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:

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.


  1. Very, very nice. Seems everyone is struggling with weather this spring. I particularly like the water lily buds... something about blooms on water that takes me away.

  2. Awesome pictures! I enjoyed my visit!

  3. I have one water lily, which hasn't bloomed in the three years I've had it. I was just thinking maybe it needed fertilizer. You've inspired me to go get some!

  4. Looking good! I used to have Helvola; don't know what happened to her but i need to get a replacement. If at all possible, try to go to the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island off Seattle. We think it is the best "garden" we've ever seen. At the top of our list of must see places.

  5. Jean, Your veggies and perennials look great~I think I have Crimson Pirate~it was a bonus plant when I ordered daylilies last year. I love your Regal Lily photo~anything that smells a delicious as a Stargazer is welcome in my garden. Can't wait to see you in Seattle and feel cool air again. gail

  6. I would always get aphids on my guara too (in my former garden; not growing it right now). It seemed to work to spray them hard, but cutting them back will be guaranteed.

    I'm glad your Helvola division is blooming. You're right, it only opens during bright sunlight hours, so you have to brave the heat to enjoy it.

  7. I haven't had aphids on my Gauras but the milkweed are another story!


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