Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Back to the Garden and the Blog

'Alabama' coleus

Yes, I'm still a garden blogger. Regular readers have probably given up on me ever blogging again though. August is typically my slowest month of blogging, but this year it's the slowest ever. Every once in a while you need a break, you know?

Allow me one little non-gardening digression - I first discovered blogging after getting laid off. I had a wonderful two years of blogging about my garden, meeting new friends, some virtually, some in person, and learning an incredible amount about gardening all over the world. (Being unemployed for two years was not so nice in other ways though!) Three months ago I got a job in a completely new field for me but luckily, it's in the town I live in and in a field I love - gardening. Sort of. I edit articles about gardening. So I sit all day in fairly intense concentration in front of a computer. Which means that when I get home, the thought of getting on my computer to read blogs, much less write one, is a little much. Those of you who knew me during my other career, software, will wonder why I didn't have this problem before. Well, I really didn't spend that much time on the computer after work! And with all of the management meetings I used to have, it wasn't as intense in front of a screen. All this to say that although I miss reading everyone's blogs and wish I could read them as often as I used to, I probably won't be able to. But please hang in there with me. Maybe I'll figure out how to make this work.

'Alabama' coleus on left, Cordyline australis ‘Red Star’ on right

Now back to the garden. There's not really that much happening in the garden so I thought I'd talk about one of my more underappreciated plants, the 'Alabama' coleus. I planted it in a potted arrangement when it was in a little 4 inch pot. Later I moved the plants that were in the arrangement around and left the coleus by itself. Other than madly pinching it when I first got it, I haven't done anything else. It's developed this nice mounded shape and absolutely no pests have bothered it. Not even the lubber grasshoppers! So, there's a nice satisfactory plant for August.

Ruby throated hummingbird

There are a lot more hummingbirds around the backyard these days. I think the migration is starting. It's hard to capture more than one hummer at a time at the feeder because they're so busy chasing each other around. I find it funny that they also chase the butterflies away from their nectar plants. Speaking of butterflies, I saw my first Gulf frittilary of the season yesterday!

Spooky balloon

A couple of weeks ago this ballon got caught on a vent pipe of my neighbor's house. It's been looming over my backyard ever since, kind of spooking me when I forget it's there. Does anyone else find this unsettling? I think you would if you saw it in person.

Wavy leaf cacus and agave (neomexicana maybe??)

My wavy leaf cactus pad has definitely rooted and even sprouted another pad. So I'm thinking of ripping most plants out of my stock tank, planting this cactus, and leaving the now thriving bamboo muhly with it. We'll see.

'Autumn Joy' sedum

I'm now seeing the "pinking up" of my AJ sedum. And pollinators are now getting attracted to it. Surely this means that fall is around the corner?? :-) Yep, I can't wait for it! Well, a couple of more computer tasks await me, including ordering some bulbs, so I think I'll call it a blogging night. I hope to get to your blog soon!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2010. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Miracle on Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

Lanai 'Bright Pink' verbena

This morning, before my coffee and my usual watering and Sunday garden clean-up, I half-heartedly brought my camera outside in the hopes that there would be at least one nice looking bloom for this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. This long-lasting heat, humidity and droughty weather has tired out both the garden and the gardener. So imagine how surprised I was to find many blooms; it wasn't like late spring or early summer mind you, but still, a very pleasant surprise. Almost a miracle, actually.

'Autumn Joy' sedum

Because I have more photos than normal, I'll spare you much narrative.

Knock Out rose, not a pink one, just lighter than normal for some reason

Verbena bonariensis
Painted Lady butterfly on buddleia (the blooms are smaller this time of year)

Blooms from some type of purple basil (lost the tag); I let this bloom for the bees

'Calliope' eggplant with the ubiquitous flea beetle in front of the bloom!

'Sun Gold' tomato blooms, revived by some rain; this should bloom & produce through fall

Flame acanthus, Anisicanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii

Flame acanthus plant

I put this second photo of flame acanthus in this post so you can see that the plant isn't really totally covered in blooms. At least mine has never been that way. Maybe that's because it gets a little more shade than I know it could take. Although it sprawls quite a bit in this area, I keep it because the hummingbirds are so fond of it. And speaking of hummers...

Hummingbird at 'Black and Blue' salvia

My 'Black and Blue' salvia, Salvia guaranitica, is looking pretty bedraggled right now, but then it always does by this time of year. I've had this plant for four years now and am thinking I'll replace it with a fresh one when I find another. The hummingbirds really love this plant as well. Yesterday I saw a hummer chase off a swallowtail butterfly from it!

Unknown variety of crapemyrtle

'Zagreb' coreopsis; are you tired of seeing this nonstop bloomer yet? I'm not!

'Patrick's' abutilon

I've done a little research on this particular abutilon on the Internet and just had to laugh at what I saw. The only references I could find for it came from Austin garden bloggers. And Austin is where I bought this one. I think it really needs to move beyond there as it's so dependable. So I'm doing my part to get it beyond central Texas!

Cicada shell on 'Patrick's' abutilon

Last of the black-eyed Susans ('Goldsturm' variety)

'Lemon Spreader' lantana in front of 'Rainbow Bush', Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’

Closeup of 'Lemon Spreader'

Well, I was going to try to show you a blow-by-blow of this little hummer coming in and out for food, but Blogger is not behaving as it's supposed to (what else is new?). So you only get two little photos, but you can click on them to see a larger view.

Other blooms in the garden include 'Red Cascade' climbing rose, melampodium, 'Hip Hop' euphorbia, purple coneflower, some peppers, 'Lizard Lips' aloe, and 'Victoria Blue' salvia. Be sure to check out Carol's GBBD post to see what's blooming all over the world on this day!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2010. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Surviving the Dog Days

Wavy Leaf cactus (anyone know the "real" name of this?; it's almost spineless & the pads curve & bend)

This is the third summer I've blogged about my garden and now I notice that around this time every year, I start pooping out on blogging. And even reading blogs. It's just too darn hot and I don't even want to think of gardens (hard to do when I have to edit so many gardening articles!). The temperatures we had to endure at the beginning of this past week were horrible and record breaking - was it 105 F or higher? After the heat indices started going over 115 F, I stopped listening to the weather. I started thinking I was back living in Austin ( :-) the smile is for all of my Austin friends). But then the miraculous occurred - it started to rain. Buckets. Toad stranglers. Too much rain to sink in properly. Lightning everywhere. I guess it was bound to happen.
'Crimson Pirate' daylily

So to celebrate the return of rain, I've decided to focus on the good things in my garden and world, and ignore the negatives. Take this 'Crimson Pirate' daylily. This variety has been blooming since late May. That's more than two months of blooms! Research on this variety tells me that it first came out in the 1950s. I guess you could say it's not a fat and lazy daylily, like so many of my other ones! I have four of these plants, bought last year from a big box, and this year they've been spectacular. Especially when they all bloom at once.

Foxtail fern (Asparagus myers)

How's this for a juicy, fluffy fern? This is the younger of the two foxtail ferns I have, and looks the best. Of course, it should be as I water it every day!

'Red Cascade' miniature climbing rose

You have to be a tough rose to survive this summer (see my last post about one rose that didn't make it). 'Red Cascade' has had no trouble.

Unknown nasturtium variety in front of flapjack succulent

I have to smile every time I see the few remaining blooms on my nasturtiums. Normally they're kaput by this time of year but just to see what would happen, this year I cut them back after their spring bloom period. A few of them have made a heroic effort to survive the summer. This is probably the last bloom I'll get this year though!

A few assorted blooms and Nasella tenuissima, Mexican feather grass

Be glad I didn't include a close up of the asters behind the Mexican feather grasses. All that brown on the asters is damage from the aster lace bug. Did you know that such a bug existed? I didn't but I sure do now. I think they're past the worst of the damage now and am hoping the fall blooms hide the rest of the brownness. (btw, I don't have an 'X' painted on my cactus behind the asters. It's just a shadow from my fence.)

'Zagreb' coreopsis and Mexican feather grass

The 'Zagreb' coreopsis is a big winner in my book this year. New to the baby garden, it's never stopped blooming since I planted it!

47 Daisies farm produce

More goodness in my world - our farmers' market. As National Farmers' Market Week winds down, let's celebrate local farms and farmers and everything they do for us, shall we? We (those of us who "work" at the farmers' market) laugh every time this national week of celebration comes around. Someone up north obviously picked the date for it because down south, the farmers and their produce are struggling to get past the dog days of summer! But we still have some intrepid souls at the market and in fact, for the first time since we opened almost three years ago, we're still open in August (not sure how long that'll last though). But let's celebrate it while we can with a few photos.

The last(?) of the tomatoes for the summer from Mack's Tomatoes and Produce

'Silver Queen' okra from Wayne's Specialty Produce

Terrell Farms' fig preserves

Talar's Mediterranean Specialty (hummus, taboulleh, etc., ... I'm in heaven!!)

Matlock Farms' peaches (very yumm-o)

47 Daisies' sunflowers

With all the lovely produce and foods from our farmers' market, the recent drenching rains, yes, I guess you could say I'm surviving the dog days of summer. And I'm thinking and hoping we only have six more weeks til our first little cool front. :-)

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2010. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.