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Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Vines and Vegetables.

after having lunch with friends today, i realized that a side trip to buchanan's would be only a few blocks out of my way. i really only meant to quickly check whether they had some native vines i was interested in.

thirty minutes later i left with an armload of new plants including two of the three vines i was looking for*:

* they had the third vine also -- crossvine (bignonia capreolata) -- but i decided two vines were enough to start with.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in Edibles, New Plants, Ornamentals | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Shredded Lettuce. we woke up

Shredded Lettuce. we woke up to violent thunder and lightning at about 5 this morning. i had almost drifted back to sleep when the rain started -- this was no gentle spring shower. it was a downpour. with hail. not large hail, only about the size of cat food kibbles, but it was big enough to shred the lettuce in the garden. bleah.

i suppose i'm thankful that was the worst of my damage. other texas gardeners had more.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 24, 2003

Spring Cleaning. valentine's day the

Spring Cleaning. valentine's day the is 'traditional' date for pruning roses in houston, but i didn't prune my rose then 'cuz the weather was overcast and drippy. however, the across-the-street neighbor did indeed prune his many roses that weekend.

yesterday i finally took care of my one lonely rose. it has many bud eyes ready to sprout, along with a bit of new growth, so i'm hopeful that it will be more productive this year than it was last year. the rose came with the house so i'm not really sure what it is, although i kinda suspect it's a hybrid tea rose.

my major accomplishment this weekend was completing the eradication of the mock indian strawberry (duchesnea indica). some gardeners are more tolerant (last reader question on the page) of this pest than i am, but i also think my infestation is more aggressive than hers.

to be honest, there wasn't / isn't much else growing in the corner (approx. 15' x 7'). formerly the location of a children's playset, the ground was bare and compacted when the previous owners removed the playset in august 2001. we didn't do anything to encourage proper grass and i was actually grateful for the cover provided by the mock strawberry. but lately it has started encroaching on the 'real' grass so i decided it had to go. since last fall, the st. augustine grass has been slowly creeping into the spot and several lawn violets of unknown variety (viola ??) have popped up so it doesn't look as bare now that i've weeded it.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pineapple Sage. the pineapple sage

Pineapple Sage. the pineapple sage (salvia elegans) by the back door has gotten huge -- and bloomed continuously for months now. it was crowding out the butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa), so i felt that the pruning of the sage was in order.

i didn't want to just throw away the trimmings -- ok, i would compost, not throw away -- but two people can only use so much garnish each day. so i went surfing for recipes and decided to try a banana pineapple sage smoothie. yummy! i left out (forgot) the cinnamon and added a bit of cranberry juice. i've made three of these smoothies in the past week and like them as much as anything i've ever been served at the smoothie joints around town.

more sage remains to be "pruned" since i've been cutting only as much as i can use. if i get adventurous this week i might try a pineapple sage pound cake.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Spring has Sprung.

one of the many reasons i love living in houston is that spring comes early. indeed, what passes for winter here would be considered spring in many places.

the japanese magnolias / tulip trees (magnolia x soulangeana) have been blooming for at least the past two weeks here in our neighborhood. we don't have one ourselves, but there are several on our block and if it weren't for the fact that i'd like to put a live oak (quercus virginiana) in the front yard, i'd seriously consider a japanese magnolia. apparently i'm not the only one who has noticed that they're looking especially nice this spring.

earlier this week i saw the first redbud (cercis canadensis) in bloom on our block. i'm not sure whether the predominant redbud around here is the eastern (cercis canadensis var. canadensis), texas (cercis canadensis var. texensis) or mexican (cercis canadensis var. mexicana) version. when ours leafs out i'll try to make a more accurate identification. one thing i do know about our particular tree is that it blooms a few weeks later than all the others in the neighborhood, probably because it's in a mostly shady corner whereas the ones i see around the neighborhood tend to be in sunnier spots.

the azaleas are getting started -- our two tiny azaleas are covered in buds. several folks on our block already have azaleas going strong, but all are larger / sunnier bushes than what we have. i did notice yesterday that one of ours is now showing some color in the buds -- hot pink. the river oaks garden club's 68th annual azalea trail kicks off next weekend. i've lived in houston for over ten years now and have yet to go on the azalea trail. maybe this year.

all ten of the tulipa clusiana var. chrysantha that i planted in the front bed are up. this is a very good thing since i had started to worry that the squirrels had feasted on all of them.

it's a beautiful day outside, so i should go out and enjoy it now.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in Ornamentals, What's Blooming... | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Help" from the Dogs.

one day last week our beloved dogs decided they wanted to "help" me -- they picked up one of the still unplanted pots of queen's rain lilies (zephyranthes reginae) and dumped the contents in the middle of the yard.

not liking the spot the dogs selected -- too likely to be trampled by cavorting dogs -- i divided up the bulbs for planting elsewhere. there were, in fact, 19 bulbs of varying sizes in that one pot (the second pot is still unplanted).

since i like to diversify my risk, i put bulbs in spots with a variety of light / soil / moisture conditions. eventually (hopefully) i'll be able to say with some degree of authority where they are most successful.

  • (5 v. small) under the sunroom window between iris
  • (7) on either side of the carolina laurel in the backyard -- four on one side, three opposite
  • (7) nestled around the base of the fig tree -- four in the ne corner, three in the sw corner
scott ogden's book, garden bulbs for the south, has this to say about the queen's rain lily:
Like Z. citrina, this species happily self-sows and multiplies into thrifty patches. A handful of seed is all that's necessary to start a thriving population. It's one of the most rewarding rain lilies for Southern gardens and flowers steadily from early summer till frost. Z. reginae seems quite hardy to cold.
i'm looking forward to seeing these in bloom.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in Ornamentals, Problems | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 21, 2003

Bulb Backlog.

last week i finally finished planting my bulbs. definitely late, but the majority of them were still in very good condition so i hope some will grow. here's what i've done:

  • "petrel" narcissus (i planted the first 25 in december)
    • (6) between the iris clumps off the corner of the deck (two groups of three)
    • (5) under the sunroom window between iris and pineapple sage, towards back of the bed
    • (5) between the nandina, under the master bedroom window
    • (5) in the driveway bed between liriope clumps north of the rose
    • (5) in the driveway bed by the gate

  • "Johann Strauss" tulips
    • (10) in front of the iris clumps off the corner of the deck (two groups of five)
    • (5) under the sunroom window in front of the narcissus "petrels"
    • (5) with the petrels in the driveway bed between liriope clumps
    • (5) in the driveway bed on the south side of the rose

  • tulipa turkestanica (17 were planted in december) -- (6) along the walkway near the porch, side closest to the house

  • t. tarda
    • (15) in a semicircle around the rose in the driveway bed (three groups of five)
    • (11) along the front walk*

  • t. batalinii "bright gem" (13 were planted in december)
    • (6) between the t. tarda around the rose (two groups of three?)
    • (6) along the front walk*

  • t. kolpakowskiana (13 were planted in december) -- (10) along the front walk*
* this is an approximate representation of the tulip layout along the front walk -- definitely not to scale. the tulips are planted in with the existing liriope.

tulip layout
click for a larger view (85k)

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in Ornamentals, Projects... | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tulipa kolpakowskiana. i was pleasantly

Tulipa kolpakowskiana. i was pleasantly surprised today to see two species tulips blooming along the front walkway - tulipa kolpakowskiana. fortunately, the rain stopped long enough for them to open fully and me to take pictures. now that the rain has started again, the flowers have closed.

there are also -- or were, until the rain resumed -- seven crocus blooming in the yard.

t. kolpakowskianat. kolpakowskianat. kolpakowskiana

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 17, 2003

Raised Bed Layout. a more-or-less

Raised Bed Layout. a more-or-less accurate representation of the plantings in the raised bed.

bed layout
scale: 1 square = 6" -- click for a larger view (113k)

yes, it really is this haphazard. it started out being neat and organized, but as plants lived (and died) i just stuck more in the empty places. and darin keeps buying rosemary plants that i must find places for.

i used a nifty freeware application -- room arranger -- to create the graphic.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Changes. added a new garden

Changes. added a new garden blog link over on the right - 'talking dirty' is the journal of a gardener in mckinney, texas.

and i added a weather sticker thingie on the bottom of the left sidebar. got the idea after seeing it on talking dirty's site.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan | Permalink | Comments (0)