Tag Archives: ‘Martha Gonzales’

Poppies as big as the house!

Papaver somniferum var. paeoniflorum

Papaver somniferum var. paeoniflorum

Thank god they were not red.

PoppyFront

The poppies I thinned in February surprised me by exploding like pink fireworks, towering over the poor ‘Martha Gonzales’ chorus line like Ziegfield showgirls. They have been stopping traffic for weeks.

PoppyBud

Betty across the street, who gave me the seeds in a small vial last fall, now tells me I must plant them there every year. I suspect they will reseed, if I leave a few before collecting the gorgeously graphic, illegal-looking seedheads; but of course, they will never perform quite the same. It would rain less or more, or be warmer or colder, or cloudier or sunnier. Gardening is not a predictable sport, even when the gardener practices consistency.

PoppyEnds

But my, what a spectacular spring it has been.

PoppyWalk

After scrambling to Google, I have determined that they are Papaver somniferum var. paeoniflorum, commonly called peony or pompom poppies. Indeed, while they aren’t fragrant, they are probably the closest we will ever get in this climate to a flower that rivals a poppy.

What Remy thought of them, far left.

What Remy thought of them, far left.

I’ve brought some indoors. They pair nicely with the shoots from the artemesias that are smothering the roses along the fence.

PoppyVase

One online source, One Stop Poppy Shop, offers them in range of colors, including a gorgeous, deep burgundy.

PoppyHead

Separation anxiety

Poppies

Here’s the thing about poppy seeds, or any other tiny seeds for that matter, if you are lazyish like me and sprinkle them into the soil to fend for themselves: They grow. And then, like a roomful of bickering children, they must be separated.

I have trouble throwing out bubble wrap and used tissue paper. You think I can toss dozens – hundreds – of living, green things with healthy roots?

Poppy1

You must, my neighbor Judy said, watching me today as I tried to perform surgery on the poppies that have sprouted in the ‘Martha Gonzales’ beds out front. I’m blaming my other neighbor, Betty, who presented me last fall with a harmless-looking little vial of seeds from Wildseed Farms out near Fredricksburg.

A week or two ago I painstakingly separated two flats’ worth for my friend Suzanne. But it looks like I have enough to cover a small field. I know, I know – keep the strong ones, toss the rest. I went on the attack again today and spread out several dozen in front of the roses.

This was probably not a good idea. I just hope they’re the orange ones.

Goodbye, little seedlings.

Goodbye, little seedlings.

Enter the trees

Trees in 30-gallon buckets, awaiting planting.

There used to be a joke about things being so slow you could see the grass grow. It doesn’t really apply in Texas, where during the summer we have to mow about once every two minutes to keep the St. Augustine from enveloping the house.

I don’t really have quite that problem, given that about 80 percent of our front yard has been covered in weeds. But now we have something that truly will take some patience and time to grow: new trees. I came home the other day from the city to find a dream delivered, thanks to my husband and my dear friend, tree wholesaler Suzanne Longley:

2 Arizona cypress, 1 olive, 1 Mexican buckeye, 1 Texas persimmon – gorgeous shape!, 1 roughleaf dogwood, 1 yaupon holly, 1 fig, 2 ‘Crepuscule’ roses and 18 ‘Martha Gonzales’ roses. The next day, her crew planted them. She helped us place them and thought we needed one more cypress – so it came a day or two later.

Almost immediately, I could see the need to move some plants and small beds I’d thrown into the landscape earlier this fall because I just had to get something into the ground.

Arizona cypress is like a small blue spruce. I believe this gorgeous, weepy-limbed variety is “Carolina sapphire,’ and they should be about twice this large in five years or so. Given the color of the house, how could we NOT have them? In this corner of the front yard, they will also help block the view of a busy street at the end of our block.

The trees turned out to be the easy part.

About a ton and a half of stone, ready to line a new bed.

When a palette of stone has your name on it, better get the epsom salts ready.

2,268 pounds of 6-inch thick Lueders Caramel Tan Wet-Sawn Limestone.

I pride myself on being quite the stone slinger, but Don had to do most of these. Very heavy.

‘Marthas’ in place, lined up like chorus girls.

Ah, the satisfaction when you’re done, of putting plants into well-prepped soil. Underneath all the weeds in our lawn is the most lovely sandy loam you can imagine. We plumped it up for this bed with 10 bags of Lady Bug Rose Magic Mix, then topped it off with five bags of native hardwood mulch.

Bring on the next project.

If you have been paying attention, you may notice some things missing now: New Plough & Hearth arbor, removed to the back yard for some other use; the stakes on it were too short to secure properly out here, given the downward slope of the yard – not from front to back but south to north – and the conundrum we created with the limestone edge of the rose bed.

Also gone: Those beautifully blooming Lindheimer muhly grasses, moved to a spot at the left back corner of the front yard. Soon to go: A silly round bed featuring the David Austin rose ‘Jude the Obscure,’ bought on impulse because a single bloom seduced me.

Soon to come: Daffodils and spring annuals to spill over the limestone edging, which looks a little too formal right now – like it’s in need of a Tuscan McMansion.