I thought I'd get better photos if I took them early in the morning and used the tripod. However, clearly I have more to learn, because my photos still didn't come out as crisp as I'd like... Also, because it wasn't a cloudy morning, there's quite a sharp contrast with sun vs. shade. I tried to fix that as best I could in post-processing, but I may have gone too far in a few photos. If you see radioactive-looking, green-glowing grass, that's why. (g)
Ah, well... It's better than nothing! It does document how things grow and change from month to month, and that's the whole point with this survey "exercise".
Without further ado, here are this month's many, many photos...
An updated shot of the "pot ghetto".
Some of the daylily seedlings have succumbed to this or that, but there are still plenty of them, including some new plants via proliferation. The cuttings are mostly doing okay, too.
That umbrella palm (Cyperus alternifolius) is doing well in its new home behind the 'Daisy' gardenia. I've been reading a little more about it, and for some people it's invasive. Worth keeping an eye on it. If it starts spreading into the gardenia's space, I might need to dig it up. Someone on Dave's Garden reported success growing it in doubled-up plastic nursery pots, sunken into the ground.
Not much has changed in this view since last time...
If you go back and look at June's survey photo(s) from this area, you'll see how much the bog sage (Salvia uliginosa) has grown in a month. It's a huge, sprawling thing. That might be a problem, if you have limited space, but if you have the room to spare and want to draw bees, I can recommend it.
The cuttings I'm trying to root look promising, but I believe it also spreads by stolons, so it might be even faster and easier to just dig off a side-shoot. (I'll have to see if Mom or anyone else wants a piece...)
Here's Trixie coming down the path... :o)
Those elephant ears on the right do get brown and withered, after a while. Is that from the harshness of the sun? I've already moved most of my elephant ears to the north side of the house, at the back of the semi-shade garden. They're doing alright, though one has shown a tendency to grow too tall and flop some of its leaves to the ground. Maybe a sign that it's reaching for the sun and would appreciate more light...
This is essentially the same shot, sans Trixie, and a little zoomed in...
(I probably took too many from this spot, but I didn't notice that when I was processing them, and after going to all that trouble, I'll include them all, anyway. (g))
The night-blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum) has grown tall again, but I don't think it's started to flower, yet. We are getting early flowers from white butterfly ginger (Hedychium coronarium), though-- the ones by the northwest corner of the house. None of the others have bloomed, yet.
That purple heart plant (Tradescantia pallida) all came from some cuttings Mom gave me, last summer, from Granny L.'s garden. I knew it was supposed to be an easy plant, but it has surpassed my expectations. Such enthusiasm! It seems like the kind of plant that can easily take a mile when you offer it a foot, but the wonderful color and low height make it an attractive addition to the front of the bed or border.
A corner of the semi-shade garden.
My giant plume ginger (Curcuma elata) is only in its second year in the garden, but so far, it's stayed well below the height many achieve. Part of the "problem"* may be the soil. It's pretty sandy, in that part of the garden, and curcumas like rich soil with plenty of humus. I try to keep it well-mulched and have done a little trench composting around it, but maybe this fall I should gently dig in some "compost dirt" around it, too.
(*Maybe it's not a real problem at all. It doesn't have to be a giant specimen, so long as it's healthy enough to come back year after year.)
There are plants in the back of this area that don't show up in photos, this time of year, unless I walk between plants (which I didn't do, this time). I may need to rearrange some of the easier-to-move plants... But in a bed/border this deep, with the kind of plants I have growing here, there will probably always be places that are more or less hidden, and I guess that's ok. (It'll probably have to be.) Because of their sunlight requirements, I can't always arrange these plants in ascending/descending order of height-- not if I want to give each plant the best chance at its ideal light.
One idea is to put stepping stones leading into the planting. I don't know if there's room, but if so, there could even be a modest seat of some sort tucked away at the end of the stepping-stone path...
On the plus side, with the current arrangement, different plants come into focus at different times of the year. In spring and early summer, the gingers have yet to fully emerge, so the plants further back in the bed are more visible. When the variegated hydrangea blooms and the new leaves of the Japanese shrub mint are at their strongest chartreuse, they take center stage (or as close to it as they can, at such distance from the path). Later in the year (now), they seem tucked away behind the lush foliage of the gingers. Fortunately, plants don't particularly care if they're seen and admired. They can flourish just as easily in seclusion as in the spotlight.
Another view of the semi-shade garden.
Fading hydrangea blooms (still attractive). The tall elephant ear I mentioned before is sticking up in the background. Another angle of the giant plume ginger. To the right of it, with the red mid-ribs, is Curcuma 'Scarlet Fever'. In the foreground, a smaller (younger) elephant ear and Salvia madrensis, forsythia sage. In the clay pot, the new-this-year tuberose. (I can't wait to see if the tuberose will bloom. I've read so much about the scent, and I'm eager to experience it for myself!)
Another slightly different angle.
Beside the bog sage is a canna lily. There are a few scattered here and there, in addition to the clump by the 'Sunshine' ligustrum. Beside the canna is one of the young roses of Sharon that came from cuttings from Granny W.'s garden. Succulents in the foreground. Right behind the succulents is a new-this-year crinum that's supposed to have blooms that are white with red stripes (commonly known as "milk and wine lily").
Peeking down the stepping-stone path.
This is still a relatively empty area. Mountain laurel on the right edge, banana shrub on the left. In between, we have assorted daylilies, a double purple rose of Sharon, unknown pink shrub rose, 'Little Bonnie' spirea (from Mom, late last year), lemon balm, and (in the pot) purple agapanthus-- "lily of the Nile".
Out on the lawn, looking back and to the right.
Banana shrub again, with 'Golden Goddess' bamboo peeking out from behind. The plants along the fence-row get lost, but there's a Duranta 'Sapphire Showers", a young rose of Sharon (probably purple w/ red center), and the edge of the butterfly vine.
Foundation planting, front of the house.
Though you can't really see them much here, the new shrubs along the front all seem to be settling in. Well, the 'Endless Summer' hydrangea isn't looking its best, but I hope it will bounce back with consistent watering over the remainder of the summer. So far, I haven't been that impressed by my 'Endless Summer'. It's unfair to judge it too harshly, though. I probably gave it too much shade in its first place, and then I moved it this summer. The poor thing needs time to get established.
New bed in the front.
This flower bed... Yes, it's an "island", but does it have to be a tiny, deserted island in the middle of a vast, green ocean? Most of the individual plants are doing alright, though I did recently dig up the oxeye daisy/marguerite (Leucanthemum vulgare) because it looked in awful condition. (I think it might do better in a sandier soil, which is where I moved it.) However, as a whole, the plants in the bed look so scrunched together, huddled in the middle of the lawn. Even though I did try to space them out sufficiently, there's just too much empty space around them for my liking. The bed is dwarfed by the surrounding lawn.
I've decided that at least 2 or 3 of the new small trees (in the pot ghetto right now) will go to one or both sides of this bed, extending it out to more generous dimensions-- probably mostly to the south, toward (but not reaching) the sago bed in the background of this photo. Around and in between these small trees, there will of course also be room for more shrubs, perennials, and maybe even annuals, but I have to figure out the placement of the trees, first. I probably won't work on this project until the weather cools down again, but it's never too soon to start planning.
Gravel circle / rustic trellises.
These plantings are all fairly new this year. On the trellis to the left are two red-flowered passion vines ('Lady Margaret', I think, though they came with no ID). In front of it are 'Blue Bedder' sage, daylilies, and peacock orchid (Gladiolus callianthus). Between the trellises is a double mauve-pink rose of Sharon. The trellis to the right supports a pink trumpet vine (Podranea ricasoliana). This is probably the upper limit of it's range, but it's come back well from its first winter here. However, it's nowhere near as big as they can get in more tropical climes, and as of yet there have been no flowers. Without blooms, it blends in with the bamboo growing behind the trellis, as both have fairly delicate, ferny foliage.
In front of the covered patio.
This is another area that is still developing and in need of bulking up. The three dwarf gardenias should eventually fill out a little. I've already mentioned the umbrella plant... The pot contains Heliconia 'Lady Di', a houseplant in winter, moved outdoors for the summer. I've yet to see it bloom, but I'm sure that's mostly my fault. I haven't babied it or fed it that often. There are a couple of new-this-year, seed-grown four o'clocks in this border, too. You can see one of them in between two gardenias. They got off to a slow start, but maybe they'll be okay, since they've hung on this long. Most of my four o'clock seedlings didn't fare well. I wasn't careful enough in getting them used to the sun, I think. (My least-favorite part of growing from seed.)
'Victor' crepe myrtle and assorted perennials.
Those (unknown) double white clematis go brown after flowering in spring. They do that every year, holding all their dry, shriveled leaves, looking like they're on their last leg-- but they always come back. In fact, you can see that they're starting to green up again. However, I'm sure that if they were perfectly happy they wouldn't look so brown in summer. I dread dealing with them, but during the up-coming dormant season, I need to dig them up, untangle them, and move them to better support structures. This fence isn't tall enough. It would help if I learned when/how to prune them, too...
Under the covered patio.
The hummingbird feeder is still up, because there's at least one bird still visiting it (probably only one, since I only see one at a time, and they battle fiercely, when there are multiples of them using the same feeder). I've also seen him visiting some of our flowers-- specifically, 'Purple Pizzazz' salvia and a red canna.
You can just barely see the 'Joseph's Coat' rose here. It's still pretty when in bloom or when covered in a new flush of foliage, but it also needs some pruning to clear out the dead wood, and it's a nightmare to prune, with all those thorns.
When I first started growing 'Joseph's Coat', I guess I didn't know how you're supposed to train a climbing rose. Either that or it had already gotten so tall and stiff-limbed by the time the arbor was in place that I couldn't train the bottom of it properly. In any case, it looks bare and unappealing, on its bottom two feet or more. This autumn or next spring, I might try to plant another rose near its base-- a shrub-rose-- to hide its scraggly legs and knobby knees. I think I have a yellow KnockOut rose that needs moving, anyway...
Though there are still some blank spots, these borders are filling in a little more every year.
The gravel path.
There's no moonflower vine on the white rose of Sharon, this year. I haven't had much success with my annual vines, this year, due to a combination of problems. First, I waited much too long to transplant the seedlings. Then the rabbits nibbled many them (repeatedly, in some cases), which might not kill the vines, but certainly stunts them and keeps them from getting well-established early in the summer. I might want to cut back on the number of types I try to grow, next year... Maybe not bother with moonflower, for instance, since I don't get to enjoy them often, anyway.
Some of my pots of lavender cuttings (center of the circle stone bed) haven't fared well this year. It could be due to a number of things. At least that one pot is (so far) still green, though it's nowhere near the size last year's plants were.
I saw that lavender in stores, this spring, and looked at the tags. They're supposedly cold-hardy for this area, which I didn't think they were. Now, stores aren't always completely reliable in their plant info, as we know, but I might test it, this winter. The new plants aren't that expensive (just under $4 for a plant that can grow fairly large in one season), so if it dies, at least I know I could replace it in spring, now that I feel fairly confident they'll have it in stock.
New "doorway" arbor.
As you can see, we haven't finished the new arbor, yet. There's not much left to do, but it's hot, and there's always plenty else to do (like keeping the grass mowed, weeding, etc.) when we spend time doing garden chores.
Some of my annual vines are at least still living. There are morning glories (and maybe a moonflower?) on the former ivy trellis (against the house wall). They're not the picture of health (and no flowers, yet), but they're definitely alive.
Then there's a crop of clock vine/black-eyed susan vine (Thunbergia alata), some of which you can see scrambling up that rustic support in the middle of the photo below. The clock vine that came up on its own seems to have grown faster and stronger than the ones I started myself, but even the self-sown vines have taken a while to really get started. I suspect that may always be the case with some of these annual vines. They are slow to start, but once they get going, stand back! They can eat whole shrubs, if you let them.
(Incidentally, I made that clock vine trellis from three or four of the flimsy little wooden supports that come in nursery pots of vines/climbers. I just nested one against another, screwed them together, stood the whole thing against a spare t-post, and used a few short lengths of wire to attach it to the post. As I said before, it's rustic, but that's fine for my style of garden, and it didn't cost me a thing, since I only used supplies we already had around the garage.)
Since this photo was taken, I've deadheaded the bee balm and cut it back fairly low. It's too early to tell if it will come back and rebloom this season, but it was so far past its prime that deadheading was a definite improvement.
This bed needs an overhaul, during the cool season. I want to dig up the old monkey grass border, which will be spread along the edge of one of the new flower beds. The Mexican petunia is in need of dividing, too, I think. (I'll have to consider if there are places to plant the divisions...) That yellow KO rose that needs moving is in this area-- too close to the red KO rose. And then we have a selection of annuals and perennials that need beefing up, because what's there now looks scraggly and empty in spots. Mulch is a must. Part of this area has never been properly mulched.
So far, all but one of the cleome blooming are white. This probably shouldn't be surprising, since I think most of the seed I harvested was from a white cleome. (There weren't many to pick from, last year.) I do enjoy the ivory cleome, but I'd also like to have more pink/purple, because that's the type I grew up seeing, so I'll be sure to collect seeds from the pink/purple plant and label it accordingly.
Behind the white cleome and between the red canna lilies (in the photo below) is rudbeckia 'Autumn Sun'. It looks healthy, but it's nowhere near the height mentioned in plant descriptions. I'll hope that it will improve with time... It's hard to be patient and remember that some perennials take at least a few years to reach their full potential.
Of course, what makes it harder to wait for some plants to get established is that others are such overachievers. The bat-face cuphea (Cuphea llavea) has excelled! I only planted it this spring, but it looks like its been there forever. (It's the low plant in front of the large shrub (viburnum). The cuphea is the one dotted all over with red flowers.)
It does sprawl, but it's well-covered with red and purple flowers that are supposed to attract hummingbirds. There are conflicting reports as to whether it will survive our winters, so I may try to keep a piece of it alive in the garage window... Several people say they've collected seed and found it easy to germinate, so I'll try that, too, if I can find the seed pods...
Not a lot of development in this part of the garden. The tea olive (Osmanthus fragrans) is still growing, slow but steady, which makes me happy. 'Mercury Rising' coreopsis has made its way to this flower bed, too, as you can see. When I divided the original plant, last year, I didn't have high hopes for most of the brittle, root-poor divisions, but most of them did much better than expected.
Please excuse the tall grass... That bahia grows so fast! We try to keep it mowed so that the centipede can slowly take over, but we're not always fast enough... A quick search suggests that if the bahia becomes too much of a problem, there are herbicides that can be safely used to control bahia in a centipede lawn. The problem is that in most of the areas where it's noticeable, there may not be enough centipede in place to quickly cover the ground. This part of the yard, in particular, has large patches that are much more weed/weedy grass than "good" grass. It's an area that needs work.
The Tithonia (Mexican sunflower, red-orange flowers in front of the trellis) was tall when I took these photos. Now it's even taller! It's just about reached the top of the trellis.
There's clock vine planted at the base of that rustic obelisk, but it's some I grew myself (as opposed to self-sown), so it's taking forever to get any traction. Maybe by the end of summer it will actually show up in these survey photos...
There's another tithonia on the left edge of this photo, as well as two or three others around the garden, but the one by the trellis is the tallest.
I'm considering how hard I should prune those pink shrub roses, this coming late winter/early spring. I can never feel completely confident about pruning things, it seems. Some people cut things back severely with success, but unless a plant is looking awful, I have a hard time doing that. It seems like it wouldn't be good for the plant-- like you're losing years of growth for maybe no good reason... But if it rejuvenates the plant and produces a fuller bush with better blooming, it would be worth sacrificing a little size. And many tough plants do bounce back with amazing speed after a hard pruning.
It may be hard to see in these photos, but there are two purple-blooming salvias in this border. The one closer to the trellis is Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha), a plant with unusual, fuzzy, greyish-tinged foliage. It's gotten to a decent size this year, but though it bloomed some earlier in the summer, there are no flowers now. I've read that it's a late-summer/autumn bloomer, so it's probably only a matter of time, but that makes the spring/early summer blooms confusing...
To the left of the Mexican bush sage (and much more visible, here) is salvia 'Pizzazz Purple'. This particular salvia doesn't seem to be widely known or grown. There's not a lot of information about it available online. It's been blooming steadily all summer, and as I mentioned earlier, I've seen hummingbirds visiting it on multiple occasions.
There's one more purple-flowering plant in this bed. To the left of Salvia 'Pizzazz Purple' is Buddleja "Flutterby Petite" (dwarf butterfly bush). It was marked as "dark pink", but it definitely looks more like lavender than pink. This was a plant I bought last year for just a dollar. It performed very well in front of the covered patio, but by the end of the season, it seemed to be stretching more and more toward the sun, so I moved it this spring. Here, it gets plenty of sun. The flowers are still on the small side, but I'm satisfied with it (especially for the investment of only a dollar).
Cannas beside 'Sunshine' ligustrum.
I can't remember if it was intentional or not, but the red canna lilies mirror the "too-red rose" on the other side of the new arbor-- and of course the yellow cannas go well with the bright gold foliage of the privet.
I think I may have run out of things to say-- for the moment... ;o)
Which is better? The realistic photo, above, or the blurry, "dream-filtered", Ortonized version below? I usually stick with more realistic photos on this blog, but every so often it's fun to indulge in over-the-top Photoshopping...
That does it for the July 2016 garden survey!