It's a flop

Today I want to talk about a failure. A plant that I've been really happy with for the last couple of years, but only now has revealed its true, ugly nature.

The plant I'm talking about is a grass that I unfortunately don't have a great photo of: Miscanthus sinensis 'Silberpfeil'. It's the light-colored variegated grass in this month-old photo.


Hiding somewhere: mantis camouflage

Today I present a story about camouflage, specifically in the insect world. I'll use my favorite insect (the praying mantis) and one of my least-favorite plants (a euonymous).

Although my kept-in-the-refrigerator mantis egg case never hatched -- the first time I've ever had a hatching failure -- I've seen plenty of small mantises in the yard this year. I've also not been able to see them, even when I want to and know exactly where to look, and that's the point of this post.



I've been lazy this summer. I've let some weeds and weedy perennials get out of hand. I already mentioned the globe thistle that have spread more than I wanted them to, but there's more. Today we're looking at my largest raised bed:

This bed borders the stream and is what you see if you look down from the deck -- it's quite prominent, so you'd think I'd make sure it was looking its best all the time. Not this year.



My patch of Echinops 'Blue Glow' (aka "Globe Thistle") is in bloom right now: wonderful, spiky, too crowded, too big.

The one plant I had 5 or 6 years ago has been let to reseed almost at will, and now it's taken over this area. I had really intended to thin it out this year, but when blooming time comes around I'm glad I didn't.



Surface tension that is. As in the force that allows a water drop after a much-needed rain to keep its shape as it rests upon a thankful leaf.

There are times of the year when a dripping-wet morning is really one of the most wonderful things in the garden...


Rose Mallow

I showed you a glimpse of the rose mallow (Hibiscus lasiocarpos) in yesterday's "white" post, but I need to show you more.

This big plant is a main feature in the walkway garden, even when it's not blooming. But it is blooming right now, and there's no way to miss it!



The color-themed blooms keep on coming!

Starting with the biggest, boldest native flowers in the state: Hibiscus lasiocarpos or "rose mallow".



So purple, yellow -- now red. There's not too much red to see in the garden at this time, but it's there to find.

Especially if you're a hummingbird as this Lobelia is coming into its own right now, a beacon to these birds.



This post was going to be just about the sunflowers, but I've taken better photos of sunflowers before, so this one is about yellow.

Starting with sunflowers of course. It's important to get photos before something bad happens.



Time to notice some of the color in the garden, mainly from the blooms. Yes, green abounds here, but it's the canvas for the daubs of pigment that the flowers provide.

Today's color is "purple", but think of it as a bit broader than that, encompassing lavenders and pinks too.


Bamboo, quick

A few hours of watering with a thunderstorm that wouldn't quite make it to my yard visible (and audible) just to the southeast of me, and I'm worn out.

But there are still nice things to see in the garden, especially the large-leaved bamboo!


Box leveling completed!

Earlier this week I posted about the bamboo planter box project I started. Because I hadn't taken the time to build it right the first time, the box had settled on the slope and was no longer level.

The project had stretched out over several days, as I was only spending an hour or so each morning before things got too hot. Well, I've finally finished this project! The photo above is where I left things at the end of the previous post.


Turtle Art

One of my cats was looking out the window in a strange way the other day. Not in the "I see a chipmunk" way, or with the "there are birds nesting out here" look.

It turns out he was looking at this turtle! Now it's not too strange to see a box turtle in my yard, but in the front? That's unusual.



When it's hot and you've spent an hour or two the last few days dragging around the hose making sure the less-established plants don't dry up, sometimes it's nice to just take it easy for a while.

Find a nice, cool spot and do as little as possible.


A look around: back yard

The Monarda that I was going to remove a few years back is in bloom, and I'm sure glad I didn't clear it out (although I doubt I could get it all out even if I wanted to now).

Rather than show you closeups of the blooms and how much the bigger bees love them, I'll show how this plant really adds to this area of the garden -- just a little look around.



When you look around my garden right now you see a lot of elephant ears, canna, papyrus, umbrella palm, caladium, grasses, and many other plants that are not cold hardy. You'd think that everything I overwinter indoors is a success, that I have a magic touch.

The fact that I just got rid of 50-60 plants in a yard sale would help to reinforce that idea. The truth is, not everything goes well. There are repeated plumeria incidents, the grass failures, many elephant ear bulbs that don't make it, but sometimes I get a surprise.


Repair project started

Two summers ago I built the first bamboo planter box in my yard. I had built one before at a friend's house, but this was the first for me. I took a shortcut when building it that I'm paying for now.

The box was built on a slope, and although it was level when new, it didn't have a great foundation and it has settled. The sloping box really bothers me, so although I removed the bamboo from it last year, I finally motivated myself to tackle this project.


after the sale

My first plant sale yesterday was a lot of fun! Although I didn't get rid of all of the plants, I did find new homes for a large number of them.

I suspect I'll plant as many of the remainders as possible to get them off the driveway, as I'm just tired of caring for them in the heat -- which hasn't been too bad recently.



Nothing to say this morning, and even less time to say it.

A pile of my favorite DIY plant tags alternately grows and shrinks as I label each of the seemingly hundreds of potted plants that currently live on my driveway.



That interesting plant in my yard that turned out to be a common, nasty thistle?

It's not so nasty if you look at it in the right way.


Schlafly Gardenworks in July

As regular readers know, there's a monthly meet-up at Schlafly Gardenworks that I try to attend. The first Saturday of each month gardeners of all experience levels meet there at 9:00 to see what's changed in the last month, get tips from other gardeners, find out what's doing well, talk about chickens.

It's a fun way to spend a Saturday morning (well, certain months it is), and you'll often leave with some free plants or huge bags of soil amendments like coffee grounds or manure. Here's how things looked there last weekend.


The pond: too much?

You know I love my pond, right? I really do. It's just that it's getting to be a bit too much right now.

I don't mean too much work, as there's really nothing I've been doing other than adding some beneficial bacteria every couple of weeks, and righting plant pots that were tipped by raccoons. No, by "too much" I mean "too much going on visually".


I forgot about the desert!

Since nobody who's been to St. Louis in the middle of summer would ever confuse it for a desert, it's not hard to understand why I've forgotten about my recent visit to a desert.

A desert show that is, at the Missouri Botanical Garden. I attended a couple of weeks ago when I went to the cactus show and sale -- the desert show was the third of the cactus-related events at the garden that weekend.


Bamboo pruning, easy for a change

It's been a little while since I've talked about bamboo, and most of my recent talk has been about rhizome pruning for control.

Today though some above-ground pruning, as this Fargesia dracocephala 'Rufa' (a.k.a. Fargesia 'Rufa' or just "Rufa") is getting a little out of hand.


Great Lengths

I've talked about receiving plants in the mail before -- I highly recommend it! Whether by ordering from nurseries found in other parts of the country, or by trading plants with gardening friends, when that box shows up on the front porch you know you're in for that Christmas-as-a-kid feeling: new plants!

This time around though, the box itself gave me a big smile -- even before the plants inside were revealed. Want to see?


Just Looking


A little fun

At the cactus and succulent show last weekend I saw a few fun things amidst all of the serious "grow the best plants" attempts:

Tiny, whimsical plantings! Succulent garden in a spoon anybody?


The stream

One of the main features of the patio area of my garden -- the part closest to the house -- has been the stream. I built it in 2006 and the almost constantly running water has been a source of tranquility for me and one of the things I most enjoy about the garden.

It's also been a source of much frustration, as being the first (and so far only) running water feature I've designed and built, I made some mistakes. The biggest problems are the small reservoir (18 gallon) and the complexity of the edge closest to the stairs. That edge has been the source of many leaks over the years and makes topping off the stream something I've had to constantly deal with.


Plumeria: a sad tale not without hope

I've been growing plumeria for a few years now. Maybe I should amend that to I've been trying to grow plumeria for a few years now. I started with some cuttings which rooted and did pretty well, but then did not overwinter well for me.

I replaced those with new cuttings, but only some of those rooted. Two of the plants only started growing late in the year (2011) so I kept them alive under lights that winter. They put on quite a bit of growth in 2012 and I thought I was in good shape last autumn as I had two decent plants to overwinter. Let's find out how they did in the garage this past winter...


Restraint, a list, new plants

When I went to the cactus sale this past weekend I could have lightened my wallet quite a bit. Such a wide array of cool cactus and succulents, some quite cheap, some pricey. I only spent 15 minutes in the sale room though (which includes the time to check out) and it cost me a reasonable $41.

What is it about these weird and wonderful plants that is so appealing to so many people? At one of my local nurseries recently I heard a little voice say "thank you for letting me buy a cactus Mommy!" -- looking up I saw a big smile as a small girl walked by holding an Aloe. When those who are barely old enough to hold a 4" plant container are captivated, how was I able to resist the charms of a room full of amazing, mysterious plants? I had a list.


Cactus show

This weekend I went to the Henry Shaw Cactus and Succulent Society's cactus sale and show at the wonderful Missouri Botanical Garden. Yesterday I showed you the sale. Today it's the show part of the event.

This type of show requires people to grow beautiful specimens of various succulents and cactus over what is most likely many, many years. Unfortunately I lack the level of sophistication and experience with these plants to truly appreciate the efforts of these growers, but I certainly did see some interesting and beautiful plants!


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