Friday, March 26, 2010

Tulip census

We have Tubergen's Gems at last, and it appears that there will be many. The Lilac Wonder tulips were beaten up some in this weather and so lost their petals early. The red-and-white Clusiana tulips are few but sweet. And we have a Dutch tulip returnee from years ago that has surprised us with a but for an actual bloom. It's too early to tell much about the color, but the bud is not one of those false ones, all sepal, that are usually produced by these returnees ef they ever do more than shoot up a few scant leaves. What the squirrels didn't eat of the pumpkin seeds and what the cold weather didn't destroy is producing some plants that now have their first true leaves. We see no signs of life yet in Pride of Barbados, milkweeds, or lantanas, but it's early yet. At least we have milkweed volunteers for the butterflies.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New in the pleasure grounds today

There are buds, many buds, on the one-dollar clematis plants. No color is showing yet, but there were no flower buds yesterday. There are also some ranunculus buds for the first time, but no color is showing yet. Turk's cap leaves are showing for the first time since the run of cold weather that caused Turk's cap plants to drop their old leaves. All pear flowers went down in the winds, and so did most, but not all, redbud flowers. The winds felled some trees in the neighborhood and caused damage to others. City electric trucks and tree crews are to be seen here and there. A neighbor's bridal wreath spirea is covered in flowers; this happened overnight. There are more Lilac Wonder tulips. The milkweed (asclepias) that came to us in pots of other things that were paid for lasted several years, but this winter appears to have done for them. There do appear to be new volunteers, though. Flower Record has shown itself to stand well against the winds and the rains, so it's too bad that it's not much of a returner. The trees on the oak motte are at last beginning to shed some leaves.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Blues in the pleasure grounds

This morning showed us the missing grape hyacinths. We also have our first delphiniums open, along with many new blue Dutch irises. The blue hyacinths are nearing their end, but are still here. The same is true of blue anemone blanda and blue anemone de Caen. We've been losing too many flowers to theft and we prefer to see them when we're outdoors and from the windows, so we seldom bring any into the house. That's why Arnofsky (Texas Specialty Cut Flowers) exists and sells flowers at the Farm to Market Grocery on South Congress. The flowers are extremely fresh, so they last well, and the prices are more than fair for what is there, the kinds of blooms that are seldom seen in commerce.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Newest in the pleasure grounds

We have four species tulips in bloom, three of them red-and-white clusiana and one a Lilac Wonder. There's one California poppy. Those plants were doing well until they were touched once too many times too strongly by the winter cold. Sun Disc is holding up particularly well in the warmer weather, and so, surprisingly, are the red anemones. We're seeing more poet's narcissus of various types and more Thalia every day. Alliums are past their peak. We keep discovering more bluebonnet plants in odd places; something about the winter must have caused seeds to germinate that have been there a long time. It will be interesting to see whether they bloom and, if they do, whether they'll be the red ones.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

New arrivals in the pleasure grounds

As the earliest hyacinths begin to shoot up and then topple over, we can still smell them and some of them are still upright. Everything else that has been here is still here and blooming, but the earliest examples of everything are suffering in the heat and beginning to dry and fade away (I love the Spanish verb marchitar. I first heard it, I think, in the words to a song on a Ramon Ayala record. I seem to remember that there's a Latin verb marcesco, marcescere and also an adjective, marcidus, from the same verb, but when I search on line only versions of the verb for to die are found.) This morning we found the first deep blue Dutch hyacinths and also the first blooms from daffodil Flower Record. Honeybees have moved on to the redbuds from the pear tree.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Today's newcomers in the pleasure grounds

There are now at least two shades of pink hyacinths and one creamy variety, midway between white and yellow, joining all the various blue and purple ones. Baby Moon has survived. No picture ever conveys Baby Moon's diminutive scale or does justice to its shape and color. There are two Thalias open in the side yard. For the first time, there is evidence that we'll have at least a few Dutch iris flowers this year, after their spectacular display last year. Buds are beginning to form on a few plants.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New in the pleasure grounds

Roses of Sharon are joining the fig tree in leafing out. There are flowers on the pink oxalis. Overnight, the clematis has reappeared and is climbing fast.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Spring is everywhere

Yesterday, we saw our first groups of Sun Disc. These have multiplied estensively since last spring. The flowers look beautiful scattered in clumps all over the dormant lawn in Mack's yard. The first of the Ice Follies flowers are fading, but many more are on the way. We're now seeing many blue anemone blanda blowers amid the white ones, and the waves of Anemone St. Brigid and Anemone de Caen continue to be abundant. Only a few of these have dropped their petals, and we just have more and more. We have three kinds of blue dutch hyacinths. I like the one with the white stripe on each petal. There are also two shades of pink. Last year was a wonderful year for Dutch irises, but we've seen no buds yet this year. Iphieon has appeared. Our variety, whatever it may be, is a much paler blue than many are, but the flowers still look pretty on the oak motte when the skies are overcast. We're seeing many different varieties of tazetta miniatures and also several types of poet's narcissus. Among the tiny ones are Little Gem, Hawera, Minnow, and at least a half-dozen other varieties, the names difficult to remember, except for Baby Moon. Little Marvel has been furnishing English peas for the table. Although the leaves have appeared concurrently with the flowers, the pear tree does have many blooms, and the redbud has joined the display with its own flowers. This morning brought our first bachelor buttons, in three colors so far: blue, pink, and white. We don't have many leucojums these days, but they are producing many, many flowers apiece. At least some part of the fig tree has survived the winter, because leave buds are visible on some limbs. This is good news, because the fig is one not to be found in catalogues, just in old yards, and it's quite hardy. Flocks and flocks of cedar waxwings seemed to be around everywhere yesterday, picking trees and shrubs clean of their fruits and berries. A red-shouldered hawk flew very low overhead in our yard this morning, heard before seen. We saw giant maroon tradescantia where a house was torn down. Someone rescued most of them when the house was first demolished. These must have been there all along and in some way disturbed, because we've seen none at all there since the house and its neighbors went. Our little blue false dayflowers had been in bloom but were nipped back by the frost, as was purple heart, but I know they'll be back. We can see four o'clock leaves now for the first time since last year's plants collapsed at their joints last fall. Even all the hippeastrum plants (amaryllis from pots) that have spent the winter outdoors are sending up second sets of leaves, the first having been shriveled in the cold. All the indoor houseplants have been back outdoors since the weekend. Fennel has been pruned back for the third time since the fall so that only the new feathery shoots remain, without distracting bare brown stalks appearing above them. Fennel makes a beautiful background for flowers, and the allium flowers now everywhere show off other flowers very well. Our neighbor's live oak is nearly bare of leaves; only one of ours has begun shedding, but the leaves on that one are falling like rain and that tree will be done before our others even begin.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Since this morning

Under the protection of the humid and cloudy skies, redbuds are now showing a hazy pink halo that will be flowers for real tomorrow. Also since this morning's tour, several nasturtiums of at least three varieties have germinated in pots, having been pressed into the dirt last weekend in order to replace the volunteers and the earlier deliberate plantings that did not take well to nights of extended cold temperatures. As I look up the hill, I think that many trees will display hazy green tomorrow, making it Lacy Sunday.

In the pleasure grounds

This picture from the toy camera shows one clump among many. We are enjoying about ten different kinds of daffodils and narcissi right now, of all sizes except the large-trumpet daffodils. We have three colors of hyacinths. There are both flowers and leaves opening on the pear tree, but redbuds that we see are not showing any color yet. We have a bluebonnet plant, whether red or blue or from what era we don't know. I don't think that we saw any last year. Our 'jums (leucojums or snowflakes) and old-time alliums are opening everywhere. The alliums make a beautiful frothy background for other flowers and green items. We are hearing and seeing wrens, mourning doves, cardinals, and blue jays. This morning we found two old-fashioned single jonquils. They are a great favorite.