Friday, July 31, 2009

Wild about Wildflowers

Native Jewel Weed, an Impatient
One of Many Zinnias
Black EYed Susan
Oh So Delicate Cosmos, The Color Puple...
So Much Life Going On Here!

This Spring, I posted about getting ready to seed several areas with wild flowers. Two of the areas are a disappointment, at least this year,... hope springs eternally in the garden for the next year! But the third area, the "hummingbird garden" has been a real joy! I also added many collected seeds to a purchased mix, coming from Wild Seed Farms. The area has a diagonal path that leads to the Bee yard at the back of the garden, so I would be "forced" to meander through a glorious swath of annual blooms, life is tough some times, No? This season is all about Cosmos, Zinnias, Black Eyed Susans, Queen Ann's lace, Silenes...many annuals. I'm not an annual nut, but you sure get a great deal of color in a hurry!

I have also added trumpet Lilies, wild Bergamot, Verbena....this is a garden in the making, but you do indeed hear the hummingbirds buzz through, and the resident Bumblebees are in Bee heaven! The native perennials will make their appearance next year, and the year after that...LOTS of milkweeds (Asclepias), more kinds of Asters, the list is quite extensive! I even spotted some Jack in the Pulpits that had survived the dense prairie grass prior to the clearing of the site.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cool Blooms for a Hot Month

Silene regina, the Royal Catchfly
Cosmos and Bumblebee, a great combination
Asclepias verticillata, the whorled milkweed
Hymenocallis-or Peruvian Daffodil
Civia "Golden Dragon"

I have been a bad,bad, blogger.So many things to do in the garden and at work, that I've felt "blocked"...and the endless weeds. Several special things need to be given their due, so I am showing a few to get unplugged. After a dry winter rest, one of my favorite Clivia decided to send up a late flower stalk for July. I had drooled over the expensive yellow Clivia that were being offered at White Flower Farm,unfortunately out of my garden budget.Then,years later, My friend Patrick found a healthy plant of "Golden Dragon"at a local nursery,and made a special gift of it to me. I checked the progress of the flower stalk every day, and after a summer shower it bloomed. Beside the "Golden Dragon", is a rare variegated Clivia that actually came from White Flower farm, via the amazing garden and collection of Matt Mattus -Growing With Plants-(you are the best!). He and his partner Joe just happened to be at the famed nursery when a shipment of regular orange Clivia minata were being delivered. Mixed with all the dark strappy leaves was one plant with the treasured striped pattern, and they scored it! Matt says this is a robust form, some are of weak character and slow to bloom...I can't wait to see!

I bought some Ismene bulbs late in the season, but the bulbs still were firm, so I potted them up and was rewarded by a crystalline bloom in just days! Not a winter hardy bulb, but easy to care for during warm months, then give it a cool dry rest for the Winter.

I have a great fondness for Asclepias (milkweeds), and was so excited to discover the elegant but diminutive A. verticillata or whorled milkweed growing in the native grasses by the back road to the farm. I have explored my property in all seasons for ten years, and I have never seen this jewel before! I have about ten species and cultivars, the essential food plant for our beloved and threatened Monarch butterfly. I encourage all readers to plant at least a few varieties in a remote, or not so remote a spot for this purpose. I think they are stunning, amazing native plants to celebrate and enjoy. Butterfly Encounters in California offers a large selection of these great plants (seeds), and Bobby Gendron, owner, also has produced a simple and easy to fallow planting video for novice gardeners to learn how to stratify the seeds of some species for abundant germination.

One of the wildflower areas I burned in the Spring has come into full annual bloom. Although there are many perennial species I hope to see next year, the happy annuals are giving the July garden a bright face lift! I will post on that next time, but I had to share the crisp white cosmos with a very contented Bumblebee foraging the golden pollen to feed it's colony.

The last thing I wanted to share is a lovely native plant that shines like a star in the moist meadows of Southern Missouri and Kansas, Silene regina. I first saw the plant on a float trip with the devine Devines and some of our other friends. The bright red stars where along the river bank (North fork of the White river), being visited by hummingbirds. I was captivated, but did not find a source for the plants until many years later. Once I get fixated on a plant, only time will stop me! Hopefully, I can get these somewhat finicky plants to set fertile seed, so I can introduce them to the edges of Hiddenfield pond.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Peacocks Lost...and Found

click image to enlarge Taking a Walk on the Mown Paths
The Radiant Couple
Rex watching over Sophia

Feeding together

The amazing gift of peafowl was quickly dashed by their untimely escape.The hen named Flo seems to be gone for good, but the cock- newly named Rex, and his mate Sophia have been getting closer to the house. I spotted Rex after a couple of days, and Sophia after that. The lady who raised them told my friend Jeff not to underestimate the power of Goldfish crackers, and I would have to agree!

I have been walking up my drive, shaking a giant box of said crackers for DAYS. I started walking down the greenhouse road, and ran into a friend's house sitter, I asked if by chance they had seen some peacocks...strange question usually, but their response was" why yes!, they're up that Walnut tree!",pointing to a tree by the bee hives. Needless to say, I was thrilled to see them together..much safer in a group. They had roosted for the night, and the next morning they were at the chicken coop, browsing on fallen grain. I approached slowly, and tossed some Goldfish crackers to them,... happily accepted! I also have been using strawberries and blackberries...talking to them and saying their names. The next day, when I got home from work, they were basking by the house!, they wondered to the courtyard and seemed to enjoy being in close proximity to people....all good so far, as long as they keep away from SO many predators. These are smart birds, I can't imagine trying to catch them for their own good...they are on their own now ( with some help from me if they'll take it!)

Now, every day, I'm a little compulsive about finding them and saying hello with a snack, and saying their names, maybe someday they will come when they're called like good dogs,... I mean peafowl. If you're wondering if Rex has displayed, the answer is yes...WOW. I've seen peacocks before, but that train, at like six feet tall is amazing and jaw dropping, then he vibrates the feather tines, making this cool rattling sound...enough fireworks for me! Happy fourth of July!