Posts Tagged With: Tales from the Hort Side

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

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

Prey of the Praying Mantid

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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I took a few photos in the rain.

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

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

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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: , , , , , , ,

I Like Big Blooms!

A few of my favorite big bloomers from my own garden: Below Clerodendrum bungei

And now for something completely different: a bit of parody from one of my favorite dance songs of the 90’s: Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-lot. That song has been stuck in my head on repeat since 1992 and comes out at the oddest moments.  Last year was the song’s 25th year anniversary and it was featured on NPR. My parody lyrics below.

…”Oh, my God, Becky, look at her flowers, they are so big, I can’t believe they’re just so round…I like Big Blooms and I cannot lie, you other gardeners can’t deny. When a flower opens up and it’s as big as a plate, get your camera, do not wait! …I’m hooked and I can’t stop starin’… Oh flower, I wanna get wit ya and take ya picture…Other gardeners tried to warn me, but those flowers you got makes me so…HAPPY!” 2017 The Garden Maiden.

Newly added to my garden last summer, Confederate rose (Hibiscus mutabilis) is an old fashioned Southern garden staple.  I was surprised to find out one day that the blossoms change color from whitish pink to deep pink by evening.  I admired it in the morning, left for work, came home, looked across the yard and was like, WTH Dude?

Daylillies may be common, but their flowers are an uncommon delight.

I think I finally have enough moonflower seed saved to last me for many years.   I love to marvel at the flowers that open in late afternoon and fade by the next morning, adding drama to the evening garden.

Finally, and by no means is this the end of my favorite big bloomers, in my own yard or otherwise, however, this is a personal favorite…Aristolochia gigantea. I was first introduced to this plant while living in Hobe Sound, Florida (thank you previous renter).  I have also grown this vine in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and now in Mississippi. Previously I have grown the larger (yes, folks, even larger) flowering variety: Brasiliensis  There are some tropicals I don’t mind fussing over to bring indoors.  This is one.

Check out my Big Blooms board on Pinterest

Yours in Gardening,

 

The Garden Maiden

copyright 2018 The Garden Maiden

 

 

 

 

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