Thursday, July 16, 2015

Random Thoughts in the July Garden

I have not spent much time in the garden since I prepared it for a tour at the end of April. Looking around, it is hard to believe that people paid to see my garden. Constant rain in May and June kept me from starting any new projects this spring. All of the rain caused the plants to grow excessively. Now that the rain has stopped, it is too hot and humid to spend much time in the garden and the mosquitoes threaten to suck you dry of blood. I think I may have even lost some of my motivation to garden.


All of the rain caused the horsetail reed to grow like it was in its natural boggy habitat instead of a stock tank. When the rain stopped and the soil started to dry, the roots could not support the top growth and it started to brown. I cut off the tops about three weeks ago and I am still waiting for regrowth. Evidently the horsetail reed is in a dormant state right now. When I cut it back in February or March each year, new reeds sprout quickly.


I started removing a few plants from the main part of the front garden. I don't have a good plan yet. I just want to get rid of some of the plants that have a short bloom period and look a little too wild when they are not blooming. The open area to the right of the yucca was filled with pitcher sage. I also cut some gayfeather to the ground. It should resprout and bloom on shorter stems a few weeks after the uncut gayfeather.


Possumhaw holly is my favorite small tree. My only complaint about the plant is that is suckers around the base and where you trim limbs. Prior to taking this picture, I removed several long suckers around the base. Usually, pruning once a year is all that is necessary. While I was removing plants, I removed several coralberry plants to the left of the possumhaw. Coralberry has a tendency to develop powdery mildew on the leaves and these had it non-stop for the last couple of years. The berries are interesting, but the birds don't eat them, so out they came.


This year, something interesting happened to the possumhaw. Last year's red berries are still on the plant in July along with this year's new green berries. For some reason, the cedar waxwings stripped all of the berries from my other possumhaws this spring, but skipped this one. This possumhaw grew from a root sucker from a plant at my previous house. I potted the sucker and brought it with me when I moved. The possumhaw at my previous house had green and red berries at the same time about 15 years ago.  

The cactus coreid bugs are back. They suck the juices from the pads, leaving them marked and disfigured. The light patch in the bottom right corner is probably damage from last year. The adult bugs lay eggs on the cactus. When the eggs hatch, the young bugs usually stay close together. When I notice them, I squash them with a gloved finger. Some bugs get away by dropping to the ground, so it is necessary to go on patrol on a regular basis.


Mama mallard is missing. There was a bad egg broken open near the nest and this one still in the nest. I assume she abandoned the nest because the eggs were bad. I hope that is what happened. I found some brown feathers nearby.


This plant is popping up all over the garden this year. I think it must have come in with a load of decomposed granite because that is where I find it growing. I think it may be a bluet, perhaps Houstonia longifolia. I am pulling most of them out because I am concerned that they may be a bit prolific (invasive). As far as I can tell, they serve no major benefit to wildlife. 


I thought this combination of rock penstemon rose and little bluestem was nice. (I originally typed rock rose. I knew better. It was late and I did not proofread. Thanks for the catch Misti.)


Heading to the backyard, the decomposed granite in the side yard is overrun with Mexican feather grass and flowering tobacco. It all started with one of each plant that went to seed. Time to start pulling little plants.


This is the first year I had fruit on one of my toothache trees. It takes a male tree and a female tree to make fruit. The fruit is supposed to be good food for wildlife. 


When I planted my bottle bush, I was concerned that the rebar stems would move around once the soil started to dry and shrink. Well, that is what happened. Some of the stems and bottles are now touching. The soil is too dry to make any changes now, so I will reposition some of the stems after a good rain.


I have another piece of garden art. This spinner was a gift from the Plano Garden Club in appreciation for allowing my garden to be on their tour. I am still trying to decide where it will go. For now, it will remain here. It has spikes that stick in the ground and the ground is too hard to try to move it around.

14 comments:

  1. I love your garden. I know gardening in Plano is a challenge! My sister lives there and I just recently moved from Dallas...

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    1. Thanks Talya. I think gardening can be a challenge just about any where in Texas. Oddly, my challenge this year is that plants grew too well.

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  2. It still looks lovely! I was on top of my flower garden in early June but now it is back on top of me. Oh well.

    The 'rock rose'---is that not penstemon?

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    1. Thanks Misti, You have your hands full with the little one now, so its understandable how the garden can get away from you.

      Nope, that is not a rock rose. That's what happens when you write when you are sleepy and don't proof very well. That is a rock penstemon and not a rock rose. I did not even notice. Thanks for letting me know.

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  3. Pot up the little Mexican feather grasses and share! :-)

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    1. That is a good idea, Sheryl, but too much work. Now, if somebody wanted to pull them up and take them home, I would be OK with that.

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  4. Hi, Michael! Wow, you read my mind on this post! I feel just as you do. Death by drowning followed by drought. Crazy growth that needs tending, crazy plants that gotta go, and dead plants---silvers especially, but don't dare replace now. Sigh. Still, your lessons and ideas great for us all. And I do hope that Mama mallard comes back. . .

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    1. Hi Linda. I guess the good thing about going dry again is that the plants stopped growing and I can catch up on maintenance when it is not too hot.

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  5. I'm with Linda - I was in exactly that frame of mind until after I got the paths weeded out back. Then I began to fall back in love (just a little) with everything again, overgrown mess or no.

    I've noticed where I have large swaths of natives out front (somewhat similar to your set up) things are more often feeling a little out of control than in the back where the natives are divided up into beds surrounded by paths. In the back at least I can clear one bed and focus on that as my reward. I find that helps keep me moving on to new areas that still need pruning and thinning out. I think I'm more likely to attempt to work in the back because of the smaller, more well defined areas. I need to do more work out front to give those large sweeps some feeling of organization. Or, something!

    For now I'm content to take out most of the "gone to seed" stalks to harvest seed stock for next season, leaving a few for the birds of course. So long as the majority of the plants aren't browned out I can tolerate a few.

    It has gotten so hot and dry now even the mosquitoes are easing off. I think all our gardens are going to require a lot of extra work this fall - I hope the weather cooperates! Looking forward to seeing how all our spaces respond to cooler weather when it returns, especially yours!

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    1. TexasDeb, it is funny you mention pathways. For the last year or so, I have been thinking I needed to add one to the main section of the front garden to break it up a little and because I would like an easy access into the middle of the garden. The only problem is that adding a pathway would require removing or moving some plants; not to mention the labor of putting in a pathway.

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  6. I know what you mean - spring rains kept me out of the garden and from tackling my garden to-do list, and now it is too hot to do much in the garden with the couple hours we get early in the morning or right before the sun goes down. My gardens definitely need some TLC, and a little rain would be nice too. The new garden art is really beautiful and interesting looking - good luck finding the right home for it (and if not, have fun moving it around the garden to find the best place).

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Rebecca. Another factor that keeps me out of the garden would be the mosquitoes. So many reasons to stay inside these days.

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  7. i see where the bluestem likes your wet weather following by dry. My horsetail reed has flopped much to my chagrin, it has east exposure so it seldom burns. Isn't it funny that so many noxious plants move into the garden unintentionally from different methods.

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    1. Greggo, my little bluestem has done better this year than in the last several. I may even try dividing some of the plants next spring. Yes, the unwanted plants always find a way into the garden. Happy gardening in Kansas.

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