Friday, January 23, 2009

Narcissus tazetta 'Ziva'

Back in, oh, October, when I was loading up on winter-blooming bulbs for naturalizing, Ziva kept coming up again and again as the showiest and most reliable paperwhite for the Austin area.  I bought eight bulbs, stuck them in the ground, and crossed my fingers that they would survive the enthusiasm of the mystery ROUS that's been digging up my backyard under the cover of night.  Well, let me tell you, my back garden for the last few weeks has been filled with the sweet stench of success!

Living up to its reputation, Ziva is gorgeous and easy to grow.  While the other narcissus varieties I planted have taken their sweet time deciding whether they want to deal with Texas, Ziva's green leaves practically leapt from the soil.

But, good god, once they sprung into flower, they smelled like ass! The musky reek of Ziva reminded me of horses and livestock. At twenty paces, the smell slapped me in the face and demanded satisfaction with a pistol duel at dawn.

As pretty and harmless as they looked all lined up in a row, planting 8 bulbs was overkill on the scent front, and what with Ziva's naturalizing tendencies, next year should be rife with what we from Wisconsin dairy country ironically call "fresh country air." (Or as the t-shirts say: "Wisconsin: Smell Our Dairy Air.")

There's an ironic sort of happy ending to this olfactory horror story, though.  You may have noticed me saying "smelled," rather than "smells," and this is not because Ziva has finished blooming or is suddenly wafting BOD Man's Really Ripped Abs Fragrance on the breeze.

Now that cedar season has hit, I can't smell a damn thing, and thankfully, that that includes Ziva's fresh dairy air.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

January Bloom Day

Here in south Austin, we got our first real freeze on Tuesday night. But fear not, ye alle, for there's still some color to be found in my garden.

First up, Marilyn's Choice abutilon, which is hands-down the best abutilon I've tried:

Second up, we have winter-blooming germander, which I am shocked to report I did not kill in the 12 months since I planted it. It doesn't look spectacular like the one along Lady Bird Lake, but it's alive, so I'm proud:

Next up, some surprise bright-red hips on the Rainbow Knockout, the only one of my 5 varieties of Knockout to develop hips. This is one Knockout that definitely looks its best and grows the most in cooler weather. In the summer, it looks like a pox-ridden and jaundiced version of its winter self.

And blooming like crazy on the east-side fence is a whole bunch of white potato vine.

And here's the last of Narcissus tazetta 'Ziva,' stinking up the late afternoon garden:

No flowers here, but I'm amused by how the leaves on the far right of canna 'Australia' survived the freeze and look fresh and glossy. Actually, everything right along the house looks pretty good, which only proves how incredibly fond of insulation homebuilders were in the 1970's:

And saving the best for last, I cut a bunch of late-blooming roses to bring in as a GBBD insurance policy. Here's Gruss an Aachen in my extremely classy vase:

Stay warm, everyone!