August 28, 2013

Dogface Butterflies and Greenhouse Notes

It's still too hot to start bringing plants into the greenhouse even though I left some tough tropicals in there. The pot of donkey tail Sedum rootlings got too wet during the rainy spell and some of them died. I noticed the bigger plant that I repotted had leaves falling off. Then I noticed the Cat loving on it and brittle leaves just raining down.



On to the Dogface Butterflies. It is impossible, almost, to get a picture of a Dogface Sulphur with widespread wings. I found one dead on the driveway and brought him inside so you can see how they look. The darker edge of the wings outline what sometimes resembles a poodle's face in profile, including the dark spot for the eye.




When the sun is behind one of the butterflies,
the dogface outline is seen, otherwise  like above.


Zerene cesonia host plant is legumes.
 
They just wouldn't be still for pics, so I made a very short video of them nectaring on Duranta.




Dogface Sulphurs from Jean Campbell on Vimeo.


August 21, 2013

I Saw a Zebra Longwing Butterfly!

I did, I saw a Zebra Longwing. I had handtrucks rather than a camera because I was moving some stones. I'm always moving something. We have had a week of stick patrol because of the winds that accompany thunderstorms which are almost daily here.

This huge limb fell last night, smack into the top of a big boxwood.
It leaned against a small branch until we toppled it over onto the ground.
It's hauled away now.
 
When I returned with a camera, I was rewarded by a buckeye.

The Zebra Longwing was long gone, but the Buckeye hung around for some nice poses.
 
The broken pecan limb was covered in Resurrection Fern.
 
I had not seen a Zebra Longwing in more than ten years. I was so excited to see it and I hope it returns with friends and lingers while I get pics.
 
 
 
 

August 18, 2013

Choosing Bulbs for Christmas Bloom

Christmas Bloom is a term used loosely here. Last year they didn't bloom at Christmas. One Amaryllis bloomed early. I used it, in bud, as a Hostess gift on Thanksgiving. They reported that it bloomed the next day.

The rest of the bulbs mostly waited until after Christmas to bloom. I gave away potted hyacinths in the cold and drear of January, cheerful little unexpected treasures. Start earlier this year.

Appleblossom with white Kalanchoe, a red begonia and a Bromeliad.
These were blooming in early March this year. I brought the Amaryllis to
bloom for the second year, proud that it bloomed even late.
I think the pot to the right holds Nymph, which bloomed 3 times in 2013.
Nymph is lovely but has a big blossom on a short stem, awkward.
 
Nymph
 
Benfica. How red is too red?
It bloomed in time for Christmas last year.
 
I lean toward the coral shades of Hippeastrum.
 
 
 
My winter notes for 2013 said to use pale shades. I tend to forget these notions.
Okay, pale shades it will be. How many is too many?
 
 
Blue hyacinths bloomed early February, here with a Tilliandsia.
Blue Jacket here; I think this fall I'll force pink and white.
 
 
Delft Blue, 2011
 
Gypsy Queen, February, 2013.
I'm torn between this pale apricot again or true pink.
 
 
Gypsy!
 
 
 
In 2012, I used two pink shades, Jan Bos and China Pink.
 
According to my notes, those in water and
those in soil forced equally well.
 
I decided that soil was the better choice as those will plant out into the garden with ease.
Most who receive them as gifts want to know how to keep them forever. Slip them from the pot into the edge of a rich flower bed up to the bottom of the leaves. Expect them back every spring.
 
 
 
Easily rooted Begonias are a given as
companions to Winter Bulbs indoors.
 
 
Here's my list to order soonest:
  • 3 miniature white Hippeastrums.
  • 3 palest apricot Amaryllis.
  • 25 pink Hyacinths,
  • 25 white Hyacinths.
Plans for Companions
  • Root red and white Pentas starting now.
  • Root white Kalanchoes. Some already in pots need best pieces broken and rooted.
  • Root red Begonias.
  • White Begonias are already potted.
  • Christmas cactuses are already rooted. Some need bigger pots.
  • Look for a Bird of Paradise not too big for coarse background foliage.
  • Root more Persian Shield and Purple Heart. Purple Heart all in one oblong container.
 
Will you force bulbs for winter bloom? Have you ordered fall planted bulbs? Bulbs will be in the stores in another month or two. I'll find it hard to resist a big bag or two of King Alfred type daffodils, or some Thalia despite how a certain bulb vendor disparaged the big box bulbs on their blog.
 

August 17, 2013

A Squirrel in the Greenhouse and Planting in the Rain.

When I opened the greenhouse this morning, there was a squirrel inside. He considered rushing me, then turned back and hid somewhere. I went for the cat and put him inside. The cat doesn't like being told what to do. I left him in there with the door open only far enough for kitty to exit if he chooses.


At the far left edge of this pic, there were clumps of Pandora's Box daylily which were overtaken by an Althea and some Gardenias. Too shaded to bloom, they've struggled.

If it isn't cold, I enjoy planting in the rain. Most plants transplanted in rain will take hold right away. [Be aware! If you garden in clay soil, this is not for you. I garden in loamy sand, which will not harden when it dries.]

At the end of the Front Garden bed that has mostly yellow and white blossoms, I planted Pandora's Box around a white Crape Myrtle. There were enough pieces for 5 clumps. As the Crape Myrtle gets taller, I will prune off bottom limbs so Daylilies will have ample light.


I broke off good-sized pieces of Purple Heart to plant between and slight to the front of each clump. The limbs that had nice little shoots at the bottom, I broke into two pieces. Purple Heart almost always roots when treated this way.

This is the post I wrote about planning to do this task: Planting in a Found Spot

Pandora's Box, 2011
 
Maybe I'll give Pandora some rooted Persian Shield cuttings and a bit of  Chartreuse Joseph's Coat.

August 15, 2013

Butterflies and Bloom Day Blossoms August 2013

The weather is unsettled so I thought to skip Bloom Day. When I rushed out to close the greenhouse against a threatening thunderstorm I grabbed my camera.

Most spectacular could go to this Begonia.

Most unusual could be this White Shrimp Plant, Justicia betonica in front of
Red Pentas, Purple Alternanthera and Agapanthus heads.

First bloom on a 2-year Pride of Barbados,
visited by a Cloudless Sulphur butterfly.

Spicebush Swallowtail nectars of Caesalpinia, clouds gathering in the background.
The bottle tree is coming down soon. 

A bee shows off Esperanza in the same area.

White Dawn is putting on more buds in Upper Garden.

Rebloom on Kniphofia, Julia Child rose is blooming again; 
Gulf Fritillary on Duranta, red Porterweed.

Brugmansia, White Datura
Purple Datura bud, Purple Datura seed pod.
Bottom leaves tend to fall off the stems when it gets dry. 
The shorter Daturas hide bare ankles of Brumansia.

Sampler: Crape Myrtle, Purple Heart, Melampodium, Periwinkles, Duranta, Tithonia.

Have a bodacious, flower-filled Bloom Day
Don't forget to thank Carol for hosting this event every month after you post your site.











August 10, 2013

Final Report on Heirloom Tomatoes

I would never have planted Heirloom Tomatoes had I not won 8 packets of seed from TomatoFest. It was April when I planted the seeds. First ripe tomato picked mid July, pulled plants August 10.

The reason I would not have planted these otherwise is that our soil and climate are not kind to late-planted tomatoes. Root knot nematodes stunted every plant and eventually they declined and started dying.

The most resistant to nematodes was Dagma's Perfection. The roots were huge but had the tell-tale knots nevertheless.  The fruits were superb, pale yellow with red striping. The trouble with people accustomed to red tomatoes, we sometimes let them rot before we realized they were ripe.

Green Zebra has produced some fruits, also a lime green that we didn't watch closely enough and let some rot. There are 3 more Green Zebra in a front flower bed. One has fruits. I am going to pull the other two.

Kellogg's Breakfast Tomato was a bust. The plants declined; the only one left is in a front flower bed. It has been shy to put on a bloom. I am going to pull that last plant.



 

Black Krim I suspect was not happy to be planted in hot, humid and this year wet, South Georgia. The one in a flower bed gets some shade and has produced some nice fruit. It never gets to a shade I would call mahogany; have to watch these for ripeness.

 
Black Cherry was a happy plant despite the nematodes but finally succumbed. I put one in a two gallon flower container and it still has nice 1" fruit forming and ripening, good for salads and snacks.


Flamme is an orange fruited plum type tomato that is just delicious and produced nice salad tomatoes. This one in a flower bed is still producing.

Aussie produced a very few big tomatoes before giving up.


 
Brandywine started out well but gave up just as the others did after producing some nice fruit.

When I pulled the plants in the patch, only Dagma's perfection had roots of great size, yet knotted from rootknot nematodes.

My plan for next year is to make a new patch somewhere less likely to harbor nematodes, probably plowing up a patch of Bahia Grass. Dagma's Perfection, Black Cherry, Black Krim and maybe Brandywine are those I'll plant. Too many plants and I had trouble keeping up with who was whom.

I'll also plant some VFN resistant seeds to compare how they fare. This year's patch will grow cole crops for a couple of years before tomatoes go there again.




August 08, 2013

Garlic Chives

There was a clue when the chives I grew from seed had big flat leaves instead of the little round leaves usually chopped and sprinkled over a baked potato.

I kept waiting for the little pink blossoms of  Allium schoenoprasum
I guess I didn't read the seed packet very well. 

Garlic chives, Allium tuberosum, also called Chinese chives. 

These chives have flat leaves and sweetly fragrant white flowers which bloom in August. Garlic chives are used just as regular chives are: a culinary herb, an ornamental and in cut flower arrangements. Cutting for bouquets will assure that they don't seed all over the garden.

August 05, 2013

Pear Preserves, sort of

I read the Paula Deen recipes and the 'old fashioned' preserves recipes. All laden with sugar and with added elements from Allspice to Pineapple.

Pear tree limbs so heavy with fruit they were
propped with cedar limbs.

We just want a bit of fruit with our breakfast, not sticky preserves. We don't can. We cook fruit with minimal sugar, cool and freeze. There's no recipe; add just enough sugar to make the fruit tasty and simmer until it's done as evidenced by a rich, dark red color. All the recipes mention 'translucent' fruit after cooking. It changes appearance but I wouldn't exactly call it translucent. 

We cooked two batches today (8 quart boilers to start, when they're done half that amount of fruit and syrup) on Friday and let the blister on my right pointer finger heal until today. Today we peeled and cut two more boilers full. He-who-mows can peel if I slice the pears into 1/2" rounds. Then I cut the tasty parts off the cores. 

It's too hot outside for much work. Another inch and a half of rain fell yesterday. Dog days. It will soon be time to boil green peanuts, another tasty treat from in the freezer for the winter and spring.
Peanut field




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