First week of March 2012

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.

3/6/2012 First of March (1)

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.)

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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.

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The leek roots I planted have sprouted new foliage…here they are peeking through the soil in the herb bed.

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Larkspur are growing tall!

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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.

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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.

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Salvias, salvias. Soon your numbers will increase by two.

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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.

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Petunias took an abortive attempt at blooming…the buds are drying on the plant. The potted Chocolate Chip ajuga are still blooming however.

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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.

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A lantana bud and a pepper fruit. Both early reminders of the summer heat to come.

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Wishlist plant: variegated catgrass.

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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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)

Cooler climes, more flowers

With the 100 degree heat behind us, the garden is bouncing back with a show of color. Of particular note are the azaleas in the front yard, already bursting with reddish-orange flowers. In the previous two weeks, we’ve seen sporadic blooms from the Autumn Monarch, which this week is in full bloom. One of the short azaleas, an Autumn Ember is also in sporadic bloom at the moment. The front yard bed is flanked by foliage-heavy Cherry Brandy gaura which have been drooping over like tresses of hair, spotted with pink flowers. Either the lack of sun or nature is causing them to sprawl, unlike the Ballerina compact white gaura which have spray in an upright manner.

What the heat didn’t kill off–one Hot Lips salvia and both coneflower specimens–emerged stronger as we approach fall weather. The vinca have demonstrated to be a sturdy annual flower, blooming even in the blistering heat. With more agreeable temperatures they are blooming their heads off…literally! The cosmos, despite being neglected during the heatwave have also proven hardy, though not any prettier. I had to deadhead and trim much of the existing growth because it all looked rather ugly in bare tree ring.

Over the summer, we’ve had an opportunity to watch the Japanese ferns die, resurrect, die, then resurrect again in a never-ending battle against the heat. Today they are represented by two compact mounds of fronds, with hopefully more growth to come. It seems that this corner would have been ideal for the surviving Hakonechloa in the front flower bed, which has dried and blistered in the sun. We plan to move this lone specimen to join the other two in the corner bed. The Kangaroo paw, incidentally, is currently devoid of flowers, but the sword-like foliage is green and healthy.

Surprisingly enough, the scraggliest Emerald Snow loropetalum is the one I discovered with flowers this morning. White star florets have popped up all over this game little plant. It was a nurseryman who contended that the loropetalums planted in near-full shade would be unlikely to bloom.

In the courtyard, what isn’t overgrown weeds is either bouncing back or cut back. I had to take the shears to several basil specimens after discovering leaf damage on them. Some critter is feasting on them quite heartily. I left the Thai basil alone, as it seemed the only specimen virtually unaffected. The pepper plants that we had great hopes yielded disappointment this year. They either disliked the soil or the heat was too much, or their foliage had been decimated by critters. The three factors combined produced lanky, nearly bare plants. What fruit survived on them are drying and dropping off. Even the ornamental peppers planted in this herb garden shrank into ghosts, unlike their neighbors in the purple bed.

The purple bed is looking quite healthy despite some die-offs (dianthus, lavender and rosemary). The barren spaces have given the bicolor sage an opportunity to take root where it can, sending up shoots everywhere. They really are too much like weeds, nearly mindless if neglected. The loropetalum in this bed is regaining its purple colors, and with the deep purple salvia and ornamental peppers flanking it, the bed is starting to look it’s supposed to. I’d like to reorganize this bed if given a chance, bring one of the purple salvias next to the walkway and move some gaura specimens around.

The salvias along the neighbor’s house have been joined by another white salvia (after losing 1 to drowning and 2 purple pastels to the heat and an overzealous weed whacker). They too are displaying their colors, from my 2 ancient red specimens to the new Royal Raspberry, from the simple whites to the Desperado Sages with their neon pink blooms. Even the potted seedlings and cuttings are taking the opportunity to give the garden some color.

The blue garden is overrun with grass and weeds. The common yarrow which were pruned early summer have not flowered in at least a month that I’ve seen. The angelonia have bloomed constantly however. What surprised me are the oxalis, which have grown a few inches taller but managed to weather the heat–I was certain that this shade lover would surrender by the time August rolled around. The annual phlox and dianthus planted in the bed are gone, if not on their way out. However, I’ve been greatly pleased by the aster sitting in the corner which has bloomed non-stop ever since we got it. The lavender-blue blooms are a welcome sight by the fence door. Currently it is starting to sprawl, which might be tidied up a bit by some trimming. I also discovered an errant lime basil seedling in this bed, which has grown into a good-sized specimen. (How I do enjoy lime basil mayo!)

I am currently clearing out the inner courtyard corner bed of dead foliage to see what has survived the summer. The calla lilies, of which only the Picasso bloomed, are toppling over from dying leaves. I am happy to report that the yellow daylily plant which I thought had died from lack of exposure is bouncing back after its neighbors have been trimmed back. One gumpo azalea did not fare so well, having lost nearly 75% of its foliage to lack of resources. I am hoping it will survive another year.

The fiance has taken it upon himself to start transplanting the Indian hawthorne alongside the house to behind the chain link fence. He’s also potted up three myrtle seedlings in hopes of taking them with us when we move some day. At the moment the seedlings are looking very unhappy in their new homes.

It looks like the weekend might be filled with gardening if this cool weather holds.