Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dog Days of Summer..and next year

I am so ready for fall-are you? This has been such a hot dry summer. Hubby and I have to go out twice a day and water the little back yard that gets sun all day including the hot west sun in the afternoon. This weekend I was writing in my gardening journal noting some things that did well this summer, and changes I need to make next year. I thought I would share some of those thoughts with you.
A big YES plant again are the zinnias around the tree. Not all the seeds germinated, but the "cut and come again" have been amazing. I didn't get the red flowers I wanted, but thanks to a nice garden blogger, I have seeds for red zinnias to plant next year. Love the zinnias!
Another yes is, buy a purslane basket and put it by the pond. This area gets really hot, which purslane loves. I get these baskets for about $15.00 in early summer. I hope the garden center doesn't go out of business-I never see anyone there anymore.
The most interesting flower I had this year was the cleome. But now it's top heavy and I am wanting to cut it down. I have lots of seeds saved, so that may happen this weekend. I loved watching the flowers grow and change, but next year it needs to live in another spot.
I planted a purple fountain grass with lime and purple sweet potato vine in a shallow container and put it on the flagstone patio. Very pretty and love the contrasting did we have to water it every 2 minutes! I like the combination of colors, but way too much trouble. However, I do need something between these 2 chairs..any ideas??
The purple heart has been great, and will live there forever. I had to re-plant the window boxes as I lost the plants this past winter. Usually our winters are mild and I just cover the boxes, but it just got too cold this year. They look great right now, but please remind me NOT to buy petunias. I get so carried away in spring and planted quite a few in these boxes. The pretty flowers just cannot handle our summers!
Love ornamental grasses and need to find more of these next year. They seem to like hot and dry weather! The old wheel-
barrow is behind this grass, and I am not showing you a picture because it looks too bad. Oh my, what was I thinking last spring. I need a good plan for this special container. I will work on ideas for it all winter.
No, no, no--not ever again!! I simply cannot have morning glories in my yard. I have 2, one here.. ..and one at the other end of the yard. They are in containers, which is wrong, but I needed them up high to attach to the trellis. They could use water every 2 minutes along with the fountain grass and potato vine, and I refuse to do that again. I have learned my lesson-no more morning glories!!!
But I will always have blackfoot daisies and profusion zinnias. As a matter of fact, I made a note to buy more profusions next year for the back.. I only have this one plus 2 more. Funny thing, I always buy the cute little zinnias for the front, and used a few begonias in back for color. Now the back is full of sun, and the trees in front are shading the beds-so maybe I just need to switch. The blackfoots are so heat and drought tolerant. And when I walk outside on a hot afternoon, that sweet honey smell is divine. Ummm--YES to blackfoots and profusions!
The last thumbs up flower is angelonia, the summer snapdragon Without a doubt I will continue to have these. They bloom all summer, don't mind getting very little water, no deadheading required--what more could you ask for? Well, they are annuals where I live, so I could ask them to be perennials!
I have lots more "tweaking" that needs to be done in my yard, and quite a bit of thinking about what to do about next year. The weather people say our summers are going to be hot like this for a while (how do they know these things??). I know I have way too many annuals, but I love the color they add. I am going to try really hard to add perennials and use fewer annuals next year. But gee when spring hits, and the garden centers have all these pretty plants, and I am sick of a brown winter-it sure is hard to resist buying.
So here we are at the end of August. Here in Texas it will still be hot, but we can look forward to those September cold fronts coming our way, along with pumpkins and mums. So how about you-have you made notes for next year? Are you ready to end this summer and think about gardening next spring? I am!

"Gardening is a way of showing that you believe in tomorrow."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Good information on Coneflower Problems

In June I did a post on the problems I was having with my coneflowers The seed heads were turning brown and the flowers were dying. You can read about it here. Taking the heads apart, I found little, tiny worms. After that post, I got several emails from other folks have similar problems. Two of the gardeners were from Ontario, Canada. I want to share one of the emails with you that I thought was really interesting. Her description of the problem matched what I found exactly. This is what she said:

Yesterday I noted my coneflowers were not looking as good as earlier this summer. The leaves look great but the flowers were looking like they were all going to seed. However, I noted no new blooms.So, a closer look identified the heads of the blooms appeared to have dirt on them. Among the dirt, I noted small holes. When I opened a bloom, it contained brown and olive worms. These worms (0.5-3 mm) were eating their way through the blooms. Every bloom with the black dirt contained at least two worms. It seems that 85% of my coneflower blooms have this dirt and worms. So, I have removed all the dirty blooms.Since I have biology training, I know these worms are the larval phase of something. Given the size of the larvae, I can only guess they will mature to be beetles.So, this blog identifies these larvae occur in the Dallas area, in Delaware, and in Ontario. That seems to cover most of central North America.I am going to try to figure out what kind of larvae we are dealing with. One approach is to go in to the compost pile and find a larvae from a coneflower, so I can identify it directly. Or I can find out what other folks here in Ontario are writing about... something that has not turned up on this search tonight.

Interesting, right? I cut off all the infected blooms on mine, and the plants seemed to be ok for the remaining of their bloom time. Perhaps this was a one time problem, but after everyone including the Master Gardeners I talked to said coneflowers rarely have insect or disease problems, I would sure like to know what has developed that is causing problems with people in very different areas. Next year when your coneflowers start to bloom, keep an eye on them and see if you find any problems.

Monday, August 16, 2010

They're here!!

The UPS man just pulled up out front. Hubby went out to see what "we" ordered and brought me this very familiar box. My wildflower seeds are here!!
I got my catalog out last week and decided what seeds I will try for spring blooms and called the order in. Here in the Dallas area, most wildflower seeds will need to be "scattered" around the middle of September to early October. I should have some plants that re-seed from this past year, but I always like to plant more seeds each fall just to assure flowers. And, I also like to buy something new to try as well.
These are the seeds I ordered:
Bluebonnets (of course!)
Texas Paintbrush
Ox-Eyed Daisy
Wine Cup
Dwarf Red Coreopsis
Lemon Mint
Ladybird Dwarf Cosmos
Standing Cypress

Of course all I can do right now is look at the seed packets, but this time next month I will be getting ready to throw out those seeds! I can't wait--hurry September!!

"To own a bit of ground, to scratch it with a hoe, to plant seeds and watch their renewal of life--this is the commonest delight of the race, the most satisfactory can do."
Charles Dudley Warner

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pretty 'n Pink

Most of you are going to shudder when I say this--but I really like my pink Ruellia! I know, they are SO invasive! The speaker in my MG class yesterday said that if you are really quiet you can hear the flowers spitting out seeds.
I only had one large plant last year, and of course now I have several volunteers in all different locations in the backyard. But..I love that cottage garden look, so I am ok with them popping up. I need their pretty color, especially this time of the year.
They add a backdrop to other flowers in my garden. And if I see one coming up that I really don't want to live there, I just pull it up. Of course I garden in a really small space. I know this is not practical for everyone. And I also know that next year I may be singing a different song, but this year I am really loving them.
Their pink color adds such a soft touch to my hot backyard. Oh, and another thing that makes ruellia one I love--in all this over 100 degree heat and no rain...they never wilt, they continue to bloom, and they haven't complained one time about the hot sun bearing down on them. In my book, that makes them a keeper!

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Flower of Summer

Lots of garden bloggers post on their
"flower of the week" or
"flower of the month." I don't have enough variety in my garden to choose a flower that often, but I do have a "flower of the season"-my flower of summer is Rudbeckia (goldstrum). I started out many years ago with about 3 plants that I planted along the street side of my house. Every spring I divide..and divide..and divide.

I have these beautiful black-eyed Susans everywhere These are on the west side of the backyard..
..and these run along the east side. My Susans are happy anywhere I put them. I now have a few pockets of flowers in front. It didn't take the transplants very long to grow and bloom.
And Rudbeckia make great cutting flowers. I have little bouquets all over..some are mixed in with other flowers..

As long as I can I have a bouquet of flowers on my kitchen table. They last a long time inside if you change the water everyday. What a joy it is to walk in every morning and see these happy flowers waiting for you!
The original flowers are still on the side of the house. I couldn't recommend these flowers more. They are heat and drought tolerant-which is very important in these hot and humid summer months. I only water them occasionally, and the flowers in back get the hot, hot west sun all afternoon and never complain--ever!! And, they are so pretty and bright! It makes my summer complete when they start to bloom!

I have often wondered: if I could only keep one more..what would it be? I love my spring bluebonnets, but I think my choice would have to be these Rudbeckias--my favorite flower of summer! you have a favorite summer flower?