Monday, August 31, 2009

Different Shades of Pink

I've got quite a few rose blooms right now. There are several shades of pink going and I thought it would be fun to share several of the different blooms so you can enjoy the varying shades.

This is Compassion - a subtle, fleshy pink.

Earthsong is a deep, hot pink.

Abraham Darby is an orange-pink.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Luna Swirl Hardy Hibiscus

The hardy hibiscus is a lovely and carefree plant. It can be grown neary everywhere in the United States. It dies to the ground in winter, but comes back every year and makes these HUGE blooms that are the size of a dinner plate. There are many colors. They thrive in a wet spot. Give them full sun and plenty of water and they will love you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How's the Mrs. Doing?

How about an update on my only tea rose, Mrs. B. R. Cant? Judging by my success with this rose, teas are among the best for our area. With no spray and minimal care, this rose is thriving and blooming away. I'm looking forward to it getting bigger and better as time goes by.

This picture is of the whole bush. Look at all those blooms! They aren't particularly huge this time of year, but they still put on a show. The fragrance is not especially wonderful to my nose, but the blooms are full and plentiful.

Isn't this a nice bloom? They have that classic rose shape and plenty of petals. The color is a shimmering pink that doesn't seem to fade at all in the sun. Highly recommended for all Southern gardeners.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Visiting With Abe and Al

Madame Alfred Carriere ("Al") and Abraham Darby ("Abe") are two of the roses I've had the longest in my yard. They are well established plants that have been performing for some years for me. They both have their share of problems, not the least of which is a propensity for at least some blackspot. However, both still bring me plenty of joy.

This bloom from MAC is such a delicate delight. There are plenty of these on this plant right now and the fragrance is truly wonderful.

This is another shot of a light pink bloom on Al. The blooms get whiter if the sun is shining directly on them. About half the leaves are gone from my MAC plant making it not as attractive as it is at other times of the year, but it is still quite vigorous and recovers nicely.

This is a perfect bud on my Abe Darby bush. Even at this time of year when the plant is 65% defoliated from blackspot the blooms are wonderful. They aren't as large as in the spring, but the fragrance still knocks my socks off and the buds are flawless.

Even with the ugly bush I still love Abraham Darby. He recovers quite nicely from the blackspot plague. The bush looks great in the spring and fall, but ugly during the summer. I think it's worth it anyway.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tiger Swallowtail

My daughter, Rhonda, took these pictures a couple of days ago and sent them to me on my offshore platform. They are lovely shots of the beautiful tiger swallowtail butterfly. They are quite distinctive with their vertical black tiger stripes, which is where their name comes from. As you may have gathered by now, the swallowtail family is my favorite group of butterflies and I'm doing all I can to attract them to my yard. So far this year, we've seen Pipevines, Giants, and Tigers in my yard. I'm working on getting some future Zebras and Spicebushes. I've got plenty of nectar sources for all of them, but the real key is having larval host plants for the eggs and caterpillars. To that end, I've got a paw-paw tree, a sassafras tree, and I've planted dill and rue. If you want butterflies, do some research on the particular butterfly you want and plant both host and nectar plants for them. Plant it and they will come...

This is the tiger swallowtail nectaring on my Mexican sunflower (tithonia.) I've already mentioned before that tithonia is one of the best butterfly attracting flowers you can plant. Nearly all types seem to visit these bright orange flowers in my yard. It's just a bonus that tithonias are one of the easiest of all annuals to grow.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

August Beauty Living Up To Its Name

My August Beauty gardenia is certainly living up to its name. I love gardenias so much that having a variety that blooms more often than just in May is a dream come true. This variety makes perfect white blooms on a fairly large shrub. The late summer blooms aren't quite as large as the ones in May, but they are certainly better than none. They still have that delicious fragrance that I love so well. This is the gardenia variety that I recommend to everyone who asks me which type to plant.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Perfect Southern Cottage Garden Plant?

The "cottage" garden idea originated in England, which has a damp and cool climate. For that reason, most of the traditional cottage garden plants are those that thrive in moist and cool conditions. You see plenty of delphiniums and calendulas and such. That's all well and fine if you live in the Pacific Northwest or New England, but what if you live in hot, humid Dixie and you want a cottage garden? You have to look elsewhere to find the same pastel blues and pinks. I present to you a prime candidate for the perfect SOUTHERN cottage garden plant - the plumbago. What makes it so good? Well, mine comes back every year, it continually blooms all the way till frost, it has that perfect pastel blue color, it has a pleasingly full shape, it has no pests and needs no spraying, it thrives in the heat, it mixes well as a companion to other flowers, and it very easily roots so you can propagate more of them. Below are some pictures of my plumbago. You can see by the dates on the photos that it has been blooming steadily since May. It will keep this up till November. That is seven months of solid blooming! What is not to love?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Venerable Cardinal Climber

My cardinal climbers got a late start this year since I didn't plant them until May. They make a beautiful vine covered in little trumpet-shaped red flowers that hummingbirds love. The vine is quite similar to another vine called the Cypress vine, but it's not nearly as invasive. The main reason mine got such a late start is because I was expecting them to come back on their own from last year. Not even one volunteer came back, so I had to replant them. They are a must have in my yard because of their attractiveness to hummingbirds. They pretty much grow like morning glories and should be planted in the same conditions. CC grows in almost any soil as long as you don't let them completely dry out.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Offshore Blogging

Well, I'm back out in the Gulf of Mexico at work. I took a ton of pictures before leaving home this time, so I should have enough digital photos to keep blogging often for the next two weeks anyway. My flowers are looking surprisingly good for this time of year, although we need another rain now.

I'm focusing today on my red Bennary's Giant zinnias. They are so deep and velvety red that it's unbelievable. I just love this color. The other thing I really like about these flowers is how long they last as a cut flower. Plus, they have really long stems, so they are perfect for vases. This plant can be forgiven for getting a little tall and floppy at times. Bennary's Giant is not as good a landscape plant as the Profusion series, but it's wonderful for the cut garden. If you stake them or put them behind something supportive, then look nice in the landscape, take drought well, attract tons of butterflies, and bloom their heads off.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day

Satin Violet Althea

Cardinal Climber - hummingbirds love it!

Julia Child rose


Earthsong rose

Bennary's Giant red zinnia

Heavenly Blue morning glory and tithonia with bumblebee

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Our First Pipevine Swallowtail!!!

Please click on this picture to really see this wonderful pipevine swallowtail butterfly. This is my all time favorite butterfly and I've wanted to get them in my yard ever since I first found out about them. This is the best picture that I could get - it wouldn't let me get very close and it would not sit still! The blue coloration is amazing. They obviously like nectaring on tithonias. Me and Rhonda are extremely excited at this sighting today.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

King's Mantle

This wonderful blue bloom is on my thunbergia erecta, better known as King's Mantle. This plant is in the same family as the Scrambling Sky flower and looks very similar. The main difference is that it grows on an upright bush rather than a vine. It's not very hardy and may not come back even in Louisiana without lots of protection. It makes a gorgeous plant for a semi-tropical garden and I really like it. I got mine at a sale at the LSU Arboretum last fall, so it cost me very little.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Gulf Fritillary on Tithonia

It's not just the bumblebees that like my tithonias. The Gulf Fritillaries are loving them too. Here's a picture I got this morning of one basking on the Mexican Sunflowers. Isn't this amazing? Me and my daughter, Rhonda, love the butterflies. Right now we are chronicling the life cycle of a Gulf Frit as it goes from caterpillar to adult. I will show the pictures sometime when it finishes its transformation to an adult butterfly. Stay tuned...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Roses Galore

My roses are looking especially nice today after a quick afternoon rain. Thought I'd share some of them with you. Please click on the photos for a closer look. First up is a solitary bloom on Gertrude Jekyll. Look at this full bloom! It's extremely fragrant too.

Next up is my Buck rose Earthsong. This is a shot of the whole bush to show that there is no disease at all on this plant.

Here's a close-up of a bloom cluster on my Earthsong rose.

Next up is the obligatory picture of yet another Double Delight bloom. This plant is to die for. We've got some cut blooms from this one in a vase on the kitchen table too.

This last is a picture of my Archduke Charles bush. This is such a cute little rose. It takes the heat and humidity like a champion.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

They Call Me Mellow Yellow

I don't know if I'd call these yellows a very mellow color. They are just too bright.

Black-eyed Susan vine blooming away under my mailbox.

Sensation Yellow cosmos in profusion. These are about as bright and sunny as it gets.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bumbling Around

My tithonia and hyacinth bean "jungle" is a constant swarm of bird and insect activity. Yesterday, I caught this cute little bumble-bee having lunch on this perfect Mexican sunflower. The picture came out surprisingly well and I thought it would be neat to share. It's amazing how much more wildlife visits my yard now that I have so many plants and flowers. I strongly encourage people to spray insect spray as little as possible so that they too can enjoy all of the exciting and beautiful creatures as they visit. I really enjoy seeing all the butterflies, bees, dragonflies, lizards, and hummingbirds - and so do my kids.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What NOT To Do - Plant Prima Donna Plants!

Look at this beautiful rose cluster. Who can resist such a gorgeous rose? This is the David Austin rose, Golden Celebration. It is fragrant, makes wonderfully full blooms, and has that deep golden color that I love so well. BUT, it's a very particular and picky plant. It demands lots of water, needs to be sprayed religiously to avoid the dreaded blackspot, and still may not thrive. This perfectly illustrates the point I am making with this post - if you are not willing to put lots of time and effort into a plant, then be sure to plant ones that need little care. If you are the type to plop a plant in the ground and then forget about it, do NOT plant a David Austin rose. For that matter, don't plant any hybrid tea roses either. If you live in the South you will be far better served instead planting one of the Knockout roses or one of the teas or china roses. They will be care-free and still look like champions. I went into this David Austin thing with my eyes wide open. I knew they would take a lot of care and I planted them anyway because I love them so much. You many not feel the same as me. Live and learn!

Below is a picture of my plant right now as it shows off blackspot-ridden leaves instead of golden blooms.

The Wonderful Butterfly Ginger

I just got home from offshore yesterday to discover that my butterfly gingers are in full bloom. These are some of the most wonderful flowers to be had in mid-summer. Their fragrance fills my entire back yard in the evening. It smells remarkably like a gardenia. Every Southerner should have a clump of these growing just to sense the fragrance on the summer evening breeze.
Hedychiums (their real name) are very easy to grow. Put them in partial shade with adequate moisture and watch them flourish. They send up numerous suckers that can be transplanted easily all over the yard. I recommend putting some stakes around them to keep them from flopping over after getting tall. They don't do well north of hardiness zone 8 unless you dig them up in the winter. There are other colors besides white, but the white ones smell the best. The plants actually look something like a canna, but with narrower leaves. Give them a try and you will NOT regret it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fire It Up For the Purple and Gold!

Everyone acquainted with me knows that I'm a huge LSU sports fan. With football season upon us now, it's time to post some pictures of purple and gold flowers. Here are some shots of Grandpa Ott morning glories with some Sensation Yellow cosmos. Purple and gold make a wonderful color combination in plants!