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Ye Olde Garden

Storm aftermath and seed sowing

North Texas was battered by a series of tornadic storms and hail yesterday that disrupted work, power and traffic in many urban areas. I came home to a debris-littered yard, but thankfully no visible or structural damage to the house. Lots of leaves and branches on the ground which I attribute to a fierce hailstorm. Plenty of videos circulating on the net this morning of twisters tearing through railyards and truck depots, tossing trailers into the air like toys. DFW airport canceled hundreds of flights while it assessed hail damage on all airplanes. At one point the sky was as black as night during the fiercest weather conditions. Hardest hit: Arlington, Forney, and Mansfield were known touch-down spots for tornadoes…hope my fellow garden bloggers are safe.

Pictures below of the beaten and flattened plants in my garden. I barely got to see the new marigold blooms that appeared in the front yard tree ring before the petals got stripped by the fierce weather.

4/4/2012 Storm Aftermath (1) 4/4/2012 Storm Aftermath (2) 4/4/2012 Storm Aftermath (3) 4/4/2012 Storm Aftermath (4) 4/4/2012 Storm Aftermath (5) 4/4/2012 Storm Aftermath (6) 4/4/2012 Storm Aftermath (7) 4/4/2012 Storm Aftermath (8) 4/4/2012 Storm Aftermath (9) 4/4/2012 Storm Aftermath (10)

I planted 2 packets of Alaska Variegated Nasturtiums (tropaeolum maius) and Blue Boy Bachelor Buttons (centaurea cyanus) today. Crossing my fingers that we won’t get any more severe weather and wash away the seeds.

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Ye Olde Garden

The pre-winter graveyard

It’s been a good two weeks since my last post. The climate has turned to rain to freezing temps back to chilly. Since we experienced a solid week of sub-freezing wind chills and temps, it’s natural that the annuals have succumbed to the frost. Where certain parts aren’t buried in leaves, my garden transformed into a graveyard in a matter of days. I hope to clear out the debris when the weather turns mild. Thankfully, the man started with pruning the Midnight Blue rose.

Goners: basils, vincas, marigolds, cosmos, ornamental peppers, salvia coccinea.

Dead top growth: caladiums, sweet potato ornamental vines (not sure if these Illusion potatoes will come back next year), callas, Sinaloa salvia, the purple oxalis in the blue bed, most of the asters.

Subject to change: foxtail ferns, Mexican heather.

Surprises: a few of the petunias are still green, all of the coreopsis have green foliage and appear to have grown, the larkspur seedlings appear unaffected by the freeze, one of the Autumn Embers azaleas actually had a (wilted) bloom on it, succulent planter looking pretty.

Annoyances: the yarrow continues to spread, weeds have invaded my lily bed!

Warning: images of dead plants ahead. On my Xmas wishlist: a compost bin from the city’s Park & Recreation dept.

12/9/2011 Pre-winter Graveyard (1) 12/9/2011 Pre-winter Graveyard (2) 12/9/2011 Pre-winter Graveyard (3) 12/9/2011 Pre-winter Graveyard (4) 12/9/2011 Pre-winter Graveyard (5) 12/9/2011 Pre-winter Graveyard (6) 12/9/2011 Pre-winter Graveyard (7) 12/9/2011 Pre-winter Graveyard (8) 12/9/2011 Pre-winter Graveyard (9) 12/9/2011 Pre-winter Graveyard (10) 12/9/2011 Pre-winter Graveyard (11) 12/9/2011 Pre-winter Graveyard (12) 12/9/2011 Pre-winter Graveyard (13) 12/9/2011 Pre-winter Graveyard (14) 12/9/2011 Pre-winter Graveyard (15) 12/9/2011 Pre-winter Graveyard (16)

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Ye Olde Garden

Scenes before a cold front

Another day, another eggplant flower. The fruit is looking pretty good, despite some skin damage.

11/02/2011 November Scenes (1) 11/02/2011 November Scenes (2)

Purple pastel salvia greggii behind a red salvia greggii cutting in bloom.

11/02/2011 November Scenes (3)

In the same bed, you can see the hack job I performed on the Oertel’s Rose yarrow, which was once three times its current size. That doesn’t stop it from budding and blooming. But the smaller footprint allowed some room for the irises; here, Mariposa Skies is putting out new foliage. A neighboring iris, Immortality, also displays new leaves.

11/02/2011 November Scenes (4) 11/02/2011 November Scenes (5)

In the lily bed, the white mums are aging gracefully into blush pink senescence. Now, if I hadn’t stuck markers where those strap leaves were emerging, I’d have forgotten the spider lily bulbs I planted in the bed sometime back in June of this year.

11/02/2011 November Scenes (6) 11/02/2011 November Scenes (7)

The tree ring out front is  still non-stop a-bloomin’! Of course, it’s looking somewhat bedraggled these days–apparently, a hare or a family of them has been using it for daytime cover. So it looks well-trampled in some parts. I can’t bring myself to yank out all the marigolds and salvia. It’s always fascinating to watch how long they will keep blooming their heads off.

11/02/2011 November Scenes (8) 11/02/2011 November Scenes (9) 11/02/2011 November Scenes (10) 11/02/2011 November Scenes (11) 11/02/2011 November Scenes (12) 11/02/2011 November Scenes (13)

I also managed to catch a lone loropetalum bloom. And a nice arrangement of Hot Lips salvia triplets.

11/02/2011 November Scenes (14) 11/02/2011 November Scenes (15)

Here is something I haven’t observed; fall foliage color on the potted lantana. Is this normal?

11/02/2011 November Scenes (16)

And the rest of today’s photos: caladiums, vincas, potato vines, Thai basil, miscellaneous herbs. And let’s not forget the many rose buds on the Midnight Blue.

11/02/2011 November Scenes (17) 11/02/2011 November Scenes (18) 11/02/2011 November Scenes (19) 11/02/2011 November Scenes (20)

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Ye Olde Garden

Sights and places

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.

10/24/2011 Pansies and mums in the lily bed (1) 10/24/2011 Pansies and mums in the lily bed (2) 10/24/2011 Doogie inspecting the lily bed 10/24/2011 A pretty clear red pansy

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.

10/24/2011 Oertel's Rose Yarrow in fall bloom 10/24/2011 Valentine dianthus in fall bloom

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.

10/24/2011 Two inch fruit on chinese eggplant

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.

10/24/2011 Empty (heuchera) places (1) 10/24/2011 Empty (heuchera) places (2) 10/24/2011 Empty (heuchera) places (3)

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.

10/24/2011 Surprise Japanese painted fern behind ornamental kale 10/24/2011 Surprise Japanese painted fern

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.

10/24/2011 Hot Lips Salvia showing off 10/24/2011 Reseeded vinca still blooming crazy 10/24/2011 Salvia coccinea seedlings 10/24/2011 White Delight Caladium and Easy Wave Petunias

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Ye Olde Garden

Fall shrooms and blooms

I love to take a morning walk with the pups and check out the landscapes in my neighborhood. This season especially with the onset of autumn, I get to see the color changes. On today’s walk, I noted the lawns dotted with mushrooms, likely a result from the early week rains we received and the characteristic cool nights/warm days pattern of weather we’ve been experiencing.

Anyway, it’s another look at the garden to see what’s changing. As to be expected this time of year, many of the fall bloomers are sharing the joy: dianthus, mums, asters, salvias especially the greggiis, petunias, marigolds, vinca, verbena and gaura. I mentioned last time that the Pesto Perpetuo basil was budding; now I discover that another specimen of it is blooming. The yarrow is also putting out another bloom head, and the society garlic are happily following suit.

10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (1) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (2) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (3) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (4) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (5) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (6) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (7) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (8) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (9)

As evidenced by the photos below, I’ve spotted some strap-like leaves emerging from the spider lily bulbs planted earlier in the year. I believe it is too late for them to bloom (?) but with Texas weather…who knows. I’ll have to consult with the Bulb Hunter’s blog again to be sure.

10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (10) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (11) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (12)

The irises I planted in the blue bed will probably get another layer of dirt on top of them; the bed itself still needs more height and leveling before I mulch it. I would love to just get rid of the Oertel’s Rose yarrow we planted in there, but the man would prolly have something to say about that. I’ve already relocated 3 of its offspring in the lily bed and shade bed. Isn’t that Valentine Dianthus gorgeous? That bloom is quarter-sized if not bigger! The crazy, dried up Day’s aster in the corner is still blooming its head off. I  am debating on when I cut it back down so that it can dress up next year.

10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (13) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (14)

I really love how the tree ring bed turned out. For a couple of years, we thought it an eyesore and unworkable. But 2011 proved different: cosmos, salvia and marigolds turned out to be a powerhouse combo. The only thing I would change would be to raise the bed near the tree trunk to give the cosmos and salvia better visibility. Of course, the front flower bed is also just as spectacular with a new flush of blooms coloring it this month. Those silly Dahlberg daisies are still blooming strong…but I am wishing for a sturdier yellow flower for next year.

10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (15) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (16) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (17) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (18) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (19) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (20) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (21) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (22) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (23)

The Dixie Chip ajuga is also undergoing a color change; I love the rose leaves contrasting with the dark. The Chocolate Chip ajuga (huge) is undergoing something similar, this time with espresso-colored leaves against piney green leaves. I plan on dividing the Chocolate Chip ajuga in spring, though I wish I hadn’t lost one of the Dixie Chips to an overzealous ant colony.

10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (26)

So what are those buds on the camellia all about? I guess we’ll find out in a few more months.

10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (24) 10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (25)

Ah petunias! You were the surprise hit of 2011, weathering the heat wave despite being potted and neglected. I’ll be sure to add you the landscape next year. (If only you weren’t so darned delicate to start.)

10/14/11 Fall Shrooms and Blooms (27)

To do list: re-pot all of the pepper plants into larger pots for them to overwinter indoors. Capture some Snow Nymph salvia seeds for next year. Start some Shu ornamental peppers. Dig up the Wide Brim hostas if I can find them to replant in the strip. Plant the daffodils, crocuses and giant hyacinths (ordered last week). Find the pansy flat a new home. Order some flower seeds (violas and snapdragons would be nice). Reseed, weed and feed the lawn.