New cat perch, Bloomer’s super ideas, basil tips, frozen comebacks?

May 27th, 2010 Posted in Uncategorized

Wait a minute! What month is this?

purple aster

It’s always fun when fall asters and mums bloom alongside May’s daylilies. They’re not in full power flower, of course. But with the cloudy days we’ve had, they’re giving us a preview of what to expect when autumn brings us truly shorter daylight.

Last weekend, I was still on major cleanup patrol, since May’s a heavy month for chores. I cut back the asters and mums along with the spurias, spiderworts, Salvia greggiis and the columbines. For starters.  I’m leaving a few penstemon seed heads. They tend to take their sweet time.

On Amelia’s fence side, I got a surprise, this Habranthus robustus.

Habranthus robustus

Thanks to designer Patrick Kirwin for the confirmation!  For years, I’ve scattered rain lilies around the garden, both Zephyranthes & Habranthus. Most just don’t work for me, so I was very curious about this wide gray-tinged foliage that’s been out for months.

Last year I figured I was taking a big chance when I planted the native heartleaf skullcap (Scutellaria ovata ssp. bracteata), in the front bed.

Heartleaf skullcap Scutellaria ovata ssp. bracteata
Since that heavy soil isn’t too dense after years of compost and mulch, it was worth a try for the gray foliage in morning shade and late afternoon filtered sun.

Heartleaf skullcap leaves
My one plant is already spreading in its second year, so I add it to the “success” balance sheet. Although it retreats in summer, its rhizomes and tubers keep busy until the leaves emerge in cool weather.

Out in back, when I had an elderly Keiffer pear cut down years ago, the guy left a 20″ stump. He said, “I figure you’d like to put a pot on it.”  Actually, that was the last thing on my mind!

Anyway, someone had given me a slab of limestone that I planned to turn into a patio table. I never got around to it, so one day I stuck it on the pear stump. In 4.5 seconds, Spencer was on top. The cat perch was born!

cat perch with Spencer cat

Now, Spencer is failing at age 19. He was 10 when he trundled to our house after his family dumped him when they moved. In sympathy, the pear trunk recently collapsed. We considered many options, including nabbing a tree stump from an arborist. Instead, we hit on a solution that has totally transformed the cat perch. Sam was on it in 2.5 seconds.

Cat perch Vietnamese pot with cat Sam

At Miguel’s Imports, it took me 10.2 seconds to spot this Vietnamese pot (handy tape measure in my pocket, too). Greg laid decomposed granite underneath to level it. It’s a luxurious way to use a good pot, but it’s so elegant!  And what the heck, the cats deserve some nice “furniture,” too.

This week on CTG, Tom and I are thrilled to welcome back our good friend, Marcus Young from Bloomers in Elgin. If you’ve never been there, you gotta go! He and his very talented team know how to put together truly elegant combinations. And since they garden here, too, they know what works. We couldn’t possibly feature everything he brought, but here’s his CTG list. One of many that had us fascinated is the Emu bush, Eremophila Summertime Blue, good in clay soil & hardy to 25º. A shrub for heat & sun, and lovely flowers. But that’s only one of his enticements!

Emu bush, Eremophila Summertime Blue

Trisha tantalizes us, too, with sweet basils, including her favorites and tips on cultivation. Next week, she features miniatures, purples, and ornamentals. Here’s her lists and recipes! I must try her lemon artichoke pesto!

Daphne answers the million-dollar question: how long do we wait to see if cycads and palms made it back?

I will say that I’ve seen bottlebrush shrubs coming back, gardeners watching the first tiny leaves on anacacho orchids, and of course, our cycads on the rebound. To my astonishment, gingers, alpinias, and my firespike (Odontonema stricta) made it back.

Plus, this week, Daphne had me scrambling when I realized I’d been misspelling artemisia for a couple of years! Gosh, what you can learn on PBS.

Until next week, Linda

  1. 9 Responses to “New cat perch, Bloomer’s super ideas, basil tips, frozen comebacks?”

  2. By Iris/Society Garlic, Austin on May 27, 2010

    My fall asters are blooming now too. Weird. Thanks for reminding me of heartleaf skullcap! I’ve never tried it and think it would work well in my side yard in part sun/part shade.

    What good kitties! They definitely deserve those pretty perches.


    Linda reply on May 27th, 2010 6:02 pm:

    Oh yes, the heartleaf would work wonderfully with your color scheme. It does go away in summer; that is the only drawback.


  3. By Bob Harper on May 28, 2010

    Linda, dear Linda. Loved the pictures of the cat on that slab. Of course, he thinks you all got that just for him. And, I know you love him dearly. Isn’t it wonderful that God put human beings on earth so dogs and cats would have someone to love them ! ! ! ! Hope all is well with you. Bob H.


  4. By Jo Dwyer on May 28, 2010

    The flowers look beautiful, like always Linda! Love the treat of kitty pictures too. We’ll be thinking about you with Spencer — that’s rough. And he looks almost exactly like the favorite cat I ever had, Man Ray. He wasn’t quite 19 when we bid him a final adios.

    Good for you, for rebuilding that cat perch!


  5. By Cindy, MCOK on May 29, 2010

    Gentle hugs to Spencer: he’s a very handsome fellow and I know he’s had a wonderful life with you. Sam clearly thinks he owns that spot now. Love the combo of the pot and the granite slab!


  6. By Amy/goawayimgardening on May 29, 2010

    What a great idea to use the container with the slab. It does look very elegant! Spencer looks very happy with your new purchase, too.
    I was glad to see my bottlebrush slowly returning with new growth. Pretty photos!


  7. By Jenny on May 29, 2010

    I have mums and asters blooming too. I remember once reading that we should keep cutting them back until July4th but I always forget. Crazy old Texas seasons- all mixed up. I saw a bluebonnet had germinated today. The kitty perch is really fabulous. It reminds me of a more modern staddle stone.


  8. By Kathleen Scott on May 29, 2010

    Heartleaf scullcap, thank you! I won one at a native plant meeting and forgot what it was by the time I had it home. Did well all winter.

    I love the idea of a pot as base for the limestone cat perch (and Sam is very handsome, by the way). Am thinking to borrow your idea and use it for a patio table.

    Spencer looks content. I’m sorry to hear he’s failing. The vet’s last report for our 21 year old Harry tells me to enjoy the days we have now. He’s been a gift all these years. I know you feel the same way about Spencer.


  9. By Meredith/Great Stems on May 30, 2010

    What a wonderful spot for your sweet cat to take a nap — I love the look of the pot underneath, too. And I’m glad to hear that my bottlebrush wasn’t the only one that appeared dead and is now starting to make a comeback. I thought it was a goner and bought a new one to replace it, and just as I headed to switch them out, I saw new growth appearing. So now it looks like I’ve managed to kill the new one that got stuck waiting in its little pot for too long in the heat. Gah!


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