Monday, August 28, 2006

What's That Stuff Falling From the Sky?

Well, all I had to do to bring heavy rains to the DFW area was throw a pool party, it seems. (Somebody remind me of that next August when I'm bitching about the continual drought and triple-digit heat, ok?)

We did manage to get in some water volleyball before the clouds rolled in. Everyone oo'd and ahh'd over my mostly-Texas SuperStar garden, which still looks pretty fab. It even shrugged off a few boinks of the volleyball.

Once the rain came, we all crammed under the awning and watched the hummers fight. Great stuff.

The 10-day forecast for our area sounds pretty darned reasonable, with temps dropping into the unheard-of 60s at night.

Speaking of cold weather (just kidding), be sure to go over to Kathy Purdy's Cold Climate Gardening site. Kathy rounded up several seasoned garden bloggers -- myself included -- and posed questions to us about the state of garden blogging, how we got started, etc.

The responses are very interesting, and I feel really honored to be a part of it. Kathy is posting the responses in a continuing series all this week. Check it out.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Another Shrubbery!

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It's been only two days since my last plant order and I find myself yet again tempted by the horti-porn that regularly appears in my mailbox.

Yes, I succumbed to the wares of Forest Farm. The latest issue of Garden Gate magazine (a mag which I love, btw) had an article about a barberry bush called 'Golden Ring' and well, I just had to have one. Forest Farm was referenced in the mag as the only nursery that carries it.

And, of course, with the cost of shipping, it's never prudent to order just one plant from FF. So I got another barberry ('Helmond Pillar') and a small smoke bush (the lovely Cotinus coggygria 'Golden Spirit') while I was at it.

My penance? To flog myself repeatedly with the Bible-thick Spring '06 Forest Farm catalog. Out, you demons, out!

Break the Bank

Here's a nice announcement from Bank of America: for every customer who stops their monthly paper checking, savings or money market account statement before December 31, Bank of America will donate $1 to The Nature Conservancy's reforestation programs.

Here's the story - a little old, but I just noticed it and wanted to pass it along.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lovely Louisianas

Just a reminder that time is running out to order Louisiana irises from many of the online vendors. Two very reputable sellers, Zydeco Irises and Iris City Gardens, both have order deadlines of September 1.

Although several varieties have sold out, there are many beauties left over at Iris City least, there will be until they pull my order. I went a little overboard. Click on the image below to see a full-size summary of what I indulged in.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Of Hummers and Hares

This is a common sight just outside of our kitchen window. He looks pretty darned relaxed, doesn'the?

There are actually two rabbits that like hanging out together and lounging in my flower beds. Not that I mind - they generally stick to munching on things other than my flowers. (The plant in the photo next to the bunny is the now-infamous and somewhat crispy Black Snakeroot.)

I have at least two female hummingbirds coming to my backyard feeders on a regular basis. They also engage in frequent, chatter-filled midair battles with each other. I was hoping that separating the feeders by 30' or so would give them adequate territory, but the larger female is a real piece of work. Miss Thang likes to sit on the very top of the crossvine trellis and watch for the other female to come along, so she can ambush her at one of the feeders. It's quite entertaining.

I don't know if the unusual heat is a factor, but the dragonfly population seems to be at an all-time high around here. There are always at least two patrolling our backyard, especially the zone directly above the swimming pool. They've done a great job of keeping the mosquitoes at bay; I've barely been bitten this year at all. Of course, the extremely dry conditions help in that regard, as does an ongoing organic program.

I am grateful for all of the creatures that feel comfortable in my yard. Heaven knows they're about the only things still thriving; my plants look like hell.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Meet the Prickly Gardener

I am sick, on several different levels.

First of all, I've been struggling with a cold/flu for the past week which has turned horrendous over these last three days. Spending the weekend curled up with a box of tissues is not my idea of fun. None of the OTC drugs is helping me sleep, and when you don't sleep, you don't get better.

Second, I am totally sick of this triple-digit heat. You can't spend any amount of time doing stuff outside, even in the early morning. It's despicable.

Third, and related to #2 above, I am sick over the plants I've lost over the last month. Stuff that shouldn't be dying, is. Apart from our once-a-week allowed automatic irrigation, I hand-water everything once or twice. I don't know what's happening, except to blame the heat.

A silver lavender that I nursed back to robust health a couple of years ago is suddenly turning brown from the ground up. That great-looking ligularia I was bragging on from Garden Crossings? I think it's dead, despite the fact I poured water on it every other day (and it shouldn't get root rot from such treatment; it's a bog plant, for pity's sake).

Heucheras and tiarellas have turned to crisps. Even several of my young echinaceas have died. Satsuma mandarin? Dead. Dragons blood Sedum? Dead. A small stevia and an artemesia I recently bought shrivelled and died within a week of being brought home.

Can someone please tell me what the hell is going on???

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Hot for Heirlooms

Needless to say, staying inside and ordering fall seeds is the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon at this stage of the summer.

I found a lot of what I wanted at (also known as Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.). I've not ordered from them before - prices seemed more than reasonable.

Here's what I got:

Broccoli - Early Purple Sprouting
Broccoli - Romanesco Italia
Broccoli - Waltham
Beetroot - Golden Beet
Beetroot - Chioggia (Bassano)
Cauliflower - Giant of Naples
Parsley - Giant of Italy
Leek - Giant Musselburgh
Orach - Purple Passion
Swiss Chard - Fordhook Giant Chard
Spinach - Bloomsdale Long Standing

Sense any trends among these? Several "giants" and several purple-hued cultivars. Hmm.

Anyway, the 2006 Fall Seed List, regularly found in the righthand column, has been updated too, including pictures.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Stay Cool

I know I complain about the Texas heat in this space pretty often, but I'm not going to do that today. After all, I go from my air-conditioned house to my air-conditioned Jeep to my air-conditioned office each day. Occasionally I swim in my unheated pool. Life is pretty good.

But I know a lot of you suffering in this heat don't have A/C in either your car or home. My mother in Pennsylvania usually retreats to her cool, damp basement, but even this latest wave is getting to her.

Be safe. Drink lots of water. Move your container plants into the shade.

Think "autumn".