It’s starting to look a lot like…

…well, it looks like fall, but feels a little bit like winter. Today is the first day that rain and cold collided to form a prologue to winter, with highs in the 50s and lows in the 40s. I dispensed with tank tops and flip-flops today, working the garden in sneakers, sweatpants and long-sleeved thermal top. Most of the work involved finishing the man’s mulching job. He had added another layer to the front flower bed, the shade bed, purple bed, and began the camellia bed. He happened to leave nearly half a bag of cedar mulch left…so I covered up the rest of the camellia bed.

I also ripped out some of the scraggly vinca in the front flower bed. As much as I dislike removing still-blooming plants, the vinca grew into an unattractive shade of yellow and flopped around due to the lack of support. A stand of vinca still remains; I’ll be ripping that out soon. Hopefully, we’ll have a good amount of re-seedlings next year.

I got around to repotting my new Dallas (?) red lantana–not sure if this specimen is winter-hardy. No freezes yet, but I’m slowly transplanting the tender perennials and tropicals into their winter pots. I’m fairly confident I have all the pepper plants and basils I’ll need to carry me through winter, but I wouldn’t mind some color and variety either. (Remind self to bring sedum planter indoors during first freeze.)

I did get to observe a new bloom on the Midnight Blue rose, but it was yet too early in the morning to take a proper picture of it. If the weather permits, I’ll try to post it tomorrow. This may be the last flush of rose blooms before we prune it back.

Tomorrow’s forecast: highs in the 60s, lows in the 40s. Good-bye, flip-flop weather, for now.

Romancing the black

The black plant in the garden always makes a statement. I purchased 5 bareroot Ophiopogon niger (black mondo grass) from Brent and Becky’s last year…and while they aren’t as robust as I’d like, they are still eyecatching. That black mondo grass incidentally has gone up in price at B&B, and I’ve since lost 2 of those plants.

Today I’m taking a very close look at sedums and ajuga. Of the sedums, the dark purple-leaved cultivars are particularly attractive. Both Black Jack and Postman’s Pride are border plant/specimen contenders for the S1 bed where their dark foliage will contrast nicely against the white/blue theme setting. Of the ajuga (bugleweed) I’m studying the Black Scallop and the Braunherz, 2 glossy-leaved groundcovers that may see use in the back beds.

Now another “colorful” plant that I’ve used, with some disappointng results two years ago, is the heuchera. The Texas heat proved too much for the Heuchera caramels that I trialed. But the S1 bed has a more controlled water schedule (and some shade protection) which may allow the heuchera to thrive. Some cultivars that drew my attention: Black Beauty, Midnight Rose, Obsidian, Plum Pudding, and the americana Chocolate Veil. The Sooner Plant Farm based in Oklahoma looks like a great place to purchase these plants.

But before I close, let’s not forget the fringe flower, or loropetalum. I’m thinking of filling the hole vacated by a dead nandina in S1 with a short, dark-leaf cultivar…the shortest I’ve found is a “dwarf” called Daruma, which still grows 3-4 feet high. My only concern are its bright pink blooms which might clash with the white and blue theme of S1.