Saturday, November 19, 2016

Before the cold snap

We're supposed to get a cold front tonight, so I wanted to immortalize some of the recent additions in case tomorrow it's a frozen wasteland. (Do I sound overly dramatic? Maybe I am a little.)

First, this bed is DONE:

I pulled that Yucca rostrata 'Sapphire Skies' out of a pot in the front, where it had grown to gargantuan proportions in the short span of about a year. I was SO worried about hurting the pot and the plant, and surprisingly neither happened!

I still need to put down pea gravel as mulch, but I can do that next weekend.

'Lafter' rose
My big "accomplishment" was finally getting the area along the fence back to a respectable state. I have hated it all year, and yet when we're out there sitting/grilling it's the only thing you can really see. I made some impulsive buys, which are sometimes my best decisions.

This bed now consists of:

  • Odontonema strictum aka Purple Firespike (as labeled, however the flowers are pink and not red, and google searches aren't helping to clarify)
  • Bicolor iris
  • Fatsia japonica 'Camouflage' (or maybe Murokamo Nishiki? Not sure if they're really the same)

Odontonema strictum...maybe?

Fatsia japonica 'Camouflage' or 'Murokamo Nishiki'
Sorry for the overly shaded shot, you can tell I took this one on a different day.
 And then in the category of garden surprises, two plants blooming unexpectedly!

Surprise #1: this Yucca that was left for dead, and given to me almost as a dare to rehab:

When I trimmed back all the dead foliage I discovered it was double-headed, and as you can see both heads bloomed!

What this picture hints at, but it isn't obvious, is that it's covered in brown bugs. I don't know what kind of bug they are, but they lost their minds on the blooms. They covered the plant and the fence behind it, like it was a standing-room only concert and they're just waiting for their chance to push to the front.

Surprise #2: this experimental Ligularia 'Gigantea' bloomed! (I've killed some before, so this is trial #2.)

Now that it has validated my choice, I'll have to buy more in the Spring.

Last but not least, I leave you with this guy:

Stay warm out there!!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Kill all the things

So last week I was cleaning up my yard and discovered this:

In case you need a refresher, that was this in the Spring:

And then it was this:

I haven't posted a lot about this bed, but since the Spring I have lost:

  • 1 Agave 'Green Goblet'
  • 2 Agave striata 'Live Wires'
  • 1 Yucca rostrata 'Sapphire Skies'
It's either bugs or drainage, right? I put down a granular product for bugs (contains Imidacloprid as per all the recommendations), and that's all I can do about that. The only other logical step is to elevate the remaining living things to address likely possible drainage issues. 

So now the bed looks like this:

I'll have to get another Yucca to fill in that gap, or maybe a Dasylirion wheeleri? I hope I didn't hurt the Yucca in digging it out.

While I was at it, I divided and elevated the Aloes, so now I have pups in the bed across from it and in the back. Maybe someday that aloe will bloom again somewhere?

New back bed with some transplanted Aloes:

So now I wait to see if the surviving Yucca is on it's way out or not. Ugh.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Little tweaks

There are a couple of spots in the garden that I have struggled with throughout the Summer, and a few weeks ago I couldn't take it any more.

Tweak #1:
This Nolina nelsonii up and died in July. It just sort of sagged from the middle out, like it was rotted from rain (except we had none). Before:

Just a reminder of what it looked like in the Spring. Sigh.

I'm pretty sure a bad bug got at it, maybe Agave weevils or something like that.

I really waited too long to pull it out; I need to spray all those Agaves and Yuccas in that area to make sure I don't lose them too (but that's a post for another day).

I've been coveting my neighbor's Olive tree since we moved here, and had been looking for a place to plant one of my own.

The neighbor's Olive tree. Love the silvery green leaves!

When the nelsonii died, I started researching Olive trees.

I was thinking to get a fruitless one (the wilsoni variety) but they get pretty huge and that spot in the corner isn't that big (maybe 4x6?) Then I came across an Arbosana Olive at Hill Country Water Gardens and it seemed like a great choice, despite it bearing fruit (which I hear is messy). They only get to be 12-15' high, are able to tolerate brief freezes (zone 8-10), and they're drought-tolerant once established.

Yes, there's my trademark Minnie Pearl plant tag.

Tweak #2:
I also pulled out all of the Salvia I'd transplanted to that side of the house. They just weren't working for me with the pokey plants. I replaced them with Bamboo Muhly, which my garden had been sorely lacking anyway.

I'm trying to hide the *#^@!& AC unit until I can build a screen to put in front of it.

Hidden if you look from a certain angle and crouch down

Not even a little hidden

Definitely not hidden. Can I paint it green?

Tweak #3:
This bed, and specifically the roses in it, have struggled mightily since I planted them. It looked pretty in the Spring (what doesn't?) but as the Summer progressed the 'Valentine' roses got more and more scraggly looking.

I think they were in a pot for too long, transplanted too many times, and just never quite got a good root system established. I lovelovelove that rose so pulling them out was sad, but I felt I'd spent enough time (2 years) trying to rehab them: one of us didn't want it bad enough.

The Canna 'Blueberry Sparkler' bloomed off and on all Summer, but just looked raggedy and crispy on the bottom leaves. (You'd never believe that from this photo after the August deluge, right?)

I pulled all of it out except the Smoke Tree, the Pennisetum grass, and the Patio Peach. Then I moved the big planter from the back far corner of the yard (where I'd done nothing with it all year). Here's what we're left with:

That spot gets full sun all year long, so I plan to embrace that: I want to plant some Sharkskin Agave in that planter, and move the gigantic Yucca 'Sapphire Skies' from its pot in the front to this bed. (As you can tell from the post-rainstorm photo above, drainage is going to be an important thing to address in order for that Yucca to survive.)

The Pennisetum is staying (they sure love sun!), however I'm struggling with the Peach and Smoke Tree. The Peach is doing great there, but I'm not sure how to address the needs of a Yucca and it in the same soil (whether the topic is raising the bed, or irrigation/drainage). That bed doesn't get anything but rain water currently, and I don't plan to change that.

I saw that same Peach tree variety in shade at Hill Country Water Gardens, so I'm contemplating moving it to the back area under the Oak tree, where the Begonia luxurians died [shocking absolutely no one]. I know if I do that, the leaves might lose the dark coloring I love so much in the Spring, and I'll never see a peach seed on it again (due to the year-round filtered sunlight).

The Smoke Tree is another story. When I had it in shade, the leaves were solid (boring) green. Now that it's been in it's new spot spot all year, I see that it reeeeeaaaally isn't a fan of our heat/intense sun. It was starting to put out little smoke blooms this Summer and I got excited, then we went several weeks where it was hot and dry, and the leaves started dropping again.

If you look closely at the shot above, you can see new red leaves from the good rain we got Thursday. It's sneaky: it does that every time I want to pull it out!! It's thisclose to going in a brown Home Depot bag.

That bed is important to me: there are so many months of the year where it's just miserable to be outside, so I need the outside views from inside the house to make me happy. This one from the kitchen makes me happy (and that's why I busted my behind and the bank to make it happen this Spring):

Hoping I can make the view from the sunroom one worth looking at!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day & Foliage Follow Up: June 2016

I always have good intentions for posting and then next thing I know, I've missed both the Foliage Follow Up and Bloom Day. This month I'm combining both!

Canna 'Flambe' and Uruguayan Firecracker Plant (Dicliptera suberecta)

Dicliptera suberecta

Chocolate Mimosa
I know that's a grainy shot of the Chocolate Mimosa, but I couldn't resist posting it. I love how the leaves look perforated.

Hosta 'Sum and Substance'

'Incense' Passion Vine in bloom!

'Incense' bloom up close

Huge thanks to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Blogger's Bloom Day on the 15th of every month, and to Pam Penick of Digging for hosting the monthly Foliage Follow Up on the 16th! (Be sure to stop by Pam's site to say your farewells to Moby, and meet Moby Jr!)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Gardening experiments 2016

This won't be the sexiest post, but I thought it might be helpful (to me) to catalog all the things I'm trialing in my garden right now.

"Trial" makes it sound really scientific, but it mostly amounts to planting stuff that likely won't survive, either in this climate or by my hands (or the unfortunate combination of both).

Additions this Spring:

Ongoing from 2015:
  • Hosta 'Sum and Substance'
  • Acanthus mollis 'Hollard's Gold'
  • Fatshedera lizei 'Annemeike'
  • Justicia fulvicoma (surviving but not thriving)
  • Rootbeer plant (we'll see how it does this Summer when it's 1 bazillion degrees)
I do have one low-risk experiment that seems to be paying off so far! The former owners nailed nails into the grout of the brick siding by the garage; I guess they were using it to help support the gawd-awful Holly Bushes that were leaning into the walkway. 

When I took the shrubs out I left the nails in (didn't know what else to do with them), and earlier this year I wrapped some wire around them to see if I could get a Passion vine 'Incense' to climb up the wall. It looked like a drunk spider did it, but so far it's working!

I've really missed my old Passion vine (I see it every time I open this blog). I'm crossing my fingers that it will get big and overgrown with lots of blooms before the caterpillars decimate it later this year.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Operation "No Mo' Grass", Phase II: plants!

So many exciting plants, so little space!

I love this view so much! Look how the Golden Barrel Cactus glow!

Some close ups with plant names:

Yucca rostrata, Opuntia Santa-Rita, Euphorbia antisyphiltica, Agave parryi truncata,
a Pennisetum grass I can't recall the name of, and some iris I relocated from the front

Agave weberi, Golden Barrel cactus

Opuntia Santa-Rita in bloom

It looks like a 4th of July sparkler!

Agave weberi and Agave parryi truncata

Agave Blue Emperor (tiny), Salvia Pozo Blue, Psoralea fleta, transplanted iris,
and big ol' hulking AC unit

Datura Evening Fragrance, Agave Blue Glow, Opuntia Santa-Rita, Aloe striata
(I think?), Salvia whose name I can't remember (transplant from the back)

Yucca schotti, Golden Barrel cactus

Euphorbia resinifera (Moroccan Mound), Agave parryi (transplanted from the front)
The full list:

  • Euphorbia antisyphilitica
  • Yucca rostrata
  • Agave 'Weberi'
  • Agave parryi truncata
  • Golden Barrel cactus
  • Psoralea fleta (Weeping Blue Broom)
  • Opuntia 'Santa Rita'
  • Agave 'Blue Emperor'
  • Aloe striata (questionable)
  • Blue Glow Agave
  • Salvia Pozo Blue
  • Datura 'Evening Fragrance'
  • Datura seeds from Lori of The Gardener of Good and Evil
  • Euphorbia resinifera (Moroccan Mound)
  • Yucca schotti
  • Agave parryi truncata
  • Golden Barrel cactus