Monday, May 22, 2017

WALK YOUR GARDEN EVERY DAY

Let's look at the really rewarding part of gardening; the walking around and taking in what you have achieved and then those, somewhat rare for me, moments, just sitting and enjoying the sights smells and sheer loveliness of nature.

On Thursday, I went out, camera in hand, to see if there was anything new. Wow! The Echinopsis was blooming. Three gorgeous pink flowers on what I believe is Anastasia. Isn't she gorgeous? It is a fleeting flowering with the buds opening during the night and closing by lunchtime. Their job over.


I can't tell you the number of times I have missed that fleeting moment, but not this particular day. Thank goodness I walked around in the morning because I could so easily have missed the open flowers. You can see another bud between the two flowers and that one opened on Friday. One of the withered flowers is visible to the right.


I don't know if there are night-time visitors. Maybe they don't exist here because this is not the natural habitat for the Echinopsis which comes from South America. The only visitor I have ever seen is a tiny bee and he was there again today rolling in the pollen. In fact there were two of them.


That was not the only cactus to be blooming on Thursday. Along the outside edge of the walls I found another cactus in bloom. This one is the Nipple cactus, Coryphantha sulcata, a Texas native. The flowers last a little longer, usually a couple of days. I'm happy to say that the rains last summer have prompted number of babies to pop up around the base although it will be years before ti forms a good sized clump.


There was another surprise in the front Bluebonnet( currently bluebonnet less ) meadow.


A single stem of standing cypress, Ipomopsis rubra. Where did that come from? It was right next to the clump of lace cactus and I had never noticed its feathery foliage before. The one standing cypress I did have in this bed, and which I had been watching for weeks, had had its top nipped off. Deer!!! I must think about getting some seeds to plant in this area in the hope of more flowers.


I was surprised to see the first Mexican hats, Ratibida columnifera, blooming. I wonder how many different colors of flower will show up this year?


That prompted me to go up to the top meadow and see if there were any more colors. A little disappointing this year.



But I did observe all this activity on the milkweed pod.


I left them to it and walked down the culvert where I saw these tiny beauties.Mountain pink, Centaurium beyrichii, and the tiny yellow, ubiquitous daisy. I must try to collect seeds from the mountain pink because I think I have a place for it inside the garden.


And returning through the gate there was the anole waiting for a photograph.


Even if you don't take your camera with you take a walk around your garden every day. You may find some surprises.

Monday, May 15, 2017

GARDEN BLOGGERS' BLOOM DAY, MAY 2017

It has been a while since I posted on bloom day. Suddenly it was upon me and I had no time to gather the photos.

Surely the opening photograph for this month's Bloom day post has to be the Monarda 'Peter's Purple' He's certainly King of the garden at the moment.


And Queen of the May garden is the blanket flower, Gaillardia pulchella. Not so easy negotiating the pathways at the moment.



And we have a princess too,  Clematis texensis 'Princess Diana'. What a beauty she is. Just a few weeks ago there was no sign of growth and I was sure I had lost the plant over the winter. In less than a month she has grown to almost cover the trellis.


So many bloomers. The spineless prickly pear, with two different blooms on the same plant.


I wonder why that is?


And all the day lilies.






All but the tiny orange one without names.
Echinacea purpurea, just coming into bloom.


The larkspurs, love-in-a-mist and poppies have finished already but blackfoot daisies, Melampodium leucanthum,  still keep going.


Among the other natives, the purple skullcap, Scutellaria wrightii.


Which pairs well in a rock garden setting with the square bud primrose, Calylophus berlandieri, and pink skullcaps.



Square bud primrose with ruby crystal grasses

Pink skull cap seeded in the dry creek
Scabiosa back for the third year. A rescue plant.


And Texas betony, Stachys coccinea, not a showy plant but the hummingbirds love it.


Another native, horsemint, Monarda citriodora.


The native chocolate daisy, Berlandiera lyrata, with its delicious chocolate fragrance.


And for the first time in a while success with Cleome.


These are just a few of the flowers that are blooming in my rocky Texas garden in mid May.

Thank you Carol at Maydreams gardens for hosting Bloom day. Find out what is growing in other gardens this May Bloom Day.

Friday, May 12, 2017

THE GREEN MAN

I have always had a fascination with the Green Man, most often depicted in sculpture as a man's head surrounded by foliage, but occasionally depicted as a whole man.  This name only came into popular use after 1939 when Lady Raglan was researching these characters for an article she was writing, The Green Man in Church Architecture.  Until then he was known as a foliate head.
A new Green Man arrived in my garden this week. A Mother's Day gift which now graces the wall in my English garden and is a more modern depiction of a Green Man  He deserves to have his story told.

Original art by Milo Re
His origins will always remain a mystery although much has been written about the meaning of the faces. One interpretation is that he represents our connection with the earth and therefore the renewal of the plant life every spring. As I now have several presiding over my gardens I think I like that interpretation. Multiple depictions of this character date back to medieval times and before. He is found in too many cultures not to have significance, but is very prevalent in medieval churches and cathedrals of Great Britain and France, carved into the stone work. Also in carvings in India and the Middle East.

Sometimes he has a friendly face like this one on the wall in my Spanish Oak garden.

Foliate head
And less friendly faces of these smaller ones which are attached to the metal supports on an awning over a doorway. Where else would you put fringe magnets? I picked them up in England over 10 years ago and had been waiting for just the perfect place. It came last year.

Disgorging head
Foliate head

Disgorging head

Foliate head
These are all depictions of the Foliate head with leaves surrounding the head, and Disgorging head with leaves coming out of the mouth. A Bloodsucker head has leaves coming from all the orifices and probably represents death and burial.

England abounds in pubs called The Green Man, this one in the village of Grantchester.


The sign here may represent Jack-in-the-Green, a character sometimes linked to the Green Man. He danced through the streets in 16th and 17th C Britain on May Day, covered in leaves and garlands of flowers. The practice eventually met with Victorian disapproval and Jack was replaced with the May Queen. Currently there is a revival of Jack's character in many towns celebrating May Day.



I have Kingsley Amis novel, the Green Man which was also turned into a BBC production. It bears no relationship except for the fact the the pub the character ran was called The Green Man and has some supernatural experiences in which a ghostly apparition conjures up the apparition of a nasty green man. My green men are much more friendly.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

GOOD MORNING CLOUDY DAY

Who prays for a cloudy day. Someone who is a gardener, has had no measurable rain for weeks and brilliant clear sunshine day after day, and whose plants are down on their knees praying with her. Yes, we have had cool nights but that lack of rain has my ground so dry I can't even pull out the spent plants. My drip- irrigation watering system and burnt out soils cannot support such weather conditions. When promised rain, talked about so much by the weather man, failed to materialize I had to start doing some hand watering. Pots and vegetable beds twice a day just to keep them alive.


This is inside the entrance to the garden where there is a little shade from the overhead beams. An odd mixture of plants, you may think. Barrel cactus, agaves, foxgloves and the brugmansia ( A gifted cutting from my garden friend Lori two years ago). I repotted it this year so extra watering has been the order of the day, but also fighting off spider mites this year. Despite the bloom it really does not look as healthy as it should so I am trying hard to get it back in shape. A little less stress from the sun may help.


And the foxglove, Digitalis purpurea. I am so proud to have grown them from seed planted last fall. These ones in pots are further ahead than the ones that are growing in the ground which have not started to bloom yet. They are the flowers of my childhood, found growing in the hedgerows and fields of England, as well as the flowers of my childhood fairy stories. They will always have a place in my heart and my garden.


I could take a few more cloudy days like this one and a little rain.Maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

I'VE BEEN WORKING ON MY LETTERS

You'll probably spot right away that this has something to do with gardening.


And you would be right. I have been making a stencil to use on a sign for the garden. The idea for the first sign came from a garden visit in England. It was in the garden shop and I decided it would be a good winter project.


Time-wise it didn't quite work out that way, partly because the piece of wood I needed to use was still part of the old compost bins and I needed to wait for David to disassemble it.


 The lower pieces of wood were pretty rotten but there were enough good pieces for me to complete a few planned projects, all involving stencil. I liked the weathered look of the wood.

I printed the letters out and cut them out with an exacto knife. After the board was sanded to remove the dirt I laid on the letters and painted with black craft paint. Then two coats of satin-finish varnish.


I haven't quite decided whether to mount it on the tree or maybe raise it a little off the ground. Either way it will point the way into the garden by the side gate.

Stencil project number two was my own idea. I always felt that the entrance to my sun and moon archway was lacking something. Although it was my plan to put the large colorful sun and and moon  over the entrance I wasn't sure that it was quite right. I'll find a home for them somewhere.


Another sign with another stencil seemed like the perfect answer. And this is what I did. Cutting out those letters was a labor of love but I could never have painted it freehand. In the center is a little sun I bought in Mexico. Surprisingly it was the only one I could find there and it was really too small to join the others on the wall. Just perfect for the center of the plaque.


And the two new sun-sticks in the planters were a perfectly chosen gift from my friend Linda Peterson, who lives in San Antonio. To begin with I thought they were twins!

                               

And as I turned away I couldn't help but notice the moon shining down on the garden. Both the sun and moon were there for the hanging of the new plaque.


You can bet I will be on the lookout for some new suns and moons for my collection. I might even include the wind.