Sunday, February 27, 2011

SPRING BULBS

It is quite amazing that in less than a week all my spring bulbs have come into flower. I really thought spring was going to be very late this year. It is now catching up with every day.

It always leaves me wishing that I had started planting them years ago. Then I really would be able to talk about 'a host, of golden daffodils.'

Not all of them are golden. This one has a peachy center and is called Daffodil chromacolor.

I have always preferred smaller flowering plants and these small flowered daffs fit perfectly into the rockery in the sunken garden.
There are more to come; later flowering varieties with multiple heads and wonderful fragrance.
With the unseasonable warmth of the last few days I don't think they will be far behind.

'And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.'
William Wordsworth

Monday, February 21, 2011

PURPLES, LILACS, BLUES, SPRING IS ON THE WAY

My hellebore opened up its petals today and turned its face to the sun. Oh! I love it. Where can I get more? The color has not disappointed me. After all, it was not in flower when I bought it and you know how those labels are sometimes erroneous. But it was not the only flower to open today.

The native anemone has lost its spot for being the first to open. Usually blooming in early February, our unusually cold weather resulted in a later bloom time. It is the only one I can find but I am sure more will follow.

Last year the weather was favorable for the appearance of tens of wine cup volunteers and they are flowering remarkably early. One of my favorite colors. In fact, it is the blues, lilacs and purples which are first to bloom this year. I have gardened in many places and have always favored these colors. In Texas any color that does well here will have a place in this garden.

The diminutive Siberian iris, Iris sibirica, were planted for the first time last year. I wasn't sure if they were to come back but here they are. That ring of coat hanger wire is my reminder that I have bulbs growing in the ground in that spot. I am far too handy with the garden trowel and labels never seem to last.

The lanky foliage of the grape hyacinths is not enough to deter me from enjoying the first bloom.

I am too English not to have stocks in the garden. I love their sweet smell which brings an immediate breath of Spring into the garden. They seem to do well here, reseeding and wintering over to bring an early spring bloom.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I'M THROWING A VOLUNTEER PARTY

My garden wouldn't be what it is without all the volunteers, so I am going to throw a volunteer appreciation party.

I'm afraid there is going to be a huge crowd and I may have to limit the numbers.

One I won't be limiting this year is our native bluebonnet. The garden is usually overwhelmed with them, but not this year. Many germinated in the fall but whether it was lack of rain or days of low temperatures they are only sending a small group to the party. The best ones are growing in the gravel in the English garden.

Lamb's ears never seem to mind the cold. I will likely move them in with some of the other volunteers who prefer not to have their leaves covered with water.

I'll be hoping for the larkspur to show their true colors. I would really like a large contingent of the blues, purples and whites.

And the love in a mist. I never know which colors will show up.

Not to be confused with lamb's ear, rose campion showed up in two colors last year. All the original seeds were magenta, so I don't know where the white one came from.

Sometimes the volunteers jockey for space. Here the blue eyed grass and the California poppy.

The corn poppies are always the last of the poppies to germinate but the warm weather this past few days has brought everything on.

This California poppy likes to have a spot all to itself.

Many years ago I moved a daisy fleabane plant into the garden. Now I can rely on them to come to the party every year.

The same is true of one of my favorite attendees, the native purple skullcap.

For the last two years there have been so many wine cups I have to pull them out. If only they would stay in a nice clump like this young one.

I am hoping that this year the frilled blanket flower will show up again. I'll just have to wait until bloom time.

In a pot hundreds of viola seedlings and a dahlberg daisy survived the winter. I 'd better be moving a few of them around.

What can I say- there are always a few disrupters. Not that I don't like them, but heart leaf skull cap wouldn't leave a spot in the garden for any other plants if I didn't control it.

Right now it has driven out the Hinkley's yellow columbine to the point that this plant had to settle for a hole in a rock. It seems quite comfortable there.


Gulf coast penstemon has now made a home for itself along one of the raised beds in the vegetable garden.

I'm so happy to see this tiny plant. It is blue flax seeded in the cracks in the sunken garden. It is not where I want it but I may just have to leave it there.

I potted up some asparagus ferns that were growing at the foot of the steps, where the seeds had landed.

There are just too many volunteers to mention but my final one is a clump of the native verbena, sheltered alongside a vegetable bed. It is already in flower. Yes, it's going to be one big colorful party by the time May rolls round.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

GARDEN BLOGGERS' BLOOM DAY FEBRUARY 2011

Please join Carol of Maydreams for a winter day in the garden, for those of us in the Northern hemisphere, and a summer day for those in the Southern hemisphere.

There is only one special flower blooming in my garden today. Well, almost flowering. I am really excited to see the bud about to burst. It may even be blooming on March bloom day too because, by all accounts, it is long blooming. Helleborus X hybridus ' Blue Lady' was a new addition to my garden last spring. I planted it under the yaupon holly tree, where it receives filtered sunlight and is protected from our harsh summer sun. It was not in flower when I bought it so I had to wait until now to see the flower. Northern gardeners must know this plant well, as I did growing up in England. We called it the Lenten rose and it often appeared on Christmas cards in its white form. Deer are supposed to avoid the plant but I'm not even going to give them the chance to have a nibble. I think I'll look for more, although I picked this one up in Dallas.

Friday, February 11, 2011

ONLY ONE MORE NIGHT OF THIS

Tonight we will light the fire again and hopefully it will be the last one of the year. I am sure all my plants are saying the same thing.

Monday, February 7, 2011

WHAT WAS THAT ON THE AIR?

Yesterday was a glorious day. It was time to go out into the garden and assess the situation. Sometimes freezing weather takes a few days or even weeks before it really makes itself known.
There were two things on the air.

One was the rustling of dry leaves. Here the lemon grass. It may have a little life left in it but quite honestly if it doesn't it will be no big loss. This was a 4" pot that I put in late spring. I guarantee that when I come to remove it I will need a helping hand and there will be little soil left in the bed. I know because I have had this experience before.

Beet leaves were also dried to a crisp. I may leave them for a while to see if they rebound. The same was true of my 4' high patch of snow peas. No point keeping them but there will be time to plant another crop before summer.

There was something else on the air too. The smell of rotting cabbages and chard. Mush. A slimy mess. It broke my heart to pull out the rows of napa cabbage. They were just forming nice heads. The artichoke too. The first one I have ever grown. I had covered it but to no avail.
So it was a day of pulling out, emptying the beds and getting ready for the next crop. I think I'll wait a while.

Friday, February 4, 2011

SNOW

What was that I was saying recently about how some snow would make improvements to the garden. It may have done if my plants had not been beaten into submission by two days of temperatures in the single digits.

I fear the worst for this Japanese aralia and for many of my plants. Thank goodness I removed all the agave desmettiana from the garden. I doubt that even the pups would have survived the cloak of mother's protection.

Here is what the garden looked like on February 4th in 2009. We were in California last year. That would have been a smart decision this year too, rather than our February 13th departure for Cairo! I will be starting seeds this year, after all!

and this is what it looks like today. I was anxious to get out there and see who had been visiting during the night. Only a few footprints. No deer, turkeys, raccoons. Just some cat- like footprints and a few mousy type.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

WORLD RECORD CAULIFLOWER

A new world record for the smallest cauliflower ever grown has been bestowed upon my garden. By me. This little beauty measures exactly 1" across and weighs 1/4oz, which works out to be about $64 lb. Don't think I will be bothering to grow cauliflower again. Mind you, the poor plant did have a tough time, having had most of its leaves eaten by garden visitors, along with the 6 broccoli plants which grew along side. I only bought one plant just to try out.

I may just have to entreat a certain person to create some more of those net covered structures I have in my vegetable garden. I planted 4 more broccoli plants under cover and they have produced some beautiful heads.

In fact I went out this morning to cut the broccoli, chard and napa cabbage because it is going to get brrrh cold tonight. In the low teens. Even as I collected this morning ice was forming on the chard. I have taken into the greenhouse, potting shed and house all those potted plants which will not stand temperatures in the low teens. I uprooted the last A.desmettiana, still in the ground. It would be foolish to leave it out there as it would not survive.

I have tucked in the plants in the greenhouse with their hot water bottles, just as my mother did when I was a child. No eiderdown but extra blankets over the sago palms. Goodnight garden!