Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Evening Primrose Video

Back in the summer when my evening primroses were blooming I made some pretty bad videos of them opening. Hiram made a better one that you can see here. The moth you see near the end of the video is a sphinx moth, the one responsible for tomato horn worms. In the last few frames you can see some very small insects moving around. I don't know if they are polinators or maybe just aphids.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Spiranthes:Twisted Ladies Tresses


Posted by Picasa

These native orchids have been blooming in my yard for at least a week. I have one directly in front of my front steps. That may be a testament to the fact that the front door is seldom used. I prefer to think it arrived there so as not to be missed. It is the biggest and prettiest of the dozen that are blooming in my yard. They are growing right out there is the zoysia and the centipede, enjoying the sun and not bothered at all by the grass. These are hardy plants. I have no idea how they came there. I have often seen this orchid growing along the roadsides here in Southeast Alabama. Next spring the pointed leaves of the basal rosette will appear when I am busy with my spring and summer gardening. The leaves die back and late in the summer or early fall the flower stalk shoots up seemingly overnight.
If you drive slow enough along the less traveled roads, you may see the ladies tresses in the grass in full sun. They are small though, so you have to keep a sharp eye out and go slow.
I am not attempting to give this Spiranthus a last name because there are quite a few that are native to this section of the country. but you can enjoy them and just call them twisted ladies tresses.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

September Finally Feels Right

We have sure had a humid slimy Sepetember. It seems to have turned the corner today, at long last. Warm, but the humidity is down. I went outside after dark to enjoy the fragrance of the angel trumpets. Both the pink and the yellow are blooming beautifully.

More Quotes I like

I hate television. I hate it as much as I hate peanuts. But I can't stop eating peanuts.
- Orson Welles
Seeing a murder on television... can help work off one's antagonisms. And if you haven't any antagonisms, the commercials will give you some.
- Alfred Hitchcock

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Quote I Like

"I'm all about exuberance. We only have one short life to live, and we shouldn't waste it being tasteful."

Isaac Mizrahi

Friday, September 25, 2009


Posted by Picasa

I bought this plant a few months ago at a bigbox store (maybe Lowe's).The reason I bought it was I could see the remains of 2 different flowers so I knew that the pot contained more than one plant. One was yellow and the other was red, or mahogany as they are sometimes called. I am very pleased that the red has come in bloom again. After it finishes bloom, I will repot it if I can find some reasonably priced orchid media.
Oncidiums are sometimes called Dancing Ladies, but to me they look more like exotic bugs. They are easy to grow, but be careful not to overwater. They do well in bright light, little fertilizer in the water about once a month, grow on the dry side watering maybe once a week. Check before watering to make sure they are not still damp before rewatering.
I have a fellow one that fills my greenhouse with blooms each spring. They have proliferated to the point where they are popping out with blooms in all kinds of places.They seem to care for themselves. they should be repotted about every 2 years, but if not mine just keep growing on out of the pot. their roots hang over the edge and keep growing. This is also an indication that they do well with a minimum amout of care and can be grown on the dry side.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Obedient Plant

Posted by Picasa

I have grown obedient plant for many years, but contrary to what I have read from other growers, I have never found it invasive. apparently its characteristics change when it is given sandy loam and ample water. Of course I have clay and I suppose that keeps it in check. I have 2 spots where it grows and it has been exceptionally beautiful this year. In fact, I have a large arrangement of it on the dining table now. Its genus is Phytostegia and is also sometimes called dragonhead. The name obedient plant derives from the characteristic of the plant to hold its flowers in any position you move them to.
They are reported to come in white as well as pink, but I don't think I ever met a white one. But as a general rule I prefer other colors beside white. I think white flowers do not age as gracefully as colored ones.
I got my original start of this plant from my Mother who had to thin it out every year (she has sandy loam soil).She warned me about it but I never experienced any invasiveness. It spreads by both seed and runners and is perennial, so it does have a potential to become a problem. the only problem I ever had with it is it usually falls over once the flowers develop and it gets top heavy. perhaps if it could have all day sun all the season, it would be stronger.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Red Buckeye Seed


Posted by Picasa

My red buckeyes set a good many seed this year. Some years not many seed are produced. Last year I had a good many seed but more than half were infested with some kind of larvae or weevil and would not germinate. When I picked them off the bush the seed had little holes where something had entered or exited. I never found out what it could have been but I wondered if it was one of those cases where an egg is laid in the flower and grows there till the seed is mature, feeding on the seed. At any rate I made more than enough to satisfy myself this year. The white buckeye though is another story. I did not get a single seed from either of my two bushes. Before last year I was getting about equal numbers of red and white buckeye seed.
When I was growing up people used to carry buckeye seed in their pockets or their purses (I did that). Some people bored holes in the seed and hung them on their key chains. It was supposed to bring good luck. I can't verify that one way or another. It did make a good conversation piece though.
In order for buckeye seed to germinate, it is my experience that they need to be planted in the fall as soon as possible after they are harvested. They typically come up right away and may keep their leaves most of the first winter. If you wait too long,like acorns, they will desiccate and not germinate when they are planted.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Beach Hibiscus

Posted by Picasa

I don't know the name of this wild hibiscus but I remember collecting the seed down around Fort Morgan about 3 years ago. It was the last time my sister and I went to the beach. I stopped to admire a group of them blooming in what appeared to be pure sand. They were about a foot tall. I collected all the seed I could find which was maybe a dozen seed. The first year I got one plant to survive and I kept it in a pot in the greenhouse over winter. It lived but always looked cranky and spindly. In the fall it died. The next year I germinated another from seed the sickly one made. I put it in a pot and eventually decided the best course this year was to put it in the flower bed. It is definitely happy there and I think of that trip everytime I admire its delicate pink flowers.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Turtles in the Road

When this rain first strted about a week ago I saw 2 different turtles trying to cross the road. One was a lovely big box turtle. I could see his yellow markings as i shot past. the other was much smaller and I think it may have been a water turtle. You all know that I am on the Turle Patrol, but in both cases I was so late that I did not stop to assist the turtles out of the road. I did pray for them though. But hereis a story about the Turtle Patrol that puts me to shame. This man rescued a turtle out of a multi-laned highway with lots of traffic. Hugo thinks I will surely get hit one day, but I persist.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Posted by Picasa

These are some flower stalks of Agapanthus in a bed in front of Olive Garden in Opelika,AL. If they had set seed, which these did not, the pods would be on the ends of the sputnik branches. The flowers are usually blue but sometimes white and last a long time either on the plant or in arrangements. For several years I grew Agapanthus in the greenhouse and the bloom stalks would be 3 or 4 feet tall. Finally, in a space crucnh in the greenhouse, I put them in the ground. they have survived and bloomed, but a only a shadow of their former selves. I guess they would have benefitted from better soil.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Love Bugs

Posted by Picasa

Lovebugs (Plecia nearctica) are a members of the insect group known as march flies.They are a fact of life in South Alabama and all along the Gulf coast,even spreading as far as North Carolina.They probably came from South America.For most of their lives, they are helpful. In the larval stage they live in grass and eat dead vegetation, thereby removing thach. As soon as they emerge as adults, they begin to mate, and although they live only 3 or 4 days, they remain "hooked up" till after the female lays eggs.The female sometimes drags the dead male around with her till she deposits her eggs. This sexual frenzy has given rise to their common name, "lovebugs". They commonly produce 2 generations a year, although in South Florida, they sometimes produce a smaller generation in December.
For some years after they arrived in this country they were quite a problem in the adult stage as millions would emerge and swarm. Driving at highway speeds would plaster the bodies and egg masses all over the windsheild and radiater. When they dried they were very difficult to remove. Sometimes radiaters would become clogged and result in engines overheating. Various kinds of covers were invented to deal with the bugs. But with the passage of time, their natural enemies arrived on our shores, too, and currently a fungus that infects the larvae keeps the populations in check.
The adults feed on flower nectar,hence this picture from the picture plant bog.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pitcher Plants in bloom

Posted by Picasa
This is another view of the Weeks Bay Preserve pitcher plant bog made from the boardwalk. There are several pitcher plant flowers but they look mostly like they have faded and maybe going to seed.

Weeks Bay Preserve Plants


Posted by Picasa

Here are a couple more pictures from my Weeks Bay Preserve trip. The top one shows a back view of a pitcher plant flower. It's the red thing near the center of the photo. If you ckick on the picture you will be able to take a closer look. The lower picture is Liatris, which is blooming far and wide now, not just in pitcher plant bogs. It is a favorite of florists because it gives height , variety of flower form, and rich color to an arrangement. They dry pretty well also, maintaining a good bit of color.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pine Lily in Weeks Bay Preserve



Posted by Picasa

This past weekend I went to LA (lower Alabama,as Tolbert says) and spent a wonderful rainy Saturday plundering through thrift stores, visiting the Weeks Bay Preserve, and taking a splash in very rough water at Gulf Shores State Park. These pine lilies were scattered throughout the area, and it was my first acquaintance with them. A nice boardwalk curves through the pitcher plant bog and there is opportunity to see both flora and fauna without getting your shoes muddy. It is located near Mobile Bay’s eastern shore in Baldwin County, approximately 40 miles southeast of Mobile, Ala. The boardwalk ends at the water with a fine overlook of the estuary. The estuary receives fresh water from both the Fish and Magnolia Rivers. One of the main forces in maintaining a pitcher plant bog is fire. It says so right on the sign. But this area seemed not to have been burned in a long time. Bushes and trees were shading out the pitcher plants and other smaller bog plants. To thrive pitcher bogs need full sun. Also I was wondering what is going to happen to this lovely boardwalk when they finally do decide to burn it. The growth is so heavy that the boardwalk could easily be consumed. I wonder if anyone is minding the store?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Swallowtail Caterpillars


Posted by Picasa

The top picture shows what is left of my parsley plant. It was enjoyed by the caterpillars so that it is mostly gone. But, the plant will probably put out new growth in spite of being eaten to the nubbins. These caterpillars are quite ornamental themselves. I hope there was enough plant to satisfy this hungry group. Swallowtail butterflies lay their eggs singularly on leaves, but it looks to me like Ms Swallowtail kind of overdid it on this one poor parsley plant. Swallowtail caterpillars feed on members of the Umbillifera which includes parsley, dill, and even carrot foliage. I have not looked at them in several days. I bet they have crawled off somewhere and pupated by now.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Johnny Reb looses some major limbs


Posted by Picasa

On September 1, our favorite and largest red oak lost 3 huge limbs. The broken limbs would easily be the equivalent of many other fairly large trees. There was no wind when it fell but there had been light rain in the night. I suspect that when the resserection fern that covers it soaked up water along with the wet leaves and developing acorns,it just got to be too much weight to bear. I am very sad over it, but am glad it did not fall on anybody or anything.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Blue Sky vine


Posted by Picasa

This Thunbergia is growing in the ground beside the old greenhouse, and has overwintered there 3 or 4 years. It seems to get bigger and nicer every year. It gets killed to the ground but returns every summer. It grows better if kept well watered but is not a real water hog. It grows well in the clay soil around here. They make a nice thick shade for the end of a sunny porch. I have never had any to set seed. I guess they need a longer summer. However they do root easily.
This is the same genus that has blackeyed Susan vine. I grew those for several in the greenhouse, quite by accident. They reseeded and eventually I got a group that had white eye instead of black. Interesting, but not as pretty as the blackeyed ones.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Clerodendron ugandanese

Posted by Picasa

This in my glory bower (there are quite a few different kinds, but as far as I know this is the only blue one).It is Clerodendron ugandanese, and is fairly uncommon in the trade. I have forgotten where I originally got my plant, but I have kept it going for years from cuttings. One year I was so sure it would come back that i left a pot outside over winter. I was wrong. It might over winter in zone 9, but not here in zone 8B. It is a beautiful thing. It blooms better with some direct sun, but not afternoon sun. It does well in the heat of summer, and in fact is slow to grow until things heat up in June. I wonder if it hails from Uganda, but haven't been able to verify that.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Passiflora cerulea



Posted by Picasa

I got this as a cutting labelled Passiflora cerulea but after looking at pictures on the internet of P. cerulea, I doubt the name is correct. I do not know what it is except beautiful. I had this in a 3 gallon pot and after it started to wrap things up it was too late to move it.It has certainly been beautiful. I wish it would set a fruit.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Myan Gold


Posted by Picasa

I got this plant about early June, I think. It has been in bloom for all but a short time since I got it. It's scientic name is Tecoma stans and this is a new release this year called Myan Gold. It is a tropical shrub in areas without frost, but I bought it as an annual. It is said to grow easily from seed. I have not had any seed set yet, but if I do I will try to plant them. I may also try taking a cutting or two. I plan to keep it in the greenhouse over winter.I would like to try bedding it out in the ground.It loves the heat and humidity of summer and it is always good to find something not bothered by our Alabama summers. Other names for this burst of good cheer are Trumpetbush,Esparanza, and Yellow Elder.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Joe Pye Weed

Posted by Picasa

Come what may in the way of weather, my joe-pye weeb puts on a show in late summer. It is situated near a faucet so I can remember to give it lots of water. But even if I forget, joe-pye carries on. This year the flowers seem to be a lighter pink than usual, but maybe that is just my memory. Most of the ones I see along the roadside are 6-8 feet tall, but mine is much shorter, topping out at 3-4 feet. I grew it from seed I got throught the American Horticulture seed exchange. I have forgotten the variety name but it is probably Gateway which is the only shorter version I have seen referred to. The stems are hollow and tend to fall over unless staked in the taller varieties, but my shorter version does not have that problem. It is also in a sheltered location. I have had this clump for many years and have not divided it, but I probably could. It is not as robust as the taller varieties you see in moist sites, which may be divided every 2 years.
The genus here is Eupatorium, also known as boneset. This and many of the other Eupatoriums are blooming here in September.They all dry well for winter arrangements and wreaths, but for best results in drying, should be picked while the individual flowers are still in bud.
Joe-pye weed is also a great butterfly magnet. All kinds of butterflies are attracted to it.
This is a beautiful perrennial and no more of a weed than I am..I take that back, imean in some ways I am a weed. More on that later.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tickle Tails


Posted by Picasa

It's that time of year again when tickle tails cover the earth. The coarse foliage erupts in July and rapidly produces the fuzzy inflorescence. A ride down almost any county road will set you asail in a sea of these things. They dry beautifully, but the truth is, they may be a little overdry now. The flowers produce seed quickly and if the seed is fully formed when when they are gathered, they shed badly. I wish I had picked a bouquet before now.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Bean Gourds



Posted by Picasa

The other day I was complaining that neither my squash nor my gourds had set any fruit. In the case of the squash they bloomed aplenty but never made anything. I remember hearing that there is a bug that causes the fruit not to form, but I did not know that it effected gourds. Well, I guess it does not. A couple days after my complaint, I glanced up in the cedar tree and got my comeuppance. They are about 3 feet long.
These gourds are known by several names: edible Italian gourd, bean gourd,and bitter mellon. My seed originally came from a relative who had visited South America and brought the seed back several years ago. I had grown them once before and had dried them and painted one in a whimiscal fashion. I have seen several recipes for cooking them, mostly stir fry, but the point was mentioned that they are still bitter after cooking. Apparently soaking is salt water does away with some of the bitterness. I am not going to eat them. I just like growing weird things. It is fascinating to see how the vines have made it to the top of the cedar. This is a handy trellis that I have used for years. I have 2 twenty gallon pots situated at the edge of the limb line and since the limbs dip low over the pots, they get plenty of sun as well as having a ready made trellis. Then I do not have to worry about the vines scrambling all over the yard with grass growing up all around.
I have tried to think of what these gourds would be good for besides eating. The only thing I have come up with is a penis cover. Many years ago I saw a picture in National Geographic that was unforgetable. A group of natives were lined up to show off their attire. There was a wild assortment of gourds, and it was truly funny. I wonder if they were just pulling the photographer's leg.
Blogging tips
Blogging tips