Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Hint Of Banana

While working in the garden, when the breeze blows just so, I'll catch the faintest whiff of fragrance.  It always takes me a moment to determine that the Banana Shrub (Michelia figo) is in bloom again.  Approaching almost ten foot tall with a loose structure, it has several open flowers with many more maturing buds.

The fragrance does not carry far, so it always seems to just tease you with its perfume.  Coming close and actually placing one's nose near the flower will give you a blast of its banana scent.

The blooms are small and rather inconspicuous.  They stay open for a few days, then fade.

The blossoms open a creamy white, then slowly change to a soft yellow as they age.  Eventually, one by one, the petals will fall and the scent will disappear.

But for now, as I find myself bent to some garden chore, a soft breeze will pick up the scent and carry it to me.  It always makes me stop and smile.  It reminds me to sit back, to look about and see the surrounding nature...and allow the garden to refresh me.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tulip Time

For the last couple of weeks, it's been Tulip Time.  I only have about a dozen bulbs of the Lady Tulips (Tulipa clusiana), but they are all putting on a nice show.

There was no cultivar name for those I planted last year, but their bright colors makes me confident that they are 'Chrysantha'.  I really like the vibrant yellow and darker red of the blooms, plus the blue-green foliage is really nice (pictures do not accurately portray their true color).  Add that to the fact that they have increased in number since last year and re-bloomed just as vigorously, and I'm thinking its a keeper.

This year's planting were of the the 'Cynthia' cultivar (Tulipa clusiana 'Cynthia').  Though nice, they lack the nice foliar color and the blooms tend more towards a pastel shade.  They also tend to grow a little taller, and this causes them to be a little floppier.

A good contrast between the yellow shades can be seen in the pictures below.  Cynthia is on the left, Chrysantha on the right.

With our March temperatures averaging about ten degrees above normal, the tulips blooms are fading in the heat.  But I have certainly enjoyed their flash of color over the last weeks.

Planted in the Ground:
  • Sempervivum sp.: Two unidentified varieties went into my succulent bed; if anyone knows the specific species or cultivar names, please let me know.

Planted in Pots:
  • Solenostemon sp.: Yet another unidentified cultivar; placed into the same pot as my croton - thought it would add some matching color below the upper foliage.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Formosa Red Azalea

A little over a year ago, I planted a Formosa Red Azalea (Azalea indica 'Formosa Red') in the largest container I owned.  This was how it appeared on February 27, 2010

And as of today, it has added quite a bit of growth and is full of intensely pink blooms.

It should continue to add growth over the next few years (as it can reach over 6 foot high and wide).  I certainly will be looking forward to the show in the years to come.

Planted in the Ground:
  • Basil varieties: Sweet, Spicy Globe, Thai & Boxwood - all in my utility garden area where there is a bit more sun

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Emergence: 2011

In keeping with the diary aspects of my blog, I decided I needed to monitor the dates when leaves finally emerged from my different plants.  This way, in the future, I can know if my worries have cause when a particular plant seems to be taking a long time to leaf out (taking into account yearly weather variations).  Will have to update the post as I discover other plants producing green (and some of the listed early dates are "best guesses" as I came up with the idea a little late - story of my life!).

Lady Tulip (Tulipa clusiana)
Lady Tulip 'Cynthia' (Tulipa clusiana 'Cynthia')
Spanish Bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica

Toad Lily (Tricyrtis lasiocarpa)
Southern Wood Fern (Dryopteris normalis

Anthony Waterer Spirea - from stems  (Spiraea x bumalda 'Anthony Waterer')
Amaryllis (Hippeastrum sp.)
Aztec Arrowhead (Sagittaria montevidensis)

Goldmound Spirea - from stems (Spiraea japonica 'Goldmound')

Possumhaw (Ilex decidua)
Crimson Queen Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Crimson Queen')
Chinese Indigo (Indigofera kirilowii)
Texas Betony (Stachys coccinea)
Cedar Sage (Salvia roemeriana)

West Texas Mist Flower (Conoclinium greggii

Mexican Petunias - from roots (Ruellia tweediana 'Colobe Pink')
Oakleaf Hydrangea 'Alice' (Hydrangea quercifolia 'Alice')

Dwarf Beautyberry - from stems (Callicarpa dichotoma)
Variegated Abutilon - from roots (Abutilon pictum 'Thompsonii'

Mexican Buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa)
Blue Anise Sage - from roots (Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue')

American Beautyberry - from roots (Callicarpa americana)

 Australian Sword Fern (Nephrolepis obliterata 'Kimberly Queen')

Philippine Violet - from roots (Barleria cristata)
Forsythia Sage - from roots (Salvia madrensis)

Variegated Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon jaburan 'Vitattus')
American Beautyberry - from stems (Callicarpa americana)

Mountain Sage - from stems (Salvia regla)
Dwarf Barbados Cherry - from stems (Malphigia glabra)

Dwarf Mexican Firebush - from roots (Hamelia patens 'Compacta')
Chile Petin - from roots (Capsicum annuum var. aviculare)
Hosta 'Shade Fanfare'
Variegated Flax Lily (Dianella tasmanica 'Variegata')

'Ragin Cajun' Ruellia (Ruellia elegans 'Ragin' Cajun')

Milky Way Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra lurida 'Milky Way')

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Foliage Follow-up: March 2011

Digging hosts Foliage Follow-up on the sixteenth of every month so that the foliar aspects of our garden have their chance to shine.  For this posting, I decided to concentrate on some of the more recent additions to my garden.

Planted last fall, this will be the first spring for the Oakleaf Hydrangea 'Alice' (Hydrangea quercifolia 'Alice').  It never completely lost all of its leaves, but is certainly putting out plenty of new growth.

Crimson Queen Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Crimson Queen') is the first Maple I have ever tried planting directly into the ground.  Its unfolding red leaves are very nice; I hope it establishes itself.

When purchased, this Manfreda didn't have a species name.  It died back completely in winter, but is now emerging with nicely spotted foliage.  Suspect it might be a Rattlesnake Agave (Manfreda maculosa), but I think it may grow a little larger than is the norm for that variety (if anyone can identify, please let me know).  

The foliage of the Coral Bells 'Caramel' (Heuchera villosa 'Caramel') has a wide range of shades - from green to red.  The new growth has the redder colors whereas the older leaves stay green.  Very impressive coloration.

Have always enjoyed the strongly-patterned initial leaf coloration of the Lyreleaf Sage (Salvia lyrata).  It eventually tends to fade back towards a solid green, but that first production of leaves is very nice.

With a diminutive bloom at its center, the Red Billbergia's (Billbergia sp. 'Red') foliage is the primary reason to add it to one's garden.

Be sure to visit Digging to see other Foliage Follow-up postings.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Flower Power: GBBD March 2011

On the fifteenth of every month, May Dream Gardens sponsors Garden Blogger's Bloom Day where we get to document which plants are blooming in our gardens.  Though I have several pictures, in reality the flowers are just beginning to appear - and to see the majority of them, you have to get up close & personal with the plant.  But it certainly holds promise for the coming month.

Established Plants

Missouri Violet (Viola missouriensis) has started to produce a few tiny blossoms.

Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis) has a few buds, but only one flower has opened.

Pink Shamrock (Oxalis crassipes 'Rosea') has just begun to show a few blooms.

Chocolate Chip Ajuga (Ajuga reptans 'Valfredda') flowers spikes are just beginning to rise, presently most are under a half inch in height.

With only a couple of bloom stalks rising up, the Catlin's Giant Ajuga (Ajuga reptans 'Catlin's Giant') is at its very initial bloom stages.

Reifler's Dwarf Viburnum (Viburnum obovatum 'Reifler Dwarf') only has a couple of florets - I'm hoping more are coming, but I am unable to locate any.

The blooms of the Dwarf Buford Holly (Ilex cornuta 'Burfordii Nana') are inconspicuous (though not to bees!), but hold the promise of red berries for the next winter.

Though damaged by our extreme winter, the surviving Friendship Plants (Billbergia nutans) have produced a few flowers.

New Plants in the Garden

Purchased and planted already in bloom, the Gopher Plant (Euphorbia rigida) shows off its bright  yellow colors.

Potted Plants

Pulled out from winter storage, the Ox Tongue (Gasteria liliputana) surprised me by already being in bloom.

The one Ground Orchid (Spathoglottis plicata) that started blooming prior to the winter and was brought inside for protection, has kept its flowers throughout.

Covered in flower buds, the Formosa Red Azalea (Azalea indica 'Formosa Red') only has a couple of blooms presently open - but it holds the promise for quite a show in the not-so-distant future.

Indoor Plants

Almost all of my Moth Orchids (Phalaenopsis sp.) are either in bloom or producing bloom stalks.

Flower Wannabes

Beloved by Mockingbirds, the Mahonia (Mahonia aquifolium) berries are slowly ripening.

Berries of the Nandina (Nandina domestica) seem to last forever, their vibrant red colors brightening the garden.

Almost hidden from view, the black berries of the Liriope (Liriope spicata) shimmer when the sunlight reaches them.

As the leaves of the Possumhaw (Ilex decidua) begin to sprout and grow, its berries are slowly getting hidden away amongst the foliage - though the birds will certainly be hunting them.

Dwarf Chinese Holly (Ilex cornuta 'Rotunda') berries have started to fade, but a few still decorate the spiny leaves.


Lady Tulips (Tulipa clusiana) flower buds have begun to rise from the ground, but none of mine have opened.

My Texas Betony (Stachys coccinea) have several flower buds at their branch tips, but none have produced their bright red flowers yet.

The recently added 'Mrs. Pollock' Geranium (Pelargonium x hortorum 'Mrs. Pollock') has yet to open a flower, though a few bloom stalks have risen.

Looking like some brightly-colored horror picture monster, the Texas Gold Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana) has several flowers that have not quite opened.

This will be the first spring for my Mexican Buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa) - so I'm hoping the hint of reddish color on the stems is the beginning of its beautiful bloom cycle.

After being severely trimmed back, the old-fashioned Rose (species unknown) has responded by putting out a lot of growth - most new shoots ending in an unopened flower bud.

Be sure to visit May Dream Gardens to see what is blooming in gardens around the world.