Thursday, November 25, 2010

Christmas Cactus Blossoms

About a week ago, due to the possibility of a freeze, I brought my Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) into the house.  It is not uncommon for the plant, because of the change in temperature, humidity and lighting, to promptly drop its flower buds.  But not this time.

The buds recently began unfurling, and with the sunshine highlighting them from behind, started putting on quite a show.

The pot actually has both a red and pink variety planted together, so it produces a nice mixture of both colors.

It is also known as the Holiday Cactus.  And since, in my household, it's blossoms typically never make it to Christmas, perhaps that's an even more apt name for it.

Here's hoping your Thanksgiving holidays are just as bright and colorful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

'Gotta Get' Gotten

After reading about the dwarf variety Pittosporum Creme De Mint (Pittosporum tobira 'Shima') on the Digging garden blog, I promoted it to my 'Gotta Get' list.  But now I'm getting to remove it from the list - cause I got it!

Prior to finding the plant, I had already selected a spot for it near my garden path that needed some winter foliage and a little pizazz.  I think the Creme De Mint's variegated, evergreen foliage of light green, white & creamy pale yellow definitely fulfills that requirement.

I was able to get one that already measured a couple of feet across and a little over a foot tall, so its already at least halfway to its full size.  It'll receive late morning sun, then dappled shade the remainder of the day (hoping that will be sufficient).

One 'Gotta Get' gotten; so many more to go...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Foliage Follow-up: November 2010

On the sixteenth of each month, Digging invites us to celebrate the foliar aspects of our garden by participating in Foliage Follow-up.  A shady understory garden is predominately a leafy one, but as the days get shorter, my garden actually starts getting brighter as the deciduous trees begin dropping their leaves.

So for Foliage Follow-up, I decided to highlight the leaves that, for most of the year, have been providing my shade.  But are now drifting down, gently landing here and there amongst the plants.

Be sure to visit Digging to see & share all the leafy wonders found in the garden.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Flower Power: GBBD November 2010

May Dream Gardens sponsors Garden Blogger's Bloom Day on the fifteenth of every month.  Have seen a definite drop in the garden's flower production as the cooler weather has finally broken summer's grip.  But there are still a few plants giving it their best.

Established Plants

Of all the Soap Aloes (Aloe maculata), only the one in the backyard still has its lone stalk topped by a colorful cluster of flowers.

A single bloom is all that remains on any of the Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) plants - it appears that any more of its hot pink blossoms will have to wait until next spring.

The Philippine Violets (Barleria cristata) have had a fair number of blooms, but they too have mostly faded, leaving only a handful of blooms still open.

New Plants in the Garden

One of my Ground Orchids (Spathoglottis plicata) started blooming back in September, and the blooms are still hanging in there.  And another that I have potted has recently started sending up a bloom stalk - not sure how it'll do when I transition it out of the coming cold.

Tall and lanky, the Forsythia Sage (Salvia madrensis) has clusters of yellow blossoms at the end of its stalks, adding splashes of bright color above the other vegetation.

A single bloom adorns my Marilyn's Choice Abutilon, its bi-colored lantern-like flower hanging down from one of the lower branches.


The recently added Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) has such vibrant colors and delicate petals that it catches the eye.


Soon to be brought inside, my Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) is on the verge of opening its colorful red and pink blooms.

Flower Wannabes

The berries of the Nandina (Nandina domestica) are starting their transition from green, through shades of orange, to their eventual vibrant red.

More and more of the Chile Petin's (Capsicum annuum var. aviculare) shiny green berries are transitioning to their bright red winter color.

It always surprises me when I discover the dull red berries on my Dwarf Chinese Holly (Ilex cornuta 'Rotunda') as it does not produce berries all that often.

But the garden's Possumhaw (Ilex decidua) always put on a fall/winter show with large quantities of bright red berries adorning the trees.  And they'll show even more once the trees start dropping their leaves.

Be sure to visit May Dream Gardens to see what is blooming in other gardens.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Let The Composting Begin

Have never really attempting the whole composting thing.  Obviously, as anyone in the shade knows, I tend to have plenty of leaves available by the start of winter.  In the past, I have typically mowed them up with a lawnmower, and then spread the remains about as mulch.

But have never gathered the shredded leaves in an attempt to produce compost.  So this year I thought I'd at least create a temporary structure and see what this whole composting fuss was all about.

I collected some extra wood I had about along with some chicken wire.

Next I hammered the poles into the ground - not very deep cuz one usually runs into limestone pretty quick in these parts.

Then I attached the chicken wire to the poles creating a small, flimsy structure to enclose the leaves.

From what I've read, once the plant material has been gathered, composting will occur regardless of what one does.  But composting does best if provided warmth, moisture, rotation and a good mixture of greens/browns.

Warmth: The recommendation is to place the compost bin in the sunshine to speed things up.  Welp, that ain't happening - this is the shady garden, not the sunny one.  It's my understanding this will slow things down but not stop them.

Moisture: It'll get that when it rains or the sprinkler system throws some its way - that should be sufficient.

Rotation: Hmm, that's starting to sound suspiciously like work.  Maybe I'll stick a garden fork in there every once in a while and stir the pot.  And maybe I won't.

Mixture: Hey, around this household, you eat what's put on your plate.  There'll be some greens, but the vast majority will be brown, fallen leaves (with some yellow, fallen leaves thrown in for good measure).

We'll just have to see how this works out.  Already have ideas in my head for a nice-looking, more permanent structure.  But time will tell.

Planted in the Ground:
  • Coral Bells 'Caramel' (Heuchera villosa 'Caramel'): Has been on my Gotta Get list and finally discovered them for a fair price; placed three along my garden path.  Not nearly as bronze as expected - hoping maybe its the new growth that produces that color (otherwise they may have been mislabeled - and that will make me grumpy)

Planted in Pots:
  • Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum): Added some red ones to a pot; did not realize they weren't cold-hardy here and might need some protection (well, poo).

Sunday, November 7, 2010


For winter color, I've decided to try Cyclamens (Cyclamen persicum) in my front yard, three-tiered bed.  My beds tend to be too shady for pansies, violas or ornamental kale/cabbage.  But on a recent episode of Central Texas Gardener, they mentioned that Cyclamens can handle shade.

To prepare the beds, I removed the existing Begonias (Begonia x semperflorens-cultorum) and then used a garden fork to break up the dirt.  Then, as I came across them, I pulled as many of the oak root sprouts as I could (which was a lot!).  Next, I added some peat moss to enrich the soil and some decomposed granite to keep it loose.  Afterwards, I worked in a generous amount of compost to give the annuals a good boost.

Finally, I planted a mixture of lighter and darker pink shades in the two lower tiers.

Though I planted 20 Cyclamens, I'm thinking I need a couple of more of the plants (darn - another trip to the store).  Hopefully, as they grow, they'll fill in the beds with some good winter color.

Gotta Get:
  • Japanese Root Iris (Iris tectorum): Have considered it for quite a while; finally decided it was one I wanted in my garden.
  • Pittosporum Creme De Mint (Pittosporum tobira 'Shima'): As this variety only grows a little over two foot is size, I'm think having one in a sunnier spot would be great (of course, "sunnier" is very relative in my garden).
  • Golden Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia 'Little Honey'): Have just started playing with the Oakleaf Hydrangeas by having the variety 'Alice' planted.  Really like the chartreuse colored leaves on this 'Little Honey' variety, plus the fact that it tends to be somewhat smaller than many of the other varieties.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


For the first time in my garden, I had two Soap Aloes in my front yard blooming simultaneously.  But apparently, one of them couldn't take the pressure.

See - look at the backyard Soap Aloe's bloom; it's flower stalk still stands tall & straight.  This is its first time, but do you see it falling down on the job?

But not the front yard's first-time bloomer.  Tall & straight certainly no longer applies.

Looks like a personal problem to me.