Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Friday, July 31, 2015

End of the Month View, July, 2015

July has been a hot, dry, discouraging month. I got very little accomplished in the Gravel Garden from the To Do list that I included at the end of last month's EoMV post here, even though on hot days I had probably a 2- or 3-hour window of opportunity when the temps were cool enough to work. I didn't get any more of my Sempervivum quilt planted, and I refrained from trying to plant anything else as well. My primary efforts were focused on just trying to water in the things I had already planted, and I think so far I've been fairly successful in helping them get established. Even drought-tolerant plants like Semps need a watering-in period. I did manage to lose a couple of very small ones, that basically just shriveled up in the heat.

The cluster of pots is still a chaotic jumble

The large Echeveria is blooming

These dark Echeveria (Black Knight or Black Prince, I can't remember which) have been this peculiar shade of orange-brown since I moved them out of the greenhouse into the sun

The Semp quilt is settling in

Well on its way to creating one large mass of offsets, but probably not for a couple of years

A few months ago I dug and potted my three Yucca 'Bright Star' but it looks like I left a bit of root behind here

Eryngium agavifolium is flowering, and I'm wondering if this prickly plant might be an effective raccoon deterrent in the back garden

None of the prickly plants in the gravel garden deters my neighbor's cats, which is ok with me, they're such affectionate cutie-pies

Last month I removed some grasses that hadn't taken from this spot in front of the Mexican feather grass. I didn't bother replacing them yet, although I will, but I'll do it in the Fall just before the rains return. One of last month's goals was to buy some fall bulbs to plant in the Gravel Garden, specifically species tulips that like a rock garden environment.

I recently received a Colorblends catalog, and though I've never ordered from them before, I thought I'd give them a try. I ordered 100 Praestans Shogun Tulips that I plan to plant amongst the Agave parryi and the Beschorneria/Opuntia combo. According to the catalog, they flower early to mid-season, so I hope they will give the Gravel Garden a much-needed shot of early spring color.

I have plenty of little tufts of Mexican feather grass that I can dig and transplant

I do have several plants that I planted in the Gravel Garden in the spring that are doing really well.

This combo of Opuntia and Beschorneria septentrionalis has settled in nicely

Agave parryi 'J.C. Raulston' has also transplanted well, as well as the weeds close by that will be tricky pulling

Hesperaloe has taken well to its spot too, flowering up a storm, although all three of its flower stalks are flopping

Variegated Brugmansia is flowering right now

So are many of my Sempervivums

Long-time readers of Bonney Lassie might remember my post from a few years ago about Hens and Chicks, in which I lament the tumescent nature of Sempervivum flowers. If not, you can read it here.

A couple of months ago in my EoMV post, I showed the fungally challenged leaves of my Yucca aloifolia purpurea, and wondered what to do about it. (You can read that post here). I cut off the yucky Yucca leaves, and this month I dug it up, along with all the Semps in the pot with it, and reseated them, with a brand new gravel topping. It has produced lots of lovely pristine leaves, and I noticed when I dug it up that there was quite a large cluster of offsets forming at the base. Everything in this pot needed reseating because the soil level had compacted and dropped about 8 inches.

Sempervivum arachnoides

My three Yucca 'Bright Star' that I dug up and put in pots to try to keep them from suffering from "Yuccacne" are also doing well. See my post here about Dot and Spot, who are no longer either dotty or spotty. All three have produced pristine new leaves and are looking good. I doubt the pots they're in are frost-proof, so they may eventually end up over-wintering in the greenhouse.

I did manage to accomplish one item on my To Do list -- I repotted my Agave 'Blue Glow' which had outgrown its pot. Removing it from the pot it was in was a chore and a half, it did not want to let go. It was incredibly root-bound! I turned it upside down and shook it, but it wouldn't budge. I inserted my spade all along the edges, like turning out a cake, and still it would not let go. Finally I had to push on the underside of some of the lower leaves (with heavily gloved hands), and managed to get it loose, but not without bending some of them and damaging some of the tips.

Root-bound Agave 'Blue Glow'

Trying to decide between two pots

My goal in repotting was to give it a home with enough room to water easily. (Agaves do need watering during their summer growth period.) Ultimately I realized that neither of the pots I had was actually quite big enough. In the middle of repotting I hopped in the car and drove down the hill to Windmill Gardens to buy a bigger pot.

After a pretty severe root pruning, I soaked the remaining roots in a bucket of water

'Blue Glow' in its new home, planted offset a bit to give plenty of room for watering

I managed to find a pot that was a good match for 'Blue Glow's' reddish edge

A couple of other Gravel Garden potted plants were in need of new homes as well. Mangave 'Macho Mocha' had produced lots of pups, which I wanted to separate and pot up for future plant swaps. I managed to get a big handful separated (some with a good amount of roots, and some without) and then replanted the mother plant back in its original pot. Even the pups that originally had little root are doing well, there is no give when I tug on them in their little pots.

Big cluster of Mangave 'Macho Mocha' pups

'Macho Mocha' babies looking good

At a past swap I had gotten a variegated Agave, and wanted to give it a bigger home.

Soaking the roots before repotting

Repotted into the terra cotta pot that 'Blue Glow' vacated

Variegated Agave and 'Macho Mocha' Mama back in the Gravel Garden

Last month's To Do List:

1. Plant Senecio -- Still haven't done this. At this point I'm going to wait and try again next year.
2. Order fall bulbs -- Done
3. Repot Agave 'Blue Glow' -- Done, and then some
4. Water -- Did this a lot

What do I want to accomplish in August?

1. Weed (the never-ending battle, although I have to admit, my neighbor is doing better at mowing their weeds)
2. Water
3. Make Plans (I know "Man plans, God laughs" -- Maybe not, since I'm a woman.)

The End of the Month View meme is hosted by Helen at The Patient Gardener's Weblog. Check out her July post here, as well as the links in the comments from other bloggers who participate.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Raccoon Destruction

I'm sorry to inflict on you even more pictures of the array of ugliness that passes for my back garden, but here it is. The raccoons that are attracted to my stream have inflicted a lot of damage this summer. As if the heat and early summer drought weren't enough.

Sum and No Substance Hosta

Cardiocrinum stalk


Solomon's Seal

'Golden Arrow' Persicaria

I don't know if this is from them romping in the garden, looking for food, or if it is actual deliberate destruction, but it's what I have to look at whenever I stroll through the back garden. They seem to have turned the bed that runs along my back fence into a highway. They come just about every night to play in the stream. I've seen them out there and have tried turning the porch light on and shouting out the window, which usually succeeds in making them amble off. But they always come back.

They leave more than just destruction in their wake. I'll spare you photos of their toxic waste.

I've actually considered hiring someone to remove the stream, which attracts them. I may try caging some of the plants next year. Other than that, I'm not sure what to do. Razor wire along the fence, maybe?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wednesday Vignette

For this week's Wednesday Vignette, I offer some foliage contrasts:

Japanese Painted Fern (possibly 'Ghost') and a Rhodie with indumentum

Dark leaf of Physocarpus against golden Coggygria

Persicaria 'Painter's Palette' and a dark Heuchera

Anna at Flutter and Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette, check out her current post here.