Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Irrigation and Photos

Sunday afternoon (Easter), Donald and I worked on setting up a soaker hose irrigation system for the vegetable beds.

This is a major step up for us.  The past couple of years, we just watered by hand, with the hose and watering can.  While that method has its benefits (mainly the ability to target the water to certain plants), it's also time-consuming and often boring.  Most plants don't want extra water on their leaves, so you're trying to get the water directly into the soil (impossible).  Then there's the issue of waste through evaporation-- and the fact that if you have to wrestle with an uncooperative (heavy) water hose, you're more tempted to just let the watering wait another day. 

With this new system, we can turn it on, go about our business, and let the watering take care of itself.  (As long as we don't forget to turn it off again!  I'm sure you can buy timers, but for now, we're living dangerously. ;o))

Here's an "in-progress" photo.
We still need to bury the hoses, then we can begin planting.  We have plenty of tomato plants (and a couple other things) to put in, as well as a variety of seeds.  Maybe this afternoon?

Raised Vegetable Beds

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Other recent activity:

-- I'm continuing the process of gathering the old "river rock" pebbles from previous locations, clearing out as much dirt and vegetative material as possible, and putting it into the re-done circular "rock garden" area.  It's not finished, but we're getting there.

--  Still no developments with the passionflower vine.   :o(

--  I started a few seeds of climbing nasturtium ('Fordhook Favorites Mix') and Spanish flag / mina lobata.  Some of the nasturtium are coming up already!

--  I'm in the process of re-potting the young daylilies, which have been on the covered patio until now.  They're going into a kiddie pool in a slightly sunnier location.  (This is the first step in gradually getting them used to the Real World, where the big, scary sun is a powerful force to be reckoned with.)

--  I've planted the Louisiana iris (from Plantasia).  (They're the 'Jeri' variety that's supposed to be a rich purple.)  There were several fans (or whatever the technical term would be), but rather than setting each one out individually, I made four clumps from them.  I really want to see those succeed!  If they do well, I'd like to try more Louisiana iris, next year.  (I love irises, but haven't had the best luck with the bearded kind.  I hope that Louisiana iris will be happier in our climate.)

--  The bag of 20 gladiolus bulbs we brought this weekend has been planted.  Rather than putting one here, one there, I placed them in four clusters of five bulbs each, with just 4 or 5 inches between them.  Now to wait.  This is a little on the late side for planting gladiolus, I think.

--  Most of the remaining new plants (still in their nursery pots) are currently testing out potential locations in the flower beds.  If all goes well, they should be planted by the end of the week. 
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Photos from yesterday:

The white clematis are blooming very prettily:


Our Japanese maple has put out its delicate new leaves.  It's not in a very good location (soil-wise), I'm afraid, but still hanging on...  I'm not sure where I'd move it or if it would do more harm than good, at this point, so I guess it will stay put. 

Japanese Maple

The viburnum is blooming.  The blooms are pretty in their "lacecap hydrangea" way, but this year, they seem a little hidden inside the bush.  I think viburnums bloom on old wood, so I'm sure that has something to do with it, as it's been growing a lot since we planted it last spring.  This one should only get better in years to come.


The miniature rose is blooming.  I think it's going to like its new, sunnier location, but it could probably do with a pruning at some point, though.  Stimulate some new growth... 

Miniature Rose

The pink Knock Out rose is gearing up...

Pink Knock Out Rose

As are the reds (and the old-fashioned climber-- not pictured-- is covered in buds)...

Spider on Rose

The (newly planted) red Mexican ruellia is just about to bloom...

Red Mexican Ruellia

The 'Sunshine' ligustrum (shh, it's privet, normally a Very Bad Word, imho) is lovely in chartreuse.

Ligustrum 'Sunshine"

At least a few of the yellow Knock Out roses from Mom have already bloomed.  That pale, creamy yellow is so refreshing-- can't wait to see them come into their own later in the season.

Yellow Knock Out Rose

This was another one from Mom's garden, but I have no idea what it is... It seems to be a very low-growing groundcover, and the pale, greenish-yellow flowers are very small. 

Unknown Flower

English dogwood (a.k.a. Philadelphus) is blooming.  I haven't had success with "real" dogwood, but this plant is less demanding. 

English Dogwood

See?  This is the bloom I was talking about before on the (new) false indigo.  It's just about to open, now.

False Indigo

This hearty vine came from Aunt Debbie and Uncle Jim's garden.  His family has grown it further north in Mississippi for years, if I understand correctly.  I'm not sure if it's actual confederate jasmine (last year, the older leaves didn't match photos I could find online) or something going by the same name, but in any case, the flower is supposed to have a wonderful fragrance.  Maybe when it blooms, we'll be able to make a positive ID.

Confederate Jasmine?

The Spanish lavender (pinata lavender) spent the winter in the garage, because it's not cold-hardy.  It died back almost completely, but there has been new growth, this spring.  After I cut off the dead parts, there wasn't much left, and it's a bit misshapen.  However, time can work wonders. 

The tiny plastic pot holds a cutting from the same plant (the only one I've tried that has taken hold).

I enjoy the spicy fragrance of the foliage-- the blooms are pretty, bouncing in the breeze-- and I've seen hummingbirds visit the flowers.  I just wish this plant were easier to keep over winter... Perhaps there's a better way I can try next time.  Cut it back and keep it in a sunny window in the house, maybe?

Spanish Lavender

The new foliage of the rose of Sharon is so lush-looking.  I love those scalloped edges-- looks like the perfect illustration of a leaf. 

Hibiscus Tree (Rose of Sharon)

More foliage I'm enjoying-- the blue sea holly.  This and the red hot poker plant (bought and planted at the same time) are still looking good. 

Blue Sea Holly (spring foliage)

We bought a few annuals, this weekend.  Not many.  Last year, we really had more than we needed.  So we're taking it more slowly, this time.  We got one little tray of begonia for the shady covered patio, then two small pots of vinca for sunny spots:

Vinca with Dew

Vinca with Dew

A few more perennials found their way home with us, too.
First, here's candytuft (Iberis sempervirens 'Purity'):


There's also a perennial dwarf coreopsis (not pictured) and two varieties of gaura:


We had a gaura back years ago-- before the house was built, I think.  It was pretty while it lasted, but then something happened to it and it split down the middle and never recovered.  (Insect damage?)  Anyway, I'm giving them another try.  If these two don't flourish, I'm forever banishing gaura from the garden!  (Let this be a warning, gaura...) 


Some of the seeds are turning into real plants.  Others are... well, they're not.
This moonflower vine is one of the better ones:

Moonflower Seedling

The Nearly Wild rose is beginning to bloom:

Nearly Wild Rose

Pink azaleas azaleaing:


This is one of the plants that I'm sure must be purple coneflower (Echinacea), but I'd love to see flowers to have my certainty confirmed:

Purple Coneflower (foliage only)

This pot of creeping jenny ('Goldilocks') and polka-dot (freckle-face) plant made it through a winter in the garage. A matching pot also survived, but the creeping jenny diminished significantly.  I think it will rebound with a little time. 

Freckle-Face / Polka-Dot Plant

The new leaves of leatherleaf mahonia are interesting-looking:

Leatherleaf Mahonia

Trixie lounging at the edge of the patio:


And Luna greeting me through the fence:


They love being outside when we're working in the yard.  Sometimes they're not allowed out, though, because they have to be right where you're working (digging, chasing weeds as they're tossed aside, sitting right on top of your precious plants), which can be frustrating.

Good company, though.  :o)