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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.)

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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.

What a difference A/C makes

5/28/2011 First Dallas Stars daylily bloomsYes, the cooling guys finally arrived and installed our A/C today. Timely, given that temps rose into the high 90s today. The heat hit like a brick wall when I stepped outside, and it wasn’t any better indoors until the new unit started pumping in cold air. Thank goodness…it was the motivation I needed to get out and start planting.

5/28/2011 More Navona BloomsI picked up some more plants today…I swear this is the last time (until we pick up our Route 66 coreopsis next weekend). At Grow It, I snagged a red trailing verbena, a White Nymph salvia coccinea, 2 rose-eyed white vinca, and 4 dusty millers. At Strong’s, we gathered an 18-count flat of bedding plants: 9 Silver Dust dusty millers, 4 Victoria Blue salvias, 5 petunias (in denim, purple and yellow). To wrap it all up, we stopped at Lowes to pick up a bag of StaGreen garden soil and Hapigro organic compost.

5/28/2011 Coreopsis bloomingWhile the man proceeded to get his haul of Victoria Blues and dusty millers established in the front yard bed, I worked on potting up several of the newest additions, along with some plants waiting for a home. Thus I was able to plant dusty millers, petunias, sweet potato vine, white nymph salvia, a couple of the Lanai verbena, pesto basil, thai basil, and the seedling genovese and lime basils. I’m taking a chance with the seedling basils, since the genovese are barely 2-3 weeks old. I also repotted the eggplant in its own pot, as well as a calla lily which had fallen out of its very confining quart-sized home. Lastly, I situated my Moonglow salvia in its new home, in front of our rosemary topiary, in a deep hole full of good garden soil. I hope to see it prosper.

5/28/2011 Dallas Star blooming in shadeI still have more verbena to plant, as well as 2 Dixie Chip ajugas, tricolor sage, ornamental peppers, petunias, common chives, dusty millers, and vinca. I’m unhappy to report that my lemon verbena appears to have perished after going without water for two days. It’s possible I can take a cutting and coax it back to life, but I’m skeptical at this point. Also, because of the rain last week, 2 of the peppers (jalapeno and thai chili) in the vegetable/herb garden appear to be suffering from serious wilt. I suspect that the ground compacted and exposed roots. One of them even had a pepper already growing; so I added more soil mix to their bases in hopes of rescuing them.

5/28/2011 White Pansy lost in the weedsFinally some blooms observed in the garden today: the first Dallas Stars (3 blooms), more Navona Asiatic lily blooms, another yellow marigold, coreopsis, and pansies discovered in the most unlikeliest of spaces…in the weeds and between the rocks.

 More planting scheduled for tomorrow…and perhaps I’ll finally get some use out of my ceramic pots.

5/28/2011 Pansies growing between the stonework

And wow…I’m sore and exhausted. Thankfully the house is 70 degrees cold. Time to pass out in nice cool room in a nice cool bed. The puppies are happy too…they’re burrowed beneath their blankets again.

One month later

The winter garden is finally shuttering up the show. The annual holdouts such as the angelonia and the ornamental peppers have given up their last seasonal colors. The man and I had done some diligent pruning and clean up of the front beds, such as shearing back the gaura, removing dead coleus and cutting back the salvias, including the Victoria Blues. I had planted some violas and ornamental cabbages/kale in the gardenia bed, which have been blanketed by fall debris. Too bad we didn’t have a way to compost all the autumn leaves; that’s a project for next year, hopefully. 

The purple garden has been cleaned of the dried out ornamental peppers. I’ve also removed as much of the bicolor salvia as I could. Here’s to hoping that my reseeding efforts will bear fruit in the spring. I’ve sprinkled as much of the seeds closer to the side of the house, where it’s been a challenge to grow anything. The only plant that’s managed to endure in the damp ground that killed off a lavender and a rosemary is the citronella plant  (Orange Fizz) which has soared to a whopping 3 feet high. Time will tell if it can survive the frost. Future plans: rearrange lorapetalum and purple salvias in a straight line, plant Picasso and Devils Wine callas.

I’ve gone ahead and planted the blueberry dianthus in the blue bed, after uprooting and repotting the plumbago and applying a generous layer of mulch. I’ve also taken some rooted bits of Wood’s Blue aster and replanted them. I finished off the bed with plantings of violas. It is perhaps the only color left…the oxalis top growth are turning an unflattering shade of brown.

I am happy to see that the herb garden is thriving, thanks to departure of the basil plants. The rosemary is enjoying good circulation, full sun and perhaps has grown more in the last few weeks than it has all summer. The oreganos, thyme and pineapple mint are sprawling happily…too happily in fact, since I’ve had to shear back the mint. I am hoping to clone the Hot & Spicy Oregano in the opposite corner of the bed, so that I can have a second specimen. The man and I have decided on two priorities for this herb garden in 2011: 1) plant only basil in this bed, and 2) purchase some fencing to keep the pups out. We might just pot up the pepper plants or set them up in a separate bed.

I’ve removed some of the Flame Callas from the courtyard flower bed. The bed is looking rather bare, especially with the annual azaleas dying off. I plan on moving the daylilies in this bed as well as transplanting the rest of the callas out. I hope to get some more red and white dianthus to completely border the bed. Some more of those chocolate ajuga might produce a red, white, and blue border in the spring. The question is: what shrubbery to plant for next year?

Shade garden: more ferns, caladiums and nandinas perhaps. I definitely want to look into variegated liriope as an option. I hope the hakonechloa come back.

Speaking of which, those dwarf mondo grasses bordering our gravel extension are doing quite well. I hope they will grow hardy in time for next summer’s drought and heat.