Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hurry Up and Garden

New Border
I guess I'll be calling this my new border for a while since I still have lots of ideas for it. I said in my last blog that I would be designing it this winter. But heck, seasoned gardeners will recognize themselves in me. I started thinking about all the things that would look so much better next year if only they had a good winter's season of growing roots. So I ordered a few plants (mums and pansies are all I can get here now), and transplanted a few plants. In fact, since my bulb order came in it's been a non-stop gardening fest. And just because I have a new bed to plant in, it doesn't mean I don't have to move things around. So the arrival of a peony and some lilies from Old House Gardens meant that I had to hassle with transplanting a very thorny rose and some daylilies.
'Whirling Butterflies' gaura
There are a few plants that are still holding out this warmish fall season. The gaura 'Whirling Butterflies' is on its second big splash. It has a great one in spring and early summer, kind of peters out in midsummer, and then rejuvenates in fall. I have to cut it back for best flower show.
Purple basil and self-seeded Coral Nymph salvia
Most of my basil is pretty shot by now. A few nights of pretty cool weather a few weeks ago brought the Genovese basil to its knees. But the purple basil is still going strong, although it's quite floppy.
'White Cloud' muhly grass
I bought the 'White Cloud' muhly grass last fall at a plant show. It didn't do much that year but is now flowering quite well. It's much more upright than the pink muhly and it has incredibly soft plumes.
Daffodil leaves on the right, newly transplanted daylily on the left
How weird is this? In a number of places I've got some daffodils starting to come up. No sign of buds just yet, thankfully.
Leaves of the spring starflower Ipheion
And starflower is starting to grow as well. Weird.
Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis)
Here's a big risk - the Lenten rose. I've been enchanted by all the photos I see on blogs during the dead of winter of Lenten roses, hybrid hellebores, Christmas roses, etc. You don't see them down here very often, which is why it may be a risk to try to grow them. But all of gardening's a risk, right? Anyway, the ones I received were lovely and healthy (from Gardens Oy Vey), so I'm hoping for the best.

As you can tell, I've been in quite a hurry to get plants and bulbs in the garden. I just hope La Nina is kind to us this year and gives us at least a little rain (predictions of a warm and dry winter for the South, ugh!).

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.

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.