Thursday, November 29, 2012

Beautiful Sight in the Eastern Sky

Last night, tonight, and probably for a few more nights, a beautiful sight is in the eastern sky. The largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter, appears quite near the moon. In fact, the moon and Jupiter are the 2 brightest objects in the sky. Not far away is the star Aldebaran. You can see some pictures here.

Friday, November 23, 2012

November Sunset

On a recent evening while driving I saw the most gorgeous sunset. I called several people to get them to see it also, but either they were not interested or did not see the same thing I did. I thought this was awe inspiring. The bottom picture shows what I saw first. It looked like a giant tornado in the clouds. The clouds even appeared swirled like the winds of a tornado. A few minutes later the smaller tornado to the left in top picture appeared. Click on the pictures to get a bigger view. The colors in the clouds were fantastic, and as an added bonus, the configuration of the clouds themselves.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


  I took these picture in late August. These Crotalaria plants were growing by the roadside, in the ditch and on an embankment. They had spread there from adjacent recently cut pine plantings. Several years ago when the pines near my house were cut Crotalaria grew there for a couple years. Aesthetically they are pleasing at least to me. I like their bright yellow color and the seed pods really intrigue me. The seeds pods are light green with a maroon stripe down the seam and the pods are arranged in a spiral. They dry to a brownish black color. I have harvested and dried the pods to add to dried arrangements.The seed rattle in the pod after drying and its common name, rattlebox is derived from this.
  Crotalaria is an annual and flowers in response to shortening days. The seed pods are fairly large, about two inches long, but the seed contained in it are very small and kidney shaped.
  This is probably Crotalaria juncea and its country of origin is India. It is a non-wood fiber source, used in paper making. and is known by another common name sunn hemp. It is a good green manure crop as it is a legume , requiring little to no added nitrogen, but instead putting nitrogen back in the soil.It can even be grown on marginal soils. It is not susceptible to root knot nematodes, and can be planted as a crop to reduce root knot nematodes in the soil. Some species are useful as stock feed, but C. juncea is toxic to horses and pigs. In some places it is considered a noxious weed.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Clematis Bugs

In early fall, these bugs rapidly ate up my Sweet Autumn Clematis. The vine was simply filled with these creatures. I got pretty close to these beetles trying to see them well. I am so glad I did not touch them because I just found out what they are: margined black blister beetles! They are identified by bulbous heads, long legs, and narrow elongated soft bodies. They differ from  black beetles by having grey margins on their wings. I remember seeing blister beetles a long time ago, but they did not look like these. No wonder. There are 7500 different species worldwide  (Another example of God loving beetles as He made so many.) These particular ones have been known to kill cattle that ate hay they were in, even though the beetles were dead. The beetles have a substance in their blood called cantharidin which causes blistering. Imagine that on your insides and you feel a need to back away.
They can be controlled by using a gloved hand to knock them into soapy water (and carefully dispose of later) or using a pesticide. I made no attempt to kill them, so next year I may be eaten up with them in the yard.

Monday, November 12, 2012


These hardy Cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium) have been growing in my shady wildflower area for at least 20 years. I originally grew them from seed. Growing them from seed is not hard but does require patience. Do not cover the seed.  Germination occurs over months and for a long time after they germinate they have only one leaf which feeds the bulb. Ultimately a tiny bulb forms at the base of the one leaf and soon there after another and another leaf will grow til the seedling is large enough to transplant to a small pot to grow on to a size suitable for transplanting into the ground. I am talking about a time span of a year. During that time the container they are growing in needs to be somewhat cool, getting good light but not direct sun. I plant them in a container that had fruit from the store so that there are some drainage holes. Hopefully you will only water occasionally  so if the holes are large, you may want to put a coffee filter over the holes so that it can drain, but not dry out the potting material. Another problem can be simply keeping the germinating seed container safe from dumping and other accidents during a year.
I know that there must be short cuts for doing this commercially, but most home growers do not have access to a growth chamber to germinate a pack of seed. I am just telling you what I did.
At the time I planted these babies, I believe there were 5 of them, but now there are no more than 3. I have found them to be much hardier than I ever expected. They rest in the summer when it is too hot for their tastes. Do not become concerned about their health during this rest and water them, as the likely result is that the bulbs will rot from the moisture.Under a deciduous tree is the ideal spot for Cyclamen as they can catch the winter sun when the leaves are down and it will be nice and dry in the summer when they are resting. They send up flowers that are only a few inches tall for 2 to 3 months in the fall. The leaves follow later and are heart shaped with beautiful silver markings in a myriad of patterns. Over the 20 or so years that I have grown these plants, they seemed to have moved from where I think I put them to begin with. It is within possibility that the ones I have now reseeded and grew themselves in a different spot.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Flowering Maple (Abutilon striatum)

I got some cuttings of this lovely hibiscus last December from a relative in South Alabama. I have 2 of these plants now, each about 4 feet tall and leaves half as big as my stretched hand. The leaves look like maple leaves, hence the name flowering maple. I intend to make some cuttings and maybe have a few for sale next summer. I wish I had had the presence of mind to plant one in the ground earlier in the season, just to see if it could overwinter. I think it might be too late to try that now. It probably needs some time to get established before frost. Last year I did plant several other seed grown flowering maples in the flower bed and one of them returned this year, so it is possible.
I think this one, Abutilon striatum, is just stunning with it's dark veins in orange petals. My plant is blooming more now than it did in the summer. Don't know if it is because of the heat or some other nutritional reason.
  Update: November 11, 2012
I have 2 of these plants in pots now. Both are over 6 feet tall, not including pot. One of these is in the old cooler greenhouse and one is in a large outdoor pot. Both are still blooming profusely. When I miss a watering, they advertise that fact by turning a leaf or two yellow. These are grand and very statuesque. I think they would make a grand specimen plant in a large bed, but I also like them close enough so the beautiful veins in the flowers can be appreciated.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Shrub Althea

Shrub Althea is known by several common names: Rose of Sharon , Rose Althea, and St. Joseph's Rod. The Scientific name is Hybiscus syriacus, and the flowers show their hybiscus heritage in the structure of the flower. (They look like okra, don't they, and cotton.) My mother and grandmother called them simply Althea, and that is the name I use most often. The lavender usually starts blooming in late July or early August. The double pink follows a few days behind the lavender. This year they were a few weeks later blooming, I suppose because of the drought. I never water them, they have to make it on their own, and they are very capable of tending to themselves. I had read online that the lavender was particularly prone to reseeding but had never seen it in my own yard til about 3 years ago. Now I have two new shrubs  that have come up nearby the mother shrub. I do not consider them to reseed at the nuisance level though and new plants can easily be controlled. 
Altheas can be pruned if they become too large and this is best done in spring as it flowers on new wood, and pruning early won't cut back on the flowers either.
Also, an Althea bush makes an ideal place for a cardinal nest. I have had one several years in mine. They  build a nest about 3 /4 feet off the ground.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ladies Tresses

One day at the end of August as I pulled into the driveway, I saw a group of these beautiful sparkling white Ladies Tresses orchids (Spiranthes).This is a native orchid of the southeast and other species of this orchid grow all over the country.  Although not common, you can see them sometimes shinning through the grass on roadsides. They do best in the full hot sun. There were 8 in this group and a further check of the yard revealed  11 more , some in groups  within 3 feet of each other, others single individuals. The flower stalks were 12-15 inches tall and the flowers were spiraled around the stem. They are pure white with a green smear in the throat. I have had these bloom on my property before, but never so many. They are so tough. Who would believe an orchid would grow and bloom in the heat and drought of August? That is certainly not the requirements we usually think of for orchids. But Spiranthes knows what  is best for it. After the flowers pass, the leaves emerge and they grow in a fairly flat rosette and have a slight succulent appearance.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gopher Tortoise

During a trip to Sanibel Island , Florida in July I saw this gopher tortoise grazing along the grassy strip between the paved bike path and the road. Several people had stopped to observe him (her) and one person was attempting to use his bike as a barricade to keep it from wandering out into the road. I doubt it would have done that anyway, because it was clearly there to eat and there was no grass in the road. The interesting thing about this creature to me was it was biting off grass with a vengeance and the ripping grass blades made the same sound they do when a cow is grazing. It was completely unperturbed by the crowd that gathered around it. I suppose it was used to being on display.
Gopher tortoises eat grass, legumes, fruits and other assorted plant materials. The younger ones eat more legumes, probably to increase the protein needed for growth. A typical gopher tortoise needs about 4 acres of territory and may dig several burrows. The burrow may be as long as 48 feet and 3 feet deep. The burrow protects the tortoise from fire, heat , and cold, and predators. They share their burrows with up to 360 different animals (not all at once!). They spend most of their time in the burrow and are solitary except during mating season. They reach sexual maturity at 12-15 years and some reports claim they can live 100 years. (Others say 40 years.)

Rainbow in Back Yard

Late yesterday afternoon we had a rainbow in our back yard. This is a poor picture, but I hope you can make out the outline of it. It goes from the lowest leaves on the oak on the left, over the gazebo and seems to touch the oak in the foreground.
This is the second time I have seen a rainbow in the back yard. The other time it was brighter and in a slightly different place.
Amazing!A special gift, even as on the coast people are waiting for Hurricane Issac.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Shell Flower Creations

While we were at Sanibel Island one day we went to the Community Center and found a group of people making crafts from shells. Some of the items were so exquisite that I would never even consider trying to make them myself (click here to get an idea). Bill Jordan is a real artist, with extreme patience.
 But I was able to make  a passable flower from periwinkle shells. It helped that they had oodles of shells in all colors already sorted to choose from. There are lots of these shells on Sanibel and almost any beach I ever visited but the key is having enough shells so you can choose the size and color you need to make a flower that looks at least somewhat like a flower. The shells need to be all about the same size and color (except for the ones that stand up in the center.)  The center yellow part is ground up shells colored yellow. The flowers are put together with hot glue (use a melt pot to keep from getting too much and having glue string everywhere.) It was fun and the people were all so helpful and interesting.

Here is a real expert working.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sanibel Island in July

Sanibel Island is a special place to me.  Sometimes I just have to relax and let the joy of it seep in.
 Below is a sample of the shells we found in July. There seemed to be an extra number of small beautiful shells. One day there were a lot of fighting conchs (the orange larger shell on the bottom left), but for the most part the shells were smaller, but maybe more interesting for being smaller. See that piece of Junonia on the left side just above the green thing and 2 cones? Hannah found several pieces, but a whole shell for her is still elusive.
If you want to see a whole Junonia, and learn more about it , you can look here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wow!!! I'm Famous!

Well, not exactly. On a recent trip to Florida to visit my favorite shelling place (Sanibel Island) I met my favorite blogger on the beach. She writes the blog I Love Shelling. I have been reading her blog almost daily for more than a year. Her blog is about (what else) shelling on Sanibel, and especially during the winter, I get my sunshine fix from her blog. She came up and started talking to Hannah, EJ, and me and then put our pictures on her blog. The rig you see in the background of the picture of us (scan down a bit) is the one doing the dredging to deepen the inlet between Sanibel and Captiva known as Blind Pass. A giant sandbar had built up out in the water so that the inlet had slowed to an almost trickle. The inlet feeds the waters of Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve and other connecting natural areas. These areas are a favorite birding place for wading and shore birds and almost anytime you can see groups of pink spoonbills feeding there, occasionally you can see Flamingoes. All kinds of herons and ibis are there as well.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Seaham England

 After being home for a month from a trip to England I am finally getting back to my blog to post a few pictures and  remember some special highlights of the trip. Seaham is a small town in the northeast of England  on the North Sea. The reason we went there was to try to find sea glass, and there was certainly plenty of it to be found. An artist who makes jewelry from the glass met us there and showed us around. (Her work can be seen here.)
The above picture shows smaller pebbles and pieces of rounded glass that are plentiful on the beach
 This pile of pebbles gives a good idea of the assortment of rocks on the beach. I have never seen so many different kinds of rocks in one place. I cannot imagine how so many different and beautiful rocks all came to be in one place. In fact, I found the rocks so attractive that I had a hard time keeping my mind on the glass hunting. (And I collected too many rocks to bring home with me. They proved to be quite an added weight to haul around for the next 2 weeks.)

Sea cave on the beach at Seaham
There are several caves along the beach and they are interesting and made me think what a great place to play pirates!
The glass factory that began over 200 years ago at Seaham  made glass  of all different colors for about 100 years. For a hundred years broken, imperfect, and leftover glass was simply tossed into the sea.The sea rolled and tossed the glass and turned it into frosted gems that lie on the beach today. There are all colors of glass, but clear or white is the most common, followed by shades of light green, the color of old canning jars.  Laws were passed that governed what the various colored bottles were used for. Cobalt was used to store poisons, acid was put in bright red or orange bottles. Ink was sold in bright green, purple, and yellow.

A long view of the beach at Seaham
 This is a view of the harbor where barges were being loaded with recyclables at the time we were there. It was a very busy working place, besides being beautiful

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lyme Regis in England

 We stayed at the Kersbrook B&B in Lyme Regis and it had a thatched roof. Some of the thatched roofs I saw had some kind of mesh or wire laid on top of the thatch, but ours did not. I wondered if the mesh was to keep birds off, but really have no other explanation. The tiny garden behind the B&B was wonderful.
The hills are very steep coming up from the harbor, and almost anywhere you go you will be going straight up or down. When we arrived and had to walk up to our B&B, I thought I would never be able to make it dragging that heavy rock filled suitcase. Each time after that it was easier. I suspect it may have gotten easier  because I had a better idea of how far it was and also because I was not dragging those rocks!

This is a picture of the harbor at Lyme Regis with the boats, all so picturesque. We had walked around sightseeing and then went to lunch for about an hour. When we came out what we saw in in the picture below. The harbor wall in both pictures is called The Cobb and was made famous by Jane Austen's book Persuasion. The aquarium is the building on the seaward side of the wall in the third picture.

The boats were all sitting on the bottom and there was NO water. I was pretty startled. The man who ran the aquarium laughed and started telling people that we came from a place that had no tides. They have 12-16 foot tides (whereas the Gulf has 2-3 foot tides) and this is a daily occurrence there. A boat had tried to come into the harbor while the tide was too low and got stuck in the shallow water. A tractor drove out to the harbor entrance and pulled it in. All rock bottom, it seems.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Dive- A Documentary About Food Waste

This is an eye-opening documentary about food waste in America and one man's campaign to help stem that waste and locate others who are doing the same. The film is long  (48 min) for a you tube video but is not too long as it moves along at an interesting clip. I watched it in 2 sessions, just pausing and coming back when I had more time.
As I watched this video, I kept thinking about all the ways we saved food when I was growing up. I remember peeling wrinkled Irish potatoes with sprouts in late winter-the ones we had grown in our own garden for our own use. We used them all, breaking off the sprouts, cutting out the rots (there was both a wet and a dry kind of rot), and peeling away the green skins of some that had gotten too much light. They were some trouble to peel, unlike their smooth plump skinned relatives from the store, but they were ours and had been grown and harvested by our own sweat. Those potatoes were also without one ingredient that worries us now. They lacked the poisons that are used by commercial growers to ensure perfect potatoes, more than half of which will be thrown into the landfill.
The preservation technique was easy. After the potatoes were dug, they were placed in a dark shed , spread out on the floor so that no potato touched its neighbor. A light coat of lime was spread over them as a preservative.About once a week someone, usually me, checked the potatoes and threw out the ones that were beginning to rot. It was easy to tell which ones were bad as they had wet spots under and around them. Also they smelled, and you know how bad that is! I guess the lime kept the rodents at bay, because I do not remember any significant loss from mice or insects.
When they were washed, peeled, and cooked, they were the same as potatoes the world over. They were wonderful, a staple of life. Even the wrinkled ones had the same flavor, maybe a little sweeter.
In January I planted a few potatoes myself. They are just breaking the ground now and my mouth waters just thinking about it.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spring Signs in Early March

I made a tour of the yard yesterday because it seemed like things had moved into the "jump" mode that best describes spring for me.  Many times I have decided to catalog plants as they wake up from winter, but every time, the cataloging gets out of hand too quickly, and I give up, unable to keep up. March 2 was a hot day, at least 80 degrees, and we'd had lots of rain. These 2 factors, combined with the almost total lack of winter this year, set a jump situation at an early date. Matters not that yesterday itself was cool (60 degrees or so). Here is what I saw:

There are still a good many daffodils blooming, mostly whites or white and yellow, and the Narcissus have started to come in. I wish I had kept the names of all the different ones I have , but....
This is a dwarf Azalea growing in full sun. It does bloom early, but it seems like it just popped out overnight.
This is Pink Ruffles. Only a few flowers are open now, but it is one of my very favorites in full bloom.
This is the same dogwood that I posted  just a few days ago. This one is near the house and gets a bit of heat off the bricks, which probably explains why it is ahead of the other dogwoods in the yard. The others are still tight little balls. (Or at least they were yesterday).
The buds of the native Azaleas are all really swelling. This is an orange or yellow. I can't remember which color.
The last picture is a blueberry, already in bloom. OK, get ready squirrels and birds. We will soon be trying to scoop each other over the fruits of this plant!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Time for White Daffodils

The white and lighter yellow daffodils always follow the standard bright yellow dafs , at least at my house. Many of them are also starting to fade. I look forward to seeing what the subtraction of the giant red oak will do to this section of my yard. The daffodils seem unaffected. I have planted a white oak to replace the red that fell, but it will be many years before  it gets to be real tree size. This area of the yard is going to be getting more sun. It may improve the health of the shrubs that are planted there ( in the background)..

Friday, March 2, 2012

Species Amaryllis

These are blooming in my greenhouse right now. They bloom every year about this time, with little to no help from me. I started with 2 or 3 small bulbs 15 years ago, and in spite of my haphazard care they have grown and multiplied so that they now use about 5 feet of bench space in the greenhouse. The bloom stalks typically have 2 flowers, no more. The bulbs bloom when they are quite small, never reaching the gargantuan size of hybrid Amaryllis. The bulbs themselves multiply very fast. I have tried to transplant some outside at different times, but have not ever had one return or bloom. I guess they do not like cold weather. Once I got on a campaign to find out what the scientific name of these beauties is, but never made much progress. The closest I ever got was a term called torch lily and that seemed like it was a blanket term for most Amaryllis. So if you can get me closer to the real name, please contact me.

News Flash! Someone has contacted me with a name that I think at long last, is the correct one: Hippeastrum puniceum. The pictures and description fit and I am so pleased with this information. Thank you, Joe. A USDA plant distribution map shows this plant as growing in Louisiana , by introduction.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Forsythia Shines Through February

This Forsythia has been shining all through February. It seems to have gradually gotten brighter as the days pass. It has been a bright spot in a pretty dull landscape. But now that I look at this picture, I see there is a lot of color. Greens and rich browns everywhere. What if I lived in a place with real winter!!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dogwood Buds

The dogwood buds are swelling and if this warm weather and rain keep up, I expect them to open early this year. I enjoy watching the growth of dogwood (Cornus florida) buds and blooms. I see the white already peeking out in some people's yards, but not mine. I guess I live too far back in the woods, and the woods are a bit more cautious coming into bloom. Actually earlier bloom in towns and cities is caused by the heat island effect from all the pavement and concrete that soak up heat and release it slowly. It's a good thing in winter, but makes it hotter in summer.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pruning a Japanese Anise

Yesterday I chopped on my Japanese anise bush ( Illicium anisatum) which after all these years had suddenly taken to drooping it's limbs to the ground and had rooted there. It had formed a sizable circumference and was overtaking some early spring wildflowers that were growing at it's feet.  I thought of it as a mother hen squatting over her charges, except in this case mother hen was actually smothering her charges. I knew there was a Hepatica under there and I found it blooming bright white just in the edge of the  encroaching anise. I also found a cyclamen in the depths of that that foliage. I do not remember if I planted it there or if it reseeded there, but it is liberated now. After twenty plus years, I wonder why this shrub suddenly decided to do this in the last few years. But that is the beauty of gardening. You never know in any year what new thing will develop, what plant will begin to march beyond it's customary place, what new plant will come in unbidden or depart for reasons unknown. Weather is one of the causes of change in the garden, and all I can do is watch and try to cope with the aftermath. There must be a life message there somewhere.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tomato Seed Germinate Inside Tomato

In December I was given some tomatoes that were still very green and we ate along on them till there was only one left. It sat in lonely seclusion on the kitchen counter, holding itself aloof from the bananas and  oranges. All it's friends had disappeared down the pie hole except a couple who had slowly turned black and mushy. It never turned a proper shade of red for a tomato, having been severed from the plant before it was quite ready but in time to save it from frost. Time passed and the tomato began to turn it's thoughts inward; certainly that was better than consorting with bananas.
  By mid February I had noticed the tomato was turning an odd dark color on the blossom end. I suspected it was beginning to rot from the inside, but I could find no place where the skin was broken and wondered what was happening. At long last, I fried some bacon, took out the lettuce and mayo, picked up my knife and started for the tomato. I heard tiny frightened screams coming from the tomato, but I hardened my heart intending to save at least some part of it from ultimate destruction and loss. I sliced off the bottom of that tomato and beheld dozens of germinated seed inside that pinkish orange peel.
  What was I to do? Should I try to rescue those seedlings and plant them? Should I hurl the whole thing in the trash? This was a conundrum the likes of which I had never faced. Some must die and some must live.Ii laid those seedling filled slices right in that BLT and ate it right down. Yummmm

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fragrant Cyclamen

Here are 2 cyclamen I bought from Wally World back in January (or was it December?).
I set them in the window behind the sink where they could get light and also be cooler at night. A number of times in the evening while I was working at or around the sink, I got a whiff of a delicious fragrance, sort of lemony. At times I had several different orchids in the window and tried to pinpoint the fragrance to one of them. At last when the orchid flowers had passed and the plants were sent back to the greenhouse and the cyclamen were the only blooming thing left in the window, I still could smell the fragrance. But it was not both Cyclamen. It was only one of them. The solid dark pink one had no fragrance at all. But the variegated light pink one was sending out a fragrance to charm some evening pollinator. The fragrance was much stronger in the evenings. No pollinator came for it, as far as I know, although some seed has been set. But I got the benefit of its efforts.Check out the leaf differences, too.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Old Maid and the Burglar

My mother used to sing  this song and we all laughed and enjoyed it a lot. I had forgotten many of the lyrics but was able to find it online (bless the internet!). A copy of the lyrics can be found here.
Another  version can be seen here.

Here is a recording of it from You Tube: 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Paper Bush

This is my Valentine's day plant. It is Edgeworthia or paper bush, and that little bloom smells heavenly. It is called paper bush supposedly because the Chinese used it in paper making, but I would  prefer to stick my nose in the bloom. Yes, this stick with a quarter sized flower on it cost me $20. It was supposed to be growing in a 3 gallon pot and cost $40, but when it arrived it was a stick in a gallon pot for 420. But then, I had a hard time locating this plant, not just locally, but even on the not. I had read about Edgeworthia before, but what really whetted my appetite for it was the juicy write up by the Southern Living grumpy Gardener. you can read his piece here.

Monday, February 20, 2012


These little flowers Veronica Speedwell  have been blooming for several days. They seem to open up and are more cheerful on brighter days, just like crocus. They make a beautiful ground cover  and the blue really sets off yellow daffodils. The genus not only includes great garden plants, but also some weeds, if you can call such sweet little flowers weeds. I can say this because I do not really believe in lawns, so I would not mind if some of these wildflower weeds took over my whole yard.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nothing New Under the Sun

For something new, take a look at this new plant recently discovered in Fiji.

Also, here in a video of some new animal discoveries found in the Mekong Delta.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Video of plants in the Buenos Aires area

This has some beautiful time lapsed photography as well as some stills. A great video for plant lovers .Just under 6 minutes. Take a look.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pigeon Roost Flooded

This is Pigeon Roost Creek in Chambers County, Alabama where is crosses County Road 53.
I don't really understand this flooding unless it had something to do with a beaver dam. The next creek over (Hoodlocka)was not flooded after the 2.25 inches of rain on Friday/Saturday.
The fog laying over the water made an interesting shot.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My First Daffodil of 2012

This is my first daffodil of the year, and it appeared last Wednesday, the 18. At least I think it did. I saw the bright yellows around in other yards before this lonely one appeared. I have a few of these old timey daffodils with the twisted petals, but every year they seem to bloom in a different spot. The trouble is... I need more.
I think they may be my favorite flower; I know they are my favorite January flower!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Abutilon (Flowering Maple)

This plant has several common names, among them flowering maple and parlor maple. I usually call it Abutilon, because I like the sound of the word.
I do not know the actual cultivar of this flowering maple, but perhaps it is A. pictum'Thompsonii '. It seems to be the most numerous one pictured on the web. I have had this one (or cuttings of it) for several years. It is a tough thing and survives to bloom in spite of uneven and careless horticultural practices. This is it's current state of bloom, in a greenhouse where I try not to let the temperature fall below 40F. (It has gone into the 30's on at least one occasion this winter). This garden year, I plan to put a cutting of it into the ground and see how big it will get. This one is about 2 feet tall, not including the pot.

 This is an Abutilon that I grew from seed this past year. I had a nice color selection as you can see from the picture below with the floating blooms. On the stem of the above plant you can see what is the main trouble to me of growing Abutilon: mealy aphids. They are almost impossible to get rid of on potted plants, and will spread to nearby plants. This lead me to plant 3 of my seedling plants in the outdoor bed last summer, where they thrived. In fact, they held their leaves till the last time it went down to 23F. I am still hopeful that they will put out new leaves this spring. I read on the net that they are hardy to 26F, and this coincides with my experience. So keep your fingers crossed for me that they will regrow in the spring.
 Meally bugs do not seem to be as bad outside, although they do occur. Perhaps there are critters out there that prey on them or maybe rain and overhead watering washes them away, but whatever the reason, putting a plant outdoors that has mealy bugs will usually help it if not cure the problem.

Blogging tips
Blogging tips