Obsessed With Fascinating Plants

April 19th, 2012 Posted in Late spring flowers, Vines, books, bulbs, cat cove, drought, fertilizing, musical terra cotta pots, orchids, patio, patio plants, roses

Plants fascinate me! With no internet connection whatsoever, they know exactly what to do when the time is right. My Byzantine gladiolus corms  always greet winter with tidy upright leaves.  They time their vivid flowers for April to make sure we notice them in spring madness.

Byzantine gladiolus (c) Linda Lehmusvirta
Usually the larkspurs hang around to join them.

Byzantine gladious with larkspur (c) Linda Lehmusvirta
The cat cove rose arbor is a little out of control. I’ll tame it after I get my quota of homegrown perfume.

Rose arbor Buff Beauty and New Dawn roses
When I planted my Christmas present arbor a few years ago, I couldn’t decide which roses I wanted most.  So on one side, I planted Buff Beauty.

Buff Beauty rose
On the other, New Dawn.

Rose New Dawn
They’re good friends that astound me with their self-sufficiency and tenacity through flood, freeze, and drought, with fragrance so rich you can almost see it.

Equally self-motivated: Marie Pavie rose and Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) in the patio cove. If I could bottle their fragrances (with a cute label, of course) I’d be rich, rich, rich!

Star jasmine and Marie Pavie rose near patio fountain

I’ve trained my Star (Confederate) jasmine into a shrub form. You can also use it as a groundcover or as a vine to hide a chain link fence. Or on a trellis to hide the neighbor’s boat!

Star jasmine trained in shrub form

The white theme continues on the garden side of the patio with blackfoot daisy, winecup, and my new native frogfruit, already blooming tiny white flowers. They are too small to see in this view; will post pictures when they go into full gear.

Winecup, blackfoot daisy, frogfruit
This front bed got out its post-Easter whites, too. The stem of my Yucca pallida fell over in excitement to hunker down with purple heart.

Yucca pallida flower with purple heart

Yucca pallida flowers

One of the most fascinating plants in the world is the orchid. This week on Central Texas Gardener, I’m thrilled to meet with Susan Orlean, staff writer for The New Yorker, and author of The Orchid Thief.

Susan Orlean on Central Texas Gardener

If you’ve always wanted to meet her, now you can connect to this passionate writer who chronicles for us her journalistic exploration into the botanical intricacy of orchids. Susan also explains what started her obsession that drove her to swamps, abandon normal life, and ultimately inspire the movie Adaptation! Personally, I like the book much better!

The Orchid Thief

On tour, meet orchid grower Monica Gaylord, who just steps outside her bedroom doors to an orchid greenhouse that soothes her soul and intrigues her mind.

Meet Monica in person and soothe your own soul at the Heart O’ Texas Orchid Society’s show and sale on April 28 and 29 at Zilker Botanical Garden.  Like Susan Orlean, I bet the rest of the world will vanish as you gaze into flowers so intricate that they could inspire a book!

And what about this fascinating growth that’s showing up in gardens all over?

Slime mold (c) David Mcniel
It’s slime mold, Daphne’s question of the week. Thanks to David McNiel for sending this in!  Is it harmful?  What should we do about it? Daphne reports that bacteria are their preferred food source.

Slime mold occurs when there is high relative humidity and warm temperatures—exactly our conditions lately.  And no, they are not harmful. Enjoy them for their oddity or throw them in the compost pile.

Before you throw all your (non-seeding) weeds into the compost pile, turn them into nutritious fertilizer!  Trisha Shirey explains how to make weed teas for your garden and container plants.

Trisha Shirey makes weed teas
Get Trisha’s instructions and extensive list, which includes the nutrients and trace minerals from various weeds, old Swiss chard, comfrey, eggshells, coffee grounds and more.

Lots of events this weekend but here’s another: It’s About Thyme invites you to their free workshop on Sunday, April 22 at 20 p.m. George Altgelt from Geo Growers presents this Earth Day Special: “Realizing the Principles of Food Safety and Self-Reliance
within the Texas Home Gardening Tradition.”

See you next week! Linda

  1. 29 Responses to “Obsessed With Fascinating Plants”

  2. By Mary Wachsmann on Apr 19, 2012

    What an inspiring post! You have opened my eyes to the glorious world of plants, and I’m so grateful. Just this evening, I walked by and enjoyed several star jasmine plants without knowing what to call them. Now I know! Also, I can’t believe you got to meet Susan Orlean. Wow.


    Linda reply on April 19th, 2012 8:24 pm:

    Hi, Mary! Today we taped a garden that had 20 feet of star jasmine blooming. Intoxicating! I still can’t believe I got to meet Susan Orlean, either!


  3. By Roberta on Apr 19, 2012

    Thanks for the info about the slime mold.I actually noticed last week in a houseplant that I have. Learn something new everyday


    Linda reply on April 19th, 2012 8:23 pm:

    Wow! I want some slime mold, too!


  4. By Steph@RamblingWren on Apr 19, 2012

    Love the Byzantine gladiolus. I was hoping to add this to my garden this year, but I couldn’t find it. I just love that bright pink color. Your roses are beautiful!


    Linda reply on April 20th, 2012 3:05 pm:

    Hi, Steph! It seems like I saw them in a nursery somewhere, but generally you have to order them online, like from Brent & Becky’s. If you decide to get some, plant them next fall. It takes a few years for them to multiply, but they do. And I’ve never lost one yet!


  5. By Nicole on Apr 19, 2012

    Is this kind of jasmine invasive? I live near a greenbelt (NE Austin) and there is something that has really taken over that I believe to be jasmine. It is everywhere.

    This has concerned me enough to not keep jasmine anymore.

    Which jasmines are invasive?


    Linda reply on April 20th, 2012 3:04 pm:

    Hi, Nicole,
    Well, the primrose jasmine could be what you’re seeing. It does spread like crazy. But it blooms yellow and is finished flowering for now. It does root rather easily from stems that bend to the ground.

    My star jasmine is not invasive in my garden. It’s not a jasmine, either. It’s just called that because of the fragrance, I suppose. It does spread, though, so if somehow it rooted in the greenbelt, it could certainly be the one that’s a problem. If you had the star jasmine, all you would have to do is clip it so it doesn’t root on the ground and spread.


    Trisha Shirey reply on April 20th, 2012 6:19 pm:

    It is possible that the plant Nicole has seen is honeysuckle. That is one invasive plant! But does smell good.


    Linda reply on April 20th, 2012 7:55 pm:

    Thanks, Trisha!! Good catch!

  6. By Wendy on Apr 19, 2012

    Is that Delphinium in the background, in the 2nd picture of the Larkspur? I’m new to gardening flowers, planted some Guardian Blue Delphinium last week and have been trying to learn about them -including what they’re compatible with. Thank you in advance!


    Linda reply on April 20th, 2012 3:00 pm:

    Hi, Wendy! Nope, just more larkspur. I don’t know that delphinium does that well here. But if yours work, please let me know! They sound gorgeous.


    Linda reply on April 21st, 2012 4:44 pm:

    Wendy, just looked into this more. The larkspurs are Consolidas and we plant these annuals in fall to bloom in spring. But the perennial delphiniums don’t really like our heat and humidity. But if they work for you, please let me know!


  7. By Linda/patchowrk on Apr 20, 2012

    I love those roses. Beautiful colors.
    Looking forward to this week’s show.


    Linda reply on April 20th, 2012 2:58 pm:

    Hi, Linda! Thank you. Yes, this one’s a keeper!


  8. By Lori on Apr 20, 2012

    What are the hanging “bells” you have made with the clay pots?


    Linda reply on April 20th, 2012 2:58 pm:

    Hi, Lori! Darrel from Mundi made those for me! Just string ropes through them and knot and attach to something. He used a branch but when it started rotting, I got a piece of bamboo. He even made little tom toms so I can do some nice sounds on them. When I had the wind chimes there too, I’d hit a bell now & then. Too fun!


  9. By AngryRedhead on Apr 21, 2012

    Ugh, slime mold… I’ve been getting nasty bouts of sneezing my face off with all the spores around this spring. It’s wrecking my ability to enjoy pretty, fragrant plants like the ones you highlighted!! Bah!


    Linda reply on April 21st, 2012 4:35 pm:

    I’m so with you! We want rain and what do we get, spores and mosquitoes! Great to hear from you!


  10. By Carol on Apr 22, 2012

    I look forward to your shows each weekend! Sadly for the past few weeks, I’ve only been seeing reruns from the FALL. I want SPRING inspiration! This is KNCT out of Killeen. Sad I can’t see on my TV station….


    Linda reply on April 23rd, 2012 2:49 pm:

    Carol, thank you for letting me know! I’ll get in touch with KNCT and see what’s up. You can watch online for spring inspiration at http://www.klru.org/ctg but I know it’s not the same as TV.


  11. By Tina on Apr 23, 2012

    The gladiolus and larkspur are beautiful together. I’ve never grown either one, but the larkspur have been lovely this spring at Zilker Botanical Gardens and some seeded into the Green Garden-nice!


    Linda reply on April 24th, 2012 3:34 pm:

    Hi, Tina! Yes, glorious combination. Got a little out of control this year, but I’ll take the rain any day!


  12. By Bernieh on Apr 26, 2012

    The Byzantine Gladiolus is simply lovely. What a great colour. I love the whites too, especially that errant Yacca bloom. Orchids are something I’m growing to love, but I only have a very small collection as yet. Monica’s Orchid greenhouse looks like heaven to me. What a fabulous garden space!


    Linda reply on April 26th, 2012 5:08 pm:

    Thank you, Bernieh! Congratulations on your own collection of orchids! Beautiful plants make such a difference to our lives. Great to meet you!


  13. By Carol on Apr 28, 2012

    Thanks for your concern (April 23rd reply!) I got to see what your site has listed as the April 7th show on my PBS station today. I’ve been visiting CTG online more often. Just saw the changes in your yard. I hope to do similar one day. It’s just difficult getting rid of fairly healthy St. Augustine grass in front & most of back! (Waco area) Plus, professional help is needed!


    Linda reply on April 29th, 2012 3:40 pm:

    Hi, Carol! Our program director has been in touch with KNCT. She hasn’t gotten a response so it’s on my list to call them tomorrow. Yes, professional help is great! If your St. Augustine is happy, enjoy it! I certainly haven’t gotten rid of the remaining grass. One step at a time!! And it doesn’t get any more water than my other plants, so I’m not worrying.


  14. By alice fuerstenberg on May 19, 2012

    what kind of fertilizer do I use on my yaka plant to get to bloom.


    Linda reply on May 19th, 2012 3:41 pm:

    Alice, you really shouldn’t have to fertilize them at all. Is it getting enough sun? You could apply a slow release balanced organic fertilizer if you want but in the right spots, they will bloom when they’re mature enough.


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