Friday, May 30, 2014

T-Minus 8 Days and Counting

There is no turning back now. The map for Plano's first Water-Wise Landscape Tour is posted and the countdown has started. There are so many things I think I need to do before June 7 and so little time.

As I look around my own front garden, everything still looks pretty good even though most of the spring blooming plants have reached their peak. I was concerned that there may not be many flowers still in bloom on June 7 so I deadheaded several of the Four Nerve Daisies over the weekend in hopes of coaxing another round of blooms.

The Hesperaloes and Mexican Hats should still be blooming in nine days and the Skeletonleaf Golden Eye is getting ready to bloom.

The cactus will be in full bloom soon too. I have three unrooted pads from this cactus that I will give to the first three people that ask me for one on tour day. 

Temperatures have not been overly high yet this year and we are finally getting a little rain so the plants are looking pretty lush. Maybe some of the American Basket Flowers and Echinacias will still be blooming.

A Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly feeds on Butterfly Milkweed as a bee is making its approach for a landing. 

When I post photos on this blog, I show the the views of my garden that I want the world to see. I usually don't show the messy areas. I will not have this control on the day of the landscape tour. The good, bad, and ugly will be there for all to see. 

I have been furiously cleaning and moving things to prepare for inspection. I have been on garden tours before and wondered why some of the gardens were worthy of being on a tour. I don't want mine to be one of those gardens.

Here is an area that still needs to be addressed. Bluebonnet plants are going to seed in the parkway between the street and sidewalk. The part of my garden that received the most attention when the bluebonnets were in bloom is now its biggest eyesore. I collected all of the seeds I want and I offered neighbors the opportunity to pick some seeds for themselves. These plants will all go to the compost pile this weekend.

Going through the gate to the backyard, I have a little more cleaning to do. This area has become my cattle panel storage area and Mexican Feathergrass farm. I built new tomato cages and an arch for vining vegetables this spring. The cattle panel pieces will be hidden away inside the garage and a few more grasses will be plucked. Word to the wise: one Mexican Feathergrass plant will produce more seedlings than you can imagine when allowed to grow in decomposed granite.

Moving on into the backyard, things are looking pretty good. Flowering Tobacco, Mealycup Sage, Butterfly Milkweed, and Horsemint are in full bloom.

These plants quickly grew over the pathway. I will prune them this weekend. Around the corner is another area that needs attention.

This has become my storage area for landscape materials. Rocks, mulch, sticks, concrete edging, bricks, flagstone, dirt. You name it. I have plans for all these item, but right now, my plan is to get them out of sight. Unfortunately, I do not have any good hiding areas (although this could be one if I built a fence or planted shrubs around it) so I will move these items to the side yard where my remaining lawn grows. 

Even though I am trying to get my property organized, I can't pass up a good deal. I spotted this sign at a house down the street.

Of course I had to bring home a load of rocks. Now where will I store these? 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Tisket, A Tasket

A pink and white basket, flower, that is. The American Basketflowers are coming into bloom. I might say this is my favorite annual wildflower, but that would mean the bluebonnet is not my favorite and that would be un-Texan. So, American Basketflower is my second favorite annual wildflower.

The name comes from the bracts that enclose the flowerbud and remain under the flower once it opens.

Although the flower looks like a thistle, there are no spines on the leaves.

Nearby, a Standing Cypress is blooming with bright red flowers.

Mexican Hat flowers vary in color from plant to plant. These flowers are mostly dark red with yellow edges.

The petals of this flower are almost equally divided with red and yellow. I will need to pay attention to this plant to see if the red expands the flower matures.

The flower petals  of this plant are pure yellow and remain that color.

Soon there will be a sea of purple flowers on the Heartleaf Skullcap that is expanding across the front rain garden.

St. Augustine grass still grows along the west side of my house and driveway. I removed some of the grass near the alley because I needed a place to dump excess soil while I was constructing pathways. It turns out I dumped a bunch of seeds along with the dirt. Gailardia, Horsemint, Prairie Verbena, Gaura, Clammyweed, Datura, Rock Rose, Mealycup Sage, Eryngo and several other plants all appeared voluntarily.

Here is a closer look at the Gailardia, Horsemint and Gaura. Not a bad display for an unplanned garden. I had other ideas for this space, but I may just observe and let nature do her thing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Week After National Wildflower Week

I usually post pictures of the wildflowers in my garden during National Wildflower Week, but I missed it. Last week was National Wildflower Week and I did not even know about it until I saw Shirley's post at Rock-Oak-Deer blog. 

I have been busy in the garden trying to get things done before the blazing heat returns. I have also been sprucing up just in case my garden was selected for Plano's first ever Water Wise Landscape Tour. Well, it looks like my garden will be on the tour. There are not many details at this time other than it is on June 7 from 9 AM to 3 PM and there will be six private landscapes on the tour. There will be several talks throughout the day at the Environmental Education Center and tours of the garden. The Plano tour also coincides with the Dallas Water Wise Landscape Tour which will feature ten private gardens and five demonstration gardens. Both tours are free. More details on the Plano tour to come.

So, since I missed National Wildflower Week, I declare this to be The Week After National Wildflower Week. I know it is not much of a declaration since it really is the week after National Wildflower Week, but it gives this post a title and gives me a reason to post pictures of the wildflowers blooming in my garden (not that I needed one). These pictures were taken on Saturday and Sunday which was during National Wildflower Week. On with the show...

The Black Sampson Coneflowers just started blooming. The flowers are held high above the foliage and the petals droop as they lengthen. They are not as colorful as the Purple Coneflower, but attractive nonetheless.

Looking in the opposite direction and back at the coneflowers, the bright yellow flowers of Four-Nerve Daisies fill in gaps throughout the garden. A single Prairie Verbena plant that sprouted next to the Agave is nearly smothering it. I am not trimming back the verbena because I did not have many seedlings come up in the garden this year and I want to produce as many seeds as possible for next year. I will pull the stems away from the Agave if it disappears any more.

Cutleaf Daisly, Winecup, and Penstemon 'Husker Red' bloom around a new start of my spineless prickly pear. Several prickly pear "branches" broke off due to the weight of the ice last winter so I started a new plant and gave away others.

The Bluebonnets are going to seed. A few seedpods are visible in front of the Soapweed Yucca. There are many, many more in the parkway by the street. More of the Husker Red Penstemon are visible in the background of this picture and the following picture.

One of the Pale-leaf Yuccas bloomed this year. The feathery leaves of Gayfeather are visible to the left of the yuccas. These will fill the front garden with purple spikes of flowers in the fall.

This cactus was transplanted from the backgarden last fall. It suffered a little from the transplanting and cold, but has clearly recovered.

This is another Husker Red Penstemon. The flowers on these plants are white, while the flowers on the plants in the pictures above are light pink/purple. The plants were purchased at different times and locations and obviously have different genetics. The leaves on the white flowered plants are not as dark either.

Chocolate Daisy has begun to perfume the air with its chocolate scent.

This is one of the first Zexmenia flowers to open this year. A very tough and long blooming wildflower.

Shrubby Purple Skullcap blooms next to the mailbox. I cut back this plant pretty hard this spring because there were several live oak leaves embedded in the stems. It grew back nicely.

This smaller plant has white stripes on the flowers. Does anyone know why? To the best of my knowledge, it is a seedling of the larger skullcap. Could another variety have found its way into my garden?

Gaillardia blooms among the Bluebonnets.

Green Milkweed has been blooming for about a month. No monarch caterpillars in sight. I saw one monarch in the garden about a month ago and none since.

Finding this milkweed in the garden was a welcome surprise. It was growing where I planted Green Milkweed seeds from Native American Seed
I knew it was different because the leaves were more narrow than the Green Milkweed leaves. I am pretty sure it is Antelope Horns Milkweed. Was an Antelope Horns seed included with the Green Milkweed seeds? Did it blow in on its own? I am not really sure. I transplanted it to its current location a couple of years ago and this was the first time it bloomed. 

Here is what the flowers look like before they open.

The flowers of Butterfly Milkweed are just about ready to open. Look! No aphids...yet.

I would like to have more Eastern Red Columbine in the garden.

Yellow Columbine is just about finished with its blooming. I would not mind having more of these either. The seedlings of both Columbines are slow to mature in my garden and usually get covered by more aggressive plants.

Cedar Sage blooms near the Yellow Columbine.
Texas Betony grows nearby as well. There is a Cedar Sage blooming behind the Texas Betony. The flowers look very similar, however, the Cedar Sage flowers are a darker red.

Gaura popped up everywhere this year. This is an annual variety that I rescued from a field a few years ago. The plants are growing and blooming much more since a grackle picked off all of the hummingbird moth caterpillars.

This Prairie Larkspur is another field rescue. I got to it hours before it was mowed last year. I hope to get many seeds and new plants. I tried before with no luck.

These are some Prickly Pear Cactus pads that I very carefully rescued from the parking lot at Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve. They were detached from the mother plant and very shriveled when I found them. Two pads had flower buds and I was really curious to see what color they were. The top ones opened yesterday and the bottom ones opened today. They are a nice shade of orange that I do not have elsewhere in the garden. They also have bright red fruit in the fall. I have to find a good place for them in the garden, but where? The thought of removing tree leaves and other trash from them gives me the willies. A stock tank is a possibility. 

This parting shot is a remnant of the lawn that once surrounded my house. You just scrolled through 23 photos of wildflowers. Would you have done the same for 23 photos of lawn?