“Shaken not Stirred”

by ESP on June 21, 2010 · 14 comments

Lots of new blooms in the heated Patch this week.  As you can see, my front yard vitex agnus-castus tree has almost finished blooming and is setting a ton of seeds, so many seeds infact, that it is weighing the tree down to the ground.  It is always something with a vitex!

You would think that with all these seeds, I would have little vitex trees popping up everywhere, but I really don’t…

Well, maybe just a few.

The low hanging branches now require us to perform a considerable amount of stooping and absurd limbo maneuvers to get to our front door.

I put up with the nonsense and neurotic tendencies from this small tree / large shrub for one reason…pollinators, and swallowtails…they go crazy on it!

Staying at the front of Patch, my one and only rose courtesy of Lori over at http://gardenerofgoodandevil.blogspot.com/ has started to bloom, to the delight of my eldest who always complains to me about the lack of “flowers” in the Patch.

“And you said we do not have flowers.” I made a smug point of telling her, as I pulled the stalk of this lily behind her ear.

The inside color of the rose (I have no idea what it is called, Lori?) as an added bonus, picks up on the house trim color.

She does have a point though, I naturally gravitate toward foliage and texture in preference to “flowers.” The amaranth on the left has got huge because it always receives a wash of water when I empty the paddling pool, I like the way it plays on the burgundy color of the rear canna lily.

This little Mexican weeping bamboo was part of the root-ball from the main plant when I moved it from the front of the house. I planted it not really thinking it would develop into anything and kept watering and watering…finally it pushed up some tiny stalks, and made my day.  It looks great contrasting with the wide Hoja Santa leaves that I keep snapping off to allow more light to penetrate.

Talking of foliage, my pride of Barbados plants have been taking center-stage in my cactus/succulent bed this week.

You know it is summer when you see these burning embers swaying in the wind. A really great tropical look, and one really tough plant.

Another summer salvia sizzler. Even the blooms on this plant seem to be gasping for cooler air…can you feel the Texas heat yet?

And panning back a little further,  the refreshing powder-blue flowers on this Agastache ‘Blue Fortune Hyssop’ (excuse me) are really pulling in the bees.  This is one of the plants I received from High Country Gardens / Gardening Gone Wild photography competition, it seems to like Texas! This deer-proof plant has a great licorice scent to the leaves, and along with my mist flowers and vitex is an amazing bee and butterfly magnet.  The pale blue blooms visually pop against a dark backdrop such as this canna.

See!…more flowers!

Coneflowers and Phlox…

…even my oregano is following suite!

“Forgetabout the flowers, plant more nut trees ESP, y’ hear me?”

I keep seeing this albino squirrel all over the Patch, lounging here, hanging over there and I have no idea where the New Jersey accent came from. Every time I look up into the oaks, there he is…studying me with unblinking, pale pink eyes…Brrrr!

Moving on…

“Hand over the Jewels of Opar Goldmember”!

“You are mishinformed Mr Bond.. I have no jewels…a terrible shmelting accident.”

With the discovery of this little plant hiding behind this bolder, my jewel count is now up to three new Opars!  This is what they looked like at the end of last year…



Has anyone ever witnessed one of these?  A most bizarre creature that caused tears and a run into the house for my elder hobbit…all thighs and feelers and an apparently strong desire to stay firmly attached to her!

Stay Tuned for:

“Tales of the Unexpected”

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1 Robin at Getting Grounded June 22, 2010 at 9:57 pm

No flowers, indeed! I adore the mix of the coneflowers with the phlox, I might have to steal that combo idea. And good to see the lush Hoja Santa – my passalong will be perfect as it grows where it is; gotta love those huge leaves for a cooling feeling. You mention the wonderful Pride of Barbados – heat tolerant, but I lost mine in the freeze last winter. Looking for a replacement right now, because I miss it. But interestingly, the last 3 years of extremely hot summers, even for Austin, I’ve noticed the Pride of Barbados blooming earlier. Used to, I looked forward to seeing these blooms start in late July or August, but I saw some as early as April and May this year, and last year of course, they never stopped all year with the mild winter. It’s a gorgeous plant!

2 ESP June 22, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Hi Robin.

The phlox/coneflower combination does work well. Based on the amount of phlox blooms still in development, it is going to be a really good show this year.

I feel a jump over the fence to my currently vacant neighbors yard may be in order to pilfer another half-dozen Hoja Santa plants for Jenny’s GoGo this weekend. They are legitimately mine after all, the underground tubers ARE attached to my plants.
Any Austin Garden Blogger takers? Place your orders now!

Pride of Barbados?…Sorry to hear you lost yours, seems like my proximity to downtown may have helped me here. I always bury the seeds from this plant when they mature, but very few seem to ever germinate, I have gone from two to five plants, (burying the seeds), in the last five years. (Wonder what I am doing wrong)?
I agree, an amazing and colorful plant for full-sun and complete neglect…right up there with Esperanza Yellow Bells. (insert Quasimodo image here)


3 Pam/Digging June 23, 2010 at 9:47 am

Little girls like roses, no doubt about it. I have to admit my jaw dropped a little when I saw Lori’s rose growing in the Patch–a sight I thought I’d never see! But it does look nice, and it’s always good to make little girls happy, as they bring such delight to us.

I have seen one of those long-shanked bugs, but I have no idea what it is. Maybe Wizzie will tell us. Love the albino squirrel!

4 ESP June 23, 2010 at 4:08 pm

You have that right Pam! She had a wide smile when I pointed out the bloom.
Shocking I know, the Patch rose, I can hardly believe it myself…that one day I should be able to see roses from my front room windows.

The bug was a really odd looking critter, I tried to figure out what it was but had absolutely no success, come on Wizzie!

Brrr, don’t mention the squirrel (looks nervously up to the trees).

5 Linda Lehmusvirta June 23, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Flowers galore!! And foliage galore. Must have that agastache. If it made it through drought & freeze, it’s on my list of beautiful foliage and “girly” flowers. Am curious to get an ID on that insect, especially if it chases hobbits!

6 ESP June 23, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Hi Linda.

The agastache has superceded all my expectations and is steaming through the heat with very little water. It was tiny when I put it in the ground last year…it has grown very fast, yes I highly recommend it.

The insect not only chases hobbits but it refuses to get off them! She was freaking out! I said that it was just a fly and to stop being a ninny, but no, this was a little different, and on closer inspection, I would have probably had the same screaming reaction if it was stuck to my shoulder :-)


7 Lori June 24, 2010 at 3:48 am

Hi, Philip! Things are looking glorious in the Patch!

Your rose is Rosette Delizy. In cooler weather the pink and yellow should show more contrast. It looks like it’s settling in happily, and I’m charmed that the hobbit finds it charming! :D

As for the hoja santa, I’d love to try some. I have a kind of scary amount of ugly privacy fence showing now that I’ve hacked all my dead bamboo muhly down to the ground. This sounds like a fun substitute, and I’ve been curious about cooking with it.

The Pride of Barbados looks glorious. I need to get my house resided and repainted already so I can finally plant the lone ungardened sideyard in glorious hot colors!

Hi Lori.

Thanks for the ID on the rose, and yes, it seems to be doing very well in its new home, and it is her favorite plant!
Okay on the hoja santa…I will hop the fence! I am not sure how it will handle being dug up this time of year…we will see.
The Pride of Barbados is in full tilt…cannot have too much of this plant in our long hot summers.
Good luck with your house.


8 ESP June 24, 2010 at 9:12 am

Dear ESP,

How are you Pride-of-Barbados up and blooming already? Did you mulch them over the winter?
I’m in San Antonio, and mine are just now a foot high. Our cold Winter attacked them. Yours look great!
I’m jealous!

Fougères at verdantsanctuary.blogspot.com

Hi Fougères. Welcome to the ESP.

My pride of Barbados have grown at an alarming rate recently, perhaps a combination of a wet winter then hot weather? No, I did nothing to them, no mulch…they are quite well protected though with a fence and other foliage surrounding them. I hope yours spring soon.


9 Laura June 24, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Your kids are adorable. What a wonderland to play in!

10 ESP June 24, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Hi Laura, thanks, pity the wonderland is so hot and humid right now!

11 Germi June 26, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Friend ESP!!!
I have photographic evidence of lovely flowers in The Patch, but as you know me and the Girl Hobbit are like THIS, so I will agree with her. Not enough flowers (sidelong glance and a wink)… plant MORE (cough!) FLOWERS!!!
I show her pictures to all of my friends like I am a proud Auntie! Not often I meet a Hobbit so fashionable and articulate… BFF’s! That photo of her with the lily behind her ear is the END – beautiful!!! It may have to be my desktop image this week…
I hope Hobbit the Younger is still playing “buggy claws” – he has a knack…
And the summer drink here has become the refreshing Opala, thanks to marvelous Leah! Sigh! The Patch stays with me and I am now seeing it in a completely new way – it is even MORE beautiful and dense with mystery…
I am VERY happy to see the Pride of Barbados back, I was waiting… and the Jewels of Opar! somehow I must find some… are they edible? Oh, no – I’ve become one of THOSE gardeners! Save me from the mundane day to dayness of only thinking about plants that can be eaten! But I DID learn today that Hoya Santa is edible and is often used in Mexico as a tortilla substitute! I didn’t know THAT! (oh I am doomed, aren’t I?)
Beware of squirrels – once one threw an avocado at my head (after taking a big bite from it) and I ran indoors to the sound of its maniacal chittering. They are mean. I didn’t deserve that!
AHHhhh.. to have time to visit The Patch again! Such beauty! It is going to be another glorious, if sweltering summer for you, I can tell!
That is a nasty long legged bug – make sure not to swallow it while laughing at me – you may not be able to cough this one out!
Many hearty cheers to everyone!
Witchy witchy G!

12 ESP June 27, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Hi G.

I know, I have plenty of flowers! And now I see where your allegiance lies Auntie G! Okay, Okay I will plant a few more I promise, but don’t even think about suggesting Patch annuals :-) She loves the jewelled necklace you gave her and keeps it in a secret place, I find the buggy claws in very unlikely locations, they can give you quite the conniption in low light conditions if you are not prepared for them! A conniption that will invariably end up with a foot landing (and flying up into the air) on one of the bouncy balls!

Yes the Pride is back with a vengeance, I was also concerned that the freezes may have finished them, and yes the jewels…my count so far is five but they are very small, it will be interesting to see how fast they grow. I have not heard or read that they are edible…No Germi…you cannot turn into one of THOSE gardeners…NOOOO…not YOU!!! Promise me! As you know I have a fair amount of Hoja Santa, and yes we used to cook with it a lot – En Papillote! Chunks of Talapia with lemongrass and whatever wrapped in these leaves and cooked indirectly for only a few minutes on the barbie are great. The leaves impart a very subtly aniseed flavor to the food, keeping the moisture and flavor locked in. Love this plant, pity the foliage looks like hanging old handkerchiefs after the first freeze!

That squirrel lounges all over the Patch getting fanned and fed grapes from the other squirrels, it is quite bizarre…and the way it looks down at me…pink eyes…unblinking…(trails off)

It was great to have you visit Ivette, we all really enjoyed the day and it was memorable right down to my final bug inhalation. Leah says since the fateful day I now sound like a cicada when I am asleep!


13 Les June 28, 2010 at 5:23 am

I love vitex and its unexpected blue color on a tree. I wrote an article about it for our customer newsletter and just had to include all the old believes about it helping to maintain one’s celibacy. I just can’t let good plants lie without bringing up a storied past.

BTW, sorry to hear England lost to Germany and by more than a point as well.

14 ESP June 28, 2010 at 8:54 am

Hi Les.
It is an unusual tree, We have a lot of it in and around the Patch and does it pull in the insect and bee population! The celibacy connection is a new one on me!
Yes…poor England, quite a hammering by Germany…now the Argentina vs Germany should be a really interesting game.

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