Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Back to nature

This is a catch-up entry about goings-on in the pleasure grounds. This morning when it was already light we saw a half-grown opossum and one of its parents. These must be responsible for the holes grubbed in the dirt the past few days. There is also a titmouse habitation established in the hollow "T" at the top of the old-fashioned metal clothespole close to the sun porch. Turk's cap is returning from the roots. Lantana will probably do the same, but has not yet done so. Pride of Barbados shows no signs of life yet. The most recent floral arrivals are two kinds of tulipa chrysantha (Tubergen's Gem and a paler, more buttery variety) and two new kinds of iris: white standards with yellow drops and some sort of fancy Siberian iris. Newest in the daffodil family are Erlicheer and daffodil Texas, both doubles. The earliest bunch of Thalia is done, but a new set is opening. Ranunculus is here at last, in several colors. The white bargain-basement fancy anemones are blooming every where and are quite showy when the sky is overcast. Leucojum is pretty much over for the season. April Tears lasted a long time. Lilac Wonder and red-and-white clusiana tulips are done for the year. Volunteer morning glories and cosmos are everywhere, and the same is true for delphinium. As expected, despite the winter's chills, nothing came from the Dutch tulips, but the leaves are pretty nevertheless. On warmer days, we've seen both giant dark swallowtail and giant yellow tiger swallowtail butterflies. Petals have fallen from both the ornamental pear and the redbuds; there was an overlap of a couple of days when both kinds of tree were in bloom, very pretty together. Little Marvel peas are in bloom. Small anoles are seen. The first of our Albertsons one-dollar clematis plants is in bloom, with a flower like a saucer. They are all budding. There are volunteer hyacinth beans. I had laid a dozen or so seed-pods from last year atop a fence; when I returned a half-hour later for them, there was not a sign of them to be seen. My suspicion falls on the squirrels, but perhaps some bird was interested. Fennel is back from the roots and now at about knee height. Pure white Dutch irises opened yesterday. Iphieon continues to be bluer and more prolific than ever before. All pink oxalis is blooming. Grape hyacinth is still blooming. Oakleaf lettuce has sprouted in surprising places and is highly ornamental. Three different kinds of nasturtiums in pots are covered with flowers. All three are trailing types. Various types of poet's narcissus are at their peak right now, also especially handsome under cloudy skies. Nearly all oak leaves have fallen; the front tree will soon be producing pollen. Purpleheart has returned; so have four o'clocks everywhere they have ever been, and in some new places as well. The fig tree is fully leafed out; there are tiny signs of green on the pecan. Hyacinths of every kind are now done for the year; we never did see any cream or white ones. Fancy anemones and anemone blanda are still going strong. Red anemones have been especially prolific. The old-fashioned kind of ornamental allium is still providing a frothy white background for all the other flowers. The mystery rose that had long done not much but that burst forth spectacularly last year was not winter-killed and has lots of buds on it right now. I think I'm seeing plumbago leaves up from the roots. We still have some Minnow and some Jetfire flowers. The grass is greening up ever so slightly.


At 10:35 AM, March 29, 2011, Blogger Annie in Austin said...

It sounds like heaven, Rantor - only a few ranunculus here because they were already up when the deep cold hit. I need to try anemones again.

Maybe your mystery rose is "Dr Huey"? It was used as a rootstock for hybrid roses. Many times the hybrid dies and the Doctor takes over. You see it peeking over fences all around Austin.

Happy Spring!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

At 11:16 AM, March 29, 2011, Blogger Rantor said...

That suggestion about Dr. Huey really seems worth considering. The strong golden color seems to appear in the photographs of others. Some of the photographs out there, although not all, appear to show whiteness at the base of the petals, which will be something to look for when the (not-large) buds open, which they'll do very soon. I wonder how large "large-flowered" is. We have ranunculus flowers in one swathe only, in part of the yard sheltered from exposure to the wind; all the others were caught by the frost at a crucial time, as were many of our old faithful narcissi. We naturalize nearly everything (grow it in the grass) and that and their crinkly, less smooth leaves may have helped protect all the anemones from the cold. We still don't understand all the microclimates here.

At 12:24 PM, March 29, 2011, Blogger Annie in Austin said...

I ran into some photos of Dr Huey looking wonderful in a pdf from the Denver Rose society, but maybe they look good because they're growing in lots of sun with space around them. The roses that people here have told me are Dr Huey seem to be trapped between fences and overhanging trees. I wonder if too much shade made the graft die?

My surviving ranunculus were behind decorative rocks about 10" in height with a wooden fence a few feet to the north.
Jan 2010 killed most aloe/agave but a few survived so I thought they were in a microclimate. All are dead this year so that guess was wrong!


At 12:42 PM, March 29, 2011, Blogger Rantor said...

I looked at additional photographs (toy camera, low resolution, sometimes color that's not, and I do see some white at the base of the petals. The branches are very sturdy, long and arching. The plant is also very tall. I really like these flowers, and look forward to seeing them when open, which will be soon. A look when possible will confirm, but I bet this is straight from the rootstock. We've never done anything for these "experimental" rose presents. This particular one no doubt gets much more sun than it used to, because within the past couple of years we had to take down a leaning pecan tree before it fell on a neighbor's house, and "stump grinders" working for another neighbor applied something that killed a golden rain tree (complete defoliation within a week) that also used to provide shade. I believe that you have solved the mystery of the mystery rose! I see that some people claim that Dr. Huey is not scented and others say that it has a very pleasant scent. We came to the latter conclusion when this rose last bloomed. Now, it's *really* difficult to wait.


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