If you remember Morticia cutting off beautiful roses and just keeping the stems, you'll appreciate this lovely hanging basket. It's in our garden and I just can't bear to throw it away. It kinda grows on you after awhile.
I tried to find out if there's a real Addams Family Mansion. The closest match is the one below.
Addams Family Look alike ~ Saline, Michigan
Do you have any Addams Family Dead Plants in your garden?
DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN. SO...HOW WAS YOUR AUGUST? AUGUST 2011 READ BELOW
Just one year ago I thought the summer of 2010 was hard to endure. Now looking back, it was a bad. But not hideous. Reading back I seemed so hopeful that this was just a bump in the road. Now after a year of enduring drought I'm worn out hoping for rain. Tropical Storm Lee promised much but delivered little: just .04" of rain. About the same as getting the sidewalks wet. Hoping for a better winter with rain.
THE AUGUST OF 2011 IS NOW ON THE RECORD BOOKS FOR:
*MOST NUMBER OF DAYS OVER 100 (30 OF THE 31 IN THE MONTH)
**HOTTEST EVER RECORDED
***2ND DRIEST EVER RECORDED WITH JUST .09" OF PRECIPITATION
****THAT MAKES TWO DIFFICULT AUGUSTS IN A ROW. OUCH!
*****ENTIRE FORESTS OF PINE AND HARDWOODS ARE TURNING BROWN AND NEAR DEATH.
******I'M GUESSING 21 INCHES BEHIND ON OUR RAINFALL IS A NEW RECORD
*******I'M PREDICTING THAT 2011 WILL BE THE DRIEST YEAR SURPASSING 1917.
AUGUST 2010 READ BELOW
I'm no wimp. I've gardened in Texas all my life and expect August to be hot, humid, and sometimes dry. BUT I"M TIRED OF WATERING! We are now on day 31 waiting for a good rain.
For the records, our garden got rain 3 days with .10", .15", and .40" inches for a total of .65" This makes it the 3rd driest in the 100 years of record keeping. (Now watch it rain 2 or 3 inches tomorrow!!! OK by me!)
As far as temperatures go, they had already said by mid-month that we were in the hottest August on record. And the second half was all 97s and above practically every day. No relief at night either with temps at or just below 80 (that's right 8....0) every night. Average for this time of year: 92-72 each day.
Still, I was happy to observe the resilience of the flora and fauna in the garden. I have about 7 drinking spots for wildlife which makes this garden a mecca for thirsty critters.
Took some photos early this morning before church. I don't usually point my camera directly at the sun and it makes me wince to look at the photos. I'm glad for the shade, but GOOD-BYE AUGUST!
Still...it's a beautiful month in a Tropical Garden
Monthly Garden Bouquet is a monthly meme (3rd week of the month) started by Noelle of AZ Plantlady fame. To view the complete collection, please visit her wonderful blog in my blog favorites...Ramblings From a Desert Garden. There's a small, but beautiful collection of bouquets this month.
My wife is starting to enjoy this monthly tradition. When I brought this one into the house, she just laughed and smiled. She already knew what I was going to say....Happy August! No other special occasion needed.
I really have 2 bouquets to post, mine and a friend.
She's a veteran gardener and great friend, but she won't reveal her age or how long she's been gardening! :-)
Red flowers~ Mexican fire spike, along with some yellow coreospsis and white black foot daisies.
The greenery includes cast iron plant, greenbriar (real greenbriar lol), and two types of bauhinias.
This garden bouquet is from my friend Helena L. in Danevang, Texas.
She lives on a farm there and we were out for a visit. I kept admiring the flowers and then it dawned on me; how can you have daylilies in August here in South Texas? I couldn't believe it.
These are a very old cultivar that blooms most of the summer.
Thanks to Cindy at My Corner of Katy for starting the Three for Thursday format. She's on my favorites list, so please go take a look. :-)
The mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) has some fantastic foliage. We had some on our farm growing up in the 60s and it's been in America since 1745. It's considered invasive in parts of Texas, so I probably would recommend Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) instead. It's really not a very common tree here in Houston. I can think of only 10 or so trees in my part of town. Leaf girdlers and a fusarium wilt make it very short-lived.
I wish we could grow Jacarandas here, but only a few survived the last freeze.
This is the Chinese Rain Tree (Koelreuteria elegans). There are 2 other Koelreuteria species commonly grown in the U.S. This one is the least cold hardy and least common. A freeze in 1983 and 1989 almost wiped them all out. Some people find them too aggressive. In my yard, 3 or 4 have voluntarily come up over the past 5 years. Compare that to the thousands of tree legustrum seedlings I have every year! Not bad.
I love them since I can't grow tree ferns anymore. These are best grown as an understory tree.
Check with a local urban forester to see if they are troublesome in your climate before you plant one.
Ours are kept in check by dry conditions and cold.
This is the pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii). I lost all of mine in last year's freeze. It is
not nearly as cold hardy as some say. I'd say at 28 and below, cover it!
So why did I get some more? Because mine were about 7 feet tall and gorgeous when they died.
They are really beautiful shade tolerant palms and one of the few that have smaller trunks.
Some of the older ones survived down to 21 in parts of Houston, so they do become stronger as they age.
With high temperatures and dry conditions foremost on my mind, the plants for this garden trial have had an unfair trial period. I'm used to 90 to 95 with at least a little rain. This August, we've been at 96 to 100 (37C) and hardly a drop for almost 4 weeks solid! We did get .10" of an inch today and saw rain all around us. Yea!
ALL OF THESE PLANTS DID SUPERBLY THIS SUMMER. I WOULD SAY THEY ARE WELL-ADAPTED TO WELL-DRAINED, PARTIALLY SHADY SITES IN ZONE 9A OR ABOVE.
The Silver European Fan Palm has very small leaves and has a spiky look. It will take a year to tell how it fits in.
The Needle Palm is absolutely my surprise of the summer. I had no idea they were so beautiful and lush. They remind me of a fuller version of a lady palm. The leaves are shiny green with a pale underside. They are adapted to very low temperatures, so I'm not worried about freezes for either of these.
Needle Palm ~native to the SE United States
I've already raved about the Black Foot Daisy, so I'll mention the
Pink Muhly Grass. I bought this on sale for a dollar since Lowe's had almost killed it.
Obviously, it is very drought tolerant to survive such neglect. It looks great in contrast to agaves. I can't wait for the bloom spikes this Fall.
It is a Texas native, so it is adapted to our weather extremes.
Agave celsii is my absolute favorite new agave. I was delighted to find it on sale at Wal-Mart!
The Agave stricta is also a beautiful addition to the garden. I have never seen these for sale in Houston, so somebody is finally getting the message that gardeners would like plants that don't need endless watering.
I don't remember the name of this hybrid Coreopsis, but the foliage is outstandingly beautiful for a coreopsis. So far, it has bloomed nonstop in 97 degree weather with no transplant shock. Wow!
I'm guessing this is Zinna 'Prolific'. I went back to buy more, but they had sold all 20 in two days!
I'm not that fond of orange zinnias, but these seem to work well in the dry shady beds.
I'm going try to add about five more to give the area some pizzazz. It too had no transplant shock.
This is what it looks like here after almost 4 weeks without rain. It has rained all around us, but not in my area of Houston. It was 99 degrees when I took this picture. However, the news reported that we will only have a high of 90 on Saturday with possible rain. Yippee. We are on day 27 with barely any rainfall. I've take the garden through 40 days with no rain, but it's not easy.
That's it from Tropical Texana. Hope your garden is under less stress than mine.
Thanks again to Cindy from My Corner of Katy for thinking of this great idea. There are a number of us with this Thursday format, so why not join in? See my Blog Favorites and please go visit Cindy's great garden! :-)
All gardeners know that the more time you spend observing, the more you see in a garden, even one that you know inside and out. Here are three visitors we had this summer AND that held still long enough for me to photograph.
Always a favorite, this giant swallowtail just suddenly decided to land and soak up some sun. Fortunately, I had my camera.
If there are citrus trees in your neighborhood, chances are you'll see this visitor. I see them weekly and sometimes daily.
Looks scary, doesn't it? It was sucking on a fly when I first saw him. This Robber Fly is considered a good guy since they eat mosquitoes and flies. The larvae live in soil and eat grubs and grasshopper eggs. My book on Texas insects says it can give a painful bite, so I didn't try to annoy him.
BTW: Click on the photo to enlarge and see his awesome 'feet'. He can catch prey by pouncing on them.
I wish this Green Fruit Beetle or Fig beetle had a cool name, but it doesn't. I see this member of the scarab family about once a year.
They are also considered good guys since the grubs live in soil and eat bad guys. The adults eat rotten fruit.
Latin name: Cotinis mutabilis, formerly known as Cotinis texana! (Wow!)
The underside is outstandingly irridescent and beautiful. He crawled away before I decided to go back outside and flip him over for another picture. I find them in our compost pile.
Welcome to Foliage Followup; a celebration of cool greenery during a very hot month. Pam at Digging is the mastermind and master gardener behind this group. Thanks and hang on for some great garden pics from this very creative group! Go to http://www.penick.net/digging/ to see the participants. :-)
It's no secret ~ I'm a foliage plant nut and an avid collector of both spiky and lush looking tropical plants.
FROM THE SPIKY COLLECTION:
Agave lophantha (small leaf version)
Aloe transvaalensis (Transvaal Zebra Aloe)
This lovely Sanseveria hasn't notice that it's been 97 for the past 10 days. Bulletproof!
An artsy view of a Sago Palm frond that's been through a lot in its short life.
Part of our Agave collection. The large A. lophantha on the left is up front near the street as a dog deterrent.
I'll probably move it next year. It scores a perfect 10 on the Spikometer. I cut the tips off for safety.
NOW IT'S TIME FOR PLANTS FROM THE LUSH COLLECTION
Isn't this the coolest plant? This is Cotyledon orbiculata and it almost died in the last freeze. I left it outside in 21 degree weather!
I'm bringing it in this winter.
These are Kaempferia pulchra and Kaempferia elegans varieties from Thailand.
This is the only group of plants I sprinkle with water daily. They are in the cooler part of the yard and worth the extra trouble.
This is a Chinese Fan Palm. They are the heart of the back garden.
Alocasia machrorrhizia is unbelievably drought tolerant for having such a big leaf.
I got these from Castroville, Texas.
And finally this silvery plant is called Cornukaempferia aurantiflora.
I have only 2 or 3 of them.
Thanks for stopping by Tropical Texana in Houston, Texas.
No rain, endless heat, high humidity, and lots of shade. Can anything still be blooming? Well, yes!
Welcome to our shady tropical garden in Houston, Texas. Anything blooming at this point gets the thumbs up to stay around in future years.
These beautiful peacock gingers bloom all summer in dense shade (Kaempferia pulchra)
Their foliage makes them twice as nice.
In the front yard, Blue Daze (Evolvulus) has bloomed all summer long. It has the unenviable spot right next to the road. (Think dogs walking by..okay?)
The Cleomes looked better earlier in the summer, but still manage to bloom early in the morning.
My favorite drought tolerant plant so far is the small mounding Black Foot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum). This is first time I've tried this plant. I put it in between Agaves for contrasting foliage.
The bright colored Four O'clocks are blooming now. Almost everything else is conserving energy to survive the dry spell.
I thought Ruellias only came in shades of purple. This is my first red Ruellia and it is taking the heat and still blooming. It's a native of South America and should be hardy here in zone 9B. You grow them from stem cuttings since they are in the Acanthus family. I'm growing to love the Acanthus family.
Do you see the camouflaged insect on this coreopsis? I wish I knew the name.
These zinnias totally surprise me. No powdery mildew this year.
Zinnias are native to Mexico and seem to love heat.
I showed the White Orchid tree last month and some are still blooming.
By the way, are you keeping track of all the colors so far? What am I missing?
Finally, not all the colors in our August garden are from flowers. Here's a glimpse of our bromeliad collection. The brown spots are a reminder of the hard freeze we had in January.
Well, that's it from the hardest gardening month at Tropical Texana.
Those northern gardens are probably jam packed with gorgeous flowers!
Please visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens and see her wonderful flowers. She thought up the idea and has a list of over a hundred gardens that participate.
I tried to make a REAL bottle tree this summer, but the squirrels jumped all over it and knocked the bottles off.
Then I put the bottles in the window in our sunroom, and our two cats started acting like rambuncious rhinos and broke one of the bottles.
So....now I've put the surviving bottles up on the playset. So far none have broken or fallen. BTW: I don't drink. I found the bottles on the side of the road. In fact, I found all the bottles so this is the ultimate gesture in recycling.
Now I find there's even a safer bottle tree around. And even my wife would approve.
This cute picture comes from a wonderful person named Ginger over in Alabama.
Her website is called...are you ready? Deep Fried Kudzu. com
Don't you love it already? If you are genetically drawn to homemade garden art, then GO VISIT!
If you visit her site, type in bottle tree in her search engine and you'll arrive at Wade Wharton's Art Environment in Huntsville, Alabama. Ginger has showcased this yard/art garden/wonderland in her August 5th, 2010 post. It defies anything you can imagine. I'm serious. I especially like his rake tree. Think I'll make one...uh... just joking.
Thanks to Ginger for allowing me to share her art and website.
For dessert, visit Pam over at Digging (her fantasitc garden is on my blog list) to view her bottle tree and cute garden owl (Hoot!). Maybe Pam, Ginger, and Wade Wharton should meet? And...I wonder if Wade makes owls?
One common theme of all of my friends in blogland is a growing lack of interest in a traditional lawn. Here are some shade grasses in my garden growing near paths. They take no care and give the garden a cool feeling. Since it's been near 98 degrees all week, I'll stare at anything to keep me cool.
This cutie stays about 8 inches tall in clumps. It looks best as a single cluster near stones. Our cats love to eat it. Grows all summer no matter how hot or dry. It's in the grass family.
The bright green grass (really a sedge) grows as a clump. It's very fine and feathery foliage looks good by garden paths. This one grows near the contrasting dark green monkey grass. I love this little sedge.
And this is my favorite. My blog friend over at a Growing Obsession has a wonderful post about a similar looking sedge. However, this is a native grass with unusual pleated leaves and a blue-green color. Sadly, it is not evergreen, but an annual favorite.
I let these die down each fall so that they can set seed and spread. All 3 have willingly obliged us and are spreading nicely.
If you want to start some native grasses in your yard:
1)leave some small bare spots
2) feed birds in this area
3) water the area during dry spells
Thanks to Cindy at My Corner of Katy for the wonderful Three for Thursday format. It's catching on like native grasses! :-)