Monday, August 30, 2010

Around The Garden

Usually I do Around the Garden at the end of the week, but this week I am doing it at the beginning.  I am starting in the back garden, where things look pretty good.  There is more moisture in the back and except for the earwigs and japanese beetles the foliage looks great.

Blue Paradise Phlox keeps going as long as I keep deadheading.

Heliopsis Lemon Queen

Hibiscus Mango on the patio

Clematis Fireworks back but smaller than in the spring (see header)
Rainbow Knockout is beginning to recover from the earwigs and japanese beetles.

The impatiens are almost too big (looks like a smudge on my lens)

The Pineapple Coleus love this weather!

Gaura requires deadheading every so often to keep peeking out.

Plumbago blooming where I cut down the Becky Shastas

As I move towards the front on the south side of the house where it is a xeric environment, things do not look quite as fresh.  The tropical containers with crotons and sedums look great, gaillardia needs a haircut and dianthus firewitch does not look happy.

In the front Limelight Hydrangea is beginning to turn color and will soon be ready for cutting off those gorgeous blooms for drying. 

Limelight Hydrangeas is beginning to turn color, many different shades of white, green, pink and rose.  Cut them at different stages for drying if you want a variety of colors.

Unique Hydrangea

P. Allen Smith was on the Today show the other day and said to just chop those Knockout Roses for their last wonderful bloom, feed them, water and wait.  I did it and we shall see!  I have a yellowed yew which I think has been affected by the watering system.  I have shut off the particular sprinkler but don't know if it can be saved.  Sedum Autumn Joy has already flopped from all of the rain and I am going to have to support it.  Autumn Fire is a better selection if you don't want it to flop. 

Sedum Autumn Joy is beginning to change color but I am going to have to prop it up.

My Endless Summer Hydrangeas have not been great this year, a first flush of flowers and then nothing.  Euyonmous Wintercreeper has been growing like crazy many clippings, scale is back.  The hostas are pretty spent at this point, holes, brownish, not lush, but Solomon's Seal still looks pretty good.

Nasturtium under the dahlia

Just look at these dahlias that I transplanted to the veggie garden!  They obviously need a deep root system and lots of water.  I am all the way back to my hayracks which will work colorwise into fall, a few gourds thrown in for interest.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Hunt Is Over!

As I pulled out the plants from my back concrete planters, they came out like a plaster object from a mold.  Dirt and all with fully tangled roots were inseparable so into the yard waste bag they went.  I was determined to find my cabbages today and a few other goodies that would add to the fall effect.

My first stop was Home Depot because I always check them out first just in case a new truckload has arrived.  No cabbages yet - I can't believe it!  But, they had lots of other plants and look at the prices, unbelievable!

Agastache Blue Fortune
5 Gallon Container $12.98

Volcano Phlox
I did not know much about Volcano Phlox, but I am finding out it is a special variety because of its floriforus nature and resistance to mildew.  Here is the link giving the history and attributes of Volcano Phlox.

Sedum Autumn Fire (does not flop)

Heuchera Southern Comfort (can you believe $4.98)

Mona Lavender
I bought this a few years ago, very lovely, can't see from a few feet away - it's an up close plant!


Huge pots of Millet for $6.98
Just remember the birds will sit in it until it is all gone!

Knockout Roses

A Wall of Caladiums
These will not hold up in cool weather

This looked like a great daylily for $4.98

Diamond Frost Euphorbia
This is an annual but will hold up to the colder weather $2.98, can be brought in the house to pair with pointsettas.

I bought two great looking perennial Rudbeckia Denver and Sedum Vera Jameson which will make great additions to the planters.  I always add some perennials and then in late November winter them over in the veggie garden.  So far, I am been very lucky having them take root this late in the season.  The cabbage is an ornamental annual, but that's okay because they will last until December if you can leave it alone.

Rudbeckia Denver

Sedum Vera Jameson

My next stop was a small garden center/nursery near my home.  They grow many decorative flowers (pointsettas, lilies, etc) and annuals in their greenhouses, some perennials.  I got talking to one of workers that I have known for years and didn't take any pictures.  But, guess what - I found the cabbages, big ones, little ones, yeah!

Well, I was really in the mood now to complete my design so onward to the next family owned garden center.  This one does not grow any of their plants, but they are knowledgeable and stock high quality materials.  This is the center that has their own garden show each year with reps from all the nurseries who supply their center.

Wow!  Look at the size of these mums!

Swiss Chard
I had to have some of this.

Orange Pansies
I had to have these also.

Bronze Sedge
How spooky - can you see this on top of a pumpkin?
I bought it!

Petunia Black Velvet

Decorative Peppers
They do not hold up to the cool weather.

The pots are still one of the best attractions at this Garden Center.
There are lots more inside.

What I have noticed is that the nurseries and boutique-type garden centers are finally trying to compete with the big box stores.  They all order from the same suppliers at this point, Proven Winners, Hampshire Farms, etc.  These are automated growers with the planting, watering and fertilization being done by computer. 

Home Depot has not bought plants with their own money for the last few years.  All of their plants are on consignment with employees from the growers actually working at Home Depot.  This way they control their losses and the supplier has a stake in keeping everything in good condition.

My conclusion is that I think there is a place for all of these different types of plant destinations.  If you are a seasoned gardener I see no reason why you cannot shop the big garden centers and look for bargains.  If you are somewhat knowledgeable shop your garden center and semi-nursery with knowledgeable staff.  If you are a beginner start out with a growing nursery where they have a knowledgeable staff, and grow most of their own plant material and understand the requirements for each plant.

One factor that I feel is very important is to ask what is your guarantee?  Home Depot offers a 100% guarantee on all of their plants for a year.  There are some nurseries that offer no guarantee, some offer 50% and some offer 100% non-advertised guarantee, only if you ask.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Deadheading Revisited

Some posts back I talked about the importance of deadheading if you want rebloom on many perennials.  Phlox is a great recipient of deadheading and responds with a new flush of bloom.

Franz Schubert Phlox reblooming after deadheading

Blue Paradise reblooming

Laura getting ready to rebloom

I am also a proponent of deadheading plants that do not necessarily give you new blooms but do put up a flush of new green leaf growth.  It prevents that tired look at the end of the growing season where everything turns a shade of brown.

Arnie's Choice Daylily sprouts new foliage after being cut to the ground, plumbago, a fall blooming groundcover underneath.

Becky Shasta Daily sprouts new foliage after being cut to the ground.

Certain plants, at least in my zone 5 area benefit by being left to stand during the winter.  They can be deadheaded but should not be cut to the ground as we do with many other perennials.  Agastache and Centranthus are more reliable if they are not trimmed to the ground, lavender also should only be trimmed in the spring to new growth.

Agastache Rosita benefits from deadheading all summer, continual flowering.  Leave this plant standing for the winter, cut down a little for neatness but do not cut to the ground.

Agastache Blue Fortune

Centranthus Alba can be deadheaded all summer for continual bloom, trim in fall but not to the ground.

Gaillardia Mesa can be deadheaded all season for continual bloom.  This plant can be trimmed low in the fall.

The above plants are all waterwise and are some of the plants from the alley garden.  They have done very well obviously because they do not require much water and love the heat.

Most other perennials and grasses can be trimmed to the ground in the fall without any ill effects, unless you want the winter interest of seed heads.  I would not recommend leaving the Miscanthus grasses up for the fall and winter.  They do not hold up to the snow and become quite messy and labor intensive the following spring.  Even my Carex on the north side of my house is a major problem to cut back if we do not do it in the fall - it becomes mushy..  Panicum Northwind is the exception in that it turns a tan in the fall and stands very well through snowstorms and most of the winter until March.  This grass is not a problem cutting down in the spring.

Panicum Northwind can be left standing for the winter.  It becomes tan in the fall and can withstand snow and ice until March.

Miscanthus Udine will flop if not cut down in the fall.

Pennisetum Hamlin does not need to be cut back for the winter.
Carex Ice Fountains requires cutting back in the fall

If you have hydrangeas that bloom on old and new wood you can leave them dried on the stems for winter interest and cut them down in the spring.  Limelight, Endless Summer, Unique, Pink Diamonds are just a few varieties that bloom on old and new wood.