Michael Battalio


perennials

amaryllis

This year’s daylilies have not been a disappointment. They are wonderful this year.
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Here is a very proud success. This is an amaryllis I saved from my parents house before I left and my dad mowed everything to the ground. It has taken three years after transplanting for it to get back to a size where it would bloom, but it is worth the wait.

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Here is some monarda I planted last fall. I didn’t expect it to do so well, yet here it is. We’ll see if the plant is still alive come August.

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Finally here are the tomato plants. I harvest about five everyday. I’m sort of regretting planting the daylilies amongst the vegetables. They take up space I could have used for more vegetables. Lesson learned.

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Perennials


With the growing season once again in full swing, this will be a full blog post. We have gotten enormous amounts of rain this year. As of 5/16/15 we are at 23.87”, which is double what we should have. The garden is loving it. Everything looks amazing.

Below is a euphorbia that I got at a box store for $3.33. I hope all the rain doesn’t drown this usually drought tolerant plant.

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Here is a yarrow that I know needs some pampering when first planted, as the last time I tried it, it died during August. I’m hoping the enormous amount of rain will harden the plant up for the inevitable dry spell that will happen later in the year.

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Next a couple of daylilies. The first is one I dug from my parent’s yard “Frans Hals”, which is a prolific bloom and a hardy plant. I put it in the roadside bed because I know it can take the heat. The second photo is a patch of native daylilies that were here when I moved in. This is the first year that they are making such an impressive display. The last two years there have only been one or two bloom stalks. I have to chalk the improved performance to the rain, though in previous year I assumed they weren’t blooming much due to the shade of the live oaks.
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I’m including another photo of an amaryllis simply because they are so impressive.
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Next is a scutellaria ‘Fuchsia Fountains’, which I bought at the Brazos county master gardener plant sale earlier this spring. It is settling into its space very nicely.

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Here are some coleus that I started from seed when I transplanted the tomatoes. They are growing slowly, but they will be read to pot up in containers shortly.

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Blog returns from winter hibernation


Spring is beginning, and so returns the garden blog. First is a lovely veronica that is among the first perennials to bloom in the spring.

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He is a rugosa rose that is making a carefree, once a year show near the vegetable bed.

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Below are some yellow ‘King Alfred’ daffodils juxtaposed with purple verbena that simply loves this spot at the edge of my property.

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I bought small transplants from the nursery as soon as they were available so I could repot them in bigger containers for planting later.

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Here are the tomatoes from above just a few weeks after repotting. The warmth they got in the greenhouse spurred quick growth. I put them in the garden last week.

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last blooms before winter

Thanks to the cold snap at the beginning of November, the daffodils were tricked into blooming early.

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This Flame Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii ‘Flame’) is trying to make one last show of it before the new year.

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The romaine lettuce was tricked into bolting due to warm temps the last few weeks after the bad cold snap in November. The broccoli in the background is doing great. There are even some peppers left behind that.

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I love lavender. This one has looked nice the entire time I’ve grown it. I never have to water it, and it occasionally throws up a showcase of blooms.

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This will probably be the last blog post until spring. Updates should resume in late February/early March.

Flowers for fall

Now that cooler weather has arrived, fall flowers are blooming. Here is a large patch of mums that was here when I moved in but thanks to my careful watering during the summer look absolutely great now.

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After a heavy rain at the beginning of October, the bottlebrush flushed a second set of flowers. I can never get over how pretty this plant is when in bloom; the bees love it as well. This is really a carefree plant.

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Next a couple of pictures of 4 o’clocks. These were here when I moved in. A few facts about four o’clocks: They bloom only in late afternoon (or earlier if they have shade). They grow from tubers not unlike potatoes, and they are edible though I’ve never consumed them. They reseed readily, and their seeds can be transplanted throughout the gardener to add a dash of color. Lastly, I wish I could share their fragrance with you. It is heaven for your nose.

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I planted some salvia along the road. I hope it will fill in over the next couple of years into a bit of a mass planting.

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Otherwise I’ve planted the broccoli crop which is doing well. I’m harvesting lots of peppers, and I’m waiting for the fall tomato crop to ripen. I’m soon going to be planting about 130 daffodils. That will be quite a job one Sunday afternoon – perhaps even starting tomorrow.

Lots of new plants

Last week we got more rain in three days than we have had in five months. I fear it might be another few months before we get another rain like that. The biggest item in the garden this month is the haul of plants I bought at the Antique Rose Emporium’s mother’s day sale. All 1 gallon plants were $4.00, which is an excellent deal; I bought a lot of them.

One of the coolest was a Gomphrena called Pink Zazzle. It is tender and hardy only to zone 10, so I have it in a pot and will move it inside this winter.
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Here is a sedge that will hopefully fill a spot in dry shade.
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Lastly is a veronica that is hardy to zone 6.
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Other plants are coming into their own as well. Here is a crimum lilly about to bloom, and a yarrow:
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I’ve been having pest problems as well. I discovered a rabbit foraging among the perennials yesterday, and it took off behind the church across the street once it noticed me. It has been munching on the lupines. It took one to the ground, and the other two aren’t looking so great.
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The vegetable garden looks great. I have grown the biggest broccoli head I’ve ever had this spring, and it is completely organic.
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The eggplant and corn also look very good.
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Coleus in the greenhouse are about ready to set in beds for the summer. The ones in larger pots I’ve transplanted so that they are larger once they get in the ground.
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Lastly, my orchids look amazing. They love the sunroom, but once they bloom I move them across the house so I can enjoy them. Here are just a couple:
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new plants

The harsh winter is finally subsiding. 2013 was a year of weather extremes. I’ve been very busy, so this will be a bit of a long entry. I’ve planted a lot in preparation of the hot summer. I fixed two beds near the road with plants I brought back from my parent’s house during Christmas. There was a stowaway in the irises and daylilies, a lovely crocus.

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The Billbergia nutans that I planted in September has bloomed. The foliage still looks rough though.
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I’ve taken a chance on a couple of shrubs from a big box home improvement store. They look nice now, but I’ll save judgement until July.
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Here is a lone columbine I planted a few weeks ago. I’m told that it will be able to take the heat, but it is so delicate that I’m not sure. Thusly, I only bought one of them.
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The vegetable garden progresses along. I inattentively let some of the broccoli go to flower, but the spinach and peas are doing quite well. In the raised beds that house my daylilies I left room for corn and tomatoes. The peppers and eggplant remain in the greenhouse until mid April.
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I planted some daffodils around the property, and some of them have bloomed quite late.
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I bought another round of plants from Yucca Do Nursery (see “Getting ready for fall”). Mostly I’ve been using them as a source of shade and drought tolerant perennials. Here is a Chinese bloodroot (Eomecon chionantha). It will get about three feet wide and has half-dollar sized white flowers. In the foreground on the right is an African Hosta (Drimiopsis maculata). It is not a true hosta, but is equally as beautiful and should be drought tolerant (supposedly). In the background on the right is a Blue Rabbit’s foot Fern (Phlebodium pseudoaureum). I also purchased a Sinningia sellovii, Pittosporum heterophylla, and Carex leavenworthii. I’ll reevaluate these plants come fall.
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In other news I’ve applied a top dressing of compost to the lawn and have started coleus in the greenhouse again. In the near future I’ll be putting down a new layer of mulch on everything in anticipation of the long summer. I recognize that this year and the next should be major planting years so that everything will acclimate in time to sell the house sometime in 2017. Realizing that my timeline is years out I can save money and buy the smaller plants and let them fill in.

Winter's toll

Winter has been hard on the garden this year. We had the fourth coldest Dec-Feb period for Bryan. Consequently several plants that should live through most winters did not make it including a plant I bought just during the fall. I’m most disappointed in the lavender which I meticulously watered during the summer in the hopes that once established it would survive on its own. We had several episodes of winter precipitation, and the weather station recorded a low 21.6 in January. While that is nowhere near the lowest temp that we usually get (in USDA zone 8b for Bryan temps can get to 15 F), temps were cold for long periods. Additionally, we have gotten very little rain since the large amounts last Fall.

On the garden front I’ve been working on getting beds ready for spring. I’ve finally edged the beds along the street (below) and planted some perennials in there (mostly to take up the space the lavender was supposed to fill).
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I planted peas a few weeks ago and it has taken them this long to finally start to grow thanks to the cold. Some broccoli is already starting to head much smaller than I wanted. I believe as a result of planting in the shade and the cold. Spinach is also starting to grow. I have some more in the greenhouse that I will set out in a couple of weeks. I planted a spring crop of broccoli today.
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Lastly, I built the second raised bed in the side yard. I’ve put some day lilies and irises in.
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I’m waiting for a shipment of roses to come in; one will be placed in the blank spot between the windows in the above photo. Soon I will order some foundation plants for the eastern front of the house. I’m still debating whether to tear out the healthy boxwood on the western front.

Fall

The TX state climatologist is the professor in one of my classes this semester, and he made the comment that Texas droughts are those times between Texas floods. We are now above average for rainfall for this time of year. We have made up about 10” of rain deficit in about a month and a half. Everything is soaked, so I can’t really garden, but everything is looking great. This being fall, not much is in bloom, but there is a clematis blooming and a clump of mums.
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I have also had the chance to repopulate the sunny perennial bed with plants again. We will see how they do come summer, but most of them are fairing well at the moment. The biggest short term plans are to make a second raised bed on the southeastern side of the house and to figure out what to do about the bed adjacent to the driveway.

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I’ve planted a couple of new roses in the rose garden. I have decided not to baby these plants. I will water them (as I had to water everything during the summer), but I don’t have to to tend to roses that need a ton of care. So, if the plants can’t take care of themselves, they’re out. I’m going to try to get some antique roses in the near future. We’ll see. The one below is a floribunda ‘Foxy Roxy’. I also bought an ‘Iceberg’.

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Getting ready for fall

Not a lot has been happening in the garden over the last month and a half. I’ve mostly just been waiting out the summer. My house has gotten about .75 in of rain since the middle of May, so I haven’t done much gardening. I do have a few things to show. I’ve been on a plant buying spree in anticipation of cooler fall temperatures. I pulled out all the sunflowers from the side perennial bed and some plant waiting to go in. Just some standard plants a purple coneflower, some ornamental grasses, a sedum, gaura et cetera. Admittedly it will take a while for this bed to fill in. I’m okay with that though. I’m leaving that big empty space in for a shrub, probably a torch bush.

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The vegetable garden goes well. Again, I’m waiting on cooler temps for the tomatoes to begin setting fruit again (lows above 70 prevent the plants from fruiting). The bell peppers and okra are going just fine. I just planted potatoes, and the pumpkins need to be watered. I planted some lima beans a couple of weeks ago, but only three out of the whole pack sprouted, then two died, so I have one lima bean plant. I believe the culprit is a hoard of rolly pollies. They are everywhere, and I believe they decapitated the young sprouts. How that one lone bean survived I do not know.

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I have finally finished the daylily raised bed and am waiting for it to cool down to plant them. We are still getting highs in the 100s daily. I’m going to wait until it at least stays below the low 90s to plant.

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Finally, I bought some plants from Yucca Do Nursery which specializes in drought tolerant plants for TX. They were having a sale, and I got a Billbergia nutans, Ctenanthe setosa, Kaempferia x ‘Pink Lace’, Rhodea japonica, and Zephyranthes x ‘Aquarius’ (which bloomed due to the thorough watering I gave it at planting). The common name for Zephyranthes is Rain lily. They flower after a heavy rain. I have some orange ones growing natively in my lawn. I love them.

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