After the rain

A few scenes from the garden, after surviving 40 straight days of 100+ weather. We had a short rainstorm to celebrate the end, and 5 days later, here are the results:

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Enduring the heat 2011

Ten consecutive days of 100+ degree weather in the Dallas area. This is already the third hottest June on record here. It is also taking a toll on the garden. I can’t imagine what our water and electric bill will look like in the coming months.

Still, there are still a few plants still making a show…the scabiosa continue to bloom their heads off. The vinca and lantana truly enjoy this heat. I’m still waiting to see the marigold and salvia tree ring come to life; I’ve been catching sporadic blooms of the Durango marigolds, but have yet to observe the whole ring explode into color. The Dallas Star daylilies in the front beds still have a handful of buds waiting to burst open. And the Emerald Snow loropetalum in the front flower bed has surprised me with a smattering of white fringe flowers.

7/11/2011 July Survivors (1) 7/11/2011 July Survivors (2) 7/11/2011 July Survivors (3) 7/11/2011 July Survivors (4) 7/11/2011 July Survivors (5) 7/11/2011 July Survivors (6) 7/11/2011 July Survivors (7) 7/11/2011 July Survivors (8) 7/11/2011 July Survivors (9) 7/11/2011 July Survivors (10) 7/11/2011 July Survivors (11)

There were a few losses of course. The ornamental kale have reached the end of their life. I’m amazed they survived this long but they couldn’t take more of this weather, so I pulled them up. An old white dianthus mound gave up the ghost this weekend, which left an empty hole to fill in the lily bed. It also appears I will lose the raspberry salvia greggii in the salvia wall. The tricolor sage cutting appears to have lost the fight (I could try to rescue it by repotting it). And I’m down to the last Seabreeze salvia seedling.  Those young plants that need the most protection (i.e. common chives), I’ve put into the ground or in the planters. Very few plants are surviving in pots, like the callas, petunias and sweet potato vines. Even the lobelia which I thought would endure are looking very dried and shriveled.

7/11/2011 July Survivors (12) 7/11/2011 July Survivors (13) 7/11/2011 July Survivors (14) 7/11/2011 July Survivors (15) 7/11/2011 July Survivors (16)

Rise of the coral nymphs

5/31/2011 Coral Nymph Salvia seedlings in the purple bedThe coral nymph salvia began blooming this Sunday past. These are the bicolor pink and white salvia coccinea that I started from a single specimen a year ago. It’s not a perennial, but here in Texas, it is a crazy self-seeder, as evidenced by the dozens of seedlings I discovered in pots, planters and across the flower beds in our tiny courtyard. As soon as temperatures warmed into the 80s and 90s about mid-April, the seedlings began to appear. And flourish. And multiplied.

5/31/2011 Coral Nymph Salvia seedlings pottedI’ve plucked and transplanted what I can. These things are durable…as tiny rooted seedlings pulled from the beds, I just press them into the soil where I want them to grow. Add water, and they’re back to looking healthy…as if nothing ever happened to them. Easy to kill, but hard to eradicate…they come back with a vengeance. I am eying some particular specimens for removal even now and hope they don’t come back.

5/31/2011 White Nymph salvia planterMeanwhile, I increased my planter footprint nearly five-fold this weekend. I’ve created my miniature gardens with the leftover plastic planters and new bags of soil and compost. Everything from the sweet potato vine to the newly purchased vinca are in new homes. One oversight I made, however, is neglecting to drill holes in my ceramic pots, so some of my summer color might either drown or bake this season. Because they’re already filled, it’s most likely too late. I will have to keep careful watch on the plants and see how they fare in their new homes.

5/31/2011 Petunias and Dusty MillerPetunias, dusty millers, Lanai purple star verbena, red-eyed vincas and one Calico ornamental pepper are featured prominently in pots. I still have an Aztec red trailing verbena, a red-white vinca, and a dusty miller needing a new home. Luckily, friend Kathy gave me a spare ceramic pot from her collection.

5/31/2011 Petunias, Vinca, Ornamental Pepper and Dusty MillerWhat’s killing my peppers? I’ve added soil to see if it will stop the wilt. But I suspect poor soil drainage is the culprit, and adding more water may kill them. This morning, three were afflicted: a hot banana, a thai chili and a Jupiter bell. This afternoon, I came home to discover another ailing Jupiter bell. Oh the cruelty!

A friend that I gifted some pepper and basil seedlings to mentioned that when he stopped watering everyday, the seedlings took off. So I’m following his practice and going to alternate day irrigation to see if the peppers can bounce back.

5/31/2011 Hot Banana Pepper wilting 5/31/2011 Thai Chili Pepper wilting 5/31/2011 Jupiter Bell Pepper wilting

The same could be applied to the basil seedlings I transplanted to their new homes. I have 2 plastic pots planted with Thai, Genovese, Pesto, and Lime basils. I’m hoping they will grow and prosper fast…I’ve been craving fresh basil in my lunch and dinner recipes.

What a difference A/C makes

5/28/2011 First Dallas Stars daylily bloomsYes, the cooling guys finally arrived and installed our A/C today. Timely, given that temps rose into the high 90s today. The heat hit like a brick wall when I stepped outside, and it wasn’t any better indoors until the new unit started pumping in cold air. Thank goodness…it was the motivation I needed to get out and start planting.

5/28/2011 More Navona BloomsI picked up some more plants today…I swear this is the last time (until we pick up our Route 66 coreopsis next weekend). At Grow It, I snagged a red trailing verbena, a White Nymph salvia coccinea, 2 rose-eyed white vinca, and 4 dusty millers. At Strong’s, we gathered an 18-count flat of bedding plants: 9 Silver Dust dusty millers, 4 Victoria Blue salvias, 5 petunias (in denim, purple and yellow). To wrap it all up, we stopped at Lowes to pick up a bag of StaGreen garden soil and Hapigro organic compost.

5/28/2011 Coreopsis bloomingWhile the man proceeded to get his haul of Victoria Blues and dusty millers established in the front yard bed, I worked on potting up several of the newest additions, along with some plants waiting for a home. Thus I was able to plant dusty millers, petunias, sweet potato vine, white nymph salvia, a couple of the Lanai verbena, pesto basil, thai basil, and the seedling genovese and lime basils. I’m taking a chance with the seedling basils, since the genovese are barely 2-3 weeks old. I also repotted the eggplant in its own pot, as well as a calla lily which had fallen out of its very confining quart-sized home. Lastly, I situated my Moonglow salvia in its new home, in front of our rosemary topiary, in a deep hole full of good garden soil. I hope to see it prosper.

5/28/2011 Dallas Star blooming in shadeI still have more verbena to plant, as well as 2 Dixie Chip ajugas, tricolor sage, ornamental peppers, petunias, common chives, dusty millers, and vinca. I’m unhappy to report that my lemon verbena appears to have perished after going without water for two days. It’s possible I can take a cutting and coax it back to life, but I’m skeptical at this point. Also, because of the rain last week, 2 of the peppers (jalapeno and thai chili) in the vegetable/herb garden appear to be suffering from serious wilt. I suspect that the ground compacted and exposed roots. One of them even had a pepper already growing; so I added more soil mix to their bases in hopes of rescuing them.

5/28/2011 White Pansy lost in the weedsFinally some blooms observed in the garden today: the first Dallas Stars (3 blooms), more Navona Asiatic lily blooms, another yellow marigold, coreopsis, and pansies discovered in the most unlikeliest of spaces…in the weeds and between the rocks.

 More planting scheduled for tomorrow…and perhaps I’ll finally get some use out of my ceramic pots.

5/28/2011 Pansies growing between the stonework

And wow…I’m sore and exhausted. Thankfully the house is 70 degrees cold. Time to pass out in nice cool room in a nice cool bed. The puppies are happy too…they’re burrowed beneath their blankets again.

Veggies!

I have a hankerin to grow some veggies. Of course, being late in the season means very few direct-sow options left. Here’s a short wishlist of ideas:

  • Soy beans (edamame)
  • Bush/French beans (preferably stringless)
  • Okra
  • Peppers (yes more of them!)
  • Swiss Chard (ornamental)
  • Sweet Potato (ornamental)

According to Burpee, these veggies can be direct sown into the garden this time of year. More regional-specific reading can be found at the Aggie Horticulture site.

Question of the day: what’s eating my Lobelia erinus Regatta Midnight Blue?