Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sharing Fall

This pillow on the swing tells the season, but it really isn't fall here except on the calendar. We'll have "late summer" a bit longer, and then if we are lucky, October will bring us cooler weather. However, it's usually not until November we see the trees change colors. I remember taking a picture one Christmas Day with beautiful fall leaves all over my Mother's yard and grand kids sitting right in the middle of them.
Our yard and gardens look like late summer too. The St Augustine grass has decline, lots of flowers have brown foliage with just a few blooms left, and lots of things look tired and leggy.
So..what I do is add little touches of fall to my
little backyard. Hope you enjoy how I add fall to a late summer garden.
A mum and grapevine pumpkin surround this rock. Wish I had a tiny pumpkin to sit in the bird feeder!

On the table by the swing..

Pumpkins add such a fall look--even when it's still 90 degrees!

Benjamin Bunny sits in his usual spot.
Yellow mums are my favorite.

Can you tell I like scarcrows?? :)

"Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own." Charles Dickens

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stop that!

Is anyone else going crazy because of mosquitoes I can't walk outside without being swarmed! And here's the worse part--I am never bothered by mosquitoes. They like my husband, not me! So what is going on guys!
I am trying everything.
I use these lanterns that burn a candle and a little pad that I guess is soaked with off. The smoke is suppose to keep the mosquitoes away from you.

Yeah, right!

I try citronella candles like this one....!

I just knew this would be the trick, garden incense sticks. Well, they smell wonderful if you like herbal scents, which I do, but not sure how good they are keeping mosquitoes away.

They are not cheap, so I don't burn them very often. The nice thing is that they burn for hours.

Jury is still out on these..

We keep the chiminea going since we heard mosquitoes do not like the smoke or smell of pinon wood. Un-huh...they are hanging out right by the chiminea enjoying the cozy fire!
I guess this is closet to the best thing I have tried. It's a Herbal Insect Repellent by Burt's Bees. Among lots of ingredients are: rosemary oil, lemongrass oil, clove oil, peppermint oil and citronella oil. You do have to re-apply it , but it smells good and seems to keep the pesky things away somewhat.
I keep a dunk in the pond, empty the birdbath everyday, and make sure there is no standing water. I don't know what to do, but I am declaring war!!

Anybody have a sure fire remedy?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Look what I found!

When I went out to check these...

I found this....

and this....

and this

I finally have caterpillars! I have been watching and waiting, and here they are.
I know very little about Monarchs, so thought I would do some research and found some really interesting information. I knew they laid eggs on Milkweed, but I didn't know why:
"Monarchs will only lay their eggs on milkweeds. Milkweeds contain a potent heart poison, which helps to protect them from browsing animals and leaf-eating insects such grasshoppers. Monarchs are able to store this poison within their own bodies, making themselves poisonous in turn. They are very brightly colored, both as a caterpillar and as an adult, to advertise that they are not good to eat. "

I also found a really neat site called Monarch Watch. There is a very interesting post done on July 18th titled
"Where are the Monarchs."
You can find the site here.

My pictures are not very good, I think I was getting too close. I could stand and watch them forever, and they didn't seem to mind one bit. They were way too busy preparing for the magical transformation that awaits them.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


As we leave summer behind and head into fall, I decided it was time to look at what worked and what did not work in my garden. Lots of things were trial and error this year. I gained sun, but drainage remains a problem. My backyard is so tiny, but it is where I do almost all of my gardening. It is a real challenge to find the best plants I can.

Here are a few things that worked:

I bought a small turk's cap just to see how it would do in the shade side of the yard. So far, so good with this plant.

This is the bed along side the garage. It is always a challenge as it gets hot late afternoon sun for only about 2 hours. I decided to use mainly my
garden "treasures" in this bed, adding just a few plants. I have been very pleased with the results.

This is a pass-along maiden hair fern from my Mother's best friend. The tree we removed always gave it shade, and I was so afraid it would die with the added light, but it has flourished. This is a very special plant to me.

Uh...isn't this Elephant Ear? Guess it is doing really well...but....I never planted an Elephant Ear! No...the previous owner didn't either. We bought this house new 25 years ago. Where did this come from??

I always had begonias across the front of the house, but grew so tired of them. I went with profusion zinnias this year..and will use them again next year. They still look beautiful, and are practically maintenance free.

Now...let's talk about what didn't work!

Columbine Texas Gold..ugh! Everyone I know that has shade has beautiful columbine. I tried so hard. What went wrong?

I planted this Russian Sage in the hot sun, but it looks pitiful. I think it may be the drainage problem we have in this area. I will leave it though and see what happens next year.

This is my project for next year--the bed along the side of the house by the driveway. It gets late morning and afternoon sun. It stays pretty dry, although the sprinkler system will water it. I have not decided what to do here...but I am digging everything up as soon as I have time.

All ideas are greatly appreciated! :)

And, I hate to tell you that this is my biggest disappoint- ment: the wildflower garden.
In April the bluebonnets were so pretty. I had visions of this bed loaded with many different flowers, all standing tall and blooming forever.
It just didn't happen. The bed gets good sun, and not too much what happened? You can see the few coneflowers left, I already pulled the clasping coneflowers up, the mexican hat never bloomed, the salvia greggi (to the right, you can't see it) has nice foliage, but no blooms. Even the cosmos doesn't look good. I guess it's this clay soil. I need to amend it, but the bluebonnet seeds I planted are coming up, and I don't want to disturb them. I don't know what to do with this bed. I dream of a bed full of tall blooming flowers, but it has remained only a dream.
So, I will get out my gardening books and look for new things to try. Isn't that what this gardening thing we do is all about. Sometimes we fail, many times we succeed...and all the time we hope.
"Gardening is an exercise in optimism. Sometimes, it is the triumph of hope over experience."
Marina Schinz

Happy Fall everyone!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Wheelbarrow in Fall

I planted the wheel barrow
in the spring with lots of different things, knowing that some things will do great, others will not. And then of course we have this hot summer, so by mid June I had to move the wheelbarrow into the shade. At that point the coleus took over. (when will I learn that coleus always takes over!) It took over the thyme, that was trailing over the sides, but that was ok since thyme doesn't like being in the shade. And it took over just about everything else I planted. I moved the Blue Salvia to a sunny spot and decided to just let the coleus go wild. It was really pretty because there were so many different varieties, and pretty with the sweet potato vine. But the squirrels and rain and wind have taken a toll on the coleus now. I wanted to give the wheelbarrow a fall look, but without spending alot of money. So I bought 2 small mums and 1 small purple fountain grass. I didn't plant them in the dirt, I left them in the containers. That way I could tuck them into the bare spots. Then to top it off, I found a nice big pumpkin and nestled it in the middle. I love it! I can see it from my kitchen/breakfast room window. To me it just looks like fall!

And meet Stanley. He doesn't stand guard outside.
He doesn't scare crows. He just likes sitting here in this old chair thinking about crisp autumn days that are not too
far away...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bloom Day--one day early

Tomorrow is Bloom Day hosted by Carol at
May Dream Gardens. I am a day early--hope that is ok Carol.

My garden definitely looks like a very late summer garden.

The cypress vine in with morning glories has been a delight for me. I know these are annuals and will not last (although I hear cypress vine re-seeds well) , but I think they will enjoy the cooler weather and be around for a while.

Obedient Plant--no worries, it's not going anywhere it shouldn't. It's in a container!

The Liriope is in full bloom right now. We have several around the yaupon hollies

Coneflower White Swan just doesn't stop blooming. One of my favorites!

Look what I found--several volunteer begonias...

...and little purple flowers on the Mexican Petunia.

I moved the Geraniums to the back as they were getting hot and tired on the front porch. And looked what happened--one started immediately blooming.

Remember me complaining about my Black-foot Daisies? Well...look at these. They came back and are one of the best plants in my garden! And oh the wonderful fragrance!

Turks cap was not very happy with all the rain from Ike.

The yellow and orange cosmos are still going strong.

The zinnias got really pounded from Ike's visit, but I still have quite a few blooms.

And just a few rudbeckia's remain.

Other things blooming:
Profusion zinnias
Coreopsis (cream brulee)
Snapdragon (can you believe it has a few blooms!)
Butterfly Weed
Purple coneflower
Gerber Daisy
Lantana (Hardy)
Lavender (Pinata--just starting to bloom again)
Salvia Greggi (red)
I hope you have something wonderful and pretty blooming in your yard today!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ike--we are ok here in Dallas

Ike has not given us any trouble in the Dallas area. We have gusty winds and rain, but nothing too bad. I cleared things off the flagstone patio just in case the wind got too bad. I noticed only one container plant blowing around.

This little Wax Myrtle is pretty bend over, but it's ok. You can also see a few other flowers leaning, but they are also ok.

The rain was not bad--there was no flooding. We were very lucky. Galveston, Houston and East Texas were not so lucky. My sister in law in Lufkin had a tree fall on her house. My sister in Houston (Spring) has a tree in her swimming pool, and I'm afraid Galveston has suffered alot of damage. The Texas bloggers from that area maybe out of touch for a while since Houston is without power. Please keep them in your thoughts.
I am so touched by all of your concern. I feel truly blessed to have such good blogging buddies!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Croton for Fall

Fall just wouldn't be fall without a croton on the front porch. I found a really nice size one at Lowe's for a great price. I have tried to keep them through the winter in the house, but never had much luck. This one is so pretty that I will try again, but will not shed lots of tears if it does not survive.
I read that it is very easy to propagate, which sparks my curiosity since I love to start new plants.
Crotons need several hours of bright, direct sunlight per day. The more light, the more colorful the leaves will be. Grown in inadequate light, the leaves will be mostly green with yellow veins. (Leaves may also fall off in low light which is what I think happens when I bring them inside.)
Pumpkins are not out yet here, but as soon as they are I will buy 2 to set right beside this pretty plant.
Nothing could be more "fallish".........

.....except for maybe a scarecrow smiling at you through the flowers!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Crispy Critters are gone and seeds are in!

Well, crispy critters are not really gone...just relocated to the other side of the flower bed that is almost full shade.

They will be much happier here...they have many friends and no more of that hot sun!

Of course that leaves this an empty spot for something. I'm not sure what I will put there next year, but I know what I will put there for today!

Today is seed planting day--Bluebonnet seeds that is. I soaked the seeds overnight (this is just 1 batch, I did more!)

Then Sunday morning I raked through the dirt with my trowel, and scattered the seeds in the bed where the hostas were...
then here in the wildflower bed

Then here in another part of the sunny bed I cleaned out. You just "sow" the seeds, you don't plant them, and you need to keep them watered until they form rosettes. I can't remember how long that took last year. I just know I had pretty little seedlings all winter. Bluebonnets need lots of sun--that's why I think they will work where the hostas were.

It was a wonderful day in the garden, full of hope and anticipation for good things to come!