Friday, August 31, 2012

Change I Can Live With

I like consistency.  I find comfort in the stability of routine.  But occasionally, even I find it just a wee bit dreary.

Buff Beauty

Like my haircut - I've had basically the same haircut for years.  Oh, a little different length, sometimes the bangs are different or even non-existent, but basically - the same.

And even though I love my home, most of the rooms have been the same for years.  Maybe I'll move some accessories, but basically - the same.

My daily routine - you guessed it - is basically the same from day to day.  I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

Madame Berkeley

So, today, I woke up in the same bed, at the same time, with the same haircut, and thought everything was the same as the day before.  But, I was wrong.

I realized things were different the moment I stepped outside.

Glamis Castle

I have new blooms in my garden!

Home Run

Lots of new blooms!

Cream Veranda

Ah, finally - something different.

I used to think I would love to live where it was spring all year long.  But, in reality, I am glad to see the seasons change.  And I love to watch the plants change as the seasons turn.

It's just the right amount of change for me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Field of Dreams

Do you dream of a field of delicate, beautiful butterflies?  Butterflies that won't fly away?  Well, I have the answer for you!

Try growing Gaura Lindheimeri.

Its beautiful bloom looks much like a butterfly.  And since the bloom rests upon thin, long strands of foliage, the wind seems to fling these winged blooms into flight.  No wonder the common name is Butterfly Gaura, and that there are cultivars named 'Whirling Butterflies', 'Sunny Butterflies', 'Crimson Butterflies', and 'Blushing Butterflies'!

Gaura will grow in zones 6 through 9 (possibly 5), likes full sun, and will spread to around 3 ft.  It can grow to around 5 ft tall if staked, or flop upon itself if not staked.  I don't stake mine, and it cascades into a cloud of blooms.  Gaura blooms in late spring, then again early autumn.  It can be cut back in midsummer if you like a bushier look.

My field of dreams would be a field full of butterfly gaura.  I think if I built it, the real butterflies would come.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Oh, Baby!

Usually I try to give some information in my posts.  Or at least make them somewhat entertaining.  But this post is different.  This post may be considered entertaining, but only in a freaky kind of way!

This is what I saw when I checked on my roses this morning:

At first glance, all I saw was something odd.  I thought it was some strange growth, then I realized it was something on the rose, and of course, I thought of aphids.  But when I got closer, I realized these were bigger - and they were staring back at me!

Grasshoppers!  Lots and lots and lots of tiny little grasshopper babies!

Since they are all clustered together on this one little rose (Ducher), they must have hatched recently.  Look closely at these baby grasshoppers and you can see that they lack wings.

I've never before seen grasshopper babies clumped together like this.  I hope they don't think my rose is their baby food!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 2012 Garden Book Reviews

Someone, somewhere (sorry I don't remember who), recommended this book:

The Garden and Lawrence Johnston

by Graham S Pearson

Although I don't know where I heard of this book, I am so glad I remembered to purchase it!  It was a joy to read.

This book first introduces you to Lawrence Johnston, the man, giving a summary from the time of his birth, his years in the military, and of course, the acquisition of Hidcote.  I loved seeing the old photographs of him, his gardening staff, and the gardens.

I also enjoyed hearing how Mr. Johnston read books on gardening, designed his garden areas, worked the soil, and planted with a vision.  Even though WWI interrupted Mr. Johnston's time at Hidcote, his passion for gardening never waned, and he began working in the gardens again upon his return.

The book also outlines the politics of giving this garden to the National Trust.  I could only imagine having to give away a garden that took a lifetime to build, and it made me very sad.  There is a chapter outlining the committee's decision regarding a memorial plaque and its inscription.  It would be quite funny if it were not so appalling.

The second half of the book is a Tour of the Garden by Anna Pavord.  The garden is divided into 29 separate sections, and each of these sections are described in each of the four seasons.  Along with pictures, this part of the book is designed to give you a feel of the entire garden.

A large map of the garden is included, showing the placement of the 29 different sections.  It is quite a large garden, and I am in awe of all that Mr. Johnston created.  I am glad someone, somewhere, recommended this book.  It was entertaining, enlightening, and enthralling.


Now it's your turn!

Please join in on the 20th of every month with your own garden book review (any book with a garden influence qualifies).  And be sure to visit the other participants, too!  :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

I Wonder

The seven ancient wonders of the world was a list of seven amazing accomplishments of man.  The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only wonder on that list left standing.  I would love to see this wonder of the ancient world.

But since I've become a gardener, I've realized I don't need to see The Great Pyramid to experience great wonders.  I experience them daily in the garden.  Every day I pause in awe and amazement.  Here are my personal seven wonders of the world:

1.  A seed.
I often wonder how such a small thing can hold the secret of life.  It is truly a mystery to me that seeds are the difference between starvation and satiety.

2.  Soil.
It's amazing to think of the city of life living in each small piece of soil.  Sometimes I just stop my digging to stare and wonder at this ecosystem of microorganisms.

3.  Rain.
Any gardener will tell you that rain will affect a plant's growth much more than a sprinkler system.  From its formation, to its feel, this is a wonder that is soon missed if it is absent for any amount of time.

4.  Seasons.
Spring, summer, autumn, and winter.  Each have their own mystery, and I am often amazed how sensitive plants are in response to the changing of the seasons.

5.  Flying creatures.  Dragonflies, bees, butterflies, birds - to name a few.
Of course, just the fact that they can fly is amazing.  But what makes me stop in wonder is the importance of each of these creatures in our gardens, and the impact of them on our own existence.

6.  Babies of all kinds - human or animal.
They are each a miracle.

7.  The interconnection between it all.
The way the pollinators help to make a seed.  The way the soil and rain allow the seed to become a carrot.  The way the seasons affect the carrot.  The way the carrot delivers calories, nutrients, and vitamins to our bodies.

The longer I live, the more I realize that everything is connected in some way, even if we don't quite understand how.

So, it's disturbing when I read that the butterflies are being affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, with mutations being passed down from generation to generation.  You can read more about it here.

I wonder if this will affect the butterflies in my garden eventually.  I wonder if this will affect other animals.  I wonder if this will one day have an effect on each of us.

I wonder.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Purple Reign for Bloom Day

It's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for August.  And it's hot!

There are several ways to cool off a garden visually.  The use of variegated foliage, white blooms, no blooms (just green foliage), and cool colors like blue and purple, are a few ways.

In my garden, for a visual cool, purple reigns:

Crape Myrtle 'Muskogee'


Provence lavender

Scabiosa (Pincushion flower)

Indigofera decora (Chinese indigo)

Rose 'Popcorn' is weaving itself through the Chinese Indigo!



This little aster is reminding me that soon the weather will be cooler, too!

 How do you visually cool off your garden?

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Do you ever hear the name Marvin without first thinking messy?  What about Nellie?  We have a cat named Nellie - named precisely because she's so nervous!

But what about Lantana?  What comes to mind when you hear that name?


Yes, I have some Lovely Lantanas.  My purple and white lantanas are luscious.  They thrive in the heat.  The butterflies love them.  They spread over the ground, forming a beautiful groundcover.  There are also bush type lantanas as well, some growing as tall as 6 ft!  Personally, I think I like the low types the best.

Lantanas are also latecomers.  I think they are just lazy!  Every spring I have to remind myself not to pull them up.  I consider them lucky that I remember they may look dead, but really aren't.  They are the last plant to show signs of life in my garden, and I always rejoice when I finally see a bit of green among the brown.  The wait is well worth it when July and August comes around.

Lovely, late, lazy, and lucky.  All good nicknames for lantanas.

But lantanas are not always lovely, like Marvins are not always messy, and Nellies are not always nervous.  I also have a lantana I've nicknamed lousy.  It's quite loathsome.  This lousy lantana always looks terrible.

And it never blooms until late Septemer!  I've threatened for a couple of years that I was going to dig this one up and throw it out.

Lantanas can get powdery mildew if grown in shade, and I think that's what plagues my lantana.  Lantanas can also be affected by the lantana lace bug.  So lantanas are not infallible.

Maybe next year I'll dig up these lantanas in the spring, when they are still brown, and late in greening up.

They won't be lucky then.  But maybe I will.  Maybe, finally, all my lantanas will be nicknamed lovely.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Spy Novels

I just love to read spy novels.  So much intrigue, drama, and suspense.  Almost as much as growing a rose garden!  You see, many times a rose is bought without knowing exactly what the bloom will look like.  Mystery and suspense, sometimes leading to quite a bit of drama!

Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe is a great example.  I bought this rose this past spring without first seeing its bloom, yet I still placed it in a prominent position in my main rose garden.  I wondered if this act might become a tragedy.  Oh, the suspense!  Thankfully, I am very pleased with the way in which the story is unfolding.

Christopher Marlowe, the rose, was named after Christopher Marlowe, the famous playwright of the Elizabethan era.  Although we may never know for sure, there has been a lot of speculation that Christopher Marlowe may have also been a spy!  The reason there is speculation is because right before his death, he met with three friends who were known as spies.  It was one of these men that stabbed Christopher Marlowe, leading to his death.  The stabber received a pardon from Queen Elizabeth for this action, causing some to wonder if this was not in actuality an assassination.

And in another twist, some even speculate Christopher Marlowe wasn't really assassinated.  Instead, he needed a new identity, and his death was faked.  Because the writing style is similar (and some verses almost copied), some believe that the name Marlowe chose as his new identity was none other than William Shakespeare!

It's almost like the modern day mystery of the Elvis Presley sightings!

No matter the truth about the man, I love the rose.  Fragrant, disease resistant, hardy in zones 5 through 9, it grows to around 3 or 4 ft. tall and wide.  When I'm out in my garden, I can't seem to take my eyes off this rose.  It's definitely noticeable - in a good way!

I think it stands out because of its very unusual color and bloom form.  Most descriptions state this rose is red-orange, and it probably is in cooler weather.  In my hot summer garden, it's pink, with a splash of magenta, a touch of coral, and fading to lavender.  Yet somehow, it still seems to blend well with almost every color of the rainbow (except perhaps a bright red).  Its numerous petals open wide and pull back, until the entire bloom is a ball of ruffles.

Need to add a little excitement to your garden (without all the drama)?  Consider Christopher Marlowe - a rose that's perfectly named for a man whose life (and death) was full of intrigue.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Yackety Yak!



"Over here!"

"Look at me!"

"Wouldn't I look good in your garden?"

Oh, yes!  But I have no where to put you! 

"You're not going to leave me here, are you?"

"Just look at me again!"

Alright!  I'll find a place for you - somewhere!

"Hey, I like your garden!  Thanks for the prime location!  Sunny mornings, shade late afternoons.  Fairly good soil.  You could have done a little more to the soil, you know."

Be quiet!

"I know I'm one of your favorites!  I can tell by the way your eyes get wide when you look at me.  And how you come over, and caress my blooms."

Yes, you're one of my favorites. 

"It's the color, isn't it?"

Yes, I admit, your coloring is mesmerizing.  Pink on reverse, making a beautiful pink bud that opens wider every day until the bloom turns almost white.  Just a touch of yellow.  Not too much, but just enough to give your coloring a little extra interest.  Plus, your bloom is full.  You're certainly not stingy with the petals. 

"And my foliage?"

Are you just fishing for compliments?  Your foliage has been perfect.  And you are supposedly disease resistant.  Still, I've only had you since spring, so I try not to jump to conclusions.  I usually won't evaluate foliage until I've had a rose in my garden for several years.

"I like where you've placed me.  I'm next to some moderns, some Austins, some antiques, and of course, I'm a hybrid tea!"

Yes, you're an old hybrid tea.  One of the first in that class.

"One of the first in my class?  I must be smart!"

Can you see me rolling my eyes at you?  Be quiet!

"Aren't you going to tell everyone my name?  They might want one for their garden!"

All right!  Anything to shut you up!  You're name is Antoine Rivoire.  You've got a delicate fragrance. You grow in zones 6 through 10.  You grow around 3 ft to 5 ft tall.  You're also known as Mrs. William Howard Taft.

"What?!!  I'm also known as Mrs. William Howard Taft?!!"

Well, you were quite popular as that name, during a certain period.  Don't be upset!  You've been around since 1895!  So you've reinvented yourself a few times - so has Madonna!  Now be quiet!

"You know, if you were going to show a bush shot, the least you could have done was weed this grass out!"

I'm trying to get to that!  Instead I'm having ridiculous conversations with roses!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Made Me a Liar!

I wrote a post about Carefree Beauty (here) in which I commented that this rose was one of my favorites, although I noted that there was one thing that kept this rose from being truly wonderful - repeat bloom.  She didn't have one.

Well, there was some repeat in the fall.  But no blooms in the summer.  Nada.  Nothing.  Zip.

But, this year Carefree Beauty has made me a liar!  She has bloomed all summer long.  All summer long!

Bloom after big, beautiful bloom.

All summer long.

What has changed?  Why is she blooming all summer now?  Maybe because I've moved her to where she gets more sun.  Maybe because she's finally settling into her new home.

Maybe she just wanted to make a liar out of me!

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