New cat perch, Bloomer’s super ideas, basil tips, frozen comebacks?

Wait a minute! What month is this?

purple aster

It’s always fun when fall asters and mums bloom alongside May’s daylilies. They’re not in full power flower, of course. But with the cloudy days we’ve had, they’re giving us a preview of what to expect when autumn brings us truly shorter daylight.

Last weekend, I was still on major cleanup patrol, since May’s a heavy month for chores. I cut back the asters and mums along with the spurias, spiderworts, Salvia greggiis and the columbines. For starters.  I’m leaving a few penstemon seed heads. They tend to take their sweet time.

On Amelia’s fence side, I got a surprise, this Habranthus robustus.

Habranthus robustus

Thanks to designer Patrick Kirwin for the confirmation!  For years, I’ve scattered rain lilies around the garden, both Zephyranthes & Habranthus. Most just don’t work for me, so I was very curious about this wide gray-tinged foliage that’s been out for months.

Last year I figured I was taking a big chance when I planted the native heartleaf skullcap (Scutellaria ovata ssp. bracteata), in the front bed.

Heartleaf skullcap Scutellaria ovata ssp. bracteata
Since that heavy soil isn’t too dense after years of compost and mulch, it was worth a try for the gray foliage in morning shade and late afternoon filtered sun.

Heartleaf skullcap leaves
My one plant is already spreading in its second year, so I add it to the “success” balance sheet. Although it retreats in summer, its rhizomes and tubers keep busy until the leaves emerge in cool weather.

Out in back, when I had an elderly Keiffer pear cut down years ago, the guy left a 20″ stump. He said, “I figure you’d like to put a pot on it.”  Actually, that was the last thing on my mind!

Anyway, someone had given me a slab of limestone that I planned to turn into a patio table. I never got around to it, so one day I stuck it on the pear stump. In 4.5 seconds, Spencer was on top. The cat perch was born!

cat perch with Spencer cat

Now, Spencer is failing at age 19. He was 10 when he trundled to our house after his family dumped him when they moved. In sympathy, the pear trunk recently collapsed. We considered many options, including nabbing a tree stump from an arborist. Instead, we hit on a solution that has totally transformed the cat perch. Sam was on it in 2.5 seconds.

Cat perch Vietnamese pot with cat Sam

At Miguel’s Imports, it took me 10.2 seconds to spot this Vietnamese pot (handy tape measure in my pocket, too). Greg laid decomposed granite underneath to level it. It’s a luxurious way to use a good pot, but it’s so elegant!  And what the heck, the cats deserve some nice “furniture,” too.

This week on CTG, Tom and I are thrilled to welcome back our good friend, Marcus Young from Bloomers in Elgin. If you’ve never been there, you gotta go! He and his very talented team know how to put together truly elegant combinations. And since they garden here, too, they know what works. We couldn’t possibly feature everything he brought, but here’s his CTG list. One of many that had us fascinated is the Emu bush, Eremophila Summertime Blue, good in clay soil & hardy to 25º. A shrub for heat & sun, and lovely flowers. But that’s only one of his enticements!

Emu bush, Eremophila Summertime Blue

Trisha tantalizes us, too, with sweet basils, including her favorites and tips on cultivation. Next week, she features miniatures, purples, and ornamentals. Here’s her lists and recipes! I must try her lemon artichoke pesto!

Daphne answers the million-dollar question: how long do we wait to see if cycads and palms made it back?

I will say that I’ve seen bottlebrush shrubs coming back, gardeners watching the first tiny leaves on anacacho orchids, and of course, our cycads on the rebound. To my astonishment, gingers, alpinias, and my firespike (Odontonema stricta) made it back.

Plus, this week, Daphne had me scrambling when I realized I’d been misspelling artemisia for a couple of years! Gosh, what you can learn on PBS.

Until next week, Linda