September 29, 2012

Copy Cat of a Knock-Off

I look forward to reading the blog Knock Off Decor where she features bloggers who go to Pottery Barn and other upscale places to get ideas to copy.

Today she linked to Infuse with Liz who managed a great Pottery Barn type centerpiece using Indian corn around a huge bowl and a vase with a candle.

Here's my  'use what is at hand' version in progress on the back of my Mule truck where I put it together straight from the field:

The originals used a large container with decorative corn
fastened to the outside. I put field corn inside the bowl.
A tall cylinder vase sits on a small flowerpot that helps
hold the corn and an upside down pot saucer for the vase.
The cylinder is filled with dry shelled corn dropped by
the corn picker. I scooped it off the ground to use as filler.

I look forward to finding a dark color candle,
brown or orange to replace the cream color.

I carefully saved loose shucks and corn silks
in case I decide to make corn husk dollies.
Here are the Pottery Barn and Liz versions on Liz's blog:

September 26, 2012

Firecracker Fern, Russelia equisetiformis

Firecracker Fern, sometimes called Coral Plant came to me from Janie in Texas. Its Spanish name is aretes de la cocineta (cook's earrings). I thought it was tender and kept it in the greenhouse through a couple of winters.

Russellia equisetiformis with 1 inch firecracker blooms.

Last year I planted it with some Ghost Plant at the end of a flower bed. It kind of sulked there. I brought it inside again and this time I put what was left of it with more Graptopetalum in a flue tile between some Esperanza and Pride of Barbados, where it thrived.

Leftover flue tile that Gary dragged home from helping with some
Atlanta landscaping when he was in college, one of my treasures.
Potted up for winter and under mist for today.
Planting Graptopetalum with Firecracker Fern is not an original idea. I saw it in a blog somewhere, great wads of Russelia and Ghost Plant together on a slope. I'm putting an extra little plant in every flower pot this fall. Once I tried it, I noticed that plants seem to like companions.

A big piece broke off, now in a pot to root.
I'm not sure about rooting such a big piece. I'm curious about why instructions always say something like, 'take 3-4 inch pieces' and dust with rooting hormone before sticking. Is 3-4" the ideal size, or is it the very smallest for optimum growth when there is not an abundance of pieces to root?
I learned propagation from Miss Billie who always broke off huge, truly huge pieces of lush growth saying, "Here, stick this in the ground, it will root." Did Miss Billie whisper some incantation over those big limbs or was I just lucky?
One more thing: I read on a reliable source that cuttings of R. equisetiformis should be taken in spring. It didn't break in the spring. I take my pieces where they fall.

September 24, 2012

Fall Bulb Orders for Winter Bloom

If I ordered all the bulbs I'd like for forcing and for spring bloom, we'd not afford to eat for most of the winter. I look long and hard and make many comparisons before I actually order. A bit of cash needs saving back for impulse buys in town, too.

I ordered the following this weekend:

Amaryllis: Elvas, white with red brushstrokes, Nymph, a double white with traces of red brushstrokes  and Benfica, a dark red. Deciding on colors is so hard for me. I want them all.

Appleblossom Amaryllis last Christmas

I wanted pink Appleblossom again. It is usually easy to find in the big box stores. I'll take a chance on getting one that is properly labeled if I find them. One year I had all the same brilliant peachy orange color, Exotica, which was exciting but not really a Christmas color.

Hyacinths: Blue Jacket and Gipsey Queen, 15 of each. Gipsey is an orangey pink that is so pretty and Blue Jacket is a dependable forcer. Delft Blue did best in some Clemson trials one year . I've had equal success with the blues.  These will be refrigerated as soon as they get here for about 10 weeks of chill before they are potted.

Delft Blue, chilled and potted to bloom for Christmas, 2011.

I never met a Hyacinth I didn't like, and I've planted a huge number over the years in all colors. Some are still with me. I gave away many as forced blooms in the dead of winter.  Eventually they do disappear and need replanting but those in well-drained locations with lots of compost will last for years.

This vendor, which I shall not name until I get the bulbs and see their beginning performance, did not have Blue Delft. I admit to being swayed by a 25% discount this early in the season. The discount is for new customers. I found few reviews of this company but they were linked by what I consider a reliable blogger.

I kept back two Amaryllis from last winter in the pots in which they grew. Late in August, I put them in the tool shed in the dark. The bigger one still has some green leaves, however floppy. The other suddenly shot up a new shoot: leaves, not a bud. I brought it out and watered it and put it in a bit of shade in the greenhouse. That pale shoot is turning green. I may pull it from the pot without disturbing the roots, add some fresh potting soil and slip it back in place. Potting soil tends to settle.

I'm still drooling over Daffodils and Muscari in catalogs. White muscari that came in a mixed package at a big box store last year were magnificent additions to pots of Violas. they've already put up new foliage and it isn't even fall. Muscari make good markers for bulbs that come up in spring, so you know not to plant more on top of last year's if you are forgetful.
I do not think you could plant too many.
It's a while until time to plant daffodils here, so I can review all my previous bulb photos and dream and make lists right on up to Thanksgiving. My all time favs are Ice Follies, Hawera, Juanita, Tete-a-tete, Sailboat, Ice Wings and February Gold.  Maybe I need some more imaginative selections, which may be forced on me by sold-out vendors of the ones I wanted.

September 20, 2012

White Garden around the Greenhouse

Phildelphus inodorus blooming in April

It's a start. I dug two Philadelphus suckers to put at the northwest and southwest corners at front. I wanted little trees that are bare in winter and bloom early spring. Mock orange blooms just after Dogwoods here, with bloom continuing into May. Kept pruned upward, they make a graceful arching small tree.

White Datura, if only for the night fragrance.
Big plans, slow progress with these beds. Five of 6 white lantana rooted; really 6 rooted but during the event with the squirrel in the greenhouse one broke off at the soil line.  I stuck another piece in the flat but whether it roots remains to be seen. Five will probably fill the south side bed in short order next summer.
Tattered Tiger on White lantana.

Ice Follies

I'm still deciding whether to put some white daffodils along the south side. The north side can have most anything that likes shade, maybe some Thalia triandrus Daffodils followed by white Begonias.

 Pink Gerbera

If seedling Gerbera daisies turn out palest pink/near white, they may go on the sunny south side. The daisy seedlings are in 4" pots now and most look great.  The Gerbera above is the one that seeds came from. I think. These are most like species Gerberas, rather than the showy hybrids usually seen in garden centers with fat rounded petals in bright colors.

White pentas, palest pink is good, too.
Unless every cutting fails, I'll surely have white pentas along with white lantana. Butterflies seem to like white Pentas every bit as well as brighter colors.

Sometimes I have to think of new ways to use old plants. Spider plants abound in pots and planters. They do well in the ground and would make a great green and white edging.
String Lily crinums make a stunning addition.
Violas in pots last winter.
Not sure about all white violas; winter needs color.
Seen though a Camellia tree last winter.
I'm always hopeful of blooms and fragrance year around. White or blue hyacinths will scent the greenhouse in winter, daffodils outside in March. No fragrance from my Mock Orange, but warm weather will bring out Daturas for summer nights bloom. Gardenias nearby in June.  Lantanas, Gerberas and Pentas have no fragrance but bloom all summer until hard frost.

I'm linking to Tootsie's Flaunt Your Flowers Friday Fertilizer meme.
Do join us for garden pleasures. 

September 15, 2012

Where the Wildflowers Grow

The north end of our place is where the wild things grow. There is a patch of woods across the highway from the house but I rarely go near or into those woods. It is along the fence there that I first saw the yellow blossoms of Corydalis and nearby is where wild Asclepias grew even after the firebreak blow cut them off. One year wild Monarda grew along the edge of the patch where butterbeans were planted in the old days where now a pine thicket grows. My favorite wildflower place is farther away.

The north pasture has two patches of woods. One is about an acre and the other is larger. Ancient oaks grow in between, both on the top of the hill and in the pond site in the flat.

I go in through a gate in the fence along the dirt road. The first wildflowers that I see are beginning blooms of Agalinis purpurea. I can see that winter wind must have blown seeds from west to east as there is a long swath of plants where last year there was only a tiny patch in the fence corner.

Agalinis is one host for the larvae of Common Buckeye butterflies. Buckeye caterpillars feast on a variety of common wildflowers, unlike the many who choose a single host.

Nearby are scattered plants of Pityopsis, sometimes listed as a Golden Aster. We call it Silk Grass.  Silk Grass is more plentiful beyond the first patch of woods. There is a Golden Aster in bloom that I have not identified: tiny yellow blooms, slender leaves, about 3 feet tall.

Silk Grass

Along the south side of the one-acre wood are great mounds of wild Lantana, its pale yellow and bright fuchsia blooms complementary to the Beautyberries growing with it. Pokeweed looks dry in comparison to Beautyberries.

The summer drought left several wildflowers looking less than their usual best. Blue Vervain is short and scant. New York Ironweed also did not reach its usual height.

Little bluestem and big bluestem are scattered in the Bahai meadows along with their cousin, the grass we call Broom sedge. Some years broom sedge is tall and golden. This year it is short and hardly waves in the breeze. I saw only one good-sized swath of it.

Skeletons of Erigeron blanket some areas, dead from earlier drought. New Erigeron has bravely populated the meadows, albeit thinly.

Eupatorium dots the fields, not a thick patch of it noticed anywhere. I saw no Rabbit Tobacco, a real oddity not to see any.

More plentiful than I’ve ever seen are tiny Sumac plants. A few along the fence have leaves turning red, but those in low-lying areas are still dark green.

Another plant that has multiplied is Elephantapus. The large leaves lie flat to the ground. Stems grow about 2 feet tall with bracts resembling tricorn hats that hold tiny pinkish flowers.


Plentiful to the south of the bigger woods is Partridge Pea, Chamaecrista fasciculata, formerly called Cassia. These legumes are the host to various Sulphur butterflies: Sleepy Orange, Cloudless Sulphur and the tiny orange Sulphurs sometimes seen around a damp spot where a puddle was.

I carried a bucket that held seeds deadheaded a while back from Echinacea plants, sprinkling them in what looked to me like likely spots for growth. Next trip, I’ll take seeds of Baptisia alba. I planted out six plants this summer near the original plant in the Upper Garden. They grew easily from seed.

Last fall I threw Dogwood seeds from my garden along the south edge of the larger woods. I haven’t noticed a single plant. Small animals may have feasted on them, or they may take the second year to finally grow. I may gather more this year and make sure they’re firmly into the ground about an inch this time. That’s the method I usually use; no preparation, just stick Dogwood seeds in the ground and wait.

Solidago is beginning to bloom. They get blamed for hay fever because Goldenrod is showy in bloom as Ambrosia species bloom at the same time. I saw plenty of ragweed.

Did I mention Purple Love Grass Eragrostis ? It dots the meadow and I saw one patch of it on an east-facing slope. It resembles Gulf Muhly with its panicles of bloom, somewhat smaller and purple rather than pink.

Today was the first time I’d seen Blue Curls, Trichostema dichotomum  in the far meadows. Only one plant, but much bigger than the ones I usually see in a flower bed. I leave any weed with a blue blossom in my flower beds, often they are a host. For example, Toadflax is another host to Buckeye butterflies.

This is a wordy post, full of things I wanted to remember

September 06, 2012

How to Cram the most Plants in the Smallest Space

Time to think of cuttings and plants for the winter garden, inside. I took 36 Pentas cuttings this morning, placing each in a container of warm water and being sure that each stem had a node that would be covered with soil.

Some of Pentas cuttings at bottom.

On the list yet to cut and stick are Persian Shield, White Shrimp Plant, Porterweed and maybe some Purple Heart. Setcreasea looks good in containers with Persian Shield in the winter.

I've been looking at Steve Asbell's Rainforest Drops which are smallish grapevine balls with Rhipsalis cuttings and other plant delights which can hang. I couldn't decide on a good place for hanging balls, but decided to experiment with a larger grapevine structure that could sit on a pot.

My obsession with not wasting plants and my tendency to propagate more left me with an abundance of suitable plants: New bromeliads -- when I potted the 2 pups that my old bromeliad had, the mother plant promptly produced 4 more. An abundance of graptopetalum resulted from saving every little leave that broke off. Bits of resurrection fern from a pecan limb that broke, collected in an old dinner plate grew into a solid mass of fern bits, bright green after rain.

A half dozen little pieces of Christmas cactus rooted. I have 5 new good-sized Schlumbergera cuttings in assorted colors and an Easter Cactus in addition  to my original Christmas cactus, all rooted and growing.

I managed to fashion some circles of grapevine I'd dried into an 8" ball shape and stuffed it with sphagnum moss, tucking in the 6 little Christmas cactus cuttings from my original plants, a couple of graptopetalum, 4 good pieces of fern and a bromeliad to crown the top.

The grapevine ball sits atop a mossy pot.
The finished vine ball with epiphytes.
One pot will hold the equivalent of a dozen
single containers.

There are still five Bromeliads to find spaces for, a flat of graptophylum, the new Christmas Cacti that may not even bloom this season, and a large number of cuttings and plants that are a must to get potted up before frost.
Red and White Begonias, 2011.
Begonia cuttings did so well last year. A single pot of red looks so festive near Christmas and I loved the whites last year.
Last spring I made a list of hits and misses from the previous season in the greenhouse.
Later I'll list them on the Seedscatterer blog while I decide what comes in this winter.

I Blog Here & Here too