Archive | August, 2012

turf lily – liriope

31 Aug

This is the variegated variety; it’s most often seen as solid green. Liriope is a grass-like flower that, when mature, forms 12″ clumps in this zone (larger and often evergreen in the South and Southwest). Planted about 12″ apart, liriope makes a great border plant.  The plant books say that it should only be grown in shade or part sun, although I’ve actually had the best luck growing it where it gets a fair amount of sun. It dies out over the winter and needs to be cut back to just a few inches in the spring to make way for new growth.  That’s about all the care it requires.  The flowers on both green and variegated varieties look about the same–purple spikes that start out so small they are hidden by the leaves but growing taller and sticking out above the leaves after about a week or so.  (There are white-blooming varieties available and even some with green/yellow variegated leaves.)

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obedient plant – physostegia

27 Aug

Also called false dragon’s head and Virginia lion’s-heart, this late-season bloomer is reminiscent of snapdragons. Flowers form in clusters, with the center spike opening first. When all the spikes are in bloom, it looks like pink candelabra. It grew extremely well through July’s heat wave, although some of the flower tips did turn brown. I pinched them off and the plants seem none the worse for wear. The stems get 2′-3′ tall and the clumps grow larger each year. Technically, this plant can be grown in sun or shade, but I’ve found the stems stay more upright in full sun.

grapes

19 Aug

The garden always slows down at this time of year, but the very high temperatures in July as well as lack of rain brought everything to a complete halt.  It’s been almost a month since my last post; that’s how long it’s been since anything new has bloomed in the garden.  Quite a few flowers bloomed through the heat wave, but nothing new.  What a difference a little cool down and a couple of good rains make.  Several late season plants are budding and I should have more flowers to post in the next week or so.  In the meantime, I was surprised to find the grape vines so full of fruit.  Normally I don’t worry about pruning them correctly to harvest because the birds get all the fruit anyway;  I let them ramble at will and cover the gazebo, creating a nice shady bower–a good place to take a break on a warm day.  But this year either the birds have lost their taste for grapes or the crop was too large for them to handle. Maybe they’re full from eating all the blackberries.   At any rate,  I picked about six quarts of grapes yesterday and there’s about that many left to pick.   I’ve decided to clear the mass of vines and do it properly for a change, so I’ve been pruning as I harvest.  Grapes fruit on second year vines, so that means getting rid of all the old ones; it’ll be a big job because it’s been neglected for so long.  The blue concord vine was not very productive, which is a shame because those make the best jelly (and the birds don’t seem to care for them, so there are usually some left for me).  Most of what I picked were red seedless.  I’ve never tried them in jelly, so we’ll see how that works out.