Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wildflower Seeds, Backyard Tree and Thanksgiving

I thought I would give you an update on the wildflower seeds I planted in October. With the warm sun and lots of watering, it didn't take them long to germinate. This little area behind the pond is not the best place for spring wildflowers, but even the few seeds I scattered here have developed into tiny seedlings.
Along the fence and in the corner wildflower bed I scattered Lemon Mint and Standing Cypress seeds. There are lots of little seedlings in both areas that are continuing to grow. We have had some rain, but not enough so I have tried to keep all areas watered enough to help the little plants out. Wildflowers are drought tolerant, but not until they are larger rosettes.
I found an empty area in the corner bed and planted Golden Wave Coreopsis that are starting to come up. I wish they were further along as our temps may get to freezing this next week. I also planted pass-along poppy seeds and some heirloom larkspur seeds a MG friend of mine gave to me. I am so hopeful both of these plants come up and produce blooms.
Along with all the new little seedlings are bluebonnets that re-seeded. You can see how nice and healthy they look. I really wish everything was this big and may regret planting in October instead of September. We are due for a warmer winter this year, so maybe all the seedlings will be fine. Fingers will be crossed!
The Chinese Pistache tree in back has been turning a beautiful red this year. It is still not the prettiest tree, but we are hoping this is still part of the "ugly ducking" stage they say Pistache trees go through for 5 years. I do think the size makes it perfect for our little backyard.
But now let's talk about the wildflower seeds that I scattered under this tree...
Well, I am not very excited about all these little plants because I just planted Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush here. As you can see, there are tons of things popping up and I can tell you it's not just bonnets and paintbrush! My biggest problem with this bed is that it is being taken over by Carolina Geranium! I think I told you last year there were a few plants in this bed I couldn't identify and I think a few of you told me it looked like a wild geranium-and it was! As soon as those plants got bigger and I could tell what they were, I pulled them up. This year they have taken over! Yes, there are bluebonnets and I think paintbrush growing among the "weeds", but I am not sure who will win out. I have tried to pull the unwanted plants, but it is not easy-plus I have trouble not pulling bonnets that are mixed in. So..bottom line is that I may not have a pretty wildflower bed around the tree in spring, plus next year I will probably not plant seeds here and try to eradicate the unwanted weeds. Just hate this, but I will have to live with the problem for now.
It is hard to believe next week is Thanks-
giving. And, it's hard to believe 2010 is about over. Time really does fly by when you are having fun, and I have had lots of gardening fun this past year! I am grateful for all the success with plants I had, and even for the failures as we learn so much from those experiences. I am grateful for my wonderful family and my home, and for all my precious friends.
So, from my home to yours:
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bulbs! What is going on??

I have been waiting for all my daffodil bulbs to arrive so I can get them planted. This afternoon I met the UPS man at the door when I heard him drive up. I knew the last of the bulbs were here at last. A couple of weeks ago I went to a Master Gardener Meeting and heard "The Bulb Hunter" speak. He was a wonderful speaker who has a company called Southern Bulb Company. He has hunted bulbs all over Texas. Very interesting story--go here and read all about it. After the program, we were able to purchase a few varieties of bulbs. I bought Lilac Wonder tulips and Golden Dawn narcissus which I planted today. I also ordered heirloom daffodil bulbs from Old House Gardens. That's what arrived today. You know how I love fragrance in the garden, and it's no different with bulbs. I always try and find the best bulbs for Texas that have the best scents. I planted 3 types today: Sweetness, Trevithian, and Campernelle. I also planted some of these last year. Which brings me to the next subject....what is going on with last year's bulbs?
Do you see what I am finding in my yard..
Daffodils are coming up in front and in back..look at this!
And look how big this one has gotten. Oh dear, oh dear. I talked to a master gardener expert, and she said this same premature sprouting is happening in every one's garden around this area. She thinks it is because we had that a cold spell, then quite a warm up soon after. Are the poor bulbs confused? I am not sure, I just know I don't want to be disappointed this coming spring when I watch for spring blooms and see none. My MG friend said to be sure and mulch the appearing bulbs very good. So not only did I plant today, I mulched--and mulched again. It turned out to be a perfect day for planting. Right after I finished tucking the bulbs in the ground and covering with the mulch, a soft rain started to fall. I sat on the patio and watched the delicate rain hit the flower beds and pictured what these beds will hopefully look like in a few months. I have tulip bulbs chilling in the frig-I will plant them in December. That will end my gardening for a while I guess. As much as I like to be out getting my hands dirty, I look forward to sitting in front of a fire for a while and dreaming of gardens yet to come!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Back in the yard - Class is over!!

Last Monday was the last day of Master Gardener classes--yahoo! However..we were given the take home exam which included 8 chapters of about 50 questions in each one. So I bet you can guess how I spent last week. I closed myself up and worked on the exam for 2 days straight. But I can happily say that the exam is finished, I will turn it in tomorrow. After one year of internship (volunteering 72 hours in MG projects), I will graduate and be an official "Master Gardener." Whew!
While I was busy with school, summer turned into fall and I realized this weekend that my little garden was in desperate need of attention. The first thing I did was clear out the old wash tub and plant 3 different kinds of kale with a few pansies tucked in.
The Mexican Mint Marigold started to bloom so it will stay where it is for a while. It dies back in winter so I may need to plant a few pansies to cover it when that happens. Note to self: need to cut this plant back in July--it got rather leggy this year.
All the seeds I planted are coming up nicely--well... we will talk about this later. There are a few TOO many seeds coming up nicely (that are not bluebonnets!)
My main area of concern were the beds along each side of the flagstone walkway, and around the the pond. The pond beds were just cleaned out and got some nice new mulch for winter. The flagstone beds were totally cleaned out and planted with pansies. I also added a few snapdragons to this bed. I have always wanted to try them, and seeing some healthy looking plants at Home Depot for a dollar-well, this seemed like the right time.
I added pansies to both sides of the walkway. These beds house daffodils and tulips down deep in the ground, so it's nice to have something to plant on top. When the bulbs start to pop up, the pansies will not get in the way-they just add more spring color to the show. Ummm, just the thought of that spring flower show makes me smile!
Have you heard of the new cascading pansies? I read about them a few weeks ago in the paper and decided to buy a pot, plant it in a hanging basket and see what happened. This one came from HD. I noticed the flowers are not as large as traditional pansies, but larger than violas. I'll give you updates on this plant. Hopefully by spring I will have an overflowing basket of sweet smelling flowers!
The old wheel-
barrow has not gotten a winter make over yet. Would you believe that those yellow flowers hanging over the side (all the way to the ground) are marigolds I planted last spring? Yep! They just keep blooming. I will say the foliage is starting to look kind of brown, so it won't be too long before I will have to pull them out and fill the wheelbarrow with something else, but until then I will just keep on enjoying fall in this space.
It's hard for me to believe this past year has gone by so fast. It's not cold here in Texas, but we are starting to get fronts that will bring us seasonal cooler weather. As I do so often when seasons change, I pull out my articles written so many years ago by the late Jo Northrop. I know I have mentioned this before-Jo Northrop was legally blind..but oh how I loved "seeing " the seasons through her eyes:

"The exquisite cranberry and chrysanthemum days of November are a gift. We intensely and thankfully absorb them, knowing the inevitability of sudden, bone-chilling cold. Even in clear autumn sunlight, a scarecrow among fallen leaves in a deserted garden looks cold. It is this deepening of the season, passage toward the end of the year that gives November a quality that is energy charged...In these fine cranberry-chrysanthemum days, every day can be a day of thanksgiving."