photo: rose Heritage
David Austin‘s ‘Heritage’ rose. Austin, Texas. 2003-10-26.

October 26th, 2003
Rose ‘Heritage’

In The Rose Bible, Rayford Clayton Reddell names the English Rose ‘Heritage’ in his list of fifty immortal roses. Delicately colored and intensely scented, the cupped flowers have all the charm of old-fashioned roses. Reddell says that ‘Heritage’ is “reasonably disease-resistant”. However, it is the only rose bush in my garden that has repeated problems with black spot.

The only other complaint I have about ‘Heritage’ is that each flower loses its petal very quicky, before they fade or brown, when they are still glossy and fresh.

However, it is a very beautiful rose and one of the most strongly scented roses I have.

photo: rose Heritage

Swallowtail caterpillar
2005-04-14. Swallowtail caterpillars on bronze fennel.

October 24th, 2003
Foeniculum vulgare (fennel)

Dateline: 2003-10-24

Planted some smokey bronze fennel from Renee’s Garden (500mg for $2.49) in the vegetable garden, which I use for starting seeds over the winter because it is the sunniest and warmest part of the garden by January, after all the leaves have fallen.

Notes from the seed packet.

“Striking bronze fennel has 4 to 5 plumes of filigreed coppery leaves and lacy golden flower umbels that ripen mellow anise-flavored seeds.
“These plants are stunning additions to flower or herb beds and are major nectar hosts for many butterfly species. Season seafood, salads or cooked vegetables with sprigs of the feathery copper-bronze leaves. Tea made from the aromatic leaves or sweet seeds soothes upset stomachs and calms the nerves.”

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I’ve been dividing bulbs the last few weeks, work that is a satisfying as digging up a pot of gold.

October 3rd, 2003
Divide and Multiply

The yard was already 40 years old when I move here and filled with an established lawn, a dozen large cedar elms and many overgrown shrubs. Since there was no immediate need to do anything with it, I simply watched it over a couple of years, learning the names of the plants and thinking about what could be added and where.

In the spring, the ‘Ice Follies’ daffodils and summer snowflakes bloomed. In the early summer, a pale yellow iris. In the worst of summer, white rainlilies bloomed five days after any thunderstorm. And then in the fall, oxblood lilies and red spider lilies appeared overnight. So my first interest was in bulbs. Scott Ogden’. Garden Bulbs for the South was my bible.

After ten years I’m finding that I can’t put my spade to earth without uncovering, and sometimes slicing into, some bulbs. Grape hyacinths, Spanish bluebells, and various alliums produce offsets by the hundreds. They compensate for the tulips, certain daffodils, and true lilies that can’t stand the heat and mucky soils of central Texas.

So I’ve been dividing bulbs the last few weeks, work that is a satisfying as digging up a pot of gold. Like coins in a magic purse, the more I divide the more I have.

The advice I’ve read elsewhere says to divide Lycoris radiata in the spring, after their leaves die down and cautions that they probably won’t bloom the following fall. I find, however, that the best time to divide them is right after they bloom. Their roots are small and the ground is soft, so it’s easy to dig them up without damaging the bulbs, especially since you can see where they are. I soak them in a pail of water and with a little seaweed mix for a few hours. Dividing them in the fall allows them to do all of their growth in a new spot, amended with compost and bulb food and bloom better the following year than those left growing crowded all season.

Ditto Rhodophiala bifida. Whereas Lycoris radiata stops blooming when it gets overcrowded, Rhodophiala bifida doesn’t seem to mind. I divide mine because I can’t get enough of them. Although oxblood lilies bloom tolerably well when left to on their own, they perform outstandingly with a little loving care.

The pink rainlilies are the same. I had been afraid to disturb them. But after digging up one bunch, I discovered that although they continued to bloom like champs, they were really overcrowded. So I’ve dug them all up and now have three times as many as I did at the beginning of summer.