My feline-friendly planter is filling out. Catgrass germinates fast under the right conditions. In this bowl: lemongrass, lemon balm, Little Trudy catmint, variegated ginger mint, catgrass grown from seed.
We accomplished a great deal over this weekend despite the cooling weather. I took advantage of an early release on Friday afternoon to check out North Haven Gardens for tree and shade plant prospects. Takeaways included Picasso calla lily and White Star caladium bulbs, cat grass seed and a variegated milkweed by Hout Couture. I came very close to picking up a variegated hellebore (Snow Fever), cool literally and figuratively speaking, but refrained due to lack of experience.
Saturday included trips to several area nurseries and feed stores looking for unusual or uncommon plants. Farm-and-feed stores differ in that they rarely carry ornamentals and focus on vegetable/crop seeds and of course farm operations. I did find it fascinating to find 3 healthy Moruga Scorpion specimens at Dennis’ Farm Store in Denton that I was half-tempted to snap up (found variegated oregano and a Golden Girl salvia instead). And who could resist the adorably cute farm babies at D&L Farm and Home Store in Aubrey? I did finally add to my cat-friendly herb planter, discovering lemon balm at Texas Seasons in Celina.
After hitting up Four Seasons and Laguna Madre for variegated sedum and a pot of lemongrass, it was off to work digging up more clay to add depth to the path nearest the fence. Then, Sunday and Monday we spent the day setting the flagstone, removing the builder-installed plants, and installing our bird-and-butterfly friendly (mostly) perennial garden.
The end of March is coming fast, and we have yet to finish our yard crash. It doesn’t help that we are coming up with new ideas along the way…
A quick peek in the seed starting room shows first use of the new heat mat I recently purchased from Burpee. I’m hoping the additional bottom heat will help the heat-loving seedlings like peppers thrive. Of course, I can’t seem to have much success with starting oregano from cuttings. It seems I will have to continue to draw variegated oregano from root stock, at the risk of losing the original parent–because these herbs tend to be very sensitive to root disturbance.
However, despite the dual grow lights my hunny recently installed, I’m not having the miraculous response that I expected. The peppers are still having a difficult time thriving due to the moisture. I need to find my bottle of hydrogen peroxide and spray down the soil to kill any fungus. I’ve also had to re-sow some seeds due to some non-responsive seeds.
The loropetalums are bursting into bloom. First up is the purple fringeflower. We also took some time to flank our newly pruned Midnight Blue rose with 2 small lavender flowered lantana. Hopefully these are the dwarf kind and will form a nice carpet underneath the rose. We also planted our Home Depot petunias (blue, purple and pink) in the border. With any luck, these will thrive and spread, forming a nice lush colorful border during summer.
The blue bed is also seeing action. This is one of the most floriferous years I’ve seen Mariposa Skies iris in bloom. By my account there were at least nine buds on one plant. The irises must love this site. I dropped a couple of the creeping phloxes (Emerald Blue?) into this bed. Hopefully these perennial types will last much longer than the annual types I tried last time.
The diascia “Romeo Red” I picked up from North Haven Gardens will fill in the void in the lily bed (I should drop the name since the lilies really aren’t thriving in this bed) while my dianthus cuttings catch up. I find that it’s easier to propagate the red dianthus rather than the white, probably due to the particular cultivar. I’ve also transplanted one of last year’s Chocolate Chip ajuga cuttings I had in a planter back into this bed which will hopefully continue to spread and fill in the border.
The Oriental Limelight artemisia are bursting back into good health. I found that this particular pot had rooted into the ground, which I immediately moved to another location. The artemisia wilted but I have no doubt it bounce back. I was disappointed with the performance of the Charmed Wine oxalis and the one green shamrock (oxalis triangularis?) in this bed. Both the purple shamrocks have remained woefully stunted (perhaps due to lack of water) while the green barely clung to life. It particularly got buried when I weeded out the bed, dusted the area with Preen and layered with cypress mulch. It remains to be seen if the green will bounce back. But I am happy to report that my Origami red columbine from seed are still hanging in there. Three specimens are still living in the bed, though I have to take particular care to see that do better this year. Maybe some fertilizer?
Snapdragons are cool! Literally, they are cold-weather plants and love this chilly early spring air. I think I will have to remember to plant them in boxes again next year so that I can look forward to late winter color. I believe these are the Montego Sunset snaps that I purchased from Stokes last year. They sat unmolested and heavily mulched in the blue bed after I had given up on them late in the year, only to have dug them back up late fall early winter and placed into a box, thinking they were a salvia sport. Joke’s on me. It’s been a real joy to watch these colors progress from rose pink to sunset orange.
Much work went into the new veggie garden. I planted spinach, eggplant (Bride), arugula, gai lan, cilantro. I also transplanted some of the silver lemon thyme (which had reverted back to solid green), dropped some catgrass, Alaska nasturtium and common chive seeds in the cinderblock holes. Did I mention the leek cuttings also went into their new home? Next week I plan on adding the asparagus to the bed, after I decide on where to place them!
Wishlist plant: Emerald and gold mint or variegated mint.
Catgrass grew fast and tall after a few days under the grow lights. It’s the fastest germination I’ve ever seen in something sown from seed. Now I wish I had sourced some variegated catgrass.
I picked up a new plant during my trip to Home Depot yesterday. I was shopping for more Jiffy 7 pellets and came across a Proven Winners sedum rupestre dubbed Lemon Coral. It’s brightly colored foliage will make a great accent in my starter succulent collection. One of these days, I’ll get around to identifying my mixed pot of succulents which, incidentally weathered the winter just fine, with very little dieback. (See one of the survivors layer itself into the rosemary bed.)
My first columbine blooms! The 2nd year Origami Red and White columbines that successfully survived 2011 are displaying the first 2 buds. So exciting to finally add a new source of color in the predominantly red-themed lily bed. Never mind that there are 2 ajuga specimens in the same bed currently blooming budding blue.
The leek roots I planted have sprouted new foliage…here they are peeking through the soil in the herb bed.
Larkspur are growing tall!
Front yard shade bed looks perfect in shades of yellow, white and orange (with the occasional splash of lavender and purple). I pinched back the ornamental kale which have begun to bud and bloom, in an effort to get them to put on more foliage. The daffodils, if they decide to bloom this year, will supply some height to the bed. However there appear to be a few surprises lurking in the bed. The hakonechloa is making an early start this year. The transplanted yarrows appear to be thriving in the dry shade. The japanese painted fern is irrepressible; 2011 tried to kill it but it is coming back again. Is that clump of spindly leaves actually the tiger lilies we planted early last year? I don’t recall it being sited directly behind the crape myrtle. I found another bulb spike just about a few feet away which is probably a more accurate position of the lilies.
I snapped another picture of the future bed, with the first course of cinder blocks moved into place. I also snapped a shot of the potted plants taking advantage of this warm weather.
Salvias, salvias. Soon your numbers will increase by two.
Front yard bed pictures: I transplanted 3 Valentine dianthus to the front bed this morning and divided the two Cherry Pie coreopsis. I hope the coreopsis make it through; I’m not sure how well they take to division, but they looked ready to be halved. The tulips are slow to sprout, but it appears that all the bulbs I planted last year are finally emerging.
Petunias took an abortive attempt at blooming…the buds are drying on the plant. The potted Chocolate Chip ajuga are still blooming however.
I applied the shears to the rosemary shrub this morning. It was beginning to look poofy; I trimmed it back as close as I could approximate its original conical shape.
A lantana bud and a pepper fruit. Both early reminders of the summer heat to come.
Wishlist plant: variegated catgrass.
I couldn’t help it: I purchased a couple of salvia plants at High Country Gardens yesterday. They were on sale! Salvia dorrii ‘Desert Purple Sage’ and Salvia jurisicii ‘Blue’ will soon be added to my growing salvia collection. Now I just have to find homes for them. Salvia dorrii squats closer to the ground than the salvia greggiis, about 18″ tall and up to 36″ wide. It would be a great foot companion to a taller perennial. Salvia jurisicii reminds me of tender herb-like sages; I’m thinking I might be able to site this 12″ salvia in the blue bed where an under-performing groundcover salvia (Sinaloa) currently resides. The problem associated with moving a new tenant into the blue bed: disturbing young larkspur and tiny flax seedlings. I had also planned on adding a bag of Dutch Iris bulbs purchased this weekend at Home Depot in this same bed.
I finally got around to planting the catgrass. Let’s see how fast they germinate! I put them in some soil using a takeout plastic container for a home. I still need to find a source for variegated catgrass.