More Figs ! yesterday darin and i got a dozen or so figs from the tree. we ate several and put the rest in the fridge to eat with vanilla ice cream.
our main competition seems to be birds, rather than squirrels. i'm sure the squirrels would like to eat figs, but over the last few months the rodents have learned that we let our dogs (greyhounds) out at odd times. and the dogs love nothing better than going after squirrels. the dogs have not yet actually caught a squirrel, but they've come darn close.
Seeds, Take 2. just for kicks, and to see what happens, i've put another batch of seeds in trays. i had oodles of seeds left over from this spring's failed attempt - some of these i didn't even try earlier. still have a fair number of seeds left.
All in the Family. firebush belongs to the same family - rubiaceae - as ixora, gardenia and pentas, three more of my plantings. the link also provides some interesting background on the firebush and notes that "...it will freeze and die most years north of Interstate 10." we're about three miles north of i-10.
Mexican Firebush (Hamelia patens)? maybe this is what darin bought last fall and put in the front bed. i thought we lost them in the freezes because all the foliage died, but they came back from the roots after all. when (if) they bloom i'll have a more positive i.d. (or not).
Ixora coccinea. i thought i'd seen the last of the ixora so imagine my surprise when i found six (well, five and a very scraggly bunch of sticks with some leaves) hiding out in the front bed. they're even starting to bloom. i cut off some of the longest, barest branches (twigs) in hopes of encouraging bushier growth.
i vaguely remember finding and identifying these particular ixora last fall, but i'd certainly forgotten them until i was working in the front beds last weekend.
there are also two small azaleas in the front, between some of the ixora. no idea what color the azaleas are. darin bought them and planted them a couple of months ago. at any rate, they seem happy enough and have been putting out new leaves.
Figs! yesterday i ate two figs from the fig tree. they probably would have been better in another day or two, but i was anxious to try them before the squirrels / birds ate everything. while looking for ripe figs i found evidence in the form of partially munched on figs (still on the tree) that the neighborhood critters have a taste for figs. if only we could reach an arrangement where the squirrels and birds get everything in the top third of the tree and the people get the rest.
Rooting Lantana. i keep forgetting to add this one: i (accidentally / on-purpose) broke an extra-long tip off the last lantana when i planted it (it was looking a bit wilty), so i put it in water with the coleus i was rooting. after several days, the lantana finally started putting out roots. i was close to giving up on it, but it wasn't wilting so i left it alone. another week or so in the window sill and it should be ready to graduate to soil.
Crinum #2. the second crinum bloomed yesterday. the difference between this one and the one that bloomed last weekend seems to be that the first had four flowers on its stem, and this one has six. i wonder whether that is determined by the relative age / size of the plant. the first bloomer was a much smaller plant that was relocated a few months ago; the one blooming now is a monster of unknown age. regardless, the flowers smell wonderful, but are very short-lived (~2 days).
two of the three crinums that i dug up the other night are looking good - still nice and green, no drooping - i think they'll survive. and when i was checking the latest flower this morning i noticed another "baby" that had popped up in the yard outside the flower bed. i'll be digging that one up and potting it when i get home.
Gardenias, Again. the larger gardenia bush is confused, i think. it has put out a very belated a flower bud.
i've been semi-successful rooting the gardenia cuttings. the one that i potted is still looking very green and perky and has even begun to show signs of new growth. unfortunately, the second cutting lost all its roots and seems to be on its way to becoming just a stick in water.
Potting Coleus. last night i potted up the coleus i had been rooting in water. in less than two weeks it has developed quite a mass of roots while sitting in the kitchen windowsill. once it's grown a few new leaves i'll transplant it outside with the rest of its "family".
No Nails. the downside to spending so much of my weekend puttering around in the garden / yard is that my fingernails are a lost cause. i've gone through three pairs of canvas gloves since we moved in last fall. i know, i should buy better gloves but i haven't found any tougher ones that still allow me to feel what i'm doing and that's important (unless i'm raking or turning the compost piles).
even when i wear gloves, i manage to get dirt under my nails. so every sunday night i find myself cutting my nails back, again. and there is absolutely no point in trying to wear nail polish; i'd ruin nail polish even during the week since when we come home from work i usually do a quick walk-through the yard and pull weeds / pick up tree debris / pinch off overzealous plants before even going inside.
Baby Anole. our backyard anoles must be happy - this afternoon i saw a young green anole hiding out in one of the gardenias. i even got a decent picture which i might post tomorrow night, but it's now past my bedtime.
Tea Olive (Osmanthus fragrans). i had never heard of this tree before but read a description on gardenweb's "plants that say south" thread. the description of the tea olive's flowers and scent seemed to fit two small trees we have growing along the front of our house and sure enough, the pictures seem to confirm it.
i think the trees are attractive, but not especially so. however, the scent of the flowers is very nice.
Crinum americanum. when i read the description of crinums on soul of the garden, i suspected that we had them and started waiting for the next bloom for a positive i.d. and the answer is - yes!
we actually have clumps of crinums in several locations around our house - including in a couple of places we don't really want them - like the tiny bed by the side door that has a crepe myrtle. it isn't so much that we don't want them there, but last fall / this spring they kept trying to "escape" by sending underground runners so that babies kept popping up between the planks of the doorstep. i dug several out a few months ago and (even though i didn't know what they were) relocated them to a sunny spot behind the garage. there are now five happy crinums back there, including the one that bloomed this weekend.
we have another, larger, clump in the bed along the fence dividing the front and back yards. we had seen these bloom a couple of times last fall and darin agreed to let them stay based on the attractive flowers (and my promise to eventually identify them). one of this crowd has a flower stalk up and will have flowers in another day or two.
i dug up three crinum babies this evening - they had appeared a few feet from the parent groups and just not where i wanted them - and i want to see if i can successfully pot them.
For the Birds. it's only june, but the grass had that parched, crackling look to it when i turned on the sprinklers today. at one point a blue jay and a pair of cardinals were enjoying the water shower while perched in a (unidentified) small tree in the front yard.
Coleus Update. the coleus that i have in water is rooting like mad - roots everywhere. i'll give it another few days, then put it in a pot. and the "parent" plant seems to have suffered no ill effects.
To Do List: - water front / back yards if is doesn't rain (looks like it won't)- update: watered the front saturday; rained (unexpectedly) early sunday morning - spread mulch / compost under fig tree and entire fig "corner" - update: in progress (6/16) - go to nursery and look at shade plants
Nandina Update. i still think it looks weedy, but not in an entirely bad way. it's just that it grows so prolifically, like, well, a weed. last night i revisited our nandina colony and realized that i had grossly undercounted - there are actually 12+ clumps and each clump has 3-10 canes.
so i took my trusty clippers to the problem. i wasn't as thorough in my nandina pruning as i could/should have been, but i'll tackle them again later. i cut about one-third of the canes off at soil level and didn't do any of the "layering", but that i think that would create a nice, fuller effect.
searching the web for useful info reveals that nandina is considered an invasive plant in florida. but, as far as i can tell, it is not identified as a problem in texas (and the aggie horticulture folks apparently like it). as i mentioned, the nandina grows readily in the beds by the side of our house, but it doesn't seem to "escape" the confines of the beds - i haven't found them anywhere else (yet).
Lantana Location. i found a spot for the fourth lantana between two clumps of liriope in the side bed between our driveway and the neighbor's. hopefully, the lantana will get wide enough that i can remove the oh-so-boring liriope.
Coleus Cutting. while arranging the soaker hose for my new additions to the front bed yesterday, i inadvertently beheaded one of the coleus. i think the remaining portion of the plant will survive, and i decided not to waste the bit i knocked off. so i've got it in water to see whether it will root...
Rooting the Gardenia. moving on to step two of the gardenia rooting experiment. this evening i transferred the cutting with the most root growth from water to a pot with soil. i laid the cutting on top of the soil and added a shallow covering of soil over the roots. then watered well. we'll see what happens.
Nandina domestica, (Heavenly Bamboo). we have six or eight of these on the side of the house that we mostly ignore. they are in a sort of alcove between the side of our house and the neighbors' side/back fence, which is about eight feet closer to the street than our fence. eventually, we want to push our back fence out so it is flush with the neighbors', thus creating the alcove in the back yard instead of the side yard.
until i saw the nandina picture in my nifty new book, i thought they were just overgrown, albeit attractive, weeds. they do have very attractive berries, but they also manage to collect a lot of pine needles in their tops.
Powdery Mildew. it looks like one of my crape myrtles (the smallest one) has a touch of powdery mildew. so far the only thing i've done about it is to pinch off the afflicted areas. i've removed half a dozen or so branch tips. this particular tree is somewhat shaded by larger trees, so i think that has been "encouraging" the mildew.
To Do List: - spread mulch / compost under fig tree and entire fig "corner"
- add more mulch to front beds and side beds - check whether hose liberated from jungle is soaker hose- update, it is - go to nursery and look at shade plants
May Flowers... (so it's actually the first week of june) here's what we have blooming right now:
- african iris 
- butterfly weed 
- mandevilla 
- mexican heather 
- plumbago 
- star jasmine 
 just started blooming
 a few stragglers
Rooting Gardenias. i'm having some success with the rooting experiment. one of the gardenia clippings that i have in water is showing lots of nice root growth. apparently, you can also propagate gardenias by layering, but i haven't tried that yet.
Mosquito Madness. what do i most hate about gardening / yardwork? not the heat or the humidity, not the dirt under my nails - it's all the bleeping mosquitoes. i won't use bug sprays on myself because i can't stand the smell, but i always go out with leggings, socks and (usually) long sleeves. i skipped the long sleeves yesterday and today and the mosquitoes immediately found me. benadryl helps.