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 ....

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Mary Mary Awards ... and the Winners Are...

Mary Mary and I were sitting on the bench a few days ago just looking around and thinking about the 2014 garden season - you know ... what worked and what needs work for next year.   

There were definitely some winners this year, some losers and the jury is still out on a few things.   Today the winners. 
The oak stump is rotting away under the not-at-all-level planter and will will soon be gone - replaced with a few more azaleas - hopefully re-bloomers.

In first place is certainly the front bed.  Have been working on this one for at least five years - since we had to cut down a big oak tree.  The dogwood seems to have survived some awful attack on its bark.  I unwrapped it a few weeks ago to see how it was doing, and it seems to be growing a thicker layer under the damaged bark, but more importantly it bloomed and now has many berries, so water is definitely making it up the trunk to all parts of the tree.  It will still bear some watching, but I think we may have made it.  And the grasses I planted are doing well, as are the azaleas in the spring and chrysanthemums in the fall.  Need to add more grass and more 'mums, as well as working on the irrigation for next year. 

Another winner was the "old" miniature rose I revived.  After too many years of neglect, a monthly deep feeding combined with a weekly shot of fish emulsion has brought it back to life - full of new growth and covered with flowers most of the summer.  It was a grocery store purchase at least 10 years ago, but has been a joy this summer.   
 Echinacea 'Double Scoop Cranberry' PPAF

The cone flower I put in this big pot has been spectacular!  I want to get some more interesting colors going in the planting bed next year. 

The new bed under the elm appears to be a winner, altho it's probably too soon to really tell.

Friday - the losers.