Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Many Words of Progress

We are making progress on the spring garden chores.  Of course, I don't think any one thing has been completed, but as I walk around the garden, I see a lot of progress:

1).  Repairing

We have repaired the small fish pond.  And the water has been turned on.  So nice to see and hear the splashing of water.  No fish, and no water plants yet.  Still, I'm thrilled that progress has been made.

2).  Fencing

All the posts have been put in.  And about half of the fence panels have been put up.  Just a few more days of work will be needed to complete the fence around the new vegetable garden area.  Then all my yummy veggies will be protected from the deer.

3).  Mulching

Main rose garden

The main rose garden has been mulched.  The corner garden has been mulched.

Walking garden

The walking garden, no.  The east garden, no.  I've done a lot of mulching, but there is still a lot left to do.

But, look!  Do you see the mulched area beyond the arbor?  It's a brand new area!  I can't wait to get it planted.

4). Weeding

East garden

Of course, the areas that have been mulched were also weeded.  And even though all of the east garden has not been completely mulched, it has been (mostly) weeded.  Just a little more work to do there, and a little bit of weeding left in the walking garden.  Doesn't sound too bad!

Repairing.  Fencing.  Mulching.  Weeding.  They all sound like progress to me!  I hope you're making a lot of progress in your garden, too.

I'm joining Helen at The Patient Gardener for End of Month View.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Quest for Coreopsis

A quest for coreopsis is not a big thing.  Not like Ponce de Leon's quest to find the Fountain of Youth.  Or Magellan's quest to sail around the world.  Or, Don Quixote's quest to return to an era of chivalry.  Coreopsis (tickseed) can be found at almost any garden center.  The quest was not to find them.  The quest was in finding them the second year.

I know what you're thinking.  There's nothing to it!  They easily and happily return each year.

What you may not know, however, is that if there were a group for Aggressive Weeder's Anonymous, I would join.  No intervention would be required.  I know I weed a little too aggressively.

I have weeded out all my echinacea, and have had to buy more.  :(

I have weeded out all my coreopsis, and have had to buy more.  :(

Whenever a perennial plant doesn't return, I wonder if I have weeded it out.  (Of course, I have also weeded out a lot of weeds!)

This year, I tried very hard to leave a few plants that looked suspiciously like weeds to me, in the hope that they weren't actually weeds.  Well, it paid off!  Some of those weed-look-alikes were, in fact, coreopsis.  My quest for finding coreopsis the second year was finally successful!


Look at all the sweet, sunny, yellow blooms!  Coreopsis!  Proof positive that I am becoming rehabilitated.  Let the quest for echinacea begin!

Friday, April 26, 2013

What I Work For

Occasionally, I see someone on a street corner with a sign that reads "Will work for food".  Sometimes I see a bumper sticker that reads "I'd rather be golfing".  Well, if I had a bumper sticker, it would read "I'd rather be gardening".  Even more accurate would be a sign that read, "Will work for blooms".

Spring has finally sprung, and my garden is starting to fill up with blooms.  I run out to the garden every day just to see what new blooms will be there.  It also makes all those hours of work worth it.  Want to see what's blooming for me now?

Christopher Marlowe rose
Christopher Marlowe rose looks divine with a calibrachoa (million bells) in the same shade of pink.  You can find out more about Christopher Marlowe rose by clicking HERE.

Japanese irises
Pretty, pretty, pretty!  These are the irises I wait anxiously to see blooming every spring!

James Galway rose

James Galway rose was the first David Austin rose I ever purchased for my garden.  We go way back.  And I'm still thrilled to see his face every spring!  You can find out more about this rose by clicking HERE.

I absolutely love guara, and the way it sways in the breeze.  I always forget how beautiful this plant is, until it blooms.  Then, it is a cloud of petals.  It's also a big hit with the butterflies.  You can find out more about gaura if you click HERE.

La Marne
La Marne rose is just starting to bloom.  I look forward to it blooming all summer long.  And when I mean all summer long in Texas, that's a mighty big claim!  You can find out more about La Marne rose by clicking HERE.

Prosperity rose
Prosperity rose is just beginning to bloom.  I have fallen completely and madly in love with this rose.  I can see it out of my bedroom window, and it thrills me to see this beauty first thing after getting out of bed.  The photo would be much prettier without those dead twigs.  They are not part of the rose.  The twigs are from the Chinese indigo (indigofera decora), and I need to cut these dead stems off.  There's still much work to be done in the garden!

May Night salvia
Salvias are blooming.  I just love these plants!  So, too, do the bees.

Koko Loco rose
What can I saw about Koko Loco?  I just had to have it when I saw it.  Something about its soft color made me swoon, and every time it blooms I fall in love with it all over again.

Hooray for blooms!  And it's just the start of another wonderful gardening year!  There's lots more to come.

I'm joining Tootsie Time for Fertilizer Friday.  Have a great weekend!  I'll be outside - working for blooms.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Finally, Some Roses!

What's cooking up in my garden?  Well, the roses are finally starting to bloom!  And in my garden, Julia Child has decided to whip up some spring, with a side dish of beauty.  I should have known I could count on Julia to be one of the first roses to bloom in my garden.  She's dependable, sunny, sweet, and smells good.

Julia Child rose

I have her squeezed in a small space between the walkway and my front door, in a spot a little too narrow for her.  She's not a large rose, growing to around 3 ft x 3 ft.  But here, she would actually be a much prettier rose bush if she had a little more room to grow.  Of course, you know us rose lovers - we will stick a rose anywhere!

I love Julia Child's bright yellow blooms.  It is the color of the room I had as a child.  You just can't be unhappy or mad in a yellow room!  (O.K., psychologists say that yellow makes one angry, but that just ticks me off!)   Anyway, who couldn't love a bright, cheerful, delightful ray of sunshine in their garden?  Julia Child rose really delivers.

Julia Child rose is a floribunda shrub rose, hardy in zones 5 through 10, and resistant to blackspot.  It has been an unusually cool spring, although not too wet here, and some of my roses are showing signs of blackspot (I don't spray).  But not my Julia Child rose.  She's as clean as a whistle (whatever that means).

One other thing about disease:  I purchased several Julia Child roses, planted them in a row, and one, and only one, came down with a fungal disease.  I absolutely thought I was going to have to take it out.  But, eventually it has become as healthy as the rest.  I believe that the soil in that spot was not as good as the rest of the soil in this area.  Having problems with a rose?  Maybe, just maybe, it's your soil!

Julia Child rose has a distinctive fragrance.  Not too rosy sweet, but with a touch of what some say reminds them of licorice.  I don't like to eat licorice, but I do love the scent of this rose.  It is, of course, named after the famous chef Julia Child.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Bad!

My red dianthus has been stunning this year.

Last year it was stunning, too.  Even more so, really.

Because last year there were Thalia daffodils blooming alongside them.  It was magical.  And I looked forward to seeing that same look again this year.

But the daffodils have all bloomed and gone this year.  But not one Thalia bloomed.

At first, I thought it was Thalia's fault.  That's right - when in doubt, blame the plant.  I figured it just didn't like something in the soil, or the water, or - whatever.  It didn't matter, it was Thalia's fault.

So, I decided not to ever, never, never ever, to plant Thalia daffodil bulbs again.

Even if I did think it was so charming blooming alongside the red dianthus.

Last year

That's when I remembered - it might have actually been my fault.  Oops!

You see, last year I decided I was going to have a neat and tidy garden.  Yes, you read that right.  ME with a neat and tidy garden!  Don't laugh - it could happen.

Anyway, I decided I was going to deadhead the dianthus, even though usually I just let them lie there dead and ugly.  While I was tidying up the dianthus, I'm afraid I might have also tidied up the daffodil foliage as well.  I kind of, sort of, remember doing something like that, maybe.  (Confession is hard.)

Anyway, that's a big no-no.  I know better.  I faintly remember not knowing what that ratty foliage was when I cut it down.  I should have taken the time to remember it was the daffodils.

Daffodils need to keep their foliage as it's dying down, to put the energy back into the bulb for blooming.  Otherwise, they don't bloom.

Just like mine didn't bloom.


My bad.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Garden Book Reviews April 2013

Occasionally, even I get tired of reading gardening books.  Can you believe it?  At that time, I read something different, but when I find a book that's different, yet still related to gardening, then I am on Cloud 9.  Such is the case with

Rosemary Verey:
the life and lessons of a legendary gardener

by Barbara Paul Robinson

A biography about one of England's most famous gardeners, Rosemary Verey, this book was written by an American that knew Mrs. Verey personally.  Mrs. Verey's personality - the good and the bad - is apparent throughout the book, and it gave me a renewed respect for her accomplishments.

All the years of her life are covered, from 1918 to 2001, and I enjoyed having Mrs. Verey revealed to me in this chronological order.

Did you know...
... at one time Mrs. Verey grassed over her mother-in-law's flower beds?  (pg. 25)
... that it was her husband's idea to replace the flower beds that she had grassed over?  (pg. 30)
... that it was the garden designer Percy Cane that originally suggested the four beds that are known as the Parterres?  (pg. 32)
... that the Potager was so beautiful that visitors sent out to get vegetables for dinner often came back empty-handed, unwilling to disrupt the perfect patterns?  (pg. 56)
... that after her husband's death, she was shocked and dismayed to find that she was faced with extensive debt?  (pg. 94)
... that she traveled to Kentucky to design a garden at age 82, two months before her death? (pg. 200)

Of course, there are some design lessons in the book, little tidbits here and there, which made the book even more compelling to me.   And through it all, Mrs. Verey's personality is shown.  She is demanding, drinks a little too much, fun-loving, generous, hard-working, and most of all, driven.

I wish the author had included more photos, and incorporated them throughout the book.  It was frustrating to me for the author to talk about an area of the garden, or another garden that Mrs. Verey had designed, and not have a photo of it in which to relate.

Still, it's a good book about one of the most famous garden designers of our time.

Now it's your turn!  You're invited to join us on the 20th of every month with your own Garden Book Review.  Any book with a garden influence qualifies.

And as always, please take some time to visit the other participants.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Secret to Growing Ajuga in Texas

Ajuga.  Bugleweed.  Carpetweed.  Sounds like a weed!  Certainly doesn't sound hard to grow, does it?  When you read about ajuga, it is usually paired with the words "easy to grow", "naturalizes", and "groundcover".  Grows in zones 3 through 9, with average water needs.  Sun to part shade.  It is even sometimes labeled as invasive!

Sounds so easy to grow.  Well, my experience is different.


I first planted ajuga several years ago, in full sun.  They lived for a while, but never really took off.  Finally, they died.  Probably didn't get enough water that year.

Then, I put them where they received only morning sun.  I thought they would be so happy there.  But , the same thing happened.  Just never took off.  Finally, they died.  Probably didn't get enough water that year, either.

One last try.  I even wondered myself why I was trying again.  But, buy them I did.  And I placed them here and there in my garden.

Just as I figured, most of the ones I checked on have been doing nothing.  Still alive, but just not taking off.  I expect eventually they will die.

And then -

I found this patch of ajuga!  They were not only thriving, but they were actually multiplying!  Putting out runners!  Becoming a true patch!  Just like they're supposed to do.

What is different about this ajuga from all the other ajugas in my garden?

Where it is planted.

This ajuga is planted where it gets the runoff water from the gutters.  So, it stays constantly moist.

I think that is the secret to growing ajuga in Texas!  If you want to grow ajuga in Texas, plant it next to your gutters!

How about you?  Do you grow ajuga?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Be Patient!

With the late spring we've been having, some of the foliage in my garden is just now emerging.

I have one bed filled with hostas.  Some of them have come out, the rest have not.  I am waiting, a bit anxiously, to see if they will emerge.  I suppose the ground is just not yet warm enough for them.

This elephant's ear looks like it's going to pop right out of the ground!

Also coming up out of the ground are the cannas.  I love these red leaves.  I have to wait patiently for them to emerge.  It's always tempting to plant something in bare spots, until I realize those spots aren't bare after all!

The gold barberries are always slow to put on new leaves.  I've learned to wait for them.  The first year I had them, I thought they were all dead.  Thankfully, I didn't rip them all up!  It's always good to be patient.

I patiently waited for my oak leaf hydrangea to form leaves this spring, too.  I worried that it might have also died, as I planted it late last year.  I hope this year it settles in and puts on a lot of new growth.

No need to be patient with giant liriope.  It stays evergreen.

But I'll wait patiently to see if my peony ever blooms.  So far, the foliage look great!

And the lilies are showing off, even without blooms.

But I'm extra excited about the new plants added to my garden:

A new edgeworthia is just now leafing out.

And a new hakone grass is thrilling to see, even as small as it is.  I hope one day it will be big and beautiful.

I just have to be patient.

I'm joining Pam at Digging for Foliage Follow-Up.

Monday, April 15, 2013

April Blooms

I have been working dawn to dark (well, almost) in my garden lately.   Even though temperatures are still occasionally dipping down to almost freezing, I know Texas, and before you know it, it will be too hot to work outside all day.

So what have I been up to?  Of course, regular maintenance like weeding, mulching, transplanting, etc.  And I've been working on repairing the pond.  AND!  I'm also putting in a new garden area!  I can't wait to show it to you!

But for now, let's see what's blooming for this April's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.  Last April, I had a rainbow of colors blooming in my garden.  This year, things are just now beginning to emerge.  Take a look:

I purchased this clematis as Duchess of Albany, but I think it's Niobe instead.  Either way, it's quite pretty.


The salvias are a hot spot for the bees.


Another purple beauty is scabiosa.  This plant just can't be beat here.  It blooms almost year round in my garden.


I love these Dutch irises.  Notice the red dianthus in the background.

The Dutch iris bloom below is my favorite color.  Again, dianthus (this time pink) in the background.

Dutch iris

I have a couple of surprise blooms.  First, a bleeding heart.

I have lamented for years that I have planted bleeding hearts (Dicentra spectabilis), but have never had any come up.  I know why.  I weed them out.  This one was hidden behind a bush.  I hope from now on I'll remember to leave it alone and not weed it out!

And the second surprise is my Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum).

It was a surprise because I forgot I planted it!  I just love little fun surprises like this in the garden.

What else is blooming?  Hellebores are still going strong.  Hardy cyclamen still looks fresh.  Pansies are loving these cool nights.  Gaillardia is happily blooming.  And my 'Bay Breeze' hawthorn (Raphiolepis indica) has just started to bloom.  When they are in full bloom, they will be beautiful.

But for right now, these blooms are not making a big impact.  Except for one - the beautiful crossvine (Bignonia capreolata).

Covering one entire side of my garage, it's quite impressive.

It'll be fun to see the changes in the garden from now until next month.  I better get out there and get to work!

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