Thursday, May 31, 2012

Away from OUR garden but not ALL Gardens

This busy gardener spent the day at Monticello, Jefferson's home in Virginia.  What a treat to visit the 1000 feet of his "vegetable garden"; he tried some 30 kinds of peas alone!  Jefferson recorded the temperature every day from age 22 to 83 and his records include much of the plants, trees, vines, and his inventions (which are impressive).  The garden tour was lead by a very knowledgeable person, giving us Jefferson's planting background, leaves, fruit, roots.  Water did not come to Monticello until 1960.  Jefferson had constructed 4 cisterns holding 3600 gallons of water from roof run off.  Of course, he did not do most of the work but that is another story!  Anyway it is mind boggling the garden stuff Jefferson did attempt and was able to accomplish. I am now off to work my own!  Back to Matzke Park real soon.

Here are three of a number of pictures we took.

Temperatures in mid-Virginia have been in the high 80's during the day, but cooling off into the mid 60's in the evening, thankfully.

For the rest  of our pictures you can click on

Friday, May 18, 2012

Good Bug -- Bad Bug

Butterflies are basically bugs, so we know there are some good ones as far as we are concerned.  But what about some of those other nasty looking ones that crawl around on our plants?   Here is a link to an informative and useful site that pictures and describes "Insect Predators." Sounds bad, but many of these guys are very beneficial to our plants...  CLICK HERE   

Scroll down a bit and read about this one that is especially helpful to us..  The Milkweed Assassin Bug (Zelus longipes)

Lots of butterflies in the garden yesterday when the ladies held another of their programs for several groups of children from one of the church schools.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Weeds, Weeds, Weeds

Friday was a lovely morning to work in the garden!  Wow...  have the weeds grown. It seems like overnight.  Lots of lovely ladies to help out for this work session: Cathy C, Janet C, Loretta, Kathleen and her friend.  Of course Luv2Plant and Helper #1 were there as well.  Lots of weeding and removing of all the invasive vines that seem to win out each week!  I estimate we created about 8 to 10 bushels of weeds in two piles for the park staff to pick up.  Thanks to all who helped.

The Vitex is so vibrant this year.  We saw a few Monarch caterpillars and Gulf Fritillaries.  At our house we have the Black Swallowtails, Gulf Fritillaries, Monarchs, and for the first time Question Mark butterflies.  You can see one HERE.  Note what they look like underneath their wings.

Monarch Watch has published their 2012 Plant List.  You can download it by Clicking Here.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lots of Stuff Today

Three Things   worth covering in today's post, with current pictures as usual.

Here's #1... Hard to say       what is nicer looking in today's pictures in the garden:
 Our two remaining Knock Out Roses

                                     Our beautiful Cassia tree
Or the southern of our two nice
Vitex trees.

Here is Item #2.   Water, Water, Water... Issues with our Water

I believe the automatic irrigation/sprinkler system is back to normal.  The controller has been replaced, as has a bad valve that kept some spots constantly wet.  So most of the time, it keeps things reasonably moist even in the dry periods.  However,  it doesn't cover everything.  It is not the Park Staff;s responsibility to do anything except mow.  And so Luv2Plant and/or Helper #1 try to get to the garden every couple of days or so to water some of the things by hand.   This shows the main area that needs help from all of us.  The two Vitex trees and the small Kumquat bush that are planted by themselves do not get hit with the sprinkler system.  Nor does this area at the south end of the garden.  The Crape Myrtles and around the corner to the Canna Lily does not get watered and the area inside the fence within this corner needs help too. The Passion Vine and some Butterfly Weed are in this area.  So please help out with some hand watering as you can.

Here is Item #3...    It is just a bit harder to do that then it was before.  The hoses are in crummy shape (otherwise they walk off) but work ok if not kinked.  But the park guys have been having trouble with kids using the hoses to fill water balloons, make a general mess, etc...   So today I removed the handles from the faucets.   But I "hid" them in an easy place so you can still help out with hand watering.  This is the north end.  The hose is in use by the Park staff to water trees.  They usually hang it back up, but if not, just ask.  See the big rock by the post?  The handle for this end is under it.

And for the south end the handle is just under the front edge of the dog dish which is bolted to the post.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

National Public Gardens Day is May 11

National Public Gardens Day may be on the way, but you shouldn't wait until May 11 to enjoy a couple I can recommend. Here is the first one:

  Stop by our Butterfly Garden at Matzke Park.  Things are in full bloom.  I took these pictures this morning

Here is the second stop I recommend:

As you know, we are a great fan of Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens at 22306 Aldine Westfield Road in Humble. The gardens at Mercer are part of the east side of the 325-acre park that includes 5 miles of walking trails.  Mercer shelters more than 24 rare plants and several of the plants are on display to view close-up as guests walk around the trails in the Endangered Species Garden.

Mercer recently had a really nice write up which you can see by CLICKING HERE   It also has a couple of great pictures.