Triple digits: day 25

I caught sight of my first cosmos bloom of the year. Plenty more marigolds are a-popping. The vincas are going strong both in the front beds and in pots. The catmint is bountiful in its blooming spires, like the neighboring pineapple mint.

7/26/11 Cosmos and Marigolds (1) 7/26/11 Cosmos and Marigolds (2) 7/26/11 Cosmos and Marigolds (3) 7/26/11 Cosmos and Marigolds (4) 7/26/11 Cosmos and Marigolds (5) 7/26/11 Cosmos and Marigolds (6) 7/26/11 Cosmos and Marigolds (7) 7/26/11 Cosmos and Marigolds (8)

This heat streak has been tough on the delicate plants as well as anything in pots. I surveyed the yard and found many losses: the lobelia, Purple Palace heuchera and Capetown Blue Felicia Daisy among them. The 2 Autumn Embers azaleas are particularly affected. I’m concerned that without a soaker hose in the bed they won’t get the watering they require. Chances are, we won’t see them for their summer show this year.

A quick review of the July seedlings

The cover is off! The June-sowed seedlings are growing without the protection of their humidity dome. It has been nearly 3 weeks and most of the seeds have germinated. Only one Jupiter bell, one Thai chili, one banana pepper, and the salvia greggii failed to germinate. I’ve seen only one parsley seedling so far, barely out of the ground, but I’m not holding my breath on these seeds. Like the salvia greggii, I’m not even sure that they’re viable.

Since I doubled up on the Red Rubin basil and banana peppers, I’ll thin those out to separate pots soon. I also brought back indoors the last ornamental pepper seedlings that I attempted outside. It is joining its 5 other brethren in the bathroom greenhouse. Sadly, it appears only 2 are going to make it; the other 3 peppers probably won’t revive from the scorching exposure.

I’ve cleaned out the non-performing cuttings and still have a number of felicias left. I don’t think my oregano cutting is going to catch; I may have to run the community garden for another try.

7/10/2011 July Seedlings (1) 7/10/2011 July Seedlings (2) 7/10/2011 July Seedlings (3) 7/10/2011 July Seedlings (4) 7/10/2011 July Seedlings (5)

Bring it on! More plants that love the heat

Today reached the hottest temperature in the Dallas area this year. So far. At 105 degrees (not including heat index) it was broiling hot out in the garden. I had made an error in putting out some ornamental peppers from the previous day into a planter trough, and all but one Purple Flash shriveled up in the heat. Haven’t I learned by now not to put seedlings out in summer?

As part of my morning gardening activity, I started watering and weeding the front bed. The azaleas had been looking mighty stressed all week, so I felt they deserved a good watering. Unfortunately, the weeding of the bed looked more like an all-day task, not something to embark upon during a work day. I did hack down the gaura by 2/3rds its original height. It had been slouching over all week, looking rather unattractive. As much as I hated cutting down the honeybee-magnet, it really needed an early summer shearing.

The blooming pineapple mints in the herb bed border also got a much-deserved haircut. I don’t know how readily they reseed, but I wasn’t interested in finding out. All the herbs, for the most part, are thriving in this heat. Even the frail little coconut thyme is looking healthy. Of course, the courtyard beds receive a dose of heavy watering every other day–the potted plants get water every day. The ginger mint is also blooming, but in a way I can’t describe: the inflorescence work their way up the stems, not something I’ve seen before. Is this typical of ginger mint?

7/8/2011 Ginger Mint Blooming

That’s a Calico ornamental pepper seedling and the chinese eggplant in the background. Sadly, the eggplant flower disappeared, so that means no fruit yet. Hard to believe that the 2 ginger mint plants started from one specimen; I’m thinking of evicting 2 pineapple mints and moving them into the cinder block wall.

Among the losses, I counted the variegated felicia as another goner. While weeding the border between the herb and blue bed I stumbled upon its skeletal remains. All I have left now of the variegated felicia are 2 cuttings that have barely taken root. I’m seriously considering a liquid root fertilizer to speed up the process. But perhaps they just aren’t designed to tolerate this weather, despite being in a somewhat protected spot. The regular daisy is blooming sporadically but seems to like that spot it currently resides in.

A Saturday in June

That time of year again when all the remaining plants you had left on your to-do list finally get planted. Since the temps in North Texas warm up in the vicinity of 100, anything not in the ground tends to bake in their thin plastic pots. I got around to planting the rest of the Purple Star verbena, the majority of the ornamental pepper seedlings, felicia, tricolor sage cuttings, leftover marigold seedlings, and a few of the lemon thyme cuttings. And because I couldn’t bore a hole in my last ceramic pot (a freebie from Kathy), I had to transplant the Aztec red verbena, a dusty miller and the last red-eyed white vinca into a planter box.

I spent the day ducking in and out of the heat, clearing debris and dried out plantings (leftover violas), trimming vigorous plants (zealous Thai basil), and weeding wherever I could. In some places like the tree ring, I tamped down loose and exposed plantings and filled holes dug by industrious squirrels. Tons of the cosmos seeds are coming up now, and I am waiting eagerly to see the results of this week’s cosmos sowing.

While gardening, I made some exciting discoveries. The one remaining thai chili pepper is bearing fruit. It had been flowering for the past week, and today I found 3 fruit on it, with several more nubs showing.

6/11/2011 Thai Chili Peppers fruiting (1) 6/11/2011 Thai Chili Peppers fruiting (2)

A couple more of the vincas have bloomed; one from my February starts, while another from the outdoor starts. Both seemed to be in the pink color family. Several more vinca seedlings are already budding, including the two I left in my planter box. The neighboring Confetti lantanas have nearly tripled in size since planting, as well as the Purple Star verbena which get the most exposure in the front yard bed.

6/11/2011 Vinca Intdoor started seedling 6/11/2011 Vinca Outdoor started seedling

The daylilies are still flowering strong. An observation I made of the front bed Dallas Stars is that they are a good 1-2 feet taller than the Dallas Star in near-full shade. Still a no-show however is the Hyperion daylily, though I did notice it had a single scape on it. Whether it had already bloomed or planned to bloom is a mystery.

6/11/2011 Dallas Star daylily in shade 6/11/2011 Dallas Star daylily in shade closeup 6/11/2011 Hyperion daylily scape

I’m so disappointed that none of my home-started Easy Wave petunias are red. I was hoping for a patriotic planter bowl for the Fourth of July, but currently everything in the bowl is either blue or white. I expected at least 1 out of the 10 seeds I purchased to be a red petunia (I sowed 9, and 8 are currently planted), but it seems that this wasn’t the case. Next time I plan to purchase the colors separately–and yes, I will grow them again since they were relatively easy to start and grow as it warmed up. (Just keep them covered during the first month as tiny seedlings.)

6/11/2011 Easy Wave Blue and White Petunias 6/11/2011 Easy Wave Blue and White Petunias 6/11/2011 Easy Wave Blue Petunias

6/11/2011 An all-white branch of a pineapple mintI hacked down a lot of the wildly growing pineapple mints and hot & spicy oregano. A shame I didn’t get to use most of them, but right now they are strictly ornamental. I have to wonder: if I took a purely cream-white cutting of the pineapple mint, would it continue grow white or will side shoots revert to green or variegation? I’m intrigued because despite the heat, this solid white shoot remains happy, if a little crisped on the edges.

New wishlist plant: variegated lantana camara Samantha aka Lemon Swirl, lantana camara Greg Grant, and variegated lantana montevidensis.