Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Color Purple

Ask me what my favorite color is, and I will never say purple. In fact, I wouldn't even name it as my second favorite. Various shades of greens and blues, definitely. But purple?

Well, you'd never know it by looking at my surroundings. I drive a purple Mustang (a hue officially called 'Deep Violet' in the Ford record books), my workout bag is purple. Many years ago, I even wore violet contact lenses, if you can believe it.

And now, I seem to have overdone it with purple/lavender/violet plant colors. We're talking both foliage and maybe it's time I quit resisting and admit that, despite its association with Prince and an old Oprah Winfrey movie, the color purple is pretty cool.

Here's a list of some of the purplish plants going into my garden this fall that particularly excite me:

Astrantia 'Moulin Rouge' from Dutch Bulbs - I'd never even heard of Astrantia before, but wow...this really popped off of the page at me.

Phormium Tenax Atropurpureum from Big Dipper Farms - The two phormiums I had in my backyard this summer both died, so I'm not sure why I got two more. Yeah I do...they're gorgeous. And I'm planning on putting both of these in the front with more moisture and a little less sun exposure. We'll see.

Sambucus Nigra 'Black Beauty' from Digging Dog Nursery - This is a black elderberry that apparently has all of Europe in a tizzy. I had to hunt over a few online nurseries to find it, as several ran out of stock pretty quickly. This tall shrub ranks as one of my most anticipated plants in the garden now...even though the one I just planted is only about 6" tall at the moment. Just look at those leaves, though...gorgeous!

Sedum 'Black Jack' from Wayside Gardens - Sedums almost always do well here in Texas, due to their drought- and heat-tolerance. I like this one because it is just unabashedly least, according to the picture.

Echinops Ritro and Taplow Blue - I love Echinops for both its thistle-like prickly hardiness and its alien-esque globe flowers. I'm not sure what the diff is between Ritro and Taplow Blue, but I have plenty of each.

Besides these highlights, I have more purple plants in the form of a purple smoke tree, several Black Gamecock Louisiana irises, a few lingering lavenders, an Agastache 'Black Adder', an Ameria 'Rubrifolia' and a few other scattered things that will either bring continuity to my overly-violet garden or will convince myself everyone that purple really is a wonderful color.

(Or maybe I'll change my name to Violet, like the gum-chewing girl in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory..."You're turning violet, Violet!")

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Forget Growing Rhubarb...Again

NOAA is calling for a good chance of warmer and wetter conditions for Winter 2005-06 here in North Texas.

I welcome both, frankly, considering the escalating cost of fuel, and the drier-than-usual conditions we've suffered through all summer.

What's your winter outlook?

Name That Compost

Here's living proof that I'm a total gardening nerd: our city was sponsoring a compost-naming contest to better reflect their products, now that their composting program has expanded into a cooperative effort with several neighboring cities in the area.

The prize? Free delivery of three cubic yards of any of their products. Yeah, baby! I'm all over that. Although my entries mostly sucked. You stupidest one -- North Dallas Doo -- will be the winner.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Highs and Lows

Incredibly, our high temperature is predicted to drop from 90° on Wednesday to only 68° on Thursday. Highs over the weekend are expected to hover somewhere in the mid-70s. Now that's more like it.

The overnight lows will remain above 50° for the most part, so I think my outdoor container tropicals should be ok for now. (I just wish the mosquitos would kick off.)

In other news, yesterday was a disappointing class in my Master Gardener Training. Two men from this place came to talk about fruit & nut trees and raised bed gardening.

These two Okies shall remain nameless; by simply saying they were both idiots is being kind.

The Fruit & Nut guy's presentation was aimless and unfocused. He started off by saying that you really can't successfully grow peaches in Texas, then spent the next hour talking about growing them. Whenever someone would ask him a question, he would grip his head with both hands as if a migraine had suddenly befallen him. He reminded me of a shorter, more weasley-George W. Bush, if you can imagine such a creature. What a useless waste of time and space.

The Raised Bed guy was much more organized, but his message was flawed and impractical, especially to the average gardener. And his advice was downright insulting to the organic gardener.

Now, I'm all for raised beds, but this guy spent three hours demonstrating several eloborate set-ups calling for underground piped drip irrigation, black plastic covering, and way too much fertilizer. ("Look at the instructions on a box of Miracle Gro...It says 'Fertilize every week and gradually increase the amount with each application until the end of the growing season.' Those guys stole my idea!")

It was all about maximizing your crops, with no consideration of the environment. Take, take, take and give nothing back.

I guess I should have seen this coming, however; they were exhuberant over the fact that the Foundation (a family of rich oilmen looking for a tax credit, apparently) had awarded them with a brand new Suburban to travel in.

P.S. - Via further research, I've also found these guys were significant contributors -- to the tune of $7,000,000 -- to the ultra-rightwing Heritage Foundation. Does it strike anyone else as odd/suspicious that Noble - an organization supposedly formed to promote agriculture - would hand over so much money to a political organization, but could only find $25,000 to contribute to the Future Farmers of America?