Friday, December 11, 2015

New Plantings

Over the past couple of weeks (or so), I've been doing some planting in the vicinity of the new sitting area/gravel circle.  (These photographs don't show today's plantings, but at least they're a step in the right direction.  More photos soon, I hope.)

December Plantings

On the trellis against the fence, I put the two red passionflower vines that I think are probably 'Lady Margaret'.  (One of them even had a couple of open flowers today!)

On the other trellis, it's pink trumpet vine (Podranea ricasoliana).  Both this plant and the passionvines are from Mom's luckily-timed clearance shopping spree.

Though you can't really distinguish it very well in these pictures, I planted the 'Red Heart' rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)-- also from Mom-- between the two trellises.  This variety has single white flowers with red spots in the center.

December Plantings

On the other side of the banana shrub (Magnolia figo, aka Michelia figo), I planted 'Double Purple' rose of Sharon (yet another from Mom).  As the name suggests, the blooms of this cultivar are double and purple-- a lilac type of purple:

Double Purple Rose of Sharon

December Plantings

On either side of the transition from path to sitting area, I planted tiny seedlings of a third type of rose of Sharon-- one with double pink flowers (name unknown).  (These are very small and even more difficult to spot in photos.)

These are cuttings from a tree in Granny W.'s yard.  I rooted them in water and hope they're far enough along to succeed in the ground.  I debated whether to plant them now or keep them in their little nursery pots until spring.  Well, I'll hope for the best.  Meanwhile, there's a third, smaller cutting that's still in a pot and a fourth cutting (smaller still) trying to root in water in my kitchen window.  If the ones I've planted don't do well, maybe one of the others will have better luck.

Meanwhile, I've also planted the Salvia madrensis (forsythia sage) on the south side of the path/circle, where it can get a little shade.  I'm not sure it's the best spot, but we'll give it a try.  Plenty of room for it to grow, there.

Along the fence (see photo below), starting at the bamboo and moving eastward, first there's a Duranta erecta 'Sapphire Showers'.  I've decided to give them a try in this part of the yard, after all.  I amended the soil around them-- a little-- so maybe it'll work out.  I don't think drainage will be a problem here.  Our poorly-drained soil is along the western and southern sides of the fenced yard.

Next, there's a rose of Sharon (the thing Trixie's standing behind) that volunteered under the single, purple-w/-red-center one we have.  The "single" roses of Sharon apparently have a reputation for self-sowing.  I assume this will turn out to be another purple-w/-red-center, unless it managed to cross-pollinate with the all-white rose of Sharon.  In any case, I'm sure it'll be pretty.  They all are, in my opinion.

One step further down the row is Mascagnia macroptera (butterfly vine), followed by the second Duranta erecta 'Sapphire Showers'.

December Plantings

Not pictured (because I only planted it today) is a mystery crepe myrtle that I placed between the butterfly vine and the second duranta.  It's another volunteer-- this time one that showed up near the 'Victor' crepe myrtle in a spot where it simply couldn't stay.  I had to cut back some of the roots (or, well, maybe I didn't have to, but I did), but I think it has a good chance.

This crepe myrtle seemed worth trying to save, because the color of the flowers-- a pale pink-- was different from those already in the yard.  The others we have are all either white, watermelon pink, or some other dark/bright pink.  I don't have plans to actively hunt down and add more crepe myrtles to the yard (no ideal place to put them, for one thing), but I didn't have the heart to just throw away a volunteer in a "new" color.

Also planted today-- the two 'Little Bonnie' dwarf spirea from Mom (more super-clearance purchases).  They went on the other side of the banana shrub.  (A picture is probably worth a thousand words of me trying to explain precisely where they're located.)

The last things I planted today were daylilies.  The last several pots of home-started daylilies and a small pot of 'Little Business' (dwarf, repeat-bloomer, raspberry with chartreuse throat) went here and there around part of the gravel circle.

Oh!  I just remembered something else I planted a while back-- strawberry begonia (Saxifraga stolonifera).  The pot was full, so I took a piece off before planting it (south side of the path, in some shade) to pot up for indoors.

...And I think that's it for recent plantings.  There are several more plants still awaiting placement, but we're getting there!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Last Days of November

November exited with days of unseasonable warmth.  On the downside, I was pestered by mosquitoes when I took these photos, and it's hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner.  On the other hand, the temperature's been comfortable-- capri pants weather-- and the last lingering flowers are lingering just a little longer.

- - - - - - -

Toad lily.
I've planted them in pots for the covered patio, for now.  I may put them into the ground at some point, but for now, I like the flexibility of the pots.  I really like the painterly style of the variegated foliage of this one.  The flowers are just a bonus.

Toad Lily

Butterfly vine from Mom.
This vine (Mascagnia macroptera or Callaeum macropterum) gets its common name from the shape of its green seed pods.  Some people collect the seed pods, dry them, and paint them for use in crafts (wreath decorations, for instance).

Right now, I'm thinking this might go where the rustic pergola was, by the end of the gravel path.  There are other options, too.  Still considering.  Wherever it goes, it will need a support of some type.

Butterfly Vine

Duranta erecta 'Sapphire Showers', from Mom.
I have two of these plants, which are commonly known as golden dewdrop, pigeon berry, or sky flower.  I was thinking of growing them along the north fence in the garden expansion on the east side of the yard.  The fence would provide an easy support (though not a very tall one), and they'd help fill in a totally new area of flowerbed.  However, I've just read that they require light, fast-draining soil-- "sandy soil rich with organic matter".  The soil in that part of the yard is definitely not sandy or light.  It's a heavy clay soil.  So... Maybe that's not the best location for this vine.  On the other hand, I could "just" dig an extra big hole and amend the soil (plenty of spare sandy soil on hand) to improve the drainage... Hm.

Duranta erecta 'Sapphire Showers'

Anoles are still out and about.  I saw a garter snake a few days ago, too.  (No photos of the snake, I'm afraid.)


The dogs kept me company on my little photo expedition.


The frostbitten Mexican purple sage is still soldiering along.

Mexican Purple Sage

The double pink Knock Out rose has been putting on a special show, lately.  The single yellows are blooming, too, but they haven't quite reached the size and maturity of the pink, yet.

Double Pink KO Rose

Double Pink KO Rose

Double Pink KO Rose

Blanket flower has been such a champ, this year!  I'm so glad I gave those seeds a try.  They're excellent plants.  I'm curious to see what spring brings.  Will these have reseeded all over the place?  I think I'm okay with that, but I suppose there is a limit to the number of blanket flowers we need.

One negative for this plant is that some of them have been leaning over/sprawling a little for the past couple of months.  In some spots, that's not a problem, but most of these are located right by a path, and that's where they happen to lean.  When the flowers are loaded with bees (and sometimes wasps), you don't want to go brushing against them, so that section of path has been useless.  I'm considering putting in some very short, decorative fencing just along the edge of the path, next year.  It wouldn't take much.  Maybe six feet or so?   Another option could be staking or a few short cages to prop them up.

Blanket Flower and Bee

Maybe I spoke too soon about the hiccup-free bamboo transplant.  I've noticed a little yellowing of some of the leaves.  Nothing too bad (yet), but enough to make me wonder.  Is it transplant shock?  Under-watering (since the move)?  Over-watering?  (It didn't move very far, but the soil in its new location contains a lot of clay-- probably more than in its last home.  I hope that won't be a problem...)

Or could this be just a sign that the bamboo has noticed that it's December?  Time to drop some leaves and maybe put out a few new ones?  I'm trying not to fret over it.  I think it'll be okay, once it has more time to adapt.  If it seems to be suffering too much, I could always dig around the plant and amend the soil with sand and organic matter.

'Golden Goddess' Bamboo

'Golden Goddess' Bamboo

I don't know much about azaleas, but I think this may be a formosa azalea.  Whatever it is, there are two of them in the "wild strip" along the front of the yard (outside the fence).  They've started blooming again.

There's also a bloom on one of our Japanese magnolias, and I've seen a bloom or two on one of Mom's Japanese magnolias.  I don't think they normally bloom in autumn-- only early spring-- so maybe this weirdly mild fall has confused them.  The formosa azalea, on the other hand, apparently blooms sporadically in fall, so I guess they're behaving normally.

Azalea - Fall Bloom

A look across the yard...

View Across the Yard

Some people positively hate nandina (heavenly bamboo).  It's not my very favorite plant, but I like the lacy foliage and red berries, and I like the fact that it's evergreen and has some interesting leaf color changes, through the seasons.


Some of our crepe myrtles (mostly the white-blooming ones, I believe) have displayed some very nice autumn color, this year.

The ones down by the shed are mostly golden with a touch of orange (aside from the residual green, of course).

Crepe Myrtle - Fall Foliage

Crepe Myrtle - Fall Foliage

Crepe Myrtle - Fall Foliage

Meanwhile the arc of crepe myrtles behind the garage range from gold through red, with touches of purple.

Crepe Myrtle - Fall Foliage

Crepe Myrtle - Fall Foliage

Crepe Myrtle - Fall Foliage

The last few seeds on the river oats (the ones I haven't gathered) are slowly turning gold, too.

River Oats / Norther Sea Oats

Warmly blue autumn skies with fluffy cotton clouds have since been replaced by grey, lowering clouds.  Humidity is high and rain is on the way, but in another couple of days, we'll be clear and seasonal, with sunshine and highs in the mid to upper 60s.  I'm not complaining!

Warm November Sky