Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils

The Many Beautiful Azaleas Blooming Today in My Mississippi Yard

 

This post will be brief. It is azalea season throughout the South. Even ratty, unkempt, abandoned homes, boast some gorgeous flowering azaleas right now. In the rear of the above photo is a deep burgundy-colored azalea. I forgot to get a close-up this morning.

Right now I feel I should be hosting a garden party every day. The vast array of colorful azalea flowers makes my head spin on a good day.

 

Most of the azaleas in my yard were here when we moved into the home; however, we have planted perhaps another dozen. Two dozen? Maybe.

 

Early morning and evening as the sun goes down are the most breathtaking, especially when you observe the flowers with the light coming through the petals.

I even enjoy “plain” white. It provides good contrast to all the other colors and is brilliant in its own right.

My favorite by far is my native Florida flame azalea (Rhodendron austrinum). It is a deciduous azalea and has grown quite a bit in the last five or six years. I haven’t babied it.

I keep it mulched and have fertilized it maybe twice since I planted it. I never water it, other than when I first planted it. A great return on the investment of a one gallon plant.

A lot of people here cut their azaleas back, I guess to renew them. It isn’t necessary, but to each their own. I’ve seen folks cut back 8′ tall plants to a foot or so. The horror! But eventually they leaf out, produce a lot of new growth, and flower again.

Maybe some of mine could use a whacking. But even my leggiest azaleas grow to their own heart’s desire.

I do have two plants that I prune back a bit every other year or so but that is because they are planted in a bed and have thinned out to the point where you can “see under their skirt”. And they are planted with other ornamentals that have suffered when they are shaded by the straggly and rapidly growing azaleas which tower above. So I give them a little chop chop, after they finish flowering in April.

I have quite an “investment” in azaleas now.

Many of them I received for free from a friend. So I do not know “varieties”. Sometimes that is a bit irksome. Indeed, I do have a few young plants with the tags still attached and I need to write those down and transfer the names to a metal sign.

Some of these larger azaleas are so commonly seen around, I figure they must be old varieties that were very popular in the 70s and 80s.

One color I am lacking is lavender. But I’m okay with that.

Well, what do you know. I found a photo of the deeper burgundy azalea from yesterday! See below.

One nice thing about the azaleas is they grow easily here. My soil is pretty terrible for trying to grow a vegetable garden. But the azaleas? Other than those I watered at planting, fuss-free. I don’t do anything and they reward us every year.

I hope you are enjoying your own azaleas, or perhaps planning to take a spring Sunday drive around the South to view others flowering azaleas. There are some real showstoppers out there.

 

Yours in Gardening,

The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright 2019 The Garden Maiden

@thegardenmaiden

Advertisements
Categories: Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils, What's Blooming | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

There is a Fungus Among Us: Fungi in My Mississippi Garden

IMG_20180819_102112

One of my favorite pizzas to order just for myself is Fungus Amongus at Tiny Tim’s Pizza on the beautiful square in Fayetteville, Arkansas. GO HOGS! It was a staple during my undergraduate and graduate school years (especially after I met my husband to be), whenever I could afford to eat out. Now, when I make a visit to town and pop up to the square, I head into the West Mountain Brewing Company (connected to Tim’s), belly up to the bar, and order a fresh pint and my favorite pizza. On occasion old friends and UA Alumni stop in to visit and break bread together.  But I digress…

I love mushrooms. My husband does not. A few years ago I purchased some identification books on edible mushrooms to help me out. All That The Rain Promises and More by David Arora and Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America by David W. Fischer and Alan E. Bessette.  Beautiful books.  The problem is that I believe I mostly have NON-EDIBLE fungi in my yard. So those two books are not really the help I need.  Or are they? And well, to be honest, when it comes to harvesting wild and not 100% identified items from the yard to ingest, you don’t want to mess around. The other mushroom book that I have was given to me by someone (let’s be honest, it was my Mom, always thinking of me) who rescued it from the trash dumpster of the grade school in my home town. A nice hardback copy of The Mushroom Handbook by Louis C.D. Krieger, copyright 1967. It has a few color plates, but isn’t exactly laid out in a taxonomic key fashion.

IMG_20180820_115128

What I really need is a mushroom class with an expert where I can take notes and photos and become more confident. Then I can reap the rewards of eating what I find, but also being able to correctly identify even the non-edible fungi.

I have a relatively shady yard and garden. Throughout the year I am greeted with a wide array of fungi, or mushrooms of all sorts. I imagine that after dark my garden is filled with pixies and sprites dancing and having a delightful time.

With a few years having passed since my book purchases, I had supposed I would have identified nearly every fungi/mushroom growing on my one acre. I have failed. Therefore I am going to go ahead and start posting photos of what I find! Because either I will eventually get them identified, or someone who sees this will help me out. I still don’t think I would eat anything identified over the internet unless it was by an expert, someone with considerable experience. You know, I just don’t want to spend my mushroom-eating years DEAD. 😉

Photos taken Saturday August 18, 2018. (We had been receiving some rain, finally.) I attempted to take two images of each mushroom for identification, one with side view of caps and one with top view. In some photos I used a garden trowel or my hand for scale.

IMG_20180819_141323 IMG_20180819_141436

Next:

IMG_20180819_141515 IMG_20180819_141605

Next:

IMG_20180819_141717 IMG_20180819_141819

Next: We have watched squirrels, harvest these and just go to town on them while sitting on our porch. I’m pretty sure it was this one anyway…. I took photos last August, but I’d have to go and dig into my hard drive to be certain. So to quote from one of my favorite movies, “Hey, Dr. Jones, No time for love”.

IMG_20180819_131042 IMG_20180819_141912

IMG_20180819_141957

Next:

IMG_20180819_131135

Next:

IMG_20180819_131430 IMG_20180819_142125

Next:

IMG_20180819_131917

Next:

IMG_20180819_132027

Next:

IMG_20180819_132157 IMG_20180819_132243

Next:

IMG_20180819_132325

Next:

IMG_20180819_132421 IMG_20180819_132501

Next:

IMG_20180819_132610 IMG_20180819_132724

Next:

IMG_20180819_132805 IMG_20180819_132839

Next:

IMG_20180819_132937 IMG_20180819_133041

Next: (I think this is the same species as one of the first sets of images I included)

IMG_20180819_133137

Next: (huge! my hand and then my husband’s hand for scale)

IMG_20180819_133214 IMG_20180819_133431

Next:

IMG_20180819_133301

Well, that’s it. All of the images here were just in my front yard. I didn’t even make it to the backyard before the next round of rain started.  My location is Mississippi Gulf Coast, about a half hour north of the beach zone, but closer to Louisiana. If that helps with identification.

I found a pretty cool site Saturday:  The Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club. They had a nice page on species found in Mississippi. I think at least one set of the larger mushrooms are Bolete genus?

So while my husband does not like mushrooms, he does enjoy making pizza, even when I hand him sliced mushrooms for my half. Hopefully someday I will be able to harvest edible wild mushrooms for my own tasty pizza at home.

Your Shroomy Friend!

The Garden Maiden

 

All images and text copyright 2018 The Garden Maiden

Categories: Crazy Plant Things I See, Fungi/Mushrooms/Mycology, Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils | Tags: , , , , ,

Prey of the Praying Mantid

IMG_20180729_174200

Before I get into the garden horrors of this afternoon, let’s recap. Last week you may remember I put a few photos on Twitter about the praying mantid (Mantis spp.) I discovered in my Garden of Goods and Evils. I was working on one of my patios, watering some plants in a raised bed. It was hot. Very hot. And humid, although we were in need of rain. That’s why I was was watering with the hose. It was late evening and the mosquitoes were bugging me (yeah, that’s good) to the point where I just wanted to get back in the house. It was at this moment that something caught my eye. A flittering. A fluttering. A rapid movement under the topside one of my arbors covered in vines.

“What in the world is that?” I said to myself out loud. (I do enjoy a good conversation with myself). It looked like a moth that was really enjoying something on my Aristolochia vine. But there were no open flowers. I finished watering, put the hose down on the ground, and walked over the arbor. I stared up in amazement, nay, shock and awe.  The moth was not enjoying itself. A praying mantid was enjoying the moth. The taste of the moth. The head to be exact.

IMG_20180724_180840

I exclaimed for my husband to get back outside. “You won’t believe what I am seeing!” I yelled toward the house. I ran inside, grabbed my old cell phone and my Canon 60D (only cell phone shots on this blog post). I should have grabbed my tripod too, but I was in a rush.

IMG_20180724_181057

Back through the sunroom and out into the yard, I slowly crept up to the arbor. She was still there, feasting. The first images were blurred by the wings of the moth flapping as he tried to escape. Or perhaps it was just nerves twitching as the brain was being quickly eaten by the praying mantid.

IMG_20180724_180503

Even after the moth ceased to move, the praying mantid would dip her head into the neck cavity of the moth, grab a juicy bite, raise her head, and turn to look at me. I was interrupting. Nonetheless, it made it tricky to get a clear photo in the fading light, under the arbor. It was difficult to look away, though it should have been easy.

IMG_20180724_175738

I continued to take photos with both cameras until I could no longer stand to be eaten myself, by mosquitoes of course.

A few days later passing back through the patio, my husband said to me, “Whoa, check this out, a good photo opportunity.”

IMG_20180729_174434

Indeed, another (or the same?) praying mantid was hanging out on the flowering stems of my potted chives. Back into the house I ran for my camera and phone.  I was really wishing I had grabbed my extension tubes for my 50mm so that I could practice some macro photography with the little dude. But alas, my time was once again shortened by the constant slapping of mosquitoes on my arms and legs.

Today I was walking across the patio to dump my compost bucket out back when I saw a beautiful monarch butterfly gently nestled in the stems of my chives. OH, wow, I thought. It is just sitting there in the light rain, perhaps taking a break from flying. I went ahead and made a deposit into the compost pile and returned to the patio garden area.

I again looked in on the butterfly. But the more I stared, the more I really began to look, I realized it wasn’t moving at all. And there was something odd about the wings. The wings were all backwards or upside down. Pointed in the wrong direction. No! No! No! Could it be? I slowly peered down into the chives into the wings of the monarch. I shook my head (which was more than the butterfly would ever do again for its head was missing) and stepped back. Did I see that correctly? I stepped back up to the pot of chives and looked down again among the stems. Indeed, the butterfly’s head was gone. I quickly looked up and down the chive stems for the praying mantid. Who else is currently in my garden eating heads? I don’t want to draw from stereotypes, but lets face it. Who was recently eating the head of a moth and was recently seen on the chives? A praying mantid. I once again ran back into the house (hey, with all this running why am I so behind on losing weight?), grabbed my phone and returned to the scene of the crime.

IMG_20180731_152158

I took a few photos in the rain.

IMG_20180731_152058

Then I began to look again for the culprit. Any culprit.

IMG_20180731_152004

There she/he was…hanging out calmly on a sage plant about 18″ away from the chives.

IMG_20180731_151930

I would say she looked guilty, but considering how extremely creepy they look anyway, who knows? Is this enough to convict the praying mantid? Perhaps not.

Well, you just never know what lurks ahead or above in my Garden of Goods and Evils. Perhaps there is something lurking in your garden as well. Take time to observe and you never know what you will find.

Good links with information about the Praying Mantid (Mantis spp.) from Iowa State University Extension and the University of Kentucky College of Ag

 

Connect with my Facebook Fan Page: Tales from Hort Side

 

Yours In Garden Horror,

The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright 2018 The Garden Maiden

Categories: Garden Insects, Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils | Tags: , , , , , , ,
Pollinator Gardens.org

Enhancing pollinator habitat through research, education and design

Keep Mississippi Beautiful

Working to inspire and educate Mississippians to take action everyday to impact, improve, and beautify their community environment.

Meadows. Seed. Art.

native gardens from seed

Easy Wildflowers

Wild flowers from The Forest of Dean

Always Growing

A garden is good for both body and soul

In the Garden with Arkansas Extension Horticulture

Welcome to In the Garden with Arkansas Extension Horticulture, a blog about gardening in Arkansas.

%d bloggers like this: