It’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day once again — time to show what is blooming around the hillside. The image above is from a raggedy looking plant on the hillside that I picked up at Stonecrop Gardens this spring. The two standout items for the Inula are the brilliant yellow flowers and the fact that the deer leave the plant untouched.
It’s been a marvelously rainy summer, with so much consistent rainfall and almost fall-like temperatures now in August. The plants have generally responded very well to all this rain, though I have seen a few casualties from plants that were expecting to have a dry rest in the summer — two little Drabas in particular seem to have gone to that final compost station. But meanwhile the fall cyclamen are popping out their little purple heads and looking happier than ever.
There is even a little Cyclamen hederifolium with little white flowers with no leaves appearing in the Camellia bed.
Out in the front garden, which is dominated by shasta daisy and black-eyed susans, one of perennials grown from seed this year is producing many beautiful little blue flowers against red buds.
This little plumbago was obtained by seed from the Czech plant hunter Vojtech Holubec after I saw his wonderful photo of the plant in it’s natural environment in Tibet. I hadn’t appreciated that it is a well-known and popular horticultural plant in the U.S. under the name Plumbago larpetiae. It’s said not to be hardy here, but I will probably experiment with it since my seed came from Tibet.
Above the plumbago stands a profusion of celosia stalks that are nearly 4 feet tall now.
These came from seed obtained from Johnny’s this spring. They grew easily and rapidly and make great cut flowers.
Dahlias are also doing well right now. In particular a Bishop of Llandaff came back from overwintering in the garden where it is not supposed to be hardy.
In the shadier gardens the Toad Lilies are holding forth already. The clump of Autumn Glow is expanding particularly rapidly.
If we stop by the greenhouse the Kamiopsis leachiana which I’ve mentioned in earlier posts has indeed decided to flower in the fall which is surprising for this rare spring flowering evergreen.
The vegetable garden is totally out of control and dominated by a large stand of Tithonia which attract a continuing stream of swallowtail butterflies. I have never seen as many butterflies as we’ve had this year.
Finally let me close with a non-picture of the pretty yellow milkweed that we were growing. It’s been completely stripped by the amazing Milkweed Tussock Caterpillars.
There were a hundred or more eating at the milkweed and they took it all except for the seedpods. Could this be their plan to make sure there was food for next year?
These are some of the most interesting plant happenings at Ball Rd. What’s going on in your garden?
Two months ago I planted two troughs and set out a number of alpine plants that I had been harboring this year. I thought it might be useful just to touch bases with the plants after two months of growing in their new conditions. The troughs are set in sunny locations and have received larger than normal rainfall over this period. I have supplement with the hose only a couple of times.
The current state of the Large Trough is shown here.
This can be compared with the original planting.
What immediately stands out is the Boechera koehleri which took off like a rocket. This is a relatively rare rock cress from Northern California but it has totally exceeded the bounds of the trough and I’ve since shifted it to its own pot. Interestingly when I pulled it out the roots were relatively well behaved. I had planted several other instances of the plant around the yard and none of the others showed more than 10% of the growth of this specimen. The two losses were both Saxifrages, one paniculata and the other unknown in the tufa. My guess is that it was too much sun for the paniculata. Most of the other plants have done pretty well. The Daphne looks very happy and the Delosperma is spreading nicely. The Lewisia tweedyi is one I’m keeping my eye on, hoping that it makes through to next year.
For the small trough that I planted at the same time the comparison is as follows.
The original planting looked like
The position of this trough gets a little more shade than the large trough but it’s still pretty sunny. The Silene caroliana grew so rapidly that I had to take it out. I then put in a small primula that did not succeed. The Saxifraga growing in the Tufa is the only other failure in this trough. Everyone else is prospering. Here is the Silene now ensconced in the front garden.
It’s interesting to note that the tufa plants have not succeeded all. In principal the tufa should work well in the trough but it may be that it’s too sunny for the Saxifragas.
The longer term plan for more environmental opportunities for the alpines is the new alpine bed that I’ve built next to the greenhouse.
This has been a pretty labor intensive effort and I’m not done yet. Just digging a trench and then laying the block was testing my muscle development, but then you have to fill the bed after building the bed. I began by adding topsoil to bring the level up to about a foot short of the top.
Then, to do the remainder of the fill, I bought a cement mixer. To gain some sense of what’s involved, 1 foot deep by 14 feet long by 3 feet wide amounts to 42 cubic feet. That is roughly 4000 pounds of soil mix. Mixing it by hand just didn’t seem to make sense. I used a formula of 1 part small gravel (starter grit), 1 part larger gravel (developer grit), 1 part topsoil, 1 part miracle gro potting soil, and 1/2 part garden sand.
This particular bed is on the shade side of the greenhouse so I think the Saxifragas should be happy when this is done.
This is my first full year with the new greenhouse and I still haven’t got a plan for the summer. While I’m pretty confident about what I want to do with it in the wintertime, I’ve been less certain about how to treat the environment in the heat of the summer. Out of inertia, I’ve left the basic springtime plan intact — the misting and watering comes on four times a day for 10 minutes. I’ve only just gotten to moving out some of the plants that were clearly not happy with that climate (the temperature can go to 95 – 100 degrees even with the automatic venting). So the temperate plants and seeded pots are mostly on the outside now with filtered shade and automatic watering. What I expected was that many of the South African bulbs would grow and go dormant for the summer so that as foliage died off I moved them to the basement for a rest. We’ll see if they start up again as planned. And the preying mantis seems to still be enjoying the opportunities for eating in the greenhouse.
Note the many little figs.
What has been a real surprise was to see that we have inadvertently created the perfect environment for Kalmiopsis leachiana.
This beautiful little relative of the Mountain Laurel is found only in the Northwest, particularly the Siskiyou Mountains of Southwest Oregon. When you read that this is a difficult plant to grow but that in it’s native mountains it experiences 250 inches of rain and hot dry summers with porous soils you can see how it might find the greenhouse reminiscent of home. In any case it is thriving. I see a ton of flower buds for next year.
My original idea was to plant it outside, but now I’m not so sure…
Some of little bulbous plants are showing flowers from seeding this year via the seed exchanges.
I also have a ton of little plantlets that I should have separated by now.
Life just keeps marching along. I spent this morning finalizing the first courses for a retaining wall around the greenhouse.
The idea is to have a raised bed for alpines with more space than I can manage in a trough. This will be a lot of fun to plant once I finish construction…