Antigonon leptopus
Bees love coral vine, Antigonon leptopus.

October 25th, 2008
Lurid Fall Pinks

Antigonon leptopus
None of my specially selected four o’clocks come back. But there’s no getting rid of this common one. It seeds prolifically and forms huge tuberous roots as well.

Aren’t those two colors just scary together?

lurid: very vivid in color, esp. so as to create an unpleasantly harsh or unnatural effect

I’m not, nor have I ever been, a fan of pink. Apart from a very pale ice pink of some roses—like my beloved ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison)—I don’t choose pinks on purpose. (And I’d love SdlM just as well if she were pale apricot–because what really I love about her is the quartered form of her flowers, not the color.)

I can admire the warming pinks of late spring and early summer. The colors of the meadow evolve with the season from the cool bluebonnet blues of March, to the larkspur purples of April, to finally the various warm May Day Pinks. Pink seems very seasonal–for Spring.

But Fall’s colors should be fiery.

Instead my garden is currently drenched in gaudy, garish pinks. And yes, these pinks have been blooming at the same time as the oxblood lilies, the turk’s cap, and the red spider lilies against a background of indifferent purple heart. The result is a garden colorist’s nightmare. Add in some orange cosmos and butterfly weed to complete the chaos.

Pandorea ricasoliana
Podranea ricasoliana is called desert trumpet/willow vine in Austin because the flowers look strikingly similar to the desert willow’s.

And what am I doing to resolve this problem? Nothing. Because these plants survive. They survived the entire summer without any attention at all. Not one drop of supplemental water. Although the coral vine did not climb 30 feet into a tree this year as it did in the rainy summer of 2007, it has covered my entire driveway fence (while trying to eat my husband’s car). And the bees love it. It drooped in the heat but never succumbed. Coral vine is just one of those plants I associate with old Austin. I’d as soon cut it out as move to the suburbs.

The four o’clock plants died all the way down to the ground during the summer but at the first hint of rain they shot up a couple of feet in a couple of weeks and have been flowering ever since. I like the scent and the plants get big only after most of the spring wildflowers are finished. So we have a truce.

Not so with the P. ricasoliana. I spend hours hacking back the Port St. Johns creeper (aka desert trumpet vine). The vines are voracious, swallowing up a large stand of yucca, taking over the entire north border by self-layering. They also form huge tuberous roots. There seems no way to get rid of them. I started out with three plants in 4-inch pots and they have swallowed up the north side of my yard, even though frost cuts them to the ground every year. Apparently they only get enough sun in my yard to flower about three weeks of the year, in late October. I think I could like them if they were less vigorous and flowered in spring. As it is, I regret I ever introduced them.

Hobbes, a cute cat

October 12th, 2008

Hobbes is not my cat. Since he was a kitten he has frequently visited my garden and I enjoy his company. I can’t keep a cat of my own because of AJM’s asthma and allergies. Hobbes does a good job pet subbing–and I don’t have to feed him, clean his litter box, or worry about vet bills. A perfect relationship! All he demands of me is a lot of hugging and scritching.

Hobbes likes to help me transplant my wildflowers. He is also quite fond of hiding in the tall ornamental grasses and pretending to be a grown up tiger. Before sunrise, I often see him lying in wait near the pond, hoping for prey to come to the watering hole.

Typically I don’t post photos of cats. Nor do I follow memes, pass along awards, vote in blog competitions, paint my blog pink, run ads, have dancing flower gifs, or open the page with music box music. But also typically, I don’t follow the rules, not even my own. So, when The Inelegant Gardener decreed October 12, 2008 LAPCPADPOUB (Lets all post cat photos and dire poetry on our blogs) day–I decided I could finally, shamelessly, post an incredibly cute photograph of a cat.

I suspect that such a momentary lapse into cuteness will be interpreted as a sign of the endtimes.

Folly by Ivan Spaller

October 11th, 2008
My Folly

folly |ˈfälē|
noun ( pl. -lies)
1 lack of good sense; foolishness : an act of sheer folly.
2 a costly ornamental building with no practical purpose, esp. a tower or mock-Gothic ruin built in a large garden or park.

A new visitor to Zanthan Gardens last week openly admired my failed garden house project. Seeing it through someone else’s eyes, someone who did not know the history of the project and thus did not have any of the negative associations was refreshing. Yes, it was time I got over it and got on with it, I who do not get over things easily, if at all.

I spent the day moving the potted plants out from under the protection of the back porch (where they can’t be seared by summer’s pitiless sun) to the deck. I took down the raccoon barrier. I suspect that I will have a lot of broken pots and shredded plants in the pond tomorrow. But I’m working on developing a devil-may-care attitude.

On seeing the gray wall, many people have suggested that I paint it pink or purple in keeping with a Mexican-inspired folk theme that is common in my South Austin neighborhood. I often wonder if I give off the aura of an old South Austin hippie. Although I have lived here since the mid-1970s, I never was a hippie…not even in the day. (Not that I have anything against hippies; it’s just that I’ve never been in with the cool crowd, not even then.)

You see, I like the gray wall. We planned it that way. And it was the only part of the project that turned out even vaguely like we wanted. I like the way the bright green of the leaves and the yellow of the chairs (and the cannas when they’re in bloom) are intensified by the contrast against the gray.


And if the wall were pink, it would really clash with the reds of the oxblood lilies nearby. And the orange dragonfly.