Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day

   Happy 4th everyone! Amazing that we are already nearly half way through the Meteorological Summer. I hope all will stop and think about what has given us this long , free history. I pray we all have a little of what our ancestors held in abundance, courage. God bless all who read this humble offering. May your gardens and your lives flourish for many more Independence Days !



Monday, June 23, 2014

PCF Explosion and Shady Color

   The rains have been plentiful, the temperatures mild, albeit humid, and many of the things I`ve worked on over the last couple of years are paying off. I ran across a huge stand of  PCF on a golf course in Waco in the summer of `12 and was determined to have some for myself. I scattered a huge bag of Eastern purple coneflower seed , that I acquired on Ebay, in a twenty square foot area in the fall of 2012, made a lot of plants in 2013 and finally the goodies in 2014. A large stand of beautiful flowers that should increase every year in a wildscape setting among the various Monardas. It is in a semi-shaded spot back of the swimming pool. Take a look.




     I know I`ve probably complained enough about the flood damage from last October 30th, but opportunity sometimes comes with disaster and the restoration of that section of the pool beds and fence has progressed to a point I don`t mind showing a little. I`m not overly crazy about the fence surrounding the pool, but we were forced to put it in and over time it has grown on me as a way to section off a part of this huge area of land we occupy, not your average suburban  landscape by a long shot. The area of the worst damage, a largely shaded area near the north pool gate has been planted with Hostas, Coleus, Brugmansia, and Dwarf  Mexican petunia along with the surviving Variegated Maiden grass and a Passion flower vine I finally got started sucessfully.


A look back at the area after the initial repair and fill. 11-19-13



June 23, 2014






  I found a stand of Horsetail rush about two miles from my home last week and transplanted some into my Mom`s old wash pot planter and put it in the corner of this same area . Maybe it will flourish.



   I trimmed the Althea- Rose of Sharon last January for the first time since it was planted in 2004. It turned out great and is much more compact and the flowers are dense.



   This is a small wild bed I put in last summer to hold some of my Blackland transplants. The dirt I hauled in there  has produced more than I transplanted, including Bluebonnet, Firewheel, Basket flower, Saw-leaf daisy and blackland sunflower along with the transplants of prairie verbena, Little bluestem and Lindheimer muhly, and the huge number of Lemon bee balm plants that resulted from planting seed I gathered in the wild. A lot of Spotted bee balm appeared here also. There is a slender leaf mountain mint  in the foreground. I found it last week and had no clue what it was and identified on the LBJ site. It is a rather rare plant this far west, however BONAP does show it Freestone County. It smells wonderful! I love to discover new perennials that will transplant.



A closeup of the Mountain mint before I dug it




Butterfly milkweed starting to bloom. This has been a tough one  for me to get going , it came back this year, so I expect it will continue to thrive from here on.


Rains again this morning. I hope all of you are getting some , too. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Favorites This Week

   Over the next few weeks , I`m going to attempt to capture with the camera some of the plants that particularly grab me in a given week. On this nice June morning, walking around and looking at the progress of  the gardens after being busy the last few days working, a few of them grabbed my eye. Hope you  agree.

Angel`s trumpet-Brugmansia, an interesting purple and white  that I bought unmarked as to cultivar.



Purple Coreopsis. another fairly new planting


A dug-in-the-wild native Passion Vine . I dug this in early spring, transplanted it near the pool fence and attached a four foot section of panel, hoping it would grab it. It has and I think it has a good chance of getting established. I`ve tried for two years to get one to grow and flower. Third time may be the charm. Again ,this is in the area that incurred the most flood damage.


I found this Scarlet Sage fighting for space with the Black-eyed Susans.



A flowering Color Guard Yucca for the new large glazed pot in the front bed.



Check back soon for another post on the results of seed scattering in the gardens and meadows. Sometimes you lose, but sometimes you win!





Sunday, June 1, 2014

Year of the Monarda

  This spring has been a particularly good year for the Monarda species here in the landscape and in the surrounding areas. We have always had a ton ,here at home, of Monarda punctata, aka Spotted Beebalm, a perennial, but over the last year , I have strived to introduce two more types, namely Monarda citriodora, aka Lemon Beeblam and Monarda fistulosa, aka Wild Bergamot. I have had some success with both. The Lemon is an annual and the seeds are readily available over in the nearby Blackland Prairie, which this plant really likes. The Wild Bergamot is a perennial, which seems to be happier here in the sand and sandy loam of the Post oak Savannah. I dug it in the wild last summer and it surived the move. I have spotted some Citriodora  in the immediate area this spring on some of my hikes, but it not as tall or as colorful as those in the dark soil. I really like a lot of the Blackland Prairie plants, so I have actually dug up as much of the soil as I can get to bring back to put in dedicated beds, so I could have a bit of it here. The bonus is that several other plants came up in that soil. Bluebonnets, Clasping coneflower, Sawtooth daisy and more. Here are some pics of the Monardas in action.

Monarda punctata


Monarda citriodora


AKA Lemon Beebalm

Monarda fistulosa with punctata behind it.



AKA Wild Bergamot . it really is  good looking flower.



Wild Bergamot flanked by two stands of Spotted Beebalm


 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Healing

   After waiting months to post anything, I feel like the property and the gardens are healed enough from the double whammy of destructive flood followed by months of hard freezes, topped off by two March deep freezes and one April freeze, to begin sharing  my humble efforts again.. I know I`m not the only one, but two years of hard work was difficult to watch get washed away and frozen to death.
   One of my projects has been to take two quarter acre sections of this property and try to turn it back to native Post Oak Savannah. It`s been easier said than done. I thought I could just sort of let it go, selective mowing in lieu of burning,  seed scattering and some transplanting. I have met with mixed results after two years. It`s obviously going to take a long time to restore the over mowed, poor ,sandy soil to it`s natural state. One of the things that happened in the aftermath of the October 30th flood was my Stepson, thinking he was helping, decided to shred the back prairie patch (to surprise me ). This would have been ok, but it was months before it was time to do so. He mowed everything, including transplanted cacti ! He also mowed down the Little Bluestem and Splitbeard Bluestem before their seeds had matured. I walked over the patch and found  bit of cactus intact, albeit run over and nicked. I decided to just stick it back in the ground and see if it would root. The following picture is the result followed by some others of the recovering landscape. Nature is truly amazing and a true self healer.

Among the grasses, Firewheel, and Black Eyed Susan , a tough survivor in bloom.


 Part of the back patch, with Goldenrod and Little Bluestem emerging.




 A closer view



The front patch, which has more types of wildflowers, including Phlox, Firewheel, Wooly White, Basket Flower, Spotted Bee Balm, Lemon Bee Balm, Coreopsis, Indian Paintbrush,Wild Onion,Gayfeather, Scarlet Sage, Bluebonnet, Black Eyed Susan, Beach Sunflower and more.



  Drummond Phlox. There are many colors of it in the patch. White, blue, red, and pink.


 The Monardas are coming on strong and I feel by next week the Wild Bergamot will be in bloom.
Spotted Bee Balm.



 Lemon Bee Balm




 Cowpen Daisy and emerging Maximillian Sunflower



The recovering front beds



You have to love  Mealy Blue Sage, I lost of lot of it, but this small patch came back





This is the area with the most flood destruction. A complete dismantling of the fence and then load after load after load of wheelbarrowed fill, fence reassembly, planting soil, and new plants. It is still a work in progress, but it has come a long way.




Monday, May 12, 2014

Slow Recovery

   It`s been a long time since I posted, but it`s been an even longer recovery for my gardens after a tough Winter. I lost a lot of plantings and had damage to many more. Even at this late date we have 40`s predicted for lows again. I don`t recall having temps that low this late, EVER! Some of my seed scattering paid dividends, but some that I just knew would take off in this sand did not appear, even after heavy sowing. The Firewheel, Basket flower, Coreopsis, and Bluebonnets have sprouted well. The Black Eyed Susan is about put on it`s show all over the property. The bluestems took a beating and look awful, even the big bunches in the patches. I remember Michael, of Plano Prairie Garden, having a similar experience a couple years ago. The Monardas are going to be fantastic  and soon. I have three types and I expect a great show from all. I hauled some Blackland Prairie soil to a new bed I created to grow some Lemon beebalm, which prefers the dark soil and the seed I gathered made more seedlings than I needed.. The Spotted beebalm and Wild bergamot like the sandy soil native to my savannah. I`ll post pics of all three when they reach their peak. The vegtable garden has done better than last year and I think one benefit of the harsh Winter is a much lower population of Squash bugs. I hope I`m right about that. They consumed my tomatoes last year. Here`s hoping that cold Winter carries over into a mild summer, with plenty of rain. Lord knows we need it! Here are a few meager pics at what is in bloom around the place today.

Giant Coneflower 


 Firewheel


 Blackfoot Daisy


 Black Eyed Susan ( the first bloom)


 The veggie garden


 Paprika Yarrow


 Veronica



Sad state of Little Bluestem,  I need to do more research ,but I`m not aware of short life cycle for this plant. This transplant had been in the ground and hugely successful for 2 seasons. All of the types of bluestem on my place, except Brushy bluestem, are in this state.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving !

It`s that time again, my favorite holiday. May all of you who read this blog have the best day possible.I give thanks for all that we have and for all the great friends I have met through the blogosphere. May all you efforts at gardening and otherwise be successful!