Tuesday, September 25, 2012

If You Plant It, They Will Come!

They are popping up everywhere. . .along side the road, in pastures, yards, gardens and cemeteries. Their ethereal flowers are quite unique. But, where did they all come from? 

Naked ladies, spider lilies, surprise lilies, resurrection lilies are actually Lycoris. There are red (Lycoris radiata), yellow (Lycoris aurea) and pink (Lycoris squamigera). Other names include ninja lily and hurricane lily. But, the best news is that they are easy to grow.


These plants leaf out in early spring and then vanish hence the nickname naked ladies. Come late summer or early fall, surprise! Now, I hope I have the following information correct. These wonderful blooms are an umbel where each group of flowers (inflorescense) are arranged on a single stem (pedicel).  The stem holding the whole inflorescence is called a peduncle. Peduncle is not the term used for a family                 member with a fondness for pretty young boys.


You can buy dormant bulbs from your big box store and plant them now. Bulbs should be planted at a depth where the "neck" is just under the soil line. When planting bulbs in groups, place them about 4 inches apart. Like other bulbs, these like a handful of bone meal per bulb in the planting hole. Well-drained soil and filtered shade are best. Bulbs can be lifted and separated.

Some Lycoris produce fertile seed and some do not. I am wondering if that is where all my Lycoris came from. Surely, I did not buy a bunch of bulbs and plant them willy nilly everywhere. Maybe when transplanting other plants, bulbs were moved as well.

Some professionals suggest making bulb cuttings, but this is not normally practiced by gardeners. Plus, my husband does not allow me to have real sharp objects!

Often these scarlet flowers bloom near cemeteries around the autumnal equinox. The Chinese and Japanese call these flowers "ominous" because it was thought they would guide the dead into the next reincarnation.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What Happens at 5:00 a.m. in the Jardin Encantado

What were you doing at 5:00 a.m. this morning? Snoozing happily I hope. I, on the other hand, was experiencing an adventure and, no, it wasn’t in a dream. With our first cool days and nights of the coming fall, I have opened the windows to air out the house. This means I enjoy the all the sounds of nocturnal nature. . . .and so do my dogs.

Holly Berry
Harriet Beecher
 This morning around 5:00 a.m. (I refer to this time as Cecil time – which will be explained, I’m sure, in a later blog), not a creature was stirring – not even a mouse. Then out on the lawn there arose such a clatter that I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the door I flew like a flash, turned on the light and then started to dash. When, what to my sleepy eyes should appear, but my two dogs and one armadillo.

Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)
The nine-banded armadillo did not see the dogs until they were nose to nose. It jumped straight up in the air and ran off directly into my pond. Oh, good, I thought – now I must rescue a drowning armadillo. But, fortunately, it clawed its way out and scampered down the hill to parts unknown. By this time the dogs were bored and wanted to go back to sleep.

The state mammal of Texas, the nine-banded armadillo, is a cat-sized, armor-clad, insect-eating rototiller. Grub worms are its food of choice but it will occasionally eat berries and other small invertebrates. Breeding occurs in July but the embryo remains dormant until November. Four young are born in March in a burrow. All four are the same sex and are identical quadruplets formed from a single egg. The armadillo was originally native to South America but now can be found as far north as Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Louisiana.

Most people only see this kind of armadillo

In an effort to keep my gardens from being tilled under by Mr. Dillo, I have resorted to using the humane-trap and release method. These are my results.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Want Colorful Blossoms from Summer to Fall?

Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus'

In my humble opinion, every garden needs a few coneflowers. They bloom all summer, are deer resistant, and tolerate poor soil and dry conditions. And butterflies love them!

These plants are easy to grow - give them full sun and they will reseed and bloom for years on end.

Now the only question is should you deadhead or leave them alone? Deadheading will often bring another flush of blooms. Or you can leave the flower to go to seed for the goldfinches in the winter.
I don't remember the name of this cultivar

The name, Echinacea, comes from the Greek echinos meaning "hedgehog." Coneflowers belong to the family Asteraceae, which includes dandelions, black-eyed Susans, and Shasta daises.

Don't like the old fashioned floppy purple coneflower? Don't worry you can find coneflowers that have double flowers, are low growing, or have petals that stand up and in any color your little heart desires.

Echinacea "Summer Sky"
And they have enticing names like: coconut lime, green envy, green jewel harvest moon, hot papaya, milkshake, razmatazz, hope, Kim's mop head, fragrant angel, merlot, mistral, prairie splendid deep rose, summer sky, double delight, pink poodle, raspberry truffle, flamethrower, Mac n Cheesse, now cheesier and tiki torch to name a few.

'Pow Wow Wild Berry'

Not a clue as to the name of this one
Purple coneflower is  also known as a herb for stimulating the the immune system.  Echinacea has a rich tradition of use by North American Plains Indians who used it medicinally more than any other plant.  Now you can buy it in pill form at your local drug store.

So this winter as you sit by the fire with hot cocoa in hand and dream of gardening come spring, make plans to add a few Echinaceas.