Home Again. we're back from a few days in the d.c. / alexandria area. the cherry trees were just getting started but were very nice in a few places; japanese magnolias were spectacular.
the snow mixed with rain that we awoke to yesterday morning reminded me again why i live in houston. although houston also experienced a bit of a cold snap while we were gone, it doesn't appear to have damaged anything.
Yellow! imagine my surprise this morning when i was taking my morning stroll through the yard, admiring how upright and bold the foliage of the unidentified iris has become, and saw a flower bud!
it's just peeking out but you can see a beautiful, clear yellow tip. the bud is huge compared to the bearded iris i remember my mother growing -- it's about two inches top-to-bottom. i'm incredibly anxious to see it bloom (here's hoping nothing happens to it in the meantime.)
this plant is one of the ones i replanted in the bed below the sunroom window after separating the monster unblooming clump-o-iris. i honestly didn't expect any of them to bloom this year since i just separated them in november. even if this is the only flower i get from them this year, i'll be happy -- and eager to see what happens next year. nonetheless, i can't help but be hopeful that the rhizomes i put at the end of the deck* will bloom this year since they get at least 25% more sun than the bed this one is in.
oh, and the "bold" foliage is ~30 inches tall; the fan with the bud is ~24 inches tall and the tallest fan in the "sunny" bed is exactly 36 inches tall. i just went out and measured everything.
* the bed we just finished is an around-the-corner extension of this bed.
Weekend Update. perfect spring weather -- lots to do outside today.
but first, recent garden developments: the narcissus triandrus 'petrel' started blooming this past week. one stem of two flowers currently open; many more up and expected to open over the next few days. the petrel foliage is only about half the height of the erlicheer foliage (~12 inches vs. ~24 inches).
the pixie lilies are about 8 inches tall and appear to have flower buds. the 'royal fantasy' lilies are 12-18 inches tall and getting taller. no buds apparent. also, much to my relief, the 'regale' lilies are finally sprouting -- three of the five are up so far.
cilantro is blooming, as are chives. sugar snap peas are 4-5 feet tall and look fantastic; hopefully will start producing soon. the two tomatoes have been planted in the raised bed; matt's wild cherry started blooming a few days ago.
tulipa clusiana var. chrysantha is blooming away. this might be my favorite of the tulips so far.
the crape myrtles are leafing out, the cherry laurel is blooming (and, much to my annoyance, last season's dropped seeds are sprouting all over the back yard), the redbud has just started blooming and the sweet olives look ready to bloom in the next week or so.
last, but certainly not least important, we finished making the new bed off the deck. pictures to come.
i only allowed myself to buy as much as i could carry, which turned out to be 13 plants squeezed into a nursery flat.
coreopsis grandiflora (big flower coreopsis) -- something to try in the border between our driveway and the neighbor's
gladiolus byzantinus (byzantine gladiolus) -- this is one i've admired since reading about it in scott ogden's "garden bulbs for the south" and william welch / greg grant's "the southern heirloom garden". welch has this to say, "...unlike the fussy modern hybrids, G. byzantinus is a survivor, and a true perennial." i'm not sure whether mine are large enough to bloom this year; i may have to settle for admiring the foliage for a year or two.
laurus nobilis (bay laurel) -- darin loves to cook and frequently uses bay leaves, so this counts as a 'practical' plant. it's also a fascinating heirloom shrub for the south. i'll probably keep it in a container so it can be moved inside if necessary during the winter.
(2) penstemon tenuis (gulf coast / brazos penstemon) -- another candidate for the driveway border
stipa tenuissima (nassella tenuissima) (mexican feather grass) -- possible replacement for the liriope along the front walk (but i'll need a lot more)
thymus x citriodorus (golden lemon thyme) -- not entirely sure where to put this one, it could go into the raised bed, but it looked too neat to pass up. the linked photo doesn't do it justice, but the tiny green leaves are edged in yellow. and it does have a very lemony scent.
thymus serphyllum (mother of thyme) -- groundcover for somewhere
Tulipa clusiana var. chrysantha. one t. clusiana opened today; two or three more should open tomorrow.
t. clusiana looks very similar to t. kolpakowskiana but with t. clusiana the pink / rose streak is wider, the foliage is finer and the flower stem is a couple of inches taller. and it's blooming about a week later.
both pictures accompanying this post are t. clusiana.
Playing with Rocks. yesterday darin and i bought 300-odd pounds of rocks -- "san jacinto ledgestone" (i have no idea what the scientific name is).
we spent over an hour wandering through a local stone yard -- san jacinto stone, for the curious -- looking at rocks. rocks for edging, paving stone, gravel of all sizes, and big boulders for "focal points." we were looking specifically for rocks to edge the new bed we're putting off the east side of the deck, but we also got lots of ideas for future projects.
sure enough, the san jacinto ledgestone was among the first piles of rock we looked at, but we went through the whole yard to make sure.
since we had only eyeballed the space before going shopping, we had to guess how much to buy. naturally, we ended up a few feet short so darin had to make a second trip. he also roughly placed the rocks around the bed-to-be (to make make sure we had enough) and we both agree that the rocks are a perfect complement to the house and the deck and it's going to look fantastic.
i put down newspaper and compost to cover the area of the new bed last weekend so the grass is on its way to being dead. this afternoon i dug out the grass along the edges.
darin hasn't caught on yet, but this is all part of my master plan to eliminate much of the lawn.
Crocus tomasinianus. the crocus finished blooming earlier this week.
all in all, i'm extremely pleased with their performance. there were so many flowers that i think every one of the bulbs i planted sprouted and bloomed. i know for a fact that several had multiple blooms.
now i just have to be patient and wait eleven months to see whether they return and whether they multiply.
one final note, the foliage is rather attractive, also. the grass-like leaves radiate out from the bulb -- deep green with a center stripe of white, almost silver.
Tulip Notes. the tulipa kolpakowskiana has finished blooming -- a few days ago, actually. the flowers were beautiful and each lasted several days. i think all of the bulbs that came up bloomed but only one flower per bulb.
the first t. saxatilisflowers are done, but now second stems are blooming. these have been very long lasting blooms; the downside is that of the 20 bulbs, only two bloomed. the other 18 had only foliage.
the t. turkestanica is still blooming strongly -- four and five flowers per plant -- and trying to set seed.
the t. clusiana var. chrysantha in the front bed and rock garden is budding and looks like it will start blooming any day.
Tulipa turkestanica. at least, i think this is t. turkestanica. i planted t. turkestanica and t. biflora around the base of the sycamore in the front yard. one of them is up and blooming now. it would be nice if the other would make an appearance so i could compare them.
when these first started opening late last week, i was concerned that the flowers had all been damaged by too much rain / not enough sun because the buds looked pretty ratty. but, obviously, everything came out nicely. each bulb seems to have four or five blooms making for a very nice presentation.
they seem to be setting seed as the flowers expire. i'll let some of the seed pods develop and see whether i can do anything with that. it is possible that letting the plants expend energy on seed pods will be detrimental to bulb development, so i'll just let a couple of them seed.
Sunbathing. not me, one of our friendly backyard anoles.
i also took advantage of the lovely weather to trim the liriope along the front walk. apparently, i should have done this a few weeks ago before the liriope started growing again. and before the tulips came up. now i have to do the trimming by hand to avoid cutting the new growth -- not that i care about the liriope, but i don't want to accidentally cut any of the tulips.
i'm pondering alternatives to the liriope. there's nothing particularly wrong with it, but it's boring and it's everywhere around here. on the plus-side, it doesn't need extra watering or other care, although an annual cut is supposedly beneficial. time to hit the library for books.
Narcissus Notes. the narcissus tazetta 'erlicheer' blooms have lasted a long time, but are now fading fast. all five of the bulbs i planted came up; two of them had two stems of flowers. now, the real test will be to see how many return next year.
the narcissus triandrus 'petrel' that i planted in december are growing well but don't have flower stalks yet. i've been able to locate 12 of the 13 in the bed in front of the house and eight of the 12 around the oak tree. the foliage is up to about six inches tall for a couple of the bulbs, but others are only just nosing out of the ground.