Blue salvias, red azaleas

Salvia greggii Nuevo Leon, an electric blue/purple flowered Autumn sage. The flowers are significantly smaller than the standard salvia greggii bloom. Shrubby habit similar to other greggiis.

3/29/2012 Salvias and Azaleas (1) 3/29/2012 Salvias and Azaleas (2)

Bicolor salvia, or salvia sinaloensis, or sinaloa sage, more of a cobalt blue. Sparse flowering groundcover-like salvia. Foliage becomes maroon- or purple-edged during cool temps. Will die back into the ground if it the temps are too chilly, but bursts back to life vigorously as soon as the temps turn mild. Flower size is also small, and notice the white ticking on the lip.

3/29/2012 Salvias and Azaleas (3)

Violet salvia greggii. Early morning light gives this bloom a reddish-tinge. In full sunlight, this is a distinctly violet flower. Vigorous grower and bloomer that can grow 2-3 ft wide and tall if not sheared back.

3/29/2012 Salvias and Azaleas (4)

Purple pastel salvia greggii. In morning light, the blooms have a redder cast, but in full sunlight the blooms are a pastel purple as described. Paler than the violet, it seems to have a more relaxed habit than violet salvia greggii. It does receive a little less sun as well, so position might be affecting it.

3/29/2012 Salvias and Azaleas (5) 3/29/2012 Salvias and Azaleas (6)

Victoria Blue salvia farinacea in bud. These are classified as annuals, but here in Texas, these Victorias die back into the ground and spring back to life as soon as the weather turns mild. Here, in morning light, the buds look dusky lavender, but in full sunlight, they appear as a brighter bluish-lavender shade.

3/29/2012 Salvias and Azaleas (9) 3/29/2012 Salvias and Azaleas (10)

Azaleas are bursting with color this week! The Autumn Twist started quietly with blooms obscured by foliage, but there are plenty of buds on it today. Autumn Embers #1 and Autumn Monarch are lovely. Autumn Embers #2 (long-established) hasn’t caught up yet.

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The snow-in-summer asiatic jasmine has doubled in height. Meanwhile, Mariposa Skies iris has issued its fourth bloom. I am waiting to see if this will rebloom as promised. Meanwhile, tray of alyssum sits by patio door.

3/29/2012 Salvias and Azaleas (15) 3/29/2012 Salvias and Azaleas (7) 3/29/2012 Salvias and Azaleas (8) 3/29/2012 Salvias and Azaleas (16)

New plants, growing seeds under lights fail

Let this be a reminder for the fall and 2013 spring planting season: forgetting to lower the grow lights at the lowest possible distance results in very weedy, weak seedlings. I had to throw out a batch of snapdragon seedlings due to spindly and frail stems that made them unsustainable during transplant. This wasted hours of my time, electricity and a batch of Jiffy 7 pellets. Never mind that it was probably too late to plant the snapdragons this late into the year, I must remember to lower the lights next time. I will most likely write an article reminder to self on what to plant for fall, including snaps, violas (which I have not planted), alyssum, and all manner of spring annuals.

Also resulting in fail: 2 out of 3 dusty miller cuttings rotted at the stems. They may perhaps need a drier, sandy medium; or it may just behoove to start them from seed. These Silver Dust dusty millers seem to thrive in cool shade; since the doorway strip plants have tripled in size since I moved them there. They show a lot of vigor in cooler temps.

The zinnias I started in pellets are also thin and reedy, but I suspect that once I move them into pots into the warm weather, they will thrive. I have already transplanted the coleus seedlings this past weekend, kept them under lights to encourage them to root out. The alyssum I started are sitting outside, hardening off, but I suspect they are too frail to keep out in full sun despite the near-80s temps (mild IMO). My man has been attempting to keep them watered in hopes that they will thrive.

Not thriving: my salvia purchases from High Country Gardens. I’m really disappointed with these starts. They had weak stems, and the one sign of green from the Salvia jurisicii ‘Blue’ fell off; and the leaves of the Salvia dorrii ‘Desert Purple Sage’ have dried off one by one. I am giving them one more week under lights before I request a refund from HCG.

This past Saturday I sated my lust for new plant life by heading off to Strong’s Nursery to pick out some new and interesting specimens. They had a new batch of salvia greggii Nuevo Leon, boasting some of the most neon purple-blue flowers I’ve ever seen. These are more vibrant than the standard salvia greggii violet and purple pastel specimens I currently have in the garden. However, with Nuevo Leon, the leaves are more lanceolate, have a milder scent, and the flowers are much smaller. I hope that it will at least be just as floriferous.

3/27/2012 March New Plants (2)

Cuban Gold duranta and 2 pots of Tequila Sunrise Variegated coreopsis also went into our cart. I was attracted to the bright yellow foliage of the duranta which grows to about 2 feet high. This may be a good plant to position in the sunnier end of the front shade bed; though I worry that it might blend in too much with the hakonechloa and the coleus I intend to plant in that bed. The variegated coreopsis was a surprise; this was the first time we found a coreopsis with variegated leaves. We’re excited to have this plant join our gardens and are now searching for a spot to plant them in.

3/27/2012 March New Plants (3)

We also picked up two Texas Gold columbines for the front yard shade bed. After the spectacular flower show our Origami Red and White gave us, we can’t wait to see this columbine produce its own show. I must remember to give it plenty of water for this first year planting. We also add two red verbenas to the front yard flower bed to compliment our red/white tulip and azalea show going strong right now. Must water, must water, must water!

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Sunday afterwards, we dropped by North Haven Gardens in search of new plants. However, all we came away with were herbs: golden sage, mexican marigold, dwarf curry mini, and lavender Kew Red.

3/27/2012 March New Plants (1)

The first Midnight Blue bloom for this year appeared this week, followed by what I am sure will be a cascade of rose blooms. The first thing to observe is how large and vibrant these cool weather blooms will be.

3/27/2012 March New Plants (8)

March seedlings and the last winter heave

We’ve dipped back down into the 50s this weekend, after a short 2 weeks of pleasant spring weather. I suspect this is winter’s last gasp and we are headed into the 70s-90s for the next 3-6 weeks. We’re also seeing some rain for this weekend, which means work is suspended on the new garden bed. But at least we’ll know the seal is tight on the newly-repaired sprinkler pipes.

I sowed some Coreopsis tinctoria Roulette seeds today, brought in the Pesto Perpetuo basil and snapped up some pix of the bathroom greenhouse. The dusty miller cuttings are having a hard time, so I have covered 2 of them to see if a more controlled environment will help them thrive. The thyme and oregano cuttings are certainly doing well, putting out new growth. I’m still wary of the salvia cuttings, not sure if they are developing new roots under the surface. The alyssum have begun to sprout; I will be monitoring their progress in the coming weeks to see how well they grow. I’m anxious to get some of their pastel colors out into the gardens in time for Easter. We shall see!

3/9/2012 March Seedlings (1) 3/9/2012 March Seedlings (2) 3/9/2012 March Seedlings (3) 3/9/2012 March Seedlings (4) 3/9/2012 March Seedlings (5) 3/9/2012 March Seedlings (6)

Late May seed sowing

5/26/2011 Basil and Sage Cuttings 1Timing may be late since we are on the cusp of summer, but the ground is wet enough for seed sowing. I dumped all the alyssum packets in the shade bed (Wonderland White) and on the bald patches of ground surrounding the fence door (Deep Purple and Mulberry Mix). I’m not holding my breath that the seeds will take, but it would make me happy to see the empty areas disappear under some kind of color.

I put all of the cosmos seeds in, after scraping the tree ring soil into a trough. My honey finished the sowing mission by dumping the rest of the Durango marigolds and Lady in Red salvias also in the same ring. No point in hanging onto them; most seeds have a shelf life.

As a side mission, I also planted out 6 columbine seedlings that have long sat under the grow lights. They appeared to be browning–from age, I hope–so I went ahead and potted them up, put them out in the lily bed.5/26/2011 Basil and Sage Cuttings 2

While I was inspecting the cutting planter boxes, I was pleased to discover that one of the Tricolor sages has a healthy root system breaking out of the jiffy pot (should be about 4 weeks old now). All of the sage and basil cuttings appear to be putting on new foliage–a great sign! The Thai basil seedlings in the same planter box are taking off, growing several branches and heavy foliage. I think with all the warm weather the rest of the week, I will bring out the basil and salvia seedlings from the bathroom greenhouse. Heck, I might just bring them all out.

Storm tossed Tuesdays

Still more rain today. Still no A/C today. Email from the landlord says unit has shipped, waiting on installer. I can’t blame the installer; who’d want to work in the rain?

So no new pictures today. Observations aplenty however. Like, how there are no Asiatic lilies blooming right now, just waiting on the Navonas to bust out. Along with the Navonas, all our Dallas Stars have buds on them, and still more buds to come. Can’t wait to see them in bloom. I think I spotted a couple of buds on our new Stellas; but the other one doesn’t seem to be cooperating. Their leaves have turned yellow quite a bit, so I imagine they are acclimating to their new home. The only daylily without a single bud this year is–you guessed it–Hyperion. I asked the honey to cut back the Hot Lips which has again overgrown the lily bed. Perhaps the Hyperion will benefit from the shearing.

The replanted callas might be enjoying all this rainfall. Some of the Flame specimens I replanted along the salvia wall seem perky; the leaves appear lively and healthy-looking. I should think about rehoming some of the potted callas.

The dozens of coral salvia seedlings are assembling into a formidable army of growing plants. Some of the transplants are militantly swelling in size and girth–crazy! I hope the Ladies in Red are similarly vigorous. I’d hate to see them overrun by the corals…I was counting on a brilliant red display in the front yard. In addition, I hope to finally get the cosmos seeds sowed into the tree ring. along with more marigolds; and alyssum in the bare patches near the front yard fence line. I figure I might as well sow them somewhere and hope they don’t mind the short growing season.

5/24/2011 Spider Lily Bulbs Needing PlantingEgads, temps are looking to be around the 90s the rest of this week, with the wet weather behind us. I expect humidity and a lot of lying about the house…until the A/C is fixed. I’m hoping we don’t go cooler-less this weekend…I want to get some work done in the garden before summer hits. Those two bags of Spider lily bulbs won’t plant themselves!!!

On my garden wishlist today: variegated Snow Fairy caryopteris and variegated lacecap hydrangeas.