Scenes From the February Garden

February is the start of mild spring weather in Texas while the rest of the north is still in the thrall of frosty winter. Comfortable temps means time to go plant shopping! A few of the purchase this month include: Catmint Walker’s Low (and Little Trudy again), Abelia Kaleidoscope, Nandina Blush Pink and Purple Pixie Loropetalum from Strong’s Nursery. From North Haven Gardens, a couple of Heuchera (Electra and Snow Angel), White Margin Snow Rose (serissa foetida), dianthus, herbs, and petunias…

North Haven Gardens was already awash with spring color!

Shade bed in the front yard, before (left) and after pics. I had to remember that I sank about 3 dozen daffodil bulbs late fall last year in this bed, so it was a bit tricky planting around them.

This Everillo carex nearly tripled in size in its little corner by the fence gate, staying evergreen through winter. In stark contrast is the salvia regla or Mountain Sage which is deciduous unlike the salvia greggii in our climate. But like many salvias, this one already knows spring is around the corner and is displaying new shoots off old growth.

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

Blooms, Buds and Sprouts

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March Blooms and New Plantings

A quick peek in the seed starting room shows first use of the new heat mat I recently purchased from Burpee. I’m hoping the additional bottom heat will help the heat-loving seedlings like peppers thrive. Of course, I can’t seem to have much success with starting oregano from cuttings. It seems I will have to continue to draw variegated oregano from root stock, at the risk of losing the original parent–because these herbs tend to be very sensitive to root disturbance.

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However, despite the dual grow lights my hunny recently installed, I’m not having the miraculous response that I expected. The peppers are still having a difficult time thriving due to the moisture. I need to find my bottle of hydrogen peroxide and spray down the soil to kill any fungus. I’ve also had to re-sow some seeds due to some non-responsive seeds.

The loropetalums are bursting into bloom. First up is the purple fringeflower. We also took some time to flank our newly pruned Midnight Blue rose with 2 small lavender flowered lantana. Hopefully these are the dwarf kind and will form a nice carpet underneath the rose. We also planted our Home Depot petunias (blue, purple and pink) in the border. With any luck, these will thrive and spread, forming a nice lush colorful border during summer.

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The blue bed is also seeing action. This is one of the most floriferous years I’ve seen Mariposa Skies iris in bloom. By my account there were at least nine buds on one plant. The irises must love this site. I dropped a couple of the creeping phloxes (Emerald Blue?) into this bed. Hopefully these perennial types will last much longer than the annual types I tried last time.

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The diascia “Romeo Red” I picked up from North Haven Gardens will fill in the void in the lily bed (I should drop the name since the lilies really aren’t thriving in this bed) while my dianthus cuttings catch up. I find that it’s easier to propagate the red dianthus rather than the white, probably due to the particular cultivar. I’ve also transplanted one of last year’s Chocolate Chip ajuga cuttings I had in a planter back into this bed which will hopefully continue to spread and fill in the border.

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The Oriental Limelight artemisia are bursting back into good health. I found that this particular pot had rooted into the ground, which I immediately moved to another location. The artemisia wilted but I have no doubt it bounce back. I was disappointed with the performance of the Charmed Wine oxalis and the one green shamrock (oxalis triangularis?) in this bed. Both the purple shamrocks have remained woefully stunted (perhaps due to lack of water) while the green barely clung to life. It particularly got buried when I weeded out the bed, dusted the area with Preen and layered with cypress mulch. It remains to be seen if the green will bounce back. But I am happy to report that my Origami red columbine from seed are still hanging in there. Three specimens are still living in the bed, though I have to take particular care to see that do better this year. Maybe some fertilizer?

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Snapdragons are cool! Literally, they are cold-weather plants and love this chilly early spring air. I think I will have to remember to plant them in boxes again next year so that I can look forward to late winter color. I believe these are the Montego Sunset snaps that I purchased from Stokes last year. They sat unmolested and heavily mulched in the blue bed after I had given up on them late in the year, only to have dug them back up late fall early winter and placed into a box, thinking they were a salvia sport. Joke’s on me. It’s been a real joy to watch these colors progress from rose pink to sunset orange.

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Much work went into the new veggie garden. I planted spinach, eggplant (Bride), arugula, gai lan, cilantro. I also transplanted some of the silver lemon thyme (which had reverted back to solid green), dropped some catgrass, Alaska nasturtium and common chive seeds in the cinderblock holes. Did I mention the leek cuttings also went into their new home? Next week I plan on adding the asparagus to the bed, after I decide on where to place them!

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Wishlist plant: Emerald and gold mint or variegated mint.

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.

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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.