The Natural Garden Coach

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A New Perspective

Well, it was quite a revelation to me to see what a professional photographer could do with my garden. It looks completely different. I didn't really plan on this. My brother, Brian McWeeney, who makes a living as a photographer, was visiting us from Texas a week or so ago. You can't keep a photographer from taking photos so I was happy he took his camera out to my backyard. Check it out.



Texas Bluebonnet leaves.



Texas Bluebonnet.



Swiss chard.



Iris and raindrop.



Saucers.



Autumn Joy Sedum and raindrops.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Metamorphosis of my Succulent Tank

I've been prepping a 4 foot long stock tank to hold some of my succulents for the past month. The first job, besides drilling holes into the bottom, was to fill it with the right kind of soil. Since we get so much rain here (that is, compared to low rainfall areas where these plants typically grow), I wanted to be sure the soil was well drained. I couldn't just go buy several bags of cactus soil because the only cactus soil I could find here was in tiny expensive bags. And I needed alot! So I ended up making my own (thanks to Pam for helping me figure out what to include). It took quite a few bags of landscape soil, paver sand, poultry grit, and gravel, as well as a large wheelbarrow and a strong back. But I think it'll work.

The original intention of this tank was to have a place for my "Big Mama" (that's what I call her) variegated Agave. My husband and I were tired of moving such a large plant to shelter when the weather turned too cold. I knew that if I had it in lean enough soil, it might make it through below freezing weather. Here's a photo of the plant.



The bad news is that it turns out "Big Mama" was just too big to fit properly in the tank. She would have taken up half the tank. So I ended up playing around with various plants I had until I found a combination I liked (more on where "Big Mama" will end up in a subsequent post). Because the soil was so easy to work with, I was able to just plop plants in and move them around. Here are some of the combos I played around with.









And here's the finished product.





From left to right I've got "Son of Big Mama" variegated Agave, Bamboo Muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa) behind it, Aeonium arboreum v. atropurpureum ‘Zwartzkopf’ (common name Black Rose), Bunny Ears cactus (I think; it wasn't labelled), Coral Reef Chinese Sedum in front of the cactus, Hens and Chicks, Mexican Feather Grass (Stipa tenuissima), Sedum spathulifolium ‘Capo Blanco’, and an unknown succulent from a friend. I'm not sure if the Aeonium will survive the winter but it made it in a pot that I accidently left outside a number of times when I shouldn't. I hope it doesn't get too overgrown too fast but you never know with that Agave!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tulip Dreams Quashed



Normally our garden blogs are all about beautiful photos and our gardening triumphs. Well here's a little something to dispel the myth that all is success in the garden. Last fall I thought I'd try my hand at a little spring tulip display. Knowing that they don't survive and thrive down here in the south I thought I'd pot up two different but complimentary kinds of tulips. They spent their requisite 6 weeks (actually a little more) in the fridge away from fruit and veggies while in the bulb stage. After potting up, the earlier variety started to grow right away. A photo of their blooms can be found in this blog. The mid-season variety starting growing about a week and a half later. But this is as far as they got until succumbing for some strange reason. Does anyone have any idea of what happened? As you can see from this photo, the other variety of tulips are still strong and healthy. Sorry I don't have the name of these guys as I inadvertently threw away the tags.

Monday, March 16, 2009

GBBD March 2009

I've got pretty much the same things blooming that I've had for about a month now. The exception would be the 'Pearl Maxwell' camellia which has finished blooming. Three straight days of cold and lots of rain (over 6 inches!) means that some blooms are looking a little worse for wear and some that should be blooming for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, aren't. Check out Carol and her list of other GBBD posts for some great floral eye candy.



The bluebonnets are now more fully out. Looks like putting them in a pot was the way to go for me. I put them in a pot to prevent them from getting too soggy over the winter. Ironically we had a very dry winter so they may have done fine in the ground anyway. But I think they were happier here during our rains last week.



The bouganvillea is about to bust out all over with blooms. The advice I've heard about how to handle bouganvilleas in the winter always said to wait until late winter/early spring to cut it back. Usually by that time my plant had lost all its leaves and looked pathetic. But this year, simply as a means of fitting into a tight space in my pop-up greenhouse, I cut it way back in fall. Lo and behold it held its leaves all winter and then turned on the bloom machine in late February.



The kalanchoe below has quite a few buds and blooms. Interestingly, this plant, a gift to me last summer, was at that time covered in very vivid pink blooms. After those blooms died away, it's always bloomed this reddish-orange. I wonder if they feed them something weird to get them to bloom pink??



My 'Marie Pavie' old rose is starting its spring bloom period. Lots of little buds and a few that are now starting to open. Hooray



And more 'Improved Meyer' lemons to come?



Also blooming for GBBD are the yellow/cream and red striped tulips, King Alfred daffodils, Jetfire daffodils, rosemary, pansies, alyssum, white irises, and Temari Patio Red verbena. Oh, and weeds in the lawn!

Monday, March 9, 2009

It's That Time of Year

It's that time of year when the blooms of springtime are coming out onesy-twosy. Not enough for some overall garden shots but a great time for capturing the up-close delicacy of spring blooms.



A new flower for me this year is the Jetfire daffodil. May I introduce her via both frontal and side portraits? This daff is said to naturalize.



The white irises are off and running. These grow on a little hillside with very little care. They're always the first irises to bloom for me.


I took a field trip this morning to try my hand at capturing the beauty of peach blossoms. This is the orchard of Louie Thompson, one of the regular farmers at our farmers' market. Fingers crossed we won't get a late freeze. But as you can see, he's in a little "holler". Colder temps are predicted for later in the week but not freezing. Hopefully the holler will provide some protection if Mother Nature decides to surprise us.





Thursday, March 5, 2009

Springtime This and That


Here are a couple of things blooming in my yard today. I lost the name tag to the above tulip but that's okay since the picture on the tag showed a white and red tulip, not yellow and red. I think I like this even better though.


King Alfred daffodil above. I didn't even notice the little bug hiding in the bloom until I blew up the picture!