Sunday, August 12, 2012


Weather: Afternoon clouds bring humidity and thunder; last rain 8/5/12; 13:50 hours of daylight today.

What’s blooming in the area: Hybrid perpetual roses, buddleia, bird of Paradise, silver lace vine, trumpet creeper, red yucca, rose of Sharon, datura, sweet pea, Russian sage, purple garden phlox, single sunflowers, yellow flowered yarrow, zinnias, Sensation cosmos.

Pepper roasters are in business in the local grocery parking lot.

Beyond the walls and fences: Leatherleaf globemallow, bush morning glory, white and pink bindweeds, white sweet and white prairie clovers, silver leaf nightshade, buffalo gourd, knotted spurge, prostrate knotweed, goat’s head, Queen Anne’s lace, gum weed, goat’s beard, horseweed, wild lettuce, golden hairy asters, goldenrod; buds on Tahoka daisies.

Few native sunflowers and little áñil del muerto up yet.

In my yard, looking east: Bouncing Bess, Jupiter’s beard, hollyhock, winecup mallow, sidalcea Party Girl, California and Shirley poppies.

Looking south: Rugosa, floribunda and miniature roses, Dutch clover, Illinois bundle flower.

Looking west: Caryopteris, Siberian and Seven Hills Giant catmints, calamintha, leadplant, David phlox, perennial four o’clock, sea lavender, Mönch asters, purple coneflowers.

Picked the unripe peaches before the tree bough guillotined me.

Looking north: Hartweig evening primrose, nasturtium, chocolate flower, coreopsis, blanket flower, black-eyed Susan, Mexican hat, chrysanthemum, yellow cosmos.

Bedding plants: Petunia, nicotiana, snapdragons, sweet alyssum.

What’s blooming inside: Zonal geraniums, aptenia.

Animal sightings: Rabbit, hummingbirds, small brown birds, geckos, bees, hornets, harvester and small black ants.

Weekly update: Seeds have always been a mystery - not in any mystical way, mind - it’s just they don’t grow for me. Didn’t in Ohio, didn’t in Texas, didn’t in Michigan, and don’t here.

I look with envy on those who, year after year, dry, wet or in between, succeed. Despite this year’s bad spring, I see ears on corn stalks, large green tomatoes and two foot high zinnias that have been blooming for a month.

I take no pleasure in watching others who expend a great deal effort to put in a vegetable garden, only to have the corn rise unevenly and the tomatoes struggle. I wonder at those who do succeed their first year and never try again. But then, maybe they do, but they’re only allowed one good year to lure them into years of frustration.

This year, after I’d done all my planting, I hired a man to expand my driveway so I could turn around without jockeying. He was good, but it is no more possible to convince a man with a backhoe that you’ll will not soon pay someone in relandscape his damage than it is to tell a barber “just a little.”

In June, I was left with strips three to six feet wide beyond the drive that were going to sprout weeds - and have. Prostrate knotweed is growing luxuriously where I put down a soaker hose, but, like cheat grass, it will eventually die and leave unsightly remains. Every day I find more goat’s head and Russian thistles.

To try to contain the damage until the time when I could put in new grass or clover seed, I planted some trees and used my left over seed. It was neither the time to buy nor to plant trees, but something had to be done.

This year I tried something new. Instead of watering them from the base like you’re told to do, and which has failed for me more often than not, I went out every afternoon when the sun was the hottest and turned on the sprinkler. I knew I’d put water in the ground, but I also knew this spring was abnormally dry, with extremely low humidity levels. I simply wanted to cool the leaves, to somehow counteract the effect of the heat.

The trees have made it - though I won’t know until next spring if they really have survived. But, surprisingly some of the seeds, I put in, a month too, late are blooming. At one end of the drive, I transplanted some seedlings that had come up too dense, then stopped growing in May. The California poppies are blooming, as are a few Shirley poppies [above pink] and some larkspur. [section head] In the original bed, a few Shirleys have been putting out small flowers on short stems [above coral], but the larkspur never materialized. The only California poppy that’s blooming is from last year.

At the other end, some cosmos and morning glory plants are thriving - not blooming mind, but producing leaves. One’s even engulfing a small tree I planted in June.

How was I to know? My other morning glories are maybe a foot long and weakly climbing.

In one place, prairie coreopsis [top] and bachelor buttons camp up. I didn’t deliberately plant either, but I did sow one of those seed mixes companies send as free gifts. They’ve come up downstream from where I think I planted them; they apparently washed around when I was giving some struggling trees some help in June.

I’ve tried and tried, and failed and failed, with bachelor buttons, and there they were - for about three days. I’d never even risk a prairie coreopsis and only hope it can self-seed.

I don’t know if I’ve finally found the secret - that when the package says uniformly moist it means drenched every day - or if this is another case of first year luck. I won’t know until next year, when, like anyone lured by the occasional, unexpected success, I’ll gamble again.

1. Prairie coreopsis, 16 July 2012.
2. Blue larkspur and unopened California poppies in new location, 11 August 2012.
3. Shirley poppy in new location, 7 August 2012.
4. Shirley poppy in usual location, 9 July 2012.
5. California poppies in usual location, 25 April 2012, with some invading winecup and volunteer garlic chives.

6. California poppy in usual location, 9 July 2012.
7. Heavenly blue morning glory in new location, 21 July 2012.
8. Scarlet rambler morning glory in usual location, 7 August 2012.
9. Bachelor button, 27 July 2012.
10. Open California poppies and larkspur in new location, 7 August 2012.

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