Wednesday, July 29, 2015

trionfo violetto

I tried growing these beans for the first time this year. I love the color! They are supposed to turn green when cooked, but when cooked fresh off the vine, mine didn't. The ones that were refrigerated for a day before dinner turned green when cooked.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


It's crazy. I can't get the color right no matter what camera I use, how I adjust the exposure or white balance, or what I do in Photoshop. This one is unaltered, straight off the camera. More pink than real life. But it does show why I love Falstaff despite being near-scentless. The perfection of form is amazing, and right now, in the middle of summer heat, it is covered with buds.

Friday, July 24, 2015

catalog vs. garden

Now I'm just learning about growing dahlias in this climate, so my results may be off. My dahlias certainly don't have much vigor, and they bloom much shorter than they are supposed to, probably from nutritional issues. I'm just noticing how the flowers in the garden are sometimes very different from how they are in the catalog/web. Same goes for roses, but maybe another time.

Brookside Snowball, web (very similar to the catalog):

Brookside Snowball in my garden.
Funny thing is that it's hard to tell the size of the flower on the web. It could be a pompom, but it is actually about 4 inches across.

Grand Finale from the catalog (similar to various sites on the web):

Grand Finale in my garden: can't say I'm very fond of how this one turned out. We'll see how additional blooms turn out.

Ron's Dark Ember in the catalog:

Ron's Dark Ember in my garden: quite similar, and impressive.

Snowbird in the catalog: not actually all that nice, but had nice description.
 Snowbird in my garden: Just lovely.

White Lightning in the catalog:

 White Lightning in my garden: ick. This one is going into the compost pile.

Cultural differences or did they send the wrong thing? Both Grand Finale and White Lightning came from the same supplier, which also sent me the Brookside Snowball. Snowbird and Ron's Dark Ember both came from a different supplier.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


 I think that 'Snowbound' is my favorite dahlia. Big sturdy flowers in a sweet shade of white: not too stark, not too muddy. Flowers are tough enough to tolerate the heat and wind here, at least most of the time. 

I think I discovered the problem I've been having with my dahlias. Not enough nitrogen. I did a soil test. Then once given a bit of nitrogen, they perked up. I gave one of my 'William Shakespeare 2000' roses some nitrogen, and did not give any to the other. The one I gave nitrogen is blooming, the other is not. Funny, given that everyone always says not to give much nitrogen to these plants, but obviously, that depends on the existing conditions.

Also reminds me that the plants native to here must not need much nitrogen. All this gardening I'm doing with exotic plants like roses and dahlias is temporary and artificially supported.

Friday, July 10, 2015

beetroot red

One of the reasons I got 'William Shakespeare 2000' is the color of the flowers. I was entranced by the beetroot red. Too bad it doesn't quite have that color in my garden, where the flowers are more pink.

But at least with the monsoon rains we are having, it has been enough to stimulate another flush of flowers.

I wasn't certain if this color scheme would work, so I planted dahlias where I would plant the roses. I figured that the plants would get about as big as the roses would, but quicker, and I planted them in colors that would be a trial run for roses but cheaper and faster. Turns out that dahlias behave very strangely in my garden, growing very slowly, and blooming when there are only a couple of leaves on the plants. I think that this 'Ron's Dark Ember' had maybe two flowers on it last year. I really love the flowers, but I don't think the color scheme is right. Darn. 

This 'Grand Finale' looks totally different than what the photos look like. Google it yourself and see. Also, it is described as four feet tall and very late. This was one of my first bloomers, the first flowers opening in June, and has a total of 4 leaves on a 4 inch tall plant (with a big flower). Maybe the cooler wet weather will stimulate more growth. But at least I've learned that maybe this flower color is not right for my garden, as much as I love it.

blue yonder

When I saw the new Agapanthus 'Blue Yonder' in a catalog and read that it was hardy to zone 6, I had to have one. Or...five. I bought them last year, potted them, and kept them in the garage over the winter. Being deciduous, that wasn't a problem, other than the worries that they were dead. But overwintering them in the garage every year was not the point of purchasing them, so I planted them in the garden this year. Surprisingly, 4 of the 5 put out a bloom.

 Having just returned from a trip from California, where my mother's Agapanthus has flower heads at least 5 or 6 inches in diameter, it was a bit disappointing that mine opened a whopping 2-1/2 inches in diameter.

 On rather spindly plants as well.

 The flower color is nice.

But the form and size leave something to be desired. Of course, being very far from an ideal climate for Agapanthus, it will be amazing if they even survive the winter, much less bloom. So I'd better just stop complaining.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


I'm amazed by the big lilies. 'Scheherezade' is a lily I purchased from The Lily Garden a few years ago. The catalog reports that it grows to 4-6 feet the first year, and up to 8 feet when established (and grown well). Probably not in this climate, but said to be a good "beginners" lily. The first year it was a 2-3 feet tall, and with a few flowers.

July 20, 2013
Last year, it was four feet tall and few more flowers.
July 14, 2014

This year, it is 6 feet tall, with a number of flowers. What really amazed me is that I realized that no matter how tall it gets, it has the same amount of time to do it in since whether 2 feet tall or 6 feet tall, it has to reach bloom time at the same time. Seems obvious in hindsight doesn't it? Still amazing.

Here it is popping out of the ground March 25, 2015. From here on, it grows with a vengeance.

Here it is, one an a half weeks later, April 4, 2015.

11 days later, 3 weeks from emerging, April 15, 2015.

Another 11 days later, 4-1/2 weeks from emerging, 4 feet tall on April 26, 2015. 

May 11, 2015,  6-1/2 weeks from emerging, about 5 feet tall.

May 17, 2015, 7 weeks from emerging.

May 25, 2015. 8 weeks from emerging. Buds are starting to form, so reaching its maximum vegetative height. Growth now is directed at developing flower buds.

 June 7, 2015. 10-1/2 weeks from emerging.  Flower stems elongating.

June 20, 2015. 

 Producing tertiary flower buds (one out of focus towards you).

First flower opened July 1, 2015. 14 weeks later. I suppose that's not that fast if you are talking about beans.

And I did have to tie it up for support.

More flowers than last year. 

 July 8, 2015. 15 weeks after emergence. Yes, that's almost 4 months, but it reached nearly 6 feet in 2 months. I think that's pretty amazing. Sure, the redbuds can grow 6 feet in a summer, but there's something special about lilies. So if you are the kind of person like me, who gets their jollies by watching things grow, these lilies are just the ticket.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

roses at 98 degrees

Some of the roses are actually opening flowers in this heat. 'Evelyn' on my new baby rose, looking more yellow/orange than the pink/apricot that I had hoped for. But pretty good for this heat.
 Looks more pink the second day.

'Glamis Castle' looking pretty unperturbed by the heat and intense sun.

Unlike 'Bolero' which still has thrips. These are the best looking  of them.

 Or 'Eden' which also has thrips.

 'Bishop's Castle' looks like it thinks nothing could be better, putting out a ton of buds after its first flush. Amazing for a first year plant.

'Marie Pavie' also growing happily.

She's putting out a new flush.

'Old Blush' doesn't have the best form in the heat, but still puts out flowers.

Same with 'Knockout' which keeps putting out these unimpressive flowers.

Interestingly, 'Madame Isaac Pereire' continues to put out a flower or two. I didn't expect that, being an old rose who has been described as having a good spring flush and a small fall flush.

 Too bad the flowers on 'Alnwick Castle' only last a day in the heat. They still smell wonderful.

'Falstaff' has eeked out one blossom in the heat. Small and a little deformed, but I'm still amazed it has done that.

'William Shakespeare 2000' also has put out a few roses, also small and a bit deformed, and frying quickly in the heat.