Azaleas, lilies, and germinating seeds

Saturday, I brought home some $1.88 azaleas that were on special at Lowes. For the price, I couldn’t resist picking up 8 of them, even though they weren’t the Encore types. I picked up two each of the Gumpo Pinks and Whites, 1 Hot Shot, 1 Macrantha Orange, 1 Crimson and a Delaware Valley White. On Sunday, I then installed them into the courtyard bed next to the fence along with the Navona, Lollypop and Red Alert lilies. I also got around to putting the Hyperion daylily as well as the Snowdrift Astilbe. I’m hoping that with the onset of summer the azaleas will receive enough shade under the myrtles to survive the Texas heat.

Prior to that, we finally got finished laying out the stone for the last front bed, next to the fence under the crape myrtle. Currently, a very small patch of the bed receives 2 hours of noon sun, but I suspect that will disappear once the myrtle leafs out. We went ahead and planted 3 hostas, Gold Standard on each corner of the bed. I also felt that after seeing the dessicated remains of Minuteman that I’d try to revive them by potting them up first. So 2 Minuteman and 2 remaining Gold Standards are sitting in pots under the full shade of Photinias, along with some salvia cuttings that I took earlier in the week.

Late Sunday night, I finally got around to testing our new seed starting venture. We had earlier in the week finished construction on a grow light in our second, unused bathroom. We invested about $85 in PVC, workshop lights and “plant” bulbs, which we used to make our DIY light plant stand. We invested about $15 in a seedling starter kit from Burpees. Then our basil, dianthus and impatiens seeds arrived from Stokes. I’m not entirely convinced that we’ll be successful growing impatiens under the light conditions, having read that these flowers absolutely require a heat mat. But we shall see. I’m also not exactly thrilled with the starter kit; the plastic warped from the hot tap water with poured in, and the plug medium was extremely messy. Those impatiens/dianthus seeds are so incredibly tiny, they need forceps to sow–I’m sure I must have lost 5-7 seeds per plug. If I don’t get roughly 200 out of the 250 seeds I supposedly planted, then I’m fairly certain this seed starting venture will be a bust. (FYI the starter kit has room for only 75 plugs.)

I forgot to mention that 1 of the dianthus that I carried with me from the patio garden and transplanted into the courtyard bed has bloomed. It was a white dianthus. I can’t wait to see the other 3 transplants to put out color…these plants are a testament to the hardiness of the species–long-lived even under harsh, transitory conditions. I have one more dianthus that I have yet to place into the landscape…and after seeing the successful bloom on the white, I’m ready to put it in. Maybe I will have some luck with the Red Peppermint seeds that I’ve started…

Damp ground, green maple

With most of the flower beds laid out, the weather has taken the opportunity to halt all attempts of finishing the job. My brand new Fiskars garden claw only saw action once this week before the rain decided to wet things down. I’ve been keeping a careful eye on the new hostas that we purchased at the big box stores. I’m worried that they’re not going to thrive much longer in their packing bags. 

New daylilies are in-house and what beauties they are. Large 3-fan specimens of Dallas Star came packed with a bonus daylily: Hyperion, a lemon-yellow flowered dormant, supposedly vigorous and fragrant. Oakes Daylilies also sent some very nice catalogs…which are even now persuading me to buy more daylilies.

My Japanese maple is causing me some concern. I have not seen any variegation on any of the leaves it has budded. For all intents and purposes, it appears like a normal, solid-color maple. I’ve read up on what might have caused this issue, and it seems that only over-fertilizing will cause it. Strangely enough, I have not made any fertilizer applications to it since I got it almost two years ago. The only difference from its old environment is that it gets direct morning sun nowadays, compared to the nearly-total shade it used dwell in. I may have to contact the nursery and see if they can offer further advice.

With all the rain, it seems my weed-and-feed activity has probably washed away. I hope the weather this weekend will allow me to make a new application.

Made in the shade

I convinced the honey that the front flower bed does indeed receive 2-4 hours of sunlight every morning…I suspect we will be reviewing our bedding plans and determine what shrubs might be suitable for the location. So far I’m convinced that at least 2 Encore azaleas, 2 nandinas and at least one green-leaved fringeflower will be represented. I’ve found a good list of shade-loving shrubs that I’ll also be using as reference.

I’m still deliberating on the placement of the kalmia. I’m not convinced that Minuet won’t overgrow its position by the door, but being a dwarf mountain laurel means it won’t reach the normal size of the species, right?

I will also have to look at the hydrangea section again…it seems there may be a subgroup of the shrub whose leaves don’t offend me. I’m not fond of the giant oak-leaved hydrangeas…I’d prefer a finer texture and smaller form.

More plant orders and a weekend chill

My Forestfarm order came in, a very nicely packed Kalmia and sprouting Hosta. The dining room table is filling up with plants and bulbs. However a sudden freeze has stalled our landscaping efforts this weekend. By midday Saturday, temperatures plummeted, and we saw snow around 8pm. Truly bizarre Texas weather…even our city Farmer’s Market was delayed for another weekend. I’m banking that this will be the last freeze of the season; the coming week temps look to be in the 70s.

I’ve put in an order with Stokes Seeds for the Xtreme Hot! Impatiens mix (250 seeds), 1 packet of Super Parfait Red Peppermint, Thai Basil, Red Rubin Basil, and Garlic Chives. It took me a long time to whittle down the Impatiens varieties, but given the recent introduction and success of the Xtreme series, it seemed logical to choose it over the Super Elfins, Accents and New Guineas. Maybe later, I will go back and pick up more color blends as well as explore other varieties such as the Athena Doubles, Orange Flash and Red Flash, and the Super Elfin XP Stellar Mix Impatiens.

A word about the dianthus: I’ve been looking to see if a “hot” blend of colors are available in the Ideal mix. It appears that the 4 surviving specimens that I transplanted to the courtyard bed may have been Telstar varieties, likely scarlet or carmine reds, and possibly a white. I have my eye on Dianthus Valentine, but I’d like to find a supplier that offers it for reasonable prices.

Before and after: landscape pix

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