Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winter Garden

Although I love my ornamentals, my vegetables and fruit trees give me a greater feeling of accomplishment when they do well. And I must admit I don't get a feeling of disappointment when they don't do well. A no lose endeavor in the feelings department if you know what I mean. I don't like it when the nine banded dirt digger from hell [armadillo] gets into the raised bed and destroys the whole lot of my fall beet crop too late for replanting. It is just the trials of gardening. After all, the seeds only cost a buck or so. But let him dig up a new golden orange Shrimp plant that I looked high and low for, with months expended in the search, and I will stay up nights to exact my revenge. And the cost was more than a pack of seeds, you can bet on that. I'm getting flushed with anger just thinking about it. But don't worry about the armadillo, I released it down the road in front of a neighbors house that waters his lawn too much. Thaaat's right, I am just that mean.

There are ornamentals that evoke strong feelings in me. Some of my gimme plants mean a lot to me, especially ones from my mother, my sister and close friends. With the vegetables it is different. They are food...good, healthy, better tasting, and cheaper food. You feel that you have accomplished something grand to actually produce some of your own food. I think if all gardeners would have some food plants in their gardens it would make for feelings of that accomplishment in them as well. And cropping through the garden with a little bowl of Ranch dressing ain't bad either.

Remember the aerial picture of the winter garden plants in the raised beds that I took off my roof? Here's what it looks like now. No, I didn't climb back on the roof.

The broccoli is doing good with a few large heads already. I noticed my wife salivating a little while looking at it. A little bit of gardeners anxiety that I talk about a lot.

The Cauliflower is doing equally as well but is not quite as far along, with the little heads only slightly bigger than a golf ball. You will notice the leaves curled over the heads. This is called a self-blanching variety, keeping the sunlight off the heads, thereby keeping them white and not yellowing and wanting to bolt. I jouust losve callifouor. Oh, sorry. Now I'm salivating all over the keyboard. Thinking how good, firm and crisp those heads are getting, I can barely type on these wet keys. Did I mention that I just love cauliflower.

The Romaine lettuce has been getting eaten for weeks now but there are still several heads left.

The head lettuce is starting to have heads now. They never head out and are ready to pick in the time they are supposed to for me. At least they are not too prone to bolt.

The Buttercrunch, however, is another story. I don't know why I still buy it as it always bolts.

Lastly is the Red Cabbage. I've always had better luck with the greens but all I could find this year was the red. The reds seem to grow slower and are more prone to bolt. I can see little heads forming so maybe I'll be cutting cabbage heads before spring.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The last of the garden color[I think]

It got down to twenty four degrees night before last. I expected to see a bunch of plants that had died back to the ground, expired for the winter. I guess the cold didn't last for very long as nothing was damaged to any great extent.

I don't keep any extensive records on my gardening, so I can't be for sure, but it seems like there are more blooms at this time of winter/fall than in previous years. Not complaining mind you. However, some of the plants are still covered in blooms. Surely this will be the last as this weekend is supposed to get cold and stay cold for several days. So, here's one last show of color.

The Copper Canyon Daisy still has a lot of blooms on it and of course still smells great when you brush up against it.

This Mexican Bush Sage is still just stunning. When people ask me about plant choices I always say, all the Mexicans thrive in Texas.

The Plumbago has clusters of blooms but not as many as earlier. I love having it because of its true blue color and there are not many true blue color choices for the garden. It is my choice for blue.

All the roses have had a few blooms...even as of today. Visitors comment on how good I am with roses but my blogging buddies will know from my pictures that I just grow the easy-to-grow varieties. It does make me look wise to the uninformed though.

This is Red Cascade. It's still small but I really like its creeping habits. The blooms are only about the size of a quarter but sometimes it really loads up.
This is a small pink rose that someone gave me. They told me the name but because of my pathetic record keeping I no longer know it. It has done well, seems very hardy, and has a habit of putting on a lot of blooms down in the plant where you can hardly see them. Those hidden blooms get cut and taken to Fran at the feed store. Maybe someone out in the blog-o-sphere will know what it is.

The Mutabilis says "what cold."

Everyone should have a Knock Out rose and every one just might as it is the most popular rose sold today. And it should be. No rose tries harder to thrive or is easier to grow. I know where there are two growing at a storage place and they never get watered, or pruned, have been run over with vehicles and still bloomed on and off all this hot dry summer. Damn, I think I've talked myself into buying another.
This next rose is my favorite. As my niece used to say "It's the bestest." If only one bloom opens then the other aromatics in that end of the garden will be completely overwhelmed with the rose aroma of it. Hands down the strongest aroma of any rose I've ever smelled. It's the Don Juan. I've always called him Lover Boy. I know, it is completely goofy for a grown man to name a plant but I swear it's the only one. No, really, I mean it, it's the only one. It is usually darker than this but right now the red is really about like the picture. Maybe because of the cold. This is the only cluster of blooms on it but I was thankful for them. I just love that smell.

The only rose that hasn't bloomed in quite a while is the Mermaid and it actually looks almost dead. It's my least favorite but it is a beauty in a flat rose kind of way.

While poking around through the bushier parts of the garden I came onto several Oxalis, both green and maroon. The green seems to like this cooler weather as it has been blooming ever since the heat subsided. The maroon looks as if it's about to start blooming.

I don't know where the butterflies go when the temps drop at night but I sure know where they go when the day warms back up. They go to the Greg's Mist flower or the Indigo Spires Salvia. I believe it's a tough choice so it's good I have them planted close together. Good too, that they are still blooming.
The Indigo Spires has bloomed all summer, off and on, and still looks pretty good.
Indigo Spires

Greg's Mist Flower with butterflies

That's going to be about it for the garden color this year as I think it's all about to end soon with the weather getting colder fast. But if I find any more lurking in the hidden places that all gardens have I will post them up.