Front Bed Colors

Early April blooms! Tulipa clusiana Tubergen’s Gem makes a surprise reappearance. Look at those crazy columbines! Evidence of the Dahlberg daisies amongst the verbena. The Emerald Snow lorapetalum is drenched in white. The begonias in the sidewalk bed are also making a comeback. The Mardi Gras abelia is making some vertical leaps. And my new Hort Couture Lion Fish coleus and Sunset Velvet Oxalis from Calloways are getting comfortable in their new home.

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April Fool’s Day in the garden

No joke, I bought 4 more plants at Grow It yesterday (Saturday). I actually was looking for lobelias to add to my petunia planter bowl, but didn’t find any at the nursery. Instead I got: Magic Carpet spirea, white verbena, dahlberg daisies, and a Tasmanian Tiger euphorbia (spurge). The euphorbia is especially striking with its blue-green and creamy-white variegation.

The azaleas in the front yard bed are busting out in blooms. I’ve noticed that the Tulip clusianas are also in bloom. Checkout some of the weird color variations in verbena and Hot Lips salvia. Meanwhile, Midnight Blue is bud- and bloom-crazy.

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New plants, growing seeds under lights fail

Let this be a reminder for the fall and 2013 spring planting season: forgetting to lower the grow lights at the lowest possible distance results in very weedy, weak seedlings. I had to throw out a batch of snapdragon seedlings due to spindly and frail stems that made them unsustainable during transplant. This wasted hours of my time, electricity and a batch of Jiffy 7 pellets. Never mind that it was probably too late to plant the snapdragons this late into the year, I must remember to lower the lights next time. I will most likely write an article reminder to self on what to plant for fall, including snaps, violas (which I have not planted), alyssum, and all manner of spring annuals.

Also resulting in fail: 2 out of 3 dusty miller cuttings rotted at the stems. They may perhaps need a drier, sandy medium; or it may just behoove to start them from seed. These Silver Dust dusty millers seem to thrive in cool shade; since the doorway strip plants have tripled in size since I moved them there. They show a lot of vigor in cooler temps.

The zinnias I started in pellets are also thin and reedy, but I suspect that once I move them into pots into the warm weather, they will thrive. I have already transplanted the coleus seedlings this past weekend, kept them under lights to encourage them to root out. The alyssum I started are sitting outside, hardening off, but I suspect they are too frail to keep out in full sun despite the near-80s temps (mild IMO). My man has been attempting to keep them watered in hopes that they will thrive.

Not thriving: my salvia purchases from High Country Gardens. I’m really disappointed with these starts. They had weak stems, and the one sign of green from the Salvia jurisicii ‘Blue’ fell off; and the leaves of the Salvia dorrii ‘Desert Purple Sage’ have dried off one by one. I am giving them one more week under lights before I request a refund from HCG.

This past Saturday I sated my lust for new plant life by heading off to Strong’s Nursery to pick out some new and interesting specimens. They had a new batch of salvia greggii Nuevo Leon, boasting some of the most neon purple-blue flowers I’ve ever seen. These are more vibrant than the standard salvia greggii violet and purple pastel specimens I currently have in the garden. However, with Nuevo Leon, the leaves are more lanceolate, have a milder scent, and the flowers are much smaller. I hope that it will at least be just as floriferous.

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Cuban Gold duranta and 2 pots of Tequila Sunrise Variegated coreopsis also went into our cart. I was attracted to the bright yellow foliage of the duranta which grows to about 2 feet high. This may be a good plant to position in the sunnier end of the front shade bed; though I worry that it might blend in too much with the hakonechloa and the coleus I intend to plant in that bed. The variegated coreopsis was a surprise; this was the first time we found a coreopsis with variegated leaves. We’re excited to have this plant join our gardens and are now searching for a spot to plant them in.

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We also picked up two Texas Gold columbines for the front yard shade bed. After the spectacular flower show our Origami Red and White gave us, we can’t wait to see this columbine produce its own show. I must remember to give it plenty of water for this first year planting. We also add two red verbenas to the front yard flower bed to compliment our red/white tulip and azalea show going strong right now. Must water, must water, must water!

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Sunday afterwards, we dropped by North Haven Gardens in search of new plants. However, all we came away with were herbs: golden sage, mexican marigold, dwarf curry mini, and lavender Kew Red.

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The first Midnight Blue bloom for this year appeared this week, followed by what I am sure will be a cascade of rose blooms. The first thing to observe is how large and vibrant these cool weather blooms will be.

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Spring blooms in the garden bed

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More March buds and plants

Wishlish plant of the day: Malvaviscus candida Variegata or Variegated Turk’s Cap (a shade plant for Texas)!

First stop is the planter box by the patio door. I dropped some cuttings of stonecrop (?) that I took while trimming my succulent planter. I didn’t have high hopes that these stray cuttings would flourish, but they look pretty alive in that dirt, don’t they?

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The oxalis in the blue bed appear lush and full. Notice the remnants of the yarrow I pulled out a couple of weeks ago lying in wait to take over.

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I am baffled by these rosettes in the blue bed. These are the surviving Blue Knoll Chrysanthemums, aka Heteropappus Meyendorfii. They are reportedly annual, but these two are starting their second year in this bed. They sat in mulch, tolerating dry-to-drought conditions, part sun and displayed no flowers last fall. They have not grown beyond the size they currently are. Is there a chance that these might provide some autumn color this year? I’m going to have to pull out the Days Aster–it spreads everywhere and has invaded the camellia bed on the other side of the fence.

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The next camellia bud is about to burst. This particular bloom occurs very low on the plant and to the back. It requires some position to take it in full view.

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Front flower bed: tulips bursting out of the mulch and the newly transplanted Valentine dianthus. Notice the white edging on the tulip leaves; this appears to be the Happy Generation tulip planted last fall. The other tulip sprouts are smaller and do not display edging; most likely they are Tubergen’s Gem.

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Hot Lips salvia starting out with red blooms, but the bicolor blooms are coming on fast. I just love the variability of this salvia.

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Daffodil buds have appeared. I expect to see them bloom in a matter of days.

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This particular foxtail fern has new plumes. The foxtail ferns did not die back down into the ground this due to the mild winter weather. It was pleasant to see them provide some greenery and vertical shape to the shade bed. Check out the japanese painted fern behind the foxtails!

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The lily bed would like to welcome our newest bloomer: origami red and white columbine. Beautiful spurred flowers are blooming on this one specimen. The other columbine is looking rather straggly but at least it endured summer and winter. The colors are synching with the red-and-white theme of the neighboring dianthuses and pansies. I hope in a future season, we will see some lush foliage and growth show off this bed. For example, the orange and white mums appear to be bulking up in anticipation. The Charmed Wine oxalis appear to be a little shy coming out of winter; they don’t show off as many blooms as the neighbors in the blue bed, and they are half the size.

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I filled in the new garden bed this morning and tried to level the ground up to the bed at the same time. We’ll be requiring some good soil to fill in the rest and start arranging the cinder block edge. Now if it would stop raining/sprinkling long enough for us to get some garden work done!

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