April 8, 2008
From the Producer: 4/5
Now that things are filling in like crazy, old and new, I can hardly remember
nandina-ville and its sidewalk crowd of prostrate rosemary. I’m well over the shock. This fresh look is very worth the months of work! Salvias, columbine, various bulbs, and the lavender spiderwort are in bloom. A few flowers are still out on the Mexican redbud at the corner. One daylily and zexmenia beat the rush by flowering early, much to the bees’ appreciation. They also like the delicate lavender flowers covering the silver bush germanders. I added a Berlandia lyrata, chocolate plant. I doubt that we&’ll go into old age together, but it’s worth a try for its silvery foliage and chocolate-scented yellow flowers. I moved most of the plumbagos, but left a few big clumps since they’re entrenched with bulbs. Once the bulbs go brown, I’ll go in and move bulbs and shrubs.
I got one Yucca rupicola x pallida, blue twist leaf yucca, for the porch side. It’s a song! Against it, the purple heart I recently snipped and planted is a symphony! Still hoping to nab the straight-leaf pallidas at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center plant sale. I went through six more bags of mulch, and will finish in a few weeks.
In the cat cove, yellow-flowered calylophus, blue-eyed grass, and lavender gulf penstemon joined the Lady Banks and spiderworts in the bloom parade. I’m glad that I gradually pruned the Lady Banks last year for a more sculptural look. It’s never had this many flowers! Beyond, the Clematis armandii is in fragrant bloom. The spiraea is still in glory. Often, I run out to sniff Cecile Brunner’s flowers and the Satsuma’s in its nearby pot.
Along the fence, the crossvine is even looking great! The desert (pink) trumpet vine I moved has grown two feet, and the cape honeysuckle has returned. At the other end, the white Lady Banks, with its bit of fragrance, is blooming, too.
Along the rental fence, there are columbines, with the new Persicaria microcephala
“Red Dragon” blooming little white flowers against its burgundy. I saw a mature one at a garden we taped last week, and it was fabulous. I love experiments that work! One shrimp plant is still so full of flowers (bracts), that I didn’t cut it down, but I did prune another to match the one I cut and divided last week. The walkways are a cloud of pink oxalis flowers, covered with bees. I do need to prune the viburnums to fluff them up, now that they’ve finished blooming.
On the hill, yellow Dutch irises opened, refusing to give up their territory where I planted them long ago under the tallow. They live fine under the grass on the hill, so for sentimentality, I’ve never moved them. A few weeks ago, I pruned the star jasmine since its long tendrils were willy-nilly. With its new growth, it’s a 5 foot sculptural shrub, covered with flower buds. Pruning makes such a difference with everything.
In the cove near the house, I added a dwarf spotted aspidistra, and divided some of my African hostas, Drimiopsis maculata that I’ve had in pots, when I learned they do very well in ground shade. The ones I moved last weekend look very happy and one is blooming.
On Sunday, we took down the patio plastic to store for next year, and shoved its PVC pipes under the shed. I put away the rowcover in bags I actually labeled for their destination! I want to lay my hands on them quickly when the surprise freeze hits us next fall. We scrubbed everything down, and I pruned, fertilized, and orchestrated the containers for their summer locations. I repotted a few. If you have ant problems in your containers, remember the screen trick: a piece of old window screen at the bottom to fend them off.
To continue the garden tour: this week we’re at the den bed, to the left of the patio as you face the yard. It runs along the back of the house, from the den to a “spare” room. Facing east, it gets morning sun. These days, it’s not really enough light to sustain the roses I planted for fragrance to “waft through the open windows,” but I can’t part with them yet. A climbing Buff Beauty cascades over the den window, although this year I clipped it to the ground to rejuvenate it. It’s coming along nicely. The David Austin Charlotte rose apparently died in last year’s rains. I cut it back and it’s returning from the roots, so we’ll see. In the space between the windows, I have a David Austin climbing Jude the Obscure on a freestanding trellis. At the other end, an Iceberg.
This bed’s also home to a few crinum lilies, Salvia guaranitica “Argentina Skies,” (I think), tall spuria iris and various spring bulbs, spiderworts, columbines, oxalis, Eupatorium greggii (for the butterflies), lemon balm, new bicolor salvia, perennial candytuft and two sections of yellow daylilies. I don’t know their name: they came in a single pot as “old fashioned daylilies” that I’ve divided many times. At night, I cut up that day’s flowers for our salads.
In the middle, in front of the climbing Jude rose, “Country Girl” mums and asters are meeting as one in a cloud of foliage. If I remember to cut them back every month or so until July, they won’t get leggy. In fall, the lavender flowers against soft pink ones are glorious!
Until last summer’s rains, southernwood, an airy fragrant herb, covered the area below the den window for many years. Perhaps it will show up again. I had to give up on Shasta daisies and ox-eyes. They drowned in rain or disappeared in drought. They just don’t like me as much as I like them. For years, a silver bush germander was the hallmark at the end of the bed. When it drowned a few years ago, its successors have never performed either, so I gave up on that and planted a crinum lily.
Recently, I’ve added grass lily (Anthericum saundersea) to a few places for evergreen height near the spurias, to fill the space when they go dormant. From the den window, already I can see that this was a great idea, especially since they’re already sending off little white flowers. Also, I added new Texas betony. For years, it performed beautifully, but as I’ve seen with some perennials, they don’t last forever. The hummingbirds liked them so much that it was worth an encore. For the little suckers, I also added a new one for me, Dicliptera suberecta, a silvery-gray perennial to 3 feet or so, with orange-red flowers that hummingbirds can’t resist. Will let you know what happens, but so far, they’re growing like mad.
Until next week, Linda