Sunday, February 28, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
I never have planted many bulbs until this year and those few , planted in the past, have lost their tags, so this multi headed narcissus has no name. I have a preference for the multi headed narcissi rather than the single flowering varieties. Later the white ones will flower but right now they are just poking up through the ground.
I love the little muscari popping up among the california poppies. Their rather rangy foliage will be hidden, after blooming, as the poppies take center stage.
I am really wishing that I had just planted all these Iris reticulata together. They really need to be en masse to make a statement.
Surely this is a sign that spring will soon arrive. A viola, seeded from last year. I didn't plant any this year but little plants are popping up all over the place. In a somewhat dreary garden a few bright rays of sunshine.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The packet contained seeds of Delosperma floribunda 'stardust' I have always had great success with delosperma as a rock garden plant and decided to try growing them from seed. However, this was a first. I have seen pelleted seeds before but never so tiny. Not much hope for these, I thought. The directions said that the seeds need light to germinate and suggested sowing in shallow furrows. I decided to just make a shallow dent in the soil in the six pack and hope for the best.
Today I noticed tiny specks of green, the first seed leaves. I think I have 100% germination. I really had no expectations that they would germinate so I was over the moon. Now the test will be keeping them alive.
The greenhouse is starting to look a little crowded. I have such a weakness for saving plants as well as starting seeds. So all these little ones you see here are seedlings uprooted from the gravel. There is hardly room to move in there with all the other overwintering plants.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Even the old brown buzzard stands out against the snow covered gravel and the Mexican feather grass. ( On a side note I read yesterday that feather grass should be divided to keep it vigorous).
The snow flakes which fell this morning were some of the largest I have ever seen. They quickly gave a generous dusting to the English garden. Enough to outline the brick edged beds and dry stone wall.
This is my first daffodil. If it had an idea of opening today it quickly changed its mind.
Monday, February 22, 2010
On our recent cruise across the Atlantic from Southampton to Miami, Madeira was our last port of call, before heading out across the Atlantic ocean. We docked in the capital, Funchal, on a beautiful, sunny November morning. Here I am standing on the dock side by the ship! Just kidding. Can you imagine setting sail across the Atlantic in this little wooden ship?
This is the second time we have visited the island and we knew exactly how we were going to spend the day. We walked into town and picked up a public bus which goes up the hill to the Jardim Botanico da Madeira.
In 1891 the Reid family built their home, Quinoto do Bom Sucesso, on this piece of land on the hilltop high above the city of Funchal. It was later acquired by the government and opened to the public as a botanical garden in 1960. Besides being a research institute and seed bank the gardens showcase many of the over 900 endemic species from the surrounding group of islands.
In the more shaded upper levels water is channeled into pools which support ferns and other water loving plants. There is a marked contrast between these upper terraces and the lower, more sun filled terraces.
These cactus, agaves and aloe have adapted well to their new home. Many of them were sending out their blooms. It was only when we visited California this January that I realized just what a spectacle those blooms would be when they flowered.
Below the cactus garden an area of topiary reminiscent of our trip to Levens Hall in Cumbria.
On our previous visit I failed to identify this gorgeous vine in full flower along one of the walkways. This time I made a point of getting the name.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
First came the star jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides, which grew on the trellis by the study window. Every leaf was brown. It has been cut back to bare wood. Will it send out new shoots or should I replace it. I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt right now but I may just go ahead and replace it. I also removed all the citrus, which were in pots along this window. I think they are all dead. Time to replace. I simply cannot live without Meyer lemons in my kitchen.
What is really strange is that a similar vine at the front door, and on the NW side of the house, has not one brown leaf. The only difference between this vine and the one at the back of the house is that this has pale yellow flowers and the one at the rear has pure white flowers. I don't think it is Trachelospermum asiaticum but it may be.
I am feeling quite liberated. The area doesn't look as bare as I though it would and I am thinking about a complete change in look.
More agaves and grasses. In the meantime I have planted some Mexican feather grasses which I had removed from a planter in the vegetable garden. This week I shall give some thought to the new planting. David and I discussed replacing our home made disappearing water feature with a tall pot. I may be going shopping this week.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
One vegetable we will soon enjoy is the Napa cabbage, 'tenderheart'. It surprised me last year, when the rosette of leaves suddenly started to grow in an upright manner and within weeks a tight cabbage had formed. We ate it in salads, soups and stir fries. This cabbage didn't mind our 10 degree days at all.
This trio of golden barrel cacti have spent the last 5 years in a pot. They also made it through our terrible winter with no damage. This year I plan to put them in the ground. I will really work on providing the good drainage they need to cope with wet winters. They have survived in this shallow pot with a mixture of mostly gravel and sand.
Lace cactus, Echinocereus reichenbachii, have also found a happy home in the gravel of my front garden. They will bloom with amazing magenta flowers in the spring.
This A. parryi, which I purchased at the DBG in Phoenix, rounds out the cacti and succulents growing in the front garden.
Sedum potosinum, is one of several carpeting succulents which are tolerant of harsh winters. All are rather aggressive in their growth. This one blooms with delightful star shaped flowers in the late spring.
The frost tinged leaves of the California poppy, Eschlozia california, will soon be putting on their big display.
Monday, February 15, 2010
The pages of my blog book tell a different story about what was blooming in the garden last February. So many flowers in bloom following a mild winter. This year on that same day it is hard to find more than a couple of blooms.
Iris reticulata is a new one; the bulbs planted last November. I don't know if this bulb normally does well in central Texas or the unusually cold winter provided the perfect growing conditions. I don't have a good track record with bulbs, forgetting where I put them and then digging into them some time later, so this time I made rings out of wire coat hangers to mark the spot where I planted them.
Daisy fleabane, Erigeron, certainly enjoys the cool wet weather we have been having. This self sowing plant is an asset in the garden because of its neat mounding habit. It is less weedy than many of my other self sowing plants.
With the ground still too wet to work, I spend a lot of time looking. Looking to see if there are any signs of life in those plants which were really hard hit. For many it will be at least another month before new growth will show. For now it is the hardy plants which are peeking through the ground. These are new shoots of Oenothera, the yellow primrose.
Outside the potting shed door, in the gravel, all kinds of seedlings are growing. I have rescued a number of Lychnis, rose campion, which have been potted up until they are big enough to transplant into the garden. These plants are hard to find in the nurseries but quite easy to grow from seed sown in the fall.