Friday, October 6, 2017

Not much to look at

In addition to the one major project I've undertaken since our seasonal shift began last month, I've been chipping away at a host of smaller garden projects and tasks.  They're not much to look at, at least not at this stage but, for my own record as much as anything else, I'm going to inventory them here.

There's a relatively good-sized area sandwiched between the newly renovated succulent bed in front of our garage, the trees and shrubbery in the northwest corner of our property, and the neighbor's driveway that I've largely ignored for the 6+ years we've lived here.  When we hauled in topsoil to create berms for the succulent bed, I used some of it to do the same in the neglected area after first clearing it of weeds and the one poor shrub I planted when we moved in, which had stubbornly refused to grow.  As it's a semi-shady location, I decided to use it for part of my burgeoning bromeliad collection.  It's by no means done but I've made a start.

Left, the area after it'd been cleared and soil was added.  Right, after soil amendments, rocks and the first plants were added.

I'd originally planted this Aechmea lueddemanniana 'Mend' in a pot and placed it in what I thought was a sufficiently shaded location but it got singed.  In the 2 weeks since I moved it to is new location, it's pink variegation has become much more vibrant.

I surrounded 'Mend' with plants I felt would complement it.  Clockwise from the upper left, these include: a Neoregelia hybrid, the pup of another Neoregelia that appears to have similar parentage to the first, Peperomia caperata 'Rosso', a pup of Nidularium wittrokia leopardinum, and a pup of Vriesea ospinae var gruberi.  As accents, I've planted an asparagus fern and Pelargonium peltatum 'Pink Blizzard'.  Thus far, all seem to be doing well, although I'm still giving the Peperomia only a 50-50 chance of surviving there.


I see this area, not large enough to be called a secret garden, as a surprise pocket garden.  Before I do more planting, I want to add a flagstone path to minimize the risk that anyone, myself included, will trod on the plants.  I'm planning to use grasses and grass-like plants, probably Seslaria 'Greenlee's Hybrid' and Ophiopogon japonicus 'Nanus' (dwarf mondo grass) to soften the areas around the stepping stones and the bromeliads.  I'll probably add shade-tolerant succulents too, like the Manfreda maculosa I need to move to make way for my future lath/shade house.

Mini-project #2 was tackled on roughly the same schedule as the bromeliad bed.  I used some of that imported topsoil to raise the soil level and improve drainage in the garden on the northeast side of the house.  Digging out a mass of germander (Teucrium chamaedrys) and Geranium incanum in the area was the toughest part of the job.  After getting started on replanting, I wasn't able to get the Barleria obtusa I wanted to fill in the remaining empty spaces so it appears I'm going to have to propagate the plants I need myself.

The new plants here are Melinus nerviglumis (ruby crystal grass), Grevillea lanigera 'Jade Mound', and Vitex agnus-castus.  Behind the new plants are 3 Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite' (2 of which I added last fall), Globularia x indubia (globe daisy), Salvia clevelandii and self-planted Dorycnium hirsutum (hairy Canary clover).


I've been replanting areas of another large bed in front of the garage too.  Many of the plants I put in during the first quarter of 2016 needed more shade than that location provided.  I've been gradually swapping them out with plants that enjoy more sun.

The most recent additions are 4 varieties of daylilies, all in pale yellow or purple shades.  I've also planted Hebe andersonii 'Variegata' and Polygala fruitcosa 'Petite Butterfly'.  The Arthropodium cirratum I planted more than a year ago from divisions is still there and I'm hoping it will beef up into sizable clumps with this year's winter rains. Oh, and I also added lots of bulbs here, including Freesia and Dutch Iris.


Next, I tackled a problem location in the back garden, an area that quickly killed off anything I planted there, even succulents.  The soil in this area is especially sandy and the soil amendments I added seemed to wash away from the area which sits on the upper edge of the back slope.  I added rocks to help hold the new topsoil and soil amendments I dug in here and filled in with bulbs and a few plants.  I'm trying to find more Lantana camara 'Irene' so I can tie the area just beyond it.

The bulbs, Sparaxis and several daffodils, are of course invisible at the moment.  The visible additions include Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow', Lantana 'Samantha', and Hunnemannia furmarifolia 'Sunlite'.  The asparagus fern has been there since we moved in and to this point is the only plant that's been happy there.


The moderate west-facing slope got a clean-up, a couple of new plants, and some bulbs.

I cleared out some Shasta daisies and Agapanthus that were never happy here, relocated a couple of bearded Iris and added more Lantana, a Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata, and a Phylica pubescens.  More daffodils and Sparaxis bulbs also went in here.

Although I didn't previously have any luck planting Phylica pubescens in the ground, I found this healthy specimen on sale for $10 and couldn't pass up trying it again.  All of a sudden, this plant is everywhere at fairly reasonable prices (by current standards), which is hilarious given that the first one I saw several years was priced at $400.


In addition to these projects, I made a few quick fixes this week.

I pulled the blueberry plants that previously occupied these pots for years several weeks ago.  I'd neglected the plants, which should have probably been pulled up and root pruned before replanting in fresh potting mix a year or 2 ago.  I replaced the plants this week with varieties geared to pot culture, 'Pink Icing' and 'Bountiful Blue'.

I finally replaced the Coleonema that died in my front border with 3 Lavandula stoechas 'Silver Anouk'.  At maturity, I'm hoping they'll look as good as the specimen shown on the right, shown blooming in April elsewhere in my front garden.

Finally, I replaced the desiccated succulents in the circle pot on my back patio table with fresh plants.  While I once again used cuttings of Aeonium arboreum and Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi', the focal point is Graptosedum 'California Sunset'.  With a bit of stress and plenty of sun, it should eventually take on the delicious orange color shown in the photo on the right.


There's still a lot to do but another heatwave arrived today and, after a brief cool down early next week, we're expecting yet another blast so I'm holding off any any more planting or transplanting until the temperatures cool again.

Best wishes for a peaceful weekend after what's been a very troubling week.


All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

14 comments:

  1. Only a little jealous that as I'm hauling all my potted bromeliads inside for the winter, you're planting them in the ground. Your garden is looking spectacular especially compared to the leaf-strewn shaggy mess of the autumn garden here.

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    1. Summer is currently paying us a return visit but I have to say that I do love autumn here, at least once it settles in and stays awhile. I do NOT envy the great plant migration that takes place in the PNW!

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  2. You've been so busy and it's making me jealous! I bought plants all summer with plans to remake two beds, but as soon as fall arrived, I hurt my shoulder and now have a pinched nerve in my neck, which makes my right arm ache. So I'm making no progress at all. It's so frustrating! Your garden looks wonderful!

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    1. I'm sorry your on the injured reserve list, Alison! I hope you get the rest your body needs to recover and put you back in gardening condition.

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  3. It feels great to make progress on some of these smaller areas that have been nagging quietly at the back of the brain doesn't it Kris? I have been working for several months on similar neglected and under performing areas though I have to say you've made significantly more progress than I have ! I'm still mostly in the digging up phase !

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    1. It did me good to recognize what I'd gotten done thus far when I was feeling frustrated that virtually nothing was finalized. (Even the blueberry pots still need some top dressing.) I hope you're able to chip away at your garden chores too.

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  4. Great work! Don't let the new Phylica get thirsty until it is thoroughly completely established. Ask me how I learned that--the lesson is in the compost...

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    1. Thanks for the heads up on the Phylica! That's probably just what did in the plant I stuck in the ground earlier.

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  5. Wow! Kris you've been busy. Like Peter I'm envious of the fact as we're looking for places to store our Bromeliads inside, your planting them in the ground outside...this spot is probably my favorite, I can't wait to see what you do with it as time passes.

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    1. Your winters are the only downside of gardening in the PNW in my view, Loree. As to my bromeliad bed, while I love Aechmea 'Mend', the collection doesn't sing for me at this point. I need to add some height I think.

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  6. It's all so beautiful. Kris! What color and texture. You've done a wonderful job with design. I think you deserve a pat on the back and a spa day!

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  7. You have been busy! Your bromeliad bed is lovely! I have several potted bromeliads that stay outside through the summer, but they won't tolerate our frosts and must come inside for the winter. I wish I could I could plant them outside like yours. I also really like your circle pot with its succulents. Succulents are another type of plant I must bring inside before frost and heavy winter rains hit.

    The eye of Hurricane Nate came directly over us today, but fortunately it was only a whimper of a tropical storm by then, though we did get lots of rain and a bit of wind. I am hoping the air will cool off and the humidity will drop soon, and I can get into the garden. We have had a few fall-like days, but summer wants to linger. My own projects are waiting!

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    1. I count myself very lucky that I garden in a frost-free zone, Deb. Hauling in plants each fall and back out in spring has got to be time-consuming (and exhausting)! I'm glad to hear that Hurricane Nate left you, and apparently most of the eastern seaboard, alone. This has certainly been a rough hurricane season!

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