Fall blues

My last two plant purchases about a month ago involved two asters, a Days Aster and a mum-like button-headed aster that I still haven’t identified (possibly an annual type). All three asters in the blue bed have subsequently dropped their blooms, and as of this week look very scraggly. I suspect lack of watering and poor soil may have killed the aster centered in the bed; meanwhile the Days aster has retained its green foliage, perhaps because it has remained in the shadow of the angelonias still blooming rampantly in the bed. I also had to trim back the Wood’s Blue aster next to the fence since most of its foliage browned, leaving behind basal leaves.

I must mention that the scabiosa are long gone, as well as the white plumbago that must have died during the summer drought. Any traces of the phlox and dianthus planted in this bed have also disappeared, as well as the catmint that were huge disappointments. The surviving inhabitants of the blue bed include the two Oertel yarrows, the 2 clusters of Serena Whites and Blues (still blooming heavily now in mid-November), 2 Oxalis triangularis which have endured all summer, the imperial dark blue plumbago and the Wood’s Blue aster.

I have contemplated moving the Felicia daisy from its plant stand to take up central residence in the bed. I’m also considering moving my Tropical Breeze purple/white verbena also to the same bed in hopes that it will survive through the cold months with some proper mulching.

I do miss putting bulbs into the ground this time of year; I dream of the early perennial bloomers such as muscari and irises and lately have been serious considering purchasing some bulbs to drop into the blue bed. The bed of course will need amending before I proceed with this plan…luckily, I have a large bag of Miracle-Gro garden soil just waiting to be used. As soon as the weather becomes a bit milder, I plan on taking a shovel to the bed and dig out some good spots.

Reminder to self: take plumbago cuttings, bring the Diana blueberry dianthus indoors.

Summer blooms, high heat

August. Hottest month of the summer. It’s only natural that plants who haven’t had time to harden off succumb to the high temperatures and dry conditions. Among the lost: 1 white plumbago, 1 thai basil, at least 1 ornamental pepper plants, rosemary, spanish lavender, at least 3 salvia greggii, 1 catmint, 1 coneflower, several instances of dianthus, 1 or 2 phlox, 1 ageratum, 2 dahlberg daisies, 1 or 2 white cosmos. The salvia greggii failed due to what appears to be a broken sprinkler head and an overzealous weed whacker.

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.

Hunting for summer blues

I rearranged the blue garden this past weekend, moving the Oertel’s Rose Common Yarrow and the 2 straggling Nepeta faassenii (catmints), to make room for some new tenants. I had found a white plumbago at the local Home Depot so I had to snatch it up to pair with the Imperial Dark Blue. Also I picked up two purple leafed Oxalis triangularis to add some drama to the bed, 4 Serena Angelonia (2 purple, 2 white) to give the bed some vertical lift. I had some leftover dianthus that hadn’t gotten planted from the last flat I bought; 3 picoteed purple dianthus for some contrast. I’m hard pressed however to find any blue flowered summer plants within the 1-2 foot range. I’m less inclined to plant annuals, but it seems that is all that manages to flourish in the heat right now. I’d like to find more Felicia daisies and/or these Tropical Breeze verbena.

We finally got around to visiting North Haven Gardens and discovered that it deserved its reputation for being a fantastic source of unusual and uncommon plants. They had a vast selection of plants, trees and shrubs, many of which I desired to take home. One particular eye-catcher that immediately made my wishlist was a dwarf variegated bamboo, Pleioblastus fortunei, which unfortunately they were out of stock on. Aside from the Angelonia that we purchased, we also picked up 2 Golden oregano and 1 Hot and Spicy Oregano, which was truly a surprising tongue-tickler.

Rise of the summer-heat lovers

The spring show is wrapping up…the last Navona lily wears its white crown in a garden bed that is gathering itself for 100+ degree weather. We had made the mistake of laying out some pots of new impatiens that we purchased at Strong’s Nursery on Saturday only to discover that the sizzling heat had baked the flowers off by Sunday.

The plants that we had positioned in the newly prepped herb garden also suffered from the heat. I fear that the pineapple mint suffered the worst, perhaps irrecoverable. The rest perked back up, especially the ornamental peppers, after liberal watering. We also added a few more plants to the herb garden: 2 Thai basils, one Sweet Basil, another Lime Basil, three types of peppers (Fresno Chili, Bonnie Bell, and one whose name I forget at the moment). I also took two of the lemon thyme cuttings and transplanted it into the bed.

I also planted a recently acquired Mint Julep Calla lily under the shade of the burgeoning Hot Lips salvia sitting in the courtyard flower bed. What was once barely a foot high is now a rounded 3-foot specimen of green. It is currently in between flower displays, but I hope it will perk back up soon.

Lastly I planted the Imperial Dark Blue Plumbago by the fence, sharing the bed with the struggling Nepeta and the newly-budding yarrows. Time will tell if the plumbago can stand the partial shade conditions.

Speaking of shade, the crape myrtles providing most of the cover to our corner flower beds have started blooming. In the front yard is a light pink specimen. The myrtle in the courtyard, nearest the fence door, is a “lavender” or purple variety. The other myrtle hasn’t staged a reveal yet, but I’m betting it is purple as well. This revelation was a lot more pleasant than expected–I was dreading that the myrtles would be of the Pepto-Bismol pink shade. Lucky us!