Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hyacinth Bean Vines

Care to plant a very fast growing, annual vine that is not invasive? How about one that makes nice purple flowers followed by deep purple decorative pods? Look no further than the hyacinth bean, or the Dolichos lablab as it is referred to by horticulturalists. I planted these in four different places in my yard a few weeks ago and they are all coming up well. My intentions are for it to cover some unsightly areas of my fence and a column on my front patio. It's an old time plant that will cover a nice area in just one summer of growth. Virtually every part of this plant is edible, though you need to take special precautions when cooking the dried beans. However, it is mostly grown as an ornamental in the US. Plant it in poor soil because it is known as a nitrogen fixer just like alfalfa and clover and will enrich the soil for other plants next year. It's also very easy to save seeds for next year off of this wonderful vine. By the way, it is perennial in frost free areas, but will not come back except from seeds in any area that gets frost. Use it as a substitute for morning glories if you want something that is far less invasive and won't keep coming back for years.

I've added to this post a picture of a mature plant off the Floridata web site.

Another "Lily," but Not Daylily

This is a really neat photo that my wife took yesterday and sent to me. It's a giant calla lily growing in my yard. The leaves are so lush and striated and tropical! The giant callas really love my area of Louisiana and perform like champs. Mine are growing in almost complete shade and still going strong putting out lots of blooms. Just plunk them in the ground and give them plenty of water, unless you live north of zone 8. If you live north of zone 8, do the same in a large pot. This plant comes back well for me after freezes, but I don't think it can take the ground freezing.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

First Daylily of the Year

Well, yesterday I left home to be back on my job location in the Gulf of Mexico far from land. I won't be able to see any of my plants for two weeks. My poor wife will have to e-mail me pictures of any new blooms. Wouldn't you know, this daylily had the gall to wait and bloom my first day away from home!? I don't know the name of any of my daylilies, but I still like them. This is a cute pink with a burgundy interior and ruffled edges. Daylilies are so easy everyone should grow at least some of them. I recommend you mix them in with other perennials so that when they are not in bloom you can have other plants pick up their slack. They will grow about anywhere in the continental USA. This particular daylily is planted between some of my rose bushes.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dublin Bay

Red roses are a delight. The problem for me is that there are so few of them that are really disease resistant. The "reds" that are disease resistant are not true reds - they are more magenta colored. An example of this is the Knockout roses, which aren't a true red. I'm giving Dublin Bay a try since I really needed at least one red climber for my chain link fence. Thus far, it's been a great rose. Here is my best pic to date of the flowers. A real plus for this rose is how long the blooms last. They stay for several days before falling off or fading. They keep this deep red color which is hard to capture on my cheap camera.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Have You Got Time for a Clockvine?

Here is the first bloom on my clockvine. It turns out that it is not what I thought it was. There are two types of clockvines - thunbergia grandiflora and thunbergia battiscombei. I thought this was the grandiflora, but it is a battiscombei. Actually, this is perfect because I would rather the battiscombei. Floridata calls this vine the scrambling clock vine, so that's what I'll call it too. It is a pretty rare plant to find, but well worth planting. What I really like about it is the deep purple bloom with the golden centers - those are the exact colors of my very favorite college sports program, LSU! So now I have my LSU purple and gold flower. This is a wonderful vining plant that comes back after winter if you live in zone 8 or higher. Why are plants this nice so rare?

This next plant is the rampant wild coreopsis - also called calleopsis or tickseed. Notice how the little buds resemble ticks. This rascal reseeds readily in my yard and can almost become a pest. I tolerate it because butterflies like them and they are so easy. They get about 4 feet tall and make a pretty flower. They also tolerate neglect quite well. I like to shear them back a little when they get around 2'-3' tall so they get bushier. Highly recommended if you want something to plant in a "wild" portion of your yard.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Have a Little Compassion

I noticed this morning that most of my roses had nice clusters of blooms, so I thought it would be nice to post pictures of these clusters.

We start of with my best pics of the year of my Compassion roses. Aren't these ladies nice? They have a wonderful fragrance too.

Next up, Gertrude Jekyll. I actually started thinning out some of the buds on this bush so that the blooms could get larger! It is covered in buds. The fragrance wafts for several feet around this bush.

This is Earthsong. This flower is the brightest, hottest pink of all my roses. I rather like it. The blooms have long stems that make for great cutting.

You knew I would include some Abraham Darby, didn't you? These clusters are out of this world. Here are two pictures of different bloom groups on the same plant. I'm very thankful to have something this beautiful to feast my eyes on.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Come on, butterflies, the table is set

Some of my butterfly attractors are just starting to put out some blooms. This first is one of my salvias. For the life of me I can't remember what type this is, but I like it. Salvias are a wonderful plant for butterflies and hummingbirds, plus they are really easy to grow just about anywhere. I usually always have the red ones, but this year I'm branching out to the blues. Blue seems to fit in better with most of my other flowers. Most salvias are reliable perennials that come back every year.

Up next I bring you one of my favorite annual bedding plants - the penta. I have several of them in several colors. These babies bloom their heads off all the way from the time I put them in the ground until a frost hits. They are about the most prolific and sustained bloomers of any annual I've come across. I always buy several of them at local nurseries every year because I haven't had success growing them from seed. Butterflies and hummingbirds both seem to love them too. I only wish they could survive a frost. Highly commended.

Now comes a zinnia cultivar called Profusion Fire. This is my favorite color of the Profusion zinnias because it doesn't fade in the sun. All the Profusion zinnias are getting popular and for very good reason. They bloom non-stop all summer long, attract hordes of butterflies, and are resistant to mildew. They are also pretty drought resistant.

I'll finish up this installment with the venerable lantana. I grow three different colors of lantanas and don't know the names of any of them. This color here is the hardiest - it gets the biggest and comes out soonest in the spring. All my lantanas die to the ground at the first frost, but they have reliably come back for me each year once warm weather comes back. They are pest free and ask for nothing more than water every now and then. If they get too tall and leggy, I shear them back. Pruning them back seems to make them bloom more as well. Butterflies of seemingly all types can be seen visiting lantanas throughout the summer. The date on this picture is wrong - it was taken 4-23-09.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Golden blooms

This is a close-up of a Julia Child bloom from this morning.

And here's the first whole bush shot of my Golden Celebration. If you look closely, you can see the blackspotted leaves that seem to be as much a trademark of David Austin roses as the full, fragrant blooms.

Another shot of Gertrude Jekyll. This rose is a blooming fool this spring.

Have a cigar

This is a neat little plant that I bought because of its attractiveness to hummingbirds. The little red flowers resemble cigars - hence the name. It likes hot, humid areas and should come back from the roots in zones 8 and higher. I haven't decided yet where I want to put it in my yard, so it sits in a pot.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Up to this point, I resisted the urge to purchase a mandevilla vine. This despite my love for vines of all sorts. They were always too expensive, even at Wal-mart. However, my willpower broke down completely when I saw this manly red one for the puny price of $3.89 at a local hardware store. Most mandevillas are the deep pink one known as Alice du Pont. This red one is new to me, but it's a beauty. I just potted it up and placed it on my front porch area. Don't know yet where it will wind up, but it should be either a large pot that it can just stay in or in a sheltered area where it might survive the winter. These vines don't take kindly to frosts, but they can come back from the roots if they are well protected. Grow as an annual or potted plant if you live north of zone 8. I've since learned that this variety is known as Sun Parasol Crimson.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wave to Ol' Yeller

First up, my basket of Misty Lilac Wave petunias. They are looking good.

I had someone tell me today that she has a hard time growing yellow roses, so I'm showing off mine to make her jealous. : ) This is Julia Child, who is putting on lots of blooms for me in her first year.

After putting up the picture of Graham Thomas from the ARS gardens, I decided to take a pic of the lone bloom on my Golden Celebration. The bloom was nodding and in a position where I had to hold it up with my hand to get a shot. I'll be glad when it climbs this fence and can show its blooms off a little better. They are showy, aren't they?

Photos from the Gardens of the American Rose Society

We spent today at the Gardens of the American Rose Society in Shreveport, LA, today. The gardens are beautiful, though we missed peak bloom by about one week. Next week at this time all the hybrid musk roses and many others will be in full bloom. Here are some of the photos. Many of the roses in the gardens were not labelled, so I don't know what they are. This post has tons of pictures, but I couldn't leave these out. Enjoy!

Above, an un-labelled yellow rose that was captivating.

Next, an un-labelled pink that was posing for a picture.

This next looks like one of the David Austin reds, but I don't know which.

This one was labelled, plus I would have recognized it anyway. It is the fabulous David Austin rose, The Prince. Look at this deep red / purple color! One of the most beautiful blooms I've ever seen. Not a very strong growing rose though - at least I'm told. This plant was not very big and lush, so what I've been told may be true.

This next brightly colored rose is Shreveport. There was a whole row of these at the ARS - must be because it's in the city of Shreveport. This rose is garishly showy, but I think it would make a fabulous specimen if you planted a group of them alone in the middle of a yard.

If you love striped roses, then this has to be on your list. It's called Scentimental. It's a little floribunda rose with great fragrance. The blooms really look like peppermint candy. I've heard it gets blackspot easily. My mom really liked this one.

This next was an unknown, but voluptuous red that I had to share.

Now we come to a rose that really captured my interest at the gardens. I've never had the desire to get the hybrid musk rose Prosperity until I saw all of them at these gardens. They were FANTASTIC. The smell would waft to you long before you came up to the HUGE bushes, and they were loaded with blooms. This one is definitely on my wish list now.

I wish you could see just how huge this Monsieur Tillier tea rose was. The blooms had a salmon-shaded color that really stood out. I love big, bushy tea roses!

Nestled in among all the roses was a nice bed of Louisiana irises. They weren't labelled, but I feel sure this is the very common Louisiana Gamecock. It was deeper purple than this photo shows.

Of course I had to include a picture of my favorite floribunda that I don't have - Lavaglut. This rose never disappoints me when I see it.

This was a fabulous and huge rose that was not labelled. I don't know what it is, but I liked it. Could it be Safrano? Any readers are invited to enlighten me if you know what it is.

This was the David Austin rose Graham Thomas, which grows as a climber in the South. It's similar to Golden Celebration, which I have.

This is another striped rose. It's called Fourth of July. It's a popular climber.

This is a curious little rose called the Chestnut rose. It's a species ("wild") rose. Has very small, cute leaves and a small, but full flower.

Last, I had to include a picture of the most fabulous rose of all - at least to me and my wife. This picture does not do it justice at all - I should have deadheaded the plant before taking the shot. It's the delightful Buff Beauty. There were quite a few of these located in one section of the gardens, and they were breathtaking. I want one!!
I hope you enjoy all the pics.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Roses in Bloom

Some more pictures of roses. I don't have much variety these days since the roses are getting all the attention. My poor other flowers don't have much of a chance. This first picture is Madame Alfred Carriere. Hoping to get a pretty full bush shot so you can see how big this thing is. I think it would be fuller and nicer even than this, but it's in the shadow of a huge live oak tree and doesn't get a ton of sun.

Here's a really good picture of the perfect Abraham Darby bloom. To me this is what rose blooms should look like. I love this many-petalled, full bloom with that strong, fruity fragrance.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Close-up Blooms

I'm posting a few close-up pics of my roses. There is some water damage showing because of the rain we had last night.

First up is Double Delight. This is the color the blooms turn after they've been exposed to the sun for a couple of days.

Next up is Belinda's Dream. My sister, Susie, thinks this is the perfect rose form. If you like this hybrid tea look, then I can't recommend Belinda's Dream enough. It looks like a hybrid tea and grows like a shrub rose.. Sorry about the water damage on this bloom - you should have seen it yesterday before the rains.

This last is yet another Abraham Darby bloom. I love these huge, many-petalled blossoms. Sometimes they have a more symmetrical look than this.

Friday, April 17, 2009

From My Daily Walk

I took these pictures while doing my daily walk around my yard. It's a nice day, but we are forecast to have tons of rain starting tonight. I also noticed that there are buds on my daylilies, althea, and gardenias. Looks like there will be plenty of new plants blooming soon.