Sunday, August 29, 2010

Diggers... you're just being rude.

A while back, I mentioned that some critter had dug up one of my Ground Orchids (Spathoglottis plicata).  Grumbling, I placed the plant back into the ground and gave it some additional water - and it seemed to respond.  But after missing the last few days in the garden, I discovered it uprooted yet again.  And this time it has likely sat sans-dirt for several 95+ degree days.

And this doesn't even mention an even earlier tackiness done to my Chocolate Chips Manfreda (Manfreda undulata 'Chocolate Chips').  It had been doing well - until a critter decided there were likely earthworms in the dirt against the edge of the deck, which happens to be adjacent to the Manfreda.  Leaves were snapped & dirt piled up on the plant.  Though not as severe, nearby repeat digging has left the plant in a limp and unhappy state.

And this morning, my already struggling (but recovering) potted Giant Lirope (Liriope gigantea) was a victim of some decisive excavation.

Squirrels, raccoons, armadillos - not sure who the diggers are (but suspect a combination of at least two on the list), but now they are just being downright rude.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Water Poppy

Having a shady pond typically means you have a limited selection of water plants - especially if you want flowers.  Many years ago, before the trees filled in, I actually had water lilies.  But as the shade increased, the blossoms dwindled and then ceased all together (and then even the pads diminished).

But Water Poppy (Hydrocleys nymphoides) has been a happy substitute.

It likely would also be even happier with additional sunlight, but does well with mostly dappled shade and occasional direct rays.  I would never recommend mixing it with water lilies as the Water Poppy tends to sprawl and will also lift its leaves above the water (likely burying water lilies).

The pale yellow blossoms are not nearly as large or showy as those of water lilies, but are much appreciated in a darker pond setting.

The plant has always been left in the pond bottom over the winter and though it will, of course, die back with the freezes, it has always come back and slowly covered the water surface.

For those with a dappled shade pond, Water Poppy might be just what you need.

Planted in Pots:
Haworthia attenuata: Placed into another converted mosquito candle pot.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bark: Texas Persimmon

Being in the shade, there is obviously plenty of native trees in the garden.  One of my trees that has a more interesting bark is the Texas Persimmon (Diospyros texana).  The combination of the smooth bark found underneath the shaggy peeling flakes - the play of light and shadows -  is quite appealing.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

From Mosquito Candle To...

...flower pot.

I had three of these citronella candles that had burned down and reached that point where they would no longer stay lit.  But I've always liked the look of the metal container.

I decided to try and see if they could be used as plant pots.  I placed them upside down in the direct sun and let it do the work of getting rid of the remaining wax (didn't take long in our 100+ degree temperatures).  Then I removed the plastic cover from the bottom and drilled some drainage holes.

I knew I'd have to watch it to make sure the sun hitting the metal doesn't cook the plant, but I figure a heat & drought tolerant plant would likely be able to take it.  I decided on a recently purchased Dyckia choristaminea 'Frazzle Dazzle' (who could resist that name!).  Though its only been a couple weeks, it seems pretty happy.

Will have to be on the lookout for plants to place in the remaining two "pots".

Monday, August 16, 2010

Foliage Follow-up: August 2010

On the sixteenth of every month, Digging sponsors Foliage Follow-up where gardeners can highlight some of the non-blooming aspects of their plants.  And as shady gardeners know, it's the leaves that put on our best show in the limited light.

I have a few Beefsteak Plants (Perilla 'Magilla') that I overwintered from cuttings.  When I replanted them back into the yard, some have struggled (even the one placed back into the same location as the parent plant).  But the ones placed into deeper shade have been quite happy. The green and white leaves (they tend to have more purple with increased light) are supported by reddish stems.

Of course, in any shade garden, Caladiums are always welcome.  This variety is 'White Queen'.  The large white leaves & red veins shine out from the darker parts of the garden.  Without sufficient water, the summer heat tends to wear them down, but they certainly grab one's attention when happy.

Bought on a whim a little over a year ago, the Silver Squill (Ledebouria socialis) has done nicely.  The spotted leaves have purple undersides and are held on purplish stems arising from same-colored bulb-like bases.  It does produce unremarkable flower stalks which attract bees and I'm actually attempting to grow some from the subsequent seeds.

Placed in a pot in one of the sunnier spots on the deck, the Capsicum annuum 'Calico' is my favorite pepper plant.  The variegated foliage even has hints of purple to go with the tiny lavender blossoms which later give way to dark purple (almost black) or red peppers.

Strictly for foliage, one of my favorite Aloes is the Partridge Breast Aloe (Aloe variegata).  Though I don't believe mine has ever bloomed (will have bright red flowers if it ever does), I still love the stiff, variegated leaves that tend to slowly form clumps.

Flowers aren't the only show in town - foliage can certainly add a lot!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Flower Power: GBBD August 2010

On the fifteenth of every month, May Dream Gardens sponsors Garden Blogger's Bloom Day where garden bloggers can post a pictorial of what is blooming in their yards.  The recent series of mostly 100+ temperature days has been cooking the plants, but several have still managed to put out some blossoms.

Established Plants

Mexican Petunias (Ruellia tweediana 'Colobe Pink') love the heat and keep producing morning blooms.

The extra sunshine that became available due to a fallen tree has made the West Texas Mist Flower (Conoclinium greggii) happy.  More sunshine does not equal full sunshine, so its still a little scraggly, but has produced some blossoms.

Once we reach the point where the summer heat drives the gardener inside, the Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) starts really putting on a show.

Water is never a problem when you are rooted in the bottom of the pond.  As blossoms fade lower down the stalk, the upper blooms continue the show on the Aztec Arrowhead (Sagittaria montevidensis). 

While not as showy as water lilies, the Water Poppy (Hydrocleys nymphoides) is still able to produce sporadic blooms under part shade conditions.

The blossoms of the Society Garlic (Tulbaghia violacea) are becoming scarce, but this one stalk is hanging in there.

Whereas Liriope spicata has suddenly come alive with blooms, covering the entire plant in light purple blooms.

The Rose Creek Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora 'Rose Creek') produces cluster of small white blossoms at the end of its arching stems.

Potted Plants

The Aloe 'Doran Black' is once again sending up a bloom stalk (last bloom was a little over two months ago).  The small green and red flowers never seem to fully open, but are still quite attractive.

New Plants in the Garden

Of my experimental Zinnias planted in my only sunny spot, the Zinnia 'Zahara Orange' is the lone one to have flourished.

The Blue Anise Sage (Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'), a pass-along from Pam at Digging (thanks!), has started creating the blue flowers for which it is known.

If the heat is driving you indoors, I hope you can see your blooms from the window.

Planted in Pots:
Night blooming Cereus (Epiphyllum oxypetalum): After getting the leaves to root, I placed four of these (all pass-alongs from Robin at Getting Grounded - thanks again!) into a single pot as I've read they do best when root-bound.

Gotta Get:
Dyckia 'Arizona': First spotted a hybrid on Succulent Bromeliads and others and loved the dark leaves and white teeth - I'm going to keep an eye out for this one.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Wandering Jew Tribulations

I mentioned that there was a story behind the Wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina) that I planted in a hanging basket ("Planted in Pots" section on my Excavated Plant posting).  As I recently moved the plant to my hanging basket pole, I thought I'd tell the tale.

I was shopping at a nearby big box nursery when I spotted a large clump of Wandering Jew that had broken off and fallen to the concrete.  There it lay, its bright purple leaves slowly getting cooked on the hot pavement.  Standing over the abandoned plant portion, I pondered.  "It's just gonna get swept up in the trash at the end of the day.  No one is gonna buy it potless."

But I walked on by and kept moving up and down the aisles.  But my steps soon returned; by now the forlorn plant had been stepped on and kicked over to the side.  Snap decision made, I stooped down and grabbed the straggly branch and stuffed it into the lower pocket of my cargo shorts.  Then I was back to browsing.

But this nursery was not to be my only stop.  Soon I was driving to other chores, and the hours drifted away.  Morning passed into afternoon.  Returning home, I unloaded the truck and immediately dove into several different tasks: some outside in the heat, others sitting at my computer.  And afternoon crept into evening.

Meals came and went.  Tasks and chores and relaxing occurred.  Night arrived as did the time for sleeping.  Dirty clothes went to the hamper and I went under the sheets.  As my conscious mind began to fade towards that sweet oblivion of dream-land, it suddenly (and finally) made a connection.  "Hey dummy - that poor abused plant is still in your pocket."

Oops.  I crawled out of bed and burrowed into the dirty clothes.  Identifying the pocket, I withdrew the bruised and battered foliage.  Bleary-eyed, I sloppily filled a small glass with water and stuck the wilted branch into the liquid.  Lights out and back to my pillow.

Days passed as the plant sat ignored in the utility room, a dim bulb its only companion.  Spotting it as I passed through towards the garage, I noticed it was bravely sending out roots.  Topping off the water, I decided it deserved better (and that if I didn't do something immediately, there was a good chance I'd forget the little bugger again).

Soon, I had the little plant potted into its very own hanging basket.  The growth spurt it put on over the next few weeks was impressive.  It still has a ways to go before it fills the basket, but it is well on its way.

That is one tough little plant.

Planted in Pots: