Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Gardens in August and the Bees Love It

  Can it really be this late in the summer? Occasional showers and oddly out of place cool fronts , interspersed with the usual heat have been a change from the usual fare. I haven`t been posting much, however, that doesn`t mean I haven`t been in the gardens. I`m off work this week for a late season staycation and thought I would share a bit of what`s blooming and what`s feeding in the scape. First of all, if you ever get the chance to plant African basil, do it !  The bees love it and paired with Caryopteris, one can spend a great deal of time just watching them.

The Caryopteris is a new plant for me this year and I expect it will be better every year.

   You know that fall is near when the Leavenworth eryngo begins to change to a deep purple. This plant is a volunteer from a plant I had in the front of the house last year. None of the seed I saved and planted came up, but I suppose the birds or the wind planted this one out back. I hope I can keep it going year to year in this alien,( for this particular plant), oak savannah. The first picture is the first flower to form.

The later flowers are following the change.

   The shady area on the creek side of the house is a  pleasant place in August. One walks down from the deck to the pool area and passes some shade loving plants, Hostas, Coleus, various grasses and sages, and Blue mistflower taken from the wild. This is the time it begins to bloom and it also signals late summer.

   Coleus, Aztec grass, Maiden grass, Papyrus, Potato vine, Bamboo muhly. Dwarf Mexican petunia, and Passion vine. Cherry laurels in the foreground. They are prolific along the creek.

   A view from the shade out to the sunny front.

   Inland sea oats in full seed.

   Soft leaf yucca , doubled in size in a year !

   Another sign that the days are getting shorter is the budding Fall obedient plant.

   Wild bergamot gone to seed, need some anyone? Let me know!

  Along with playing in my plots, I`ve been busy gathering seeds in the wild. Lemon mint, American basket flower, Silver bluestem, Prairie parsley, Illinois bundle flower and whatever else I can lay my hands on. I`ve killed about 600 square feet of bahia grass out  in the  back prairie patch and am going to experiment  with seeding without the competition of the s,mfdglkuy5o7i8yr,ekjh  bahia ! I`m also going to stay on top of the winter rosettes and transplant more species during winter.

 Happy August !  September and planting time will be here soon. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

It`s a Passion Thing

   I realize that many of you have had success with Passion flower, however , for two years ,I`ve tried to propagate it from the wild and from off-shoots from other`s gardens to no avail. This year has finally been my year to see some success. Below is the first bloom  and I would be hard pressed to be more happy about a single bloom. There are many more to come and even my native is heavy with flower buds! It took the proper soil amendments to this sandy soil to turn the trick.  DUH !

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


   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.