Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wednesday Workday

Everyone could use a little grass ....

The most fun projects are those that just kind of pop up unexpectedly and then work out easily, and that is the story of the new grass.  Many years ago we had lovely clumps of grass, but as the garden grew and I dug new beds the grasses got replaced and we moved on.

  But, now the hibiscus have moved on, and I had a nice empty spot to fill - and at the back of the main planting bed where I could use something tall and something to provide winter interest.  It was clearly the place for grass. 

Over the weekend I checked out what was readily available and cleared the space.  Voila! an easy  project for this week.  

Sometimes I think that my favorite part of a new planting is laying out the pots and moving them around until I am happy with the arrangement.  This one was simple, but I moved the rose planter a bit and relocated the big sprinkler, too.  The only unexpected problem was the need to relocate about 15 iris, but that didn't take too long.

A few holes and I was ready to water it in.  Mother Nature did her part and sent me a rainy day to get it all soaked.  

We're still at more than six inches of rain deficit, so I'll need to keep up the watering for a month or more until things start going dormant.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mary, Mary Awards - the Jury is Still Out ...

It's often difficult to judge how a plant, or an area, is doing for several  years.  And, that is certainly true this year.

A good illustration is the David Austin rose - 'Sister Elizabeth'.  It did so well the first year and started off so well this year, but then a mob of caterpillars moved in and completely stripped it.  By the time I realized that I had a problem ... it was too late.  Upon good advice I cut it way back and kept feeding it on a regular schedule and it did come back a lot.  Then the black spot struck.  So, it struggles on and I will try the new Bayer all-in-one product next year that feeds as well as fighting disease - and, I will spray for the caterpillars early.  I love this rose, so am willing to work hard to make it healthy again. 

Another question mark is the 'Vanilla Strawberry' hydrangea.  Am delighted at how well it has grown and how healthy it appears to be, but the flower were disappointing. 
The blooms are initially the whitest white in the garden, fading to a lovely cream and then blushing pink.

This year the pink went immediately to brown, without darkening to strawberry.  

It starts off white-white and then fades to cream and then is supposed to go strawberry.  The best I got was a pale pink that was sort of coral, but it turned brown instead of strawberry.  I hope it was just an immature plant and bad weather.  Am hopeful enough that I plan to add a 'Limelight' hydrangea to the collection this fall. 

Both of these plants are well worth another year and some TLC as they need it. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Mary, Mary - the Losers

Sadly the weather has played a big role this year - a harder than normal winter (way more snowfall than normal and lots of rain, a hotter than normal spring (90's in May) and a dry, dry, dry summer  (cooler than usual, but no rain to speak of).  All have wreaked havoc with the garden.  The only thing that I could influence was the rain, which I tried to mimic with plenty of sprinklers.  But despite my best effort, there were problems. 

The biggest loser was definitely this 'Emerald' arborvitae.
I had such plans for it, but to no avail.  It was dead by early spring.  I still want one, so will try again later this month.  I have taken my tiller in for an overhaul and plan to till up the entire area and then add both webb-dirt and organic compost to try to provide a better environment this time.   And, perhaps a small surprise for groundcover around it. 

Two other shrubs that were badly damaged by the harsh conditions were this miniature Alberta spruce and the viburnum. 

 I think the latter will be fine once I trim out the dead.  The spruce will probably not produce new growth to fill in all that has died.
 Can you even see the hibiscus?  They are just right of the sprinkler - those spindly green things with the pretty red stems.  Not at all their glory days.

And, finally, the hibiscus has given up.   There were originally four - two red, one white and one purple - standing more than six feet tall.  They bloomed prolifically for six or seven years, but have fallen into decline the past few years.  This year we had almost no blooms at all.  Definitely need to dig out this whole area and start over next year.

Next week:  The Jury is Still Out ...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesday Workday

The sedums are starting to bloom.  Always a welcome addition at the end of a dry summer.

To mulch or not to mulch?  That is definitely not the question in this part of the world.  The more important question is, "Spring or Fall? or both?"
Obedient plant brings much needed color to the shadiest part of the garden.

We are hot enough here in the summer that one needs spring mulch to provide some protection to roots and  help hold moisture during the dog days of summer, but our winters can be harsh enough to cause significant freezing and heaving - anyone remember the winter of 2013-2014? - and therefore require fall mulch.  My normal routine for years has been to mulch heavily in the spring and hope for the best thru the following winter. 
Even the xeri-garden gets a shot of late season color.  Anyone notice that everything that's blooming at the moment is the SAME color?

This past year, tho, I waited too late to start and by the time I got started too many perennials were already coming up to do my preferred heavy coverage in the spring.  So I have found myself needing to do it again this fall. 
Nearly 1/3 of the back is done, with a couple more days to work on it.  The end is in sight!

So in addition to enjoying a few fall bloomers, I have been weeding, cleaning out beds and re-mulching since Labor Day.   In some ways it's a very satisfying job.  At least when I'm done things are looking neat and tidy for their winter rest.  Hope to finish up by next weekend ....