Yard plan and whirlwind weekend buys

We covered a lot of ground in the first weekend of March, literally speaking. From Chambersville Tree Farms to Covington’s Nursery, we amassed a truck-bed full of plants. So many in fact, that one resourceful canine thought we could do without one. I’ll tag them for now and call out some of our plant selections in future posts.

First Haul, Mostly Bedding and Container Plants Closeup - 2nd Haul 2nd Haul

After determining that he needed to set the flagstone differently, (in sand as I had originally argued) the man began the arduous task of digging up/destroying all the topsoil and weed mat we had already laid down the previous weekend, breaking a few of the stone in the process. A frustrating outcome to be sure as we had initially paid for the labor to remove the sod the first time around. To redo that work seems such a waste!

A Mudpit While It Rains - Flagstone Path 2nd Pass North Wall Bed

Unfortunately, all our plans were stymied by week-long rain. It’s evident that we probably won’t be able to return to the yard crash until the following Sunday or Monday at the earliest. This also disrupts any plans to visit more nurseries in search of our focal tree (Metro Maples in Ft Worth is at the top of our list).

I invested in a garden planning app to get my fix in the mean time. Garden Puzzle is a decent enough desktop application with a solid database of flora. I found it by way of Better Homes and Gardens’ online design app. Interestingly enough, I can also import plant designs that I worked over with Photoshop to fill out what is missing from the GP desktop database.

2016 Proposed Front Bed Summer Layout

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!

3/27/2012 March New Plants (4) 3/27/2012 March New Plants (5) 3/27/2012 March New Plants (6) 3/27/2012 March New Plants (7)

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)

Laboring over divisions and stumpless in color

I had some extra time this morning prior to a doctor’s appointment to putter around in the garden. I took some cuttings of yellow salvia greggii, tricolor sage, and variegated oregano to foster indoors. Meanwhile I discovered it was time  to replant the lime thyme and the variegated oregano since there were clear signs of root congestion in their cinderblock homes.  It wasn’t too difficult trimming down the roots and dividing both plants; I had desired more clones of these plants and now I have at least 2 of them out in the herb garden, with baby cuttings currently fostered in my patio planter boxes.

2/27/2012 Stumpless in Color (3) 2/27/2012 Stumpless in Color (4) 2/27/2012 Stumpless in Color (15)

Still on my list for cuttings, divisions and replanting: coreopsis, catmint, dianthus, dusty miller, hakonechloa, gaura, white salvia greggii, Sierra San Antonio salvia greggii, basil, and possibly the variegated society garlic. Dividing the gauras will be tricky…the front yard gaura has grown into a monster, and the two flanking our rose look imposing.

Meanwhile, the ajuga cuttings I took recently have begun to bloom. The lily bed is afire with red/white dianthus and pansies. The Valentines look especially vigorous!

2/27/2012 Stumpless in Color (2) 2/27/2012 Stumpless in Color (6) 2/27/2012 Stumpless in Color (7) 2/27/2012 Stumpless in Color (8) 2/27/2012 Stumpless in Color (9) 2/27/2012 Stumpless in Color (10)

Purple flames arise from our purple loropetalum! Emerald Snow is blanketed in white fringes. Elsewhere, signs of life emerging from the tulips in the front bed. And those giant grape hyacinths are looking thick and healthy!

2/27/2012 Stumpless in Color (5) 2/27/2012 Stumpless in Color (11) 2/27/2012 Stumpless in Color (12) 2/27/2012 Stumpless in Color (13)

Taking a quick peek at the Jiffy seedlings, it appears most have already germinated. I expect to retain the dome for at least another week or two.

2/27/2012 Stumpless in Color (14)

And then back to the stump-sized hole in the ground! Stump has been removed! The man decided he just couldn’t handle another day of sawing and digging and hired some professionals to grind down the remains.

2/27/2012 Stumpless in Color (1)

A Saturday in June

That time of year again when all the remaining plants you had left on your to-do list finally get planted. Since the temps in North Texas warm up in the vicinity of 100, anything not in the ground tends to bake in their thin plastic pots. I got around to planting the rest of the Purple Star verbena, the majority of the ornamental pepper seedlings, felicia, tricolor sage cuttings, leftover marigold seedlings, and a few of the lemon thyme cuttings. And because I couldn’t bore a hole in my last ceramic pot (a freebie from Kathy), I had to transplant the Aztec red verbena, a dusty miller and the last red-eyed white vinca into a planter box.

I spent the day ducking in and out of the heat, clearing debris and dried out plantings (leftover violas), trimming vigorous plants (zealous Thai basil), and weeding wherever I could. In some places like the tree ring, I tamped down loose and exposed plantings and filled holes dug by industrious squirrels. Tons of the cosmos seeds are coming up now, and I am waiting eagerly to see the results of this week’s cosmos sowing.

While gardening, I made some exciting discoveries. The one remaining thai chili pepper is bearing fruit. It had been flowering for the past week, and today I found 3 fruit on it, with several more nubs showing.

6/11/2011 Thai Chili Peppers fruiting (1) 6/11/2011 Thai Chili Peppers fruiting (2)

A couple more of the vincas have bloomed; one from my February starts, while another from the outdoor starts. Both seemed to be in the pink color family. Several more vinca seedlings are already budding, including the two I left in my planter box. The neighboring Confetti lantanas have nearly tripled in size since planting, as well as the Purple Star verbena which get the most exposure in the front yard bed.

6/11/2011 Vinca Intdoor started seedling 6/11/2011 Vinca Outdoor started seedling

The daylilies are still flowering strong. An observation I made of the front bed Dallas Stars is that they are a good 1-2 feet taller than the Dallas Star in near-full shade. Still a no-show however is the Hyperion daylily, though I did notice it had a single scape on it. Whether it had already bloomed or planned to bloom is a mystery.

6/11/2011 Dallas Star daylily in shade 6/11/2011 Dallas Star daylily in shade closeup 6/11/2011 Hyperion daylily scape

I’m so disappointed that none of my home-started Easy Wave petunias are red. I was hoping for a patriotic planter bowl for the Fourth of July, but currently everything in the bowl is either blue or white. I expected at least 1 out of the 10 seeds I purchased to be a red petunia (I sowed 9, and 8 are currently planted), but it seems that this wasn’t the case. Next time I plan to purchase the colors separately–and yes, I will grow them again since they were relatively easy to start and grow as it warmed up. (Just keep them covered during the first month as tiny seedlings.)

6/11/2011 Easy Wave Blue and White Petunias 6/11/2011 Easy Wave Blue and White Petunias 6/11/2011 Easy Wave Blue Petunias

6/11/2011 An all-white branch of a pineapple mintI hacked down a lot of the wildly growing pineapple mints and hot & spicy oregano. A shame I didn’t get to use most of them, but right now they are strictly ornamental. I have to wonder: if I took a purely cream-white cutting of the pineapple mint, would it continue grow white or will side shoots revert to green or variegation? I’m intrigued because despite the heat, this solid white shoot remains happy, if a little crisped on the edges.

New wishlist plant: variegated lantana camara Samantha aka Lemon Swirl, lantana camara Greg Grant, and variegated lantana montevidensis.