Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Little Bit of Everything

I've been trying to fill in the gaps in my mulch.

It's not my favorite time of year to be mulching.  It's hot and humid, for a start-- then there are the tall grass and weeds that get in the way of mulch-gathering efforts.  I worry more about ticks and wasps and snakes this time of year, too.  I feel compelled to wear long pants (and tick-repellent spray) out in the woods, which is not exactly comfortable in the summertime, but I can't imagine going out there in shorts or even capris.

Then, when you finally get the mulch gathered in the wheelbarrow and carted around the garden, it can be time-consuming to put it down in between and around all those plants-- especially the smaller or more delicate annuals and perennials.

I always swear that I'll do more yard work in the cooler time of the year-- mulching included.  I'm making the same old vow again, for the thousandth time.  What are the chances I'll actually do more, this winter and early spring?

One of the places I've recently mulched is around the new foundation shrubs in the front.  It looks much better with pine straw.  Just need to continue it on the other side of the door... and in more areas of the flower beds... and in the "ash/sago" bed... and around some trees and shrubs... Even if there's enough pine straw to go around, I'm not sure I have the will to do so much, just now.  Some of it will wait for better weather, probably.

Front Yard

Though it's technically not yet time for the next "garden survey" photos, I snapped a few "survey-ish" pictures while I was out there.  I need to try to do these photos at a time when there's less contrast.  The problem is that we rarely have generally overcast weather in the summer, and first thing in the morning, it's a bit dim... I guess I could get out the tripod and set longer exposures, though...

Flower Garden

Hey, look!  It's our new water hose!! ;o)  And just around the bend in the path lurks the wheelbarrow, full of pine straw.  (I took a break in mulching to take these photos.)

Flower Garden

I had intended this photo to demonstrate how the new plants from this spring have filled in this part of the flower bed, but it's difficult to tell even what part it is, if you're not very familiar with our garden. This is the area between the gravel path and the parking area, just before you get to the garage.  On the left is the viburnum.

The bat-face cuphea has sprawled all over the place-- not tall, but wide.  Just visible at the back right, the Rudbeckia 'Autumn Sun' has grown a fair amount, but nowhere near the height it can supposedly reach.  Bee balm is at least blooming this year, but is still a little on the small side.  Ditto red Mexican ruellia.  (The soil is not great here-- sandy, not at all rich and fertile.  That may have something to do with it...)  Osmanthus 'Fudingzhu' is holding its own, but hasn't really changed much.  (However, since it's not a fast-growing tree/shrub, I didn't expect much growth in its first year.)  The golden alexander(s?) has been a bit of let-down, so far.  Very scant bloom, not a lot of growth.  But hey, at least it's still alive!  Many perennials can take two or three years to settle in and perform at their best.

Bat-Face Cuphea and Others

The Confederate rose seems to be doing well enough in its new home by the shed.  It gets much less sun here than in its old location, but it does get some direct sun in the afternoon.  It's already taller than I am, so it's not suffering too much; it just remains to be seen if it blooms well in this spot.  If not, I'll have to debate moving it again.  I'd really rather avoid that, because it was an exhausting job to move it the first time.  However, there's really no point in growing a Confederate rose where it won't bloom!

Confederate Rose

The number of daylilies in bloom feels low, after the peak season earlier in the year, but there are several still opening flowers, including several not pictured in this blog post-- and certain plants are still putting up new scapes.  I think they're mostly (if not all) from repeat bloomers.  Not many new faces, at this point in the season.

If I ever were to buy named cultivars (either by the fan or by seed), I'd want to focus on those that bloom late in the season, or at least late-mid season.  That seems to be the weak spot in our calendar of daylilies, so far.  (There's always the chance that the seedlings that bloom next year and the next will fill in some of those gaps.  Not sure how likely it is, tough, considering that the seeds all came from the same person's garden...)







Daylily and Coreopsis

The 'Mercury Rising' coreopsis have finally begun to bloom!  I didn't realize they started so late in the year-- months after the other types in our garden.  I was recently griping about how these plants tend to flop open at the center, leaning against or even over nearby plants.  They still do, but I can more easily forgive their sprawling ways when I'm reminded of how pretty they are when in bloom.

'Mercury Rising' Coreopsis

'Mercury Rising' Coreopsis

'Mercury Rising' Coreopsis

Parts of the garden feel so lush and full, this time of year.
One thing I've noticed, though, is that I don't have enough contrasting foliage.  There are different textures and-- in places-- different shades of green, but overall, it tends to blur together into one big blob of medium green, relieved only by whatever happens to be in bloom (which can be spotty, at certain times of the year) and the occasional colorful foliage.

I think I'll try to make a concerted effort to work in more colorful foliage... More yellow/gold and chartreuse, but also darker foliage.  Dark green, purple... Red, even, if I can find it...

One of the reasons I wanted to grow canna lilies was the foliage, but it turns out that the ones I planted are mostly medium green. (g)  They're still pretty-- and the tropical texture is a good contrast to tiny or grassy foliage-- but it's not the dark and/or striped leaves I had in mind.  Maybe next year I'll add one or two more varieties...

Flower Garden

Indian blanket.
Some of last year's plants wanted to flower right through winter, and in early spring, they looked happier than ever-- but then they started to flop.  I finally cut most of them back, and I can't tell if they'll recover or not.  Fortunately, they come very easily from seed, so I have a bunch of young plants waiting to take over.  However, they do take a while to grow to flowering age.  (Well, "a while" by my impatient standards...)

I can try to read more about them and see if there's something I'm missing, but I'm beginning to think they really should be treated as annuals.  Let them flower over winter if they will, but once they start to flop, cut them back hard or pull them out and replace with seedlings.

Blanket Flower

I've read that seedlings thrown by crepe myrtles aren't worth keeping, because (assuming the parent tree is a hybrid) you can't tell if a given sapling will be healthy or flower well.  But then there are people who pot them up and give them to friends and family, so who knows?!

The volunteer that came up near 'Victor' last year has been flowering to my satisfaction, at least, given that it's so young.  I'm still happy with it, since it's my only pale-pink crepe myrtle.  However, I do wish my crepe myrtles didn't get those disgusting insects that secrete "honeydew".  I was just thinking the other day that I hadn't noticed any this year, and sure enough, a day or two later I noticed honeydew falling from the semi-shade garden crepe myrtle.  Ugh.  I can never decide if it's worth trying to spray with something (especially since some of these trees are getting pretty tall, now)... Maybe the bugs won't hang around too long.  They're my one real dislike about crepes...  I mean, who wants to get "dewed" on when they're out in the garden?!  Darn pests!

Crepe Myrtle

I'm still not sure whether or not this is 'Mega Punk'! (g)  I think it is, but the foliage is still not markedly red.


Now, this bunch I know must be from my storebought (clearance) seed, because 'Mega Punk' and the one from Granny L.'s garden shouldn't have white flowers.


Purple coneflowers.

Purple Coneflower

Purple Coneflower with Bee

Purple Coneflowers

I have a few cleome, this year.  An improvement on last year, but they're still on the small side.  Lots of summer left, though.  So far, there's a purply-pink...


...and a white ("ivory", I think it's usually called).  I still get a juvenile kick out of the illicit-looking foliage.  ;o)



Curcuma elata has such lush, luxurious leaves... I do love this plant, and I'm not even sure why... The flowers aren't that much to look at (though that waxy flower from earlier in the year did last and last and last).  I guess it's just the texture of the foliage-- smooth on top, fuzzy underneath, and corrugated.  The leaves look so perfect, too-- unmarred, at least, at this point in the summer.

Curcuma elata

I love the foliage of the bald cypress, too-- especially when there are no disgusting worm/caterpillar infestations spoiling it.  (Speaking of which, our viburnum seems to get some every summer.  I spotted some earlier this week and disposed of them.  They are some of the most skin-crawling, stomach-turning creatures I've ever had the misfortune to encounter.  I guess it's a good thing for them that I'm not omnipotent, because if I were, they'd be on the list of things I'd be strongly tempted to send flying off into the Abyss...)

Er, as I was saying... Bald cypress is pretty. ;o)

Bald Cypress

Gladiolus.  I especially like the pink-and-white one!





'Purple Queen' Bougainvillea:

Purple Queen Bougainvillea

Bog sage.
I forgot to mention that I took some cuttings of this, too-- now currently residing in the pot ghetto.  It's a very open, loose-structured plant.  I think it's probably at least nearly as tall as I am, now, and the bees love it.  I've noticed that it's not exactly a pleasantly fragrant plant, but fortunately that's not usually an issue.  I've only really noticed its "aroma" when tending to it-- weeding around it, taking cuttings-- and once when I accidentally gave it a big wallop with a water hose.  Then an absolute wave of bog sage "perfume" came wafting in my direction.  P-U.  Okay, it's kinda stinky.  (I've seen someone describe it as similar to cat urine, but I'm not that experienced with that particular odor, so I can't weigh in on that.)  But again, just walking past it, it's not an issue.  I probably wouldn't site it right next to a table where I'd be eating every day, just in case the smell carries more than I think it does, but the cloud of bees it attracts is already a good reason to keep any sweet-smelling food at least a few feet away.

Bog Sage

The swamp sunflowers are peeking up above the level of the neighboring rosebush.  I'm debating whether or not the swamp sunflowers need another trimming to keep them from getting too top-heavy, later in the summer... I've already trimmed them back once...

Flower Garden - Arbor

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I keep meaning to make some hypertufa planters, but somehow I never get around to it.  Outdoor time is spent on weeding and other more pressing matters-- but I do want some new 'tufa pots, and they're not going to make themselves... Maybe in early autumn, if not before.