Saturday, March 26, 2016

More Spring Photos and Chatter

After unseasonably warm weather, we had a few colder nights that threatened tender plants-- seedlings, newly sprouted leaves on plants that die back over the winter, new plants still in nursery pots, a few pots I'd moved back out of the garage.  So I spent a few evenings running around covering things and even putting a few pots back in the garage for just a night or two.  The warmer weather's back (for now), and so far, it looks like everything came through alright.  Actually, most things probably would've been okay without the extra attention (because I don't think it got as cold as predicted), but you just never know...

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There are lots of late winter/early spring weeds to contend with-- particularly something that I've identified as Poa annua, a.k.a annual bluegrass (which is apparently a very common weed in this part of the world).  If it's just a tiny sprig, it's not hard to pull, but where it's more established, it takes up a layer of soil with it.  I'm hopeful that these new flower beds will become progressively easier to keep weeded-- especially if I keep after it.  Maybe by next spring it won't be quite so bad, after all the weeding and mulching I'll be doing this year.  And maybe I'll get out there and pull the weeds earlier in the year, next time.  (Anything's possible!)

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I'm trying to spread good performers around the garden, so I've been dividing some plants.  I've also moved few other things where (I hope) they'll get just the right kind of sun (after less-than-perfect placement, the first time around).  Such as the dwarf butterfly bush that didn't get enough sun in its old location.  Then I thought the leucojum needed to move for two reasons.  First, because it might benefit from more sunlight, and second, because new plantings threatened to block the snowflakes from view.

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A 'Peggy Martin' climbing rose (a.k.a. "the Katrina rose") is now getting settled in on the other (eastern) side of the arbor.  If you don't know the story behind that particular rose, it's an interesting one, by turns sad and inspirational.  This rose is known for its toughness and resilience as much as for its beauty.  It's a repeat bloomer with clusters of small, lightly-scented double blooms of medium pink adorning nearly thornless stems.  When they say "nearly thornless", the emphasis should be on the "nearly" part (which I suspect is usually the case with so-called thornless roses).  There are some thorns, as I noticed when planting it, but they are as nothing when compared to the numerous, monstrous thorns of the 'Joseph's Coat' climbing rose, which grows on the other (western) side of the same arbor.  Those thorns are downright mean.

Here's the only bloom we've had from 'Peggy Martin' so far.  There are many buds, so we hope for more soon.  The individual flower isn't spectacular.  It's very small and not particularly eye-catching (compared to many other roses), but when there are clusters of them, I trust they'll be more impressive.

'Peggy Martin' Rose

And here's the rose in its new home.  I'm still in the process of deciding how to train some of the canes, but others of them are already tied to the arbor.

'Peggy Martin' Rose on Arbor

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Yesterday, I started tackling the problem area in front of the covered patio.  This is the place I mentioned in an earlier entry.  It's on the north side of the covered patio, so it gets a fair amount of shade, but in the summer, there's also a sliver that gets quite a bit of sun.  Daylilies are doing okay in the sunny sliver, but I wanted something to fill up the middle and back of the bed-- and what I really wanted was something with four-season interest.  Something that won't shed its leaves and be ugly all winter, since this is the main entrance to our home.  An evergreen that will stay within the bounds of a modestly-dimensioned flower bed.

Then the obvious solution struck me: the dwarf gardenia ('Daisy') I planted there however-many years ago seems to be doing well.  Why not plant more?  So I've placed two similarly sized gardenias ('Double Mint', this time) on either side of the existing 'Daisy' gardenia.  I'm crossing my fingers for success!  There are still blank spots around the gardenias, but I can try to fill some of them in with easily-propagated perennials and annuals.

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Random Springtime Photos

Polka dot plant.
It's a tender/tropical plant, but I've had luck overwintering them in the garage.  Apparently they are popular as houseplants, so no wonder.  Also, last year, I had them coming up from seed, which was a nice surprise.  I tried to let them go to seed again, so maybe more will show up.

Polka Dot Plant

Pincushion flower.
Still waiting for its permanent home in the garden.

Pincushion Flower

Pincushion Flower

'Ruby' Loropetalum.  (At least, that's what the pot says...)
This little clearance loropetalum purchased last summer is still waiting for a place in the garden.  I think I've finally settled on the general location.  Front yard, keeping the Japanese magnolia company.


Golden alexanders.
Zizia aurea.  This native wildflower is also waiting patiently for the gardener to decide its fate.  Where will it land...?

Golden Alexanders

Swamp sunflower seedlings.
I'm not sure it's even worth bothering with these seedlings, because the original plant has put out a good-sized clump.  I've already transplanted several of them to a couple of new locations around the yard.  But hey, I can't turn down free plants!  And if these seedlings succeed, I'll have even more options.

Swamp Sunflower (or Daisy?)

Blanket flower seedlings.
These have been exceptionally fast-sprouting.  I really do love blanket flowers.  Okay, they can tend to flop, sometimes-- and alright, they are fairly garishly bright, if you don't like red and yellow right next to one another on the same flower.  But they're so easy and cheerful and happy!  The older I get, the more excited I am about easy flowers...

Blanket Flower

Purple coneflower seedlings.
I'm afraid that some of last year's coneflowers might not be coming back, but at least a few of them are... and there are seedlings, so I can't complain too much.

Purple Coneflower

Green Squirrel

Roses have begun blooming again!
Double red KO rose.

Red KO Rose

Yellow single KO rose.

Yellow KO Rose

'Joseph's Coat' climbing rose.

'Joseph's Coat' Rose

'Joseph's Coat' Rose

And the azaleas are still in bloom.










'Georgia Peach' heuchera (coral bells) is blooming.  This heuchera has fared better in its first year in our garden than the other one I planted at the same time-- 'Carnival Plum Crazy'.  But they're both hanging in there!

'Georgia Peach' Heuchera

The leaves of the 'Golden Angel' Japanese shrub mint are increasing in size and number!

Japanese Shrub Mint 'Golden Angel'

Ah, and here are the first spring blooms of the blanket flowers!  They probably would've keep blooming all winter if I hadn't cut them back.  (g)  Tough plants (and a very mild winter).

Blanket Flower

I have vague plans for the circle stone bed.  Right now, it's a little sad-looking, but maybe later this year it will come closer to my vision of it...

Potted Succulents and Lavender Cuttings

The butterfly gingers keep growing...

Butterfly Ginger

Indian hawthorn.
I forgot that the blooms were so showy.  There are other types with pink flowers, which are even prettier, but honestly, we value these as foundation plants for their attractive evergreen leaves and mounding forms.  The flowers are just a brief springtime bonus.

Indian Hawthorn

Indian hawthorn and white/cream loropetalum.

Indian Hawthorn and Loropetalum

One oak tree has just the barest of tiny baby leaves.

New Oak Leaves

The other is ahead by a week or more.  I wonder why... Different type of oak, maybe, or just different conditions, even though they're not that far apart.

New Oak Leaves

The Confederate rose still looks happy in its new spot.  Putting on new leaves and new shoots from the base.  I'm feeling optimistic!

Confederate Rose

These double white clematis vines are so happy and fresh in spring.  By far their best time of year, in my garden.  Just look at those full buds!  They look almost good enough to eat, they're so plump and ready to burst.  (...Or maybe I just shouldn't be writing blog posts on an empty stomach!)

Clematis Vine

In closing, a photo of a fuzzy bumble bee enjoying the intoxicating aroma of the banana shrub's blooms.  (Or maybe it's more attracted to the pollen than the fruity perfume.)

Bumble Bee on Banana Shrub

Spring is being very pleasant, so far.  Rainy (and steamy after the rain), but sweet and soft.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Rainy Day in December

While looking back through some photos from December, I found a few from a particularly rainy spell.  I don't recall the rainfall totals, but it was many inches-- much more than usual, even for our area.  Our yard generally does a pretty good job of handling south Alabama's periodic torrential downpours, but it has its limits.  At some point, the soil can't absorb any more, and if there's nowhere for it to go, it puddles.

Rainy Day (12/23/15)

I'd observed at least once before that this part of our yard-- a portion of the northern strip of "sideyard"-- sits a little low and can tend to puddle in the heaviest rain.

This plot of land slopes gently to the south.  There's even a little streambed down on our neighbors' property that fills after heavy rains; you can hear the gurgling water, if you walk along the property line, on those days.  However, when we built up the land to create our septic pad and build our house, this little strip between the driveway and the house became the new low spot (for a small portion of land), and water now collects here.

Rainy Day (12/23/15)

With an average thunderstorm or rainy day, that's not a problem, but more exceptional rainfalls leave standing water.  Fortunately, this doesn't happen that often, but it's something I'd still like to take some measures to address, if possible.  I've already started by building up some of the lowest spots of this flower bed with more soil and adding gravel to one or two puddle-prone areas of the path (like this one just outside the personnel door of the garage).

Rainy Day (12/23/15)

I've also briefly considered the possibility of creating a trench of some sort to drain the water to another part of the yard, from whence it can join the main flow down the natural slope of the land.  However, that seems like a fairly complicated project, given the current topography, so I'll probably hold off on that until/unless the puddles become a more frequent issue.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Hodge-Podge of "Spring is Sprung"-Type Photos

After moving the Confederate rose (photo of it in its new location at the bottom of this post), there was finally room to plant the new fragrant tea olive I bought last fall.  It's a tiny little thing, but with luck it will eventually turn into a small tree.  (They're not generally a fast-growing plant, so it may take a while.)

This is a different variety from the other one, I believe, unless the other one was mislabeled.  That first (larger) tea olive is just a plain old species version of Osmanthus fragrans.  This new one is Osmanthus fragrans 'Fudingzhu', a variety that blooms more heavily than the species.

Sweet Olive 'Fudzinghu'

At the moment, that "heavy flowering" part is all on faith, because it's very small.  Still, there are a few flowers (and have been for a while), so it's clearly making an effort.  I expect that in a few years it will be about the size of the other sweet olive, which has impressed me with its fragrance, this spring.

Sweet Olive 'Fudzinghu'

Those flowers aren't much to look at, yet, but they pack a powerful (sweet) punch for their size.

Sweet Olive 'Fudzinghu'

Purple Shamrock (Oxalis) from Granny L.'s garden:

Purple Shamrock

More leaves appearing on pink trumpet vine (Podranea):

Pink Trumpet Vine (Leaves)

I finally planted a couple of irises that have been waiting on the patio all winter... Oops... Couldn't decide where to plant them, so of course now I ended up just putting them "any old place".  Not really; it's the place I was thinking of putting them all along-- near the mountain laurel.  By waiting all this time, I've probably guaranteed that there will be no flowers this year-- not that they were especially likely this first spring, in any case.

This is giant apostles' iris, walking iris, Iris Neomarica caerulea 'Regina' (from Mom's clearance sale shopping).

Iris 'Regina'

And this is Japanese roof iris:

Japanese Roof Iris

The two bunches of "pin cushion" ginger lily (Hedychium thyrsiforme)-- which I got by dividing one literally popping-open pot-- are both sending up new shoots.  Maybe we'll get flowers, later this year.  This is another that didn't bloom, last year.  The blooms are reportedly much less fragrant than traditional butterfly ginger, but they have an unusual shape-- and the leaves are so pretty that they're worth growing for that alone, if you like tropical foliage.

"Pin Cushion" Ginger

A view of part of the shade garden.

The yellow flag iris foliage is so pretty... I know some people think they're invasive and inferior to other irises, but I love the fact that they're so easy to please.  They'll grow almost anywhere!

The Southern shield fern still brings me joy whenever I take the time to look at it. :o)  Just as our plants ought to do!

Shade Garden

Another source of joy was this tiny little bunch of chartreuse leaves I spied at the base of the Japanese shrub mint (Leucosceptrum japonicum 'Golden Angel').  Yay!  It's coming back!!

Japanese Shrub Mint

Leaves are just starting to show on the tulip trees.

Japanese Magnolia

Our garden doesn't have much in the way of spring bulbs.  That's one improvement I'd like to make, in years to come, if possible.  Tulips, sadly, aren't worth it, this far south (in my humble opinion); I'd want to focus on bulbs that have proven reliable for the coastal south.  Spanish bluebells (aka wood hyacinths) look interesting, as do starflowers (Ipheion uniflorum).

There are certain daffodils that do well in the South, too.  We have a couple types of daffodils, already-- in very small numbers-- but I have no idea which varieties they are.  Of the two, this short one seems the better performer, but they're currently so sparse (and so tiny) that they don't make much of an impact.

Unknown Daffodils

Could this be 'Tete-a-Tete'?  That's one variety I see mentioned a lot (and I know it's good for the South and a short daffodil).

Unknown Daffodil

This viburnum cutting I took last spring is now in its new, permanent (I hope) home.  This is the plant I put in the "test hole" in the front yard, when I was trying to decide where to place the Confederate rose-- up between the largest sago palm and the ash tree.  I don't know if it'll make it through that crucial first year okay or not, but it's already put out a nice flush of new (beautifully "crinkled") leaves.  If I can remember to water it consistently, this summer, I think it has a decent chance.


Another promising sign from one of Mom's clearance plants!  This is Duranta erecta 'Sapphire Showers'.  There were two of them, and I think they both have new leaves coming up from the ground.  If no leaves show up on the existing vines in the next few weeks, I'll go ahead and cut them back.

Duranta erecta 'Sapphire Showers'

I never know when/how to prune clematis, so I never do.  (Shame shame shame...)  I do know that you time the pruning based on when they bloom, and I think there are something like three different "schedules" of clematis... Anyway, they always amaze me by putting new leaves on the driest, deadest-looking old vines you ever did see.  (That's why I hesitate to actually make a cut!  How do you know which ones to cut back, unless the leaves are out?  I need to do some reading...)


This one's already getting ready to bloom:


Too many photos of an azalea:






Overview shot-- the front corner of the flower garden:

Front Corner Garden

The white loropetalum is covered in flowers at the moment:

White Loropetalum

White Loropetalum

White Loropetalum

White Loropetalum

And finally, the sawed-off Confederate rose in its new home by the shed:

Transplanted Confederate Rose

It looks a little odd, cut back like this, but it should be looking better soon (I hope).

After this week's warmer-than-usual weather, we're expecting a couple of rainy days, followed by a return to cooler temperatures.  I'm hopeful that it won't get cold enough to damage anything, but I'll try to keep an eye on it and have a few old sheets at the ready.