March 31, 2010

Tropicalismo: Hot and Loud in the Temperate Garden

The sub-tropical garden doesn't really get hot and loud until April and later. Azaleas in hot pinks and purples are late this year. The real tropicals are still under glass, or yet to emerge from the ground. Their blooms will be mid-summer delights.

I dug, divided and transplanted Cymbopogon yesterday. Green sprouts are yet to emerge but Lemon Grass culms have pink buds. I also dug some lantana montevidensis where it crawled out between Salmon Sheen daylilies in the corner bed and transplanted it to the new stump berm. Lilies are emerging on the south side of the berm, behind Muhly grass which is recovering nicely from its burn.

On the northwest corner of the berm bed are Tahiti daffodils.
What better name for a narcissus in bright orange and yellow?

is the meme sponsored by Plant Fanatic Noel of the Big Island of Hawaii.
Visit his blog to link your Hot Colors post and
see what is blooming Tropical or Tropicalismo around the world this March.

More loud colors in my garden this cool spring are hot fuschia fringes of Loropetalum, featured on my other blog

California poppies are starting to pop. Next month I hope all the poppies will be showing their colors.

Be sure to go see Noel and friends' Hot, Loud, Proud posts
and show your colors.

March 29, 2010

One Last Look at Hyacinths

A rhetorical question prompted me to look back at Hyacinths one more time. They're almost all gone, except for the late pinks like Gypsy Queen, Pink Pearl and Top Hit. Top Hit is actually lavender and one of my faves. Back when I planted the first Top Hits, they marched like soldiers down the side of a bed that features lycoris in summer. Then I gave them alternating partners.

New this year, bought as 'mixed' instead of the alternative 'red white and blue' mix.
When I have mixed hyacinths, I sort the bulbs by color.
I like a 'french effect' of blues and lavenders together and a similar mix of pinks and lavenders.
The real trick is to get earlies separated from lates so they bloom together.
Hyacinths do very well planted in a filled circle instead of a row.
From this perspective, you can't see that these are two rounds.
Their companions are dianthus pinks and alyssum.
What can I say about soldier daffodils?
My festival hyacinths got out of line.
Maybe if the soldiers march 2 or 3 abreast?
Instead of along the front, how about curving through mid-bed
where later plants will hide the foliage as it matures?
A new bulb catalog came in the mail last week.  Sigh.
Delft Blue and China Pink bloom at the same time.
Blue Jacket, City of Haarlem and Pink Pearl bloom together.
It was a wonderful year for hyacinths, possibly because all of February was cold.

Grossed Out by a Dog Who Runs with Scissors

It's enough to suffer through being tagged with squeaky toys, slapped with the rope toy she shakes from side to side. Now she learned I'm squeamish about being touched with dead things. She'd been visiting the armadillo graveyard to bring home trinkets, pieces of shell. Today she turned up with a skeleton. I am sure it was from an armadillo, given the size, the flat pelvis piece and the vertebrae all joined together. She alternated chewing on it and chasing me with it, like a bad little schoolboy with a garter snake.

I didn't make a pic of the armadillo skeleton. Just imagine it.

Hillstar, a jonquilla

Minnow, blooms smaller than a quarter.

Daffodils and Hyacinths are almost all gone.
Azaleas are deciding whether to wait for Easter,
while Dogwoods are showing white cupped blooms.

March 27, 2010

Spring Brings Frequent Changes

We're nearing the end of camellia season. As camellias end their season, azaleas are opening. I saw two dark swallowtail butterflies this morning. They appear as the azaleas open.

A few years ago, I noticed the absence of good nectar sources for butterflies when the azaleas finish blooming and before the spring annuals open. Dianthus species fill this gap.

Bath's pinks are almost ready to open.
I planted more today, rooted cuttings that are also ready to bloom.

Redbud tree, buzzing with bees.
Boxwoods are all bright green and blousy with
new growth needing pruning.
Fallen blossoms and petals carpet the ground
under the camellias.

What's next in your garden, now that spring is here?

March 26, 2010

The Scrap Man Achieves His Goal

The Scrap Man drove up here a couple of years ago and offered to clean out the sheds and haul off junk and scrap metal. In time, it was decided that he not only would clean out the old barn but tear it down, selling the good wide boards inside to a man who is renovating an old house. Some of the outside was rotten and the sills were eaten by termites to mere shells, but the inner planks were good where shelters had preserved them. Salvaging every piece of wood that was usable, he even straightened the ancient nails, saving them in a bucket.

While Bennie was doing odd jobs and picking up seasonal work, he was attending college. It was not an easy path. About halfway through, his wife was in a tragic accident that left her unable to work and traumatized the children. The whole family picked up pecans to sell in the fall. Bennie attributes his work ethic to his grandmother with whom he came to live when he was a teenager to get out of the city and away from gangs.

Today he brought us an invitation to his college commencement at Albany State University on May first. Bennie is a candidate for a Bachelor of Science in Middle Grades Education with concentrations in Social Studies/Language Arts. He completed his practice teaching and has been working as a substitute teacher. Goal met.

March 24, 2010

Do They Call It Spring because It Is a Giant Leap?

Every day now there are new buds, new blossoms, new life. Some of the daylilies have lush green foliage. Some that survived some really cold weather has 'spring sickness' with yellow streaks and dry edges. Chickweed is seeding out and turning yellow in places. Other places it looks as if it decided to stick around a while with the wild geranium and other undesirables.

Catherine mentioned the Meme that Noelle suggested: making a bouquet.
Erlicheer flopped in the rain and the dog rain over them, so I picked some.
It was so overpoweringly fragrant I left it in the greenhouse.
See that nastutium leaf at the left? They are outside now.

I keep waiting for a late cold spell before I take plants out, but I think the time is near. Things like wax begonias can survive a light frost, even. Some of the tropicals might wait, like pentas, colocasia and angel wing begonia. Persian shield needs to go out before it gets any leggier.

It won't be long until the sun is too hot to leave plants in the greenhouse at all and they'll all go outside for the summer by mid-April. Things I plan not to try again include true tropicals like Heliconia and Bird of Paradise that should be in warm shade, not sunny with cold nights.

March 23, 2010

Now Appearing: Lily Foliage and Buds of all Kinds

Lilies are coming up everywhere. Asiatics and Longiflorum/Asiatics come up with whorls of leaflets. Orientals come up looking like a rocket about to lift off.

Trumpets look more like Cousin It. It's exciting to find lily sprouts because unlike most perennials, the stem may be several inches from where they emerged last year. I always wonder about the secret underground life of lilies. When they're happy, they multiply and great wads of lily foliage comes up. The unhappy ones send up a tentative little leaf as if testing the climate.

I'm finding more and more new growth of Salvia leucantha. Pineapple sage came back, to my surprise.

Buds: Gerbera daisies are budding. I saw the first Echinacea bud. Tight buds of Snowball Viburnum are now loose but not open. 'Pink Pearl' azalea has two pink buds down near the ground.
Then I saw some open buds! Pink Pearl is a fav azalea.
I first planted them some 40 years ago at our other
house, plants from Atlanta Farmers Market.
I planted new ones here, and rooted cuttings.

Oakleaf hydrangeas have new leaves and tiny buds in the center of the cluster of leaves.

March 22, 2010

Best Daffodils Saved for Last

The very last is usually Baby Moon, not yet in bloom. The latest to bloom will be among the last. Thalia and the smaller triandrus Ice Wings have begun to open, Ice Wings first. They look like little white nodding bells. Pale yellow Hawera, one of the oldest triandrus is opening too.

Ice Wings. Did I mention the fragrance?

I hope you don't get tired of so many daffodils. There are so many to see and they look different every day. These were backlit by the sun making Pink Charm look translucent. Sailboat is a jonquilla. 
Pink Charm and Sailboat

Among the chores that Buffy and I had today was to move some Ivory Dawn daylilies that have not done well where they were. Buffy was enthusiastic about the digging, jumped into the wheelbarrow of sifted compost, and helped me retrieve small garden tools. Those daylilies were almost overtaken by Shasta daisies. They're now located with some Crinums in a little more sun. I didn't make a pic.

Erlicheer daffodils were late this year. I picked about 8 stems on Saturday because they were lying on the ground from a combination of rain, wind, heavy heads and possibly the dog running over them.
Sedum acre is growing under the patio table in potting soil and dust on the pavers. I think to scoop it up and plant in the bed beside Erlicheer between the white crape myrtles.  Compost to fill a depression where I moved one crape is already sifted.

It was windy again today, and cool.

March 21, 2010

Succession Planting: Can I Keep It Green?

Notice the green, green grass around the beds. Centipede grass goes dormant after the first frost. Ryegrass was overseeded. Mowing will keep it from going to seed and hot sun will kill it as the summer grass comes out. Ryegrass will pull phosphorus and potassium from the subsoil and suppress nematodes, always a problem in our sandy soil.

Lantana montevidensis sprouts

The tan mulch is a mixture of pine needles and dry lantana foliage.

Purple Heart in this same spot, last August with
reseeded Melampodium. and purple Datura.
Purple Heart roots easily. I have some in little pots to tuck in other spots.

Lantana, last July. You can orient the bed by the crape myrtle trunks.
Behind lantana is Madagascar periwinkle, which followed poppies and larkspur.
Behind periwinkles is Salvia leucantha for a September/October show.
Periwinkles reseed easily; I was told just to stir the soil a little in spring.
Salvia leucantha is perennial here, but requires very good drainage.

In a mild winter, the lantana would not have died back.
I'm deciding whether to plant more summer bulbs with
winter foliage, like Lycoris and Oxblood lilies.

March 20, 2010

Daffodil Trumpets Herald Spring

Not all daffodils have trumpets as such, but they all announce the coming of spring. Some of the earliest blossoms have faded; some of the latest to bloom are just coming into bud. New plantings bloom early or late but will be back on schedule next year.

Tahiti is just coming into bloom.

Sailboat is fully open now.

Pink Charm is blooming everywhere; here with Sailboat.

Jetfire that I moved as they were coming up
bloomed later than the others.

Van Sion is the oldest daffodil here,
first planted when DH was a little boy.
More daffodils to come include Hawera, Baby Moon and Thalia.

I found new sprouts on 3 Salvia leucantha, 2 Pineapple Sage and some yellow Lantana. Not all of these are certain to return here and I'm always happy to find the first green shoots. I have rooted cuttings of Pineapple Sage, which will increase the scant planting started last year.

Redbud trees are in full bloom.

Redbud branches hang in front of a camellia.
An ancient dogwood is ready to burst into bloom behind.

Clashing beautifully are redbud, loropetalum and quince.
Soon to bloom are the dogwood and philadelphus in the foreground.
Not seen to the right is a lily-flowered magnolia, smells like watermelon.

Blueberry blossoms and a rite of Spring.

March 16, 2010

My St. Paddy's Day Favorite has a Spanish name

 Juanita was a popular name for American girls, some eighty or more years ago. I know at least three, one now dead, all charming ladies. I wonder who inspired the name for this daffodil. It's a great name for a daffodil with a darker yellow cup with an orange rim.

Last night's conversation as St. Pat's plans aired on TV news: "Are you Irish?" "Yes," I replied. "Kiss me." Then I told him my favorite 'being Irish' story. Mama was talking with Daddy Mack's sisters while little David waited, politely patient. The Aunts repeatedly mentioned about being 'Scots-Irish' until David finally sighed and said, "Well, I guess I must be Potatoes."

I reviewed an old Journal that I started about fifteen years ago. Every February and March, I'm looking at daffodils and other bulbs in bloom. In 2003, I vowed, No More Tulips. I'm glad I switched to Hyacinths.

The view of the redbud tree looking up from my kitchen window is spectacular. It's fully in bud and swarming with bees. It is more than 15 years old. They're short-lived with weak roots. The one MIL was so proud of blew down in a hurricane some 25 years ago. One day this one will lay down in a big wind, I hope from the east so it misses the house. There's another at the SW corner of the front porch which began bloom a few days later than this one. Redbuds are easy to grow; birds planted both these.

I think I'll go out and plant something.

March 15, 2010

As Pink as Daffodils Get

As Pink as They Get in my garden.
Pink Charm and Lavender

I never tire of daffodils. These are some that have bloomed to date, not all. Planting different cultivars extends the show throughout the month of March. Bulbs planted the previous fall may bloom earlier or later than the established bulbs, depending on the weather.

A pleasant surprise today was finding 3 sprouts in the pots of nasturtiums I planted for the GROW Project.

I Set my Muhly Grass on Fire

They burn the Muhly at the Ecological Lab, so I tried it. See the green?

Orange violas and seedling poppies. At left is a California poppy, at right are mixed poppies.


It's exciting to go out and find a newly opened daffodil bloom from those planted last fall like the one at top center. Pink Charm finally has first open blossoms. They'll fade a little over time.

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