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

Monday, May 31, 2010


The cannas are nearing their peak of bloom around my yard and that can only mean that summer is, in fact, here. The calendar may not confirm it, but the thermometer and the cannas certainly will.

I've always felt a partiality for the orange palette of canna hues. Orange just seems to match the heat and the light of the season when they do most of their blooming.

And nothing says "summer" to me like the hot colors of 'Lucifer,' bringer of light.

It's true that the blooms don't last long. After a few short days, they fade away, but, occasionally, if the plants are especially happy, I get second blooms from them later in the summer.

Those second blooms are strictly serendipitous, though. I can't count on them, so, for now, I'll just enjoy these hot, gaudy blossoms for what they are - the flashiest blooms in the garden in this very early "summer." Blooms that mimic the incredible light of a summer day and live up to their name.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Closed for Memorial Day



Thursday, May 27, 2010

A new garden visitor

You may remember this fine fellow that I showed you a few weeks ago.

This Giant Swallowtail caterpillar was one of two that were munching their way through the leaves of my Satsuma tree. The caterpillars completed their role and then went away to pupate.

And then, yesterday, I had a new visitor to the garden.

Yes, it was a butterfly! Specifically, a Giant Swallowtail butterfly. I feel pretty confident in affirming that this was one of my Satsuma caterpillar kids all grown up. I was so proud.

The butterfly settled down to feed in the wildflower garden.

I love photographing the Giant Swallowtail because it is not as "flighty" as many butterflies. It will stay in place long enough for an inexpert photographer like me to get a clean shot.

Hmmm...something seems a bit strange about this fellow.

Obviously, his life has not been all sunshine and nectar since he left the chrysalis. Something has taken a big bite out of him. He's missing the right side of his "swallowtail" and part of his hindwing. Still, he lived to fly another day and to enjoy my wildflowers.

He may not be perfect, but he is beautiful. And he's my baby all grown up. Fly safely, little visitor.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Another bloomin' Monday!

Here in late May, the blooms are coming so fast and furious that I can't keep up. Every day something new is added to the mix.

This is hardly a new thing in my yard and yet it is my very first bloom of the year from my reliable old species canna.

The morning glory is well named. It is glorious when it opens its fresh blooms in the morning.

Some of the 4 o'clocks are beginning to bloom. They bookend the day with the morning glories, opening their blossoms in late afternoon.

Even on a single plant, the 4 o'clock blooms can look quite different.

Under the oak tree, this hydrangea blossom has been very slowly changing color for days now. I think eventually it will be blue. Or maybe not. Time will tell.

The buddleias are beginning to bloom. Here's a pink one under our bedroom window.

And here's the 'Fourth of July' buddleia near the entry to our front door. This plant bloomed beautifully for me all last summer and into the fall.

The wildflower bed is a riot of color just now.

My mystery hibiscus continues to be a - umm - mystery. The blossoms it is showing this week are darker red than the ones earlier this spring. This is almost a cherry red, whereas the earlier ones had a bit more orange about them.

No mystery about the 'Laura Bush' petunias. They let it all hang out every day. In addition to all this gorgeous color, they also produce a heavenly petunia scent, like the old-fashioned petunias that I remember from my childhood. The scent is particularly noticeable late in the day.

Of course, May is daylily month and several more have joined the earlier ones that I have shown you.

This beauty blooms in a front yard bed.

Such a delicate color combination this one has.

This one brightens the view from my kitchen window.

Several of these rather gaudy lovelies live in the bed along the fence between us and our neighbors.

This maroon and gold bicolor is found in several beds around the backyard.

This one seems to have captured the sun in its petals.

I wonder what tomorrow's new surprise blossom will be. It’s worth getting up in the morning just to find out.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Who doesn't love sunflowers?

Well, birds certainly love them. They love them so much that they plant their seeds around my yard every year. Since I love them, too, I let the bird-planted summer flowers stand whenever they are not in an inconvenient spot.

I plant some sunflower seeds every year, too, but, in the race to get the first bloom of the year, the birds win again.

The first sunflower bloom in my garden this year is from this planting by the birds. I don't know the variety but it is a lovely thing, and it is a multi-bloomer, so there will be more blooms to come.

Sunflowers are really the quintessential bloom of summer, aren't they? It's no accident that Van Gogh found them to be fit subjects for his canvas. They are beautiful and they express the carefree essence of the season.

Honestly now, what's not to like about sunflowers?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Green beans and potatoes

Today's harvest form the vegetable garden was a particularly satisfying one. First came the potatoes.

Back in January, I planted Russian banana fingerling potatoes. It took them forever to come up. It was almost the first of March before they really started breaking the surface of the ground. After that they grew quickly, but by the end of April, the plants were fading and within the last couple of weeks they had all collapsed.

I didn't really think the plants had had time to produce much of anything, so it was without much hope that I decided to dig the bed today.

And just look what I found! I had actually grown some potatoes! Not a huge crop to be sure, but then I didn't plant for a huge crop. These nice little fingerlings will do for us for several weeks.

Next, it was on to the green bean bed to harvest my haricot vert heirlooms for which I had gotten the seeds from Seeds of Change earlier this year. I opted to plant bush beans instead of pole beans this year. The pole beans produce more and over a longer period of time. The bush beans produce one big crop and then a little crop and that's about it for them.

Today's pickin' was the big crop and it just about filled my harvest basket.

After picking the beans, we snapped and washed them, and then I pulled out a couple of big handfuls to cook for our lunch. The rest of them will be canned.

For our vegetarian lunch, I cooked the beans and a few of the fingerling potatoes, as well as some of the carrots that we had harvested from the garden earlier. On the side, I added beet pickles from the beets that I had harvested earlier still. Of course, I made some cornbread. You can't have vegetables from the garden without cornbread to accompany them!

Thus, our entire lunch, except for the cornbread, came from our garden. Food from a cordon bleu restaurant could not have tasted better! Nothing tastes better than the fruits of one's own labors.

The only thing that would have made it better was if I had taken the time to fry some green tomatoes to go with the other veggies. Next time, I will.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: May 2010

It is a rainy Bloom Day in my yard, and what a pleasure it is to write those words! After several weeks of very dry weather, we finally got 3.25 inches of rain yesterday and last night and it continues to drizzle today. The garden is loving it! And so is the gardener.

In spite of the rain though, I know my duty. It is Bloom Day and you must have pictures of what is blooming in my yard, and so my camera and I braved the raindrops and went to record the day. Here's what we found.

May is allegedly daylily month, but most of the daylilies in my garden are not blooming yet. This yellow one is an exception.

May is also the month that magnolias, a rather messy plant, remind us of why we planted them. This blossom has been washed clean by the rain and shows a pristine whiteness.

The 'Radazz' Knockouts are long past their first glorious flush of bloom, but they are almost never without a few blooms to please us.

At the feet of the 'Radazzes', the much-maligned 'Stella d'Oro' daylilies are beginning their bloom.

In the shade garden, the hydrangeas are full of blooms and almost-blooms this May. The oakleaf has been in bloom for a while.

In a bed nearby, my Aunt Marcelle's hydrangea has just a few blossoms so far. In her garden, these blooms were a clear blue. Here, they tend toward lavender and pink.

In the same bed, another hydrangea is just beginning its bloom. I love this stage of bloom when the almost-blossom is still pale green before it shows its true colors.

Speaking of "almost-blooms", here's 'Montrose Purple' vitex.

The fig trees are blooming. This is both their bloom and their fruit.

These snapdragons were supposed to be my temporary winter color in the planters by my garage doors. I keep wanting to pull them out and put in something more appropriate for 90 degree weather, but the darned things just won't stop blooming!

In a pot near the front door, the fuchsia geraniums still brighten my entry, as they have since late winter.

The 'Acanthus mollis' is outdoing itself with blossoms this spring.

'Otahal' salvia is a favorite of bees and butterflies.

One of the 'Summer Glow' agastaches that I got recently at Antique Rose Emporium blooms next to one of many purple salvias in the yard.

My wildflower bed, just like wildflowers all over this part of Texas, has been glorious this spring, dominated just now by the blanket flowers.

But there are Mexican hats among the blankets, too.

And Brown-eyed Susans.

And it's not all about orange and yellow - purple makes its statement, too.

In the potato bed, the zinnias from last year have reseeded themselves. They attract butterflies, as well as less colorful insects.

And speaking of butterflies, my butterfly weed plants have already been destroyed by caterpillars a couple of times this spring, but they just keep coming back. This one has even managed to bloom.

The heirloom buddleia - it came originally from her grandmother's garden - that my friend Carolyn gave me last summer came through the winter with flying colors and is just beginning to bloom. I don't know its proper name, so from now on I'll just call it "Carolyn's buddleia."

The hybrid Asiatic lilies are still putting on a show.

'David Verity' cuphea is full of these orange blossoms shaped just to fit a hummingbird's beak.

'Katie' ruellia loves the rain.

So do the 'Porter' tomatoes.

The lantana next to the loropetalum is beginning its bloom.

While 'Rouge Cardinal' clematis next to the back porch is ending its bloom - at least for now. This is its very last, rather rain-bedraggled blossom. I can't complain. It has bloomed beautifully for weeks.

Meanwhile, the coral honeysuckle, which was a disappointment to me in its first season last year, just goes on and on.

But there is nothing like roses in the rain. This is tiny-blossomed 'Red Cascade'.

And this is the luscious-blossomed 'Graham Thomas'. This is his very last bouquet of blooms from his first spring flush of bloom. It seems like a good note on which to end my Bloom Day tour.

(Visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens for a complete list of bloggers participating in this Bloom Day.)