Plants are leafing out in our backyard. The west foundation bed is looking alive! Dwarf vitex, crape myrtle, loropetalum and sambuca nigra are showing off some early spring growth.
October proves to be a stellar month to return to the garden. Here in Texas, it’s particularly welcome after watching so many new plantings succumb to the heat this year. Only the vigorous annuals like vinca, lantana, cosmos, and marigolds have remained colorful despite the vicious summer we experienced. Now that temperatures have become more reasonable and what little rainfall we received so far has refreshed the garden, I found that not everything was lost. What a relief!
It’s like a second spring out here. Notice that I finally got the last of the pansy flats planted into the lily bed. They’ll provide a nice rich colorful border come spring. The mums I carefully selected this season are finally in full bloom. They look so much bigger since I first planted them. I am cautious about their survival, planting them late in the year when they haven’t had much time to establish themselves before winter. I plan on mulching them heavily before frost hits. Also note the yarrow cutting behind them, along with that irrepressible dichondra/kidneyweed I mentioned in an earlier post.
In the (not-so) blue bed, the yarrow has produced several more bloom clusters. The Valentine dianthus has another flower to show off, with the promise of yet another in bud.
The Ping Tung Chinese eggplant fruit is coming along nicely. I have kept it potted throughout the year but it persists in growing out of the bottom of the pot in the herb garden. I’ve refrained from moving it while this little beauty puts on weight.
We interrupt the refreshing sights currently offered by the garden to inspect the empty spaces. Yes, those garden markers are all that remain of yet another disappointing effort to foster heucheras. Both the Purple Palace and the Amber Waves just couldn’t make it this year, which incidentally was the banner year for losing new plantings. But I’ve had terrible luck with heucheras here in Texas, which has been altogether too expensive an experiment to continue. I’ve blogged about the Caramels, the Obsidian, the Purple Palaces and the Amber Waves, the latter both dying this year. These plants just cannot take a dry heat and are too much maintenance to keep looking lush and beautiful like those in Terra Nova’s catalog.
However, some of the best comeback stories are to be discovered in this dry shade bed. We had a good rainstorm Saturday night and here is the amazing result: a Japanese painted fern resurrection. This is one of two plantings in the shade bed; this particular section gets a little more light and warmth under the crape myrtle canopy. So while it is the first to go dormant when summer hits, it is also the first to revive when weather becomes amenable. I’d love to find a way to keep these two ferns happy since they always make such an effort to put out a frond or two when I least suspect it.
Other sights and places of note: the front flower bed with the Hot Lips salvia and ever-blooming vinca show (which happens to be winding down), the planter boxes and beds filled with these tiny salvia coccinea seedlings, and the bowl which is home to a White Delight caladium and the hardy Easy Wave petunias.
The spring show is wrapping up…the last Navona lily wears its white crown in a garden bed that is gathering itself for 100+ degree weather. We had made the mistake of laying out some pots of new impatiens that we purchased at Strong’s Nursery on Saturday only to discover that the sizzling heat had baked the flowers off by Sunday.
The plants that we had positioned in the newly prepped herb garden also suffered from the heat. I fear that the pineapple mint suffered the worst, perhaps irrecoverable. The rest perked back up, especially the ornamental peppers, after liberal watering. We also added a few more plants to the herb garden: 2 Thai basils, one Sweet Basil, another Lime Basil, three types of peppers (Fresno Chili, Bonnie Bell, and one whose name I forget at the moment). I also took two of the lemon thyme cuttings and transplanted it into the bed.
I also planted a recently acquired Mint Julep Calla lily under the shade of the burgeoning Hot Lips salvia sitting in the courtyard flower bed. What was once barely a foot high is now a rounded 3-foot specimen of green. It is currently in between flower displays, but I hope it will perk back up soon.
Lastly I planted the Imperial Dark Blue Plumbago by the fence, sharing the bed with the struggling Nepeta and the newly-budding yarrows. Time will tell if the plumbago can stand the partial shade conditions.
Speaking of shade, the crape myrtles providing most of the cover to our corner flower beds have started blooming. In the front yard is a light pink specimen. The myrtle in the courtyard, nearest the fence door, is a “lavender” or purple variety. The other myrtle hasn’t staged a reveal yet, but I’m betting it is purple as well. This revelation was a lot more pleasant than expected–I was dreading that the myrtles would be of the Pepto-Bismol pink shade. Lucky us!