Rising Heat

As temperatures heat up, I appreciate those flowering plants that can survive.  The high so far has been 99 which means we haven’t gotten into the crazy time, yet.

summerheat7This Pink Guara (Onagraceae Gaura lindheimeri) has gotten out of hand.  It is spreading rapidly now.  It was well behaved for about six years.  But it still looks so pretty swaying in the wind.  It will bloom continuously until the first freeze.

summerheat8And all kind of pollinators enjoy it.

summerheat6This long stem was bent low as this butterfly, maybe a migrating Monarch, hung on.

summerheat9The Crinums from the Amaryllidaceae family are blooming now but won’t last long.  They probably should be divided.  However, the bulbs are huge.  So I’m not quite sure how to accomplish that in the heavy clay without tearing them up.

summerheataVery few Gladiolas have bloomed this year.  The bulbs have been in the ground for years.  I divided a few in the spring, which is the wrong time of the year for that and too late for them to bloom this year.

summerheatbAhh, the tropical Hibiscus flowers are glowing.

summerheatcThis plant is about eight years old.  I love it.

summerheat2For years, we’ve had Barn Swallows nesting on a small ledge around both the front and back porches.  They make a horrible mess on the furniture and the front wooden floor and back concrete.  So this year, we paid a hefty fee to have the HardiPlank extended to eliminate the ledge edge.

The creative Swallows, who normally build mud nests on the ledge, made an entirely different kind of nest out of mud.

summerheat1We have been washing down all nests before they are complete or before eggs have been laid.  Hopefully, this will be our last year to battle them.

summerheatThe stems that look like palm trees are getting taller.  They are Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius) will reach up high and bloom in late August.

Everyone who sees them at this stage are fascinated by their form.

summerheatdThis year I discovered Soprano Lilac Spoon Daisies (Osteospermum ‘Osjaseclipur’).  It is a hybrid from the Osteospermum family that includes asters and daisies.summerheat4It’s easy to see how it got the spoon name.

summerheateThe petals may widen out on the tips as the plant or the flowers mature.  We’ll see.  It’s not winter hardy.

summerheat5As I was hand watering, at my feet was a Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) – probably looking for a puddling place.

summerheatfThis is a scented Geranium or Pelargonium ‘velvet rose’.  It is in full sun until late afternoon.  Such a lovely flower with leaves that have a mild rose smell.

Hope your summer is enhanced by flowers.

“Have the maturity to know that sometimes silence is more powerful than having the last word.”  Thema Davis

Garvan Gardens, Part 2

Garvan Gardens outside of Hot Springs, Arkansas, is a serene, calming place.  Because there were few people visiting that day, it seemed like we were alone in forest far from civilization.

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garvangardensmmSome workers were constructing this exhibit out of brush.  This art installation by W. Gary Smith is to last for a year.

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garvangardensnn Miniature fairy gardens created in pots are a current fad, but this Fairy Garden was built using tree stumps.

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garvangardensooEach one stood about 3 or 4 feet tall.

garvangardenspA small patch of Oxblood or Schoolhouse Lilies (Rhodophiala bifida) make an impact statement.

garvangardensppVery tall Pinks or Dianthus in a semi-shady spot.

garvangardensqThe Children’s Garden entrance is below this metal twig looking bridge.

garvangardensqqEverything we saw in this part of the garden is mostly rocks to climb on and secluded small areas to explore.

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garvangardensrrThe boulders were intriguing with the quartz in the stones forming sharp ridges.  Over time, the rock, whatever type it is, has eroded, while the quartz remained intact.

garvangardenssSome of the Children’s Garden might be intimidating to young kids.

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garvangardenttBack on the main trail …

garvangardentttwe continue past this small pond with water Iris.

garvangardenuAlthough this peacock was alone, his loud mating cries broke the silence of the forest.  Guess he just wanted some attention.

garvangardenuuAnother pergola leading to a grassy area surrounded by flowerbeds.

garvangardenuuuAlliums towering above other flowers, like these Pansies.  I really wanted some Alliums and tried them once, but they didn’t come back the next year.  Don’t really know what the problem was.  Too hot, too cold, soil too alkaline?

garvangardenvMore Dianthus

garvangardenvvDelphiniums, maybe?

garvangardenvvvJust outside the Chipmunk Cafe were several miniature trains at different levels circling around a tree.

garvangardenwwwAnthony Chapel is a wedding chapel with construction similar to the Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  I think this chapel was built in 2006 while ThornCrown opened in 1980.

garvangardenxThe wood is southern yellow pine.

garvangardenxxAnthony Chapel is a wedding chapel.  Lovely setting.

There is a separate building for wedding party members with a bridal changing chamber.  It can be rented for an additional cost.

garvangardenxxxThe whole intent of the design with 55 feet tall windows is to have full view of the surrounding woods.  The handcrafted scones are made of oak.

garvangardenwwHeading to the parking lot takes us past more trees and bushes.  This looks like Coral Honeysuckle.

garvangardenwBeautiful bloom on an Oakleaf Hydrangea (‘Hydrangea quercifolia’).

Thanks for reading our visit to Garvan Gardens.

“The only limit to your garden is at the boundaries of your imagination.”  Thomas Church

Front View

When we built our house and put in the “lawn”, I confess that we were not enlightened enough about water conservation.  So we have a large expanse of grass that I have been gradually eliminating with flowerbeds.  The grass is native Bermuda that came from the pasture soils we dumped over the rocky caliche yard areas.  As the weather gets hotter and the occasional rains have stopped, the grass will be more yellow than green.

Since I’ve never really shown the overall layout of the land, here goes with the front of the house, which faces north.

frontyard614xThe house is not really tilted – just my photo.

Although I would like to blame someone else for many of the choices in the yard, we both agreed to most everything.  I still think that our location, surrounded by pastures, does require a large open space.

frontyard614sOn the left side of the front, against the house, there are heirloom Daylilies and some hardy well adapted Yellow Columbines. frontyard614All the Daylilies were planted close to the house because those were the only flowerbeds we had when a friend gave us a whole trunk-load of newly dug bulbs.  Nothing had been done to the yard yet except stone laid for the flowerbeds and sidewalks.  So with no soil preparation, they were planted into the thick clay and have been healthier than should be expected

frontyard614aLet me interrupt myself:  when we were outside the other day, a baby Barn Swallow fell or was pushed out of a nest under the edge of the front porch covering.  It just took a dive into the grass in front of us and stayed there, probably stunned.  Eventually, it did fly away.

frontyard614rJust to the right of the porch is a bed of Purple Heart.  Then further right is Woodland Fern.

Another aside:  The wet walkway is from a 4 one-hundredth of an inch morning rain.  Lately, we’ve had several of those rains with some up to .20 inches.  Not really enough to water but enough to cause really high humidity.  And that is something we are not used to.

So with the humidity and the gnats, caused by lack of wind, it’s been a killer to work outside.  Whatever we complain about usually comes back to haunt us.  For me, that’s been too much wind.  So now we’ve had the opposite.

To those hardy souls who garden in the deep South, you have my sympathy and admiration because you endure humidity that soaks your clothes in minutes and all kinds of pesky flying menaces.

frontyard614y2 The Purple Heart has almost filled in its bed.  In fact, enough was growing out onto the walkway that I was able to break it off and share it with someone who wanted it.

In the foreground of the picture is a pot of African Bulbine.

frontyard614fThen, in the only true shady bed, is the Woodland Fern.  Columbine keeps trying to take over, so it requires diligence to keep it out.  But I don’t always keep up.

frontyard614gA potted Boston Fern in the corner has a pot of Kalanchoe in front of it.  The leaves on this particular Kalanchoe never seem to look healthy, but the blooms keep coming.

frontyard614dAlso, tucked in that corner is an Elkhorn (Euphorbia  lactea Haworth) that I’ve had for 5 years.  It’s also called Frilled Fan or Crested Euphorbia.  Although it thrives in the heat, it does better without direct sun.

It just keeps growing upwards and is tricky to move inside during the winter because it has sharp barbs on every edge.

frontyard614nAnother bed of Daylilies on the west side comes to the edge of the front fern bed.

As you can guess, I feel that I should apologize to those who urge us all to go xeriscape.  But I don’t truly like that look, especially in the extreme.  My preference is for an English Garden look, which I’m working towards using some drought tolerant plants and natives.

Happy gardening whatever your style.

“Gardening is a mirror of the heart.  Gardening is a way of showing that you believe in tomorrow.  Gardening is an exercise in optimism.  Gardening is not a rational act.”  Margaret Atwood

Pesky, Pesky

Every spring since we’ve lived here, barn swallows have nested on our porches.  There is a tiny ledge along the inside perimeter of the twelve foot high ceilings.   It has become a running battle between me and them.  Now, before you get all up in arms, they create a really ugly mess, not only on the ledge, but on the porch floor.

So I’ve tried to scrap off the nests as they are in the early process of being constructed.  They in turn just move to another part of the ledge.  By the end of spring, the whole ledge is covered in mud.  This year a friend suggested that if I let them complete a nest, they would only mess up that spot.

babybirds2So this year, there is one nest on the front porch and one on the back.  That has at least allayed my fears that multiple nests would line the porch.

babybirdsTheir nests form a half bowl against a wall of man made structures.  It consists mostly of mud, hence the mess, and dried grass or twigs.

barnswallowIt’s actually a pretty bird.  They zip around the house like they’re on a reconnaissance mission.  They do eat insects, which is a good thing.

babybirds4In Texas, the swallow bug (Oeciacus vicarius) is known to be a blood sucking parasite of these birds.  In some cases, they have invaded homes where swallows nest.  Not a pleasant thought.

babybirds5This is the nest on the back porch.  The babies are quite large before they leave the nest.  They lay on top of one another and look like they’re barely hanging on.

Having put up with this mess for months, I expected to see them fly from their nests.  Nope.  Gone in a flash that I missed.

“I have a scheme for stopping war.  It’s this – no nation is allowed to enter a war till they have paid for the last one.”  Will Rogers