Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Crepe Myrtle and Butterfly Bushes.

My crepe myrtle is starting to fade from the appearance in this picture, although it still has some blooms. It has been beautiful all summer. You can count on a crepe myrtle to be cheerful thru thick and thin, for months on end. The butterfly bushes under it have pretty much given up this summer4, maybe due to the efficient water gathering of the crepe myrtle. I have watered a couple of times lately, but it was too little and too late to get them into bloom. The Lantanas still soldiers on with a few flowers, but everything else in the understory here is faltering badly.
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tall Lilies

I probably have mentioned these exquisitely long legged ladies before, but they are worth a second look.
An 8 foot tall lily is rather stunning, any way you slice it. I planted these near and under a pomegranate bush so they could receive a little support from it in case of rain or wind. Unluckily, we had none of either while these were blooming. These lilies were grown from seed given to me by a Mr. Thompson that I have since lost touch with. I understand that the prevailing knowledge about seed grown lilies is don't do it. But I am not sorry I grew these.
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Monday, August 29, 2011

Celosia or Cockscomb

This celosia or cockscomb is grown from seed that was produced on last years flowers. I saved some seed, germinated them and planted out the plants. Some just reseeded in situ. Next year I will try to remember that and when they come up in the bed, I can just weed out the ones I do not want or move them around to where I can find space. Notice that I said find space, not where I want them. I have to want things where I have space. These are bright eye-catching plants, needing full sun to be at their best. It never fails that when people see them they call them "brains", and they do have that look about them. They make great cut flowers and dry wonderfully. Be sure and put them somewhere to dry so that you can catch the seed that will pop out in the process. Then give the seed to friends, or just broadcast them in the flower bed and hope for the best.
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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sermon On The Mount

Ran across this video with the sermon on the mount read while pictures of present day people are presented.  I found it strange and thought provoking. Tell me your thoughts.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lettuce Leaf Begonia

Lettuce leaf begonia is a Rex begonia; this is one that my grandmother gave to me probably 40 years ago. It has survived severe neglect and abuse, as well as flush times. This one, as well as a Beefsteak Rex, has been with me through thick and thin. Newly married and living away from home in North Carolina, I had more than 50 potted plants in a small apartment. DH built me a wooden frame from 2x2's and hung a shop light on it over my plants. We had not much furniture and that spot of plants nestled together under a 4 foot light really brightened things up, I thought. I had an assortment of drip pans under the plants and plastic sheeting under the plants to keep water off the floor. Maybe it was not that beautiful, but I thought it was. I only had eyes for the plants, not the set up. But actually, I thought the setup was pretty grand, too. It enabled me to have houseplants in a dark location for about 5 years and brought me a lot of joy. Somewhere I have a (some ) pictures of that set up. If it was not so hard to locate.... Digital pictures are easier to locate but also easier to loose completely.
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Fungi In My Yard

I don't know the names of any of these mushrooms that were in my yard, but there was an abundance of different kinds. These sprang up back in July when I was getting rain every few days at my house. My phone is there for a size comparison.
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

First Angel Trumpet of the Year

This is the first bloom on my yellow angel trumpet this year. It bloomed about a week ago. Unless things speed up, it does not look like my pink angel trumpet will bloom as it is still not 2 feet tall. This yellow one does not have many buds yet. My white one never blooms till right before frost. I wish I had a white one that bloomed earlier.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yesterday's Earthquake in Virginia

 Hannah was at a strip mall in Charlottesville when the earthquake happened. She was outside sitting on a flower urn. She said at first she thought something inside the urn was grinding; later she realized the urn must have been sliding on the concrete. EJ was parking the truck and he did not feel a thing. Just before or as the earthquake started (she was not sure which) all the birds that congregate and nest in the signs and porticoes suddenly flew out.
 All the people in the stores came rushing out. They thought it was from a blast similar to what they'd had before.One woman from California insisted that it was an earthquake. (I guess they eat ones that small for breakfast in California.) She had had the presence of mind to start the timer on her cell phone and said it lasted 9 seconds.
 Very exciting, but all seems well. It is startling to me that an earthquake should happen in one of the oldest mountain chains on earth, if not the oldest. The rocks are cold and stable. Just a little reminder that "we don't know what's a-coming tomorrow."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lycoris squamigera

These Lycoris squamigera go by several names: surprise lilies and naked ladies are two .  They spring up so suddenly in July, just when most of the starch has gone out of other flowers. They are so delicate and spring-like it is hard to believe they are blooming in the heat and drought. I had a line of them for several years but this year only 2 of the clumps bloomed. I wonder if I have accidentally dug into them. After the flowers finish, the foliage comes up and lasts into the winter, just like regular red spider lilies. (They belong to the same genus). They are so beautiful I am always tempted to cut them for the house, but one time cured me. They smell terrible. Like burning rubber, sort of. So just look at how beautiful they are, but keep your nose away.
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

What To Do With A Windfall...

My nephew was talking about the money he was going to get from a lottery ticket he had just bought. $229 million. I  asked him what he would do with the money if he won it. He though a minute, then said he would pay off his debts and buy a new truck. After a second, he said he would use the rest to keep farming as long as it lasted.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Capybara: Our Next Invasive Mammal?

Talk about a big rat!!! I heard my cousin who goes to South America fairly often talk about making one of these into a pet. He said the animal would come like a dog when he called it, and was very friendly, allowing itself to be petted.They have been spotted in both Florida and California, but no breeding colonies have been verified (yet). But all in all, I do not wish to be invaded by these things.Armadillos are bad enough. They are semi-aquatic and eat mostly grasses and aquatic plants. I suppose they might become a problem at ponds and lakes or rivers (watch out Lake Martin!) but we probably do not have to worry about them in subdivisions--unless they adapt and change their habits. They mate in water and a typical litter is 4 babies. The gestation period is 4/5 months.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Flowerbed Vignette

This little group of plants really pleased me. The pink lilies are rain lilies (Zephyranthes). They are hardy and easy to grow. In zone 8, just plant them and walk away. They will bloom from time to time during the summer, usually after a good soaking rain or with the hose.
 The short pink flowers are dwarf Ruellia (dwarf Mexican Petunia) These plants do well in the heat and drought of an Alabama summer, as you might guess from their Mexican heritage. They come in both pink and blue (purple really) and are perennial , over time forming a ground cover. Maybe so, but at least 5 years ago, I planted one of these and now I have 2 clumps. This is not to say that next year they will not jump up everywhere. Just so far they have not spread (much). I do know that the tall variety of these does spread, almost wildly. So, if you plant the tall ones, it might be best to plant them away from your main mixed flower bed, so they can have a place of their own. Otherwise,you can weed out the new seedlings in the spring.
The purple plant is an Angelonia. It is an annual that holds up excellently to heat and drought. I see it planted in shopping center beds and baskets. It has a very long season of bloom, likes full sun, and has few enemies. It has never reseeded for me. For several years I have rooted cuttings and over wintered them in the greenhouse, but I think this year I will let them go and plan to buy some in the spring or early summer.
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dragon Fruit Plants

These are photos of my seed grown dragon fruit cactus (Hylocereus). I have forgotten how many years old they are, but they have never bloomed. Reading online gave the info that the plants will probably not bloom till they reach a weight of  10 pounds. I believe mine weigh that much or more, but I have not actually weighed them.They certainly have long arms and very long roots growing from these. I bet that when  these "arms" eventually reach the ground, they will root and form new plants that will make a thicket in the back of my greenhouse. They are already a problem to navigate around as they have many small cactus spines.They flower at night and last only one evening. I guess the worst thing would be for one to flower and not notice it and miss the event of many years growing. (I frequently miss my night blooming cereus flowers- I simply forget to go out to see them.) These cactus are not self fertile so it would be necessary to have 2 plants blooming the same evening, to observe and be on hand, and to assist in the pollination of the flowers. Then there would be a chance for fruit.
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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Perseid Shower

Last night was our annual meteor shower that seems to originate from the constellation Perseus in the northeastern sky. The meteors are remnants left behind during the passage of the comet Swift-Tuttle, which has a period of 130 years.
I woke up this morning,at 2AM. Remembering the shower I slid into my flip flops and flopped into the yard. The moon was full and amazingly bright. I cast a shadow on the ground as bright as any sunny day. The whole world seemed to be covered in a warm soft blanket that invited repose and thanksgiving. The blacks and greys of the tree shadows on the ground and against the sky made lace edgings everywhere. There were sleepy sounds of insects making only half-hearted cries; some I could identify, some not. The cicadas are mostly gone now. I have been finding their dead winged bodies about in the grass lately.
I thought about the owls that I sometimes hear in the evening and wished I could see one on its silent supper mission. The quiet pervaded everything. I imagined the wildlife waiting patiently in the shadows. There were no calls, coyote or bird, cow, dog, auto or train. The world was at rest.
The sky was somewhat hazy, but a few of the brightest stars shone through. The moon  made meteor viewing all but impossible for an impatient one like me. Anyway, it is best to lie down to watch so you won't get a crick in your neck, and I was not prepared for that. Star gazing is best done with a companion, and my star gazing companion is away now. Maybe when the Geminids come in December...

Even though I did not see any meteors, I am not sorry I got up. The night was as beautiful as any I have ever seen. And the memory of the night will linger much longer than the spark of a meteor, which is something else altogether.
I did find a way online to hear a meteor. Tune an FM radio to a frequency not used locally and listen for the pings that indicate a passing meteor. See the reference here.

Friday, August 12, 2011


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This is a Penta that I overwintered in the greenhouse last winter. It has really thrived since I put it in a large pot. These are annuals, or tropicals, if you like that and they will not survive frost. They do well in full sun to partial shade. This one is in partial shade. They are sometimes called Egyptian Star Clusters or just star clusters. They come in several colors:pink, red, white, and lavender.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


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Rudbeckias go under many different names. They are commonly referred to as cone flowers or black or brown eyed susans. I call the ones I grow gloriosa daisies, and they may have been when I first started to grow them. They reseed and cross freely in my flower bed, so that I now have a mixture of several kinds. They are one of the easiest and most rewarding of common garden flowers. They last wonderfully in the vase.  In the garden mine usually last only one year, although they can sometimes be made to re-bloom by dead heading before the seeds in the flowers mature. If you let them reseed after the second flush of blooms, the goldfinches enjoy the seed, but will leave enough behind to bloom next year.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Blue and Black Salvia

This is Black and Blue Salvia, a lovely and hardy perennial  for any garden. these grow from 2 to 3 feet tall in clay soil of my zone 8 garden . The bright blue flowers hang from nearly black caylaxes. the foliage is almost lime green and really set the flowers off.  Clumps are easily divided.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pink Crinum Lily

I have fallen far behind in my postings. the next several pictures are from plants blooming in my yard in July and here we are way along in August. But they flowers are still beautiful.
These are pink crinum lilies. The ones typically seen around here are referred to as milk and wine lilies as they are white with a crimson stripe down the petals. But there are quite a few different crinums , and these are solid pink. I also have some stark white ones, as well as the traditional milk and wine variety. These lilies are carefree and  very long lived. they often survive to make the spot where an old home place stood. They make beautiful specimen plants and bloom better if left undisturbed for years. They can be divided after 2 or 3 years, but the bulbs are deep rooted and in heavy clay this can be a huge chore. If a clump is to be divided, dig the whole clump and remove the side bulbs to prevent major damage to the closely packed bulbs.
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