Saturday, August 1, 2015

For the mantis lovers out there...

This is an oldie, but goodie. A short story I wrote about a creature attack in my garden. :-)

Published in SEEDS, the weekly e-newsletter published by Texas Gardener Magazine and edited by Michael Bracken.

Take a look and subscribe to SEEDS. It's free, and includes Texas garden tips, events, short articles and more. Can't beat that with a stick!

Happy gardening!

bobbi a.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Downtown Natchez, MS Container Gardens

Dear Earthly gardeners,

I recently put on my travelin' shoes. . .and went to Mississippi.

Husband and I recently returned from an amazing trip to Mississippi. I'd never been there before, and even though we were seeking out some great blues music (YES, we found it), I also had my peepers peeled for garden-ish things.

I wasn't disappointed. Downtown Natchez, MS is filled with container gardens of all sorts. Here are just a few of the photos I snapped along the way.

Some of the old downtown buildings have been turned into residences. The container garden in front of this one really caught my eye.

Farther down the sidewalk, by the entrance doors, these wonderful statues guarded the entry.

A beautiful downtown courtyard garden, in front of an oil company building:

And since I'm a sucker for any kind of wrought iron, these dark pink ones made my heart go pitty-pat!

Many of the pots were filled with mandavillas, a beautiful Mexican native plant that I've been unable to keep alive here in my Texas climate. They usually die back in the winter. I thought that this area of MS was in the same zone as my garden, but apparently not. Either that, or they wrap and cover the plants over the winter.

This one was my absolute favorite. I grow things in tubs in my container garden, but never thought about doing a decorative stencil around it. I love that, as well as the trellis at the back used for support. I assume it's part of an old metal bed--twin sized.

And here's the view from our hotel window. We both loved Natchez and have already talked about going back.

 Happy gardening,

bobbi a. chukran
AKA "bobbi c."

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Plant more flowers!

This is my lesson for the week--plant more flowers!

Just ran across this little jewel from Fran Sorin's blog. Fran is the author of DIGGING DEEP: UNEARTHING YOUR CREATIVE ROOTS THROUGH GARDENING, a book I just purchased to amuse myself while on vacation.

"Research has shown that being in the presence of flowers increases your level of optimism and sense of security, helps to decrease stress, and can have a significant effect on your ‘happiness’ factor."

Hey, I'm all for that!

Although I've planted scads of native plants and herbs that flower and bloom, it wasn't until we moved into our vintage cottage that I started planting flowers again.

Over the last few years, abandoned flower bulbs have popped up here and there on the property, and with the recent rains, have flourished. An ancient scraggly bush hidden behind some "trash" trees started blooming. Turns out, it's a very old spirea bush. Hurricane lilies popped up beside the driveway and a few lonely hyacinths popped up under the pecan tree. Poppies in the front lawn, grape hyacinths in the side yard and spider lilies in the overgrown flower bed--then the irises started blooming again.

Several yahoos have delighted themselves with telling me how our property USED TO be covered with flowers when the former residents lived here. Well, yeah. Sorry, but they don't live here anymore.

But I did get inspired. So I'm starting with a simple packet of zinnia seeds, and hope they don't drown before they have a chance to bloom. Flower seeds are SO inexpensive and you can find them almost anywhere these days. So, do you still have an excuse for NOT planting flowers?  I didn't think so. :-D

Go dig in the dirt! (And if it's too wet, put 'em in a pot!)

bobbi c.

Monday, April 27, 2015

What We Built Today

I'm too tired to even describe it much, except to say it's probably the biggest raised garden bed in town. LOL. More pics and information later; just wanted to post this for now.

It's rough-cut cedar and is 4x16' long and 15" high.

Update! Plants in bed have been moved by now, and it's almost filled--over 1,000 lbs. of compost, humus, topsoil, etc. later! And the six new eggplants that started this whole crazy process have been planted in the far end.

Happy spring! (and Thank God for pain pills.)

bobbi c.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Heirloom & Antique Roses

Dear friends,

I'm happy to say that the roses are doing well here this year after the large amounts of rain we've had. When we moved into our little 1930s cottage, there were 81 rose bushes--some almost dead, some doing well. Over the last four years, I've managed to save most of them. Thing is, except for a few where I found the original metal tag, I have no idea what they are.

I CAN tell which ones are the hybrids planted years ago by former residents and which ones are the antiques or heirloom roses--the antiques don't have black spots on the leaves. Of course, these are my favorites.

One of the  roses I did identify (from the original metal disk) is the Eutin (pronounced "oy-teen"),  a beautiful rose that has also been sold under the name “Hoosier Glory” and, turns out, is also an antique rose from 1940. It was also sold as Russtler's Skyrocket, according to the Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Texas.

A bouquet of Eutin roses gathered during house renovation and plopped into the nearest "vase'
I'm in the process of moving, pruning and taking inventory of the roses here--so many of them still haven't been identified. Here are some photos from my previous rose garden, all of which were blooming in April in years past.

Antique rose growing in Leander, Texas

Pink antique rose

Pink antique blooming rose

Pink antique rosebud

My favorite pink heirloom rose

I'm going to look at the new Knock Out roses and other easy-care bushes and ponder them for a future border hedge between our house and the neighbors. That should be fun!

So get out and plant something this weekend!

bobbi c.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Dear friends,

Yesterday I had great plans to spend the day in the garden planting some new daylily bulbs, dividing the comfrey, yarrow and oregano to transplant to the sides of the house where there is (HORRORS!) bare dirt from when we cut all the evil nandinas back to paint the house.

So, I walked outside and saw a literal cloud of insects hovering over one of my new pepper plants, an experiment in growing things right beside an herb bed in the backyard. Last week, I had identified the culprit--the four-lined plant bug. I saw a few of these last year, but they disappeared (I thought) so I forgot about them. They re-emerged last week on some of my salvias, the comfrey, my oregano and skullcap. I jetted them with water and thought the problem was taken care of.

NOPE! I think they just enjoyed the spring shower. Girding my loins and with the knowledge that I'd have to do something more drastic before they reached my baby Porter tomatoes (next door in the bed to the comfrey), I proceeded to demolish the little buggers. Or carpe Poecilocapsus lineatus, as the Latins say.

I got some great advice on dealing with them from my online gardenistas and Howard Garrett's website and Garden Gate magazine.

And a pic, from Fine Gardening magazine:

Turns out, there are about a bijillion bugs similar to this. They leave brown fungal-spot like marks on leaves so you might think you have some sort of fungus going on. Look underneath the leaves and you might see the insects, quickly scurrying to hide.

Using what I had on-hand, and always the organic approach, I mixed some orange oil, molasses and dish-soap in a spray bottle and got busy. I could tell that the little darlings didn't like the spray. I just hope it either kills them to sends them packing onto the neighbor's Bermude grass lawn.

It's always something when you're trying to tend a garden. I've been doing a lot of thinking about garden size, when it's time to downsize and make things easier to maintain and enjoy. As Husband says, I've reached the tipping point. More about that later!

Go plant something! And don't forget to smell the roses. . .

bobbi c.