Monday, April 27, 2009

A PERFECT PLANT

Once in a while a plant grows in its most perfect form. This Skullcap, Scutellaria wrightii, seeded in between the paving in my sunken garden. It is now 3 years old and I know I will be heartbroken when it passes away. It isn't easy to find plants that behave so well and don't grow to enormous proportions. The pink, more common, skullcap is also a fairly orderly grower, although it has a tendency to lose its shape because of setting down roots along the stem and forming new plants. This is in itself an asset, but the purple skullcap forms a neat mound. I would say it is almost impossible to find in local garden centers and it is a mystery why because it self seeds freely in the poorest of conditions. My original plant came from the Wildflower Center's sale. 

This is going to be very interesting when I sow the seeds of this poppy next year. Will they breed true, I wonder? Clearly a mutation of the common pink poppy which I have growing in my garden. The larger poppy has no frills and no white marking. It was rather small, having grown under some rather testing conditions in a crowded pot. but I will be saving the seeds to see what happens next year.


This first ripe tomato is a first for this garden. April! It is a cherry and they do mature earlier but even so. It was hiding under an enormous parsley plant which I removed today. I staggered out of the garden under its enormous weight and dumped it on the septic field. Maybe the deer will enjoy it.


This early flowering is really worrying me. The Copper canyon daisy, Tagetes lemmoni, is a fall bloomer! Last year it didn't flower until November and this year April! I think these plants are worried they aren't going to get any rain at all this year so they had better get busy. Of course they were wrong. It is raining right this minute and a pretty good downpour. I love this plant. A native perennial, which is cut back down to the ground every year, it is deer proof with aromatic foliage and the most delightful flowers in the fall. 

12 comments:

  1. It was so great to see your garden yesterday. Thanks for letting us all come over. I too love that purple skullcap. I had one once in my old garden, but it passed away after only a year. Does yours seed out at all?

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  2. I'm sorry I missed yesterday! I think I still have one purple skullcap, and I prefer it to the pink, too.

    I can't believe you have a ripe tomato!! My tomato plants hardly even have flowers yet. And yet my Fall Aster is three times bigger than it was last Fall and has a few blooms. I thought it was supposed to only bloom in Fall?

    Yippee rain!

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  3. That sure is a perfect plant, Jenny - we noticed it yesterday, and were trying to figure out whether you'd put it in as a tiny seedling or Mother Nature had done the designing.
    Also admired the enormous parsley plant that was ready to bolt, and with even your green tomatoes making me envious, am glad I didn't know about the red one!
    Perfect applies to hosts and hostesses, too - thank you so much!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    PS I think Copper Canyon daisies, Tagetes lemmoni, are sensitive to daylength and they frequently pop flowers in spring whenever they aren't whacked back too far by winter cold. I've also heard of that happening when Mexican Mint Marigold, Tagetes lucida, has a mild winter.

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  4. Dear Jenny,

    Your skullcap is certainly lovely nestled there among the pavers.

    Many thanks to you and your husband for being such gracious hosts to us yesterday. It was a pleasure to meet you and see the beautiful garden you're created together. The word "perfect" kept coming to mind as I experienced it all for the first time. What a work of art and an inspiration.

    Cheers!
    Dawn

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  5. Gosh, that purple skullcap is gorgeous! I just planted my first heartleaf skullcap out in front...and the deer are eating it down to nubs. Hopefully they are just sampling and will get over it.

    And tomatoes...really...already? Are you trying to put the rest of us to shame?

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  6. Jenny - thanks to you both for opening your lovely home and amazing garden to us for a delightful afternoon of all things "garden." I saw the parsley about to bolt -- you need to run over here and remove my cilantro, too, mine's in the same state. Your skullcap is fabulous. I have lots of pink (and the deer never eat mine, maybe they ate Bonnie's because it was in newly-turned earth), and I have one yellow and just ordered 9 purples from High Country Gardens catalog. I jumped up and down when they started to bloom last week, but they are tiny. I hope they grow up to look like yours in a few years!

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  7. It seems everyone loves the purple skull cap as much as I do. what I will do for next year is to pot some of the seedlings up to share.
    Annie- The wonderful plant just grew there. That is part of the reason I love it so much. I did cut that Copper canyon back right to the ground but still it bloomed early. My others are not so far advanced. That parsley just had to go. I couldn't see any swallowtails on it so I thought it a good opportunity to yank it. As you noticed there are more.
    Bonnie- I have the heartleaf skull cap for the first time this year. Bought it at the MAster Gardener's tour. It is about to flower but is protected from the deer. Have you tried dahlberg daisy. The deer don't eat that.
    Diana- I would love the yellow skullcap. Where did you get it? I went to High Country a few years ago and almost bought some of their purple skullcap. I think it was called Scutellaria resinosa so it may be a little different from the native Texas one. The secret is to trim it into shape to get the lovely mound. I didn't manage it in the front as the bluebonnets covered it but I will be more careful next year.
    Dawn- It was nice to meet you Dawn. I'll be trying out those lavender seeds.
    Iris- The tomato is a fluke. After all several of my tomatoes were toppled by frost just a few weeks ago.

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  8. Hi RR.
    We were so disappointed to miss walking your garden, I had been looking forward to the get together for quite some time.

    Leah's dad collapsed Saturday night with a heart condition, and broke his ankle on top of it all! He is doing okay now. Leah's parents are our fail safe babysitters!

    My copper is also blooming right now, though not as profusely as yours. Love that Skullcap image!

    I hope you had fun.
    ESP.

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  9. Oh Jenny,

    I am ever so envious of the Austin girls:
    How I would have loved to come visit and see for myself what you two have created there.

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  10. I do love the way nature has a mind of it's own when it comes to garden design! Your beautiful Skullcap is a wonderful example.

    Your poppy is quite special, and I will be excited to see if the seeds run true.

    Sorry I missed your soiree. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to see your lovely garden.

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  11. ESP- We missed you too. D asked me if any men were coming and I said 'yes' of course! Well there was one and I know we have more in Austin but you guys need to balance the numbers a bit. So sorry to hear about Leah's dad. I hope he is on the mend. A worrying time for you all.
    Jo- We are a great group thanks to Pam who organizes our trips. We are looking at one to San Antonio in the fall to the Antique rose emporium and Botanical garden.
    Morning Glories-We would love to meet you too and were sorry you couldn't come. Nature always has wonderful surprises for us. Just this morning when I went to get the paper I spotted a snapdragon that had seeded in an area so remote from my walled gardens that I have no idea how it got there. I had never noticed it before.

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