March 31, 2010

Springtime Continues

What a difference a week makes in the springtime garden. This morning I found my first tomato of the season. Wahoo! This is "Sungold" my "can't do without" favorite. After losing all of my precious seed- grown tomatoes last summer to some kind of blight by June 1st, "Sungold" is my one and only this year. And it's in a pot.
This tomato is indeterminate and just does not stop. It has grown to at least eight feet for me and produces up until frost. It is a bright orange color, about an inch in diameter and, to my taste, has the perfect balance of sweet, tart and acid.
Of course, this means that the nasty leaf- footed bugs are not far behind. The battle for the tomatoes in on!

The "Tangerine Beauty" crossvine has puffed up considerably over the past week and is about to burst into bloom any second. I've really enjoyed watching the bud development on this vine and the lovely colorations. At this stage the ends of the "balloons" are a purply shade and with the orange creates a distinctive look against the charteuse new growth. I almost expect to see little puffs of smoke shoot out when they open.      

March 25, 2010

Texas Tough

Though many of the plants I planted last spring have not made through to another year, there are some notable exceptions. In the photo above, you see one of these troopers-heartleaf skullcap which has grown to create a lovely green carpet  and creates a nice woodland feel to this shady area. It has spead quite a bit from the three 4" pots I originally planted. But it is not a bully and is also quite easy to transplant. I love it's fuzzy heart- shaped leaves and it will send up little blue bloom spikes soon. It goes dormant in the summer but comes back with cool weather.
At the rear you can see the American Beautyberry beginnng to leaf out. It is also one year old this spring.

This beauty is "Old Blush". Totally unfazed by the hot, dry summer or the winter, she has been blooming for a couple of weeks and is now covered with tiny buds. This was my first rose and she has prompted me to move on to several others. I chose her because the descrption at the nursery said it was the easiest rose to grow and they were right. She is no trouble at all.

I love the chartreuse color of the new growth on the
 "Tangerine Beauty" crossvine.
 It is covered with lots of buds and I can't wait to see it burst aflame with it's trumpet- like flowers.

March 23, 2010

Dead or Alive?

It seems that many of the things I planted last spring have not made it through to see another summer. Who can blame them for giving up. It was just a miserable year weather- wise. Blasting heat accompanied by record- breaking drought, followed by a cold and wet winter. I hated it, too. I am greiving especially hard for the apparent passing of the poor pitiful- looking Mexican weeping bamboo, at left. I check every day for corms pushing up through the soil, but I am losing hope.

My next door neighbor cleared her lot 18 months ago and I lost the privacy I had from my upper deck. I decided last spring to splurge for this bamboo because of its beautiful form and its rapid but mannerly growth. I was diligent in giving it extra water this summer and mulched it ( not well enough?) this winter. I'm heartsick and guilt- ridden. Where did I go wrong?

I tend to be relentlessy hopeful, unable to admit defeat so I will continue to go out everyday sometimes twice a day to look for new growth. I cannot admit this relationship is at an end just yet.

When Given Parsley, Make Tabbouleh

Black Swallowtail caterpillar on Italian parsley

My garden is very slow to wake up from its winter nap. It's as if it is gun shy and weary from the extremes it has endured this past year- record breaking heat and drought followed by an usually cold and wet winter. A few plants are goners and I have my fingers crossed for a few more to pull through.

But one bright note is the Italian parsley. It  survived the cold winter with some help from some sheets and overturned plastic pots and is just loving the cool nights and warm days.  It's inspiring me in the kitchen, too.

March 10, 2010

Springtime in Austin

Daffodils and narcisscus hold special significance of re- awakening and renewal. No matter where we live, they say it is Spring. This Narcisscus Campernelle, above, is one that does well in warm climates and it has come back year after year for me here in Austin.

"Grand Primo" is another heirloom that does not need cold temperatures to bloom; which it does in my garden as early as January. The flowers are quite small- no bigger than a quarter and very fragant. Just gotta love those happy little faces saying "Let the gardening begin".