Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Amapola, my pretty little poppy"

We now have several corn poppies, one large true poppy with many blossoms, and a lone Iceland poppy. There are two stalks of delphinium blooming. We may have close to a hundred monarch caterpillars, who are responsible for mass defoliation of all our milkweed. They even consume seedpods and flowers. We're not complaining.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day of the larvae

All those eggs laid on milkweed by passing monarch butterflies have hatched, giving us many striped caterpillars on every plant, each growing larger with every passing hour. The milkweed wintered over, most in pots but some in the ground. In addition to our wild firewheels (gallardia), we now have a cultivated variety in bloom, with semidouble and very large flowers. Today brought our first Iceland and shirley poppies. We are very happy to see some pink evening primroses; they were very scant last year. We counted a dozen saucer-sized clematis flowers. We have a few sweet peas and many mysterious varieties of double and split-trumpet daffodils and narcissi. We were happy to hear frogs and toads singing. Our second variety of ornamental allium is now blooming. And let's not forget our one spectacular giant passion flower!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Butterflies and more

We saw two different giant yellow tiger swallowtail butterflies. There was one monarch butterfly fluttering among the milkweeds. We have our first clematis flowers of the season, four giant platters. There's a second color of ranunculus, something between golden yellow and bright orange, a sort of saffron. There's one puny little Bright Lights orange cosmo flower. We have two additional kinds of double daffodils, one with a split trumpet; one's entirely yellow and the other is creamy with strongly yellow rays; they're both from a mystery batch of unlabeled bulbs, seen this year for the first time. Hyacinth beans that wintered over, some in pots, are blooming. Pecan leaves will probably be open tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Third wave of species tulips

Today brings several bi-colored Tubergen's Gem tulips and one all-yellow chrysantha. There's a very beautiful pale pinky-mauve Dutch iris. Rain appears to amount to nearly four inches.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

New arrivals every day

Our giant tub of nasturtiums is coming into bloom. We have our first sweet pea. Little Marvel and Wando bring us some English peas for the table every day. The loquat fruits are few but very large, bending the boughs way down. We watched a tribe of bluejays gang up on a red-tailed hawk. There are miniature wood hyacinths, and more and more yellow-and-white Dutch irises. We have never had more old-fashioned geranium or poet's narcissus than there are this year; some of those bulbs haven't produced for a decade at least. We read that they like hot weather.

Friday, March 16, 2012

It's a day for irises

We have two new shades of purple Dutch iris, one of them the red-violet shade. There are more and more white Dutch irises, and today's spectacular arrival is the variety that has white standards and yellow falls.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Another armadillo

It was quite light out. This one's smaller and darker than the large pale armadillo recently spotted. Today brings us Baby Moon, Martinette, and two shades of Siberian irises. We also found a flower on a clockvine (thunbergia alata) that wintered over in a pot; it's one with a green eye instead of a dark one.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What's new in the pleasure grounds

The first firewheel is open. White Dutch irises are open. The first ranunculus is a handsome and unusual wine color. Tomato plants are beginning to bloom.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

After the rains

We've seen four monarch butterflies on the milkweed. They must have been brought by the weather, which has consisted of one thunderstorm or just plain downpour after another. Today we dined on a copius harvest of Little Marvel and Wando English peas. The blue Dutch irises are diminishing in numbers now, but we counted sixty and more at what we think was their peak before the rains. The first white Dutch iris will be fully open tomorrow. There are buds on the clematis.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The season progresses

Today's newcomers were Hawera, Thalia, and Minnow in the narcissus-daffodil family. There's a different kind of pink hyacinth, one that may have an even better scent than those wonderful blue ones. Spiderwort (false dayflower) has made its first appearance in bloom this season. A neighbor's spirea has burst into bloom, althouth it's not the spectacular sight that it was last year. This morning before it was really light, I saw the very largest armadillo ever.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Trees and tulips

The ornamental pear tree is in bloom today, contrasting beautifully with the redbud flowers still open right next to it. Fig leaves unfolded two days ago. This morning we found more tulipa clusiana (blue-white inside and alternating pinky-red outside) and tulipa bakeri (Lilac Wonder) than we've seen in years. This is the best year ever for Dutch irises, at least the dark-blue ones. Sun Disc is appearing in great numbers. All the anemones are prolific and showing good endurance. Anemone blanda appears in its customary white and pale blue and pink, but there are also many strong magenta and almost navy-blue versions. There are more and more Carlton daffodils each day. Today's butterflies have so far included one monarch, quite a few gulf fritillaries, and countless common red admirals.