Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Chit-Chat and Photos

After a string of rainy days last week, we've been enjoying sunnier weather.  Or trying to enjoy it... Honestly, it's already getting too warm for me.  If the thermometer's accurate, we've been in the mid-to-upper 80s, the past couple of days.  That might be perfect for swimming-- and it would be wonderful if this were, say, July-- but since it's only the middle of April, I wish we were in the mid-to-upper 70s instead.  But with all the serious flooding in Houston, I'll try not to complain just because it's a little warmer than I'd like.

With the hot weather already nipping at our heels, we're trying to get some things done.

Last week, I planted a bunch of seeds-- mostly annuals, but also a few perennials.  Some of them should have been planted before, but clearly they weren't!  ;o)  I still have more to sow, too.  (Many of these seeds were bought on steep clearance at the end of the last season, so I'm not sure how well some of them will germinate.  I really got more than I should've for the available space and time, but they were practically giving them away, so I gave in to temptation.)

This week, I'm mulching large areas-- mostly the flower bed expansion areas-- with leaves and pinestraw (usually a mix of the two).  I put down cardboard over some of the places, first, but the dogs have shown an annoying level of interest in the cardboard I already used for smothering weeds and grass.  (They pull it out, run around with it-- like the great prize that it is-- and even chew and eat it.)  Considering that, I'm probably better of just using a thick layer of mulch.  I can go back and pull/spray the weeds that persist, later in the season.

Donald started working on the last bit of the gravel path, Monday evening. It will be very nice to be done with the gravel-- but we still have a tricky bit left, between the house and the covered patio.  The ivy trellis may need to move and be dealt with before we fix the gravel in that spot.

I've decided that I don't want to leave the ivy there, unless we can move the trellis portion far enough from the wall that I can keep it trimmed (away from the brick) more easily.  The problem with moving the trellis forward is that that little walkway area is already narrow, and I'm afraid it will look odd (and maybe feel a bit claustrophobic) if we move it far enough to make much of a difference to the ease of trimming...

The alternative (and one I'm leaning toward more and more) is to cut back and remove the ivy (to another container in a different location) and replace it with something that won't cling to and potentially damage brick.  The hard part is finding a vine that might do well on a not-huge trellis on a north-facing wall-- but in a place that still gets some hot afternoon sun in summer.  Ideally, this vine wouldn't leave the trellis completely bare for several months of the year, since we walk by it every day, but if it can't be helped, we can certainly live with a deciduous vine.

Ok, enough chit-chat.
Here are a few photos from today (since I still haven't processed those "survey" photos for the month of April)!

More coreopsis is blooming, both annual and perennial forms.  So far the only one yet to bloom is 'Mercury Rising', but I know at least a few of those divisions are still alive and look to be doing well, so it's only a matter of time.  This is 'Golden Sphere'/'Golden Ball', though it doesn't look very spherical in our garden.  Still pretty, though!

'Golden Sphere' Coreopsis

'Golden Sphere' Coreopsis

The Chinese foxglove bud has opened.  It's pretty and should only get better if it grows bigger and puts up taller stalks of flowers, in years to come.

Chinese Foxglove

The red KO rose was particularly eye-catching against the backdrop of 'Sunshine' privet:

Double Red KO Rose

A peek down the west-facing expanded flowerbed (not where I've been mulching, yet, though it needs it soon):

Flower Garden

This is the first year I've tried growing caladium.  At the moment, they're in a pot on the patio, but I'm considering putting some of them into the ground... Wherever they end up, I'm planning to try to overwinter them (maybe in the garage?).  I don't know how likely it is to work; apparently some people manage it with no trouble, while others finally decide to treat them as annuals, after multiple unsuccessful attempts.  It's worth at least one try, though.

Even if they're only here for one year, I'll enjoy them.  I don't buy many annuals, though I grow some simple ones from seed.  This was a small investment that should yield months of beauty (even if overwintering doesn't work).


This variegated shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) is a new addition to our yard.  It's a different type of ginger from any of the others we're already growing, and from what I've read, it's not likely to bloom for us if I leave it outside all winter.  I've seen at least one dissenting anecdote, but most information firmly explains that this ginger blooms on "old wood" (as woody as ginger gets, at least), so in climates where it dies to the ground in winter (as it will in our zone 8b), it just never gets a chance to bloom.

At the moment, I'm thinking I'll treat this as a tropical foliage plant and not worry about the flowers (even though they are scented, which is one of my weaknesses...).  However, there's always the chance that I could pot it up in autumn and try to keep it inside over the winter.  Unlikely, but still a chance!

Variegated Ginger

I'm trying agapanthus.
I had a bit of it from Mom, from years ago, probably... It languished and finally disappeared altogether.  I'm hopeful that my improved attentiveness to "all things garden" will give this new plant a better chance.  Agapanthus seems to be a little finicky about whether or not it will bloom, but at this point, I might be satisfied if I can just keep it looking healthy!

I'm growing it in a relatively small pot, because supposedly it likes being crowded.  This also has the added benefit of portability as I try to pin-point the right amount of sun and shade.  The downside of a small pot is that it will need more frequent watering than if it were in the ground, but I'm outside watering something every few days, anyway (unless it's been raining, of course). We'll see.  It wasn't a huge investment, and it's worth a try-- but if this one fails, that's it for my infatuation with the temperamental agapanthus!  (g)


I'll close with new photos of the mountain laurel.  It looks more impressive with a greater number of flowers open!  The highly geometric blooms are appealing.  Unique.  Fresh.  They make me think of old-fashioned, painted ceramic tiles-- or maybe crochet motifs. (g)

Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel