New Plants and Blooms of March

My High Country Gardens order arrived. I’m somewhat disappointed by the tiny specimens I was sent. Given that they appear so delicate, I’m placing them under grow lights for the time being.

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Check out the new blooms on the ornamental pepper Purple Flash and the “perennial” Easy Wave Petunias. The red petunias have opened, while white buds threaten on the other.

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Lavender stoechas Bella Purple is in bloom. The buds appeared about a month ago, and I’ve been reluctant to shear it back since it started to sprawl. As soon as the blooms have faded, I’m trimming it back by at least a ¬†foot so that the neighboring chives, garlic and sage get more light. Notice the lavender bud with the crane fly perched on it? Crane fly populations have exploded in Texas since the temperatures have warmed up (i.e. early February). There’s not a day that I get in a collision with a cloud of these crane flies while puttering in the yard. A friend indicated that these prey on mosquitoes; however, I researched this and discovered that they do NOT feed on mosquitoes at all. They love nectar and their larvae will feast on vegetation, and may cause considerable damage to turf and plants. I would like to find a natural way to get rid of these flies; maybe by enticing more birds to visit.

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I finally caught some good pictures of my yellow salvia greggii in bloom. The camera is still having difficulty capturing the pale yellow colors, but at least I now have a record of it.

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The potted oriental artemisias look like they are enjoying the cooler, moist weather. I do recall that these are part shade plants and they experienced a difficult time last year in the full sun. The yarrow I uprooted from the blue bed is adjusting to its temporary home. I also snapped another picture of the growing leeks in the herb garden bed.

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I also spent some time this morning sowing more seeds to the bathroom greenhouse. Stardust Ice Plant, Blue Fescue, Dreams Patriot Mix petunias, Zinnia Profusion mix and Zinnia Starlight Rose are now planted. Thankfully I had easy seeds to deal with this recent go-round, pellets and chaff-like seed aren’t as difficult to stick in Jiffy pellets.

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.

Winter growth and winter colors

The mild weather this week gave us plenty of colors to look at. Is it too early to hope for spring?

So I had to make sure the bathroom greenhouse was emptied so that the tender plants could get some sun. From the split-personality variegated Pesto Perpetuo basil…

2/2/2012 Winter Colors (1) 2/2/2012 Winter Colors (2)

…to the irrepressible Oriental Limelight artemisia and Easy Wave petunias bustin’ out of their pots…

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…to the vibrant loropetalum burgeoning with blossoms…

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…from an unexpected previous-year volunteer (Sorbet Coconut Swirl Viola)…

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…to the unpredictable buds on the Encore Azalea Autumn Monarch…

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…and the lovely winter foliage of the Lanai Purple Star verbena.

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The signs of spring are everywhere–you just have to look closely.

Coming up next: my 2012 seed orders!

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.

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Freeze alert

After deceptively mild weather for the Thanksgiving, it was evident that we were experiencing our last patches of warm weather before the cold front hit this weekend. My holiday shopping weekend was cut short by sudden drops in temperature, and I knew I would have to bring in my plants for the last time this year.

11/29/2011 Freeze Alert (1) 11/29/2011 Freeze Alert (2)

I missed the opportunity to bring in the eggplant yesterday, so I had to rush it into the bathroom greenhouse to see if it could be rescued. I’m not sure if the fruit will make it. It’s pretty short for what I’m used to in Chinese eggplants.

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Outdoors, the damage from the overnight frosts has manifested into dead/wilted potato and basil plants. The traditional large leaf basils like Red Rubin and Genovese experienced the most damage. The lime, Pesto Perpetuo and Thai basil display browning less so. One of the Thai basil specimens appears to be laughing off the cold; but sooner or later, all the basils will be done.

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The succulent planter seems to be hanging on. Whereas the petunia/caladium planter bowl shows signs of receding.

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I found a surprise greeting me at one of the asters in the blue bed. A few blooms hid at the base of the plant, near the mulch line. I believe this one was Aster novi-belgii Believer.

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Pansies, violas, ornamental kale, petunias, miscellaneous herbs, foxtail ferns, loropetalum, are all still hanging in there. The dusty millers must be enjoying their new location and this cool weather; they have doubled in size since I moved them from the front flower bed. I guess they prefer the protection. I expected the lemon verbena to die back down since it’s considered an annual, but it seems to enduring in the mixed planter box along with the chives, golden oregano, and aster cuttings. (Those are the remaining vincas hanging over from a neighboring planter. And a Red Rubin basil hiding out as well!)

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