First week of March 2012

Catgrass grew fast and tall after a few days under the grow lights. It’s the fastest germination I’ve ever seen in something sown from seed. Now I wish I had sourced some variegated catgrass.

3/6/2012 First of March (1)

I picked up a new plant during my trip to Home Depot yesterday. I was shopping for more Jiffy 7 pellets and came across a Proven Winners sedum rupestre dubbed Lemon Coral. It’s brightly colored foliage will make a great accent in my starter succulent collection. One of these days, I’ll get around to identifying my mixed pot of succulents which, incidentally weathered the winter just fine, with very little dieback. (See one of the survivors layer itself into the rosemary bed.)

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My first columbine blooms! The 2nd year Origami Red and White columbines that successfully survived 2011 are displaying the first 2 buds. So exciting to finally add a new source of color in the predominantly red-themed lily bed. Never mind that there are 2 ajuga specimens in the same bed currently blooming budding blue.

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The leek roots I planted have sprouted new foliage…here they are peeking through the soil in the herb bed.

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Larkspur are growing tall!

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Front yard shade bed looks perfect in shades of yellow, white and orange (with the occasional splash of lavender and purple). I pinched back the ornamental kale which have begun to bud and bloom, in an effort to get them to put on more foliage. The daffodils, if they decide to bloom this year, will supply some height to the bed. However there appear to be a few surprises lurking in the bed. The hakonechloa is making an early start this year. The transplanted yarrows appear to be thriving in the dry shade. The japanese painted fern is irrepressible; 2011 tried to kill it but it is coming back again. Is that clump of spindly leaves actually the tiger lilies we planted early last year? I don’t recall it being sited directly behind the crape myrtle. I found another bulb spike just about a few feet away which is probably a more accurate position of the lilies.

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I snapped another picture of the future bed, with the first course of cinder blocks moved into place. I also snapped a shot of the potted plants taking advantage of this warm weather.

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Salvias, salvias. Soon your numbers will increase by two.

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Front yard bed pictures: I transplanted 3 Valentine dianthus to the front bed this morning and divided the two Cherry Pie coreopsis. I hope the coreopsis make it through; I’m not sure how well they take to division, but they looked ready to be halved. The tulips are slow to sprout, but it appears that all the bulbs I planted last year are finally emerging.

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Petunias took an abortive attempt at blooming…the buds are drying on the plant. The potted Chocolate Chip ajuga are still blooming however.

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I applied the shears to the rosemary shrub this morning. It was beginning to look poofy; I trimmed it back as close as I could approximate its original conical shape.

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A lantana bud and a pepper fruit. Both early reminders of the summer heat to come.

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Wishlist plant: variegated catgrass.

First Sinaloa sage blooms

I happened to be giving the gardens their morning drink when I happened to spot these blooms on the sinaloa sage. They were so tiny I nearly missed them hiding behind the oxalis and scabiosa. A nice electric blue…I hope the sages will go on to produce a mass of blues so as to truly catch the eye.

7/13/2011 First Sinaloa sage blooms (1) 7/13/2011 First Sinaloa sage blooms (2) 7/13/2011 First Sinaloa sage blooms (3) 7/13/2011 First Sinaloa sage blooms (4)

Both of my specimens in the blue garden have really picked up this summer. They are still under 18″ tall and forming lovely well-behaved mounds of bicolored foliage, green with chocolate rims. They get about 4-6 hours of sun in their current spots, protected by yarrows, oxalis and scabiosa. They don’t seem predisposed to woodiness, unlike the greggiis, but I’m not sure if it’s because of their current location or nature.

Arboretum, nurseries, and gardening this past weekend

The Dallas Arboretum was packed this weekend, so much so that we had to circle the place looking for parking. But it was definitely the place to see tulips and azalea during the warm spring weather.

We headed out to Home Depot, Lowes and Strongs as well to pick up some variegated society garlic, 2 Palace Purple heuchera, 2 Wide Brim hostas, 2 Charmed Wine oxalis and several bags of mulch, compost, humus and soil. The honey finally got his rose planted in time to see its first bloom. However we have concerns with the leaf yellowing on the lower extremities of the rose bush.

We got about 6 bags of pine bark mulch in the salvia bed, after I had toiled last weekend putting weed block fabric down. The 2cf bags of pine bark gave enough coverage on the bed, much less bags used compared to shredded mulch. However, I am concerned that 2 of my red salvias are ailing–in fact, looking like they are dying. I suspect they may have received lethal doses of weed killer in previous weeks. I am crossing my fingers that they will survive (they survived sitting in a pot for almost 2 years). Luckily, I have volunteer cuttings ready to replace them should the need arise. I also need to work on getting the Crimson Pirates into this bed…they’ve been sitting on the kitchen table too long.

It’s been exciting to observe the changes happening in all the beds. The blue bed is perhaps the showiest at this time. The yarrows form a verdant mounding backdrop to all the color coming in. The purple oxalis are beautifully robust (and flowering), the violas in full bloom, and the scabiosa gangly and flowering as well. I should remember to deadhead and collect scabiosa seed if possible. I’ve placed the 2nd sinaloa sage into the bed, along with the two variegated felicia. While working the bed, I discovered 2 phlox starts growing up against the rocks–one had a distinctive, pale blue flower that I remembered. I dug them up to grow them indoors, in hopes of that the weed killer wouldn’t affect them. Now I am just waiting to put Sea Breeze salvia seedlings into the bed.

Speaking of seedlings, nearly all but the columbines that I seeded last weekend, have sprouted. Speediest out of the gate were the marigolds. Everything else has followed suit, save for the columbines–which take a few days more than usual. Those petunias and ice plants are particularly tiny! I will need to remember to keep them under the dome a little longer than the others. I’m also happy to report that planting the garlic chives thickly and keeping them covered with a humidity dome has produced favorable results. Now I just need to sow more garlic chives. Since I emptied out our bathroom nursery, I have a little more counter space to work with. But first I have to work on getting the previous wave of seedlings potted and placed outside. The basil seedlings also need hardening off; with the warm weather, it’s time to put them outside. I should sow more of the Red Rubin basil since they will look good in the purple bed. I forgot that I had some Lime Basil seeds to sow as well.

While I’m on the subject of herbs…the herb garden sits still unfinished. I’ve only planted the lime thyme and the golden oregano in the cinder block border. I have yet to move the other oregano, thymes, and pineapple mint. Those herbs planted from last year are now cozy neighbors, jutting up against each other in the corners of the bed. I’m reluctant to move them now since they look so good together, but it’s only a matter of time before the pineapple mint takes over. The rosemary suffered some frost burn this past winter, but there is evidence of a lot of new growth on all of its branches–so I imagine it is doing quite well, unlike our rosemary topiary. I am considering installing the lavender in the herb garden’s back row.

The shade garden in front gathered the most newcomers this weekend. I added one specimen of the Gold Standard hosta, the 2 Wide Brims, and the 2 Purple Palace heuchera. I’m also excited to see that both of the foxtails have prominent plume shoots above ground, and the japanese painted fern in back has also sent out several fronds. The golden hakone grass are back this spring, showing off vibrant citrine yellow blades of grass–really brightening the area. The honey put down several bags of black mulch, which is punching up the color of the new additions. I am hoping the tiger lilies give us a show this summer; in the mean time, I am still debating on what border plants to add to the bed, aside from impatiens.

The front flower bed was the messiest to begin with; overgrown with weeds and in dire need of cleaning and shearing. Most of the vinca remains have been removed, the coreopsis and salvia have been trimmed back and general maintenance performed. The centerpiece loropetalum is stealing the show, drenched in countless white fringe flowers. I am thinking that the nandina flanking it need to be pruned into a rounder shape sometime in the future. The Victoria blue salvia that I’ve left in the bed are sprouting at the roots; so I’m glad to have left them in this bed so they can come back. The compact white ballerina gaura has grown back in force, nearly a foot high after I cleaned it. However, the pink gaura (Cherry Brandy and Passionate Blush) aren’t as vigorous, only still crowning at this time. I took some cuttings of Passionate Blush in hopes of propagating it. Sadly, neither the hakone grass nor the kangaroo paw have made a reappearance in this bed and are most likely victims of our vicious winter. I’m still crossing my fingers that the kangaroo paw may come back.

The only decorative bed in front is the gardenia bed, bordered by kale and viola. Sadly, this winter may have taken a toll on the gardenia; much of its leaves are pale, dry and look ready to drop. We have to take care not to overwater it, but I’m not sure if it’s going to survive another year. It is truly ghastly.

3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (1) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (2) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (3) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (4) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (5) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (6) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (7) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (8) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (9) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (10) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (11) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (12) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (13) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (14) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (15) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (16) 3/22/2011 Spring Garden Plans (17)

Hippeastrum and blue garden update

2/25/2011 Dallas Star Daylily end of winter shootsThe red garden amaryllis bulbs are planted! Yesterday morning, during a break in the late winter showers, the bulbs went into the lily bed in front of the Delaware White azalea. In the course of digging I hit a neighboring lily bulb, which I hope won’t be too badly damaged by the disturbance. In the process of cleaning up the bed this past weekend I’ve noticed that the Dallas Star daylilies have sent up green shoots. The Hyperion daylily only came to my notice about mid-week, so it is definitely slower to bolt than the Dallas Stars.

2/25/2011 Oxalis End of Winter LeavesMeanwhile, early this week I discovered a couple of interesting sights in the blue bed. First, I noticed that the yarrows had apparently spread underground and had begun sending up shoots about 6-8 inches from the mother plants. I had not known that yarrows were aggressive spreaders so these two specimens bear watching in the coming year.  Second, the oxalis have begun to leaf out. I have been thinking of relocating them in the lily bed to provide additional color throughout the year once the lilies have died back. Finally the violas in this bed have begun to ramp up flower production…though not as vigorously as the red and white violas in the lily bed.

Salvias in the garden

Failing to compromise on a shrub to place back of the front yard flower beds, I convinced the soon-to-be hubby that Hot Lips would survive the partial shade conditions. He relented and positioned them behind the 2 new Coreopsis (Sunrays?) plants we obtained last week. To fill in the rest of the holes, he planted the last of the Salvia farinacea Victoria Blues and 2 more of the Dahlberg daisies to flank the other end of the bed.

We also rented a tiller yesterday and dug along the neighbor wall to start planting the salvia row that I had originally planned out. Unfortunately I ran out of compost about halfway into the plantings and the pesky bugs were beginning to attack viciously (as time approached sundown). I hope to get the rest into the ground today, as long as I can obtain more soil amendment. By the way, those medium-sized tillers really aren’t all that great when your soil is mostly foundation clay.

Sad news is that the yarrows we have planted aren’t looking particularly bright and cheery. The extra watering they have been receiving has successfully sickened the rosemary plant we had flanked with them. The needles have begun browning at the ends, and I’m not sure if the rosemary is in any condition to survive. The Frostproof gardenia in front, while blooming wonderfully these past 2 weeks, has also begun to yellow (a sign of overwatering–which STBH finally admitted and confessed to). I’m speculating that acidity might also have something to do with it, so I’m suggesting removing the existing mulch and installing pine bark mulch.