Monday, August 18, 2008

Belated Bloom Day ... August, 2008

Ok, some of my favorite garden bloggers faithfully observe a "Bloom Day" each month to showcase what's going on in their gardens. Dolt that I am, I never seem to know when it is until I read their posts! So forgive me a few days' tardiness (and my natural tendency to generally be late to the proverbial party!), and I hope you enjoy this belated contribution.

This post is organized as a sort of an ad hoc garden tour, startng from my front door, down along the edges of the front boulder bed, through the Woodland Garden, the small herb bed behind the house, and on back to the hibiscus bed in the parking. This first shot is a volunteer Celosia that I noticed a month or so ago nestled between the rocks by the steps that lead up to the entry of the house. When it first appeared, I wondered if it would be a mutant (one of those weird "Pineapple" ones like we've had the past couple of years. Click on the label "Sports" down below to see what I'm talking about.), but as it turns out, it's pretty much faithful to the original plant we set out years ago. Funny ... I wonder if, after mutating a few years, such sports start reverting back to their original forms after a period of time? Something to research more about in my many moments of free time, LOL. Anyway, I'm glad it popped up where it did and think it's quite pretty!

Here we have a Calendula in bloom, about two steps away from the previously mentioned Celosia. I found this one especially attractive, so had to pause to snap a few shots of it as I continued down the walk in front. I know I'm always plugging these, but honestly, there's hardly an easier flower (ok, maybe Zinnias) to get established as a returning annual in the garden. Just keep them happy and watered in a sunny place their first year, pull off the seed heads, separate them and scatter them about, and you'll have more the following year, and successive years after ... They're edible, have great herbal properties (skin care) and so darn pretty, how could any lover of fire colors do without it?
Regular readers will recognize the frequent "Bee Butt" shots I post when I get a good one, and since I know that some of you are fans of them, I present the August, 2008 Bee Butt of the Month. I got several of this bee working on Zebrina Mallow flowers at the corner of the boulder bed, and thought this was the best one to share. It was unbelievable how many bees were working in this area, which, frankly, has gotten out of control this year, with so many Zebrina Mallows up everywhere, that we are going to have start controlling them more. I did pull a few tonight where they were shading out more important plants, but while we were weeding this evening, there were just too many buzzing around that we just didn't want to risk ticking them off, so we worked some in the Woodland Garden instead. And to think a few months ago (June) I was prematurely lamenting the disappearance of our wonderful Bumblebees! Though we may both inconvenience each other from time to time. I got loudly "Buzzed" by one when I was pulling the Zebrina Mallows, but it was only a friendly warning. Of course, I then backed off quickly....
I had to include a few examples of the various Zinnias I have planted among the veggies and herbs right behind the house, because they are just now starting to come into bloom in the various places we have them planted around the garden. I really like this happenstance combination of the red and orange, but as you probably know, I'm really big on the fire colors so I'm always delighted to have them wherever I can on whatever I can! These haven't reached their mature height yet, but I've noticed that around the neighborhood where people have Zinnias planted, they seem to be blooming at a much smaller height than usual. I'm not sure what's up with that, but given the downright bizarre Spring-Summer we've had this year, it could well be an effect of the weather....
Again, we're in pretty much the same spot, different flower ... I just really loved the how the orange came through in this shot, as well as the amount of detail the camera captured at the center of the flower. (Have I raved enough about how much I love the Fuji S700? LOL) I think that every gardener who uses annuals and has a sunny spot should have to answer this question affirmatively: Got Zinnias? Such a cheap investment to plant seeds and you get back so much from them when you pamper them just a bit as they get going, and from then on, heat, humidity and drought barely touch them! Darn near perfect if you ask me -- which of course you didn't, but just in case....
One more for the road, as it were ... I'm never quite sure whether to refer to this as some shade of pink or magenta, but whatever it is, this color inevitably shows up in the mixes I buy to plant every summer. And I'm delighted with it, because these are always real eye poppers in the garden, no matter its designation. There are other ones blooming elsewhere in the garden, and you'll likely see more in the coming weeks, so consider these three to be but a brief preview from this month....
Let's revisit the Torenia I was touting a while back as the perfect replacement for Impatiens ... I guess I slightly honked off some Impatiens fans a while back when I bad mouthed them as "old lady flowers" and these are what I recommended to replace them. These two plants have done quite well over the summer and have expanded their spread quite a bit since we first planted them. They're quite happy to share their space with the ivy we have planted as a ground cover in this area, as well as the omnipresent ground ivy (aka: Creeping whoever... Charlie, Jenny, who else?). Only when I uploaded this shot to the computer did I realize I had also caught a maple seedling ... which will be dispatched soon, post haste! You can also see (to the left) one of the Toad Lilies that is starting to bud out (I think it's 'Amethystina'), but all you can tell right now is that it will be some shade of purple. To the right is one of our Hellebores that has been doing pretty well this year, so we hope it will bloom next year ... I wonder what color it will be, as this one has yet to bloom for us....
I don't think anyone will have to guess too hard what this bud is ... In fact, a few regular readers (who shall remain namelss) are probably just salivating at this tempting sight ... the long awaited blooming of His Majesty the Kopper King! I'll be devoting an entire post to this personal favorite very soon (maybe even tomorrow, depending on how wiped out I am by work at that point). I've been hearing from Gail that hers refuses to bud out and we suspect that lack of sun is the culprit ... but Shady Gardener has it worse! Hers is being eaten alive by some sort of critter ... a voracious caterpillar we suspect, but in any case, I'd really be whining if mine suffered the same fate! Hang in there, Shady, and hopefully it will manage to bloom for you this year! If not, just repeat the age old Gardener's Mantra: Next year....

Well that's it from here for August Bloom day around here! There were a lot of other things I would have liked to include, but given the length of this post already, they'll have to show up later. Never fear though, I really milk the photos I get for all they're worth, so I hope no one feels slighted, hehe. I took all these shots on August 16 and 17, 2008, so they're an accurate reflection of how we were viewing things the past two days. I'll try to remember the right date for Bloom Day next month, but don't hold me to it!

12 comments:

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I've been asked several times if I would ever rip out a plant in bloom, to which I always answer with a resounding "yes" - it's Zebrina Mallow! I find I have to rip some out throughout the growing season as there are always too many. You've got to admit, though, that there's no better bargain in plants. I'd call that Zinnia magenta, which is a good thing in my book. I wonder if Shady's Hibiscus pest is Japanese Beetles. They love my Rose of Sharon more than anything else in the garden.

Janet said...

Wowzers! Beautiful as always.

It's been 104, 100, 103 and today it's raining and thunderstorms. My roses are so depressed... but the lavender is lovign it.

The Bee Butt: Love it!

Normally most families scream when they see bees. Mine, they coming running indoors to say they've seen em and with a bee count. (We've been very concerned with the loss of honeybees and other bees in the world news... )

So anyways, last month a pest control type dude rang our bell and stated that he noticed we had bees and that he had the "solution". Of course it was "safe" pesticides because... ding ding ding... they use it at schools and hospitals. Yeah right. and we all know schools and hospitals have such great budgets and have high regard for safety LOL...

He wanted to spray the bees right then and there and we had to tell him to remove himself from our property. That 1. we don't use any pesticides and are strict about the environment and organics and 2. killing bees is pathetic.

I don't know why I still get shocked.

Daisy said...

Oh my goodness. I absolutely love bloom day because I get to go see what everyone else has in their garden. And I get to see what I HAVE to have. The Zebrina Mallow is it.

I hope it can grow in the Rocky Mountains or my whole day will be ruined. It is absolutely gorgeous, and the way you guys are talking about it, it seems weedy.

Weedy does well round here! It's going on the list for next year.

Roses and Lilacs said...

IVG, I've given up trying to post certain subjects on certain days. In any case, a garden tour is fun, any time, any day.

I love that zebrina mallow but I'm still trying to control my pink mallow. I have a friend who has tried to grow it twice. She can't get it to overwinter or reseed. I can't imagine anything that would prevent mallow from reseeding:)
Marnie

Shady Gardener said...

IVG, You've taken great photos... nice artistic shots. :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi MMD,
I agree with you about overabundance of the Zebrina, and we're definitely at that breaking point now. Next weekend a lot of them are going on a trip to the compost pile. If I can't yank them out (they get a really huge root) I'll just cut them off at the base and let them die that way, and the roots should decompose over the winter.

It's a shame because we love pretty much any mallow, but we have to get these guys under control. I just wish we had dug them and transplanted them earlier when I had the idea of mixing them in a hollyhock bed we're starting behind the house.

I thought of Shady's dilemma and my first reaction also was Japanese Beetles. I hope she can find the culprit because that would be such a gorgeous flower to lose to pests!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Janet!
That's horridly hot for your area isn't it? I always think of Portland as one of those perpetually rainy places. Maybe the rain will help cool things down a bit for you and give the roses a drink.

Good for you chasing off the exterminator dude! Anyone who came to my door offering for me to pay them to get rid of some of our favorite insects would get a real earful from me!

I scold people who complain about bees (ok, if you're allergic, that's a totally different story!), and quickly let them know that without bees, no honey, important things like flowers and veggies won't do their thing because they need the bees.

Earlier this summer (I wrote a post about it in June) when we were having the flooding, we thought ours had been killed and were gone. Fortunately they either recovered or a whole new hive has moved in because now they're everywhere! Some are BIG, too.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Daisy,
You want weedy beauty, get yourself some Zebrina seeds and be prepared to pamper them a bit their first year -- or better yet, get some seeds and plant them where you want them after frost. Ours come up in droves every year, and I now regret I wasn't pulling or digging them up to move. Oh well. They're technically an annual but are always there after one successful year in the garden. You could do a very attractive mix with them and a nice mix of Hollyhocks (which are biennial, so they only grow the first year then bloom 2nd). That would be quite pretty...

They definitely wouldn't be "hardy" where you are, but as long as they have 2-4 good hot months and lots of sun, I think you could pull it off. If you can grow Zinnias there, these will too.

Annie in Austin said...

Zebrina mallow must be one of the most adaptable plants in the country - even in our heat and with only hose water instead of rain a few plants are alive. There are even a few blooms. But mallow barely survives here and none of the flowers approach the beauty of the mallow in your photo with its bee butt.

The orange zinnias are great - wish I had them instead of my supposed lipstick reds that bloomed rose. More zinnias next year for sure.

I'll be back for the unfolding of those apricot blushed petals, IVG!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
Yeah, I'm not very good at that special day type thing either but I got a lot of good shots on Sat, and since they fit no particular theme, I figured, why not?

Glad you liked the tour! You have the Prairie Mallow too, sounds like yours has taken over, but so has ours. On my big weeding binge in July, I dug and pulled quite a few and they went to the compost. We should have done that with Zebrina too. Hey, maybe you could have a patch of Zebrina and Pink Mallow together and see who out thugs who! (or not, if you prefer!)

Oh, and here's something you can do (if you haven't already) to control them a bit: just prune them down taking pods and all. If yours is like mine, it's pretty much done and seeding. Only reason I haven't hacked them yet is I'm collecting some for Gail and others who want to give it a try.

I can't imagine it not growing for your friend either, unless she has some critter or bird who likes the seeds. I imagine that our respective winters are much the same, so I'm baffled too.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Annie,
You snuck in one me again, lol ... glad to see you here. I think mallows are real toughies but if they're faltering in your summer, that must be one severe drought you're having! I can remember years like that and it's frustrating and sad to be a gardener during such summers.

I know what you mean by not getting what you think from specific zinnias. We do have one (hasn't bloomed yet if it's out there) called 'Red Queen' which is really a nice deep one. We like to buy these mixes and single varieties that Target sells under the "Sean Conway Cutting Garden" brand. We really love the "State Fair" mix because it's chock full of all sorts of fun colors and they get almost 4-5 ft tall and bloom constantly. We usually throw a cactus type mix in with them as well so we have a little bit of everything.

If you only want/can grow one flower and have plenty of sun, it's a cheap way to get rapid gratification and lots of color! Love em...

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Shady, how on earth did I miss you the first time through, sorry! Thanks, and glad you liked them! Sometimes I try be arty, but Fernymoss is better at that. I've always told Olivia (my photog inspiration and coach) that I consider myself more of a 'documentarian' or 'archivist,' whereas the other two are artists.

And the new cam sure helps too! I think it plays a big role in some of the quality shots we've gotten.