Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mexican Bush Sage

I got back from 2.5 weeks in the Gulf of Mexico and found this wonderful perennial blooming away in my yard. Mexican Bush Sage is a lovely fall blooming perennial that thrives in our area. It's surprising to me that it is not planted more. Look at how lovely this plant is with its purple spikes of velvety flowers. Its real name is salvia leucantha. It attracts hummingbirds and butterflies in addition to being a nice plant. Takes very little care. Get you some! Please click on the photo to get a larger and better picture.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Many Shades of Archduke Charles

This picture perfectly exhibits the many shades of light pink to red that the flowers of Archduke Charles go through. They start off that light pink, then gradually darken to crimson. At any given time the plant will have all the shades. Also notice the "cool" green coloration and health of the leaves. (By the way, the long branch with smaller and lighter green leaves going across the top of this picture is from a nearby Super Dorothy rose.) I have not seen a healthier rose in Louisiana - it is thriving in our hot and humid climate. This plant has just recently started to take off in growth. Next year it should really be a stunner. I just planted it last October.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Giant Swallowtail

Look at this magnificent Giant Swallowtail laying eggs on my orange jasmine (murraya paniculata.) I did not know that this particular plant was a host for these butterflies, but there are eggs all on the plant. Kudos to my daughter, Rhonda, for taking this wonderful picture to send to me offshore. Our plan to attract loads of butterflies to our yard this year has worked out perfectly. I've never seen so many butterflies in all my life. Sure makes all the work and research to attract butterflies worthwhile.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Baby Blue Flowers

These Heavenly Blue morning glories are so aptly named. My wife, Jo, really loves these. She took these pictures yesterday and sent them to me at work. These morning glories really come into their own in the late summer when they have put some size on the plants. I'm sure you will see more of these over the next few weeks.

This is my baby daughter, Ali, standing by admiring a little spinning wheel toy in the ground next to my plumbago. The plumbago will continue to thrive right up until a frost kills it to the ground.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What NOT To Do - Plant Outside Your Zone

Why is it that we always want what we can't have? Down in the Deep South where I live it's possible to plant far more plants than my friends to the North. I'm far enough south to be able to plant large numbers of tropicals as well as most temperate plants, so I should be more than satisfied. But what do I do instead? I long to plant those lovelies that won't grow in my area! Why won't those fragrant lilacs and oriental lilies (pictured above) grow here? Why can't I get peonies and Japanese maples to thrive for me? It's because those plants don't like it here! They are not meant for zone 8B. My advice is to just quit trying and instead plant those that do well in my climate conditions. This does not mean I will quit trying to stretch the zones - my ignorance is persistant. Nevertheless, I would save myself needless trouble if I heeded my own advice to not plant outside my zone. Live and learn!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pearl Crescent or Silvery Checkerspot?

Walking around my yard this morning doing my daily round, I spotted this cute little Pearl Crescent (Silvery Checkerspot?) butterfly. (If this is an incorrect identification of this butterfly, please let me know in the comments.) After putting in quite an effort to make my yard butterfly friendly, it's very gratifying to walk around and see them everywhere.

After further research, I've determined that this is almost definitely a Silvery Checkerspot butterfly. - 9/17/09

Some Lovely Roses

My Ducher rose is really starting to come into its own as the summer heat continues. Early on I could not detect any smell on these blooms, but as the plant has matured and gotten larger I can now smell a lemony scent. Also, the blooms are getting bigger. There's not a speck of disease on this plant and it has a nice rounded and full shape. I think this is a very under-utilized rose that would make a sensational landscape plant in the South. It stays smaller than Knockout and has great shape and form without disease. What more could you ask for?

Golden Celebration, on the other hand, would NOT make a good landscape rose down here. However, it does make these full, fragrant blooms that I love. Keep it well watered and sprayed to keep it healthy.

Archduke Charles is another rose that is a good candidate for landscaping. Here's a whole bush shot. Notice the lack of disease. The blooms come out light pink and get darker as they age. This darkening happens quicker when the weather is hotter. I've heard that this rose would make a nice hedge.

More Summer Vines

Thought I'd add some more pictures of my summer vines. It helps me keep track of the progress of my plants and it allows others to enjoy the show. First up is a shot of the hyacinth bean vine growing up the pillar on my front patio.

Next up is the Heavenly Blue morning glory growing on my east fence.

Last is the Black-eyed Susan vine growing up my mailbox. This thing is taking over my mailbox and has even found its way into the box. I don't know if I've ever seen bees on this flower, so the mailman shouldn't mind all that much.

A Flower Fit for a King

This lovely purplish-blue flower is commonly called King's Mantle. I suppose it's because of the royal coloration of the blooms. Its real name is thunbergia erecta. It's in the same family as Black-eyed Susan vine and Sky Vine, but it is a bush rather than a vine. King's Mantle cannot take frost and dies to the ground in winter, though it usually comes back in zone 8 if given some good mulching in the winter. Try this lovely bush in a container if you live up North.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Little Volunteer

This little portulaca volunteered to come up in a crack in my concrete. Isn't it nice? I love volunteers! This one likely came from some Sun Dial variety that I planted last year.

A Few Summer "Bulbs"

My Joan Senior daylilies are starting to rebloom. This is a wonderful variety of daylily to grow. It has some fragrance, which is unusual for daylilies, and it reblooms. Not to mention that cream color that is so attractive.

I just recently planted some Bengal Tiger cannas. I love them for their striped foliage. I don't even care if they bloom or not. Also notice the red edging around the leaves.

This last is another spike of fragrant tuberose. I cannot tell you how well these have thrived in my Louisiana weather.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Roses In Bloom

Cluster of Gertrude Jekyll buds about to open fully. Oh the fragrance!

A deep, hot pink Gertrude Jekyll in full bloom.

An absolutely perfect Double Delight bloom. These blooms can be stunning show stoppers when they come out right.

Abraham Darby with a typical burst of lovely apricot blooms. How can you not love this rose even though it is something of a prima donna?

Yet another Abraham Darby picture to delight the senses.

Zinnias in the Heavens

The real reason I'm posting this picture is to show off the Heavenly Blue morning glory vine, not the zinnias. This vine is absolutely covering the fence, looking lush, and doing just what I want it to do. Many people would begin panicking at this point wondering why it's not blooming yet. Personally, I don't want my morning glories blooming till they get this huge, because when they DO start they put on a monster show. Besides, the vine is wonderful without blooms! This one should start blooming later this month and it will bloom far better than my ones that started blooming early. Now what makes one vine bloom early and another wait till it gets huge and lush? The main cause is the richness of the soil. This vine is planted in an area where I have put lots of cotton seed waste over the last two years enriching the soil with nitrogen. This causes lots of green growth before flowering. I know this is not what you want in many plants, but I think it really works for morning glories - IF you have the patience to wait for the blooms!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

An Autumn Orange Rose

This is my wonderful climbing rose, Westerland. It has such a deep orange color and a sweet fragrance that is attractive to all. These clusters of bloom are gorgeous.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Roses Are Red...

This is my Dublin Bay climbing rose. It's that deep red that roses are "supposed" to be. I had to have at least one real red climbing rose and this is the one I settled on after much debate with myself. I'm pretty satisfied, though this one doesn't have any fragrance. I'm expecting more of it next year when it has more size and substance to it.