Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Perennial Blooms

Connie wanted to see a photo of echinacea "Sundown" once it bloomed, so here it is. Also a photo of my shasta daisy. I really like both of these plants. Shasta daisy is a plant that makes me smile, and I'm wowed by the bright color on the echinacea.

In this photo you can see the lonely Ruby Giant echinacea who has yet to bloom. It gets more shade than the other plants because of the mimosa tree. Could that cause it to bloom later? I do see that it is putting out a bud, so at least it is getting somewhere!

Oh! It looks as if I'll have at least one gladiolus in bloom on Garden Bloggers Bloom day (June 15th). Yay!

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Bad and Ugly, Part 1

I have a tendency to write about only the "good" garden features in this blog, leaving out the bad and ugly. Truthfully, I've been feeling a bit guilty about it. For the next few days, I'm posting about all the bad and ugly things in my garden. Things I'm working to fix. These things take time, you know!

Bad and Ugly Spot 1: The Compost Bed
When we moved in, this bed was full of dead and dying azaleas. Why? Infertile soil. It was in need of major improvement. I pulled out the dead plants, and the ones that were on their last leg got special attention. Quite a few of them lived to put on a good showing this spring.

In the spring, I spent a lot of time working on this bed. I worked in a few bags of compost to improve the soil. I moved all the azaleas to the outermost edges of the bed. I decided the left side of the tree was good spot to put my new compost pile because it is fairly level and you can't see it from the patio.

I'm still trying out things in this bed. The trees create dappled late afternoon sun, but the bed gets full morning and early afternoon sun. Sometime last summer I decided I didn't want to do more azaleas. Maybe because I thought they were cursed in that bed? Mostly because this bed is set off in the corner of the yard, and I wanted plants with high impact and showy color. So far I've picked Cast Iron Plant, Elephant Ears, and Cannas. Ignore the super-ugly Majesty Palms. Those are getting replaced as soon as I decide what to replace them with.

Cast Iron Plant - I don't think this was a good choice. At the Mynelle Gardens plant sale I bought a handful of these to put at the foot of the tree. In the right conditions (dry and shady) this plant should be a glossy dark green. My plants are looking stressed and faded. Too much sun! The good thing is that I think I have the perfect place for them. Of course that means digging them all up and moving them somewhere new, but I like this plant and I want to save it. It is a Southern favorite.

Elephant Ears - Steve and Felder wrote about elephant ears in Passalong Plants. This plants really fits the bill as a "high impact" plant. In their first year, these plants don't put on a big show. I can't wait for next year when they pop-up and show me how big their ears can really get. Elephant ears will overwinter in the ground in my zone (zone 8), so I don't have to worry about digging these up each winter.

Cannas - Another good choice for a high impact plant. Cannas also overwinter in the ground in my zone. I have two varieties: Tropicanna and The President. Tropicanna (photo courtesy of White Flower Farm) is graced with varigated purple, pink, and orange foliage topped with yellow-orange flowers. The President (photo courtesy of Touch of Nature) has lush medium-green foliage and large, bright red flowers.

I like the pretty magenta oleander on my neighbor's side of the fence. You can just see if by clicking on the photo to get a closer look. I'm thinking about replacing the Majesty palms with oleander. It might be neat to reflect what's on the opposite side of the fence in my yard. I'm still undecided about it because the oleander plant is very toxic if ingested.

What other suggestions do you have for this bed? Which perennials do you think I should I add? What about a few Adam's needle yuccas (my mom has plenty to share) or a sago palm?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Ready for Sunflowers!

Saturday I was feeling a little bit under the weather. I got a cold on Wednesday when the temperatures dropped a little bit. My body always seems to react funny to large swings in the temperature. With the temperatures back up in the high 80s I didn't want to get out in the heat. Heat always seems to aggravate a cold, so I stayed inside looking longing outside at all the plants that needed my attention.

Today I'm feeling better. It is still warm out there -- 88F with the heat index -- but I have too much work to do to stay inside! I plan to put some sunflowers in the ground that I started from seed. Earlier this year I sowed sunflowers, zinnias, and cosmos directly in the ground of the semi-circle bed. Our lack of rain in May really took a toll on the zinnia and sunflower seedlings, and they all died. The cosmos came up just fine. I decided to sow some of the sunflowers in a leftover plastic plant cell. They are looking good, I think. Ready to put in he ground. I plan to do some zinnia seedlings in the plant cells next.

Oh! And Kroger had sunflower bunches on sale yesterday! I picked up a couple for an arrangement on the kitchen table.

This week I took some close-up photos of a few plants and I thought I share them.

Russian Sage:

Echinacea 'Sundown'