Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Shades of Belize

My new spider lily plants are blooming. These were just planted in the spring and have come on like gangbusters. This is the 'maximillianii' cultivar, and was purchased from YuccaDo.

I purchased these after being inspired and impressed with the gargantuan (5' +) hymenocallis that grow wild all over Belize. Hard to believe it's been nearly a year since we were there.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I Wish I Knew How to Quit You, Snakeroot...

Every year, I order Cimicifuga ramosa (aka Actea, Bugbane, Black Cohosh or Black Snakeroot). Every year, it dies. I try different locations, different light exposures, different soil blends. No dice. This has been going on for about three years.

Well, make that four...I just ordered another one, this time from Garden Crossings, a company with an excellent feedback rating on Garden Watchdog. Maybe this one will take - many times, Cimicifuga is listed as only enduring temperatures into Zone 7, but Garden Crossings shows this particular cultivar - 'Hillside Black Beauty' - as hardy in zones 4-8. I am determined to grow this plant, dammit!

Incidentally, Garden Crossings is offering free shipping on orders of $50 or more through 6/26. You can also get 10% off if you order $150 or more, in addition to free shipping.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Maybe It's Zombie Grass... that it will eventually come back from the dead...

Obviously our yard just screams of the fact that a Master Gardener lives there. Not.

You can see the new oval bed I created yesterday to cover the biggest and worst dead patch. I laid down newspaper first (not sure why, since the grass was already dead), then 15 bags of Plano Pure Soil Blend. This made a nice 9' x 4' berm to plant in. I put in a Zebra Grass (which gets quite large), four cannas of varying types and sizes, a hesperaloe, two coreopsis, two verbenas, a white echinacae, a dwarf daylily, and a gorgeous Achillea 'Terra Cotta', then topped it all off with two bags of mulch. Looks pretty good, I think.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The OTHER Front Yard Project

While the now mulched-over Front Yard Garden project has gone pretty well (new pictures coming soon), the other half of the front yard that actually still has grass on it is, well, not so good.

The problems started last summer when, in keeping with his "if I screw this up enough, she'll stop asking me to do it" philosophy, my darling husband ran over one of the sprinkler heads with the lawn mower. Subsequently, we had a really hard time finding a similar replacement head. I tried two different ones, but certain areas of the lawn were getting missed during watering. Full sun for most of the day on that corner of the yard didn't help.

Well, you can guess what happened. The previously lush St. Augustine turned to straw. In big brown patches.

Speaking of brown patches, we learned about Brown Patch and Take-All Root Rot in my Master Gardener class, but to be honest, I must have some kind of blind eye for diagnosing grass problems. I just stare at those brown blotches in my lawn, pull up a few stolons to examine them and then go "WTF?"

Well, we had a company called Organic Systems Lawn Care out a couple of weeks ago to look at it, and he said it was brown patch. I still tend to disagree, but scheduled an aeration, which they performed yesterday. We'll see if it greens up. But since we're entering the dregs of summer, I doubt much will happen. It's much easier for me to believe that it's drought rather than a fungus.

Which is why I'm planning on digging up a big six-foot kidney-shaped blob in the worst area and making an island bed out of it. I already have threes cannas (sorry Amy...I know you hate them), a hesperaloe, a pink lavender and some sedum poised to go. It's all about having more plants, you know?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Urban L.A. Garden Gets Testy

This is an unfortunate situation, for sure. But it certainly doesn't help for people to get violent. And since it's privately owned land, there isn't much debate about who has the say in what happens to it.

Maybe the City should step in and donate some government-owned land for the garden the way my town did.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

There's No Such Thing... global warming, eh? Triple digits and drought are already present here in North Texas. My city has started enforcing its mandatory water restrictions. We don't usually see this kind of heat and dryness until July or August.

But it's all just an evil liberal plot to get more grant money for atmospheric studies, right? Sheesh. Ok, end of tree-hugging rant.

Sorry for the lull here lately. Between the Dallas Mavericks advancing through the playoffs (which is the only time I enjoy watching the NBA), taking up tennis again (which I really enjoy when it's not 100°) and various other social engagements and commitments, blogging has taken a backseat.

I'm still taking pictures around the garden, though, so be sure to check out the latest Flickr additions in the slideshow to the right. My daylilies are really lovely right now, and I had some gorgeous gladiolas come up recently too.

We had a bout with some honeybees recently. They were buzzing around our kitchen windows and some were even getting into the house. We spotted them entering the outside wall and quickly called our favorite organic exterminator, who said it was his third "bee call" that week. We were only seeing about 20 or so hanging around, so we figure they must have just been getting started in setting up house for their queen. All are now completely gone.

I really hated killing them, since honeybees are good creatures and becoming more scarce all the time. But even beekeepers who are called out to deal with bees in a wall will generally kill them since they can't adequately get at the hive, so I didn't see much point in messing with that avenue.

The community garden is humming along. Everyone's tomatoes and squash look really good, and I think we're close to our first harvest. My 'Butterscotch' cantaloupe has four or five melons on it too. I try to get out there at least twice a week to water, especially with the recent hot temperatures.

We are losing one of our hardest workers on the project, though. Cliff is moving his family to Oregon shortly. He happened to come by the garden when I was there watering Tuesday afternoon and was amazed at the progress of everything. It was nice to chat with him one last time. He is a great guy and (*sexist comment alert*) one of the most gorgeous men I think I've ever laid eyes on. Plus, his enthusiasm for gardening is infectious. I wish him the best, with hopes that our paths will cross again someday.

Starting this Saturday, I will be without my husband. It's World Cup time, you see. As an Englishman, he is predisposed to being obsessed with soccer football, and is literally glued to the television during the World Cup.

This allows me to spend more time on my little projects, of course, but I do miss him after awhile.

For example, during the England game this Saturday, I'll be remulching the entire Front Yard Garden, which is starting to look sort of ratty with three different colors of mulch presently on it. Should be fun in 101° heat. Maybe I'll stay in and watch soccer football after all.