Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Snaps from Around the Garden

A week or so ago, I noticed that a "branch" of the Mexican purple sage had broken almost off the plant.  It was nearly completely off the plant, so I removed it.  In doing so, I noticed that it had tried to root in several places where it had been touching the ground/mulch.  A plant so eager to root itself deserved a little help, so I cut it into pieces and potted them.

For a few days, they drooped and lost leaves-- but then new leaves appeared!  I think most of them have successfully rooted.  The excitement of multiplying plants never gets old. 

Rooting Some Cuttings

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Another exciting project is the gravel.

Incidentally, the gravel is crushed limestone from... somewhere in Alabama.  (Can't remember if Donald told me exactly where...)  We also looked at a sample of a lighter-colored, more finely crushed limestone from Mexico, but we didn't like it as well.  It seemed a bit too powdery and didn't look like it would hold up as well as this darker stuff.  Besides, the gravel we chose is light enough, as it is.  I don't enjoy that painful glare of the mid-day sun. 

We started working on the pathways this weekend.  It doesn't look like much progress, but there's a certain learning curve involved-- how deep to dig, how deep to place the edging, etc.-- and it was a very hot day... This will not be accomplished in just a few hours of work, but it's started, and eventually we'll spread that last wheelbarrow-load of gravel and be done.

Graveling the Paths

This is one "end" of the main pathway, where it lets out into the back yard.  We haven't yet trimmed/tucked the edges of the weed barrier fabric. 

Graveling the Paths

Luna seems interested in the freshly exposed soil... 


...And here's Trixie come along to check it all out...


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The viburnum and Confederate rose look a little deflated by all this heat.  I'd like some rain, please.  Not too much, but just an inch or so.  And some shading clouds.  And a breeze.  All of those, right away.  (This June has been so hot!  Is it always this hot, this early in the summer, or is this unusually warm?  I can't remember from year to year...)

I've been watering things, in the absence of rain.  The newest plantings get water every day.  It's nearly daily watering (though I may forget or otherwise skip a day from time to time) for the mountain laurel, sweet olive, potted plants, and Confederate rose.  (I feel guilty if I don't water the sweet olive, since I put it in full sun even though I've read that it prefers a bit of afternoon shade.  I'm sorry, you poor little thing, but I've also read that you can become accustomed to more sun, over time.  But those scorched edges of leaves!)

Flower Garden

The tiger lilies are getting closer and closer to flowering. 

Tiger Lily

The Kwanso daylilies are bright spots down by the shed. 


Bug on a Kwanso

More crinum lilies are blooming or getting close to blooming.  So far, they're all this pale pink type.  I'm pretty sure that's the only kind in our garden.  (See that flying insect to the left of the flowers?  I think it's a dirt dauber.)

Crinum Lilies

Crinum Lilies

'Grandpa Ott' morning glory.

'Grandpa Ott' Morning Glory

Annual coreopsis, with achillea in the front, Mexican heather off to the back left, and gladiolus directly behind.

Annual Coreopsis, Etc.

Perennial coreopsis (Big Bang 'Mercury Rising').

Coreopsis 'Mercury Rising'

A new addition to the garden.  It's an echinacea hybrid, but I don't know which one.  (It wasn't labeled.) 


We bought this one at a sale at Mobile Botanical Gardens (more on that in the next post), and spoke to one of the workers (volunteers?) staffing the sale about the hybrids on offer.  What she said confirmed what I'd already suspected-- namely, that some of the fancy echinacea hybrids don't do well in our wet, humid climate.  And even the ones that can live here need full sun-- as much as possible-- and the best-draining soil you have.  (This one is planted in sun-baked sand, basically.  If it can't make it there, it won't be happy anywhere in our yard.)

All the varieties at the sale had survived test runs in Mobile, so at least they have a decent chance of surviving in our garden.  But some of the ones this lady had tested-- like the fluffy ones that I was coveting earlier this year-- just couldn't cope with our weather.  So I've removed "fancy echinaceas" from my wish list.  I'm giving just one of the less-fluffy ones a try, this year.  If it does well, I might consider trying another one or two in years to come.  If it flops, I'll probably stick to the hardy, time-tested Echinacea purpurea.  (If I can ever get even that type to do well.  Mine are not thriving.  I suspect that I've over-watered them.  If this year's batch don't do well, I'll try them in a different spot next year.)


I feel I should knock on wood as I type that the 'Joseph's Coat' climbing rose is looking very healthy and happy, so far.  Just as the last few blooms are fading, the next round of buds appears ready to go.

This rose has grown by leaps and bounds.  We have the materials to build its arbor, now, which is a good thing, because it will need some support soon, if it keeps growing at this pace.  (I imagine it will slow in the hottest part of the summer, but it's still good to get it training up/against the arbor soon.)

'Joseph's Coat'

The 'Victor' crepe myrtle is described as having red bloom.  This is just another example of how what one person thinks is red may not be what you or I would call red.  This is particularly true of flowers described as "blue".  They're almost always purple or violet, in my opinion.

Crepe Myrtle 'Victor'

Maybe 'Victor' is red for some people... but mine looks more like a very dark pink (cerise?) to me.  But that's probably actually a really good thing!  The one plant I have that has what I'd call pure red blooms is that rose I transplanted earlier this year.  While the flowers are gorgeous, they're almost too red.  Even the eye-searingly bright red KnockOut rose is a more "approachable" red.  Primary red doesn't blend with other flowers as pleasingly as this dark pink "red" does. 

Crepe Myrtle 'Victor'

Speaking of plant description colors not matching what my eye sees... This butterfly is feeding on "Victoria Blue" salvia. 

Salvia 'Victoria Blue'

While it's very pretty-- and one of the more blue-ish shades of purple-- it's still not blue.  ...It's just not blue.  I wish there were more truly blue flowers that would flourish here, but almost all of them-- even the so-called blue ones-- are violet, lavender, purple, but not blue.

Salvia 'Victoria Blue'



Sago palm, with leatherleaf mahonia and crepe myrtle to the left. 

Sago Palm

Northern sea oats.  Aka river oats. 

Northern Sea Oats

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I looked more closely at these foundation shrubs in front of the house.  I believe they are dwarf yaupon holly.  For years, they've been slowly growing, and now they've attained an impressive size.  They're quiet, unassuming evergreen shrubs, and I would've been happy to leave them there for years to come, but something is ailing them.

At least three of the four have trouble spots.  On the other two, they look like small dead spots with no remaining leaves.  On this one in the photo, the spots are larger, and the leaves are (so far) still attached. 

Dwarf Yaupon Holly?

There was a smaller section on this same shrub last year that looked dead.  I snipped it off (in hopes that it would fill back in over time).  It's entirely possible that I unthinkingly proceeded to snip off other pieces here and there.  I don't remember whether or not I did, but if so, that might've accelerated the problem by spreading disease to other parts of the shrub-- and the remaining three shrubs, too.  ...Oops?

I don't know for certain what the problem is, but I wonder if it might be holly blight, which apparently has become a serious issue with hollies, in recent years.  If it is holly blight, it sounds like it's not worth trying to save the plant.  Better to just cut your losses and remove them right away.

In any case, maybe it's time to just pull out these four shrubs and try something different.  If we pull them out this summer, I'll probably leave the area unplanted until autumn or early spring.  That would give me a little time to ponder options (not to mention that it's a better time for planting and transplanting, anyway).