Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Love those Amsonias Pt. 2, Amsonia hubrichtii, Arkansas Bluestar

I meant to include the link to an informative site on amsonias in my last post. On my way to finding it, I found an interesting site, which can explain the confusion about different amsonias. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture there are lots of varieties. Check it out by clicking on the link. I haven't found the original site, but the Virginia Cooperative Extension has a helpful article on Amsonia tabernaemontana.  The one in my previous post was in full sun. OK, I found the site, but it was a pdf.  I am giving you the html version, and you can click on the link there, if you want the pdf.  It's Rick Darke's Amsonia in Cultivation.

I found Arkansas bluestar, Amsonia hubrichtii, at our Statewide Arboretum's plant sale.  They have chosen this plant for their perennial of the year.  There is some good information about it on the GreatPlants web page.  Just scroll down; it's right after the shrub of the year.

On May 3, the Amsonia hubrichtii, was just peeking through its spot on the east side of the house, where it was protected from the hot west sun.  To its left is a liatris that it likes to sprawl on in the summer.

By May 19, the plant had flowers forming.  (Clicking on these pics will make them larger.)

This photo was taken June 3.  Aren't the flowers pretty? Yes, it has supports, because it is so close to other plants. You can also see long slender seed pods.

By June 8, the plant appears to be finished blooming and is covered with seed pods.

June 18, I must have just given the plant this trim.  When cut, a milky substance leaks out, which can be irritating to the skin.  It looks like there is a bonus, my shadow, in this picture.  In the back, by the house had been a pampas grass my husband insisted on planting when our neighbor offered it to us when we were first digging that bed.  I had been waiting for him to dig it out, as it was getting huge, and I didn't think our yard was big enough for it.  I finally took matters into my own hands, and couldn't believe how easy that thing was to dig out.  I think it's because that wasn't a good place for it.  I put it by the curb, and someone took it to plant in their yard. So, it looks like some of these plants in the pic are still adjusting.

Here, on July 6, you can see the nice regrowth.  That's moonbeam coreopsis blooming on the right.

August 4.  The black-eyed Susans in the back got a disease on their leaves, but bloomed well anyway.  

September 7:

September 25.  The asters have finally finished teasing, and opened their buds.

October 25:

November 14:

December 16:


 Again, I'm still in love!  (I'll be ready for spring soon, though.) I am adding one more link, and that's to Cameron's post that includes this amsonia.  Her blog is Defining Your Home Garden.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Love that Began in an Alley, Part 1

About 10 years ago, my husband's sister and her family moved into a house with a huge yard I was envious of.  In the spring, I went exploring through a gate to the alley, to see what the neighbors were growing.  There, right in the alley, was a splendid 3 to 4 foot tall, and almost as wide, plant covered with small flowers that were star shaped and a beautiful light sky blue!  It was love at first sight.  I had no idea what it was, but I started my hunt.  I don't remember how long it took, but some people who were having a plant sale had one in their yard.  They did not have one for sale, but were able to tell me it was an amsonia.  They said I could get one from Blue Bird Nursery in Clarkson, NE, which is a couple hours from here.  They also bring plants to Lincoln for our "Spring Affair" which is an awesome plant sale at our fairgrounds.

I was pleased to find my first amsonia at a local nursery that sells native plants.  We made the drive to Clarkson, when I realized this was a little different from the one I saw in the alley. Since then, I have found other kinds at the Spring Affair and from our Nebraska State Arboretum, where they sell "Great Plants for the Great Plains".  This summer, I even found one at a mainstream nursery on the 75% off rack!  But, I digress, this one will be featured in a different post, since I seem to like to go into detail and put lots of pics up.

The first amsonia I am featuring is not the first kind I got, which is a bit spready.  This one, I'm pretty sure is Amsonia tabernaemontana.  Actually the first one I got was called that, too, but as I said, it is not the same thing.

In late April, there were woody stems, but no green yet on this plant.  This photo was taken May 6.  The amsonia is on the left. In the back, is a false baptisia, and to the right is a day lily. Click on any of the pics if you want to see them larger.

The amsonia grew noticeably, as this pic from May 12 shows.

May 19:

It was blooming here on June 3.  The flowers are much prettier in person.

This is from June 8, showing the plant grows while it's blooming:

There weren't as many blooms by June 18, but the baptisia behind is putting on quite a show. We had looked into replacing the red shed, but, as I've mentioned, the city didn't allow it because it would not be even with the neighbors' house.  It is now repaired and green. The dog kennel is no longer in the back yard, either.

On June 22, there were a few blooms and the long slender seed pods were forming.

This photo is from July 6th, and I had just cut the plant back so the baptisia could be seen and the plant wouldn't spread over the other nearby plants as much.  I don't think you are supposed to cut it back this far, but there is one at our farmers' market that gets cut to the ground each year, so I decided to experiment.

August 6th, the baptisa was making seed pods, and the amsonia had formed a nice mound.

Here's a wider view, taken August 31, with our amsonia and baptisia on the right of the photo. A relative, one that will be featured later, is the plant turning gold already, in front of the black eyed Susans under the garden window.

September 7, I'm not sure how long the false sunflowers had been blooming.  The butterflies sure liked them.  The amsonia still grew wider than I wanted it to.  I think I may try dividing it in the spring.  I did cut it back at the edges.

September 25, you can see the mountain mint on the right.  The verbena "on a stick" is providing color.

November 5, after we had had a freeze, amsonia on the left, baptisia on the right:

December 7:

Today, December 26, I'm still in love:

I hope you are having a great holiday season.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

SkyWatch Friday 12/26, from our truck on the way home in the snow

On Monday, Dec. 22, what normally would have been a 20 minute drive was over an hour, because of rush hour traffic and the snow.  At one stop light, I rolled the window down, and was tickled that the snow could be seen in the photo.

I know this next one isn't in focus, but I like it anyway.  It's still snowing here, but it didn't show up here.

I played around, taking a bunch of pics of street and traffic lights, thinking they were going to be very "artsy" but they weren't so much.  Still, I had a fun time messing around with the camera between the wiper swishes.

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Husband's Website

My husband, Larry, has been interested in photography since the mid 70s.  He did some developing of slides and black and white film, and had purchased equipment to set up a darkroom, but we couldn't afford the remodeling it would take to create a spot for one.

For awhile, people were asking him to do weddings, but he realized that was not his thing.  He did enjoy teaching classes on photography to year book students until they remodeled and took out the darkroom, much to his dismay.  He was a media specialist until he retired in 2007, and is now the audio visual technician at the high school I work at.

Larry's favorite places to take pictures are the area lakes, where he likes to take our dog, Heidi, and our yard, when the flowers are in bloom.  He has enlarged and framed several of his photos to put on our walls, and he has given some as gifts.  

I put one of Larry's flower pics in my sidebar, and if you click on it, it will take you to the photo album on his website.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fire Hydrant

I never used to pay much attention to the fire hydrant in our yard.  It was just there.  This photo was taken 5/3/08.  The circle bed in the front in the pic had mostly orange, red, and yellow flowers.  This is the bed that was expanded to make the big one with the black fence the first week of June.

Here's a close up of the fire hydrant from 5/20.

Two days later, what happened to the lovely chippy red?   Also, what happened to my crocosmia plant near the curb?  It looked like someone dug it right out, but I was glad a little baby plant was left.  I was so irritated because I share plants all the time, but to think someone would just help themselves was upsetting to me.

I just had a fit!  Ugly, ugly, ugly, was what I kept saying, and Larry kept saying how much he liked the color.  We would see more hydrants pop up with that color here and there, and whoever noticed first would proclaim their glee or gloom over them.

In early July,  I'm not sure what date, because it didn't get recorded with these pics, a crew of 3 guys came around while I was outside, parked right in front of my flower bed, and proceeded to tromp on my flowers and drag the paint hose over them.  I was friendly, and all excited when I told them I didn't realize that was primer they had put on it!   I sat on the front porch to watch the event.  

When I saw a guy standing where the crocosmia had been, I then understood its fate, and that it wasn't growing in someone else's yard somewhere.  I went over and politely pointed out the baby plant, and asked him to stand on the stone path that was less than 6 inches from where he was standing.  I could tell he wasn't thrilled about my request, but he complied.  They also bent down my Johnson Blue geraniums by the curb, but didn't kill them.

We just tilled the area behind it, near the corner the first week of June, and it needs some more plants. Maybe I should get some reds in there.

Heidi didn't seem to have an opinion on the paint color.  Larry was disappointed the other color was only primer, and they painted over it.  I liked it better the way it was before, chippy and faded, but have gotten used to it. 

After the guys left, I called the city to say that I realize it's their property, and my flowers may have made it inconvenient for the painters, but they could have parked on the other side of the corner, or at least have been more careful to step on the obvious path that was right next to where the guy was stepping.  I told her the crocosmia story.  The woman agreed with me, and told me it was a private company, but she would let them know.  At first she was thinking I wanted compensation, and was going to get information from me to go forward with that, but I told her I just want them to be more respectful of living things, and not step on other peoples' flowers or drag their hoses on them.

And there you have it, the story of the painting of the fire hydrant, 2008!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

SkyWatch Friday

This is my front tree, with snowflakes dancing around, early in the morning, 12/16, the day all of the following pics were taken.

I took my camera to work, and here is a pic of the front walk and parking lot, with the snow shovelers hard at it.

What a difference in the look of the view of the capitol, compared with last week!

Next is a view from Larry's truck on the way home.  We both work at the same school, but we have different hours, so don't always ride together.  This is a block from where we live.  You can see the cemetery across the street on the right side of the pic with the lovely large evergreen trees.  We also live 2 blocks from a TV station, and the broadcast tower shows in the photo. There is also a radio station a few blocks away, and its broadcast tower is also seen here.

Happy Skywatch, and click on the icon in my sidebar to get to the main page, list of the people who manage this awesome event, and those participating this week.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Snow! (Our first that stuck to the ground and street.)

We had a little snow a few weeks ago, but I don't think it was considered measurable.  It melted on the streets, so today is the first day we've had enough snow to drive on.  At supper time, they said it was 1.75 inches at the airport, and the weather people said it was more in other parts of town.  All I know, is, it's been quite cold, after our high in the 50s on Saturday, the day I took pics for the tour of our yard.

Here is what I was excited to have woken up to this morning:

After work, I walked out back to snap some snow pics.

Sage in a pot:

Magnus Coneflower:

Veggie garden, with stick verbena in middle and near fence:

Since the temps have been in the single digits, the kale may be finished for the season.

This is facing the south from the veggie garden.  Larry is getting the snow blower to start.

Heidi loves the snow, and was happy to lead the way to the front, where I  had the door unlocked so we could head in after taking pics.  The plant toward the right that still wants to be green is rue.

Here's one of the mountain mints I did a post on recently.

Continuing to the front:

There are still some seeds on the (from left against the house) black eyed Susan of some kind, Rudbeckia herbstonne, Helen's flower, an assortment of others for the birds to eat.

Looking back north, you can see Larry got the seeds put in the feeder.  The taller plant on the left is an amsonia, which I plant to do a post on.  There are asters and another amsonia as well as another assortment of plants in here.

I'm not sure why I included this, but you can see our shed and our neighbors' pretty trees.

I think my house is photogenic.  :o)

Here's more of the tree, and you can see asters on each side of the sidewalk, gay feathers, and fireworks goldenrod.

Some of the plants in here are asters, gay feathers, lavenders, and catmint.

The new bed:

The blackberry lily looks good, even with snow.

New bed from the front porch:

View to the west from the porch.  The pots on cement slabs you can't see under the snow are ours.  Larry's dad put lots of cement in, attempting to keep water out of the basement.  (It may have reduced it, but didn't stop it.)

Several people commented on the fire hydrant in my yard walk.  Watch for a post about the painting of the fire hydrant some time in the next couple of weeks.