Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Of Interest in the Garden Today

Montbretia (or crocosmia) has started flowering.

I've read that some crocosmias are well-behaved, but the one I have (a pass-along plant) is one of the most invasive things in my garden.  It's pretty, with tall, graceful (iris-like, but thinner) foliage and jewel-bright orange flowers (though the blooming stalks do tend to flop over), but it has tried to take over, anywhere I've planted it.  I made the mistake of putting it in the same bed with roses.  I'm still pulling the occasional corm-- and usually forced to extricate it from a tight, thorny spot. 


However, as long as it's placed somewhere safe, away from anything that might be overpowered by a highly competitive plant-- maybe with a good barrier to keep it in its place-- I kind of like it.  Some say it doesn't bloom as well when it's crowded, so I probably ought to thin it out in autumn/winter.   


'Apricot Drift' rose.
Many of the leaves are getting spots, but that's a common complaint in this part of the world. 

'Apricot Drift' Rose

I was on the point of declaring that giant marigolds don't seem worth growing, compared to the smaller types.  The one I'm growing is tall, sure, but it's tall to the point that it's not sturdy, tending to flop in the wind and requiring a stake.  And the flower is "just" a boring primary yellow, so why bother?

Then I took a closer look at the flower and thought, "You know, it's not a bad plant."  I'll reserve judgement until the end of the season. 

(Incidentally, I took a couple of pieces that broke off in the wind and stuck them into pots, just to see what would happen.  I think they're rooting.  Add giant marigolds to the list of "Miraculously Easy-to-Root Plants".)

Giant Marigold

The neverending rose of Sharon bloom-phase continues.  Both the white and the violet are still going.  There are probably fewer flowers than at its peak, but not bad!

Several little roses of Sharon are still growing here and there in the flower bed around this violet one.  I'll definitely be moving those around the yard.  I would like to try a couple other colors, too, though I don't even know where I'd plant them, for certain...

Rose of Sharon

The KO roses are providing a lot of color.

Double Red KO Rose

And now that the crepe myrtles have started blooming, there's color to spare!

Most of my crepe myrtles are this "watermelon red", though we have several that bloom white, too (including 'Natchez').  Oh, and there's also 'Victor', which started blooming in June.  It's a darker red that's supposed to be a dwarf form (about 3' to 4' tall), but some that Mom has planted are much taller than that. 

Here's one of the watermelon crepe myrtles:

Crepe Myrtle Bloom

The one thing I really don't like about crepe myrtles is that (in our yard, at least) they seem to attract leafhoppers (also known as sharpshooters).  These nasty little bugs feed on the tree, simultaneously squirting out something that is euphemistically called "honeydew".  It's not good for the crepe myrtle-- and it's just plain gross for the poor person who happens to be "dewed" upon. 

Unfortunately, it seems that there's no quick and easy (or especially effective) means of controlling the pests.  (It depends on who you ask, but I'm convinced they're just a disgusting fact of life for some of us poor souls.)  I think my crepe myrtles have always suffered from leafhoppers, and they manage to survive just fine, so it's mostly a matter of annoyance for me.  I can tell you this much: I will never site a bench, swing, or table under a crepe myrtle in late spring or summer!  And I'd be very careful about where I planted crepe myrtles, in future. 

Crepe Myrtle Bloom

Butterfly on rose of Sharon.

Butterfly on Rose of Sharon

Generic photo of aging purple coneflowers.
Some of the other purple coneflower plants are nearing bloom, now, too.  

Purple Coneflower



'Joseph's Coat' is still flowering.

'Joseph's Coat' Rose

'Joseph's Coat' Rose

Mina lobata is getting bushy.
It still has to make it to bloom time to be a pure success, but I'm very favorably impressed, thus far.  Spanish flag's delicately cut leaves make a nice change from morning glories, if you don't mind the fact that there are no blooms until so late in the year. 

Mina Lobata

The new (planted this year) 'Endless Summer' hydrangea has grown new flowers.  I'm happy to see them (and the fresh leaves that accompanied them), but... but... they're... pink!  Even though I specifically chose a hydrangea that had blue flowers at the store.  (I know they can change colors, but I thought I might as well get one displaying the "right" color to start with... ;o) Right?)

I'm beginning to wonder if our soil (or the soil in this particular part of the yard, at least) isn't as acidic as I think it is.  Either that or it's lacking in aluminum.  I wonder if it's because it's right by the house, in "builder's sand", where mortar was probably mixed and dropped.  The house has been here for a while, though... (Over ten years, now.)

I'm just flummoxed.  This land had pine trees growing on it for years before we built, which supposedly leads to higher acidity (though from what I've read, it may take many, many years for trees to make much difference to the pH of the soil).  I mulch with pine straw! ;o)  Our (ground) water is acidic!  In other words, come on, man!  Why aren't they blue?

Ah, well.  One of the great mysteries... I'll just keep improving the soil, year by year, and probably the acidity will naturally rise to the levels needed for blue flowers.  Otherwise-- I'd rather not buy specially marketed "make it blue" products (for reasons, as they say), but if I can't get blue hydrangeas in any other way, I might consider it...

Anyway, considering that my "main" hydrangea hasn't produced a single bloom (of any color), this year, some of us should be happy to get any flowers at all. 

'Endless Summer' Hydrangea

Black-eyed Susan vine, pathetic cleome, marigolds, double red KO rose.  And in the background, Mexican petunia and monkey grass (which is blooming, too).

Flower Garden

And my favorite photo of the day...
I was amused by the sight of this green anole drinking water from the leaves of a Spanish flag vine.

Green Anole