The Natural Garden Coach

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Some Hits and Misses

Regal lily close up
How can I call myself a garden blogger and go to the Seattle Garden Bloggers Fling in July if I don't blog?! Time to get at least one more blog post out in May anyway.

I thought I'd show you a few of my hits and misses so far this season. It's been a tough spring - above normal temperatures at times (10 degrees above this week), cooler temps that held some plants back, way below average rainfall, etc., etc. But despite all that, I have some fun things to show. Like my first lily ever, the Regal lily.

Regal lily
I planted this Southern heirloom lily near my door last fall for its fragrance. Though still a relative baby in the garden, it's done well. The fragrance is very, very similar to 'Stargazer' lilies, which I just love.

'Crimson Pirate' daylily
As I mentioned in my last post, the daylilies are blooming now. This 'Crimson Pirate' daylily is one of my favorites for its long blooming season. This is a variety that debuted in 1957. I have four of them along my rock wall and they look great. Right next to them, not looking so great, is 'Whirling Butterflies' gaura just covered with aphids.

'Whirling Butterflies' gaura and LOTS of aphids!
This happened last season as well. After the first flush of blooms they (I have two) get covered in aphids. It's virtually impossible to spray off the aphids with water since the flower stems are thin little wands and just bounce away. Soap spray didn't help either, and there are too many aphids for the few ladybugs I saw. So after I took this photo I chopped them both down, removing every bloom stem. I think they'll thank me for that.

a sickly iris
I ordered an iris this spring from Old House Gardens. It came packed in hydrogel, very fresh looking and full of promise. However, in less than a week it was dead. They promptly sent me a new one without the hydrogel. Although it's lasted much longer than the other, it's still struggling as you can see. They said the hydrogel was an experiment that hasn't worked for all of the iris they sent out. Maybe it has to do with where I live ... too far south?? Anyway, I do appreciate their great customer service.

Nero Toscana kale still growing
In the middle of this bed you can see my kale is still hanging in there. I love the color of it. This kale goes by many names - Nero Toscana, Italian lacinato, dinosaur kale, etc. I think I need more of this but I believe it's too hot to try seeds now. I'm hoping for more in the fall.

pepper patch
Since I'm on the subject of veggies (although the kale is more ornamental at this point), here's my little pepper patch. I know you're not supposed to mix hot and sweet peppers in the same area (that's supposed to cause hot peppers to lose their spice and sweet peppers to get spicy), but I forgot that at the time I planted them. And I really didn't have anywhere else to put them. My desire for so many interesting kinds of peppers made me forget about where I was going to put them. I planted 'Giant Marconi' Italian grilling, 'Gypsy' sweet bell, 'Mucho Nacho' jalapeno, 'Tiburon' poblano and 'Mariachi', a mildly hot pepper.

'Mucho Nacho' jalapeno
The 'Mucho Nacho' has mucho peppers but so far is not too hot. I could use it spicier. :-)

'Gypsy' sweet bell pepper
My bell peppers are going to start touching the ground if they don't stop growing soon!

Sweet pea climbing rue, Ruta graveolens
After complaining that I'm a poor seed starter and will never be able to grow sweet peas, my sweet peas finally started growing! I'm not sure what the trick was other than the sun finally starting to hit them. Of course, their lovely pastel shades don't seem to go with this abyssmal heat.

'Coral Nymph' salvia
I seem to have no problem, however, with self seeding in my gravel pathways and raised beds. It's been a few years since I actually planted a 'Coral Nymph' salvia. They spring up everywhere. Sometimes I let them stay and sometimes not. Here's an example of an almost-out-of-control self seeding area:

"weeds"
A month ago I totally cleaned this path out; not a plant was here. But once again I've got the usual self-seeders starting to grow - wild Italian arugula, some chives, 'Coral Nymph' salvia and Verbena bonariensis. This year I'm trying my best to pluck off the arugula blooms, even though they're favorites of the pollinators. But those pollinators just give me too much work!

'Helvola' water lily buds
Amazing what a little fertilizer will do. I finally got some water lily fertilizer just three short weeks ago and now the water lilies (from Pam, thank you!) are blooming. Unfortunately they only open when the sun hits them, and this weekend was just too hot for me to be out there then!

drumstick allium
Another new bulb for me this year is the drumstick allium, A. sphaerocephalum. Maybe I just don't have them in the right places to get the full effect, I don't know. But they just remind me of taller, slightly darker chive blooms. I do hope they don't seed out like my chives though! Anyone have any good ideas where to place these so they'll look their best?
A few succulents and some fig ivy that needs trimming!
The succulents are in a new place this year (except for the ones on my "succulent shelf"). I wanted them away from the sprinklers so they're keeping my potted tomatoes company. I think they're happier here.

Be glad I didn't show you the rest of my "misses" - some almost non-existent cucumber plants, the lack of moon vines despite several seedings, the 'Ava' agastache which insists on growing tall and then slowly expiring ... But we all have our misses, don't we?

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.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for May

The daylilies are here!
It's that time again - Garden Bloggers Bloom Day hosted by Carol, and daylily season in my backyard! When I went out early in the morning to snap photos for this Bloom Day, I discovered the daylilies were a little shy about opening. Apparently the 46 F morning temperature was not to their liking (though it was to mine). So I had to wait a couple hours for the sun to warm them up, risking blowing out the photos because of the more intense light. No matter; it's nice to see the daylilies at all after this up and down weather!


Don't ask me the names of any of my daylilies. Some I inherited and some were passalongs. I've only got one with a "real" name.


You can tell that all of these blooms were not quite open.

I have a couple of favorites daylilies in my yard, and this is one of them. It's very floriferous and always the first to bloom.

Little Women rose in a pot
This Little Women rose is the one that bloomed for me indoors this winter. Not bad, eh?

Regal lily buds
Probably in a couple of weeks these lilies will be open. I'm really looking forward to the fragrance. At last year's garden bloggers fling in Buffalo, I got lily envy. In general, the ones they grow in Buffalo won't do well here. But the Regal lily is supposed to be a good Southern heirloom lily. I hope these guys stick around and are not just a one-year triumph for me.

Allium sphaerocephalum, drumstick allium
Speaking of envy, two years ago at the garden bloggers fling in Chicago I got a good case of allium envy. Growing those great, big-headed alliums down here is also supposed to be difficult. But I really wanted to try at least one, so I went for a much smaller allium, the drumstick allium (aka purple-headed garlic). Soon they'll all be blooming.

Camelot series foxglove
My foxglove are almost over for the spring season as you can tell by the last remaining blooms on this stalk. This is a Camelot foxglove, a Louisiana Super Plant. They did just OK in my garden but I'm not averse to trying them again in another location.


'Belinda's Dream' rose
The 'Belinda's Dream' rose continues to bloom away. It went through a rough patch from thrips, I think. You can still see some of the brown petals. In fact, I read that there has been a big outbreak of thrips in our state. Instead of spraying for it, I just waited it out. Sure enough, after having one bloom period of balling and brown petals, it seems to be over.

Verbena bonariensis
Now let's get to some of my blooming pollinator plants. The pollinators are getting active and so are their plants. Verbena bonariensis always starts the ball rolling. I'm sure next year I'll be regretting that I let this one get so big. They really seed out a lot!

Gaillardia x grandiflora ‘Goblin’
Notice the stippling on the leaves of this gaillardia? Lace bugs I think. They're becoming quite a nuisance in my garden.

'Zagreb' coreopsis
mystery poppy
I'm not sure if poppies do much in the way of helping pollinators but the biggest mystery to me is how this poppy got there. I scattered some passalong seed in my border bed, quite a ways from the raised bed where this is, but then I promptly dug up the border bed area for a tree. Somehow this one lone poppy ended up in my raised bed, along with three larkspur I also didn't plant there. Weird.

'Victoria Blue' salvia
'Blue Charm' veronica
This is my first year for veronica. It's very attractive to the bumble bees.

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'
The 'Black and Blue' salvia has already got hummingbirds flocking. Love, love, love this plant.

I have many more plants blooming this GBBD - other roses, tomatoes, peppers, a few little straggler sweet peas, petunias, daisies, Stokes' asters, 'Caradonna' salvia, 'Goldsturm' rudbeckia (just starting and only a few) and still a few blooms on the blue-eyed grass. Hop on over to May Dreams Gardens and see what's blooming in the rest of the world. And if I get to it, I plan to post on more of the daylilies and maybe even show you the veggies while they're still looking good and not beat down by the summer!

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.