July 27, 2013

My Best Butterfly Plants for Summer

Everybody has been anxiously awaiting the summer influx of butterflies. They are a little late because, I guess, of the rains. Every day I am seeing a few more numbers and an occasional newcomer not spotted before this season.

At first glance I thought he was just another Tiger. Then I saw the black on his back and the lines of gold that distinguish a Black Swallowtail. The size gives him away, too. Tithonia was his nectar of choice.

Yellow Lantana is late getting started but this Checkerspot found it.

Pipevine Swallowtails are finding Pentas galore. The tall pinks and reds are their favorites but they find white Pentas to be good nectaring, too.

We're seeing Pipevines and Spicebush Swallowtails nectaring on the same plants.

Except for one plant that did not die back in winter,
Duranta is slow to bloom. This Gulf Frit found
the blooming one.

Pride of Barbados is blooming and Esperanza has commenced again.

I see Swallowtails visiting the Petunia patch but not in great numbers.

The best Butterfly attractions here at this time are

  1. Tithonia
  2. Pentas
  3. Lantana
  4. Pride of Barbados
Approaching fall, Pineapple Sage, Salvia leucantha and Duranta attract butterflies as well. Plantings for butterflies also provide nectar for hummingbirds. This morning I saw one on Tithonia and later on Pentas, happily sipping alongside butterflies.

Pentas and Pineapple Sage need carrying over winter as cuttings. I rooted more white Lantana for the bed on the south side of the greenhouse. Tithonia reseeds if you pull up the frost-killed plants and lay them with the seed heads where you want next year's plants to grow.

What are your best butterfly plants? 

July 18, 2013

Alternanthera as Alternative for Coleus in Hot Sun

 One of my favorite foliage plants, Alternanthera is brightest in full sun, will grow in part shade. Less of a water hog than coleus. You may know one of these plants as Joseph's Coat, Calico Plant, Parrot Leaf, Christmas Clover or any of a number of common names. Perennial here; cooler climates treat it as an annual. I usually keep a coffee mug filled with water and stuffed with 'Yellow Form'  inside over winter and plant the rooted cuttings after frost.

Alternanthera ficoidea 'Yellow Form' -- I call it 'Chartreuse'

Alternanthera here with Purple Heart and some young plants of Verbena on a Stick.

A. dentata ‘Rubiginosa’

Rubiginosa is a big plant, good for covering 
ankles of climbing roses; weaves through its

A. ficoidea ‘Bettzichiana’

Pretty in summer, in fall it turns deep red. 

Here with Yellow Lantana and a young 
Pride of Barbados.

I am waiting for Pride of Barbados to bloom like this one in the Fiesta Bed:

Today's Butterfly, Gulf Frit on Tithonia:

Hot, Hot Hot! Tropicalismo!

July 16, 2013

Foliage Plants in Purple, Chartreuse and Grey

Tropical Foliage will show up on Seedscatterer blog on Wednesday. Well, these are fairly tropical as well. These plants are easily propagated,

I use much Purple Heart in my plantings. It roots easily, a broken off piece can
just be stuck in the ground and it will root; the same with the Sedum acre at
bottom. Spider plants are usually thought of as container plants. They work 
well in garden plantings and in our climate will return from roots if the tops 
do not survive the winter. Baby spiders send out roots before they reach soil.

Graptopetalum paraguayense -- last year I had 36 plants, each from
a leaf that broke off, rooted in soil. I planted some along the edges 
of these beds that are raised 2 bricks high; excellent drainage here.

More Graptopetalum with an inset pot of Chartreuse Alternanthera.
Alternanthera is easily rooted in soil or water. I usually keep a coffee mug
full over the winter for new starts. Sedum acre peeks out at bottom.
Sedum acre survives with little water but recent rains has made it lush.

July 14, 2013

Ready for Bloom Day with White Begonias

Between rain showers on Bloom Day I might sit on this bench and contemplate the rest of the garden.




July 12, 2013

Wire Baskets from Hardware Cloth Scraps

This idea came from Amy at Four Corners Design. I could not follow her design for a basket laid out in one piece because I was using scraps without a piece large enough to fashion the basket out of one piece of Hardware Cloth.

Amy's basket has a decorative edge at top made by looping back
each little wire. I used a plain factory edge so there are no snags.
It just worked out that way because I was using long pieces of the material.
Long wires left at the cut edge loop over the bottom piece to secure.
 Two pots of Mistletoe cactus so you can better visualize the basket. This basket is 10 x7" and the sides are 5.5 inches high. I have another partly completed and the bottom and side piece cut for another. I planned and planned and drew little sketches to use the last two pieces of hardware cloth I have and can make 2 more  that are 11x7" with sides 4.5 inches tall.

Perfect for corraling little pots with cuttings or seedlings.
I was told that galvanized wire discourages roots growing out of the pot.
As Mama used to say, "Cat and skin and put it all in." There are no scraps left, and 5 baskets.

I did not make pics nor make a tutorial because Amy's directions are so great. My pattern is: Cut a piece for the bottom. Measure all 4 sides and add those numbers for the length of the basket sides in one long piece. Fold to form 4 sides to fit the bottom, attach the open side, then attach to bottom piece using the little wires on the cut edge of the side piece. If the bottom has some wires too it reinforces the join.

Tools needed are Tin Snips or wire cutters and Needle-nosed pliers for bending the little wires into loops that hold the basket together. A ruler is helpful. Hardware cloth has half-inch spaces, so you can just count in inches. 

He-who-mows and gives advice kept telling me that you cannot make Hardware cloth lie perfectly straight or make perfectly squared baskets. Rustic charm, dear, they're for the greenhouse.

July 11, 2013

Persian Shield

Strobilanthes dyerianus is a great purple for the shady garden. Usually listed as hardy to zone 9a, it is root hardy here in zone 8b. I take cuttings in the fall and put them under greenhouse benches in the shade where they often bloom. No blooms are seen in the summer garden.

Purple color is best in shade. Fades to silver in sun.

Persian Shield beside a Magnolia, Porterweed beginning to bloom in the
near view. A hummingbird nectaring on Porterweed the other day was
chased away by a big Swallowtail butterfly.
Closer view of Persian Shield next the Magnolia with a bit of
dwarf Lavender Pentas. Butterflies and I like tall Pentas, but these are
such a nice color that I keep them.
When a fern came up in the pot with this Strobilanthes I planted them out together.

July 10, 2013

Forced Renovation

Heavy rainfall on Sunday caused a flood of water across the Upper Garden. Except for silt on grass where water stood for a short time, there was little plant damage. Water rushing out of the garden took the path that leads down to a sort of Dry Creek/Stone Steps that I use as a shortcut and water channel. Plants behind the stacked bricks are actually in a raised bed

Lantana beside steps took a beating.
Bricks washed off the stacked wall. Pine straw washed off the path  and
holes appeared but no weeds washed away. It may remain a swept path until
pine straw falls  in Autumn. Small stones washed out of the steps.

River stones washed all the way across the driveway. I picked them up and
tossed them back around the steps. I brought in two new stones where
 a hole washed on the left side. 
Path in April.
Also in April, from above.
Water is a powerful force.

July 08, 2013

In My Other World There Is Spanish Moss and Water

I went to see if the pond has water. It was out of its banks.

When I realized I was driving through water, I stopped and took a picture then went up the hill and down to the big live oaks. The paths He-who-mowed through the pasture are almost overgrown.

Recent rains encouraged Spanish Moss.
Sumac and wild grapevine are replacing Poison Ivy. Deer love sumac and it is making a comeback.

 Spanish Moss and Resurrection Fern both love moisture.

This Oak sports Poison Ivy and Goldenrod. There should be a glorious fall after all this rain. We don't get a lot of tree color in Autumn but plants like Sumac and Poison turn bright red.

This afternoon we had another 0.7 inch of rain.

July 06, 2013

Pruning Before the Daily Rain

♪ ♪ Well, It rained forty days and it rained forty nights
and it rained on the Allegheny Mountains.
It rained 40 horses and a Dominecker mule... ♫

It hasn't rained 40 days yet but we're well doused. The pond has water again. Before the rain came today we accomplished a fairly big cleanup. The rain came just before He-who-mows and cuts trees could change from the tree cutter to the forks to move everything.

We started with Sassafras limbs that threatened the greenhouse.

Using a hydraulic tree cutter is much faster than a chain saw.

Here's a glimpse of a pecan tree trunk leaving the area.

He said I would not have to move anything out of the way. I was doubtful but the cutter went right down in there and nipped out a sapling pecan that grew in the wrong place.


Then we moved around to the old Nandina line under the other Cedar. Catbrier, pecan saplings, a little oak too close to the building, Beautyberry volunteers.

My camera card filled and there wasn't time to fix it when we moved to the Upper Garden and bigger limbs. A 6 inch in diameter in my azaleas under an oak tree mostly fell between plants. It may have broken some limbs but I don't think anything is crushed. The tractor wheel took off an azalea limb when I wasn't watching closely enough to stop him.

Some trees in the front at the driveway came down along with trumpet creeper vines that looked like ropes. 

Then the rains came down. Again.

Love looking out the windows at newly open spaces.

July 04, 2013


I can't help myself. Every stem with leaves, every seed, every bulb needs sticking in some soil.

The need to plant cuttings is why I have Kalanchoes lined up on a board outside the greenhouse and three old plants with tender foliage crying out to be used in a similar way.  If I can coax them to bloom just before Christmas I can find homes for them.

Schlumbergeras and their kin the Easter Cactus have rooted themselves into dozens.

Bromeliads have a curious way of reproducing by making offsets after they bloom. The ones on the left have tiny insignificant blue blossoms in the centers. New plants are forming around them. The one on the right was in bloom when I bought it. It has all but died off and new plants are surrounding the old one. I didn't make a new photo of the tillandsia in the greenhouse that has new plants forming in the center of the plant instead of around the edges. I think they can all stay in one pot after I repot.
Every little bean that fell off my Burro's Tail made a new plant.
I have a plan for these, really. Martha Stewart's greenhouse has a display with Burro's Tail and Mistletoe Cactus which is another plant that I just happen to have divided....
I could not resist tucking a couple of seeds from a Gerbera Daisy into a yoghurt cup. These can go to live in the garden when they reach some size. It has been a good year for growing Gerberas, though they've been shy to bloom, the bigger ones.
Little Plants are  like kittens. finding homes is not easy. I am to a point that I rarely go into a garden center any more except to buy potting soil and more pots.
On the other hand, I am making lists of fall planted bulbs and will order soon.
I did not garden today. It rained all day, slow drizzle mostly, an inch and a half.

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