Rain is Good. three rain showers in the past 36 hours have made everything nice and green. the plumbago loves it and is blooming profusely; the mandevilla is growing like a, well, weed, and has a few flowers of its own; and the butterfly weed is also blooming.
of course, this means the grass is also growing like mad and will be due for a cut this weekend.
Yaupon Holly. the "thorny tree-thing" described in my previous entry is almost certainly a yaupon holly, which is native to texas. here are info and pics courtesy of the texas tech dept. of plant and soil science. i'm amused by the scientific name - ilex vomitoria.
Pruning, Again. tackled the redtips below the sunroom window and the back fence hollies again on sunday. also worked on the redtip by the side fence - this one has become more tree than bush and is (was) a good 12+ feet high. it was also shading the mini roses too much.
oh yeah, and i pruned some still-unidentified thorny tree-thing by the driveway fence. this particular specimen has small, attractive, evergreen leaves and last fall it put out masses of tiny white flowers followed by red berries. i noticed that the berries stayed intact through the winter and birds didn't really seem to be eating them (although that could have been because we park the car right next to it). however, this thing, whatever it is, has truly evil thorn-spikes of up to two inches long. it also has a habit of growing more horizontal than vertical and was getting grossly overbalanced with some heavy branches on the left. so i (hopefully) alleviated some of this problem.
Growing Gardenias. i didn't even realize we had gardenias until they bloomed. obviously, i haven't been giving them any special care, but they seem to be doing just fine despite what might be considered trying conditions.
the larger bush is almost five feet high, now that it has been propped up. this particular bush got mashed down last august when our house was re-roofed prior to us moving in. all fall / winter the bush was left prone; finally in february or march we put a cinder block under what appeared to be the main trunk. despite all the neglect, in late april / early may the bush was covered in flower buds and erupted into full bloom with dozens of super-fragrant flowers.
yesterday afternoon i did some maintenance pruning in an attempt to improve the shape of this bush. i saved some of the cuttings to try to root them. i'm also trying to root some crape myrtle cuttings.
the other gardenia is much smaller - about two and a half feet tall. it's next to / underneath the recently identified star jasmine between the back door and garage, squeezed into a tiny patch of soil bounded by the driveway (concrete) and deck (wood). last fall darin "pruned" it rather brutally (he isn't allowed to prune without supervision now), but did no permanent damage. despite the abuse, this bush also bloomed beautifully.
this afternoon i pruned the second bush slightly, as well as the star jasmine that was threatening to engulf it. i think having a bit more space and light will help the gardenia.
Suicidal Gardenia. found this thread - suicidal gardenia - while searching for info on pruning gardenias. it's more amusing than informative, but worth a read. having reached the follow-up limit (over the course of three years!) it continues here.
Star Jasmine and Gardenias. during my blog / garden hiatus, the star jasmine bloomed, as did two previously unidentified gardenia bushes. the gardenia blooms didn't last long, but the flowers were very attractive and the scent was nearly overwhelming.
at the same time, the star jasmine was covered in tiny, cloyingly sweet blooms for a bit more than a week. a very nice smell, but almost too much - i think the high humidity we were experiencing at the time contributed to the way the smell of the gardenias and jasmine hung in the air.
Butterfly Weed. the butterfly weed is once again leafy, having completely recovered from the april monarch caterpillars. new flower buds are near opening, which probably means another crop of caterpillars before long.
Figs, Figs, Figs. the fig tree is still covered with countless figlets, slowly getting larger. darin is anxious to experiment with fig recipes, but i'm not sure when they'll be ripe.
the downside of having such a nice, large fig tree is that it creates a very dense shade. this contributed to the demise of the veggies i tried to plant - when i chose the spot for veggies, the fig tree had not yet leafed out and i didn't realize how dense the shade would be. alas, next spring i'll try another spot. for now, i'm investigating shade lovers for the groundcover (but not asian jasmine or elephant ear).
Endless Elephant Ear. i continue to struggle with the elephant ear sprouts in the jungle. before we went out of town last week, i dug up a dozen or so sprouts and "disposed" of them in the compost pile. checking yesterday, there are about two dozen new sprouts - some already a good six inches tall - that need to be removed. bleah.
don't ever, ever plant elephant ear unless you are prepared to have it around for a very long time.
Compost Pile. we have two and a half compost piles. yesterday i flipped about half of the oldest pile into yet another spot. parts of this pile were composting very well; other parts weren't doing much at all - too compressed, too dry. which is the whole point of turning the pile - to uncompress so air / water can get through it all.
i've discovered that asian jasmine vines really don't compost well, at least not in my piles. i'm sure that they will eventually decompose, but for now, the vines make a tangled, wiry sort of mass that is a real pain when i'm trying to flip the piles. i would recommend either (1) not bothering to compost the vines or (2) cut them up into short segments before composting. given the amount of jasmine i was pulling out of the "jungle", cutting it up would have been more work than i wanted had i known how poorly the vines would compost.
elephant ear also doesn't compost well - it sprouts, even when buried deep, deep in the pile.
Back Online. i've been neglecting both blog and garden lately for various and sundry reasons, including, but not limited to: an early hot and humid spell here in houston, houseguests on several occasions, too much "real" work, and an out-of-town vacation. now that things have settled down a bit, i'll try to be more consistent.
the bad news is that my extended period of garden neglect has unfortunately resulted in the loss of most of my vegetable / herb seedlings. they just needed more loving care than i could give them.
the good news is that most of the miscellaneous vegetables / herbs that darin bought have established themselves and are doing very well, even with all the neglect.