The Natural Garden Coach

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Save the spider lilies!


Last week I received a phone call from a friend who lives down the street. She was livid because the mower she hires to mow her two yards had mowed down her spider lilies which were in full bloom. She said she warned him about them last year but apparently he forgot and thought she wanted them mowed. Hmm...! So since I use the same mower (getting old means you do things like hire mowers), I was a little nervous that I would oversleep this morning and my spider lilies would suffer the same fate as my friend's. (The mower arrives almost before the proverbial chickens get up.) But when he arrived I was awake, probably because I was fretting about them. I quickly dressed, ran outside, and made sure he understood that no, spider lilies were not for mowing. (And reminded him once again that my shrubs and small trees should not suffer the weed whacker.) And this afternoon, as the sun was setting, I captured the lovely little lilies which insist on growing in a lawn of all places.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Patterns II




I went scouting for September patterns and found a few this morning. The sun is now striking the succulents on my slate shelf a little differently. This is a pup from my large Agave americana.

And this is bark from one very different pine tree in our backyard. We're not sure what kind it is but it's not the same variety as most of the others here (even a local horticulture prof is not sure what it is). But the tree is so massive you can't get your arms around the trunk. Maybe this doesn't show that much pattern but I like how it shows the big chunky bark.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Patterns (inspired by GGW)


I was reading the latest post on Gardening Gone Wild and it made me realize I hadn't taken any pictures of patterns in nature in a very long time. Saxon Holt (who showed some gorgeous photos of madrone bark) was asking what patterns are showing up now that the season is changing. I haven't gone hunting for that yet (shadows of ornamental grasses come to mind). But I went looking at my old photos and found a few that I thought I'd share. The first one is of Agave americana. I love, love, love succulents for just that very thing - the patterns many of them tend to create.


This is one of those fancy caladiums that I paid big bucks for but it only produced a few measly leaves (Thai Beauty I think). But think about all caladiums and the lovely patterns they have. I don't mean to be snobby (although most likely I am) but I'd probably plant lots more caladiums for their beautiful patterns except that everyone grows caladiums here. Nonetheless, I appreciate them in other folks' yards.

I'm going to start looking for the pattern changes outside and may post a few more pics if I find some good ones.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - Sept 2008



Today is Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for the month of September. This is when garden bloggers capture what their best blooms are at this point in time. Unfortunately for me, the one-two punch of Gustav and Ike has left my garden a little worse for the wear. I have many plants that normally prefer to be on the dry side. So all this rain, and the wind in the case of my Autumn Joy sedum, has left them mighty confused. The top photo shows the sedum from the good angle. The one below it shows what's really happening behind those white pentas. I thought I had pinched them back at the right time but I think next year I should go more drastic with the pinching. Probably just whack 'em back big time.



In the photo above you can see how well the 'Margarita' Ipomea is doing (okay, it's not a bloom but I'm desperate). Although the sweet potato crop around here has rotted due to all the rain, surprisingly my 'Marg' is doing great. For those who don't know, these are related to sweet potatoes and are quite vigorous. But for our state, the distribution of this plant is regulated and sometimes restricted by the Ag department. I believe it's because of the chance there could be sweet potato weevils associated with the ornamental vines. But I bought the original of this plant several years ago here and have been growing it from the tubers ever since. So I don't know if I'm "legal" or not but I'm hoping so!

That's it for the garden this time. A few other plants are blooming, like the garlic chives and the salvias, but their form looks a bit bedraggled. I have high hopes for October though - we've gotten our first cold front and it's made all sentient beings a bit friskier today!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ike, the rain, and Mother Nature

Well, what are we going to do about Mother Nature? Did we bring this on ourselves by trashing the environment and warming up the planet? Surely we can co-exist peacefully and sanely with the environment but all these hurricanes are starting to make me nervous. I think the hard thing is that I (and I'm assuming all of you) really can't do much about it. Sure I can try to be a good steward of the planet by recycling, reusing, driving less, etc. And I believe that if we all do that it will surely help. But the big corporations, are they doing their part yet?


Okay, I didn't mean to start finger pointing about global warming but we just had one of Hurricane Ike's feeder bands come blasting through with such ferocity that I was shocked. And I'm thinking of my immediate family, most of whom live in Houston. I was just down there last weekend and saw some rather interesting Man vs. Mother Nature type of occurrences. The first one was a Cooper's Hawk landing in my sister's backyard. He/she was attracted by the bird feeder and zillions of squirrels.


The other thing I saw was a whole family of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks in the retention pond at my parents' apartment complex. The pond is lined with Bald Cypress trees and apparently several months ago the two parents were spotted hanging around the pond and then sure enough, a whole set of ducklings appeared shortly thereafter. I believe my parents said there were a dozen of them at first. There are eight now and they're getting really big. I hope you can see them in this picture. The ducklings are between the parents and no, those aren't cypress knees but large ducklings.
So... it seems that sometimes man-made environments will suit Mother Nature just fine. So Mother Nature, why send us this hurricane??

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

B's, happy and sad

Well the bee orgy has started on my Improved Meyer Lemon tree. The August rains finally brought some blooms to my tree and as anticipated, the bees are very happy. You can't see how many bees are actually on this tree in this picture though. It's hard to photograph them when they keep going where they want to go. I can't wait to see how many lemons they make. Maybe I'll have a good chance to make some more Meyer Lemon marmalade for Christmas. But I can't remember how long it takes for the lemons to ripen, so we'll see.


My brugmansia had a tough time being relegated to the potting shed during Tropical Storm Gustav. It had been heavily laden with leaves but after a few days in the shed, it dropped the majority of them. I even had a grow light on it but that didn't suffice. Or maybe it was something else it didn't like. This is one of those plants that I keep hanging on to, even though it seems to be more trouble than it's worth. Looks kind of sad, doesn't it?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hangin' in the house

Well it's too darn wet to venture out into the garden so I'm spending time checking out old garden photos. I took this picture this past weekend. I'm assuming this is Sweet Autumn Clematis. It grows wild along the fringes of our backyard. I think it's just lovely and the sweet scent is delicate. I may have to figure out a place to put it near our deck, so we can enjoy it better.

Rain from Gustav... we are still dealing with it but I have high hopes that we may see some sun today. It looks like we got another 3.5 inches between yesterday evening and this morning. I'm estimating we've seen 9 inches since Monday night. Too much more rain and we risk having the tall trees keeling over. You know, where the weight of the tree is too much for the root system. It's happened before around here and most likely is happening somewhere nearby as I write. And by the way, the leak on our wall has gotten a lot worse. But it's only a wall!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Gustav Update


Well, I think we've weathered the worst of it although I'll be much happier when the rain quits. The yard and garden faired pretty well. The worst of it was a large dead limb from a water oak that fell mostly on the lawn, but some smaller limbs from it targetted my Autumn Joy Sedum. You can see the standing water on the pathways and the large limb in the background. The rain guage, probably not very accurate, says 4.25 inches. I just realized that once it gets to that level, the rainwater starts spilling over the side. So as I said, not very accurate.

The house didn't fair as well. We had been having a new roof put on and it seems the roofers caused a whole new leak, probably where they installed a turbine. You can see the walls are in sad shape. Miraculously the skylight didn't leak but they had worked on fixing that just before the storm.
All in all, we are very thankful it wasn't worse. And we hope the rest of our state can get back to their homes with as little damage as us. As you can see, the cats are thankful too.