Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Plant Collector: Sarracenias

As a general rule, we tend to collect groups of plants.  Some of our collections have lasted and others ended up being a passing fad. One that has definitely stood the test of time, one cross country move, and two horrible Texas summers (so far) is the carnivorous plant collection.  It's a decent sized collection mainly focusing on Sarracenia (pitcher plants).  We do have a few Drosera (sundews), Nepenthes (tropical pitcher plants) and Dionaea (venus fly traps).

Sarracenia are native to the United States and have leaves that have evolved into a tube shape.  Insects are attracted to this funnel using a combination of colors and scent.  The slippery surface of the leaves causes the insects to fall into the pitcher, where they die and are then digested by the plant.

Right now the Sarracenias are starting to come out of dormancy.  We lost a lot of plants this year, but we also have more blooms than we have ever had before.  We'll share those in a latter post, but the flowers are just as unique as the pitchers.

Pawpaw Trees

When we left New York we brought a trailer full of plants down to our new home.  Three pawpaw trees came along for the ride.  This is typically a plant that does not like to be transplanted, so when they were unceremoniously dug out of the ground and put into old nursery pots with a bunch of mulch, we didn't have a lot of hope for all three making it.  Who knew that they would flourish in those pots.  In fact it was two years later that they finally got re-potted into better looking pots that actually had real potting soil in them. 

Pawpaws (Asimina triloba) are a type of native fruit tree.  Last summer our trees actually started to produce fruit, until a squirrel or possum knocked it off and took a few bites.  They didn't even have the decency to eat the entire thing.  Apparently they taste like a combination of banana, mango and pineapple.  It usually takes more than one tree to get proper pollination.  Pawpaws are spring bloomers and this year, one of our three trees has actually bloomed.  I'm pretty sure that this, coupled with our mild winter, will result in no fruit this year.   

Our trees are going to be relocated into a permanent home in the new shade tropical garden this summer.  I hope they handle this move as well as their cross country one.  Pawpaws are hard to find in the nursery trade.  Ours came from Catskill Native Nursery in Kerhonkson, NY and since they don't ship plants, I'm not sure how we would replace them.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What's blooming...Yellow

Our flowering shrub border we installed along the street last summer is rocking some 
serious yellow these days.



This picture does a terrible job of showing the profusion of yellow, but it's all I've got right now.  I'm having a hard time snapping a good picture of the entire space.  Maybe because it's a long hallway like area squished between the north side of the house and the street.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Over the fence

We live on a corner lot and across the street from us on one side is a large empty lot.  It's owned by one of the churches in the neighborhood and most of the year it is just grass.  But in the spring it is covered with Muscari.  They give a look reminiscent of the bluebonnets that will be blooming along the highways any day now.

We think about planting bulbs throughout the lawn from time to time, but we've never taken the plunge.  I think it's mainly due to the time that bulb foliage needs to recharge the plant.  that's way you typically won't cut bulbs back until after the foliage turns brown and they go dormant.  They need that time to photosynthesize and make food for the next year.  Without that, they will grow weaker and weaker over time.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What's blooming: Mystery Tulips

These tulips came from Tucker's work.  They were a random bag, without a label, that 
was leftover from a bulb class someone taught.  These tulips are absolutely fabulous!  

They are a swirly, stripey mix of red, orange, yellow, and sort of a good way.

We really want to get more, if only we could figure out what they are. 

Any ideas?

Friday, March 9, 2012

What's Blooming: Redbuds

This was not the best year for the Redbuds.  About the time they started blooming, we had some crazy hot weather and they are already dropping their little sweet pea shaped blooms.

Field Trip: Fort Worth Botanical Garden's Butterfly Exhibit

Last Sunday we had the opportunity to go to the Fort Worth Botanical Garden's "Butteries in the Garden".  They release tropical butterflies from around the world in the conservatory.  It was really steamy and hot inside, and unseasonably warm weather outside the conservatory didn't help. We saw tons of butterflies.

The conservatory is actually 10,000 square feet and is sort of a messy jungle of some really interesting plants including kumquats, coffee and other tropicals.  The Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys) was of the only plants with flowers this color.

Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys)