Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day: November 2017

Fall is here, but we still have blooms in the garden!

I think this is Salvia madrensis.  It's big and yellow and the foliage has great texture.

It also tipped over while we were out of town and now it's left a whole in the border and is blocking the pool deck on one side.  Next year it's getting staked so we don't have a repeat performance.

This is the first year we've had blooms on the toad lilies and they have been spectacular!  I can't get over how beautiful each little flower is.  A few of them just seem to keep blooming.

Some of tropicals are still going strong.  Most will keep blooming until we get a frost.  Some years that's in November, some year much later.  I've heard it supposed to be a cold winter here, so I'm assuming winter will start early., but there isn't any sign of it in the forecast right now

We had an Iris re-bloom.  This one doesn't have a tag, so it's either a transplant from our old house, or a friend's mother's house.  Even without a name it's still beautiful. 

We have one 'Autumn Minaret' daylily scape blooming.  Our first daylily opened April 14th, so we've had blooms for about 7 months this year.  Definitely a successful season!

What's still blooming for you?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Autumn at the Arboretum

We recently visited the Dallas Arboretum for the Autumn at the Arboretum festival.  This year they out did themselves with over 90,000 pumpkins in their display.

They have a pumpkin patch, hay bale maze, and a pumpkin village.  It's lots of fun and you get to see so many different varieties of pumpkins and gourds.  In fact, they even have a "dictionary" display where they label each and every pumpkin and gourd used in the display.

It gets really crowded.  We tried to beat the masses by heading out early before church would let out for most people.  We were sort of successful.  We had about fifteen minuets in the pumpkin village before it started getting really crazy.

Once it got too busy to enjoy in the village, we moved onto the a few other parts of the Arboretum.  Fortunately, most of the crowds were there to take pumpkin pictures with their kids, so we didn't need to deal with too many other people.  Many of the pathways are lined with pumpkins through the entire Arboretum this time of year.  While is wasn't as busy as the pumpkin village, it was still hard to get pictures without other people in them.

It was too windy to have the Water Walls on, but the plants around the fountains are still beautiful.

The toad fountains were a big hit with certain members of our family.  You can see them at the end of this allee.  It's one of my favorite parts of the Arboretum.  Such a good example of what crepe myrtles can be if left alone and not chopped back each year.

We also visited A Tasteful Place, the new veggie garden at the Arboretum, but we were racing against nap time, so since we are members (and have no pressure to our visits) we headed out for a quick lunch and them home, so we could sleep in our own bed.

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Nursery

We dabble in daylily breeding, so we are regularly making more plants that we need to find home for.  Last year we stated our first seeds.  They spent the summer in the stock tanks near the patio, but we knew we would need a new spot for their second year.  This new spot needed to be easy to maintain, easy to evaluate the seedlings, and safe from running dogs.  We decided to create a fenced in "seedling yard" in front of our shed.  We installed the fence earlier this summer and finally got a chance to create the some of the planters.

We decided to use pallets to create raised beds for our seedlings.  They would be easy to weed and we would be able to sue whatever type of soil we wanted.  Also, we both can get pallets free from our workplaces.  These can from the "true plant geek's" workplace.  We liked the bright blue and they fit perfectly in the space.

First we cut our holes in the pallets so we have a place to plant our seedlings.

Then we stapled down landscape fabric to the bottom and sides of each pallet to hold in the soil.  We reinforced it with wood to keep the sides from building.  This step isn't really necessary, but we thought it would help our planters last longer.

Finally we placed them in the garden, filled them with soil, and planted our seedlings.  They all fit on this side of the garden.  We have eight more planters to make for future seedlings on the other side of the shed path.  Next year all of these seedlings should bloom and we will finally see what they look like.  The special ones will be kept and the other will either be composted or given away.  The ones we keep will be evaluated for a few years to see what the plant actually does (because a pretty flower isn't worth anything is the plants is weak) and register anything that performs well.

I can't wait to see them bloom!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Musical Chairs: Part 2

We've made more progress in the great daylily reorganization of 2017!  the Barrier Garden has been reworked.  This was the really the center of the chaos originally and is what started the whole game of musical chairs.

Here's a before shot from earlier in the summer.  It was a rather messy bed of just daylilies that looked great in May and June, but after that it was really just green foliage.  We wanted to move any daylilies that were not diploid, add pathways to make hybridizing easier, and finally add a few other plants to extend the bloom time and attract butterflies.

Here is what it looks like now.  It's still going to be a pretty messy bed of almost all daylilies, but we did start to add a little variety.  We left the irises, loquats, abelia, and Chinese snowballs in the bed.  Over time the shrubs will become less awkward looking and add some nice structure to the garden.  We added two butterfly bushes, some Agastache, and two different kinds of milkweed.  We also added some stepping stones to help us move around the garden when the plants fill in next spring.

Next spring there will be a few other additions to this garden.  I adore Verbena bonariensis and plan on adding it to this bed.  We're also going to add some zinnias and maybe some low growing plants around the stepping stones (sort of a natural mulch).  Eventually we will redo the fence that helps remind the dogs to stay out. 

I really think it's looking great.  The reorganization is going to make the daylily hybridizing so much easier and I can't wait to see how it grows next spring!

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Wolf Spider or Do You Have an Appointment

Look who we found lurking around the door at work recently.  The ladies from the accounting office were not very excited, but knew the education staff would be interested.  They were obviously right since we even abandoned our lunches to have a look at this visitor.  (Don't worry, we finished eating after the excitement died down).

Upon closer examination we decided our visitor was not "A Really Really Gigantic Spider", but instead a Wolf Spider.  Since she was carrying around a whole bunch of babies, a female wolf spider.

Wolf Spiders get their name because they chase their prey, instead of creating webs to catch it.  They are brown, hairy and really fast.  The female will lay her eggs in a sac that she attached to her spinnerets and carries until the eggs hatch.  The babies will ride on her back for a few days after being born.

This Wold Spider had a lot of babies.  After we spent a while looking at her we moved her to a more suitible location (the front door wasn't going work).  I'm sure they are all doing great.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A Tasteful Place at the Dallas Arboretum

The Dallas Arboretum recently opened a new 3.5 acre edible garden called Tasteful Place.  It was inspired by the sustainable, local food movement.  The arboretum partnered with P. Allen Smith to designing both the garden and it's programming.

It has a great location at the Arboretum with great views of White Rock Lake and Dallas's city skyline.  They did a great job of tying it into the Autumn at the Arboretum with fall colored flowers and some large Big Mac pumpkins place strategically around.

They have daily classes, lectures, demonstrations and tastings in the garden and its indoor kitchen.  In fact, P. Allen Smith was going to be doing a demonstration later that day.  They had a few food items that we could sample that were all tasty (a soup, a green salsa and a ranch dip).  They have a really robust public program program for this garden.  It will be interesting to see long term if they continue at this pace.

All of the beds were planted with full grown plants.  Lots of egg plants, okra, peppers, cool season greens and edible flowers.  There were no beds that had seedlings or plants that weren't of fruiting size.

The garden was really beautiful and meticulously maintained.  While that was really nice,  I also think it seemed really artificial.  Everything was full grown and ready to harvest.  There was no sign of any succession planting or even crops that would be ready soon.  It was an interesting juxtaposition that a garden that was so focused on teaching people about food would forget to teach them about growing their food.  I really think they missed an opportunity.  I know there is a lot of pressure to make sure everything is show ready in a public garden, but that isn't how vegetable gardening works.

I can't wait to see how this garden matures in future years and hope that they stray from the current look of perfection.  It did make me miss having a vegetable garden and look at my current yard/garden plans to see where I might be able to squeeze something in.

Monday, October 23, 2017

When Life Gives You Lemons (or magnolia pods)

When we purchased out house, there wasn't much of a garden on the lot.  this was actually a plus for us, since we wanted to do our own thing.  The best part of the backyard were the Fig, Pecan, and Southern Magnolia trees.  The Southern Magnolia tree is a great specimen and was probably planted when the house was first build in the late 50's.  It makes it possible for us to sit out on the patio in the summer and not melt...that is some really good shade, let me tell you.

We've done a little work on it (pruning it off the roof and removing a branch that was hanging over the pool), but over all it was in great shape.  Southern Magnolias are great trees.  They are what most people think of when magnolia trees are mentioned.  Their leaves are a deep glossy green and rather stiff.  They are evergreen and look beautiful year round.  In the early summer it has fragrant (assuming they aren't 40 feet in the air) white blooms.  The thing that nobody really talks about when they talk about magnolia trees, is what those fabulous flowers turn into...weird pods that drop off the tree in the fall.

These pods are the worst.  They cause people to twist their ankles and drop on people's head.  they are a total nuisance and I swear the tree makes a million of them.  The fist fall here, we bagged them up and trashed them.  We filled more leaf bags than I want to admit, but they needed to go and we didn't have any other ideas.

You can't really mulch them with the mower and they take too long to break down in the compost.  So after the first year, we came up with a plan.  They have become a mulch for part of the bed near the shed.  We hoped it would keep our one dog from belly crawling under the didn't work on the dog, but it did work as a mulch.

So now when we gather them up, we cart them over and dump them in the bed.  Today I dumped 4 five gallon buckets full.  This wasn't the first collection of the season, nor is it close to the last.  It's defiantly a courser looking mulch, but I think it looks pretty nice.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

My friend porcupine

My friend porcupine and I are going on the road today!

Look out world, here we come!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Musical Chairs: Part 1

The time has come for some reorganization in the garden.  Daylilies can be divided into two different types, diploids and tetrapoilds. When we first started planting our daylilies in our new garden, we just placed plants where we had space, paying attention a little to their scape height, but not really anything else.  Consequently, we have dips and tets all mixed up.  Then we decided to try and bring some order to the collection.  So at that point we started trying to group tets and dips together.  It sort of worked, except that we already had a total mishmash from our previous plantings.

'Victorian Ribbons' (a dipliod)

As we have gotten more interested in daylilies and into hybridizing, we have realized the having an overall organization to everything helps save time and headaches.  Right now, I can't know what a flower is I unless I look it up.  Not all of our original tags have the information on them.  It didn't seem important when we first started the collection.  Also without grouping the two types of flowers together, I'm constantly zigzagging all over the yard.  I don't have lots of time to leisurely work with the plants each morning.  I'm out early, as soon as it's light enough to see, and before my toddler is awake.  She loves to "help", but isn't very helpful.  We do work together some mornings, but it's faster and easier to keep everything straight without her.

'Webster's pink Wonder' (a terapolid)

So we've decided that some reorganization is in order.  We have three areas in the garden that hold the majority of our collection and one that has less than twenty plants.  Now all of the tets we're interested in hybridizing will be located in the tropical garden around the pool.  The majority of these plants have tall scapes and large flowers, they will look great swaying above the other plants in June each year.  The dips will all get moved to the barrier garden.  The bed is due for a re-design anyway, so the timing couldn't be better.  The new miniature daylily collection has a place near the triceratops.

The miniature daylilies 

All the showy, ruffled, sturdy flowered daylilies have been moved to the butterfly garden.

You can't really see them, but the ruffled dayliles are all tucked in there.

Finally, anything that is leftover, will be put out in the front yard in a display bed we have near the driveway.

'Sweet Seneca Butterflies' (a diploid)
It would have been easier if we had made more detailed tags and planted our daylilies with more of a purpose when we started.  Had we done this we could have saved us a lot of work this coming summer and fall.  We also could just leave it alone and muddle along with what we have already done, but that's the beauty of gardening.  You can move things around, rip out plants that down't work, and add ones that do.  As your gardening interests change, your garden is able to change with it and you never really outgrow a garden.  Have you ever realized you've "outgrown" a garden?