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Thursday, October 23, 2003

Crocus Question.

after being so excited about finding the crocus sativus sprouting, i pulled out my Garden Bulbs for the South to read up on them again. to quote some relevant bits:

The blooms appear sporadically from the end of October through November, depending on weather.

After flowering, these crocuses send up long, grassy foliage.

after flowering?!? i have foliage, and it's very definitely crocus foliage, but no sign of flowers.

could these be another variety of fall blooming crocus? (in which case i'd be very disappointed and try to get a refund.) according to ogden there are a handful of other fall blooming crocus suitable for southern climes. but the whole purpose of having the crocus sativus is to have saffron.

or perhaps i do have crocus sativus after all and they are just confused about the order of foliage and blooms?

or maybe they just aren't going to bloom for whatever reason? (although they do seem otherwise well-suited to the location.)

i just posted a query to the gardenweb bulbs forum, so perhaps someone there can answer my questions.

at any rate, please feel free to leave advice, suggestions or educated guesses in the comments.

by the way, i located the other two "originals," so i'm six for six. and the total count of sprouts is up to 17.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in Ornamentals, Problems | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Monday, October 20, 2003

Happy Surprise.

this afternoon i was raking the leaves in the front yard and noticed some distinctive foliage around the base of the sycamore. no, not poison ivy.

it was one of the crocus sativus i ordered last october and planted in november.

these bulbs had sprouted and put out foliage in late november, but didn't bloom -- not unexpected since they were planted so late.

at any rate, closer inspection revealed that at least four of the original six bulbs had returned. not only that, they have multiplied! there are twelve sprouts in evidence.

it is entirely possible that the other two originals may yet appear. after all, for the last month or so i've been checking the planting site at least once a week, but i now know that i've been looking about two feet from the actual site.

now i must refrain from hovering over the site looking for flowers. i will, however, cross my fingers and hope for them.

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

Sunday, October 19, 2003

I Hate Liriope.

i don't care if it has moderately attractive flowers or that it makes a decent border for walkways.

it is a "crutch" plant. it is used when you can't think of anything else to plant. it is boring. it multiplies and smothers anything in its path.

but worst of all it is a pain in the ass to get rid of.

and it looks incredibly stupid when used to make little rings around trees.

no, i'm not sure what i'll replace it with; i'm just happy there is now less of it in my yard.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in Problems | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Today's Accomplishments.

  • sifted smaller pea gravel for lavender and sage drainage (as i shook the gravel through my makeshift sieve, darin asked whether i was finding any gold)
  • planted remaining new plants in the dedicated herb bed
  • assembled the lovely trellis i designed for the carolina jessamine; this assemblage will go in the space previously occupied by the red-tips
i'm especially proud of this trellis. i laid it out with string last weekend after darin and i put together the big espalier, selected the pieces and cut them to size, and screwed and nailed it together today. all by myself. it isn't perfect, but it is pretty darn cool. pictures tomorrow.

the second trellis darin was working on sunday was, in fact, for the ballerina rose, not the carolina jessamine.

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

Two Down, Two to Go.

this afternoon darin took out the two red-tip photinias between the sunroom and the deck. only two remain in the backyard (and one by the driveway).

the red-tip eradication took longer than it might have because i first had to inspect each branch, twig and leaf for monarch chrysalides. the largest of our latest crop of monarch caterpillars wandered off yesterday or the day before and i wanted to be sure it didn't end up in a pile with the red-tip scraps.

interestingly enough, today is exactly one month since the last batch of monarch butterflies emerged. i didn't realize the butterfly weed had recovered so quickly. by tomorrow the remaining three caterpillars will have stripped the foliage once again and moved on.

if i remember correctly, this is the fourth generation of monarchs we've had this year. (shame on me; i haven't recorded each generation as it appeared.)

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in Projects..., Wildlife | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Looking Forward.

the foliage of the oxblood lilies appeared about two weeks after the blooms met their untimely demise. i'm happy to report that one offset has been produced, thus increasing my collection by 50%.

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

Pea Gravel.

while i was browsing the nursery on monday i asked an employee about my ailing sweet lavender. she agreed with my idea that the problem was wet roots. she then suggested using pea gravel in the bed and even mulching around the lavender with the gravel.

i bought a bag of pea gravel today -- small bag, but it was heavy. i had a multitude of other things to do, so i only had time to plant one of my new lavenders -- the goodwin creek grey. i did, however, mix gravel in the soil below and around the plant.

i haven't done anything else with the sweet lavender, but it's condition seems to be stable.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in Problems | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Creeping Grey Death.

as i noted the other day, the sweet lavender (lavandula heterophylla) seems to be struggling with overly wet feet characterized by what i am calling "creeping grey death".

the first sign is drooping foliage, still a healthy color. a day or two later the creeping grey death begins moving up the stem, turning stem and foliage grey as it progresses. the foliage then becomes crispy. it happened earlier this year; i cut out the afflicted bits and forgot about it. the plant seemed to recover fully and flourish until this latest outbreak.

today i trimmed out the obviously dead-beyond-hope-of-recovery bits (about one-half of the formerly beautiful plant). as an experiment i stripped the crispy grey foliage from a few stems that, while drooping at the top, had not yet completely succumbed.

i also -- and this was probably the most important thing -- brutally cut back the "sweet million" tomato plant that was threatening to engulf the lavender (and the mexican mint marigold).

crossing my fingers, i have hopes that the situation is still reversible because i really, really, really like this plant. i was so pleased with its performance throughout the summer that i hate to lose it now.

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

Monday, October 13, 2003

Ballerina Rose.

way back when we started clearing the previous owners' beds out we discovered two miniature roses buried by the side fence. they had been engulfed by asian jasmine and were beneath various and sundry trees. eventually one of them succumbed to lack of sunlight; the other limped along but never really thrived.

after at least two years of neglect by us, darin finally took pity on the poor plant (it was also in the way when he wanted to take out the late mulberry tree). he dug it up and relocated it in a nice, sunny spot behind the garage. in the process of digging, he found a tag identifying the mystery rose as a "ballerina".

at the time of relocation the poor thing had fewer than a dozen leaves remaining. it promptly dropped all but three or four. i honestly did not expect it to survive.

the removal and relocation took place within the last six weeks. today our ballerina is covered in new leaves and has several new canes. i'm not sure whether it will bloom this year, but even if it doesn't it has made a remarkable recovery.

now i just need to identify the mystery rose in the driveway bed. it has a lone flower right now; i guess i'll just have to start looking at pictures.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in Ornamentals | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

New Plants.

i stopped at my favorite nursery this afternoon to "just look" and came home with six (small) new plants:

  • multiplying onion (allium cepa)
  • goodwin creek grey lavender (lavandula dentata x l. lanata)
  • fern leaf lavender (lavandula multifida)
  • horehound (marrubium vulgare)
  • ne'we ya'ar sage / silverleaf sage (salvia officinalis x s. fruticosa)
  • salad burnett (sanguisorba minor)

i picked up the sage because i've been meaning to get a culinary sage (as opposed to all the ornamental sages i've been collecting) for some time and today i finally remembered to look in the herb section for the sage. i came across an excellent page for this particular cultivar while searching for information online -- wonder of all wonders, the information is specific to houston! i've linked to the South Texas Unit of The Herb Society of America before -- it is an excellent resource for gulf coast gardeners.

the multiplying onion is for darin; he's been asking for onions / garlic / shallots and that sort of thing for his cooking. (he was indeed very appreciative when he came home and i told him we now have onion-y things.)

the salad burnett is to add more interest to the salads we will be eating from all the lettuce and spinach i planted. as advertised, it tastes like cucumber.

the two lavenders i bought are supposedly somewhat tolerant of our humidity. and they are very attractive; the fern leaf is currently blooming. the goodwin creek gardens website (the same goodwin creek for which the goodwin creek grey lavender is named) has a lot of information on lavenders.

and the horehound, well it has a funny name and the leaves have a very interesting, crinkley texture.

Posted by Erica Bess Duncan in New Plants | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack