Friday, March 11, 2016

Early Spring Chit-Chat

I've started several more pots of seeds (still focusing on those that I thought would be easiest):

Pots o' Seeds

But so far, the only ones I've seen sprouting are some of the blanket flowers:

Blanket Flower Sprouts

Almost overnight, leaves are appearing on oaks and river birches, and with equal suddenness, the tiger lily bulbils I harvested and planted last year have sprouted.  They look healthy and happy at the moment, but there's still a way to go before they'll be ready for the garden.  For their first year, it's recommended to keep them in a relatively cool place with indirect light.  The covered patio (where they are now) seems ideal.  (Actually, the covered patio has proven to be perfect for rooting tender, new cuttings.  It's my favorite thing we've done in our yard, so far.)

After the foliage dies back to the ground this first year, I'll un-pot them and maybe go ahead and place them in a flower bed.  Either that or re-pot them and wait another year... Depends on how they look this summer.  They're supposed to be capable of blooming the second year after the bulbils were harvested-- not too bad of a wait.

Sprouting Tiger Lilies

Last week, I moved some potted plants from the garage where they were over-wintering.  They're still adjusting to life on the outside. ;o)

Among them were pots of cuttings, such as these Mexican purple sage (Salvia purpurea), which I've yet to plant out in the yard.  As it turns out, it wasn't strictly necessary to take these cuttings, because the winter was so mild that several of the in-ground plants have already begun to leaf out again.  Still, I'm sure I can find one or two spots that could benefit from a little Mexican purple sage.

Mexican Purple Sage

I also took many cuttings of the "piƱata" lavender.  I don't believe it's cold-hardy for this area, but if these cuttings make it through to autumn, I might try leaving at least one plant outside, just to see...

It would be great if I didn't have to bother so much with the cuttings, because-- well, look at these cuttings in the photo below.  They look nice and green, right?  They're floppy, but I figured that getting them into the sun would soon fix that.  Many of these cuttings have even been blooming in the garage window, for months.  (There's a flower or two in the photo, too.)

However, when I took up some of the lavender cuttings, they looked like they hadn't actually rooted at all!  Just turned brown below soil level!  Maybe there were a few pathetic, short, hair-like roots on some of them, but that was all.  Not promising.  Ah, well... I'm re-potting them and will just have to hope for the best.  I've gotten a lot of enjoyment from the single lavender plant these started from, a couple of years ago.  If this year's cuttings don't make it, I'd consider starting again with a new plant, if I can find one locally.

"Pinata" Lavender

Here's another recent inmate of the garage, an unknown succulent:


The last time I blogged, this white/cream loropetalum was just on the verge of blooming.  The delicate fringe flowers have begun to unfurl:

Cream Loropetalum

Cream Loropetalum

Cream Loropetalum

And the pink loropetalum is still going very strong:


Japanese magnolias are still blooming, too.

Japanese Magnolia

Japanese Magnolia

The tea olive we planted last year is covered in flowers, and when the temperature / humidity / whatever-it-is is just right, you catch a very pleasant whiff.  You still need to be within several feet of the plant to smell it, but I'm hoping that the scent will carry further as it grows and increases in flowers.  I have a real fondness for this shrub, already.

Sweet Olive

The pink camellia is still flowering:




The variegated toad lilies have put up a lot of new growth already, this spring.  I just love this plant!  The variegated leaves are gorgeous-- never mind that it will also flower, later in the year.  It's living in a medium-sized pot on the covered patio, where it can have the shade it needs and be in a convenient place for regular watering.

The non-variegated toad lilies (not pictured) have been much slower to emerge, but I see at least three tiny new sprouts that I think are the beginning.  (Whew.  I was getting worried that it hadn't survived the winter...)

Toad Lily Foliage

The northern sea oats (river oats) never completely died back in the winter, but new shoots are appearing.  It looks like this clump will be much lusher than it was last year.  I've yet to see any signs of new plants, neither from the seeds I scattered-- "direct-sowed"-- on the ground near the mother plant, nor from the seeds sown in pots.  However, I've heard too much about the possibly invasive tendencies of this plant to give up on them, yet.  They might just take a little longer to get started.

River Oats

Last time, I included a photo of the ginger lily emerging early (or what seemed early to me, at least).  Here's a progress shot from a few days ago (when all of these photos were taken):

Butterfly Ginger Emerging

Last year's new butterfly ginger-- Hedychium 'Elizabeth'-- is also emerging.  I'm hopeful that this year will give us a chance to see flowers for the first time.  If they still fail to appear, I'll probably transplant this to a slightly sunnier location (and give it plenty of organic matter in the soil).

'Elizabeth' Hedychium

Here's a more recent photo of the swamp daisies (swamp sunflowers?), too. They're growing every day, I think.

Swamp Daisy
I was happy to notice tiny new leaves on the Podranea ricasoliana (pink trumpet vine).  This is one of those plants Mom gave to me after her fortuitous clearance shopping spree. ;o)  I wasn't sure about its cold-hardiness, but after our mild winter, the green is not surprising.  I gave it a quick pruning this morning, before the rain started.  Technically, it's best to prune before new growth appears, but I didn't realize it needed pruning until I read about it today... I'm not sure if I pruned enough, but maybe it'll help with flowering.  I tried to take off just the ends of the stems/vines, where there weren't yet any new leaves.  I don't think it's done any harm, at least.

Pink Trumpet Vine

There are new leaves showing up all over the place.

Variegated hydrangea:

Variegated Lacecap Hydrangea

Salvia.  I'm not sure if this is 'Pizzazz Purple' or 'Waverly'... Whichever one it is, the other has yet to put on new leaves, but I'm holding out hope that it's just a slower-starting plant.  I don't think this winter was cold enough to kill any of the new salvias, at least...


This one is definitely the "purple-on-purple" Mexican bush sage (no mistaking those leaves):

Mexican Bush Sage

(If only I could train Trixie to pull weeds for me!  She loves to chase after them when I throw them across the lawn, and she might possibly graze them a bit, but I've yet to teach her to pull them herself.)


I've left some of the pink oxalis in place, even if it is a little weedy.  It's pretty, and as long as it's not crowding out some more desirable plant, why not leave it be?


The banana shrub has been blooming for a while, with many more buds remaining tightly closed.  Just now, you can experience an intoxicatingly sweet aroma, when you're anywhere near it.  Mmmm... I have a lot of trouble with scale and honeydew on my banana shrub, which makes it a magnet for dirt daubers and other flying pests during part of the year, but that perfume is worth some inconvenience.

Banana Shrub

Yesterday, I finally (finally) moved the Confederate rose to its new location.

Even selecting a location was difficult (which is why I hadn't transplanted it before).  Originally, I thought of putting it in the front yard, between the big sago palm and the ash tree.  Well, I dug up a small, fairly-recently planted sago palm from that area and quickly saw that digging a large hole there was out of the question.  The soil is hard clay with many tough roots zig-zagging all over the place.  It would've been possible, I suppose, but I wasn't in the mood to do it, so I went with my second plan, which was to put a home-rooted cutting of viburnum up there and place the Confederate rose elsewhere.

After considering a few different options, I ended up planting the Confederate rose on the south side of our garden shed.  It's not the sunniest part of the yard-- certainly less sun than its previous location-- but I hope it will get sufficient light.  I also have some reservations over the quality of the soil.  It's mostly orange clay, so it should be good for nutrients, but it's also a little slow to drain, at times... At least I didn't quite knock myself out digging the (rather sizable) hole.  If the Confederate rose can't manage, I guess it just won't!  It wasn't an especially expensive plant, so I'm willing to take a risk.

Digging that thing up, though!  Ugh!  Remind me to be more careful about where I plant things, from now on.  Transplanting daylilies and other little fleshy perennials is one thing... (That can even be fun, in moderation...)  Digging up a monster with roots going off in all directions is quite a different proposition.  I knew it had grown a lot in one year, but I was still amazed at how difficult it was to get the darned thing out of the ground.

Well, it's planted.  I watered it in well, yesterday, and today Mother Nature's taking care of the watering.  If it fails to thrive, it certainly won't be for lack of a thorough watering-in.

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Other recent gardening chores:

-- Started weeding.
Note that I said "started".  There's more.  (When is there ever not more?)

-- Pulled several water sprouts off the viburnum.
I read in one place that water sprouts, though common on viburnums, can be a sign of distress, which made me worry... I know that the soil's not perfect where it is... and it gets a little droopy in the hot, humid, sunny afternoons of summer... But then I read in another place that water sprouts are the sign of a very healthy plant that's basically just too exuberant-- can't control itself, it's so happy. ;o)  I'm pretty sure I should place more faith in the first opinion, but the second one makes me feel better, so I'm going with that!

-- Planted "rooted" cuttings.
I had a few cuttings of night-blooming jasmine on the windowsill over my kitchen sink, all winter.  This week, I finally got them potted up.  I think they all had at least some roots, so I feel hopeful.  If they do well, I'll probably end up trying to give them away, because I don't know that I want any more night-blooming jasmine.  It's not especially showy, and I don't love the fragrance (besides which, we only smell it when we go out at night)... I just wanted to see if I could get it to root.  And it's fun to give away plants, if you can find anyone who wants them. (g)

Then there was the second batch of Confederate rose cuttings... I threw out the first batch, because they never rooted and instead became rather malodorous.  (~~~P. U.)  This second batch was a little better... Less slimy, at least, and that's always a good start.  They had leaves-- but precious little in the way of roots!  The tiniest bits of roots on a couple of them, but mostly they just had little white nobs  that looked like only the start of roots.  Maybe that's all they ever do, but I was disappointed.  I've potted them up, in any case, so now it's up to them.  If they "take", I'll have a back-up for the mother plant (in case she hates her new home), as well as at least one or two to offer to others.  But let's not start counting chickens, yet.  Remember, those eggs were practically rootless... ;o)