Friday, November 3, 2017

What's Happened to My Garden?

Hibiscus paramutablis 

If it's small consolation, I hope I'm not the only one who has had a lackluster year in their garden. I'm starting to realize that the unpredictability of climate change is making it darn hard to figure out what to plant where. Our weather year so far has been one strange trip indeed - only one hard freeze in early January followed by incredibly mild temperatures the rest of "winter," rains throughout spring AND summer, followed by almost drought-like conditions in September and October. We had our first freeze last weekend but now I'm wearing shorts and flip-flops. Is it any wonder the garden is suffering?

Former willow oak tree and numerous smaller trees that were in the way of the saw

I'll show you a few of the misfortunes in the garden. First up was the once large, old willow oak tree on the side of the carport. About two years ago I noticed some sawdust at the base and suspected borers. When I was finally able to get someone out to inspect, they determined the tree was on its last legs but they weren't sure it was the borers' fault (he said many old willow oaks were succumbing around town to something unknown). Unfortunately they had to cut several smaller trees that had created privacy in order to take this one down. It's hard losing such a tree!

JalapeƱo plant with some kind of virus or fungal blight?

Every pepper plant I purchased in spring had some kind of virus or blight. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a fungal blight given the rainy summer we had. So although my pepper plants produced, they were not prolific.

The disaster that my front side garden became this fall

Because of several things happening in September and October, I somehow didn't realize how badly the drought was affecting this bed. Since I can't see this bed from my backyard, it was very neglected. Almost every single black-eyed Susan died (if you have experience with Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm', you know how hard it is to kill them!). And my 'Martha Gonzalez' rose was looking terribly puny so I ripped it out. The ornamental grasses hung in there though. Good thing since they had been divided early in the year so they weren't up to full capacity yet.

Fall fence garden looking kind of shabby

The garden along the side fence is always a challenging area. It sits under a giant shortleaf pine tree that likes to grab available moisture. But because this garden is also downhill from the rest of the backyard, it's the last to drain if we've had a lot of rain. So I have both moisture-loving plants like Joe-Pye weed that you can see bending over in the back, and plants that tolerate drought like Eryngium yuccifolium (rattlesnake master). I guess that means at least something will survive! In spring it looks okay with the purple coneflower blooming and then the daylilies. But sadly, I lost two roses here just this year. That makes three roses in one year, a new record for me.

Rock wall garden with sweet potato vine taking over

This year I didn't have to plant this sweet potato vine because the roots survived the mild winter. Small favors! More exciting to me though is the fact that the mild winter means I'll get lemons off my tree this year.

Back boxes in October

Not much happening in the boxes now except for the Mexican mint marigold (Tagetes lucida) blooming away. One of my asters, Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, commonly called fall aster, did its usual good job.

Symphyotrichum oblongifolium aka fall aster

Yay for fall asters! There have been some successful things in the garden.

Green Lynx spider with a successful catch. This is on a ‘Deuil du Roi Albert’ dahlia.

Like this kind of large spider on my dahlia. It's a Green Lynx spider. It will eat pollinators but such is the cycle of life. When I cut this bloom after it was spent, I discovered the spider had an egg sac on the old bloom that it was tending. So I carefully placed the cut bloom in the middle of its web hoping it would stay there. It did and here's the result!

Mama Green Lynx (can you see her?) with her babies

It's been fascinating to watch the lifecycle of this spider. But kind of hard to watch the slow death of several beloved plants. I'm worried that gardening is just going to be a matter of luck for me from now on. And I fear climate change is going to be our constant. Sigh...

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2017. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Flinging in D.C.

Part of the Enid A. Haupt garden at the Smithsonian

In late June I once again had the pleasure of attending another Garden Bloggers Fling, this time in the Washington DC area. Wow, we saw a lot of extraordinary gardens, both public and private. This time around I decided not to spend so much time behind the camera and just enjoy the gardens. So my trove of pics from this trip is a little skimpy! I finally went through my photos intending to pick out one garden I liked the most and do a blog post on that. But... just when I thought I had settled on one garden I'd find pics of another garden I really liked. Eventually I settled on the Public's garden - the gardens around the Smithsonian.

Sorry, I'm not sure what these are but most likely they're one of the newer Echinacea varieties.

Yes, I know that anyone who's in Washington can see these gardens anytime and so you may be disappointed I chose them but really, they were quite extraordinary. Take this giant gardenia, for example.

One gigantic gardenia in a pot! Here Gail and Andrea take a whiff. 

Seriously, this potted gardenia was huge! It was in the Enid A. Haupt garden right next to a little sitting area. Perfect place to sit and inhale that sweet Southern perfume. I imagine it's quite a task to bring that plant in for the winter.

Assorted purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea spp.)

The Haupt garden had a huge number of coneflowers. All the newest varieties and also the tried and true species. It was a pollinator haven.

Might be Echinacea pallida. Anyone know for certain?

Next to the Haupt garden is the Mary Livingston Ripley garden. It was amazing, due in no small part to horticulturist Janet Draper and her team's efforts. We ran into Janet in the garden the day before the Fling started. She said she was cleaning up in prep for us. As if gardeners don't have messy gardens sometimes!! :-)

WANT!! Looks like blue chalk sticks (Senecio mandraliscaein the background, some kind of echeveria in the middle, and silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea) as the spiller.

Most of these gardens are in raised beds that give you a great up-close view of the plants. As you round the corner into the garden it becomes intimate and scaled to people. That doesn't mean it's wimpy - far from it!

A wall of succulents. This looks so good I could eat it!

There were a lot of really interesting plants in beautiful combinations. And lots of really interesting made objects, like this succulent wall.

Pollinator hotel

And like this pollinator hotel that was made mostly with found objects. It's almost like a sculpture, isn't it?

Shade garden

This shade garden caught my eye because of the sculptural little tree along the wall. The Ripley garden is relatively small but big on impact so I urge you to visit it if you're ever in the capitol.

The best part of Flings is reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. Here are just a few of the Flingers I was happy to see this year.

Andrea, on the left, was our guide around the Mall. She's temporarily in DC but moving back to Texas soon. Gail, of Clay and Limestone, and I got the grand tour from Andrea!

Barbara Wise and I have a tradition of taking each other's pic at the Flings. Hi Barb! :-)

Gail, Janet, Karen, and I sweating it out in the U.S. Botanic Garden.

If you're a garden blogger, you need to come next year - it's in Austin to celebrate its 10th anniversary, woot!!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2017. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day March 2017

'Climbing Pinkie' rose

It's time for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day and spring is nigh! (Actually, I'm a day late for it but so it goes.) Fortunately down here in north Louisiana we're not dealing with the incredible snowpocalypse that the Midwest and Northeast are experiencing. But we did get some unwelcome (to me) cold temperatures. The poor plants are so confused!

'Sombreuil' climbing rose

As you can see, there are a few roses blooming in my yard. Not many yet but two out of the three climbers are starting to look pretty. Wish I could show you how the 'Sombreuil' and 'Climbing Pinkie' are starting to intertwine on the top of the pergola but I'd have to climb up there for a decent shot!

'Thalia' daffodil

The daffodil show is still going though many of the early ones finished blooming some time ago. Still blooming for me are 'Thalia', 'Pipit', 'Mount Hood' and 'Pink Charm', with a few more varieties to come.

Leucojum aestivum 'Gravetye Giant' (aka summer snowflakes)

Hyacinthoides hispanica 'Excelsior' (aka Spanish bluebells)

Other bulbs are still blooming, such as the summer snowflakes, or just starting to bloom, such as the Spanish bluebells.

Phlox divaricata ‘Louisiana Blue’

I ordered these 'Louisiana Blue' phlox last year and am shocked at how pinkish-purple they are. But I love the color! These are growing in my former alleyway now optimistically called 'the woodland garden'.

And here are a few other bloomers.

Improved Meyer lemon tree blooms

'Texas Gold' columbine (seems a bit early to me)

'Butterfly Blue' scabiosa (aka pincushion flower)
Matrix Beaconsfield pansies

I've talked before about how I'm lukewarm about pansies in the landscape. But I love potting them up. And once I learned that fertilizing them every 3-4 weeks really helps, I'm starting to really love them. These Matrix Beaconsfield pansies are quite lovely. I also have Matrix Morpheus blooming in vibrant purple and yellow.

Graptopetalum sp. 

Okay, this Graptopetalum isn't really a bloom but it kinda looks like one, right? I have this growing in my rock wall and I always love how it develops a rosy tinge in the winter. Maybe I should use this for Pam's Foliage Follow-up Day?! Be sure to also visit Carol's GBBD page to see what's in bloom around the world.

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2017. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.