One month later

The winter garden is finally shuttering up the show. The annual holdouts such as the angelonia and the ornamental peppers have given up their last seasonal colors. The man and I had done some diligent pruning and clean up of the front beds, such as shearing back the gaura, removing dead coleus and cutting back the salvias, including the Victoria Blues. I had planted some violas and ornamental cabbages/kale in the gardenia bed, which have been blanketed by fall debris. Too bad we didn’t have a way to compost all the autumn leaves; that’s a project for next year, hopefully. 

The purple garden has been cleaned of the dried out ornamental peppers. I’ve also removed as much of the bicolor salvia as I could. Here’s to hoping that my reseeding efforts will bear fruit in the spring. I’ve sprinkled as much of the seeds closer to the side of the house, where it’s been a challenge to grow anything. The only plant that’s managed to endure in the damp ground that killed off a lavender and a rosemary is the citronella plant  (Orange Fizz) which has soared to a whopping 3 feet high. Time will tell if it can survive the frost. Future plans: rearrange lorapetalum and purple salvias in a straight line, plant Picasso and Devils Wine callas.

I’ve gone ahead and planted the blueberry dianthus in the blue bed, after uprooting and repotting the plumbago and applying a generous layer of mulch. I’ve also taken some rooted bits of Wood’s Blue aster and replanted them. I finished off the bed with plantings of violas. It is perhaps the only color left…the oxalis top growth are turning an unflattering shade of brown.

I am happy to see that the herb garden is thriving, thanks to departure of the basil plants. The rosemary is enjoying good circulation, full sun and perhaps has grown more in the last few weeks than it has all summer. The oreganos, thyme and pineapple mint are sprawling happily…too happily in fact, since I’ve had to shear back the mint. I am hoping to clone the Hot & Spicy Oregano in the opposite corner of the bed, so that I can have a second specimen. The man and I have decided on two priorities for this herb garden in 2011: 1) plant only basil in this bed, and 2) purchase some fencing to keep the pups out. We might just pot up the pepper plants or set them up in a separate bed.

I’ve removed some of the Flame Callas from the courtyard flower bed. The bed is looking rather bare, especially with the annual azaleas dying off. I plan on moving the daylilies in this bed as well as transplanting the rest of the callas out. I hope to get some more red and white dianthus to completely border the bed. Some more of those chocolate ajuga might produce a red, white, and blue border in the spring. The question is: what shrubbery to plant for next year?

Shade garden: more ferns, caladiums and nandinas perhaps. I definitely want to look into variegated liriope as an option. I hope the hakonechloa come back.

Speaking of which, those dwarf mondo grasses bordering our gravel extension are doing quite well. I hope they will grow hardy in time for next summer’s drought and heat.

Summer rains bring summer blooms

Last week’s storms brought a flush of color to this week’s garden. Particularly the salvia greggii and the Desperado sage are looking colorful; nearly every specimen along the neighbor wall is in bloom (the whites have started to bud). I am concerned however with a Purple Pastel that has suffered from what looks like overwatering, perhaps due to poor drainage. The Hot Lips (salvia microphylla), while not in bloom, grows like a weed. All three specimens, front yard and courtyard, have tripled their original size.

The crape myrtles are still in bloom, though not crowned as heavily as they were before the rains. The daylilies in front are still blooming; along with the coreopsis, white coneflowers, the white gauras, vincas, kangaroo paw, Victoria salvias, and the Dahlberg daisies. Those daisies, incidentally, have also doubled in size since we first planted them…I can’t remember a day that I have NOT seen them covered with tiny yellow flowers.

The last of the Picasso calla blooms is receding, and I am unhappy that the Flames nor the Devil’s Wine have produced any blooms. The spotted foliage however towers over most of the plantings in the courtyard flower bed…perhaps due to less light. I plan to dig up the bulbs come winter and replant them in a better spot.

Other bloomers: catmint, oxalis, Imperial dark blue plumbago, angelonia, dianthus, verbena, ageratum, Prairie Sky Hosta, bicolor sage. Even the coleus are flowering (which need to be sheared off).

Casualty list: several of the purple/violet dianthus specimens have died off, most likely due to the extreme heat. Not such a great loss, since they were mostly considered annuals. However, I’m not pleased to see them so perishable after past successes with dianthus. Most of the viola are also gone, fried by the heat. The empty border they abandoned by the front door bed needs to be repopulated…I’m thinking of installing some variegated liriope (silver dragons or aztec grass).

On death’s door: my Tuscan Blue rosemary is down to half of its trunks…it doesn’t appear that it will hang on any longer. I need to transplant it immediately and amend the bed further to permit a larger specimen. Also included on this list is the aforementioned Purple pastel salvia.

On the rebound: the chocolate chip ajuga which long suffered in its planter box is now thriving in its part/full shade location in the courtyard bed. I also believe the japanese painted ferns are coming back, after causing a worry when they dropped all their old fronds. They have new fragile leaves on display. The purple loropetalum is also still putting out new branches and leaves, but I am concerned that it is not gaining as much bulk as I expect.

That time of year again

In the past week, the weather in Texas has been unseasonably warm. Hard to believe it’s winter! The fiance and I raked up some leaves, moved some stone work, and did general clean up work in the front and central yards. Getting a general feel for the planting areas…much of the yards are in part to deep shade. This will be an interesting change in landscaping, dealing with shade-friendly plants. Right now my attention is on the Chocolate Ajuga that I have surviving in one planter. I’m not sure how robust it still is, but I imagine that if it survives any future freezes, I’d like to use it in the center yard for under-planting in the beds. The flame red salvias are hanging on, but looking rather reedy in their pots. The white salvia unfortunately drowned. Two rosemary plants experienced extremes in watering and temperature…I’m fairly certain they are on their way to the compost heap–if we had one! Two salsa jasmines appear to be surviving, along with a thyme plant (strangely hanging on despite the horrid conditions). The potato vines and caladium I’m certain are DOA, the Silver Dragon type liriope specimens are gamely holding their ground, and the occasional dianthus is showing a bit of green.

Did I mention I had pulled all my calla bulbs last fall for storage in the pantry? I’m hoping they will survive for planting this year.

Of course, having all of these gardening catalogs coming in the mail is adding to all of the excitement.

Liriope in the ground

Yesterday, I found myself walking out of work confronted by abundant daylight due to the “spring forward” time. I hurried home and started digging a trench about 4″-6″ deep and wide around the S1 side yard. With the ground damp, it was quick work loosening the soil and ripping out the bermuda grass invasion. I started lining up the bareroot Silver Dragons along this trench, spreading them about half an inch or less apart. Surprisingly, the 50 divisions distributed evenly along the trench I dug up all the way to the privet hedge. I thought about using the two remaining bags of topsoil sitting in the bed of my truck, but with the light quickly dwindling, I opted to tamp back down the mud that I had dug out. I’m hoping the wet soil will be enough to rehydrate the liriope after 5 days sitting in a box with only wet moss and newspaper for moisture. 

Where was a camera when I needed to take some pictures this morning? I hope to post a snapshot of the S1 border soon.

Late winter cleanup

I finally received the Liriope spicata Silver Dragons midweek…but weather didn’t permit planting until just yesterday. I had to run to Lowes to get some extra fencing and poultry netting. I did get the rear yards fenced off finally to deter any more canine intrusions. However the new fencing I erected for the sideyard still permitted the pups to go in and dig up more dirt. In fact I had to purchase some extra topsoil just to fill up all the previous holes. After spotting some early daffodil buds, I went ahead and stapled down more netting to keep the pups from digging up the sideyard. 

The Hot Lips salvia met the garden shears yesterday and what a tough fight it was. I removed most of the old branches and debris around the base of the bush, but many branches have yet gone untrimmed. The neighboring ligustrum also needs trimming…I think I’ll have DH working on that.

I’ll prolly get to planting the liriope and the Sooner plants today.