October 21st, 2005
Week 42: 10/15 – 10/21

photo: Crinum Gowenii
2005-10-19. Crinum gowenii–I think.

Dateline: 2006
I haven’t spent any time in the garden since I returned from Las Vegas (10/10). It’s been raining so I’m not needed in the watering for watering and I’ve been focusing all my attention on the kitchen remodel.

I do go out from time to time to check on my wards. The rain has brought up the paperwhite narcissus already! And here’s the Muscari six inches tall. And there’s the Narcissus simplex (given to me by kind reader, Shelly B, and obviously planted too late last year). The four o’clocks are in full flower and the oleander is looking better than its looked all summer but the plumbago has suddenly stopped flowering (too cold?)

The weeds are taking over. I prefer this problem to having to water.

Dateline: 2005
You can tell that gardening weather has returned by looking at my hands: my fingernails are broken to the quick and our blackland praire clay is ground under my nails and into my cuticles. Still warmer than normal this week, in the 80s, but it should cool off next week. Still no sign of rain.

Sunday (10/16) I pulled away the St. Augustine grass that has grown over the old stone path in the front and AJM carted the stones into the back yard. My plan is to extend the gravel path along the front. I even staked a line with string and we bought metal garden edgers. Next step: order some gravel delivered. I’ll try to do that this week.

Our newfound commitment to clean edges in the garden persuaded us to buy an electric edger/trimmer. I don’t like power tools in the garden, but one reason you haven’t seen any photos of the garden itself lately is that I’m too ashamed to take any.

The last oxblood lily faded on Tuesday (10/18) and the same day I saw the first leaves of the paperwhite narcissus poking up. There are still a couple of red spider lilies blooming.

On Wednesday (10/19) I was surprised by a stalk of crinum flowers blooming. I rescued these crinum from a construction site a couple of years ago and this is the first time they’ve ever bloomed. Crinum does not like to be moved. I think it is Crinum gowenii.

photo: Crinum Gowenii
2005-10-23. Crinum gowenii as the last flowers fade.

On Thursday (10/20) I visited TK’s garden. His back yard is covered in pecans. I kept picking them up underfoot. I’m amazed and envious. We have two pecan trees but I rarely find a pecan. Our squirrels eat them all in August.

Dateline: 2003
The air is dry so that the nights cool down to the almost chilly 50s and the days warm up to shirt-sleeve 80s. The plants are loving it as long as they get plenty of water. They dry out quickly, but they look much better than in the humid heat of summer when they take on the wilted appearance of steamed veggies. The blue skies are gorgeous, but I’d like a little rain to wash the dust and pollen out of the air.

The paperwhite narcissus leaves are poking up. Some are already 8 inches tall.

Attack of the Caterpillars
photo: Oligocentra
Invasion of the caterpillars. Poor Madame Alfred Carriere has been completely denuded.

The fall webworms Hyphantria cunea have been particularly bad this fall. My two pecan trees which came through spring without much of an infestation are almost denuded of leaves. Now the hairy little caterpillars are falling from the trees. I squish all the ones I catch. The wasps seem uninterested in them.

And the roses are being stripped bare by monster above. I think it’s Oligocentra semirufescens, or perhaps Oligocentra lignicolor.

I stripped the remaining leaves off ‘Buff Beauty’. Stripping a rose stimulates th. dormant eyes to start growing. The best time to do this is in the spring, about two weeks before pruning. But since, here in the South, fall is our spring, I decided to try it with ‘Buff Beauty’ since most of it’s leaves were badly damaged by the caterpillars. I also stripped and pruned away at ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’, but not so drastrically. ‘Souvenir del Malmaison’ is right next to MAC, but has not been attacked as viciously (yet).

Dateline: 2001
The paperwhites are sprouting. The ones that are mixed in with oxblood lilies have been sprouting for a couple of weeks now and are 10 or 12 inches tall already!. But even some of the Grand Primo are up. And also a bunch by the Japanese persimmon that I think are Chinese Sacred Lilies. The grape hyacinths have also come up and are about 5 inches tall, in established clumps.

by M Sinclair Stevens

One Response to post “Week 42: 10/15 – 10/21”

  1. From Bettijean Meyer:

    We did not have many tentworms this year but have recently had hundreds of 1 1/2inch caterpillars w/a dark red head they have practically denuded the trees of leaves.

    The birds are not interested in them. I did see a wasp-like insect attack one and kill or paralyze it and drag it away.

    This is a first for us and we are concerned about losing the trees which are on the west side of our house and provide not only the nuts but a great deal of shade against the afternoon sun. Spraying is probably not a good option as there are 3 trees of good size they are more than 12 years old (this is how long we have had this house). They do not look like the picture that you have on this page.