Spuria Iris. based on my very brief look at the mystery bloom, i'm leaning towards identifying it as something from the spuria group. bloom / leaf description is consistent with what i see growing; i haven't gone so far as to dig it up and see what's underground. the spuria iris society has info and pics.
whatever they are, i have two of them, but only one currently has flower buds. spurias do grow in texas, and the description of growing conditions - sunny, well-draining, hot, summer drought-tolerant - matches what my plants have.
Iris Pics. came across this site while looking for iris pics to help me id the mystery bloomer. i'm not sure yet whether the answer is here, but he certainly has some great pictures and good information.
Figlets. we have figs on the tree. they're about the size of the tip of my little finger. they're very hard to locate since they're exactly the same green as the leaves and look rather like leaf buds until you inspect more closely. the fig tree itself now has a dense canopy of leaves; the largest leaves are already the size of my outstretched hand.
Mystery Bloomer. the mystery bloomer is still a mystery. the first flower didn't stay open long, but there are at least four more almost ready to open. what i do know is that it is a smallish flower - about 1" across - butter yellow, three or four petals. now i'm leaning towards the iris family.
Rock Gardening. well, sort of. the bed between our front yard / driveway and the neighbors was once upon a time covered with river stones. time and neglect has buried many of the stones by as much as 2" of dirt. so i spent yesterday carefully digging around the liriope and recovering stones. then i leveled out the bed a bit and replaced the stones - on top of the dirt now. looks much better.
Narcissus / Daffodil / Jonquil. something is about to bloom in the bed under the sunroom window, but i'm not entirely sure what it is. judging from the leaves - long, thin, strappy - i think it's something from the narcissus family. i expect to know more when the flowers open and i know color / number / size of blooms.
i've always been especially fond of daffodils. i think because they were always the first thing to bloom where i grew up and they grow 'wild' in fields, marking where a homesite once was.
Egg Update. at least, i'm assuming there are eggs since there has been a bird on the nest every time i've looked this week. supposing the eggs were laid about march 23 (the day before we first noticed they were setting), then they should be hatching around april 6.
i'm a little surprised that the doves chose this particular spot to nest. yes, it is very sheltered by the rambler (which i have tentatively identified as a climbing rose, the specific name of which escapes me just now). but it is directly between two driveways, and almost right above our gate which makes a great deal of noise each time we drive in or out.
UPDATE: the climber is almost certainly rosa banksiae 'lutea' - i'll try to remember to confirm with neighbor gardener. the secret of my clever investigative work? i saw a picture in this month's martha stewart living.
Nesting Doves. the mourning doves we see so often in our backyard have set up house. yesterday darin and i were standing in the driveway discussing whether the board fence between our drive and the neighbors needs to be replaced (it's getting shaky in spots) and we saw one of the doves perched atop the fence. the neighbors have some kind of rambling, flowering thing growing on their side and it arches up over the fence - i keep forgetting to ask them what it is. so the nest and birds are well-concealed unless you know where to look. and the nesting bird sits almost perfectly motionless, staring at you, daring you to get within pecking range (or that's how it seems to me). so any fence repairs will have to wait.
here's some interesting info on mourning doves - i'm not sure i can tell the difference between the male and female birds.
Imposter Tree. one of those leafing trees is not a crepe myrtle. it is about three inches behind one of the smaller crepe myrtles and the imposter's trunk is the same diameter as the trunks of the "real" tree, which has multiple trunks, hence the confusion. however, upon closer examination, it is not, in fact, another trunk of the crepe myrtle. the bark is decidedly different and the leaves don't match those of the known crepe myrtles. darin has removed the offending tree since we have no idea how large it will become and it would just crowd the desired crepe myrtle.
Leaf Hog. i've been wanting one of these since last fall. we compost all of our yard debris, but it's soooo slllloooowww. it doesn't help that we have several oak and pine trees that seem to do nothing but shed leaves/needles/cones. so this nifty thing not only sucks the leaves/needles/cones up, but also chops them for faster composting. wheee! i went to our friendly neighborhood home improvement center yesterday afternoon and bought one; then i spent all afternoon being productive with my new gadget.
Coleus. somehow i can't seem to go into the home improvement center and buy only what i went in for. yesterday it was the coleus - they looked so cheerful, and the front bed has so much empty space. so i bought 12 three-inch tall plants ($1.38 / 6 plants). after planting them, i mulched around them with mulch from my nifty new gadget.
Tulips.darin's tulips continue to surprise me. in the process of cleaning up the front bed to plant the coleus i kept "discovering" more tulips. eight are putting out nice greenery (i don't know whether they'll bloom, it seems too late), and several may yet do something. i did ask him to mark his next gardening efforts with sticks to prevent them from being "lost".
Spring Update 2. the belated redbud is in full bloom - even darin can identify it now.
two of the crape myrtles (the smallest/youngest ones) in the backyard have started leafing out - this is a relief because they looked awfully dry and brittle and i was half-afraid they had succumbed to the cold a few weeks ago.
the butterfly weed is blooming. and i saw a monarch fluttering around on sunday.
the mexican heather sprigs seem to be taking root, and the existing plants are leafing out again.
the same day i planted the mexican heather sprigs, darin put out a couple of dozen tulip bulbs that had been forgotten in the garage. one is definitely putting out new growth and half a dozen more look hopeful.
the herb and veggie seedlings continue to grow in the sunroom and should be ready for outdoor life in about two more weeks. i'd like them to have at least two sets of "real" leaves before setting them out.
on sunday i trimmed the dead bits (from the last cold snap) off the plumbago by the driveway. the big one in the backyard that i trimmed a couple of weeks ago looks great with all the new growth. i haven't tried again to root any plumbago cuttings.
Fig Facts. came across this while looking for info on the lifespan of fig trees - fig fruit facts (california rare fruit growers). and more fun fig facts courtesy of texas a&m (sorry darin). but i still don't know how long fig trees live. here's the a to z of things to do with figs. and here i read that fig trees are productive for 12-15 years and although the crop declines after that the trees may live to a very advanced age.
Fig Update. yesterday morning the fig tree was covered with bright green leaf buds, but they were only visible when you were within a few feet of the tree. this morning, i could see the emerging leaves as i looked out from the sunroom. it is a very attractive, graceful tree - even more so now that the jungle has been cleared away.
Tomatoes vs. Cats. tomato seedlings are still holding up against the cats, but the cats are persistent. they appear to be doing some "thinning" when we aren't around - i come home to find seedlings gently uprooted, but otherwise intact, so i cover the roots again and keep my fingers crossed.
Spring Update. fig tree is leafing out nicely. and i've identified another tree in the backyard - redbud. pretty obvious, it just threw me off for a while because it's about 10 days behind all the other redbuds in the neighborhood.
Morning Musings. i like spending a few minutes outside in the backyard before leaving for work. sure, you can hear traffic sounds from 610 but it's just a muted background rumble. mostly i hear birds, lots of birds, and the occasional irate squirrel. i can't identify bird calls very well, although i do recognize the mourning doves. we seem to have at least one pair living in or near our backyard because i see them regularly. i can visually identify most of the birds i've seen in our yard: robins, blue jays, mourning doves, hummingbirds (not yet this year), sparrows.
Garden Conservation. i've added two new links over in the sidebar: the garden conservancy is a nonprofit organization that preserves "exceptional american gardens for the public's education and enjoyment," and the national gardens scheme is a uk organization that opens otherwise private gardens to the public on a limited basis. both sites - but especially the national gardens scheme site - would be wonderful resources for planning a garden-viewing tour.
More on Mexican Heather. yesterday i planted the two sprigs of mexican heather i've been rooting in water. they are now located in the bed by the front door, along with the two plants they were originally clipped from. i also trimmed all the frost damaged bits from the two older plants. it's almost the middle of march - i can't imagine that it will freeze again in houston.
Weeds. i pulled out the (frost damaged) ixora that was growing under the sunroom window. there were five plants and they did have attractive flowers last fall, but i'd rather use the space for more butterfly weed and herbs (when they're ready for transplanting). i feel a bit guilty about getting rid of perfectly healthy plants, but if i don't want them, they qualify as weeds.
Sunday Gardening. today was fairly productive. darin finished cleaning out the jungle; all that remains now is the fig tree. adding to the collection of lost objects discovered in the jungle, we found the head that goes with the rest of the topiary form previously found and we uncovered four railroad ties encircling the fig tree.
Hardening Off. more fun gardening concepts. the idea is to get the seedlings accustomed to the outside world prior to actual transplanting. so i set the seedling trays out on the back deck for about two hours this afternoon.
UPDATE: the seedlings looked a bit wilty when i brought them back inside, but i put water in the trays and they were perked up again this morning.
Neglecting the Seedlings and Blog. honestly, i haven't really been neglecting the seedlings. they're growing right along, starting to show signs of their first true leaves. tomatoes, spinach and coriander seem most successful, although the cats continue to be a bit of a problem. in fact, i think the cats are responsible for the disappearance of several basil seedlings.
i have been neglecting the outdoors work. last weekend and the beginning of this week were, by houston standards, cold cold cold. the plumbago got nipped pretty thoroughly, but i expect it to come back from the roots without permanent damage. same for the mexican heather and butterfly weed. some of the ixora that i was considering moving got caught and may or may not pull through - if it doesn't, i won't be too upset.
Damping Off. alas, a number of the first batch of seedlings seem to have succumbed to damping off. probably due to overwatering. i first noticed the signs - previously healthy looking seedlings flopping over with stems that appear pinched and discolored near the soil line - last weekend. i had been vaguely aware of the risk, having read about it before, so i wasn't overly shocked. i'm now watering everything from the bottom. since the seedlings are in paper pots sitting in trays this just means letting them sit in a bit of water and soaking it up. the seedlings planted in the two later trays don't seem affected, so i'm hoping that i stopped the overwatering soon enough.