2013 Gardening Notes

January and February has seen waves of warm weather alternating with cold. With temperatures rising into the 70s at times, winter landscape was tricked into showing some green. Even our weed lawn sprang into verdant purple bloom this month. However, there was also enough rainfall to entice some of the herbaceous plants to put out new growth, as seen in the pot of Oriental Limelight artemisia growing on our doorstep. I expect to see one or two more cold snaps before we permanently warm up for March and outdoor planting. As of this morning, I rescued a cutting from my old succulent planter to place into a tiny sake cup for planting. If it takes root, I’ll be able to resurrect one of the winter-killed plants.

Leeks are so robust! These are three roots I saved from the kitchen scraps and dunked in some water.

2/7/2013 Leek Bulbs 1 2/7/2013 Leek Bulbs 2 2/7/2013 Leek Bulbs 3

Spring is coming…the evidence in photos below.

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Wishlist plants: Golden Japanese Stone Crop (Sedum makinoi Ogon) and Bleeding Heart ‘Golden Heart (Dicentra spectabilis).

Who ate my garlic chives?

I noticed something nibbled the tops off my garlic chives last week. I inspected it this morning and noticed it was growing back. I can’t think of anything roaming about in the cold, wet few days that feasts on garlic chives.  One of the variegated society garlic clumps nearly got uprooted since it had been in the way. (I have several common chives potted up that were untouched.)

12/20/2011 Chives, Mums & Asters (1)

Asters and mums are making a second round of blooms. Obviously not as floriferous as the first round, especially since I neglected to deadhead them.

12/20/2011 Chives, Mums & Asters (2) 12/20/2011 Chives, Mums & Asters (4)

The larkspur seedlings are coming along…I’m thinking of uprooting the yarrow in this bed and replacing it with a stand of angelonia come spring.

12/20/2011 Chives, Mums & Asters (3)

Freeze alert

After deceptively mild weather for the Thanksgiving, it was evident that we were experiencing our last patches of warm weather before the cold front hit this weekend. My holiday shopping weekend was cut short by sudden drops in temperature, and I knew I would have to bring in my plants for the last time this year.

11/29/2011 Freeze Alert (1) 11/29/2011 Freeze Alert (2)

I missed the opportunity to bring in the eggplant yesterday, so I had to rush it into the bathroom greenhouse to see if it could be rescued. I’m not sure if the fruit will make it. It’s pretty short for what I’m used to in Chinese eggplants.

11/29/2011 Freeze Alert (3) 11/29/2011 Freeze Alert (4) 11/29/2011 Freeze Alert (5)

Outdoors, the damage from the overnight frosts has manifested into dead/wilted potato and basil plants. The traditional large leaf basils like Red Rubin and Genovese experienced the most damage. The lime, Pesto Perpetuo and Thai basil display browning less so. One of the Thai basil specimens appears to be laughing off the cold; but sooner or later, all the basils will be done.

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The succulent planter seems to be hanging on. Whereas the petunia/caladium planter bowl shows signs of receding.

11/29/2011 Freeze Alert (10) 11/29/2011 Freeze Alert (11)

I found a surprise greeting me at one of the asters in the blue bed. A few blooms hid at the base of the plant, near the mulch line. I believe this one was Aster novi-belgii Believer.

11/29/2011 Freeze Alert (13) 11/29/2011 Freeze Alert (14)

Pansies, violas, ornamental kale, petunias, miscellaneous herbs, foxtail ferns, loropetalum, are all still hanging in there. The dusty millers must be enjoying their new location and this cool weather; they have doubled in size since I moved them from the front flower bed. I guess they prefer the protection. I expected the lemon verbena to die back down since it’s considered an annual, but it seems to enduring in the mixed planter box along with the chives, golden oregano, and aster cuttings. (Those are the remaining vincas hanging over from a neighboring planter. And a Red Rubin basil hiding out as well!)

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What a difference A/C makes

5/28/2011 First Dallas Stars daylily bloomsYes, the cooling guys finally arrived and installed our A/C today. Timely, given that temps rose into the high 90s today. The heat hit like a brick wall when I stepped outside, and it wasn’t any better indoors until the new unit started pumping in cold air. Thank goodness…it was the motivation I needed to get out and start planting.

5/28/2011 More Navona BloomsI picked up some more plants today…I swear this is the last time (until we pick up our Route 66 coreopsis next weekend). At Grow It, I snagged a red trailing verbena, a White Nymph salvia coccinea, 2 rose-eyed white vinca, and 4 dusty millers. At Strong’s, we gathered an 18-count flat of bedding plants: 9 Silver Dust dusty millers, 4 Victoria Blue salvias, 5 petunias (in denim, purple and yellow). To wrap it all up, we stopped at Lowes to pick up a bag of StaGreen garden soil and Hapigro organic compost.

5/28/2011 Coreopsis bloomingWhile the man proceeded to get his haul of Victoria Blues and dusty millers established in the front yard bed, I worked on potting up several of the newest additions, along with some plants waiting for a home. Thus I was able to plant dusty millers, petunias, sweet potato vine, white nymph salvia, a couple of the Lanai verbena, pesto basil, thai basil, and the seedling genovese and lime basils. I’m taking a chance with the seedling basils, since the genovese are barely 2-3 weeks old. I also repotted the eggplant in its own pot, as well as a calla lily which had fallen out of its very confining quart-sized home. Lastly, I situated my Moonglow salvia in its new home, in front of our rosemary topiary, in a deep hole full of good garden soil. I hope to see it prosper.

5/28/2011 Dallas Star blooming in shadeI still have more verbena to plant, as well as 2 Dixie Chip ajugas, tricolor sage, ornamental peppers, petunias, common chives, dusty millers, and vinca. I’m unhappy to report that my lemon verbena appears to have perished after going without water for two days. It’s possible I can take a cutting and coax it back to life, but I’m skeptical at this point. Also, because of the rain last week, 2 of the peppers (jalapeno and thai chili) in the vegetable/herb garden appear to be suffering from serious wilt. I suspect that the ground compacted and exposed roots. One of them even had a pepper already growing; so I added more soil mix to their bases in hopes of rescuing them.

5/28/2011 White Pansy lost in the weedsFinally some blooms observed in the garden today: the first Dallas Stars (3 blooms), more Navona Asiatic lily blooms, another yellow marigold, coreopsis, and pansies discovered in the most unlikeliest of spaces…in the weeds and between the rocks.

 More planting scheduled for tomorrow…and perhaps I’ll finally get some use out of my ceramic pots.

5/28/2011 Pansies growing between the stonework

And wow…I’m sore and exhausted. Thankfully the house is 70 degrees cold. Time to pass out in nice cool room in a nice cool bed. The puppies are happy too…they’re burrowed beneath their blankets again.

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.