Sunday, June 15, 2008

Making Shade

I made the mistake of ordering an althea hibiscus shrub from Wayside Gardens without ascertaining the delivery date. I'd actually forgotten about placing the order when the plant finally arrived, way past the proper planting date for the climate here.

I made a second mistake. I should have kept the poor tiny thing in a container until fall, when the odds of its survival would have been greater. But no, I decided to plant it out, at my weekend home.

Since the baby plant has to go several days between watering, I mulched it heavily, but even that wasn't enough. Every weekend when I get here, I find it a little more stressed and crispy.

Clearly, its days were numbered unless I could think of some way to give it some shade. So I made a wire frame on which I draped branches newly cut from a pecan tree. Time will tell for sure, but the little althea looks a bit better already.

Hardscrabble Days in the Central Texas Garden

For a couple of years I've used this blog for purely selfish purposes, but this afternoon I was browsing through gardening blogs and came across a request for What's Blooming in My Garden Now blog entries. What a great idea!

It's hard times for gardening here in Central Texas. August weather came early this year, in the latter half of May, and the heat has continued with relentless ferocity into June. A few plants can be considered to be "blooming" only in the broadest sense of the term. I have a Reve d'Or rose, for example, that's producing flowers that are beautiful for about ten minutes, before they shrivel up and turn brown.

OK, here's the list of blooms I found in the garden this afternoon:

Ruellia (a couple of cultivars plus numerous wild volunteers)
Perennial Phlox (variety developed by Fanick's in San Antonio)
Vinca minor
Reve d'Or rose (sort of)
Older varieties of Hybrid Tea rose (sort of)
Knockout rose and miniatures
Star Jasmine (Rhynchospermum jasminoides)
Althea Hibiscus (sort of -- flowers shrivel up and dry out soon after opening)
Petunias (old fashioned purple ones)
Coral Vine (Antiginon leptopus)
4 o'clocks
Crape Myrtle
canna lily
penta athena
Mealy Blue sage (Salvia farinacea) and various cultivars

Here's what I'm harvesting for the table:

Tomatoes (tons of tomatoes)
New potatoes
Green beans
Black eyed peas and Mandy beans will be ready to begin harvesting in a few days
Speckled butterbeans
Chiles (lots of different kinds)
Last of the sweet corn (plants all dried up from the hot weather)
Edible amaranth (red Chinese variety)
Herbs (oregano, basil, last of the dill and cilantro (marginal), chives, garlic greens, parsley,chicory, stevia, sage)
Last of the beets
Last of the strawberries
Last of the mulberries

The peach crop has failed, due to not enough chilling hours for some varieties and late frost for others. Same with the pears. The blackberries have dried up on the vines. (I'm glad my garden is not my sole source of food -- I'd be in big trouble).