Arboretum, nurseries, and gardening this past weekend

The Dallas Arboretum was packed this weekend, so much so that we had to circle the place looking for parking. But it was definitely the place to see tulips and azalea during the warm spring weather.

We headed out to Home Depot, Lowes and Strongs as well to pick up some variegated society garlic, 2 Palace Purple heuchera, 2 Wide Brim hostas, 2 Charmed Wine oxalis and several bags of mulch, compost, humus and soil. The honey finally got his rose planted in time to see its first bloom. However we have concerns with the leaf yellowing on the lower extremities of the rose bush.

We got about 6 bags of pine bark mulch in the salvia bed, after I had toiled last weekend putting weed block fabric down. The 2cf bags of pine bark gave enough coverage on the bed, much less bags used compared to shredded mulch. However, I am concerned that 2 of my red salvias are ailing–in fact, looking like they are dying. I suspect they may have received lethal doses of weed killer in previous weeks. I am crossing my fingers that they will survive (they survived sitting in a pot for almost 2 years). Luckily, I have volunteer cuttings ready to replace them should the need arise. I also need to work on getting the Crimson Pirates into this bed…they’ve been sitting on the kitchen table too long.

It’s been exciting to observe the changes happening in all the beds. The blue bed is perhaps the showiest at this time. The yarrows form a verdant mounding backdrop to all the color coming in. The purple oxalis are beautifully robust (and flowering), the violas in full bloom, and the scabiosa gangly and flowering as well. I should remember to deadhead and collect scabiosa seed if possible. I’ve placed the 2nd sinaloa sage into the bed, along with the two variegated felicia. While working the bed, I discovered 2 phlox starts growing up against the rocks–one had a distinctive, pale blue flower that I remembered. I dug them up to grow them indoors, in hopes of that the weed killer wouldn’t affect them. Now I am just waiting to put Sea Breeze salvia seedlings into the bed.

Speaking of seedlings, nearly all but the columbines that I seeded last weekend, have sprouted. Speediest out of the gate were the marigolds. Everything else has followed suit, save for the columbines–which take a few days more than usual. Those petunias and ice plants are particularly tiny! I will need to remember to keep them under the dome a little longer than the others. I’m also happy to report that planting the garlic chives thickly and keeping them covered with a humidity dome has produced favorable results. Now I just need to sow more garlic chives. Since I emptied out our bathroom nursery, I have a little more counter space to work with. But first I have to work on getting the previous wave of seedlings potted and placed outside. The basil seedlings also need hardening off; with the warm weather, it’s time to put them outside. I should sow more of the Red Rubin basil since they will look good in the purple bed. I forgot that I had some Lime Basil seeds to sow as well.

While I’m on the subject of herbs…the herb garden sits still unfinished. I’ve only planted the lime thyme and the golden oregano in the cinder block border. I have yet to move the other oregano, thymes, and pineapple mint. Those herbs planted from last year are now cozy neighbors, jutting up against each other in the corners of the bed. I’m reluctant to move them now since they look so good together, but it’s only a matter of time before the pineapple mint takes over. The rosemary suffered some frost burn this past winter, but there is evidence of a lot of new growth on all of its branches–so I imagine it is doing quite well, unlike our rosemary topiary. I am considering installing the lavender in the herb garden’s back row.

The shade garden in front gathered the most newcomers this weekend. I added one specimen of the Gold Standard hosta, the 2 Wide Brims, and the 2 Purple Palace heuchera. I’m also excited to see that both of the foxtails have prominent plume shoots above ground, and the japanese painted fern in back has also sent out several fronds. The golden hakone grass are back this spring, showing off vibrant citrine yellow blades of grass–really brightening the area. The honey put down several bags of black mulch, which is punching up the color of the new additions. I am hoping the tiger lilies give us a show this summer; in the mean time, I am still debating on what border plants to add to the bed, aside from impatiens.

The front flower bed was the messiest to begin with; overgrown with weeds and in dire need of cleaning and shearing. Most of the vinca remains have been removed, the coreopsis and salvia have been trimmed back and general maintenance performed. The centerpiece loropetalum is stealing the show, drenched in countless white fringe flowers. I am thinking that the nandina flanking it need to be pruned into a rounder shape sometime in the future. The Victoria blue salvia that I’ve left in the bed are sprouting at the roots; so I’m glad to have left them in this bed so they can come back. The compact white ballerina gaura has grown back in force, nearly a foot high after I cleaned it. However, the pink gaura (Cherry Brandy and Passionate Blush) aren’t as vigorous, only still crowning at this time. I took some cuttings of Passionate Blush in hopes of propagating it. Sadly, neither the hakone grass nor the kangaroo paw have made a reappearance in this bed and are most likely victims of our vicious winter. I’m still crossing my fingers that the kangaroo paw may come back.

The only decorative bed in front is the gardenia bed, bordered by kale and viola. Sadly, this winter may have taken a toll on the gardenia; much of its leaves are pale, dry and look ready to drop. We have to take care not to overwater it, but I’m not sure if it’s going to survive another year. It is truly ghastly.

3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (1) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (2) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (3) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (4) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (5) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (6) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (7) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (8) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (9) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (10) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (11) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (12) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (13) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (14) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (15) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (16) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (17)

Late winter garden update

3/8/2011 Asahi Zuru Leafing OutThe biggest challenge in the outdoor space is the henbit and broadleaf weed invasion that has dominated all of our yards. Because of unseasonably warm weather in February, the weeds grew in and spread like wildfire. We’ve sprayed the lawns twice, after taking stock of the situation, because the infestation is extreme. Hopefully the weedkiller we’ve applied will make the difference so we can finally get to applying the preventive.

3/8/2011 A Bundle of Tiger LiliesSome observations I’ve made of the outdoor space: Prairie Sky hosta is displaying a crown of leaf buds, Emerald Snow loropetalums are blooming, daylilies have all leafed, yarrows are spreading. I’ve done some additional pruning and mulching on salvias. I’ve transplanted the Japanese maple into its new home, an 18″x18″ redwood cedar box. Yesterday, I planted 2 scabiosas that I obtained from Home Depot and added a Sinaloa sage to the blue bed. I brought indoors the other Sinaloa sage due to some serious dieback after going without water for several days. I am uncertain at this time but I believe that one of the foxtail ferns is attempting to make a comeback. However I don’t know how it will fare given the cooler temperatures we’ve been seeing lately. This morning I had the honey plant a bag of Tiger lilies purchased from Home Depot in the front yard shade bed. Given their vigorous nature, I feel comfortable in knowing that these Tiger lilies will endure in this space.

In addition to my Home Depot purchases, I have a lavender and a bag of Crimson Pirate daylilies that have yet to be planted.

3/8/2011 Mushrooms in my Hosta?Indoor space: all the hostas have now begun to sprout. They must like sitting in the bathtub, getting warm and cozy. I transplanted all the seedlings in the first cell pack into their own pots, with only a few basil and one pepper plant lost in the transition. I’m debating on whether to put them outside; but currently cool temperatures prohibit that.

Did I mention the vinca have sprouted within a few days? I should bring them into the light soon, I imagine. Also it appears that the golden fleece are making a showing…though the sprouts are extremely tiny. At this point, I highly doubt that they are daisies, but I’m hoping.

I bought a Jiffy tray full of coir pellets this weekend. Ever since the 2nd tray of seedlings has been exposed to air, some of the seedlings have perished (ice plants) while other seeds have failed to sprout (phlox/blue knoll chrysanthemum). Because I’ve had some luck with the coir pellets, I think I will use them from now on. They seem easier to transplant than the Burpee XL Growing system. In addition to the seedling tray, I also bought a packet of convulvulus.

Need to plant those cool season annuals now!

Seed starting 2011 part 4

Here is a tally of the 2nd wave of seedling starts:
phlox: 7 out of 12 starts
blue knoll: 3 out of 12
dianthus valentine: 6 out of 6
delosperma: 4 out of 6

Due to the low germination rates on the blue knoll chrysanthemum, I immediately used up any remaining seed that I had left. I also emptied the remainder of phlox seeds in the tray, in hopes of getting the maximum 12 starts.

Of the first wave of seedlings, I recorded the heights from tallest to shortest:

  1. sweet basil
  2. bell pepper
  3. calico
  4. purple flash
  5. red rubin
  6. pansy

What is disappointing from the list above is the performance of the red rubin basil. I had hoped to use a few specimens as accent color in the purple garden, but they have barely increased in size in almost a week.

Today’s starts:
4 dahlberg daisies: super fine, eyelash-shaped seeds!
8 vinca: using jiffy pellets and stored in the laundry room in complete darkness
4 garlic chives: don’t know why I’m having difficulty with these this year

In a green quart pot I placed a root cutting from the foxtail fern…not sure it will do anything, but I’d be interested in seeing the outcome.

All three of the Hot Lips salvia cuttings that I brought in are displaying tender leaves, just like the parent plant in the courtyard lily bed. Alas I have not been able to see any sign of the purple pastel that I sowed some time ago. And one of the 3″ pots is hosting a salvia seedling, the likes of which I haven’t seen before in any of the greggii cultivars. Is it a white? Red? Purple? Or some other hybrid? Only time will tell.

The pineapple mint (2) and hot and spicy oregano (1) cuttings have taken to their new home with vigor. They appear to be putting out new growth–a testament to their light-loving nature. The catmint has remained tall and floppy, surprising me every day with new growth. It’s still a tender thing, disliking heavy watering.

I’m not sure how I will be thinning the impatiens and alyssum seedlings; it seems too much work at this time to separate them. They still look too fragile, about 6 weeks into their lives, to be transplanted or removed from the dome protection they currently enjoy. Well, there is still another 4 weeks of March to go…no telling what growth spurts I will witness.

Other statuses: asters growing tall and gangly with new shoots, rosemary cuttings looking pale and deathly, no telling what’s growing in one of the Mexican heather pots, oriental limelights perking up, felicia seem contemplative, and the columbine are starting very slowly.

Now I have these two hippeastrums sitting in a bag, begging to be planted. I can’t be sure what cultivar they are, but reading suggests that these garden amaryllis may be part of a group of Sonatini hybrids. On the bag label is the distributor name Van Zyverden but their site is non-existent. Further research revealed that these hippeastrums were developed by a South African company known as Hadeco. However their site info is woefully inadequate and gave me no clue as to what to expect from the mystery bulbs. This should teach me from impulse buying flower bulbs. Anywho, they’re slated for burial in the courtyard lily bed.

One perennial on my wishlist that has proven elusive is the Ajuga Dixie Chip. Perhaps in the coming months, I’ll be finding them at the local home improvement nursery.

2/22/2011 Seedlings (1) 2/22/2011 Seedlings (2) 2/22/2011 Seedlings (3) 2/22/2011 Seedlings (4) 2/22/2011 Seedlings (5) 2/22/2011 Seedlings (6) 2/22/2011 Seedlings (7) 2/22/2011 Seedlings (8)

Seed starting 2011 part 3

1/29/2011 Seedling Tray currently hosting basil, pepper and pansy seedlingsMy Swallowtail Garden seeds arrived this week. With so many choices of seeds to start, I was hard-pressed to find space under the grow lights. I procured the scrap piece of plywood sitting in the laundry room and used it as a base for the Burpee growing system, which I then rotated 180 degrees to free up some real estate.

The phlox have been bursting out of their seed cases this weekend, and I detected some whiskering roots from the Blue Knoll Chrysanthemums. Because I doubled up on the seeds, I decided to separate the mums into 2 rows of 6, for a total of 12 starts. The dianthus, as I expected, grew surprisingly fast since I sowed them last Tuesday. They appear to be the most vigorous growers in the 2nd half of the grow system.

Since I received the columbine seeds, I decided to test the coir pellets for growing perennials. I placed 8 pellets this morning in a spare takeout dinner tray and expanded them with water. With any luck, I will have 4 each of the Origami Blue and Origami Red columbines.

I also discovered today that the first Purple pastel salvia that I sowed had reared its head out of the 3″ pot I planted it in. I half-expected it to start later, but it’s been exactly 7 days since I first planted it. It’s parent plant is now occupying the sink next to the grow lights, and is slowly regaining its foliage. I now have high hopes for the white salvia greggii seeds I planted in 2 more pots. I spent the entire day Sunday collecting seeds from the white specimen against the neighboring wall. It flowered so vigorously up until January–I am looking forward to fostering more. One thing I noticed about the white salvia seeds I collected: some are nearly black while others are tan in color. I am unsure what the difference may be, but I am hoping I didn’t plant chaff.

For the last row in the grow system, I chose to plant 6 seeds of the delosperma I purchased from Swallowtail Gardens. I’m looking forward to growing my first succulent groundcover.

Activity in the other takeout trays is brisk: the alyssum are popping like crazy, the impatiens are finally making a showing. The only seeds which haven’t emerged are the garlic chives in 2 pots. I don’t remember them being so slow, but I’m hoping they will make up for it later.

Lastly, the ornamental peppers are beginning to show some evidence of color. All of the pepper varieties are displaying remarkable growth, while the basil seedlings appear to have slowed down somewhat. But the first set of seedlings are displaying 2nd and 3rd sets of leaves, so it’s been exciting to watch them prosper.

The weather was unseasonably warm this past weekend, reaching 70-75 degrees during the afternoons. However, we have an icy week forecasted as early as Tuesday morning, so we’ll be back down to frigid temperatures. I’m hoping this will be the last freeze of the year.

More seed sowing

1/23/2011 Dianthus Cutting in BudI checked the mailbox earlier today in discovered I received my Park’s  package. Yay, more seeds! I took a quick trip to the Lewisville Home Depot in search of some seedling flat trays, but all I walked out with were 2 packages of Burpee growing pellets and 20 feet of garden fencing. Thankfully, my honey picked up a spray bottle for me earlier in the day, so I can mist the alyssum and impatiens trays.

Also, I had earlier shaken some seeds out of the purple pastel salvia greggii sitting potted up in the garden and placed 2 of them into a 3″ pot. I still had plenty of aluminum cake pans to tap, and so proceeded to get some more 3″ pots into them, including the 2 rooted asters I brought indoors. I’m minded to browse the white salvia in the salvia row for some more seeds. I realize that salvia greggii may not always come true from seed, but I think this will be a good experiment to see how well they germinate.

So, to sum up, I sowed 12 21st Century Blue Star Phlox and 1 row of 6 Blue Knoll Chrysanthemum seeds in the Burpee grow system. Both packages had an expiration date, and the Blue Knoll was marked as “low germination” so I’m crossing my fingers to see what the results will be.

I will hold off another week before I sow the marigolds and the vincas, since my focus for now is on cool season annuals such as phlox, alyssum, and impatiens. Meanwhile, I eagerly await the rest of my seed orders…from Burpee and Swallowtail Gardens. My live plant orders from Delaware however have been delayed due to inclement weather.