Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Friday, December 31, 2010

A gardener's week - #20

Civilians, i.e., non-gardeners, labor under the illusion that this season is called winter, but we soldiers of the soil know that it is actually Seed Catalog season.

This is just part of my haul for the last two weeks. Every day our postwoman brings me a new batch.

Like most gardeners, I love getting seed catalogs, although, truth to tell, except for my vegetable garden, I don't plant that many seeds. I prefer to get my plants already started from the nursery.

This season I am breaking my tradition just a bit. I've set my grow-light system up in the garage and, this week, I planted a few 'Brandywine' tomato seeds and stuck them under the lights.

'Brandywine' is a delicious heirloom variety that doesn't really stand up well to our heat, but I figure if I can get them started and into the ground early enough, and then protect them if it does turn cold, I might get a decent crop before the intense heat of early summer hits us. Considering that my tomato crops for the last couple of years haven't been anything to brag about, it seems worth the risk and trouble.

This week I also finished up one of the new planting beds I've been working on in the backyard and got the backbone plants of the bed moved in. Now I just have to finish putting in the filler plants and - voila`! - one more bed complete.

During the Christmas holidays, my Christmas cactus did actually manage to produce a few blooms.

Its first bloom fully opened on Christmas Day and since then a few more of these luscious blossoms have joined it. The plant still has some more buds but it will never be full of blooms as it was last year at this time. I think I failed to give it sufficient darkness this fall for the buds to develop. I must try to remember to do better in 2011.

Outside, the blooms are very sparse as the old year fades into memory.

The gerberas are still blooming.

Even though most of the roses, even the 'Knockouts', are in a well-deserved rest period just now, little 'Red Cascade' just keeps on going. The plant has been covered with these tiny quarter-sized blossoms all autumn and it will greet 2011 still wearing its finery.

On the other hand, just beginning its bloom is the leatherleaf mahonia. This is my first winter with the plant and I find it fascinating. I look forward to seeing these buds open all the way.

This morning I was looking out my kitchen window and saw something orange on the wooden fence there. Later, I went to investigate and found something unexpected.

The coral honeysuckle that is planted on the other side of the fence had snaked one of its tendrils through a crack in the fence and that tendril had a bloom on it. A bit out of season, but very welcome, it made me smile to see it. "Never mind that the world is brown and gray now," the little blossom whispered to me as I bent to look at it. "Hold on. Spring is coming!"

Yes, spring will be here before we know it, so let's enjoy these last few weeks of winter - I mean, Seed Catalog season. There's still time to dream of a perfect garden in 2011 before the reality of weeds, heat, drought and hungry insects wakes us from that dream. Happy New Year and happy gardening.


  1. I actually have sprouts under my grow light. I have delusions of all the money I will save on annuals. Of course, I went to Lowes today and bought pansies.

  2. Seeds are a great way to get a lot of plants cheap, FandF, but germinating them and getting them started can sometimes be tricky. I guess that's why, like you, I head to Lowe's or my favorite local nursery when I want plants to fill in a spot in my garden.

  3. love your photos. appreciate those lovely "hangeroners!"

  4. I appreciate hangeroners, too, Janine. Thanks.