Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Garden Update

Irene blew in here around midnight on Friday night and didn't leave until 6 pm on Saturday. She huffed and puffed and threw buckets of rain at us but thankfully we didn't even lose our electricity. We're 2 hours from the coast and were at the westernmost edge of this particular storm. My father-in-law is one county over got almost no rain at all.

Except for some vertically challenged Seashore Mallows and wind whipped morning glories, the plants were happy with the rain. DH has already staked the fallen down pepper plants and Candletrees (Senna alata).

See the cute little gray pony? She was still a little bit off at the last vet visit so they're still in the paddock out back. Better to keep an eye on them during the hurricane anyway.

I love Mexican Petunia for its height and its lovely
shade of purple. It will be a good companion for the Bidens.

This is the first year I've grown Snow-on-the-Mountain.

Next year I want to try out Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' too.

A glamour shot of 'Venice Blue' Morning Glory. From a distance the flowers look small and ghostly white since the blue fades quickly. I plan on cutting it back since it got so beat up by the tropical force winds.

The flower part of the vegetable garden looks like it's taking over the vegetable garden. Survival of the fittest. Some of the stuff will be transplanted out if it gets too much in the way though. Next year I want to grow sweet potatoes rather than regular potatoes. I like sweet potatoes better and they do very well in this area. Tobacco (less so than it used to be), soybeans, sweet potatoes and cotton are the main crops around here. I still haven't tasted the Marabar spinach but Gene has, sauteed, with olive oil and vinegar, and he likes it. (btw this picture was taken pre-Irene; the seashore mallows are lying down now.)

The Black Swallowtails have discovered the parsley and
the caterpillars have been munching it down happily.

Until the Bidens kick in the Brazilian Blue Sage and Four o'Clocks continue to dominate the big perennial bed. Brazilian Blue Sage makes the hummingbirds very happy. I have not even attempted to get any pictures of them they whiz about so quickly. The sage is their favorite even though I see them sampling all sorts of things, including the Blush Noisette that's sitting in a pot on the porch waiting to be planted out. One morning a female was either checking out her reflection in one of the porch windows or watching me at the computer. lol Not sure which but she sure was cute.

In the evenings the 4 o'clocks provide an ocean of fragrance as well as color. They are very sweet.

I love the dark pink ones.

Here's hoping for a peaceful September.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday

August is Seashore Mallow time. A native of coastal marshes from New York to Cuba, Seashore Mallow is just as happy in a normal garden setting as a marsh as long as it gets plenty of food and water. Otherwise it pouts and presents itself as an 18" stick. Feed and water it well and it becomes a 5' x 5' giant covered in flowers that are reminiscent of pink tropical butterflies.

Real butterflies love it.

There are still a few 'Raspberry Wine' Bee Balm flowers around, more than two months
after it started blooming. The Bidens in the background will be a sea of yellow next month.

It seems like the Joe Pye Weed has been blooming for a long time too.

It's always a butterfly favorite. It's often covered in Swallowtails but today this little butterfly was enjoying it too.

Red-Banded Hairstreak (Thanks Randy for the ID!)

This Joe Pye, growing wild in the ditch behind the big perennial bed, is the last to bloom. I prefer the wild type to the supergiant cultivars, because even the paler wild type has more color than something like 'Gateway', although I will allow that 'Gateway' has a magnificent presence.

Today I am joining Gail at clay and limestone for wonderful Wildflower Wednesday.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's a jungle out there

Not only does the late summer garden resemble a jungle, the humidity today is so thick that it's almost like walking through water. It'd be lovely if it created a buoyant sensation but it creates more of a bogging down sensation.

A view from the upstairs bedroom, showing one of our pastures in the left corner

and our neighbor's pasture to the right. The Bidens have really
sized up and will start strutting their stuff in another couple of weeks.

I hadn't grown kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate for several years.
It's a relative of our Lady's Thumb. Here it is with Texas sunflowers.

I still haven't tasted Malabar spinach but it's worth growing for its looks alone.

The corn is done, and the pole beans are taking over and getting ready to set a second crop.

I love the frosty mauve pink of the wild type Joe Pye Weed. There's a darker version too but it didn't come back in the big bed this year. A mildew or fungus has been attacking some of the plants, mostly the summer phlox and Joe Pye; I can see where it has encircled the stem at the soil line when I pull up dead stalks. I think the extreme heat and general dryness has been making the plants more vulnerable than usual. The Bidens in front of the big perennial bed are a good 4-5' tall. As much as I love these plants one day I hope to have most of them outside of the garden beds, where I can just mow them with the tractor in March. Cleaning up the old stalks by hand is a bear.

The Indigofera has formed a small picturesque tree this year. I love the lacy pink flowers.

The garden is full of insect and bird life; there's currently a Cardinal pair fluttering about the big perennial bed in a state of worry over newly fledged youngsters, and there's always sparrows, warblers, Summer Tanagers and Blue Grosbeaks about. There's a constant twittering of Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds as they dive bomb each other and squabble over the flowers. Butterflies, bees, and Hummingbird Moths by day and Sphinx Moths by night. The Sphinx Moths make up for their annoying youth as Tobacco Hornworms by transforming into entrancing fairy-like creatures with big doey eyes and a flight pattern that looks like they are attached to a magical yo-yo.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I want [insert name of plant here]. Want.

Last week DH was on vacation. He spent a lot of time mowing but we also went on a couple of days trips, one to the beach and one to Chapel Hill. Every time I go to Chapel Hill I see more plants I want.

I saw this lovely anemone growing in the Arboretum on campus. The flowers looked a little wan in the hot summer sun but look at those silvery lavender buds. Exquisite. Unfortunately something like this would be breakfast, lunch and dinner for the black blister beetles in my garden. They love anemones.

Passionflower grows wild down in the floodway fields and I really should
move some up to the house, as there is nothing like a passionflower bloom.

Green-Headed Coneflower also grows in our floodway fields, and should have a place in the garden. It looks its best lurking at the woods' edge where its beauty shines to best advantage, especially with companions Joe Pye Weed and Ironweed.

This tall stand of Green-Headed Coneflowers in the full sun border looked good too! Wouldn't they also look great with some tall feathery grasses like Panicum 'Cloud Nine' and Velvet Mallow (Hibiscus grandiflorus)?

We also visited the NC Botanical Garden, a treasure trove of plants to put on the want list.

Check out this Pine Lily! Isn't it beautiful? The option
of a bathtub/bog garden is looking better every second.

And look, cranberries! I didn't think it was even possible
to grow cranberries this far south but there they are.

Even though I don't yet have a bog garden I couldn't pass up getting some
"bog cheetos", as Orange Milkwort is affectionately known by the Garden staff.

A view of the bog beds, with Pawpaw tree in the background.

The Summer Phlox looked magnificent. I have Phlox but I don't
have this much of it, and not in this variety of colors.

I had some Ironweed but DH mowed it. But I can't complain too much, at least the garden paths got mowed. :) Anyway, it might still come back next year. But, I need more. I think there's some seedlings in the jungle on the front porch. I hope so, because that color purple in August is a beautiful thing.

American Spikenard was on my want list just from reading a description of it. Isn't the color of the fruit gorgeous?

Common-as-dirt Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' looking beautiful in dappled shade. I would love to have a full planting like this again, as the one down by the old house site is being encroached upon by summersweet and seedling sweetgums.

Few-Flowered Milkweed looks like Butterfly Weed in this picture, but trust me it doesn't. It's tall, tall, tall (to 6-7') and willowy.

Now this plant I think I already have. I used to think we had Highbush Blueberry here, but after seeing this I think we have this species instead. The fruits have that familiar dusty dark blue but darken to purple and then black as they fully ripen.

Besides the Bog Cheetos these other plants came home with me: a Culver's Root, the species Rudbeckia fulgida (which looks more like Rudbeckia triboba than 'Goldsturm'), and a beautiful Summer Phlox named 'Katherine' which is snow white suffused with lavender pink.

I haven't even covered the list of wants from our June visit yet. ;)

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