Salvia Habit.i seem to have a growing salvia habit (ha, ha, unintentional pun).
it's not entirely my fault. darin started when he bought a pineapple sage (salvia elegans) last year. it's a beautiful plant and it bloomed exuberantly from december into may, but he's gone overboard taking cuttings from it. there are now seven or more "babies" of this plant scattered around the backyard.
i started with a blue salvia (s. farinacea, i think) and a red salvia (s. splendens, i think) last july. while these specimens are not especially impressive, i've been sucked into the salvia world.
in march i bought two s. greggii (coral) and a s. urtica; shortly thereafter, darin bought a third s. greggii (but to his credit it is a different color -- red, i think).
yesterday i bought a s. sinaloensis and was sorely tempted by a few others (i may yet go back for them since they're on sale).
a wealth of salvia information is available on the web:
Caught in the Act.i can now identify the tomato patch terrorist -- a mockingbird. i saw it flying away with a nice, red cherry tomato in its beak.
given that mockingbirds tend to be territorial, i daresay this is the same bird that has also been plundering the fig tree. at least it's eating well.
this bird also provides us with occasional entertainment (between the frustration it causes by eating figs and tomatoes) -- several times in the last few days we've watched the mockingbird chase squirrels along the top of the back fence, actually plucking at the tails of the squirrels as they scurry away. ha.
Monday Miscellany.the carolina jessamine that i had so badly neglected has apparently forgiven me and is rebounding admirably.
it now has more than 20 leaves (from eight). even though it still looks quite pathetic it is not nearly so pitiful as it was a week ago.
two of the recently acquired crocosmia have sprouted, including one of those that i relocated to the driveway bed. others may be a bit slower to emerge as darin added yet another layer of compost / mulch to the island bed.
several rain lilies from the trade are also coming up in their little area of the island bed.
seedlings of some sort are visible where i earlier sowed daisies and bee balm. time will tell whether these are the hoped-for flowers or merely random weeds.
a week later, the red columbine continues to taunt me with two still-unopened flower buds. soon, very soon.
Farewell to Figs.i'm afraid we won't get to eat any figs at all this year.
there are plenty on the tree, but they aren't yet ripe enough for human consumption and the neighborhood birds and squirrels have already started feasting. just this morning i spotted four different birds -- robin, bluejay, mockingbird and woodpecker -- helping themselves to a nice fig breakfast. and this afternoon i scolded a squirrel for being in the tree.
at least last year our feathered and furry friends had the courtesy to allow us a handful of our own figs before eating everything.
Toad Returns.i was pleasantly surprised this afternoon when i looked into the toad hole while puttering in the back yard and saw a large toad peering back at me. i can't be sure, but it certainly looks like last year's occupant.
Terror in the Tomato Patch.due to the graphic violence depicted in the attached image, this post may not be suitable for sensitive gardeners.
i was in the midst of my morning garden / yard stroll when i came upon this horrifying scene. these partially eaten tomatoes had been brutally torn from their branches and flung outside the bed. note the shreds of tomato peel and the seeds scattered about the scene.
definitely not slugs or caterpillars. i'd be tempted to blame the squirrels, but in my (limited) experience, squirrels can't resist digging in the general vicinity of their meals and there were no signs of digging in or around the bed.
i daresay our yard will be host to numerous tomato volunteers for many seasons to come.
Tasting the Tomatoes.something -- birds, i believe -- has recently started eating the tomatoes. the culprit has a preference for the 'sweet million' tomatoes, which is fine by me. i prefer the 'matt's wild cherry.'
i say it's a bird because the squirrels aren't keen to be on the ground in the back yard, especially at a distance from trees or fence -- never know when the dogs might come outside.
Evening Rain.it rained pretty hard for half an hour or so. i haven't ventured outside to see how much fell, but i'm guessing it was about half an inch. good timing, too. i was tempted to drag the hose around this afternoon but was too lazy.
Plumbago Puppy*.one of our dogs (major) has the habit of lying in the margin between the side fence and driveway, opposite the back door, when she's ready to come back inside.
not much grows in this narrow strip of overly shady clay but a few clumps of liriope and one plumbago that has been trellised up the fence. now that the plumbago is blooming, major comes inside with plumbago flowers and seed pods stuck all over her.
*a four-year-old, 80+ pound dog isn't actually a "puppy," but i use it as a term of endearment. and because i like the alliteration.
i dug up two of the recently planted crocosmia from the island bed and relocated them in the driveway bed next to the ratty looking annual (red) and blue salvias. one of the crocosmia had sprouted a pretty good tangle of roots in just a couple of days.
the 'sweet million' tomato plant got too top heavy for its support and is a now a less-than-graceful specimen; on the other hand, the 'matt's wild cherry' tomato prefers a comparatively low sprawl and has spread its mass to cover much of the herb bed. i really like the 'matt's wild cherry' - the tomatoes are tiny, but tasty and numerous and the plant is terrifically vigorous.
Summer Seeds.i'm probably insane for doing this as summer begins, but i was looking through my leftover seed packets and decided i might as well a) throw out the empty packets and b) plant the remainer of the flower seeds.
so i have just finished direct seeding the following in the island bed (which seems to have become my repository for all "experiments": 'alaska' shasta daisy, bee balm and 'profusion orange' zinnias.
the zinnias supposedly germinate in 7 to10 days, the daisies in 10 to 14 days and the bee balm in 10 to 21 days.
Crocosmia and Zephyranthes.how's that for two hard-to-pronounce names?
in my first ever plant trade, i sent a handful of gladiolus communis spp. byzantinus corms to another gardener in exchange for some crocosmia. as an added bonus (and because i told her my second choice was zephyranthes if the crocosmia weren't available), she sent two kinds of zephyranthes. i think some of them are the same as what i already have -- tentatively identified as z. grandiflora -- but i'm eager to see the others in bloom. and i certainly don't mind having more of the grandifloras since i have plans, big plans, requiring lots and lots of rain lilies...
8 Leaves. that's how many are left on my woefully neglected carolina jessamine (gelsemium sempervirens).
i take full responsibility for the sorry state of this plant. first, i planted it in too much shade and too much clay. then i hardly watered it. and for two (unseasonably) hot, dry months i basically forgot all about the poor plant. from time to time i would notice it tucked back in its dark corner and think "gee, it sure is unhappy there. i should move it before it dies completely." but i didn't do anything until two days ago when i realized it was down to the last eight leaves.
i've dug it up, put it in a gallon pot, fed it, watered it, placed it on the deck where there is actually some sunlight, apologized profusely and begged for forgiveness. a couple of tiny leaf buds are now becoming leaves, so hope remains.
generally speaking, i do believe in tough love for my plants, but this one didn't have a fair chance so i will coddle it for a while before sending it out into the yard again.
Surplus of Serranos.note to self (and other interested parties): five serrano plants are three too many for a two person household. especially if one member of the household doesn't like overly spicy food.
the large serrano plant has several dozen peppers, the other four are quickly catching up.
Isolated Showers.we are officially in the season of "isolated showers." forecast is the same nearly every day: "20-30% chance of isolated showers." we had a shower last night. not enough to wake me up but enough to soak all the plants nicely. looking bright and green this morning.
* n.b.: i am referring to rain showers, of course, not bath showers. this is a garden blog not a post-every-detail-of-your-personal-life blog.
Caterpillar Hunting. i don't mind the monarch caterpillars munching the butterfly weed -- that's what it's there for.
and the black swallowtail caterpillars are welcome to eat the dill. at least four are presently doing so.
however, the tomatoes (and peppers) are strictly offlimits. tomato hornworms are especially unwelcome. i found and disposed of one yesterday.
this whole caterpillar post is the result of my now daily "caterpillar patrols." for the last week or so, i've been diligently examining the tomato plants because i've found a disturbing number of unidentified caterpillars. they aren't hornworms, i've only found one of those so far.
the first few days i was finding 10-15 tiny (~1 cm) caterpillars. they are now fewer, but getting larger (~ 1/2 inch). only one has been found eating a tomato; all others have been found on the underside of leaves. easy to locate, just look underneath the leaves that have holes.
since i'm no good at squishing bugs, even unwanted ones, i have been disposing of the caterpillars by cutting off the caterpillar-occupied tomato leaves and tossing them on the compost pile where they may roast in the sun or be eaten by birds.
Rain. thunder and lightning woke me in the wee hours of the morning. i looked at the clock but it didn't yet read "time to get up" so i don't remember what time it was. i'm not much of a morning person and even less of a pre-dawn person. judging from the water-logged condition of our newspaper the rain must have started after the paper was delivered , i.e. after 6 a.m.
i do remember lying in bed, listening to the storm and trying to remember whether i had any small, vulnerable seedlings outside that i should go rescue. my sleep-muddled mind was having trouble sorting things out, but i did decide that if there were any seedlings they had probably been pounded into the soil already  and i wasn't willing to stumble around in the dark and rain and mud to tie up the tomatoes .
i don't have a proper rain gauge, but based on the water accumulated in empty pots i think we had about an inch here. neighborhoods not far from us got two inches.
 our delivery person is very good about throwing the paper onto the higher (drier) part of the yard rather than the lower (wetter) part of the driveway if it's raining or threatening to rain.
 there aren't any seedlings; i was worrying needlessly.
 the tomatoes survived the storm unscathed without additional support / protection. the peppers are fine, too.