Crinums, what’s soil all about?, how to water

Typically, my crinums bloom the first week of July. This year, ‘Ellen Bosanquet’ jumped the gun in June, but returned this week to avoid confusing the garden diary too much.

Crinum 'Ellen Bosanquet'

In the cat cove, the mystery pink flowered for the second year in a row.

Pink crinum lily

I know some of you wonder, “Is my crinum EVER going to bloom?” Believe me, they take their sweet time. The pink one waited  7 years or so to make its debut. Several others are paying their rent with lovely foliage for a few more years.

At the other end of the den bed from ‘Ellen’, here’s Rose of Sharon/Althea (Hibiscus syriacus ‘Jeanne D’ Arc’).

Althea, Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus 'Jeanne D' Arc'

In the cat cove, a self-seeded morning glory found a perch on the Lady Banks rose. I’ll pull it off before it makes too much mischief.

Morning glory

We’re all rejoicing with the rain that’s spared us last summer’s misery. For sure, rain is the secret ingredient that we can’t provide on demand. But the first best ingredient is the soil. We can’t control rainfall, but we can improve our soil. Ultimately, our success starts underground.

And, what is the difference between soil, compost, and mulch, and how do they work together? How does that relate to our plants?

Since these are questions I often get, this week on CTG Tom meets with George Altgelt from Geo Growers to connect the dots.

It’s perfect timing, since now’s when we need to renew our beds for fall’s vegetables and ornamentals. Our soil needs a little boost after its depletion from spring’s energy and summer’s heat.

On tour, see why Julie Donie and Alexa Villalobos from Fertile Ground Gardens are confirmed soil-huggers. In this garden they tend (originally designed by Mitzi VanSant) compost is their secret ingredient for thriving old roses and even camellias that frame the renovated historic home.

Since we’re back into a dry spell, Daphne explains how to water. Sounds simple, huh? Nope. Even experienced gardeners make this mistake.

Her featured plant is purple heart (Tradescantia pallida). I used to think this was for shade, and it does work there, especially if it gets a little shine on it. I can’t get enough purple!

Purple heart (Tradescantia pallida) with zexmenia

But give it some sun and it’s really spectacular. Along 45th street, someone lined a whole block with it and silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea).

purple heart with silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea)

At the Dell Children’s Medical Center, I’ve admired how it stands out from afar, and against tough reflected heat. Pair it with alternating big stands of Aztec grass or the dichondra for a simple elegant presentation.

Purple heart (Tradescantia pallida)

I also like the lime green of the shrimp plant against it in my partially shady front bed.

Purple heart with shrimp plant

For those of us in shade, get John Dromgoole’s ideas for heat-loving annuals.

Until next week, Linda