Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sidetracked . . .

I finished up a work project this morning and took the opportunity of one more morning of relatively cool weather to assess the effects of last night's thunderstorm on the garden. Everything was washed clean and, with the exception of the suddenly enormous cleomes that were listing and needed to be staked, nothing else looked beaten down or blown over. No pecan limbs in the roses this time around.

I fully intended to head straight back to my office to get to work on the next overdue project. But . . . my inspection revealed that all this rain has lent new vigor to the wisteria and the rampant Turk's cap. Back in the agave parryii corner, the Turk's cap was overtaking the newly planted bamboo muhly and the wisteria was once again reaching for the utility pole. I got in there and yanked wisteria vines (nearly pulling over one section of the rickety fence) and clipping off errant stalks of Turk's cap. And then, just as I was reaching in to do away with another clump of Turk's cap I saw the reason I haven't tried harder to eradicate this plant from the garden.


These are amazing flowers, especially this time of year, highlighted against the crisp chartreuse of the new leaves. Soon enough the plants will sprawl every which-a-way and the heat will turn the edges of those leaves brown and crispy. But I'll try to enjoy them now and also will try to remember these sweet blooms when I'm cursing the errant stalks come the dog days of August.

After I'd finished with the wisteria and Turk's cap (for now, at least) I stopped to take a look at my pot of pansies and violas. I stopped deadheading them before I went to Dallas last week and they were looking straggly and sad, although still blooming. I thought I'd just pull out the orange pansies, which were in the worst shape, but once I started pulling I just kept on, until the pot was empty.

Here's the result of my sidetracked morning. A pile of pansies and violas, a pile of tangled wisteria vines, and a stack of Turk's cap stalks. And in the background you can see the pot (in front of the urn) where the pansies were; I stuck the pots of opal basil and Thai basil in there to see what I thought (what I'm thinking is that the pot may not be big enough; that's what I get for waiting so long!).


I didn't get much paying work done this morning but at least the garden is a bit tidier.

16 comments:

Pam/Digging said...

I do love those Turk's cap flowers too. They look as if they're made of icing in a designer bakery.

Layanee said...

I don't know the Turk's cap. Do you know the genus and species? It looks as though you had a satisfying and productive morning!

Susan said...

Layanee — I believe it's Malvaviscus arboreus var. Drummondii. It grows like a week in my yard, popping up everywhere. I didn't plant it; it was here when we moved in. But the flowers are loely.

M Sinclair Stevens (Austin) said...

Yep. It's Malvaviscus arboreus. I don't know what I'd do without my Turk's cap as it comes back every year without any effort on my part and makes the yard look green. And the hummingbirds are supposed to love the flowers although I don't recall ever seeing any.

I usually cut them back to the ground after a hard freeze to keep them bushy but I didn't get to it this year. It doesn't matter, though. They handle things on their own...a boon to large gardens but sounds like a bit of a thug in a smaller yard like yours.

Susan said...

Oops, meant to say grows like a weed.

Susan said...

And yes, MSS, that's how I feel about it: like it's a thug, trying to muscle its way into every corner. If it was better behaved I'd find it easier to appreciate it for its toughness and the beauty of its flowers (I've heard that about the hummingbirds too but don't know that I've ever seen one on any of my Turk's cap).

Pam/Digging said...

Hummers visit my Turk's cap every summer. Mine is in the shade though and hasn't started blooming yet.

Nicole said...

I love those cute Turk's cap flowers, I dont know this plant. The flowers look very much like our "sleeping hibiscus" which is an old fashioned plant which you don't see much anymore, but easy to care for and always in bloom.

Susan said...

Nicole — Turk's cap certainly seems like a plant that would thrive in a Caribbean garden. I'd love to see a picture of a sleeping hibiscus.

Annie in Austin said...

You keep warning me about the Malvaviscus, Susan, while I keep hoping my two plants will have more than 10 leaves and will think about blooming ~ there's supposed to be a tall form that's like a small tree in San Antonio.

My Purple heart does get pushy, however!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Yolanda Elizabet said...

What unusual flowers that Turk's cap has!

It sounds all too familiar your story of just having a look at the garden and then suddenly, 5 hours later ....
LOL! At least you had a very productive morning in the garden. :-)

Susan said...

Annie — The idea of a Turk's cap tree is kind of freaking me out. And I have to agree about the purple heart. It grows so wildly that I just break off the chunks that are sprawling where I don't want them. I love that purple color in the garden so much that, when I first put the purple heart in, I took every bit I pulled off and stuck it somewhere else in the garden. Now I've got at least six big clumps, which may be a few too many to manage this summer!

r sorrell said...

The "thug" in my garden is english ivy. It was planted by a previous owner, and is attempting to take over several areas in my garden. I planted a turk's cap this year... I guess I'll have to keep an eye on it.

Anonymous said...

I live in austin too and have been looking for a thai basil plant..where did you get yours ?

Suganya.

Susan said...

Suganya — I bought the Thai basil plant at the Westgate Central Market several months ago. They usually have potted herb plants on stands outside the main entrance (also at the Lamar CM).

— Susan

Anonymous said...

Thanks Susan. We live pretty close to the westgate central market. will check there.

-Suganya.