Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Late September Surprise























This fine specimen appeared along our back fence a few days ago.. a bit later than suggested in the description just below.   A very interesting flower.. no foliage at all.  Just stem and blossom.

Surprise Lily of the South blooms in fall     

After a long hot summer in the deep South, the earth comes alive with color from these sleeping bulbs. The Red Spider Lily  Lycoris Radiata is a perennial bulb that blooms in late August or September. A single stem emerges out of the ground unexpectedly and within days reaches a foot tall. The bloom opens a spidery look with long filaments that leave the center of the bloom, dip a little, and come up again with distinctive anthers and surrounded by modified petals.

 And here she is "up close"










And here is a "clump"....but they are not ours.



















Our Gardenia jasminoides .. continues to do her thing as summer starts to cool a bit.
























We continue to be thankful for flowers, and gardens, and Master Gardners.

And if you would like to see the latest (in fact all) of the Norchester Garden Club Horticulture Reports, you will find the links HERE  Give it a minute to download and click on the one of your choice.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Blooming Hibiscus

Our Master Gardner has become quite interested in hibiscus and we have several varieties in the back yard of “Fawnview Ranch.”  They are beautiful and enhance the other plantings; giving the yard a tropical look.  


Ruffled Satin, Rose of Sharon has large, ruffled pink  
flowers that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. It is one of the Proven Winner plants selected by horticulturists to give a lot of color without a lot of work. Adaptable to most well-drained soils, it may be trimmed in late winter or early spring and likes a controlled release fertilizer in the spring. 








Sugar Tip, Rose of Sharon is the only variegated Rose of Sharon that blooms.  The soft pink flower reminds one of a peony bloom. They show up in late summer but you have the crisp variegated foliage all summer long. Like other varieties it is deer resistant and attracts both humming birds and butterflies. Prune in fall/winter and avoid very wet or dry soil.



Hibiscus Rosa-sinensis or Chinese hibiscus is the one I am holding here.  This one happens to have double flowers that range from orange, red orange or red on the same bush. It is a large shrub that can get up to 15 ft. tall in frost free climates. It usually grows as a bush with many stems.  Flowers are up to 6 in. in diameter and most are flared with a bell shape. It likes full sun or partial shade with a fairly moist soil.

 According to one article I found, Chinese Hibiscus has: expectorant, antipyretic, antimicrobial, hypoglycemic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, emollient, laxative, refrigerant, emmenagogue, and aphrodisiac properties.   Hard to believe…. but who can doubt “the internet.”   It also has a flavonoid known as cyaniding, which has antioxidant as well as anti-inflammatory qualities. 





This single red blooming hibiscus is a tropical hibiscus that was purchased from Joshua's Nursery during the Garden Club field trip last spring. It is covered with blooms and the hummingbirds love it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tony Avent Presents

 Tony Avent, owner of Juniper Level Botanic Garden and Plants Delights Nursery presented a wonderful presentation at the Mercer Botanical Garden's 40th Anniversary  Distinguished Lecture Series 'Exceptional Natives' (many of them found in Texas).  

If you were not there, you missed an EXCEPTIONAL presentation.  Tony has  a collection of 22,000 plants.  You can request a catalog at 


You can also like him on facebook and see many photo's of some of his current blooming plants. 

Plant Delights Nursery is a family-owned nursery since 1988 which offers unique, rare, well-grown, and properly-named perennials to passionate gardeners around the world.

Here is a native found in Bastrop -   Baptisia leucophaea     'Butterball'.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Firebush (Humming Bird Plant)


(scientific name: Hamelia patens)

This plant is featured in the Sept. Norchester Garden Club Horticulture report that our Master Gardner publishes each month except June, July, and August.   











These reports may be found at
THIS LINK  which displays all the past reports as well. Just choose the month you want to view, print or download, click on its blue underlined link and it will open the PDF file.   





You may also get to this same list of all reports by clicking on the first option under "Useful Links We Like" on the right hand side of this blog.



Friday, August 22, 2014

Go "Parking"

We all enjoy our Matzke Park and its playground, Butterfly Garden, and walking trails.  Some even enjoy the weekend cricket games, I would imagine.  But Harris County Pct. #4 has a wonderful park system with many other options.  Today we explored one of the newest, Dennis Johnston Park in the NW part of town. Dennis, of course, is the Pct #4 Park Director who has been so helpful with the Matzke Butterfly Garden project as well as the other improvements there.  This park was named in his honor.




 It used to be a Girl Scout camp, but the county has transformed it into a real garden spot, particularly suited for events and meetings.  The "cabins" are used for Pct #4 county offices.  It has a nice pond for fishing, a developing butterfly garden and trails as part of the Spring Creek Greenway system.

You can CLICK HERE  for a map of its location as well as other useful information.    Take the time to explore some of the many "green space options" we have available to us within a reasonable drive.

I took these pictures just this morning.

This Is the "Grand Lodge"



The New Butterfly Garden

Not Real Large, but Perhaps the Fish Are

A Large Pavilion 







Sunday, August 3, 2014

Spiders and Queens

We have a new set of blooms in the backyard of the Fawnview Ranch. The white spider lily plants have decided to show themselves.  Spider lily is the common name for a number of different plant species within the family Amaryllidaceae which belong to the genera Lycros;  a genus of about 20 species of flowering plants formerly treated in the family Liliaceaepider lily.



Perhaps the summer's most magical bulb, spider lily pops up, seemingly overnight, with its colorful flowers sitting tall upon a single stem.  The exotic look of the long petals and stamens accounts for the common name.  It also bears the monikers hurricane lily (because of its bloom season) and naked ladies (the flowers appear without leaves).  

With trumpet shaped blooms that resemble an amaryllis, spider lily forms a brilliant border in partially shaded places.

Light:  Part Sun, Sun   Type:  Bulb   Height: 6 inches to 3 feet
Width:  Up to 1 foot   Color:  Blue, Orange, Pink, Red, White
Foliage Color:   Chartreuse/Gold   Season:  Fall Bloom or Summer Bloom
Added Benefits:   Attracts Birds, Cut Flowers

By clicking HERE you can take a look at some of the other colors

It is useful to deadhead the plants.  In other words, remove dead blooms as they begin to fade to prevent the plant from seeding.   Seeding requires significant energy, and deadheading allows the plant to rest and flower more than once.

Also.. dig out and divide mature bulbs as soon as the lily's leaves begin to yellow.  After 4 or 5 years, crowding and sinking can hinder flowering in these plants.  Replant the bulb necks slightly above the soil surface.

NOW THIS IS SOMETHING WE DIDN'T KNOW  (OR PERHAPS FORGOT)

This is not a picture of Monarch butterflies.

Queens on Purple Mistflower

Nor is this of a Monarch caterpillar. 

Queen caterpillar with three filaments
To assure yourself this is correct... check one of our favorites other blogs by clicking HERE

Monday, July 28, 2014

Raptor Risks Raiding Ranch

Actually it was more of a brief visit to our Fawnview Ranch but the alliteration is not quite as nice.  






This afternoon an adult female Northern Harrier dropped in to sit at the edge of our fish pond, 15 feet from our large backyard windows.  




She eyed the pond (perhaps the fish ?) for several minutes before I went outside to shoo her off as the fish “feared for their lives.”  

Upon some reflection:  I wished I had used my regular camera instead of the cell phone, I wished I had taken a little video of her with it, and finally I thought it was likely she was just preparing to drink as I don’t think these birds go after small goldfish.  They hunt on the wing.. some birds but mostly small animals. 





Even with the “shoo away” she just flew a few yards to the top of our swing arbor and sat there looking at me with obvious disdain.   She did not seem to bother the adolescent cardinals on the feeder nearby, nor was she interested in them.  After another 5 minutes she flew away without accomplishing whatever she had intended.


In our blog post of Feb 7, 2014 we had a visit from a Cooper’s Hawk.  The Northern Harrier is noticeably larger with a different face. You can see that post by clicking HERE