Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Not All Monkey Grass is Created Equal

When Jack and I moved into our house in 2011, included in the existing landscaping were several garden beds bordered with variegated liriope (also called lilyturf). We have never been big liriope fans and when we planted it, it was usually for functional, rather than aesthetic, purposes.  It makes a great groundcover for those spots where you need a trouble-free plant to fill in a dry, shady area or where you need something for erosion control.

Before I go further, I should say that I know people who REALLY hate liriope, which they usually call "monkey grass". The common name "monkey grass" is often used to refer to both liriope and and mondo grass. But I think the haters of monkey grass are usually referring to the spreading form of liriope called spicata. This spreading form of liriope can be invasive and rather than staying in a well-defined clump, it spreads out in all directions. So it is important to know what you are getting when you purchase anything called "monkey grass."

If you are looking for liriope, you probably want the clumping type, liriope muscari (which comes in both green and variegated forms). This type spreads, too, but the clumps simply become bigger over time. Thankfully, this is the type Jack and I inherited when we bought our house.

When we started attacking the landscaping issues around our home, we decided to divide and transplant our liriope to an area underneath a large tree in our front yard where we could not grow grass. It was a fairly shady, sloping area with quite a few tree roots at the surface of the soil. We thought the liriope would be an easy way to cover and hold the bare soil and would also hide the tree roots.  An added benefit is that liriope is such a tough plant in our area, requiring no extra care once planted. 

Being that I am a frugal gardener, we divided our liriope into many small clumps so that it would cover a larger area, and it is just now starting to fill in and take on a mature look in the bed we made. Because it is the variegated form, it adds a little brightness to the usually shady area.

I have been pleased with how this area is coming along. But an unexpected surprise has been how beautiful the flowers are on this form of liriope. It starts blooming in late August and retains a nice bloom throughout September. I tried for several days to get a picture that would show how pretty the bloom is and could never get one to do it justice. When I took this one last week, the bees were everywhere!

Planted in mass, this liriope actually makes an attractive flower bed and adds a lot of color to the late summer/early fall garden. If you are thinking of getting some, I'm sorry I don't know the cultivar name. It may be 'Variegata' but I can't say for sure. I'd recommend buying it in bloom to be sure of the flower color.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Life Lessons from the Hummingbirds

Our little group of ruby-throated hummingbirds continue to delight us. They have become welcomed-although sometimes noisy--companions for our porch-sitting as they buzz about fighting over the flowers in the garden and the nectar feeder.

It seems that in our garden, the hummingbirds and cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) are inextricable. The hummingbirds appear in early summer, just in advance of the cardinal flowers blooming, and they leave when the cardinal flowers finish.

Cardinal flower in mid-summer

So as I look out the window and see the red cardinal flowers with just a few blossoms left, I know that any day now, I'll no longer be joined on the porch by those busy, little birds. They will be on their way to their wintering spot in Mexico or Central America. I appreciate them more every day now, knowing that they will be gone soon.

Cardinal flower now.

It would be easy to be sad thinking that the hummingbirds and cardinal flowers will soon be gone and that the cold, short days of winter are just around the corner. But instead of being sad, I'll focus on enjoying each day that the hummingbirds are here, and when they are not, I'll enjoy the bright orange and yellows of the mums and pansies that we will be planting soon. And not long after that, the first of the hellebores will be budding out, followed soon by the festive white bells of the edgeworthia, and so on. Seasons come and go, and every season has something wonderful to offer a gardener.

But for today, I hear that familiar buzzing on the porch and I will sit with the hummingbirds.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Most Beautiful Cannabis Headquarters You've Ever Seen!

I'm willing to bet this is it!  And if you are like me, it's probably the only cannabis headquarters you've ever seen.

On our recent visit to Colorado, my daughter and I ran across this establishment in a little town called Lyons, Colorado, about halfway between Boulder and Estes Park.  How could we not stop to take a picture at this joint?

While people inclined to more peaceful gardens might think all these colors mixed together are one toke over the line, I think they are amazing!

I mean, what dope would not be impressed by this display?

Or this one . . . .

And, as you might expect, they put together an exceptional pot.

Although it's easy to see that I'm really high on this place, Jack thought I should mention that only the fragrance of the petunias was inhaled and that no purchase was made. 

And, of course, no one connected with the Tennessee Extension Master Gardener program is making a statement one way or the other about the legal sale of cannabis. 

But aren't the flowers lovely!!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Flowers in Colorado

My daughter and I took a trip to Colorado this past week and I was impressed by the flower displays in the towns there. Here are some pictures from Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, snapped with my cellphone as we walked around town.

I love rock gardens and many of the Estes gardens were designed around rocks and boulders. With apologies for my photographic ability (or lack thereof), here is a flower tour of downtown Estes Park.

And the mass plantings were spectacular. The flowers in cooler climates seem to have better color than we typically have here.

And finally, containers . . .

Estes is a pretty little town, but, wow, what a difference flowers make!