Tuesday, April 30, 2019

What's Been Going on in the Garden? - Butterfly Garden Edition

A lot's been happening in the garden.   It seems that each morning when I first take a look
things have changed since the day before.
How do plants grow so fast?

Take the butterfly weed, Gay Butterflies, for instance.
How did it get from this, on April 17th...

...to this today?

I'll spare us all yet more photos of the Russell lupine, but how about those seeds?

Bachelor Buttons are starting to bloom.  I'm pretty sure they are a deeper blue than in previous years.
These are all self-seeded from last year.  I bought seeds, Winter Sowed them, and gave the entire milk jug of the seedlings away!   
This is my favorite color.  It's the color of my front door.  


And the interior kitchen door. And the interior of the French doors out to the deck.  And the... you get the idea! It looks great with yellow, don't you think?

The yarrow in the Butterfly Garden, and in all three Fruit Tree Guilds, is full of buds.  They fooled a butterfly a few days ago, who landed, and must have been disappointed.  They will be bright yellow when they open. It's "Moonshine." Which sounds like it would be white, and look just like it does now!

The Uptick™ (really, it's trademarked, which seems to mean the name is protected, not the plant, which is good, since this particular one reproduces like a rabbit!) coreopsis is coming back very nicely.  In fact, it not only self-seeded, it seems to have propagated a few plants from its underground rhizomes.  The "mother" plant is in the center, there are two small ones above and one below.  I have rooted pieces successfully, and transplanted them in several garden beds.  It's a good think I love coreopsis!  I just hope it doesn't get the earwigs it did last year. 

 There are nice tasty buds.

The bareroot pink coneflower look nice.   This is only with use of snail bait. The coneflower in the Pollinator Garden has been chewed down to the ground twice.
I try not to use pesticides and such, but am not opposed to it when needed!  
I also kill weeds non-organically, and make no apologies, since I've tried the "green" methods to no success.

Anemone Blanda is dying back.  The odd round seed pods are dropping individual round seeds.

"Panorama Red Shades" bee balm is back.  It's already looking chewed.  Of all the plants in this bed, it's the only one that gets this way.  Usually later in the season.  I may just rip it out. There's enough in the bed it won't be missed.  I doubt I'd get it all out though, it's pretty invasive. 

"Ultra Violet" autumn salvia is up, which makes me happy.  It's pal, "Radio Red," was lost during the winter.  

There are seedlings of all sorts, from seeds I just flung in a few weeks ago, and some I transplanted from Winter Sow jugs.  Black-eyed Susan.  Blanket flower.  Purple coneflower.  Blue Monday and Pink Sunday salvia.  Godetia.

 Lemony catnip, in several places, was grown last year from seed, and it's all coming back quickly.

There are still mysteries.  I think this might be common milkweed, there were seeds of it in the 
pollinator mix seeds from the Dollar Tree.  

But, the same thing has been growing under the lupine, and I don't remember planting it there.
It sure looks like milkweed.
These mysteries are actually fun!

There were more than 500 California poppy seeds tossed all over the yard.  Yes,
that many.  Not all Golden, but I did have lots of those.  I bought Red Chief, Purple Gleam, and 
Ivory Castle, but so far every bloom is the regular California Golden poppy.  Pretty, but where are the others?  Maybe these are the earliest.  The ones in the Pollinator Garden, Herb bed, and bare ground around the yard haven't bloomed yet.  Just the ones that were probably the volunteers from last year, in the Butterfly Garden and near the iris next to the beds.
I guess if I could only have one color, it would be these.

It's a good thing there are small lance-leaf coreopsis around, the big parent plant is being smothered by the Shasta daisy! You can see it above, behind the poppies, and below, filling the entire left-hand side of the bed.  The coreopsis is under there somewhere.  I like it better than the fancier Uptick™.  Come to think of it now, I think there are some transplanted annual red plains coreopsis in here somewhere!

Last is a nice healthy mystery.  It's a bit familiar, and seems to have come up from underground like it's a returning perennial, but, I didn't have those here last year.  It looks a bit like black-eyed Susan, but it isn't as fuzzy.  And it was never round-petaled.  Plus, there were no black-eyed Susans growing here last year.  There was Mexican red sunflower though, and when very, very young, the leaves were similar.
So, another exciting mystery to keep a watch on!


Sunday, April 28, 2019

More Craigslist Freebies!


79 retaining wall blocks (and one larger block shaped like a tombstone)!

They were still installed in a low wall, so the top ones have a layer of moss, but none are broken.
My son and I got them out of the truck as soon as we got home, they did have spiders, slugs, and who knows what else creeping and crawling on them!
These are a future raised bed, no doubt about it!

And the weird tombstone shaped one?
Well, I think I'll set it aside for Halloween and use it in our front yard display.

There were at least double the number left, but my truck was full (it's just an Explorer), or at least weighted down enough.  Plus, there were actually two more vehicles waiting!
The people getting rid of these were actually tilling their front yard to put in a lawn.
How boring!  

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Craigslist Freebies!

I almost didn't contact the man, because it had been two hours since he posted, and really, who
lets free bricks go for two hours? 
Crazy people, that's who!  They were still available! 

Some newer ones, look unused, with holes, and lots of older ones.  
I love the older ones.  Sure, they aren't nearly as hard, they are crumbly in fact, but
the color is nice.

They were waiting on the curb, and thank goodness for my garden cart.  
It took three trips from the truck to the far back yard.

Do not ask what I'm going to do with them.  That's what my daughter asked (as well as the man who gave them to me, and a passerby on a bicycle as I loaded them).
I told her the same I'll tell you.
🤷(too small, but it's a shrug), "It's always good to have some bricks handy!" 

Six on Saturday - April 27, 2019 - Help Me Out!

It's that wonderful day of the week again, Saturday!
Gardeners from around the globe (really) give us six garden or related photos to enjoy.

This week I'm hoping a reader might help me identify two mystery seedlings.  They were in
marked containers, but the markings rubbed off.  I have a list of seeds, so if anyone has any ideas what my #5 and #6 are, maybe we can match them up!

First though, my first four...

1 - wisteria
I am quite disappointed.  It came with only the label Wisteria sinensis, which only tells me its a Chinese wisteria, but not its color.
It's not the deep lovely purple I'd expected.
It's a very pale purple, nearly white, with darker purple inside (I tried to figure out the different parts, but "banners" and "wings" and "fused" and "free" stamens was too much, so I'm calling it the inside!).  I should be happy with any blooms, I planted it less than two years ago, and it was only in a gallon container from the nursery.
But, it's not the lovely "wisteria" purple I wanted to see against the yellow house! 
(I need to take a deep breathe and remember, it's a healthy plant with pretty flowers.)

2 - Russell Lupine
I know,  I've been overdoing the lupine pics!  But... it keeps getting bigger 
and more bloom-filled!  And some of those spikes are 17" tall!  Plus, there are more forming, as 
well as the cute little fuzzy seed pods!  This plant wins the "Most Surprising" award, as
well as the "Most Successful Winter Sown in 2018" award!
I never imagined the only tiny seedling a year ago would be ready to take over the entire 
Butterfly Garden bed!

3 - Tidy Tips
This little cutie is a wildflower, a sunflower family member.  They are native to California, Arizona and Utah. These plants are still small, mature ones are 9"-12" high.
But, because they don't like hot temperatures, I'm glad they are flowering now, rather than waiting.   
I started these seeds in winter, and they were the fastest to germinate and grow of any other Winter Sown seeds.
They are just adorable!

4 - Juniper Thyme
I "collect" different thymes.  This is Juniper or Moonlight thyme (Thymus leuchotrichus).
I guess the silvery needles give it the Moonlight name, but when this particular plant was first purchased it looked like a teeny juniper bonsai, so I go with Juniper thyme.  Soon the entire stems will be nothing but these purple flowers. It's a culinary thyme that I have never tasted!

Okay, here come the big mysteries!
They don't look like online photos of any of my "lost" seedlings!  
Any suggestions?

5 - "Mystery Seedling #1"

6 - "Mystery Seedling #2"
This is rhubarb!
Thanks Jim!

Now that Spring has really arrived, it's hard to choose just Six on Saturday!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Front Yard Progess Begins

I managed to get a start on the front yard clean-up.  The cat messes weren't as bad as I've seen them, so that went quicker than expected.  

This half, closest to the driveway is looking pretty sparse.  The soil looks dry, but it's not.

The plants are looking good though.

There's a couple of sea thrift (Armeria maritima).  Two were moved into the backyard, in the new herb garden bed.

 Last year this Platinum Blonde lavender was looking really poorly, so I moved it out front (I am not sure why I thought that was better!), and it's come back really nicely.  It's so pretty with the new "blonde" growth!

Platinum Blonde lavender
 The tri-color stonecrop alternates between looking really nice and looking terribly scraggily.
It's headed for scraggily right now, even as it gets new spring growth.

 This unknown variety penstemon was fabulous last year.  I rooted a piece that broke off last fall, and planted it in the Pollinator Garden.  It hasn't done much yet.

 The three clumps of ground cover wallflower are all flowering like mad.  These are transplants propagated from the one in the backyard Herb Garden.  It's very easy to root.

Gaura "Siskiyou Pink" is coming back. It's very reliable that way!


 Not shown up close and personal are the blue fescues and one lithodora that is just beginning to bloom its bright blue flowers.  I planted six, but only one has survived into its second year.  I had to check that, I thought I'd had it longer, but I bought a six pack in April, 2017, so it is the second year.

This other side of the front yard was planted first, and a few plants died since last year.  A few disappeared completely!  The Firecracker penstemon and rock cress ( Aubrieta) never appeared this spring.  I miss the rock cress flowers, which would be blooming right now.  The creeping thyme was three quarters dead when I did the clean-up.  I think one of the problems with this half of the front yard is, in the winter the portion nearest the house is in shade, and never dries out. 

There are two English wallflowers, which I grew from seed in Winter Sown milk jugs last winter.
I've never had this orange/red color before.
The yellow is pretty much the same color as the groundcover wallflower's, but, of course, it's upright and the petals are much, much larger.

 While the Lewisia isn't blooming, the plant looks better than usual!  They can be kind of fussy, 
and hate having it too wet around their bases.  It's hard to keep them dry since they are so low to the ground.

I will admit this doesn't look like much!  It's another clump of tri-color stonecrop, but the new growth is solid green.  It also has been invaded by baby blue fescue, which came from the parent plants in the summer of 2017!

 The purple iris was divided in September, 2018. It has hard, sweaty work!
The replanted rhizomes haven't had much chance to do much since then, but still, the flowers that are forming seem to be dry.  I mean, instead of fat buds, they are thin to the touch, and dry feeling.

Speaking of blue fescue, which we were photo above last, the plants in this section of the front yard are forming their pretty, and seedful, stems.  In 2017 there were so many seedlings I cut the seeds off before they dried last year.  This year I'm letting them go wild again.  Anything to help fill in the area.  Less bare soil, fewer places to be used as a cat box!

Then, there are the daylilies.  Two are Bonanza, the other an American Revolution.  They were divided in October, 2018.  Each "plant" there is really several growing form rhizomes.  The extras are doing nicely in the backyard, and out of town where they got a new home with my daughter's boyfriend! 

 The Hidcote lavender always looks bad this time of year.  I wonder what the rock is doing in the middle of the pea gravel path?  It's close enough to the house so as not to get too much rain.

 Then this little bed is all in bloom it's amazing.  On the left is a Munstead lavender, the smaller lavender to its right is a white Grosso.  Under the white Grosso is a Foxley thyme (you can see it's new growth of white tipped leaves), and the cat chewed sparaxis.  The big plant in the back is Tuscan blue rosemary, just starting to flower.  The snow got a few branches I had to cut out of its middle, so it's an odd shape right now.

 Here it is from the other side.  The golden oregano is just coming back.  I cut it back each fall, which leaves those dead sticks that won't show once the plant grows.  The Munstead lavender is looking good!

 This is some new growth of the golden oregano.

Just for fun, here's the same bed in 2014!  Not all the same plants are there, but the golden oregano is the bright green circle on the top, the Munstead lavender is the tiny bluer spot on the left.  The Tuscan Blue rosemary is there too, that small plant beneath the tall rock on the upper right!
May, 2014
Amazingly, by October of the same year they'd grown this much...

October 2014
 Last, but not least, the three rockroses by the sidewalk.  The two nearest the bottom of the picture are "Sunset," with bright magenta flowers. The one by the fairly recent power pole (they just appeared one day and installed it, no warning!) blooms white, and was one of the first things I planted in the front yard.  As a plant it's not very attractive until it blooms.

 The front yard started out to be a Rock Garden.  But, as time has passed, plants have died, and the problem of the neighbor cats has continued, I am looking more towards just plants that fill in!  I have been Winter Sowing several ornamental grasses, but isn't that just asking for cats to come graze!
Maybe the annual pollinator plants like blanket flower, bachelor buttons etc. for color.  Lupines might be nice too.  I should look at it like a blank canvas!