Saturday, October 29, 2011

October: I Love You

 'Buff Beauty,' back in bloom after a long, grouchy hiatus

Love, love, loving the lovely weather.

Things are blooming again.  Not that it's raining, mind you.  They're just so relieved that it's not 113F anymore. I think it's like those investors that keep buying US bonds despite the downgrade in our credit rating. They're so relieved that we haven't had a complete meltdown that they've decided to take our continued solvency on faith. So with the plants. Sure, we've had a downgrade in our weather quality for the past few years, but at least the climate's still capable of doing autumn at all, right? At least we're not Namibia.

And we've been planting again, also on faith.  (We're like those big corporations that took stimulus money and are now taking a chance on the economy by hiring agai--oh, wait.)  Anyway, we're really happy with some of our new additions.

For example, this 'Victoria' Salvia farinacea.  My phone tends to be a leetle over-enthusiastic about saturating its colors, but this deep indigo isn't too far off from the real thing.

Salvia farinacea 'Victoria'

And another gorgeous treat from the Salvia genus: bog sage (S. uliginosa).  I didn't get a very good picture of this tidy, upright, ~2ft perennial, but it is almost that vibrant and luminous, except that it's prettier in real life. Once Matt has propagated it, I'm going to put this one all over the place. That's how much I love its cooling brightness.

Bog sage - Salvia uliginosa

In the same area (the pond bed), we finally got a vine for our third trellis, the evergreen wisteria (Millettia reticulata).  It has a faintly Asian flavor to it, but I don't think it will be too incongruous with all the buddleia and butterfly weed--not to mention bog sage--that will ultimately fill these beds.

Evergreen wisteria (Millettia reticulata) and Matt's Insta-Fence Solution: 'Red Shield' hibiscus

Also, I'm trying a little experiment around the pond.  I bought a maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center's plant sale the other day, and I unpotted it, divided it, and rolled each root ball into a sort of burrito made of the shreddy coconut matting stuff that people use for hanging plants.  Then I crammed (really--it wasn't a very dainty process) each burrito into the waterfall wherever they could be fit. So the experiment will be (1) can they survive that much pummeling? (2) Will they stay sufficiently moist? (3) Is there enough soil in each burrito to provide the plants with whatever sustenance they need? (4) Are they strong enough to withstand winter, especially considering that our last two winters have involved snow(!)

 The pond seen from the gazebo.  Click to biggiefy--half a maidenhair is right by the edge of the water in the waterfall

Two other super-strong performers in this difficult year have been 'Hot Cocoa,' a recent grandiflora release by Weeks Roses, and 'Pam Puryear' Turk's cap, the beautiful shell-pink variant of the more familiar Camaro-red Malvaviscus arboreus.  

I planted 'Hot Cocoa' last spring--it's one of those new off-color roses that have brown or tan or silver undertones.  I really like them--Matt thinks they're rather vile. Color issues aside, HC has been a surprisingly shapely, robust, free-blooming, and low-fuss rose, despite some hiccups with our watering system and the horribleness of the summer.  I think Matt may have been right that it's a little to corporate and rigid-looking for the G-n-R bed, but it's been so unstintingly doughty and cheerful that I think it's earned the right to stay there.

And 'Pam Puryear'--which is one of Matt's favorite perennials--is just knocking our socks off (constantly. We put on our socks--boom!--they're gone. Just. Like. That. That's how this plant is.)  We planted it this summer in the middle of the Awfulness--which was deranged of us--and it's grown faster than all the salvias and bachelor's buttons and buddleias planted with it.  From a one gallon, it's now a good 2' x 2' shrub and it's covered in just the prettiest little peachy-pink baubles.

Mostly, I'm a grown-up lady now, and my favorite color is green, and I love weird, off-colored roses that look like a cross between a pomegranate and a bruise. So my inner 8-year-old doesn't get a lot of gratification, is what I'm saying.  But when I look at PP, I completely love it, both with my grown-up eyes and my inner 8-year-old eyes.  Sophisticated. Strong. Prolific. And pink.  Lots and lots of pink.

'Hot Cocoa' in the middle of the grass bed (not the purple, of course--that's sweet potato vine), and 'Pam Puryear' Malvaviscus arboreus in the foreground--looks a little washed out here.  In real life, is much more vivid.

Speaking of off-color roses, we lost funktastic (and rare!) 'Wedding Cake' earlier this year to the weather and a faulty irrigation timer. I scoured the internet again and found a source of 5-inch "bands" (a small, deep, square pot that seems to get used a lot for mail order roses). I would have really preferred a nice, stout 2-gallon, but you take what you can get.  Anyway, this time, I bought two.  Here's one of the little babies.  Looks so helpless, doesn't it? Fingers crossed this time.

In other essays into strangeness, we were both captivated by the toad lily (Tricyrtis hirta) at Emerald Gardens last weekend (also the source of the Millettia, incidentally.  Which was $15 for a great big thing.)  If it does well over the next year, I'll be tucking them all over the shade bed.  I love their orchidy weirdness, and all how they draw attention to themselves, but in a mannerly, non-overwhelming way.  They'll add oomph without dominating, I think.

Toad lily Tricyrtis Hirta - looks like an orchid, but isn't--is a lily, just like the name says

We've also got some well-established garden heroes, like the fantastic 'Souvenir de la Mamaison,' possibly my favorite rose in--brace yourself--the history of the entire world.  Yes. I like it that much. It has gorgeous, huge, cabbagey pale pink blooms on beautiful little shrub with immaculate grey-green foliage, and it acts as though we had perfectly balanced summer in the 80s with a couple of inches of rain every month, plus fertilizers and fungicides. Instead of which, we give it irrigation and nothing else, plus a side of bermudagrass and torture by fire on the west side of the house. Nicely done, S de la M.  Nicely done.

 'Souvenir de la Malmaison'

In conclusion: I love October.  It feels nice.  It looks nice.  I love it.

 Glass slag in the mellow light of an October afternoon

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Oh, so busy!

I think we've been liberated by the cool weather--it's been crazy busy time in the garden.

Manicure a la pipe primer

We went to the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center's fall plant sale last weekend, and I ordered a bunch of bulbs from the Southern Bulb Company, plus I extended three zones of our irrigation system (with much digging, breaking of pipes, more digging, gluing, not fitting, recutting, regluing, and raking) and added some stake drippers to another zone.  Oh, and I added some lights to the pond's landscape lights.

Busy times.

Here are the new plants:
  • Nimblewell (wonderful name, no?  Very Tolkienian. If only Aragorn had had access to a patch of nimblewell during the battle at Helm's Deep, the whole thing would have been over before the rain even started.  No need for Entish intervention whatsoever.)  It's a diminutive, rather blowsy little Muhlenbergia (M. schreberi) that I'm hoping will behave in a groundcoverish way. [Update: CA considers this an invasive weed.  But... the LBJ Wildflower Center wouldn't lead me astray, would they? Perhaps it's better behaved in Texas's less hospitable climate.]
  • Sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula)
  • Missouri violets (Viola missouriensis)
  • Blue flag (for the pond - Iris virginica)
  • Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) for a groundcover in the shade garden
  • Chandler's craglily (Echeandia chandleri)
  • Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica - and can I just say to this picture: Yes, please!)
  • Grape hyacinth (Muscari neglectum) - a very promising specific epithet.  They are likely to be more or less neglected, so hopefully that's something they relish.  I imagine this is the species that one often finds naturalized in cemeteries.
  • Chinese Sacred Lilies (Narcissus tazetta orientalis - unlike the N.t.o. in the link, my existing clump has bloomed faithfully and delightfully since they were first planted.  I bought more to plant a matching clump on the other side of the front bed.)
  • Tulipa clusiana var. Tinka - a cute little striped species tulip.  Apparently, T. clusianas are sometimes referred to as "lady tulips," which is rather sweet--they are dainty-looking.
  • Narcissus cyclameneus 'Jetfire' - I've always wanted to grow a cyclamen-flowered daffodil--I find their blown-back petals oddly endearing.
  • Narcissus tazetta 'Golden Dawn'
  • Jonquil (Narcissus jonquilla)

Related Posts with Thumbnails