Friday, May 11, 2018

The garden wants attention

I returned from the Garden Bloggers' Fling in Austin, Texas to face a garden in need of attention.  Although many parts of the US are currently enjoying the first real days of spring, my garden has already experienced summer-like conditions with periodic flashes of heat, including 2 days of temperatures in the low 90sF while I was away.  There are flowers to be deadheaded, dried bulb foliage to be cut back, bare spots to be mulched, and Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima) to be thinned to prevent the rampant spread of seedlings.

The back garden presented few surprises upon my return.  The Alliums, Achillea 'Moonshine' and Agapanthus have produced their first flowers but I can't yet say I'm seeing the usual early summer stampede.  The mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) is still utterly bare of foliage, not to speak of flowers.  However, the Mexican feather grass was downright blowsy.  

Scorching temperatures had burned the foliage of the peach foxgloves in the cutting garden in early April and another round of 90 degree temperatures during my absence, combined with inadequate water and an assault by opportunistic aphids polished off the plants.

The peach foxgloves and calendula in the middle planter (next to the exuberant Euphorbia 'Sticks on Fire') were unsightly, although the white foxgloves in the first planter and the sweet peas in the third planter appear to have taken the heatwave in stride.


My husband failed to act on my request to water the cutting garden if the temperature soared while I was gone but in that he used his time to wash all our windows inside and out plus the screens, I'm not lodging any complaints.

I took this photo of the back border from inside our living room.  You can't even tell there's glass there, can you?  My husband did a great job on the windows.  This photo was taken 2 days after the one at the top of the post, after all the Mexican feather grass had been thinned.

The clean windows also give me a good view of Leucospermum 'Brandi', blooming at last, from my home office window


Pulling out the sorry-looking peach foxgloves provided room to transplant some of the dahlia tubers I started in pots in early April.  Dahlia 'Terracotta' is already off to a great start and needed more room to spread its roots.  Generally speaking, the tubers I grew in last year's cutting garden are sprouting faster than the new ones ordered this year even though all were potted at the same time in early April.

'Terracotta' was VERY vigorous last year and it's looking as though it'll be a strong performer this year too

The plant sprawled badly last year so, instead of stakes, I'm using a tomato cage to corral it.  If the plant gets as big and bushy as it did last year, the cage should be hidden once the plant matures.


I pulled the rest of the peach foxgloves after planting 'Terracotta' and popped them into a vase.

This isn't one of my best efforts but I didn't give it much time.  In addition to Digitalis purpurea 'Dalmation Peach', the vase contains Achillea 'Moonshine', Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Antirrhinum majus, Callistemon 'Cane's Hybrid', and Salvia lanceolata.


I picked up more bagged compost on my way home this afternoon, so I'll plant the other dahlias that have sprouted this weekend.  As I'm already late getting my sunflower, zinnia and other summer seeds sown, that task is also at the top of the weekend's project list.

Where all these seeds are going to go is still a question


We're experiencing weather whiplash here again with drizzle projected for Saturday.  Of course, as the last rain forecast on May 1st fizzled, I'm not holding my breath.  At least it should be a cooler day to work in the garden.  May the weather favor you however you're spending this weekend!


All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

37 comments:

  1. Hi Kris,
    You have an amazing view and your flowerbeds look great! The peach Foxglove is stunning. The same continent, thousands of miles apart, it's so fun to me to see how different your landscape and plants are from mine and how the plants we have that are the same, bloom at different times. Foxglove won't bloom for another month or so and Salvia won't bloom here until the end of July.

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    1. Our whole schedule is vastly accelerated, Sally. The height of summer here (late June to early October or later) is akin to your winter - plants duck and hide awaiting the return of more reasonable temperatures. Foxgloves don't "over-summer" well and I treat them as annuals.

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  2. Those are some very clean windows! And a very nice garden view to see through it. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who always has extra Mexican feather grass...

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    1. The good news is that Mexican feather grass seedlings are easy to pull up, although they do plant themselves everywhere - I'm always finding them in paving cracks. I hope you're enjoying a relaxing weekend, Renee, after throwing yourself back into work so abruptly!

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  3. Our windows sorely need to be cleaned, I’m rather jealous. Oh and I love your cactus vase!

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    1. I'm still amazed my husband went to town cleaning windows in my absence. When he told me what he'd done, we joked that, if anything could bring a May rainstorm (almost unheard of here), it'd be that. Well, we got a trace of rain overnight (0.04/inch) but my brother, about 45 miles to the north, said it's pouring there this morning! Gray skies remain in place so there's still a chance heavier rain may move our way.

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  4. Kris, your gardens look amazing. Love the views through those spotless windows! Your arrangement is great--the foxgloves are so pretty. I have one that returned this year that I'm hoping will do well. Saw you in a few Fling shots on FB. Looked like a great time.

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    1. It always startles me to see an image of myself pop up. I don't use Facebook but I've seen myself a few times already in posts on the Fling blog site.

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  5. The garden looks perfect despite your having been away. I’m loving that little cactus vase, and are those euphorbia in it? They’re exactly the right touch.

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    1. The flowers in the cactus vase are from Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi'. It's one of my favorite succulent flowers.

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  6. Hooray for Brandi! She may eventually just screen out that house beyond in a few years. Good job on the Stipa, as good as those super clean windows.

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    1. It would be embarrassing to tell you how many photos I've taken of 'Brandi'. I'm so glad I didn't give up on her!

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  7. So amazing to see that mimosa still bare of leaves. My Chinese fringe tree was looking like that before the fling, and now has leafed out and "fringed" all at once! SoCal definitely produces some odd behavior in plants.

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    1. I'd put off looking at my wide shots from prior years, thinking/hoping that I was mistaken in believing that the mimosa should have leafed out by now. However, I today I finally checked my records for 2015-2017 and all show the tree fully or mostly green by early May. I noted a scattering of green shoots back in December and there are still some of those but I'm afraid all signs indicate the tree is in distress.

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  8. Clean windows are well worth forgiving your spouse the lapse in watering. Not one of my favorite chores. ;)
    It's a comfort to see you go as crazy as I do when it comes to buying seeds. It is hard to limit oneself!

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    1. The garden in my mind's eye is clearly larger than the one I actually have, Eliza! I suppose I should figure out where the seeds should go BEFORE I buy them.

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  9. It is supposed to get to 90 here today. We have been running in the upper 80's this week, no rain. UGH... I am behind on seed planting. Trying to get the mulching finished before working on the seed bed.

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    1. I hope you get a cool-down soon, Lisa! Our "May gray" days seem to be back, which at least puts a damper (pun intended) on our temperatures. We got 0.04/inch of precipitation today and all I can say about that is that it's better than nothing...

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  10. What has happened to your lovely mimosa? I hope it’s just late?

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    1. I finally checked my records and I don't show the mimosa being this late in leafing out in any of the prior years for which I have photos, not even during the height of our drought. But then, this year's 3.74 inches of rain is also the lowest rain total I have on record. Even though the mimosa is an exceedingly messy tree, it's a nightmare if I lose it.

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  11. Garden blogging is a good incentive to clean windows. Good luck with the seeding. And I love the cactus vase, with its very simple arrangement (if you could call it an arrangement?)

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    1. That cactus vase is perfect place to plunk a couple of extra stems.

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    2. I guess I'm a plunker rather than an arranger.

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  12. Wow, your garden looks amazing even if there were a few losses due to the absence of the gardener. Worth it I hope since I enjoyed meeting you and spending some time touring gardens. The arrangements look good, the cactus vase is cool.

    Your windows look great. The concept was catching as Neal dusted and vacuumed the entire house while I was out. Very helpful for my allergies.

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    1. It's even better when you don't have to ask for help with the household tasks! It was good to finally meet you in person, Shirley!

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  13. Oh, thank you for the tomato cage idea! I'm growing lots of dahlias this summer for my brother's wedding and I'll have to make sure they don't flop. Time to go buy some tomato cages! Though I also have to finish preparing their planting area...

    I have sunflowers up, and keep having to spray them with rabbit repellent, but only a handful of my direct-sown zinnias came up. I've got a second batch sprouting in the greenhouse in pot now that I'll probably be able to plant out in a week or two.

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    1. I need to buy a few more tomato-dahlia cages myself, Evan! My winter-sown seeds were slow to appear this year (or perhaps I just didn't start them early enough) so that pushed out my spring-sown series. I hope I haven't missed my window!

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  14. Always a worry for us when we go away that some plants may have withered with lack of water. Your garden is looking splendid!

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    1. Except for the mimosa tree! Now that I've confirmed how late it is in leafing out, I'm really worried I'm going to lose it. While it's never been my favorite tree, it's in a pivotal location. Ugh!

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  15. Thanks to your husband that it's now possible to enjoy this fantastic view from your living room into your garden and its surrounding!
    Your garden seems ok in my eyes, but I also never have seen an Californian garden in person. :)

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    1. Except for the mimosa tree, I was generally happy with my May garden - until I looked back at photos from last year. We got a lot of rain last year and very, very little this year. The comparison is startling.

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  16. As always, I am so impressed with the long views across your garden! Summer arrived on May 1 here, just days after we had temps close to freezing! We have been in he 90s for a week with no rain, and the humidity is rising. I want spring to come back!

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    1. We're experiencing some weather whiplash too, Deb. It seems to be the way things are now.

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  17. How nice to come home to clean windows with such a fabulous view to enjoy through them. Can you leave dahlia tubers in the ground in your zone? They're hardy here but the sogginess sometimes does them in.

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    1. Yes, I can leave the dahlia tubers in the ground year-round; however, I want to use the raised planters for other things during the course of the year and don't want to drown the tubers in the process so I've elected to dig them up in the fall and store them until it's time for summer planting.

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  18. I'm sure the garden is different from when you left; even a couple of days away at this time of year inevitably means there is work to do! I like the idea of the tomato cage for the Dahlias; I've never seen them in Europe (we tend to use bamboo canes) but if I ever do I think they would be better than my horizontal net method for controlling them.

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    1. The tomato cages were a lazy solution on my part, Christina. I had them on hand (sitting behind the garage for years since my tomato fixation died) and they're easily installed.

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