Saturday, April 22, 2017

This, That, the Other

Time for a random selection of photos! ;o)

I thought the cardinals had finally abandoned the beginnings of their nest in the rose arbor (right by the gate), but another two or three days later, I noticed that it had gotten better-developed.  I took this photo in the morning, and by the late afternoon, it was even more well-defined.  I'll have to take another photo to show how neatly they've constructed it.   (It's amazing what they can make using just their beaks!)

Actually, I've just read that cardinals tend to finish off their nests with "bent grass, wrought in a circular form", and that perfectly describes what "our" cardinals have done.  I guess the nest is done!

I still feel doubtful that they're going to like that spot, but maybe they don't mind close neighbors.

Cardinal's Nest

The fall before last, I gathered some seeds from the wild mistflower growing down at Grandpa's pond.  They grew and came back again this spring (still in their pots...).  I think this is wild/hardy ageratum (Conoclinium coelestinum), which is a native perennial that some gardeners find an eager spreader in need of a firm hand or careful placement.  (Ok, many are actually less polite and say this is an aggressive plant that can become an absolute pest.  You've been warned!)  

I wanted to grow it for the late summer/autumn flowers (fuzzy, lavender), but last summer I noticed something else interesting about this plant (which is also known as "boneset"): whenever I was standing near the potted mistflower, I got a whiff of a wonderful "mystery scent" that I'd noticed many times before, down at the pond.  The fragrance is difficult to describe, but it reminds me (pleasantly!) of sweet pipe tobacco/smoke.

When I lean in close to the plant for a sniff, it's elusive.  Rubbing the leaves between two fingers doesn't help, either; the scent evoked by friction is more "generic green" than "mysterious-wonderful, spicy-sweet".  However, I'm convinced that Mystery Fragrance does come from this plant.  When I moved it to the covered patio, I noticed that the scent followed-- and when Mom stopped by the other day, she noticed and remarked on the pleasant smell, too.  (She said it reminded her of the mountains.)

The strange thing is that I haven't been able to find much online commentary on the fragrance of this plant!  I just can't understand that, because I find it such a very pleasant scent-- and since it's evidently the foliage that smells so nice, you get to enjoy it much longer than you would an aromatic bloom.

So far, I've only found one other blog with a post specifically mentioning the fragrance aspect of mistflowers-- but it opens up a whole new can of worms.  Apparently there are a number of types of mistflower.  Maybe this one isn't what I think it is!  Hmm...


We've been having some slightly foggy, misty mornings, which highlight all the spider webs.

Orchard Weaver
{orchard orbweaver}

Spider Web

This one in a crepe myrtle was an interesting shape-- like a bowl made of spider web.  Looking it up, I believe this is a "bowl and doily" spider web.

Spider Web

There's the bowl on top, obviously, and the lighter web underneath is the "doily".

(I find this a particularly amusing name, since I enjoy crocheting doilies-- an old-fashioned hobby, by some estimations, but it's fun!  Crocheting doilies can be either relaxing or engrossing, depending on the complexity of the pattern.)

Spider Web

One of the two "money plants" is blooming!  The flowers are a pretty purple (despite the name, 'Corfu Blue').  I'm excited to see if it will set seed, because the unusual seed pods are the real appeal of this plant.


One of our daylilies has what I would describe as a "fused" scape.  It looks like two stems that somehow grew fused together into a flattened, extra-wide stem.  Apparently the correct term for this is "fasciated scape".

It's strange-looking... Fasciated scapes on daylilies (from the little I've read) seems to be not especially common, but not exactly rare, either, and it isn't supposed to be likely to occur reliably year after year on the same plant.

Fused Daylily Scapes

The strawberry geraniums under the large loropetalum are doing well at the moment.  I think they might always be happiest in spring, then tend to fall back a bit when the heat sets in.  I'd like to see these spread out and fill in the blanks around the whole area, eventually.

Strawberry Begonia

The more things change, the more they stay the same. ;o)  I've planted out the last of last year's daylily seedlings, but as fast as I could plant them, I was refilling the pots with this year's seedlings (which had been in tiny yogurt cups)-- so it doesn't look like I've done much of anything beyond shifting some pots from one spot to another.

Daylily Seedlings, 2017 Batch

'Purple Smoke' false indigo is blooming.

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'

It's pretty, but it's never gotten as big as I expected.  Maybe it would benefit from fertilizer.  (That's one of many jobs on The List-- fertilizing the flower beds.

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'

The butterfly weed is starting to flower!  Only now that it's blooming, I realize that it must be tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) rather than common butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa).

Butterfly Weed

Tropical milkweed may or may not be reliably cold-hardy here (opinions seem to vary), but apparently it is easy to gather seeds and start them every year-- or you can pot up the plant and keep it indoors over the winter.

Butterfly Weed

Remember when I was talking about how dark the leaves of the Black Diamond crepe myrtles were?  Here's photographic proof:

Black Diamond Crepe Myrtle

Some of our tomatoes have started setting fruit!  We've also planted a few squash, but they're sulking after being transplanted.  With luck, they'll finally settle in and start growing.


The honeysuckle growing on our back fence is invasive, but it sure does smell nice.  As long as it stays on the fence, I'm glad to have some not too far away.  (I'd never plant this type in the yard, though.)


Some of the recently transplanted giant plume ginger are flowering.  I guess moving didn't bother them that much, after all.

Giant Plume Ginger Bloom

The 'Tea Cup' elephant ears seem alright for now, but I'm keeping a close eye on them.

'Tea Cup' Elephant Ear

Look at this tiniest-elephant-ear-ever!

'Tea Cup' Elephant Ear

The "pointier" elephant ear from Granpa's garden is adjusting well, too.

Unknown Elephant Ear

And finally, here are some pots of purple coneflower seedlings that need to be either thinned (which I hate doing) or planted.  I'm not sure how well they'll react to planting, at such a small size, but it's worth a try.  These were freebie plants from homegrown seeds, so it's worth a gamble.

So far, so sign of growth from the 'Autumn Sun' rudbeckia seeds I harvested and planted.  I wonder if they need stratification to germinate... Next year, I'll try to remember to winter sow some in milk jugs-- and maybe put some in the fridge for the winter.  I'd like to see that plant multiply!

Purple Coneflower Seedlings