose, but be forewarned, I am going to now.

What do you see when you look at a rose blooming?

A beautiful flower, of course!  In my book, it can be almost any color.  I love red, yellow, white, pink, orange, and even those blooms that start out one color and turn into another.  And I love singles as much as I do doubles.

But when I look at a bloom, I also want to see nice foliage.

It doesn't have to be perfect.  Not at all.  I don't spray my roses.  Never have, never will.  I'm much too lazy for all that!  So, my garden is an experiment in determining which roses will be tough enough to grow in my harsh climate and with my laissez-faire gardening.  I don't expect perfection.

'Lemon Fizz'

But, for several years now I've been thinking about digging up 'Lemon Fizz'.  I almost did last year.  I swore I would this spring.  I intended to this autumn.

Oh, yes, it has the most cheerful display of adorable blooms, in the most sunny shade of yellow.  And the biggest, most beautiful hips.  But it seems that every time it blooms, it also has a bad case of blackspot.


typical spring foliage

typical autumn foliage

That was, until now.

This year, it started blooming and - gasp - the foliage on it is perfect!


'Lemon Fizz' - with perfect foliage!

What's up with that?

I suspect it's because we have had no rain.  But maybe it's something else.  Something to do with the cosmic aligning of planets or some other such thing in which I have no control.

So, I'll keep Lemon Fizz for another year.  And we'll see how it fares next spring.  I hope the foliage is glossy, dark green, and beautiful.  And I hope it is that way next autumn.  I hope I have to write a post apologizing for bad-mouthing it!

I hope, I hope, I hope.

I'm joining Pam at Digging for Foliage Follow-up, because foliage on a rose is just as important as its blooms.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Bloom Day in Hot, Dry September

It's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, and I have to say that this past month has been discouraging.

It's been hot.  We've had 22 days straight of over 100 degrees heat index, finally ending September 10th.  The highest temperature during that time was 104, and a heat index of 114 degrees.

Not exactly great gardening weather.

Firebush (Hamelia patens)

It's also been dry.  Very dry.  Since July 17th, we've had less than an inch of rain.

No, not rain.  Sprinklers.

But even with the hot, dry weather, somehow my garden knows that autumn is coming.  The asters are blooming.

And the roses are beginning to bloom again.

La Marne

Lady Hillingdon

Madame Berkeley

Madame Joseph Schwartz

At first glance, it may look decent, but everything in the garden is waiting for some life-giving rain.

Beyond my garden, the trees that survived the drought of 2011 are stressed, and are not going to make it much longer without a nice, long drink of water.

I try to look at the bright side of things, so is there a good thing about being so hot and dry?  Well, I haven't had to mow the lawn in over a month!

Colorado is flooding, and we are drying up.  What's happening in your garden?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I'm Not the Only One

I purchased a verbena bonariensis at the local flea market.  I had admired this plant in photos, but never dreamed I would find one for sale at a flea market!

I have delighted in its blooms.  But I'm not the only one!  The butterflies have been going crazy over this plant's tiny little blooms, too.

Verbena bonariensis grows to about 4 ft tall, on tall, thin sticks, is a perennial in zones 7 through 10, and is supposed to reseed like crazy.  (In some areas, it may become invasive.)  It doesn't add much visual weight to the garden, but it's perfect for adding in between or behind plantings.   Full sun, drought tolerant.  (Perfect for my hot, dry, Texas garden!)

If you want to grow verbena bonariensis, try finding it at your local flea market.  Or, for a more reliable source, you could try growing it from seeds.  Then stand back and wait for the butterflies!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hey! Look at This!

"Hey!  Look at this!", I called out to Mr. Holleygarden.  He is used to being interrupted.  Stepping away from his project, walking over to me, I can only imagine what he thinks he'll be looking at.

A new flower bloom, perhaps.

Or a strange bug.

Maybe a giant fire ant mound.

Could be a water leak, a broken fence panel, or some other problem he'll have to deal with.

But, this time, what I wanted to show him was this:

Isn't that interesting?

Can you imagine the hours it took to weave all those little pieces together in a beautiful cone shape, hanging delicately from a stem?

We looked it up.  It's the cocoon of a bagworm.

A bagworm.

I don't need any bagworms in my garden.

So, I ripped it down and smashed it.  I felt guilty.  As if I were destroying the Mona Lisa, or the Eiffel Tower, or some other masterpiece.

bagworm cocoon

Sorry, worm.  Unfortunately, your amazing architecture is not wanted here.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

I Did It!

I started my Master Gardening classes this past week!  After three years of hemming and hawing, contemplating and excuse-making, I finally decided to jump in and do it.  And I'm so glad I did!

I've already met so many wonderful gardeners.  Everyone in my class has a unique background, reason for joining, and interest (everything from from foraging to vegetable gardening to landscaping).

The class lecture was engrossing, and I have homework already.

Homework!  :O  

But it's o.k.  It's homework in a subject I'm anxious to learn about.  And we were promised field trips, and hands-on learning, too!

One busy bee!

Never thought I'd be happy to go back to school, but I've been dancing around for days!

Yippee, Whoopee and Woohoo!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Recurring Dream - A Seasonal Celebration and a Lesson Learned

For years now, I have been having a dream.  A recurring dream.

I dream of being an old woman.  I sit on a garden bench.  My garden is mature.  Large trees shade some areas, while some areas are bathed in bright sunlight.  My garden is complete.  Well, as complete as a garden can be.

Pat Austin

I sit on the garden bench with an iced tea in my hand.  I see every lovely bloom.  Butterflies flutter by.  Hummingbirds buzz past.  Bees work as I leisurely sit.  And I drink in all of its beauty.

In my dream, I am old and gray, yet I am still strong and tan from days in the sun.  As old as I am, I find that there is more time now.  More time to enjoy the pleasures in my garden.  The weeds are few, having been meticulously removed for so many years.  The plants are strong and beautiful.  The soil has been amended for years, and the earthworms are numerous.  My garden is a total pleasure to be in.

Black and blue salvia

It is a dream I dream often.


Donna at Gardens Eye View hosts a seasonal meme, Seasonal Celebrations.  She asks what you will be celebrating in the season ahead.  My answer is: work.

I always miss working in my garden in the summer.  In Texas, one just doesn't work much in their gardens in the summer.  It's too hot, and even the plants go dormant from the extreme temperatures.   So, autumn is perfect for getting the garden back in shape, or for planting new plants.  I am looking forward to having days cool enough to work out in my garden from sunrise to sundown.  I am sooooo ready!  (The time hasn't come quite yet - it's still over 100 degrees F daily here.)  :(

Christopher Marlowe

Every autumn I try to improve my garden.  I try to figure out which areas need more spring blooms, which areas need more autumn blooms, and which plants did well in our hot summer temperatures.  I remove dead plants, and weed the areas that are still trying to revert back to the wild.  I make note of how my soil has improved, and where it needs to be improved even more.  I examine the height of the plants, observing how much they have grown, and how they relate to their companions.  I look at sun and shade patterns, studying the changes that have occurred from the changes of the sun, and from the growth of the trees.

I used to hate to see autumn come, because I knew that winter would be arriving shortly thereafter.  But now I welcome it.  It has become a season for work, and that work gives me much pleasure.


Beth at PlantPostings also has a seasonal meme, one about Lessons Learned.  My lesson also involves work, and in seeking pleasure.


Before now, I figured, if a plant lived, it deserved to stay.  Plant removal, just because the plant didn't give me pleasure, seemed harsh.  But making my garden the best that it can be, means sacrificing a few plants.  You see, I finally realized that in my dream, just as important as the plants that were added, were the plants that were removed.  It has taken me a long time, but I am beginning to tweak my garden just for the amount of pleasure a plant gives me.

Madame Berkeley

I don't want a garden that's just alive.   I want something more.

I want to feel complete and total pleasure when I look out at my garden.  I want the garden of my dreams.

Appleblossom Flower Carpet rose

And I am working toward making that dream come true.

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