Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mid-April: The Dutch irises are blooming!

Delighted yesterday to see blooms on my lovely blue Dutch iris. This is the first year for them, so we'll see if they rebloom next spring. They're part of the Great Budget Bulb Experiment (see last post) -- and they are a month early, according to their catalog bloom time.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Daffodils up! Missed my dwarf iris :( And, warbler

Several of these beautiful things greeted me today. Try if you can to resolve this mass of frilly petticoats into a daffodil -- it really is one. By far the silliest daffodil I've ever bought, and it is just a big ball of cheerful on a stick out there in the (fantastically well-raked) flowerbed, as you can see.

It's daffodil "Replete," to be precise... and it's supposed to be PINK! Haven't figured that out yet. Mom says sometimes they change color after they've been open a few days, so I'll watch it. My theory is the alkaline soil leached it yellow :)

So all the bulbs I planted this fall have at least come up. I missed the dwarf iris, which nearly breaks my heart -- owing to work pressure, daylight savings and a couple other issues, I barely saw the garden at all in February, and I think that's when they bloomed, because when I did get out there I saw the spent brown post-floral husks. Sigh!

I did hit every single bulb with the Magic Rabbit Poo (Buds N Blooms) a couple weeks ago. And the roses as well -- all the roses survived the winter of many freezes and total neglect. (You wondered why it's called the Darwin Garden? They don't.) The roses, in fact, are all glossy-leafed out with the flush of new growth that always happens right before the aphids hit. Sigh.

For the record, here's what got planted in the fall, each with bloom time and quantity:




Feb-Apr ✓25

SKY BLUE LILIES (Ixiolirion pallasii)May-Jun

I checked off the ones that have already bloomed. We'll see if the rest do as well!

Also today, very exciting: Saw the first yellow-rumped warbler I have ever seen. He was polite enough to spend a full two minutes flitting around the cedar elm branches that are right outside our bedroom window, and if I hadn't been looking from that high position, I might have never seen his identifying feature: His bright yellow diamond where his back tapers into his tail! Without that, he would have looked like any of our gabillions of other LBBs (little brown birds). And indeed I think he was an immature, or maybe a she, because he had no other yellow on him -- no yellow wing or breast patches or crown, as are shown in some pictures.

But what a little cutie, and he obligingly hopped from branch to branch trilling his pleasant little song until he'd cleaned every single bug off our cedar elm. Cutie McCutepants!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Well if I thought the spuria looked good last year...

I walked out in the back this afternoon and was greeted by at least three blooms apiece on stalks where I'd never seen more than one before! And there is a whole 'nother scape ready to burst open. I am awash in giddiness. These are gorgeous glowing things in the early dusk, and they are fully four to five feet tall, healthy as horses.

Whether the difference has been our drought-drought-freeze-flood-freeze-freeze-flood winter, or the fact that they got Buds 'n Blooms both this spring and last, I do not know. But I know they will be getting more Buds n' Blooms. Here's a closeup:

Bookkeeping: Last weekend I planted 10 Siberian iris "Caesar's Brother," 3 asiatic lily "Lollipop" and one lavender calla in the northeast corner of the back bed (a forlorn barren spot by the gate).

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Catching up on three weekends of garden blooms

Here it is the first weekend in April and my Duchesse de Brabant bush is covered, just exploding with buds. She's already given me three fat frilly roses, currently scenting the bedroom:

Last weekend I was amazed to find five of my Thalia jonquils sporting lovely, pure-as-snow white flowers, two to a stem. The blooms are larger even than I had expected (this is the first year they've bloomed for me) but with that stunning graceful form that looks almost more like an orchid than a narcissus; the scent is pure paperwhite narcissus, though. These two came to work with me and spent the week making my desk happy, along with a miniature Parade rose that I think might be Apollo Parade:

And the weekend before that, I was stunned to see blooms on my tiny. tiny Louisiana jonquils, which like the Thalia did not bloom their first spring, but must have enjoyed our conditions this year -- drought, freeze, flood, freeze, neglect, freeze, flood. Hmph. They're also called Early Louisiana jonquils, which fits 'cause they did come up first -- middle of March. Tiny things, and sweet-scented -- I zoomed in close for detail here. Also borne in pairs:

Since I have planted a drift of, say, five bulbs each year, I am now starting to get the effect of a few dozen wide paintbrush strokes that appear in green at first, then flame into a different color as each week rolls on. This fall, I think, if I put in some Iris reticulata and perhaps a peachy white jonquil, I'll be able to expand the magic a few weeks (and a few colors). Off to place my order!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A chat with Nelda Moore

This is not so much in the nature of an interview as it is my notes from a chat with wise gardener Nelda Moore, whom I met at the Zilker Garden while she was watering irises. I told her I have some spuria and some mystery iris that don't like to bloom (which I think are bearded) and she gave me advice.

Spuria iris: They like rose food, so just give 'em what I'm giving the roses they're planted with. They go dormant in the heat -- but don't cut the dead foliage till it's completely dead, like in July or August.

Louisiana iris: A row of them were growing in giant soggy buckets there, and Moore said they'd also take to a sunny spot with drip irrigation. Look for blooms in April. Hold a leaf up to the light -- if you see tiny horizontal flecks, looking a lot like the slubs in dupioni silk, it's a Louisiana. No flecks = spuria.

Mystery/bearded iris that aren't blooming: If they're in a big clump, divide them and replant about 12" apart in new soil. They love new soil. Don't plant the rhizomes very deep or they won't bloom. Give them full sun, and also water in some bonemeal every February and September (Valentine's Day and Labor Day is the mnemonic).

Iris reticulata: Not only can they grow in the ground here, they are about the first thing to bloom in spring! Them and grape hyacinths, she said.

My thanks to a lovely lady! She also noted they're having an iris show April 17.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Mini roses, violas, rosemary and fertilizer

Today I redid all our flowerpots on the front and back porches. Amazingly, the garish pinwheel-looking impatiens on the front porch survived for two years, through drought and freezes, until a month or so ago when we had what must have been one freeze too many.

Delicate "Sorbet" violas went into every pot -- the Natural Gardener had an incredibly lovely color for sale this year and I just bought half a flat of it, never mind trying to mix and match colors. There isn't any color of "Sorbet" violas I don't love, but this one is a cream shade with a very delicate feathery thin edge of lavender-blue. I think it must be the one called "Coconut Swirl." Anyway, I just slathered it into every pot; the nursery also was selling some particularly nice "Parade" miniature roses -- perfect hybrid tea form in a pale blush ("Breeze Parade"?) and also a creamy white with a tiny pink tinge to the edges ("Bianca Parade"?), so I mixed those in with a few rosemary sprigs. I'm pretty sure the rosemary won't enjoy the same conditions as the violas and roses, but it's a very tough little plant so we'll see. I'm tired of not having any rosemary to nibble on and cook with, so I will take what I can get.

Then I fertilized all the narcissus and iris. Both the spuria iris I planted and the mystery iris I inherited have come up strong this year, but not a bud scape among them -- I'm hoping the "Buds and Blooms" (aka magical rabbit poo) will fix that. The new Narcissus "Grand Primo" are huge, but only managed a couple of flowers as of yet; the new ones are even larger than the established "Grand Primos." The "Thalia" narcissus came up a little smaller, and the early Louisiana jonquils are just spindly little things ... but with buds! They've never bloomed for me before, so I'm very excited.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New climbing rose planted; plus, disaster recovery!

Today I plunked down a replacement for Olly, the mystery red rose that had established itself so strongly on the side of our house (we called him Olly because his huge branches looked like tentacles)... he was doing beautifully till I got ahold of him. Injudicious overpruning on my part, at the wrong time of year, to boot, did Olly in. So with sadness, today I cut down his old tentacles and put in a New Dawn climbing rose -- this one sold by the A&M EarthKind people, so it's been raised in Texas weather, transplanted when dormant in a biodegradable pot. EarthKind also means it's chosen to do well without excessive spraying and feeding. I have high hopes for him (not to be confused with my High Hopes climber in the backyard, still alive despite drought and freezes).

About those droughts and freezes... so as I was recovering from surgery early last year, my sweet husband dug me a rose bed in the front yard. We happily ordered roses... and then just before they arrived he had a cycling accident, and broke his collarbone. Since I still couldn't bend down very well, we just kept the bareroot roses in buckets and pushed it as long as we could... naturally when we did get them planted, they were weak, and didn't last long.

Ah well, we said, and ordered a new batch. Then we had one of the worst droughts Texas has had... we ran a watering system to their roots but not in time... and those died.

Ah well, we said, and ordered a new batch. These were planted right away, with the drip watering system working beautifully, and started producing prize-winner blossoms even as they were still getting rooted in their new home.

And then AT&T dug up the bed. Rose bodies flew everywhere as the workers made a big chasm to whichever wires they needed to reach. The workers did their best to move the plants aside, and actually did try to stay in touch with us about the work... but my husband was hit by another driver on his way home from work at the end of December, and I spent a week with him in the hospital and then got him moved to a physical rehab where I visited him after work every day.

I didn't even look at the rosebed for weeks. Meanwhile, "Snowpocalypse '09" moved in -- infamous in our region for bringing more frenzied preparation than actual precipitation, but still bashing our new little plants with freezing temperatures as they lay in their temporary spots on either side of the rocky ditch that had been our neat, mulched rosebed.

A dear friend wrapped her towels around our roses... AT&T did their best to put everything back... we only wound up losing three plants, all told. (Out of about 10.) So now things are holding steady; I'm watering and watching as needed; and when we both recover a bit we'll replace the fallen and fill in the hole (despite AT&T's efforts -- which were pretty good -- there is a concavity where the dirt settled in).