In nearly eighteen hours, a new year begins. Time to experiment with new flowers and other new plants. I’ve been practicing the art of forcing bulbs all winter because I need those bright blooms on cloudy days. Today is very cloudy, but I’m excited about the gloom. Because of changes made to my landscape over the years, I have color inside and out. The grass on the shady lawn is still a soft green, especially during this rainy day.
The green grass in our shady front lawn.
Yes, it rained! This makes for much excitement in OkieLand. I can’t remember the last time it truly rained. We did get a smidge of snow on Christmas Day, but this far north, not much fell. I heard that in Norman and further south, it truly was a white Christmas. As I told Bill, I’ll take moisture any way it comes these days.
Hyacinths I bought partially forced from Whole Foods. I took them out of the foil and plastic container and placed them in one of my terra cotta nursery pots. My hyacinths are still out in the fridge growing roots.
My forcing experiments are starting to take off. If you didn’t already coax bulbs, you can buy partially grown ones at Whole Foods. They have both hyacinths in purple and white, along with paperwhites. I did notice the paperwhites were ‘Ziva,’ and you know how I feel about her indoors. However, if you can put ‘Ziva’ in a large room, maybe you’ll enjoy her. I have paperwhites already bloomed, and some that are just starting.
Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) ‘Elvas’ and ‘Apple Blossom’-imp
The amaryllis, which aren’t technically forced because they’re tropical, have been simply stunning. I love their trumpet shapes. I gave two away and kept the rest, in various stages of bloom, for myself. Above is part of the amaryllis parade.
Most of my poinsettias remain nice. I threw two out starting to look ratty. I don’t try to keep them. It’s too much trouble without enough result. If you want to keep your amaryllis, Steve Bender from Southern Living magazine wrote a great post explaining care.
Poinsettia ‘Glitter’ has been a real joy the last couple of weeks.
I hope all of you are well. I finally am over the Christmas Crud with only a small cough to remind me. May the new year shower you with new blooms, the best of friends and good health. Oh, and thank you for reading my blog. I am grateful from the bottom of my little Oklahoma heart.
'Van Gogh' sunflower. I got the seeds from Renee's Seeds. She sent them to me to try. I like them.
I feel a post percolating about the fires and rebirth, but having just returned from GWA, I’m too tired to write it today. My home and garden were spared–the fire was several miles away–but many were not so lucky.
Below are two recent posts from Fiskars and Lowe’s. If you visit my Lowe’s post and leave a comment, I’ll give you a big hug next time I see you. Of course, I’d hug you anyway.
I have, and if you follow me on GoodReads.com, you might have already read my mini-reviews of these two books, but, in case you missed them . . . .
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big fan of Sharon Lovejoy’s work. For the past twenty years, I’ve read everything she’s written, smiled at her drawings, and implemented much of what she teaches. I’ve built sunflower houses, played with my children during Hollyhock Days, and we’ve shared many other adventures in the garden.
Cute cover, eh?
I’m also proud to be working with her and seven other wonderful writers on the Lowe’s Garden Grow Along blog this spring.
When she asked me to review her new book, Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma’s Bag of Tricks, I nearly clapped my hands in delight. Its arrival in the mail made me stop what I was doing to plop down in a chair and give it a once over. This time, Sharon directed her efforts toward grandparents, especially grandmothers. She encourages them to pass on their love for gardening, nature, cooking and all things home to their grandchildren. There are suggestions for making a cozy room with a quilt on the bed and a basket full of books for visiting little ones. (I had a grandmother like this, and I can tell you, next to my mother, I love her more than anyone.)
One grandmother met her darlings with a cup of hot cocoa on the first morning of their stay and then took them for a walk to the beach to see the sunrise. Pure inspiration.
However, before you think this book is only for grandparents, think again. These same games can be played with our nieces and nephews and our own children if we only take the time. Toad Cottages is similar in format to her earlier work Sunflower Houses. You really can build a sunflower house with a morning glory roof. It isn’t difficult, and I assure you the children in your life will always remember it.
As a writer, I receive too many books describing how we should involve our children in the garden, but which base their advice only on practical matters. I think, instead, we should read and implement a book like Toad Cottages which encourages us to instill the love of gardening lore and whimsy.
We only get this one life, and childhood is very short. I would encourage you to take your child’s hand and go on an explore today.
While you’re outside, bring along a sketchbook or notebook with you. Then, if you seen a fantastic bird, or interesting flower or plant, you can quickly capture its essence on paper. Better yet, encourage your child to bring along one too. A love of a gardening starts with a love for nature in all of its beauty, violence and just plain ickiness (think of parasitic wasps eating a caterpillar inside out for example). Kids adore the ick factor as much as beauty, by the way.
Susan Leigh Tomlinson, paleontologist, artist and professor in the Natural History and Humanities program at Texas Tech University, also writes and draws at The Bike Garden. Further, as someone who can build almost anything and often does, she is a woman I truly admire. A few weeks ago, she asked if I’d like to review her new book, How to Keep a Naturalist’s Notebook. While reading it, I was reminded of those amazing, nineteenth-century, women naturalists who carried their field kits with them everywhere and kept detailed records of what they heard and saw on their walks.
Susan drew these images on the cover.
You might ask, in this age of Nikon D90 DX cameras, voice recorders and Flip camcorders, why anyone would want to make their own notebook? A notebook of one’s own contains so much more. Samples of flowers or ferns can be pressed, and one’s own artwork can grace the pages. If you feel intimidated by the idea of creating your own notebook, this book is for you. By the time you finish, you will know the essential information and skills to record and comment upon your own environment. Tomlinson gives both basic and detailed art instruction. Anyone can draw with a bit of help. Even me.
Each chapter addresses a different topic from required equipment for your field kit to tips for wildflower and bird identification. After reading it, I felt inspired to get out my colored pencils and draw, something which I haven’t done since I was pregnant with Bear. I’ll let you know if I draw anything worth scanning.
Meanwhile, you can’t go wrong with these two artists and authors. I’m glad to call them my friends.
Mr. McGregor’s Daughter asked all of us to take a census of our houseplants. Somehow, this census is supposed to save her relationship with all of her houseplants, or was that her husband? I can’t remember. She said anything alive counts, so here goes:
Barely breathing bulbs count.
The above are barely living tulips. Don’t ask me why they look so bad. I also have a very sad Norfolk pine which is hanging on, and being the merciful sort I am, I did not photograph it because it was too embarrassed. Let’s move on to the amaryllis (really Hippeastrum) which finally decided to bloom after Christmas. I had plans for it with the jolly, red decor, but sometimes plants don’t cooperate.
'Red Lion' graced us with its presence after Christmas.
The next picture is in here just because I love the vase which I purchased online. I also have a blue one, but forgot to photograph it. Antique stores are another great way to find bulb vases, once you’ve gone over the edge and are growing bulbs everywhere.
Just love this vase. A hyacinth bulb
My double pink hyacinth called the double Chestnut Flower (1880) is starting to bloom. It is surrounded in the pot by white hyacinths which, I’m guessing, aren’t going to catch up to the pink one. Oh well, something to look forward to I suppose. I bought the double pink from Old House Gardens, and it does live up to the catalog’s glorious praises. It is nicely scented and beautiful to gaze upon. At the moment, watching it unfurl those double petals is about as good as houseplants get in my opinion.
Double pink hyacinth is so heavy she's being propped by a marker.
“That’s not fair,” cry the Christmas cacti, Schlumbergera et al. (one of them may be a Thanksgiving cactus). All three are perched indignantly around the tub reminding me that they have now bloomed twice. I do enjoy bathing with them, and after reading the new issue of Country Gardens magazine, I think we should add some African violets in vintage containers to the mix. They could sit in the windows I think.
The red one
The bright pink monster I've had for years
The light pink one I saved from Wal Mart last year.
I’m really rather ashamed of how light pink is potted up. Its original dark brown pot was knocked over by one of the cats, and HH threw it into this pot. Because I’m a terrible indoor gardener, I’ve never re-potted it. I think I’ll fix that this weekend.
If we're counting, this is four in one pot.
I found this little number at a local nursery last winter. I felt bad because I didn’t have any indoor plants except the cacti, so I saw this little jungle number and brought it home. It also resides in the bathroom which is the best place in my house because of the humidity. The aforesaid kitten likes to hide between the leaves and eat this plant. It hasn’t killed her yet, so I guess it isn’t poisonous. Oh, and before you call PETA, I’ve tried to get it away from her. I really have.
Isn't that pretty?
A few more bulbs (about ten in all), and that’s it. However, against my better judgment, I’m considering a terrarium. This afternoon I bought and I’m now reading Tovah Martin’s, The New Terrarium: Creating Beautiful Displays for Plants and Nature because she is coming to Oklahoma to speak in Tulsa (February 13, 2010) and Oklahoma City (February 14, 2010) as part of the OHS’s education series. By the way, the talks are open to the public and free.
Martin almost has me convinced. The terrariums look easy care, and if you want to live inside this house, you almost need to care for yourself, especially if you’re a houseplant. Just ask the cacti.
Instead, let us speak of times past, particularly of summer, when the garden posed for one giant beauty shot.
Through the arbor gate
You step outside, the screen door slapping at your heels, and a wall of heat hits you like a thunderclap. Stop for a moment, gather your thoughts, and gaze upon the garden in all its summer glory. Watch as dragonflies dance in the sky to a song only they can hear.
Suddenly, standing tall behind the split-rail fence, a pink rose catches your eye and in the early morning haze, it, like the summer heat, takes your breath away. Stately canes are covered in blossoms, the blooms a clear, pure pink un-muddied by blue undertones.
Rosa 'Carefree Beauty' Pay no attention to the red hoe on the left.
‘Carefree Beauty’, a/k/a Katy Road Pink, is one of Dr. Griffith Buck’s most famous roses. Although Dr. Buck’s name was nearly lost to us because he was way ahead of his time, his work led the way for today’s ever-blooming, disease resistant roses.
'Carefree Beauty' blooming in October
When outside deadheading, I often think of Dr. Buck looking down from heaven bemused. When he ran his rose program at Iowa State University, he had a very small budget, so his roses braved the elements alone, unlike the coddled Hybrd Teas so popular from 1950s through the 1970s. During his thirty-seven year career at the university, he registered ninety roses, many of which can still be grown by modern gardeners. Thank goodness this was done through the love of his friends and family, who kept the roses he gave them alive; and through rose nurseries like Chamblee’s Rose Nursery and the Antique Rose Emporium, who helped get them into commerce. In fact, ‘Carefree Beauty’ was originally known through ARE as ‘Katy Road Pink’ because it was found along the Katy Road in Houston, Texas, as I’m sure my friend Cindy From My Corner of Katy can attest.
An open bloom of 'Carefree Beauty'
I grow several of Dr. Buck’s roses, including ‘Serendipity’ (died last summer), ‘Country Dancer’ (going strong), ‘April Moon’ (new last summer), ‘Apple Jack’ (going strong) and ‘Frontier Twirl’ (beautiful, but has blackspot). However, it is ‘Carefree Beauty’ who stole my heart long ago.
Whether summer is hot or cold, she always looks good.
Other than tossing a handful of alfalfa pellets on her a couple of times a season, she asks for nothing more.
She rarely has a speck of blackspot, and her light green foliage with its red edges is beautiful besides.
Nearly constant bloom. If I forget to deadhead her, she just outgrows the unsightly bloomed-out flower and moves on to another perfect, pink bloom.
Aphids don’t seem to like her.
The simple blooms don’t ball up during humid years.
She laughs at drought. A friend of mine had a hedge of these beauties at the side of her property. She rarely watered them, and they were in her poorest soil.
Her blooms are lightly fragrant.
She forms large rosehips in the fall.
Dappled with rain
Now, for the negatives:
Large grower. Don’t plant her where she doesn’t have room. (Mine is crowded and does fine. I cut her back a lot some years.)
Her semi-double blooms don’t last long in a vase. (Who cares?)
Thorns. She has them as do most roses.
What's more can I say?
That’s it. She is a perfect lady, a homesteader in the world of roses. While wondering if she was a parent to some of this generation’s disease resistant roses, I found where a ‘Carefree Beauty’ seedling was the seed parent of ‘Radrazz’ or the original Knockout rose. She is also the seed parent of at least one other Buck rose ‘Buckaroo.’ The Southampton Rose Society reports that she is the parent of several new Bailey Nursery roses, one of which is ‘Grandma’s Blessing.’ I’m not at all surprised, and I’m glad she passed down some of her good genetic traits to this generation. If you have a place for her in your yard, please give her a try. She’s hardy throughout USDA Zones 5-9.
Knockout rose; can you see the similarity to its parent's blooms
To learn more about Dr. Griffith Buck, please visit the website created in his honor at Iowa State University. You can also visit the most complete collection of his roses at the Reiman Gardens on the university grounds.
On this August 15th, we’ve had rain showers for two straight days with more rain headed our way. As Oklahoma gardeners, it seems our fate to always have too much of everything. August usually brings that in the form of too much heat and sun, but after Pam’s lovely visit, she took the heat with her, and we’ve had unseasonably, cool (for Oklahoma) weather ever since; not that I’m complaining. Now, we’re also getting rain. If the plants don’t drown, we should have a beautiful September. My latest blooming daylily is H. ‘Autumn Minaret’ (Stout 1951;) an oldie, but one I truly admire for its height. At six feet tall, it towers over me. ‘Autumn Minaret’ resides at the very end of the garden where its height commands attention. It is also fragrant.
Rosa 'Mardi Gras' with Gaillardia
At right, is ‘Mardi Gras’ a Floribunda rose and an AARS 2008 winner. The bloom is a bit faded from the sun, but it retains a quiet beauty against the brighter Gaillardia. They are planted in the tiered borders on the left side of the deck. ‘Mardi Gras’ stays in bloom most of the gardening season. During this, its first year, it is a winner in all ways.
Cleome Senorita Rosalita
This is ‘SeÃ±orita Rosalitaâ„¢ Cleome (a/k/a Spider Flower.) I wanted to try this Proven Winners selection because it is relatively low growing and compact compared to regular Cleome hasslerana. I also hoped it wouldn’t have the normal sticky (as in sap and thorns) stems of the Spider Flowers I’d grown before. I searched for it throughout Oklahoma City and came up empty handed. Since I sometimes test and review plants for Proven Winners, I contacted them and asked where it could be found. They were nice enough to send me three plants. ‘SeÃ±orita Rosalitaâ„¢ is good choice for small gardens because it only grows three to four feet tall instead of five to six feet. It also has sturdy stems which don’t require staking. It doesn’t lose its bottom leaves. It sets no seed and is thornless. It is a great plant. I only wish it also came in pink or white instead of just lavender, but I suspect the folks at Proven Winners are already working on that.
The Salvias are still going strong. You can’t beat Salvias for their ability to bloom in good or adverse conditions. As with all pictures on this blog, if you let your mouse hover over each photo you can identify the plant.
Salvia 'May Night'
Gaillardia 'Fanfare,' 'Overdam' grass & Black Leaved Sky Flower
Moving on to the Gaillardias. I wrote an article for the Oklahoma Horticulture Society’s newsletter yesterday, and it featured Blanket Flower a/k/a Indian Blanket. Gaillardias are another summer blooming species we should all have in our gardens, especially those of us with dry conditions. I especially liked this combination of Gaillardia x grandiflora ‘Fanfare,’ Eranthemum nigrumBlack Leaved Sky Flower and Calamagrostis x acutiflora‘Overdam’ Feather Reed Grass.
That’s my contribution for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for once again being our fabulous cruise director. If you visit her blog, you’ll see even more bloom day posts. I hope to see you Sunday for another Sunday Stroll.