Sunday, October 10, 2010

You Can Tell It's Fall ... Changes


Spider lilies (Lycoris radiata) and cloudless sulphur butterflies
When the spider lilies make their surprise appearance in September, you know cooler weather is around the corner. Yes, indeed, the cooler weather finally made an appearance down here. It's been a blessed relief. However, there's been no relief from the drought. With a burn ban now covering the entire state, we're all very anxious for some fall rains. It's too bad we've entered October, typically a very dry month here. Not to be dissuaded though, I've plunged ahead with fall planting.

My new babies from High Country Gardens, waiting for their new homes
Before I could start planting my stash (veronica, candytuft, monarda and a reblooming iris), I had to make room in the raised beds. That meant ripping out many overly enthusiastic plants or ones not doing so well, as well as just making room to try some new things. One of the biggies we tackled was the rosemary. It had completely outgrown its space and then some. With my hubby's help, we pulled it out. Below is the "dramatic" removal.

Starting the dig

Surprisingly shallow root system

Finally out

More exciting changes happening in the backyard - new borders going in. 
From my upstairs office window, the proposed border lines
I've been slowly trying to add this new border on my own. You can see from the above photo the start of them. I put corrugated cardboard or newspaper down over the grass, wet it thoroughly, add composted cow manure on top, and then mulch. But it's taking WAY too long to get done, especially considering how much I want to cover. So I laid out the entire line I wanted with markers paint and hired a crew to complete it. The new border goes from towards the back of the yard, all along the side fence. The squarish place in the photo above, is where a small deck and pergola will go in the future.

The view from the future front gate, towards the back
Part of the newly installed border; the future deck and pergola will go in front of the lattice
More of the new border going towards the side and front (don't you love the size of that pine tree trunk?)
 
Updated view from the front future gate
I don't have a definite design for it yet. I've placed a few freebie plants I got at the GWA Symposium last month in the border but they may be there just temporarily. I know for sure that I'll place some bulbs along part of the edge, add some roses, add some evergreens to give it year-round structure, and have more drought-tolerant plants towards the front gate because there is no irrigation system there. Although I'll plant a few things in it this fall, I'm giving myself the pleasure of designing it this winter.

Now for a few more little things happening around the yard.

Bug-ridden 'Purple Dome' New England Aster
Unfortunately this has been a disaster of an aster. The reason? Aster lace bugs. They have been chomping on these plants since I put them in. I've tried all the usual organic methods to get rid of them. I finally started using neem but I may be too late. I try to avoid neem because it's toxic to bees but they say if you spray it when the bees are not around, it's okay. I hope so. There are so few blooms on them that very few bees are attracted anyway!

The blooms on the pink muhlys are starting to show off

A real "late bloomer" - 'Goldsturm' rudbeckia about two months after the initial bloom period

The dainty (and tasty) blooms of wild (sometimes called Italian) arugula

Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) blossoms

My pineapple sage has finally started blooming. I knew it would be a fall bloomer, I just didn't know it would take so long. This is the first time I've tried growing it and although I love the fact that it provides late-season color in the garden and fall nectar for the hummers, I'm just not that enthralled with the overall look of the plant itself. Maybe I'll move one of them to my new border where I won't see it as often. :-)

I hope you all are enjoying the cool weather as much as I am!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2010. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.


23 comments:

  1. New beds are so exciting! Nothing to try to fit plants in around, it's all whatever you envision going right in. Having a deck out by the fence will be great for viewing the garden and being up close to scents and sights. I can't wait to see it all done up.
    Sorry about your aster mess. The cucumber beetles are attacking mine, but I've been on squish patrol and kept the damage to a manageable level.

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  2. Wow! You've been working hard. I'm so surprised to see that you order from High County. I love that place but I would think your lovely soil and moisture would be too sweet for most of their plants. Anyhoo, they have the greatest stuff, don't you think? Excited to see your new babies in full bloom.

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  3. Great capture of the sulphurs on the spider lilies. And your new beds look great. Lots of room for new plants!

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  4. I'm looking forward to seeing how your new beds go. And I still have flowers on my Rudbeckia Goldsturm too. Hope you get some rain soon.

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  5. I've been doing a lot of digging myself and feel your pain and joy, lol! Glad your temps are more reasonable now.

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  6. Kate - at High Country Gardens I try to stick to their "Hardy Garden Perennials", plants said to do well in richer, moister soil. I did fall prey to 'Ava' agastache though and it did well until we had an odd week of rain in August. Lesson learned. But we've had so much drought here lately, that it may matter much!

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  7. You certainly made short work of that project. It's going to be wonderful. Candytuft, now there's a plant I would love to have in my garden. So English. I wonder about here. Did you ever grow it when you lived here. I miss aubretia and the yellow alyssum too. Capturing the butterflies on the Lycoris was indeed a fortunate happening. Happy fall. Hope it sticks around for a while.

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  8. My, you have been busy, Jean! The new border looks great; hiring someone else to do it sounds like a great idea. Now you can focus on the fun part--planning what you will plant in it.

    I just noticed today that my pineapple sage is finally starting to bloom, too. I'm pretty sure it bloomed earlier last year; I'm afraid now it won't last long before the frost gets it. We're badly in need of rain, too.

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  9. Jenny - no, I never grew candytuft in Austin and have only just started it here with a few plants I bought in the spring. They survived although they didn't bloom, but I'm hoping for the best next spring. I've never tried those other plants you mentioned. I'm sure you do miss them. Funny but I miss many of the plants that you grow now!

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  10. Is there anything quite as exciting as a new border, empty of plants but filled with possibility? Have fun with the design!

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  11. Hi Jean, So glad you are getting cooler weather and hope a good rain comes your way too. Exciting new happenings in your garden. That Rosemary ... must have been a hard choice to dig it out. Hopefully you can save some of it. I can only grow it in pots here. Look forward to seeing how you fill your new beds. ;>)

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  12. I love seeing the design of your new borders emerge... it will be fun to see these gardens develop! Your photo of the pineapple sage is moody and beautiful. I had the same experience with mine last year: kind of an ugly shaped plant all summer, no blooms until the very last week of autumn, and then they were dramatic. A long time to wait, though, and not much to redeem the plant all summer long!

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  13. You have so much going on in your garden right now. How wonderful to get that new bed all ready. I've been putting my beds to bed. It's late to do any more planting, but I've got some bulbs that will go in soon. It is always interesting to see how different the seasons are around our country.

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  14. Surely enjoying the slight nip in the autumn air here. Your yard is surely looking good.... Will look fwd to see the newbies settle down in their new beds. Cheers! Radhika

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  15. Very exciting events at your place. But I had to laugh at the idea of an overgrown rosemary since it is not hardy here and that's the kind of thing everyone up north dreams about — having a huge rosemary in the garden in the ground. We dream on while you yank it out!

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  16. I love the new border~and smart gardener to hire it dug! Now you have nice edges and it's ready for planting~Are you doing the "I don't know what to plant two step"? It's the latest dance for the southeastern states! gail

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  17. Jean, I feel excited even though you are the one having a new bed, not me. Isn't fun to create something new? I think it must be time for me to make some changes.

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  18. Jean, I'm right there with you. I've been building beds myself using the same method for about 6 years now. I'm in the home stretch. I hope to get someone to build the rest of mine in the next couple of weeks. Looks like yours turned out good.

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  19. Oh, what a luxurious idea, Jean ... a border all dug and ready and mulched by someone else so the gardener still has energy to plan & plant it!

    For me the pineapple sage starts to form buds soon after the autumnal equinox with blooms a couple of weeks later. After a really mild winter you can get a flush of bloom not too long after the vernal equinox, too - but in most Austin winters the Pineapple sage is either frozen down to a few inches or killed outright.

    The need to pull up overgrown rosemary plants was a shock when we moved here. Now it's just part of the cycle. Were you able to the rosemary boughs on the BBQ? Or are BBQ's and firepits part of the burn ban?

    Hope you get rain and it's shared around.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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  20. Yes, for Northerners (and probably others around the world), it's weird to dig up overambitious rosemary. But there's always more around! I did indeed use some of the boughs for the grill.

    Still haven't gotten rain. A few raindrops but nothing that mattered.

    And to all, I know it's quite a luxury to have a tabula rasa (as Layanee called it), and I'm enjoying it. But I can't help myself and I've already started planting a few things! Well, you know how it is. I wanted to give some plants a head start on spring and some plants just needed new homes.

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  21. Yes, for Northerners (and probably others around the world), it's weird to dig up overambitious rosemary. But there's always more around! I did indeed use some of the boughs for the grill.

    Still haven't gotten rain. A few raindrops but nothing that mattered.

    And to all, I know it's quite a luxury to have a tabula rasa (as Layanee called it), and I'm enjoying it. But I can't help myself and I've already started planting a few things! Well, you know how it is. I wanted to give some plants a head start on spring and some plants just needed new homes.

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  22. Filling those borders will be a ton of fun! You might want to check out the plants at Lazy S's Farms in VA. They have an awesome online nursery. What did you end up doing with all that rosemary?

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