Game Of Thorns

Yes, technically those are spines

Looks good:
 Looks good:
 Not so good:
 The slope known as Fall Project 2012, which didn't get completed in any significant way until the spring of 2015, has been a thorn in my side.  The drought hung on until the end of 2016, so the young plants placed early in 2015 didn't get sufficient moisture for almost two years.  I should have watered much more, but we were under mandatory water restrictions. The slope has never filled in enough to provide satisfaction.

The Cordyline 'Festival Grass' that have done well provide the lush exuberance I was hoping for, but only a few of them have done well. 
Pretty good
 Not so good
 I have been trying to determine why some are doing well while others are not.  One effort was to water one of them every single day for a while, to see if more water would help.  Drainage on the slope is excellent--too excellent, really.  I gave one plant two gallons of extra water every day for two months.  Did it help? 
 Nope.  

The new theory is that the root system was too small on planting.  The successful plants did have larger root systems.  

I'm trying a couple new plants;  growing them in pots in easy conditions to get as big a root system as possible before planting them up on the slope.   These plants tend to be sold with almost no roots.  New plant #1:
 New plant #2:
 In the meantime, all the Agave 'Blue Glow' plantlets have been growing this year and are actually visible now up there on the slope.  That's something.

Any other thorns to consider?  Oh, of course.  It's going to be 90F (32 C) every day for the next week.  Yuck.

Chili Thirps love heat.  Every rose last summer was ruined by them.  This year, as soon as damage appeared, I have sprayed just the very tips of new growth with Spinosad, after all pollinators had gone back to the hive for the night.  
Bit of damage:
 This bit that got sprayed at the right time looks totally beautifully normal:
Whoo hoo!  Success.  

 This mulch mess isn't much of a thorn.  Every morning the Towhees scratch through the mulch at the edge of the street, looking for edibles.  Every afternoon I sweep the mulch back because it looks so messy.  But we love Towhees, so it's (mostly) okay. 
 The thorn here is a lack of flowers.  This is a deciduous Agapanthus.  I moved it this year to a place where it could get irrigation, and it looks far better and larger.  But no flowers yet. 
 This is unexpected rather than thorny.  Sweet peas in summer?!?  Not here, usually.  These came up from fallen seeds from last winter's plants.  Huh.  How 'bout that? 
Why haven't you fried?  It's 90F!
Okay, this is a thorn:  I need to fix the Iochroma's support pronto.  It's growing back fast.  I'm not going to fix it when it is 90F, though.  
 Not a thorn:  I thought Dahlia 'Catching Fire' wasn't coming back this year.  It's very late because it is placed where the soil is quite shaded.  Cool soil = slow to emerge.  But here it is:
The gardening game's okay after all.  Or it will be, when it stops being 90F.    

And a spine is a modified leaf or stipule.  A prickle is modified epidermis, and a thorn is a modified branch.  

A Game Of Thrones is a series of novels or an HBO TV show involving a whole lot of characters, gory violence and token but mandatory nudity.  Haven't seen it.  

 

Comments

  1. Beautiful agaves and I love that parrot plant pot! Chili Thirps are a headache on my roses too even in winter. Have a happy August!

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    1. Chili Thrips there too? Frowny face! Yes, isn't that a fun pot? I think we were the first customers to see it. Whoever had seen it first would have bought it, and it just happened to be us.

      August will be very happy when it cools off!

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  2. Neither have I. Not looking. Clever title. 100F here right now at 4. And continuing throughout the week. Kid called from Aliso Viejo and friend wrote from Fallbrook. Both are enjoying massive thunder storms.

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    1. We got one here, and then it rained for about 5 minutes. I think it is about 90F here, at 6:09am...stay cool. This too shall pass.

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  3. You need a dragon or 2 to complete your comparison to GOT - but maybe you can count your lizards there as they are garden heroes of a sort. I may follow your example and plant some of my newer purchases in pots to allow them to bulk up before adding them to the garden. Gardeners in the UK seem to do that with some regularity, although the practice there may be at least partly weather-related. Some of my dahlias have yet to bloom as well, possibly because a number of the tubers I received by mail order were remarkably small but there are buds so I remain hopeful.

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    1. True, true, the lizards are absolutely the good guys. I normally don't pot up as everything seems to be better off in the ground--except the Festival Grass.

      The Dahlias will bloom. Still plenty of hot weather left, unfortunately. Your 'Lover Boy' Dahlia is so pretty!

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  4. I wish I had some tips on growing the Festival Grass but long ago stopped throwing money in their direction. I admire your determination to figure out what makes them tick. I watched GOT years ago, up to the point when they killed Sean Bean, and never picked it up again. Mitch says that it's gotten much better, in his opinion, since the show forged ahead without the novels, so I may binge watch it this winter.

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    1. I still have my original plant which must be well over 10 years old--it is the biggest one there. It lived in a pot for years and built up a massive root system, so that is why I am guessing roots are the thing. We'll see. I love the glossy, wine-dark foliage, the sparkle when the sun hits it, and the shagginess.

      I was going to watch a GOT episode, but after reading it could get gory--no, never mind. Jane Austen is more my style.

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  5. We're getting unbearable heat up here in the PNW as well, triple digit temps in the forecast. Ugh. Don't forget dragons, magic and the undead on GoT.

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    1. I read about your extreme heat in the PNW and am concerned as AC is less common in your region. Be very careful and stay cool and hydrated, okay?

      Dragons, magic, undead--Harry Potter with sex and gore? Sigh.

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    2. I was trying to come up with a clever title, but it will never approach "Getting into Micky's Shorts", or the one about the rooster.

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  6. No lie, I have been idly wondering about the diff between thorns, spines, and prickles for easily 15 years without being energetic enough to look it up. Now here you come laying it out concisely in a post that rewards my sloth :and: validates my lack of interest in getting HBOetc.!
    Your build-up-roots strategy makes sense, and looks from the successful examples to be worth the effort and wait. Best wishes for more success.

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    1. Think of all the extra plants we get to buy with all the $ we save on HBO.

      Best curiosity is, when idle it is not. I'm sure Yoda said that sometime or other.

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    2. My first Cordyline died. It was a $12 plant from HD. So far, the second one is doing much better. It is a $40 plant from H&H in Lakewood that had a much bigger root ball when I bought it. So I think you may be on to something.

      In fifth pic from bottom, is that a bunch of Aloe 'Blue Elf' all closed up against the heat? If so, how tall would you say the plants are (without flowers)? They are so cute! Love the purple tinge.

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    3. Rachel, yes, that's 'Blue Elf'. Without flowers I'd say that clump is about knee high. It's been there undisturbed about 8 years.

      I'm hoping my root system theory is correct--I'll be watching to see. I love that plant! It has a lot of the attractiveness of a Phormium without the huge size or reversion to plain green.

      Watch for mealy bugs, they are a pest of Cordyline.

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  7. Yeah, Cordyline 'Festival Grass' is a pain to grow. Don't feel bad. Plant 3 and 2 will die within the year. The 3rd will look great for years and just randomally croak. Done with that plant :)

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    1. It's not a pain, it's a...challenge? Have you tried Cordyline 'Renegade'? Have not managed to kill that one--yet.

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  8. Festival grass thrill of victory and agony of defeat is very curious. I look forward to seeing how your experiment works. Your bird pot brought a smile. I'm kind of loving the heat you sent our way. Thanks.

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    1. You are kind of loving 90F?!? Okay, but I hope all your mannequins don't melt. Stay cool!

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  9. We have 3 Halleria lucida. One planted in front of the Adirondacks has grown into a beautiful small tree laden with flowers and happy sunbirds. Yay.
    Planted two more on the verge. One is an anklebiter, the other very hard to find as it cowers under the Plectranthus groundcover. Sigh.

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    1. I had to look up Halleria lucida. Looks like a nice tree. Happy sunbirds are a good thing.

      That does happen to me also--three of the same rose bought at the same time planted right next to each other, one excellent, two awful. But there must be a reason, no?

      The image of a tree cowering under a groundcover...haha!

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