Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday in the Weedorium ....

This first shot is a close up of a Tricyrtis formosana Toad Lily called 'Gilt Edge,' (so graciously IDed for me by Mr. McGregor's Daughter). I have been really pleased with how well this Toad Lily has done since I plated last year ... it has increased at least threefold from the original plant I put in, and today I discovered one of its ruses to increase the colony ... it is putting out two thick, long runners at the base which should grab hold and potentially give us even more plant next year, definitely an exciting development given just how pretty this variety is. In this photo to its left, you can spot something that looks very similar... the variegated Solomon's Seal I just planted. I thought it would be fun to put both shade plants close to each other since they almost seem to mimic each other, though one will bloom for us in the Spring and the other Late Summer ... what you do you think of the combination? Too much of a good thing or a potentially pleasing combination?

We've been so lucky the past two weekends, in that we've had tolerable, cooler weather, so we're still tackling the various stations of the Weedorium (yep, I made that one up) in the garden. It's grueling work as always, though we made a few fun discoveries (such as a Praying Mantis and some volunteer sweet potato vine!) while we furiously pulled or dug up weed after weed.

I took the small primrose bed by the steps, which was badly in need of a thorough weeding, while Fernymoss worked the other side of the steps in the main front boulder bed. On my side of the steps, I just concentrated on clearing all the crabgrass and various weeds (including some renegade morning glories) away from the Primroses, Salvia nemorosa, Toad Lilies, Lavender, and the other plants in this bed. Once that job was finally done, I planted 2 Silver Mound Artemisias (they'd been waiting in pots and a bit worse for wear) and a variegated Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum) that one of Fernymoss' co-workers gave him a while back (it too had been waiting more than patiently in its pot).

Fernymoss had by far the more exciting experience, especially since he discovered (and photographed) one of the elusive Mantises we've seen lurking around the garden. He also uncovered a spot where lo and behold, he found a couple of Purple Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea battata) seedlings that are about 5 inches tall! They're not far from a big pot where we had them growing last year, and since they bloomed frequently (which most don't do), they must have left some seed behind. We've never known them to do this before, but are delighted with the find, and it's going to be fed tomorrow, just to see how big it can get before frost gets it. Not far from these welcome volunteers, he also found a good number of a purple ornamental pepper we had growing in the area last year. We thought it would probably seed, since it did fruit heavily, but up until now we've not seen them. Like the volunteer Celosias, they just took their time showing up!

Now I know some may be thinking that seeing a Petunia in a garden is a pretty prosaic sight, but in ours, it's somewhat of an occasion, since this is the first year ever we've planted them. This year, we both finally resolved our Petunia Issues (which I discussed a few months back here) and we're glad to have them. Our intention was to provide another food source for Hummingbirds and Butterflies, and now we're very pleased with how good they look planted among the Moss Rose (Portulaca grandiflorum). We both were quite taken with this veiny purple one that looks like it's spent much of its time revving up to take off during the last month or two of summer. We haven't seen the hummingbirds visiting yet, but oddly, they still are coming around to work the Monarda from time to time. I also saw a sure sign of Fall's approach ... a pair of Goldfinches who were interested in feeding on the Purple Coneflower seeds, but we were too close for comfort and they took off. I'm sure they'll be back, because they visit faithfully every year and we leave them throughout the winter to provide them (and other birds) a quick snack if they need it.
Here's another variety of Petunia that caught our eye, also planted among Moss Rose and the unidentified Artemisia I talked about earlier in the spring, and to the left in back, you can see a Kniphofia still struggling in a less than optimal spot. I put this one in about 3 years ago and it has yet to bloom because it tends to get swallowed up by the Artemisia, but it's been putting on some size this year, and I may just move it in the Spring (or yet this fall) and put it with its fellow 'Poker Plants' in the back of the Hibiscus bed where they are flourishing. This is one plant I really wish would rebloom, but alas its show is brief and doesn't happen more than once a Summer. Pity, because its blooms are truly a unique event (which I unfortunately didn't capture this year).
Here we have our newest member of the Celosia family, 'Caracas,' which I talked about a bit in a post from last week ... In the comments to that post, Gail asked if she should prune it a bit to encourage more branching, and I strongly counseled against doing that, which a close look at this photo should explain why. Ours is already over 4 feet tall and it's branching at practically every node all along the central stem, where you can see new blooms developing. I love just about everything about this plant, from its electric pinkish red stems and bronzy foliage to the truly whimsical poker shaped blooms abounding from it. More ...many ... please! We'll be collecting these seeds when they set on and want to make sure it stakes out territory not only here, but in other sunny spaces in the various beds as well. We'll see what we get come fall, but if we have enough to share I may be able to pass some along to other interested gardeners.
Finally! The oft attempted, yet more often failed, effort to get a sharp close up of one of the blooms has succeeded! Now this is one bizarre bloom that reminds me at once of a fantastical caterpillar and some sort of floral fuzzy tongue reaching out to tickle observers who just get a little too close.... No matter what, we think the backdrop of the Porcupine grass and its proximity to Finger Rock really show this newcomer off to his best advantage in the front border. Folks, if you spot this variety next Spring, give it a try... we're just loving it!

As for the rest of the Weedorium, we didn't get to those profligate Zebrina Mallows due to lack of time (we were invited out for dinner tonight) and the fact that there were a few too many bees working over there for comfort when we were at work. We're going to head over there for at least a while tomorrow, but the veggie garden is also overrun with all sorts of nastiness. Though I inspected it today and discovered that we have quite a few ears of corn developing (at least 20-30 or so!) and tons of tomatoes set on and gradually beginning to ripen. I picked one to add to the three I recently got from behind the house, so they're finally getting their act together.

Such is the state of the garden on this cool August night, as we skate inevitably toward Labor Day.


Annie in Austin said...

Occasionally I've had a ornamental sweet potato go dormant, live over and resprout the following spring, but to get seedlings is pretty amazing, IVG.

If you're interested, check out this post from Pam/Digging about Deborah Hornickel's garden on the 2006 Austin Garden Conservancy. Deborah's hedge of tall pink Amaranthus is pictured. Philo & I also went on the tour.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I guess my 'Gilt Edge's aren't as happy as yours. I've had them for years & never seen any runners. You must be treating it well. That Celosia flower sure is freaky, but what a great color.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Annie,
We're tickled and amazed to have seedlings, and we discovered some more in the pot where the original plant was... we have some Carmencita Rose Castors in there, the little ones are growing below.

I'll have to check out that post ... wondering what sort of Amaranthus that is (Gomphrena perhaps?).

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

That's too bad about your Toad Lily, but honestly, I'm amazed this plant took off so quickly last year and has just taken leaps and bounds this year. It probably helps that it's in a good spot near the primroses, which are watered religiously during dry periods.

One more reason to love Celosias ... they never fail to produce some real oddities! I just discovered a bunch more today that are starting to bloom and look like they're going to be mutants of some sort, lol. Stay tuned...

Gail said...

IVG, Hello, I am catching up with all my friends after a long weekend off! Your celosia is doing much better then mine, but then mine is in a pot! It is easier to keep it watered! Wow, on the hedge of amaranth that Pam posted! Look what happens when you don't have a winter!

Amaranth flowers are hard to photograph! You did a great job, mine likes to fuzz out! Waiting to see what and where the seedlings show up is going to be great fun! When do you put the paper bag over the seed head?

I did get a tricyritis formosana "Empress" at the nursery. I was told it can handle my dry soil conditions. Do you know this one? Give a link to any posts on it! I didn't see Gilt Edge or I would have thrown many into the cart, it is a lovely color!

Later, you have several more posts for me to visit!


Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Glad you had a long restful weekend, and I'm looking forward to the upcoming Labor Day holiday, though of course we'll still be slaving away in the Weedorium,lol.

Wow is right on that hedge! That's freakin huge, though if we had enough of this Celosia, we could try approximating it. I do wonder if they do die back at some point, but maybe not. I know ours are always looking pretty ratty about the time of frost.

Time to collect the seeds is when the blooms are really faded, and you can look closely and see really tiny round black seeds in there. If you don't want to bother with shaking them off, just cut back a large stem that's fading, put a bag over it and hang it upside down in a cool, dry place and they'll drop naturally. Do, however, make sure there's some air circulating around them or they may mold.

I haven't heard of 'Empress,' but there are so many hundreds of Tricyrtis, it's hard to know them all. Um, I disagree with what they told you, because drying out too much will kill them off. I think your soil (amended) is probably fine, but try to keep it moist if possible. Remember, it loves shade, though it does appreciate some indirect light for a few hours a day but nothing approaching direct.

My 'Gilt Edge' is planted by the steps for a reason... it gets 2-3 hours of indirect morning sun, then is in shade the rest of the day. As you can see, it's loving it where it is!

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