Coconut thyme! and other plantings

A Tuesday herb sale at Calloway’s yielded a pot of Coconut thyme. This thyme has a lighter texture and stringy habit compared to the upright lemon variegated or the lime thyme I currently have. I took some rooted cuttings in hopes of having a 2nd planting soon. So far, the cuttings appear to be surviving in the bathroom nursery.

The Autumn Embers and Monarch are currently in full bloom. Since we cleaned up the front bed, they are front-and-center the main attraction in the bed, along with the white-flowering loropetalum. Our late bloomer, Autumn Twist is laden with buds but has yet to make a bloom. Given that we’ve only seen two seasons of color last year from this particular specimen, we’re hoping for a good spring show. My guess is that it’s just not as vigorous as the red- or scarlet-flowering azaleas.

Even the Hot Shot azalea sitting in the lily bed is ahead of the Autumn Twist, already boasting some open blooms. The shrub itself has reverted back to a mostly-green foliage, though still a darker shade than all the rest of the azaleas. Of the bargain-priced azaleas, the Macrantha orange has the best foliage, looking completely lush and full despite coming out of a harsh winter season. It sits directly under a crape myrtle, but I can’t imagine what other factors have caused it to appear so vigorous. The Delaware Valley White and the Crimson azaleas are about as spindly-looking as the medium-height Encores in the front bed, and while I anticipate them to flower well this year, I expect them to also look fuller due to early-season feeding.

The hunny got some mulching done, raked up the remaining leaves in the back yard,  planted the white gauras to flank the Midnight Blue Rose, and got the newest oxalis plants into the lily bed. He also managed to redo the border on the rosemary topiary, though I’m not sure if any of the work is justified given the health of the plant. He also made the observation that the japanese painted fern in back of the shade garden looks particularly vigorous, counting out 2-3 more fronds than last we saw it. I’m still concerned that the other painted fern hasn’t made a showing yet.

This Ecosense brand spray from Ortho appears to be working on my hostas. Barely any nibbles since I last sprayed them heavily. Of course, I have yet to put down some bug killer around the base of the plants. If the weather continues to stay dry this weekend, I plan on getting that done.

I have to mark the passing of my red salvia plant. It did not survive whatever caused it damage (possibly weed killer). I plan on replacing it and the soil it sits in with last year’s cutting, which hopefully will grow up fast to fill the void. The other red salvia seems to be hanging in there, though looking a little better than its sibling.

Arboretum, nurseries, and gardening this past weekend

The Dallas Arboretum was packed this weekend, so much so that we had to circle the place looking for parking. But it was definitely the place to see tulips and azalea during the warm spring weather.

We headed out to Home Depot, Lowes and Strongs as well to pick up some variegated society garlic, 2 Palace Purple heuchera, 2 Wide Brim hostas, 2 Charmed Wine oxalis and several bags of mulch, compost, humus and soil. The honey finally got his rose planted in time to see its first bloom. However we have concerns with the leaf yellowing on the lower extremities of the rose bush.

We got about 6 bags of pine bark mulch in the salvia bed, after I had toiled last weekend putting weed block fabric down. The 2cf bags of pine bark gave enough coverage on the bed, much less bags used compared to shredded mulch. However, I am concerned that 2 of my red salvias are ailing–in fact, looking like they are dying. I suspect they may have received lethal doses of weed killer in previous weeks. I am crossing my fingers that they will survive (they survived sitting in a pot for almost 2 years). Luckily, I have volunteer cuttings ready to replace them should the need arise. I also need to work on getting the Crimson Pirates into this bed…they’ve been sitting on the kitchen table too long.

It’s been exciting to observe the changes happening in all the beds. The blue bed is perhaps the showiest at this time. The yarrows form a verdant mounding backdrop to all the color coming in. The purple oxalis are beautifully robust (and flowering), the violas in full bloom, and the scabiosa gangly and flowering as well. I should remember to deadhead and collect scabiosa seed if possible. I’ve placed the 2nd sinaloa sage into the bed, along with the two variegated felicia. While working the bed, I discovered 2 phlox starts growing up against the rocks–one had a distinctive, pale blue flower that I remembered. I dug them up to grow them indoors, in hopes of that the weed killer wouldn’t affect them. Now I am just waiting to put Sea Breeze salvia seedlings into the bed.

Speaking of seedlings, nearly all but the columbines that I seeded last weekend, have sprouted. Speediest out of the gate were the marigolds. Everything else has followed suit, save for the columbines–which take a few days more than usual. Those petunias and ice plants are particularly tiny! I will need to remember to keep them under the dome a little longer than the others. I’m also happy to report that planting the garlic chives thickly and keeping them covered with a humidity dome has produced favorable results. Now I just need to sow more garlic chives. Since I emptied out our bathroom nursery, I have a little more counter space to work with. But first I have to work on getting the previous wave of seedlings potted and placed outside. The basil seedlings also need hardening off; with the warm weather, it’s time to put them outside. I should sow more of the Red Rubin basil since they will look good in the purple bed. I forgot that I had some Lime Basil seeds to sow as well.

While I’m on the subject of herbs…the herb garden sits still unfinished. I’ve only planted the lime thyme and the golden oregano in the cinder block border. I have yet to move the other oregano, thymes, and pineapple mint. Those herbs planted from last year are now cozy neighbors, jutting up against each other in the corners of the bed. I’m reluctant to move them now since they look so good together, but it’s only a matter of time before the pineapple mint takes over. The rosemary suffered some frost burn this past winter, but there is evidence of a lot of new growth on all of its branches–so I imagine it is doing quite well, unlike our rosemary topiary. I am considering installing the lavender in the herb garden’s back row.

The shade garden in front gathered the most newcomers this weekend. I added one specimen of the Gold Standard hosta, the 2 Wide Brims, and the 2 Purple Palace heuchera. I’m also excited to see that both of the foxtails have prominent plume shoots above ground, and the japanese painted fern in back has also sent out several fronds. The golden hakone grass are back this spring, showing off vibrant citrine yellow blades of grass–really brightening the area. The honey put down several bags of black mulch, which is punching up the color of the new additions. I am hoping the tiger lilies give us a show this summer; in the mean time, I am still debating on what border plants to add to the bed, aside from impatiens.

The front flower bed was the messiest to begin with; overgrown with weeds and in dire need of cleaning and shearing. Most of the vinca remains have been removed, the coreopsis and salvia have been trimmed back and general maintenance performed. The centerpiece loropetalum is stealing the show, drenched in countless white fringe flowers. I am thinking that the nandina flanking it need to be pruned into a rounder shape sometime in the future. The Victoria blue salvia that I’ve left in the bed are sprouting at the roots; so I’m glad to have left them in this bed so they can come back. The compact white ballerina gaura has grown back in force, nearly a foot high after I cleaned it. However, the pink gaura (Cherry Brandy and Passionate Blush) aren’t as vigorous, only still crowning at this time. I took some cuttings of Passionate Blush in hopes of propagating it. Sadly, neither the hakone grass nor the kangaroo paw have made a reappearance in this bed and are most likely victims of our vicious winter. I’m still crossing my fingers that the kangaroo paw may come back.

The only decorative bed in front is the gardenia bed, bordered by kale and viola. Sadly, this winter may have taken a toll on the gardenia; much of its leaves are pale, dry and look ready to drop. We have to take care not to overwater it, but I’m not sure if it’s going to survive another year. It is truly ghastly.

3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (1) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (2) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (3) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (4) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (5) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (6) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (7) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (8) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (9) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (10) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (11) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (12) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (13) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (14) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (15) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (16) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (17)

Dallas Blooms 2011

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Seed starting 2011 part 5

This weekend I filled up the 2nd tray of Jiffy 7 coir pellets (Professional Greenhouse 72), 72 seeds in all. For the harder-to-grow seeds, I attempted to triple and quadruple some of the seeds in hopes that stronger seedlings result.

The list? Easy Wave (The Flag) Petunias, Seabreeze salvia farinacea, Lady in Red salvia coccinea, Impatiens Xtreme Hot! Mix, Origami Blue and Red Columbines, Stardust Delosperma, Durango Outback Mix marigolds.

On our trip to NHG this past Saturday, we bought a Midnight Blue rose (with several closed buds already on it) and a Lime-scented thyme. For some reason I did not find good specimens of Coconut thyme at NHG…so I will most likely pick them up elsewhere, maybe Calloway’s. I also bought two packets of seeds: garlic chives and lime basil. Too late I discovered that a couple of chives are just now sprouting in the same pot as the Iona Blue pansy. Based on a pot of chives I saw at NHG, I sowed 6-7 seeds of the used packet of chives that I had left over in 2 3″ pots. Perhaps growing them thick is the key.

I brought out the tray of vinca seedlings into the light. With counter space at a premium, I’ve had to do some fancy rearranging in our bathroom greenhouse. I decided to put out all the pepper plants, including the ornamentals, out in the yard to make room. I’ve also set out the tallest of the hosta plants. I imagine I also be putting out the 2 cupheas sitting in the bathtub…they haven’t done anything since I put them in there, so I believe they would prefer a stronger light source.

I noticed that through neglect one of the Oriental Limelight artemisias nearly died back into the pot. Luckily, a little water restored it, though some stalks were lost in the process. I’m still trying to decide if I should turn them loose in the landscape or just keep them potted.

By the way, I found this free online planner that meets most of my criteria for designing a garden bed: http://www.smallblueprinter.com/garden/planner.html

The following sights currently on view in the garden: plumes of foxtail ferns shooting up, a healthy crown of leaf buds on Prairie Sky Hosta, blue flowering Chocolate Chip ajuga, sword like fan of leaves on the hardy amaryllis, daffodil buds peeking through the ground, white loropetalum in full bloom, violas and scabiosa also blooming heartily, purple oxalis looking spectacular.

3/14/2011 Buds (1) 3/14/2011 Buds (2) 3/14/2011 Buds (3) 3/14/2011 Buds (4) 3/14/2011 Buds (5) 3/14/2011 Buds (6) 3/14/2011 Buds (7)

Also this weekend, finally accomplished setting down weed mat on the salvia wall. Next mission: gravel or mulch, not sure yet. In the herb garden, transplanted one of the golden oreganos and the lime thyme. I’ll need more soil/compost to finish transplanting the rest of the herbs in the cinderblock wall.

Late winter garden update

3/8/2011 Asahi Zuru Leafing OutThe biggest challenge in the outdoor space is the henbit and broadleaf weed invasion that has dominated all of our yards. Because of unseasonably warm weather in February, the weeds grew in and spread like wildfire. We’ve sprayed the lawns twice, after taking stock of the situation, because the infestation is extreme. Hopefully the weedkiller we’ve applied will make the difference so we can finally get to applying the preventive.

3/8/2011 A Bundle of Tiger LiliesSome observations I’ve made of the outdoor space: Prairie Sky hosta is displaying a crown of leaf buds, Emerald Snow loropetalums are blooming, daylilies have all leafed, yarrows are spreading. I’ve done some additional pruning and mulching on salvias. I’ve transplanted the Japanese maple into its new home, an 18″x18″ redwood cedar box. Yesterday, I planted 2 scabiosas that I obtained from Home Depot and added a Sinaloa sage to the blue bed. I brought indoors the other Sinaloa sage due to some serious dieback after going without water for several days. I am uncertain at this time but I believe that one of the foxtail ferns is attempting to make a comeback. However I don’t know how it will fare given the cooler temperatures we’ve been seeing lately. This morning I had the honey plant a bag of Tiger lilies purchased from Home Depot in the front yard shade bed. Given their vigorous nature, I feel comfortable in knowing that these Tiger lilies will endure in this space.

In addition to my Home Depot purchases, I have a lavender and a bag of Crimson Pirate daylilies that have yet to be planted.

3/8/2011 Mushrooms in my Hosta?Indoor space: all the hostas have now begun to sprout. They must like sitting in the bathtub, getting warm and cozy. I transplanted all the seedlings in the first cell pack into their own pots, with only a few basil and one pepper plant lost in the transition. I’m debating on whether to put them outside; but currently cool temperatures prohibit that.

Did I mention the vinca have sprouted within a few days? I should bring them into the light soon, I imagine. Also it appears that the golden fleece are making a showing…though the sprouts are extremely tiny. At this point, I highly doubt that they are daisies, but I’m hoping.

I bought a Jiffy tray full of coir pellets this weekend. Ever since the 2nd tray of seedlings has been exposed to air, some of the seedlings have perished (ice plants) while other seeds have failed to sprout (phlox/blue knoll chrysanthemum). Because I’ve had some luck with the coir pellets, I think I will use them from now on. They seem easier to transplant than the Burpee XL Growing system. In addition to the seedling tray, I also bought a packet of convulvulus.

Need to plant those cool season annuals now!