Saturday, September 27, 2014

OH! THE COLORS OF A SOUTHERN FALL

It has been a wonderful week where night temperatures dipped below 70° and day time highs barely touched the 90s. But summer isn't done with us yet as warmer temperatures are promised next week.

Cooler night time temperatures return color to the garden, with new blooms opening on the Salvia greggii. It isn't called Autumn sage for no reason. Clouds of pink and white gaura are a magnet for the bees.


Lindheimer senna, Senna lindheimeriana brings splashes of yellow to the landscape and the hanging pods assure us of an annual display. This is one plant the deer never touch so it is a great plant to have outside the walls. It has, however, found its way inside the walls adding a splash of late summer color to a mainly green landscape.


Sometimes I think a plant is about to die because the foliage has yellowed but then rain brings a fresh infusion and cooler nights bring back the green color to the leaves. It is almost the opposite of what happens in the spring when leaves are yellow because of the cold. This always happens on the hollies and columbines.


In the sunken garden flowering blackfoot daisies Melampodium leucanthum, have been growing quietly from seeds of the previous winter. They seem comfortable growing among the pink crystal grass, Melinus nerviglumis. Soon it will be their turn to fill the garden with pink seedheads.


This wouldn't be a Texas garden without the yellow blooms on the zexmenia, Wedelia hispida. Yes, it may like to take over the garden but when one grows in the perfect spot it is so worthwhile. Here paired with artichoke agave, Agave parryi 'truncata'
Did you experience a garden surprise this week? I had three. The first was the bloom of Lycoris radiata. 


Then the first flower on my pale pavonia, pale rock rose, Pavonia hastata, a passalong seedling from Diana at Sharing Nature's Garden. Although not a native it will be welcome unless it proves to be invasive. How could Rock Rose not love another member of the mallow family.


And two days ago this monster moth on the mail box. A giant female silk moth, Antheraea polyphemus. What a beauty she is and a first for my garden despite being found in all the states from Canada to Mexico. She has a short life and her only job is to find a mate.


We may never give us the fall color as found in the northern climates but we welcome the explosion of color in our Southern fall.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

FALL IS AROUND THE CORNER

When the high temperature for the day drops into the 80s then gardeners in the south know that the back of summer is broken and fall is on the way. The message also comes from fall blooming plants; those that respond to shortening daylight length.
The first blooms on the Philippine Violet, Barleria cristata, appeared this week.


It will be in direct competition with another purple bloomer, Mexican bush sage, Salvia leucantha. Salvia leucantha is a favorite of the hummingbirds as they begin their long migration across the Gulf of Mexico to Venezuela.


Another purple fall bloomer is the Fall obedient plant, Physostegia virginiana, although I have never found it to be particularly obedient.


With cooling temperatures came torrential rain, 8" overnight in my garden. A sure signal that the Oxblood lilies will push up through the soil within a few days. And here they are.


If my garden is anything to go by it is going to be a bumper season for the blubonnets. I have never seen such germination. The ground is literally heaving.


And heavy rains carried many of the seeds to the edges of the garden.


I rescued these from a watery grave this morning but there is no way I can salvage those above.


I have other seeds to manage. Earlier this year I received a bag of trial seeds from American Meadows. I chose the dry wildflower mix. In Central Texas we sow hardy annual seeds int he fall so that is my plan over the next week. They will find a home in spots where wildflowers are lacking. I doubt they could compete with the bluebonnets.


They also sent some packets of vegetables, carrots and lettuce. It will be interesting to see how their sugar snap peas compare with my favorite Cascadia. I have planted this pea for years and it never fails to produce the most incredible crop. The pod can be eaten from the snap stage to full pea stage.


Coupled with my left-over seeds and collected seeds from last year, I have my work cut out. However, cooler days will mean more hours in the garden.


There is no rest for the Southern gardener.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WHAT DO YOU WEAR TO GARAGE SALES?

The occasion was the naming ceremony for our newest granddaughter.


You probably know that I like to look for garden 'stuff' at garage sales. So after the event we were driving back to our son's home when we passed a garage sale, and of course I couldn't resist. I trotted down the driveway in my sari and the reward was.....


4 pretty glass balls for my stock tank. It was in need of a little pizazz to go along with the floating islands. And the bonus was they were in a large pewter bowl. I was too busy looking at the glass balls and the $2 price tag, to examine the dirty old bowl, but when I looked later I saw it said Nambe. What a find.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

YOU'LL BE BACK TO THE GARDEN IN 45 DAYS

This is a play on the words spoken by the Peter Gibbs at the start of Gardeners' Question Time, only he says 'You'll be back to the garden in 45 minutes' As we left on our recent vacation I turned and looked at the garden and spoke similar words. It has been exactly 45 days since we left.


We have traveled 7500 miles but I am so glad to be home, even if my garden did have some unwelcoming surprises for me. Overgrowth, weeds, stock tanks down 18" dead plants. Whereas I would normally welcome the drizzle and colder temperatures that awaited us it certainly did not enhance the garden image. I began pulling out all manner of vegetation mostly from the overgrown vegetable garden. By the end of the week those beds should be clear and ready for new plantings. In the meantime I am enjoying the clashing colors of the gomphrena and spider zinnias.


I am hoping that the recent rain after an August without will bring back the plants in the sunken garden back into flower. For now I must be content with the zexmenia, Wedelia texana.


And the morning show of the chocolate daisy, Berlandiera lyrata.


Here is a surprise, a Hinckley columbine, Aquilegia chrysantha.


This tangle of pink gaura is a favorite of the bees.


I see liatris blooming along the roadsides and it's blooming in my garden too. A welcome flower in the fall garden.


and the Lindheimer senna, Senna lindhemeriana dotted around in the front courtyard.


I have yet to look forward to the first of the Oxblood lily blooms, the Copper canyon daisy and a host of yellow blooming daisies. Soon they will arrive.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

FORGET BOTTLE TREES, HOW ABOUT A BOTTLE HOUSE

On the same day we visited the garlic farm, on Prince Edward Island, we visited the Bottle Tree Houses. The visit made my day because, not only did I enjoy the bottle houses but they had a very nice garden.

 I wasn't filled with confidence when we stopped at the visitor center in Victoria Harbor and they had no idea where this was. Maybe not on everyone's list of things to do on Prince Edward Island.


The three bottle houses we were to visit were built by Edouard Arsenault and, following his death, the large bottle at the entrance was built by his grandson Etienne Gallant.


After buying our entry tickets we took the pathway to the first house, The Chapel. Built of 10,000 bottles the chapel has an altar and pews, although difficult to capture in such a small space. After Mr Arsenault died several small services were held in the chapel as well as several weddings.




The pathway from the chapel leads over a small bridge with pond to The Six-Gabled House. This was the first building built by Edouard in 1980 and used 12,000 bottles.


 Edouard gathered the bottle from the dump and restaurants and eventually people would bring him their boxes of bottles.



How clever to use rectangular bottles on the sides of the house.


Beyond the Six-Gabled house as replica of the lighthouse at Cap-Egmont, where Monsieur Arsenault was the last resident keeper. The coast line is dotted with lighthouses of a similar structure.

I have a feeling that a bird house similar to the one you see here may appear in my own garden one day.



The third house is called The Tavern. Well, of course , most of the bottles would have come from there.


I was wondering if there would be a bottle tree and there was one set in the middle of the expansive lawn. The lawn is a very important part of the landscape here with green swards of perfectly manicured lawn stretching down to the roads. Islands of planting with shrubs and flowers break up the lawn. There is no shortage of water here.


I love the catmint clumps interspersed with yellow daylilies. Catmint grows well for me and I would love to achieve this effect but because of our long growing season tends to get too large and has to be cut back at least twice a year.


When a large Manitoba maple tree was brought down by heavy winds in 2010, Bill Galland carved this Spirit of Wood. The carving was named Edna, after the sister of Monsieur Arsenault, who died at the age of 99 the week the sculpture was completed.



They even provided little tables for picnickers and we just happened to have ours with us.



After lunch, as we walked back to the exit this perfect scene caught my eye and gave me my garden fix of the day.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

THE GARLIC POST

The problem with traveling so much is that I am way behind on all my posts, years behind on some. But today we have a good wifi connection so I am going to try to post about a visit we made two days ago on Prince Edward Island. A roadside sign had me saying 'Stop now!'.


We pulled down the dirt road into the farm where a large carts held masses of freshly picked garlic.


I approached the lady who was tying them up into bundles and told her I had never bought any like this before. " Oh, these are not for sale" she told me, " go into the barn."


There we saw racks of garlic hanging up to dry and some already dried and hanging in net bags for sale. Too many choices. Artichoke, Asiatic, Creole, Turban, Silverskin, Porcelain, Rocambole, Purple Stripe, Purple Stripe Marbled and Purple Stripe Glazed.
 

Then I noticed these bags of black garlic and was promptly brought a sliver of the black garlic to try. The processing takes 23 days and involves controlling the temperature and humidity while the garlic ferments into this sliceable black clove. A sweet, smokey, intriguing flavor. And so I bought a 50g bag of black garlic and a large bag of the regular which I forgot to photograph, so have no idea what it is. All I know is that I asked for large cloves because I dislike all those tiny cloves. I am pleased to say they use no chemicals at Eureka Garlic.


Of course a vanity plate on their truck.


So here is the black, sometimes called Korean garlic, prized by chefs. We had steak for dinner and we smeared the garlic over the steak for a delicious smokey flavor. I'm hunting for new recipes to try.


I may grow garlic again this year but it will just be the kind that my local nursery has and I certainly will not be doing the 23 day procedure.