Much extra effort has been made in the garden this spring. Not sure why. More effort due to more experience and greater knowledge? Higher standards? Inspiration from others? A clearer vision of what I want the garden to be? A little of all of those, probably.
Some of the garden activities during the past weeks of gloriously cool grey June-gloom gardening weather...
Testing a six-pack of Cosmos to see how they work. Perhaps growing them from seed next year. Unfortunately the blankety-blank rabbits appear to find them yummy. Overnight, this...
Grrrr. Oh, well.
Testing potted plants in various places continues. Showing the plants off to their best advantage as well as protecting potted plants from summer's heat by surrounding them with companions and humidity-rich soil rather than arid heat-reflecting pavement.
The Gladiolus murielae has a wonderful moment at certain times of the morning when, in this location, the foliage is backlit:
...it hides the Trachelium's rabbit guard, too. More rabbit fencing sort of hidden by moving the 'Indian Summer' Alstroemeria into the space between another Trachelium and the shaggy Shasta daisy:
The orange is a nice accent for the white and purple, and the surrounding foliage helps keep the Alstroemeria cooler.
The plants create their own effects: yet another Trachelium has woven itself into rose 'Julia Child':
Okay, one more Trachelium: moved a volunteer seedling adjacent to a gate, on the other side from the backlit Gladiolus. A highly visible location, but difficult--full deep shade in winter, hot sun and reflected heat in summer. Trachelium can handle that. There were some random succulents stuck in this corner--a reluctance to throw them out. They grew a while, looked terrible, then I threw them out.
Seedling under that square of shade cloth:
Then there's better effort being given to small succulents. The potted Aloe castilloneae is happier than the one in the ground. The one in the ground looked too stressed, so I pulled it for repotting...surprise, long roots!
In nature this species are found growing in rock fissures, exploiting that location because dew will trickle down into fissures, providing water for roots. Noting that and the long roots, the Aloe got a tall, narrow container to simulate a rock fissure.
The always-potted castilloneae looks good. It had a tiny flower stalk some weeks ago, with a single flower on it:
Huh? What's that pink flower in the pot behind castilloneae? OMG, Tacitus bellis! I didn't kill it after all!
At least not yet. Effort paid off.
One of the daylilys marked for pulling is pulled-with the intention of moving a Salvia 'Blue Hill' from a bad location to the empty place, but the nearly 20 year old 'Blue Hill' was in terrible shape. A few bits with roots cleaned up and planted in a protected area where they may or may not grow. In the meantime, put what there, in the void where the gardener's shadow falls?
Choices are: a new red Pentas, a new 'Roman Red' Salvia, or a Dahlia currently still in a pot. Thinking...
A different red Pentas planted a few weeks ago was already shaded out. Pentas seems to overwinter best with some direct sun, adjacent to a paved area, where pavement sun-warmed during the day may keep this heat-loving tropical plant slightly warmer on winter nights. The empty area is not adjacent to pavement. Thinking, thinking...
Aha. Out came the soft coral-pinkish daylily near the bird's urn that looked odd with saturated orange Cuphea 'Vermillionaire'. Shaded-out Pentas moved there:
Several clumps of the soft pinkish daylily continue growing elsewhere. It is a fine daylily--it simply didn't look good next to the Cuphea.
Must rig temporary shade to help the Pentas re-establish. It is, after all, now Summer.
Also noted: the black-foliaged Dahlia I thought was red is actually a deep pink:
With a Salvia 'Blue Hill':
Effort made to protect new 'Munstead Wood' basal canes from the long-eared marauders was effective. Last year several new basals were eaten to the ground by Bugs and Friends. Grrr. Perhaps rabbits are another motivating factor in increased effort?
Noted: the Dasylirion wheelerii is blooming for the first time:
Hard to see in the photo, but the fuzzy flowers were mobbed by honey bees:
There's a nice angle, with Aloe 'Hercules' and Leucadendron 'Cloudbank Ginny':
Sustained effort: slowly, a few stems at a time, shortening the two Pittosporum 'Wrinkled Blue' shrubs that screen out the east side neighbor's house from the entry garden. They are too tall. I limit the ladder/pole pruner effort to a few stems a day, because it takes patient concentration and is physically somewhat difficult. Yesterday's efforts:
The goal is to eventually shorten the Pittos to the same height as the Metrosideros on the far left.
Can't see what I've trimmed? Good! That's the idea:
...so the tomatoes and Zinnias get enough sun.
Speaking of tomatoes, the fully screened cage to protect tomatoes from all pests is working. Last year a lackadaisical approach to tomato care failed to produce any fruit. This year, more effort brought success:
Glance around: the purple Salvia purchased last year is doing well. I've forgotten the name. Adjacent to a Cuphea, they make a fine color pairing.
Another glance: Dahlia 'Hollyhill Spider Woman'--maybe the flowers are okay after all.
All the basil plants grown from seed have been given away, except one pot. I took good care of them, and they looked decent.
Zinnia plant progress. Advice is to pinch the main stem above the first two pairs of true leaves. This will force the plants to branch, creating a bushier plant that produces many more flowers. Will do. The tiny odd Dahlia sprouts found in the ground here and there were replanted in a raised bed. They are clustered at the top left of the photo. They were all originally as big as the ones indicated by white arrows. The ones indicated by red arrows have already grown.
Finally after multiple attempts, a Felicia is doing well in this garden, but it seems like annual, humble Ageratum produces more of the same blue for less effort.Same blue but more of it:
Watching the development of a Eucomis flower stem is delightful:
There's perhaps another reason for all the effort. Just being out in the garden, with it looking unexpectedly pretty, with the mockingbirds singing, has been such a joy.
Mourning Dove in the neighbor's eaves:
All sorts of beauties and moments to experience.
The May-Gray-June-Gloom season ends, the heat is on, and gardening now means getting plants through the summer without going over the new water allowance the water company has established. This spring was so much fun, but now, it is over.
Ooops. Still have a Pentas, a Salvia, and several potted Dahlias to plant!