Friday, July 24, 2020

Summer planting rules & gopher curbs

As I mentioned in a post earlier this month*, I try to avoid planting anything but succulents during the summer months.   I usually end up making some exceptions but this year I've thrown my "rule" out the window.  After all, I need to do something to keep myself sane.  This week I planted what I received in my latest order from Annie's Annuals & Perennials (my second this month), as well as plants I picked up from my local garden center.

One of the plants in Annie's box literally popped up as soon as I opened the box.  That's Tithonia diversifolia, aka Mexican sunflower.  When I failed to get seeds to germinate, I jumped at the chance to buy the plant during Annie's summer sale.

I fleshed out my Annie's order with a Mimulus, Aristea major and 3 'Silver Anouk' lavenders
I fleshed out the order by adding one Mimulus, an Aristea major, and 3 'Silver Anouk' lavenders


I stopped by by my local garden center to pick up planting mix and to look for a flat of creeping thyme.  I left with more than I'd bargained for.

As you can see, I found the 'Elfin' thyme.  I also picked up a Plectranthus, 2 Echinaceas, 3 new-to-me Penstemons, six-packs of Zinnias, Ajuga, Nierembergia, and Lobelia, as well as an odd little plant I'd never heard of.

This is Pterocephalus depressus, aka Moroccan pincushion.  The fuzzy bits shown in this shot appear to be the spent blooms of the pink flowers the plant produces.


With one exception, I amazed myself by getting everything into the ground or into pots on a timely basis for a change.  I'll start with what went into pots.

This is the Tithonia diversifolia, which straightened up nicely once it was potted up.  My plan is to plant it in the succulent bed lining the street in the fall in anticipation of our rainy season.  I want it to bulk up and develop a more robust root system before I install it in what is my version of a hell strip.

Aristea major may eventually go into the ground but I decided to try it in this pot in my cutting garden first.  Half of the Lobelia six-pack went into the pot as well.

I thought I'd picked up two Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit' for this pot but one plant turned out to be E. 'Wild Berry'Echinacea doesn't usually survive longer than one season here but I couldn't resist its beautiful flowers.

With no prior experience growing it, I put the Pterocephalus depressus in a pot (minus its fuzzy bits) so I could give it more careful attention


Everything else went into the ground.

Ajuga reptans 'Chocolate Chip' went into the narrow soil space surrounding the concrete pavers that form the floor of my lath (shade) house

The three Lavandula 'Silver Anouk' went into the top level of the moderate slope that leads down to the lath house, surrounding the Phlomis purpurea I planted a couple of months ago.  I'm planning to add creeping thyme along the edge bordering the mulch-covered path.

The white monkeyflower, Mimulus bifidus, was planted near another one I installed after receiving a prior order from Annie's

Seven plugs of Nierembergia 'Purple Robe' were added here in the back garden as filler

Five more Nierembergia plugs were added here, joining the Salvia x jamensis 'Ignition Purple' and Verbascum phoenuceum 'Violetta' received with my prior Annie's order 

Plectranthus  'Velvet Elvis' was planted just outside the dining room window near another perennial Plectranthus'Velvet Elvis' was labeled as an annual but many are short-lived perennials in my climate.

The Zinnias were used to fill in for some of the sunflowers I'd seeded here.  Some of the sunflowers germinated but most didn't get the water they needed to thrive here.


I'd absolutely no idea where I was going to put the Penstemons but finally settled on adding them to the back border.  The area I chose had recently been the resident gopher's favorite and, as I began digging, I dug right into one of his tunnels.  Because my sandy soil dries out quickly, I usually water the hole before placing a plant.  When the water disappeared immediately without ever filling the first hole, I realized it was running right through a gopher tunnel.  I decided it was time to try a new strategy.

I'd been using granule deterrents watered into the soil and solar-powered sonic devices like the one shown here to redirect the gopher.  He does respond by moving but I haven't yet succeeded in moving him out in the direction of the canyon.

I originally bought several gopher cages like this to use above ground to shield new plants from raccoons but I decided it was time to try them as intended to deter gophers from eating the roots of my new plants.

The upper green section of the cage is intended to sit above soil level while the bottom section is buried.  I planted all three Penstemon digitalis 'Onyx and Pearls' in these cages.


So all that's left is to plant the creeping thyme, a time-consuming project (pun intended).  Hopefully, we'll continue to get a good morning marine layer to keep the temperatures down next week.  For July, we've been very lucky in the weather department. 




Stay safe and enjoy your weekend!


*My earlier post entitled "Pandemic Planting" was originally posted on July 9th.  In trying out "New Blogger," I ended up republishing that post on July 24th.  Every new platform presents challenges and missteps it seems.   The current post took twice as long as usual but I got the hang of most things, except how the labels are supposed to work.

 

All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

23 comments:

  1. Your new acquisitions look great. A neighbour popped by today and commented on the large number of plants I still have to plant. My retort was "nothing better to do right now". Just too bad most of the garden centers are out of perennials for the year as I have 2 brand new beds ready to plant.

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    1. Timing is always the problem, isn't it? I're ready to do some major overalls of a few beds but I'm reluctant to do any broad-scale planting until the prospect of our usual hideous summer heatwaves is behind us. And then, given the persistence of the pandemic's effect on business operations, including nurseries, there's the question of just what might be available to fill those beds this fall if I get a head start on clearing things out. I expect you have the added complication of looming winter cold to consider too.

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  2. I'm fixin' to place an Annies order myself this weekend. And I have to say that I don't think I've seen a Nierembergia in a nursery in years-I kind of forgot about it ! I used to grow them a lot in San Diego. After much to hot an April-May-June things have finally cooled off up here too. I wish it would stay that way but I'm not counting on it.

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    1. I've been on the look-out for Nierembergia, due largely to the fact that I had some plants come back (or self-seed, I'm not sure which) in late spring. I was gratified to find them in 6-packs.

      I hope the weather stays on the cool side for both of us (by summer standards anyway). I've been shocked at just how high temperatures have soared in parts of the east, midwest, and southeast and how long those heatwaves have held on.

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  3. Congrats on your new Tithonia diversifolia!

    We are supposed to reach 83F today, then tomorrow we jump to 99 and Monday is supposed to be 101. Luckily all I've planted recently were succulents.

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    1. That sounds like a real honest-to-goodness heatwave, Loree. Since those two early heatwaves in late spring, we've remained on the cool side of normal here. I hope I haven't jinxed us by extolling that fact...

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  4. Wow - you got so much into the ground! I've been the same way, purchasing plants and then letting them sit in pots far too long before getting them into the ground. I'm trying to be much more on-the-ball with gardening jobs this year although I have yet to go to the garden centre, something I've been meaning to do for several weeks now.

    P.S. I've only now opted into the new blogger - hopefully the growing pains are fleeting!

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    1. I'm usually pretty bad about getting things in the ground promptly but being home all the time has improved my behavior somewhat, Margaret. I almost always buy plants in small sizes if I have a choice so I've told myself that, at the very least, I need to temporarily pot those up if I don't have a suitable spot identified at the outset.

      Re New Blogger, I did some fumbling around but it went better than I'd feared it might. I still have some open questions, like can we still schedule publication in advance - I didn't notice that option yesterday.

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  5. I have not yet dipped my toe into new blogger .. maybe they are just going to kick me into without my say so ? LOL
    I am so jealous of all your gorgeous plants (obviously not your heat wave or gopher .. although we are having a heat wave of our own , Canadian Style ?
    Our garden centers have been a bust this year .. I am lucky to have plants to move around and split up .. a new path to make in a garden bed, thus removing some plants in the way .. but wow .. I love getting mail order plants too .. yours look gorgeous ! .. I have a thing for thyme as well .. I would have it for our tiny front lawn if it could grow in before I expire ?LOL ... it take so much patience and ... TIME !

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    1. The notice I got from Blogger the last time I reverted to the legacy system, I got a message saying that the conversion would be final August 24th so I decided I'd better try using it on an actual post...

      I think all the garden centers are struggling with their suppliers. It seems to be feast or famine at my local store. I'm noticing more and more mail order options, though.

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  6. You're definitely keeping busy and glad you are supporting the nurseries. ;)
    I'm surprised you can grow lobelia in your heat. We see them for sale in spring, but come the heat of July, they fade quickly and reemerge in Sept. Perhaps it is the humidity and not the heat that does them in?

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    1. My impression is that the Lobelia handles hot dry conditions relatively well, Eliza. I've had them self-seed in cracks in my back patio and bloom in summer despite the reflective heat there. However, they're apparently attractive to certain critters as the plugs I added to one pot were eaten to the ground almost instantly :(

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    2. Arrrgh! I hate that when it happens. I'm still nursing the hurt from my sweet peas' demise.

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  7. Lobelia is one of my favs but they don't last here. The critters are voracious this year. UGH...
    Your haul of nursery plants and mail order are very nice. Seeing them almost inspire me to go look to see what is at our nursery.

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    1. Lobelia doesn't last long here either, Lisa, but it does self-seed, albeit not always where it's wanted. It has been a weirdly active critter year. The peacocks here were amusing but the gopher most definitely is not.

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  8. Glad to hear that you've indulged in some horticultural retail therapy Kris. It's good for the soul. I like the spent flowers of the Moroccan pincushion. I'm still avoiding the new Blogger set up. I tried it a couple of times but was unable to preview the posts so I quickly reverted to the old system.

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    1. It was the spent flowers of the Moroccan pincushion that got me to buy it, Anna. As to New Blogger, I decided to I'd better try to push ahead in using it now before the conversion was finalized in late August.

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  9. For new Blogger, there is a forum to search for answers. And you can send feedback. I am noticing small tweaks (I like to Centre, or Align Right - and those options are easier to reach now)

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    1. I didn't have any major issues with New Blogger when I finally set my mind to going ahead with it, Diana. The only hassle has been in discovering where they've placed the features I rely on. I didn't have any problem loading photos as I'd feared.

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  10. It's been a good July, hasn't it? Even the few hours of July Gray have enabled much garden-time.

    Wow, lots of new plants. I've indulged in a few myself, but only a few.

    My experience with 'Silver Anouk' was that it's an untidy bad-hair-day bed-head kind of grower, so regular light shaping really helps.

    Gophers are evil.

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    1. Yes, gophers are evil. I've named this one Kirottu, which is Finnish for damned one.

      You're right about 'Silver Anouk' losing its shape if you're not careful, which I wasn't the first time I planted it - I'll be watching these three plants to keep them in line.

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  11. Nothing like planting more plants to fill a good day! Despite safety precautions in place I've not visited a garden center since early winter but with my husband's health a factor I just don't take the chance going anywhere. Really itching to get out. Sorry about your gopher trials Kris. Can't wait to see the Penstemon digitalis 'Onyx and Pearls' in its glory.

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    1. I'm more nervous about visiting the supermarket than the garden center but I understand your apprehension about the risk of going anywhere. There are still too many people who think masks are a political issue.

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