Yard crash progress as of 3/28

It was a back-breaking, sore-all-over labor to work the north-side shade bed and start the task of planting groundcovers and creepers in the stone pathway. But we accomplished a lot over the weekend, including our final tree selections @ Chambersville: a shantung maple and a Viridis japanese maple, both 30 gallon specimens. Due to the wet weather so far, Chambersville won’t be able to deliver our new trees until sometime mid-April.

Before pictures:

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After pictures:

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We mulled over the idea of adding blue glass to the marble rock river winding down to the path from the gutter. The man also wanted to add a marble rock feature to the front bed, but I’m not as open to the idea.

Plantings in the north bed: Carex Everillo, Hosta Fire and Ice, Astilbe (x5), Lime Marmalade heuchera, Foxtail fern, Cedar Sage, White Star caladiums (x3), White Splash geranium, green oxalis (white-flowered), Hort Couture Glitterati Ice Queen, wild red columbine, Sugar Plum heuchera, Japanese painted fern, Hort Couture Plum Crazy oxalis, Contessa Burgundy geranium, black mondo grass.

Plantings in the north path: Platt’s Black brass buttons, scotch moss, irish moss, variegated oregano, roman chamomile, Grace Ward lithiodora, Archer’s gold lemon thyme.

Rosemary Blue and Multicolor Flat

Finally, a single blue bloom on our rosemary shrub!

3/27/2013 Rosemary Blue and Multicolor (1) 3/27/2013 Rosemary Blue and Multicolor (2)

In contrast, a flat of multicolor verbena and variegated oregano waiting in its shadow, waiting to be planted.

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Waltons Pickups

Of course, what was a trip to the Arboretum without stopping in at Waltons Garden Center across the street for a spell? I really was intent on picking up some Dixie Chip ajuga but unfortunately they weren’t available. However, a couple of variegated plants caught my eye which I HAD to have: Wilhelm Langguth geranium and more variegated oregano!

3/17/2013 Waltons Pickups (1) 3/17/2013 Waltons Pickups (2)

After getting home, more tidying and planting occurred, including getting the new columbines in-ground, re-potting and adding new soil to calla lily and hosta pots, trimming back the herb bed wall since the mint and oregano got a bit crazy this spring. I removed some of the invasive aster trying to compete with the groundcover salvia in the blue bed. We also hard-pruned all of the salvias along the neighboring wall to prep the bed for a redo. We hope to get it looking nicer this year.

March Blooms and New Plantings

A quick peek in the seed starting room shows first use of the new heat mat I recently purchased from Burpee. I’m hoping the additional bottom heat will help the heat-loving seedlings like peppers thrive. Of course, I can’t seem to have much success with starting oregano from cuttings. It seems I will have to continue to draw variegated oregano from root stock, at the risk of losing the original parent–because these herbs tend to be very sensitive to root disturbance.

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However, despite the dual grow lights my hunny recently installed, I’m not having the miraculous response that I expected. The peppers are still having a difficult time thriving due to the moisture. I need to find my bottle of hydrogen peroxide and spray down the soil to kill any fungus. I’ve also had to re-sow some seeds due to some non-responsive seeds.

The loropetalums are bursting into bloom. First up is the purple fringeflower. We also took some time to flank our newly pruned Midnight Blue rose with 2 small lavender flowered lantana. Hopefully these are the dwarf kind and will form a nice carpet underneath the rose. We also planted our Home Depot petunias (blue, purple and pink) in the border. With any luck, these will thrive and spread, forming a nice lush colorful border during summer.

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The blue bed is also seeing action. This is one of the most floriferous years I’ve seen Mariposa Skies iris in bloom. By my account there were at least nine buds on one plant. The irises must love this site. I dropped a couple of the creeping phloxes (Emerald Blue?) into this bed. Hopefully these perennial types will last much longer than the annual types I tried last time.

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The diascia “Romeo Red” I picked up from North Haven Gardens will fill in the void in the lily bed (I should drop the name since the lilies really aren’t thriving in this bed) while my dianthus cuttings catch up. I find that it’s easier to propagate the red dianthus rather than the white, probably due to the particular cultivar. I’ve also transplanted one of last year’s Chocolate Chip ajuga cuttings I had in a planter back into this bed which will hopefully continue to spread and fill in the border.

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The Oriental Limelight artemisia are bursting back into good health. I found that this particular pot had rooted into the ground, which I immediately moved to another location. The artemisia wilted but I have no doubt it bounce back. I was disappointed with the performance of the Charmed Wine oxalis and the one green shamrock (oxalis triangularis?) in this bed. Both the purple shamrocks have remained woefully stunted (perhaps due to lack of water) while the green barely clung to life. It particularly got buried when I weeded out the bed, dusted the area with Preen and layered with cypress mulch. It remains to be seen if the green will bounce back. But I am happy to report that my Origami red columbine from seed are still hanging in there. Three specimens are still living in the bed, though I have to take particular care to see that do better this year. Maybe some fertilizer?

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Snapdragons are cool! Literally, they are cold-weather plants and love this chilly early spring air. I think I will have to remember to plant them in boxes again next year so that I can look forward to late winter color. I believe these are the Montego Sunset snaps that I purchased from Stokes last year. They sat unmolested and heavily mulched in the blue bed after I had given up on them late in the year, only to have dug them back up late fall early winter and placed into a box, thinking they were a salvia sport. Joke’s on me. It’s been a real joy to watch these colors progress from rose pink to sunset orange.

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Much work went into the new veggie garden. I planted spinach, eggplant (Bride), arugula, gai lan, cilantro. I also transplanted some of the silver lemon thyme (which had reverted back to solid green), dropped some catgrass, Alaska nasturtium and common chive seeds in the cinderblock holes. Did I mention the leek cuttings also went into their new home? Next week I plan on adding the asparagus to the bed, after I decide on where to place them!

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Wishlist plant: Emerald and gold mint or variegated mint.

Cuttings and seedings

I plan on populating the new garden bed cinder block wall with oregano and thyme cuttings. I divided the newest thyme (elfin) in 2 and already planted them in 2 blocks. I took golden oregano, variegated oregano, variegated lemon thyme, and lime thyme cuttings yesterday. Oregano, especially the golden variety, tends to be a very tricky plant to take cuttings from, since they are very sensitive to disturbance. Both the mother plants and baby plants suffered serious wilt. I decided to bring the cuttings indoors and keep them under artificial light. I’m not sure that the golden oregano will make it. The variegated oregano had tiny white flowers when I divided it; unfortunately, the mother plant is not doing so well. The cuttings however look as fresh as the day I took them. Too bad I can’t grow these things from seed.

I did take some verbena cuttings as well. I have one big mother specimen that survived the last two summers that I’d like to increase. The purple bed looks especially lovely because of them.

8/14/2012 Cuttings and Seedings (1) 8/14/2012 Cuttings and Seedings (2)

I decided to sow my Toy Choy and Guy Lan seeds today. It’s about the right time of the year for the fall harvest season. I hope I get to feast on Chinese broccoli and baby pak choy  this coming October. I also started Bride Eggplant and Red Rubin basil indoors. I need some ornamental pepper seeds to grow in time for the October/November holidays.