August 28, 2012

Boxwood 'Wee Willie' and the Daylily Purge

Last week I added five of these adorable 'Wee Willie' boxwoods (Buxus sinicar var. insularis) to the west flagstone garden.  They will grow slowly to just two feet tall and wide and keep their green color through the winter (though with my experiences with other boxwoods, I expect they'll look a little washed out during the coldest months, even if they don't turn bronze). 

I was also considering 'Little Rascal' holly shrubs (Ilex 'Mondo'), but my friend at the nursery said I'd need to keep those hollies constantly fertilized to keep them looking healthy.  Plus, they turn purple in the winter instead of staying green and get a little wider, at 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide.  So it was Wee Willie instead. 

I'm excited that these little guys will require almost no maintenance and will provide pretty spots of green all year.   

My daylily addiction recovery program is progressing, though it has been hard to give so many up.  My collecting tendencies are whining about it all.   Yesterday my husband dug up a couple dozen more daylilies and after bagging and labeling them,  I dropped them off at a friend's house.  The total number of daylilies in my yard has been reduced from 72 to 45.  Much more manageable.  This reduction has also left more space for other plants that needed it, like my 'Rozanne' geraniums.  And another 'Coral Supreme' peony that's on order to come this fall.  
The gardens really do look much better with the remaining plants given the space they need and without such a heavy dose of daylily foliage.   'Autumn Wood' (above) was one of the keepers (love its heavenly fragrance and vigorous growth), in three groupings of three each.  I also kept groupings of 'Francine Joiner' and 'Smoky Mountain Autumn' in the front garden because these peach flowers make such a great color combo with the Pink Double Delight coneflowers and lavender 'Rozanne' geraniums that bloom at the same time.  I kept one plant each of several types of pink daylilies because I couldn't bear to give them up entirely (they're tucked into less visible corners or the backyard).  I decided I could probably work 'Big Smile' (pale yellow with pink ruffles) into the backyard color scheme, so several of those plants are sitting in the garage.  Paring back is painful but the results make it worthwhile.     

August 25, 2012

Echinacea 'Guava Ice' (Coneflower)

While I was looking for evergreen shrubs at the nursery this week, my eyes were drawn to this new coneflower, 'Guava Ice'.  Although I always say that I don't like orange, somehow this rosy-orange color keeps pulling me in.  So I picked up a couple and added them to the west flagstone bed, which had rosy-orange flowers earlier in the season in the form of a 'Lady Emma Hamilton' english rose and 'Royal Sunset' lilies.     

These photos show the progression of a bloom.  Because I took them in the evening when this part of the garden was already in shade, the colors look cooler (more rose) than they would in warm light (which would bring out the orange tones).

This coneflower is newly available in 2012, and it grows 24-30 inches tall and 2-3 feet wide.  Like other coneflowers, it prefers well-drained soil in full sun and is drought tolerant once established.  It's hardy in zones 5-9 - possibly even zone 4 - so it should survive Spokane winters without a problem.

The flowers are very large - four inches or so once fully formed.  The leaves are a beautiful dark green, though I wonder if they'll lighten up after growing in my hot garden instead of in a nursery.

This photo does a good job of showing the warmer and cooler colors that can be found on each plant as the blooms age.  A few weeks ago I almost bought some 'Hot Papya' coneflowers for this part of my garden, but their fiery red-orange color was a little too intense.  I'm so glad I waited to find these instead. 

Sometimes I come home from the nursery with a plant that I bought even though I knew it wasn't a good fit for my garden.  Sometimes plants just call to you, right?  But these coneflowers are the perfect color and have the perfect temperament for the baking-hot western exposure where they're planted. 

It will be fun to pick these and use them in arrangements.  The color is nice with the lavender 'Walker's Low' catmints that are blooming nearby.

This final shot shows an older bloom that will soon fade and need to be deadheaded.  Thankfully, coneflowers last a lot longer than daylilies before they need to be removed.  I've put myself into a daylily addiction recovery program, and I'm pleased to report that I reduced the number of daylilies in this part of the garden from 27 to 14.  Lots less deadheading, phew.  I also removed six 'Jethro Tull' tickseeds (Coreopsis) that were reseeding like crazy, and planted five 'Wee Willie' boxwoods (Buxus) instead.  Winter interest and lower maintenance, here I come! 

August 13, 2012

Spokane Temple Annuals July 2012: Part II

Here are a few more photos of the annual beds at the Spokane Temple showing one area where the color scheme worked nicely and another where the colors didn't work as well.  These first three photos show the flowers at the secondary entrance gate. Vibrant lime green sweet potato vine leaves make a nice contrast to 'Double Cherry Profusion' zinnias, 'Confetti' lantana, sapphire 'Regatta' lobelia, deep pink alyssum and dark violet-blue 'Aladdin' petunias.

We call this area the South Arc because of the half-circle of boxwoods that frame the annuals.  The pot in the center is lacking color because a sensor went out a couple of weeks ago and shut the whole irrigation system down for a few days (or more?) during 90 degree weather.  We lost almost all of the plants in this pot and the two outside the gate, and it will take a while for the replacements to settle in and start blooming.  At least the 'Blue Arrows' rush (Juncus) in the center and the 'Silver Falls' dichondra around the edges of the pot survived. 

I underestimated the number of plants we'd need in this area and a few others, so Marilyn (the head volunteer) and I spent a lot of time in June buying more plants here and there and filling in the beds.  Hopefully I'll be able to get it right the first time for next year!  But this area has turned out well, and the vivid colors don't get washed out in the intense summer sun that bakes this spot.

These last three photos show the urns and rectangle bed on the east of the temple.  The color scheme looks a little 'blah' to me.  I think the pale yellow petunias weren't a good choice.  Next year maybe we'll do bubblegum pink petunias instead?  Marilyn and I are also thinking that we should use some 'Marine' heliotrope to add fragrance, and we need to add some golden yellow since this area is surrounded by a ring of golden 'Stella d'Oro' daylilies.  Maybe 'Dakota Gold' helenium or a trailing bidens would work.   

This bed also contains 'Sophistica Blue Morn' petunias, 'Regatta White' lobelia, light blue lobelia, lavender bacopa, lime licorice plant (Helichrysum), 'Diamond Frost' euphorbia, and three 'Green Velvet' boxwoods that provided structure when the annuals were smaller but are now mostly covered up.  In the background is a row of 'Endless Summer' hydrangeas with one bloom.  This type of hydrangea has been a bust in my yard as well - our late spring frosts zap the flower buds on old wood, and our growing season is too short for the new wood to do much blooming.  Might as well call them 'Never Summer' hydrangeas.

This pot is begging for a supertunia to cascade down the side and add more color.  Just one - otherwise the whole pretty urn would be covered and look like a mound of petunias.  I learned from our grower that unlike 'Wave' petunias, supertunias don't produce seed (they're grown from cuttings), so they keep making a lot of blooms without deadheading.  I think a pot full of nothing but petunias is boring, but I like them in combinations.  They really are amazing at producing a lot of bold color in pots.  I'm not sure why the ivy geraniums in these urns haven't flowered much, as they're doing well in the pots at the west of the temple.  This pot also has a maroon corydalis spike in the center, light blue lobelia, lime licorice plant, trailing Vinca minor, 'Diamond Frost' euphorbia and 'Tapien' violet verbena.  Well, there's definitely room for some improvement next year.  Suggestions are always welcome.

August 8, 2012

Spokane Temple Annuals July 2012

What a difference a month makes!  The annual beds at the Spokane Temple have filled in after we finally hit some summer weather.  Of course us volunteers are now struggling to keep up with watering as temperatures hit the upper 90's, which is hotter than usual for Spokane.  Above you can see violet 'Evolution' salvia, pale lilac 'Opal Innocence' nemesia, 'Bandana Light Yellow' lantana, 'Lilac Opera Supreme' petunias, pink alyssum and lime 'Marguerite' sweet potato vine. 

The heat-loving sweet potato vine and petunias have grown all over the cool-loving lobelia and most of the short pink alyssum.  Above you can also see some silver licorice plant (Helichrysum) weaving through the flowers.  That plant seems to grow fine in cool or hot weather.

These photos all show the annuals around the front entrance on the west all of the temple.  Above you can see the two spiral-pruned 'Emerald Green' arborvitaes (at least, I'm pretty sure that's what they are) that frame the front doors.

The 'Opal Innocence' nemesias (the small pale flowers in the center above) have been blooming their heads off ever since they were planted at the end of May, with no deadheading.  The flowers stalks just keep putting out more blooms at the end.  They are starting to look a bit gangly and will need to be trimmed back soon, but I've been very pleased with this plant's performance. 

Here is one of the pots that flank the front doors with an ivy geranium, a deep violet double supertunia, yellow-leaved creeping jenny, 'Silver Falls' dichondra, 'Diamond Frost' euphorbia, and purple angelonia in the back.  Growing below is more lime green sweet potato vine, silver licorice plant and white alyssum.  All the angelonias we've planted (including some from the 'Serena' series and some 'Angelface')  have been a disappointment.  They need more heat than we've had so far, though maybe next month they'll be impressive. 

I'm loving the height that the violet-blue 'Evolution' Salvia farinacea brings to the beds.

In the photo above you can see some purple 'Marine' heliotrope, which smells especially nice in the evenings when temple patrons pause in this area to chat as they leave the temple.

In the background of this photo you can see the Liatris spicata blooming its mauve heart out.  When selecting plants for this area, I kept in mind the mauve liatris nearby, and I'm pleased with the way it has all worked together.  Phew!

August 4, 2012

Planning for a Lower Maintenance Garden

The daylilies have been blooming profusely for the past month, which has been gorgeous but has required a lot of work to keep up with the deadheading. I've had an overall lack of time and energy for gardening and blogging lately (this mother-of-four job gets serious during summer break), and that's spurring me to modify my plans for the backyard design. Fewer flowers to deadhead. More low-maintenance shrubs, especially evergreens.

I'm also thinking of how I could remove some of the daylilies in the front yard (I have 60 daylilies out there, for goodness' sake) and plant more evergreen shrubs. Since our winters last six months, I really should have been focusing on plants with winter interest all along. But I needed to get flowers out of my system for a few years and get tired of all the work before I could get serious about winter plants. Of course I'll still have plenty of daylilies in front, including a dozen or more plants of my all time favorite 'Hush Little Baby', shown in the first two photos.

I'll keep a few 'Smoky Mountain Autumn' dayliies as well (above). Also 'Autumn Sunset', 'Francine Joiner', 'Big Smile' and some others. But 'Apricot Sparkles' (which has been a stingy bloomer for me in part shade), 'Dublin Elaine' (too tall and pale) and 'Millie Schlumpf' (too pale) will be given away. As for evergreen shrubs, I'm not planning to add a bunch of boring junipers and aborvitae or pokey spruces and barberries (ouch). But there are lots of new, dwarf, broad-leaf evergreen cultivars available now. I need to do some research on them.

Monrovia has some interesting holly cultivars on their website. I plan to ask the experts at the nearby nursery which evergreens are their favorite. At the temple we have dwarf inkberry holly (Ilex glabra 'Compacta') that aren't pokey and 'Little Rascal' holly shrubs that are pokey. They didn't look great during the harsh winter two years ago, but most winters they look OK.
Above is 'Jolyene Nichole'.

I already have some 'Green Tower' boxwoods (5-7' tall, 1-2' wide) and plan to use a few more in the backyard. 'Green Velvet' boxwoods (2-3' tall/wide) are on my list as well. The local nursery says it is their best-selling shrub, and it can handle shade or sun.
Above is 'Blue Pearl' bellflower (Campanula), which I like much more than floppy 'Blue Clips'.

Azaleas, rhododendrons, pieris and other acid-lovers look sickly in my neighborhood unless they are grown with a soil-acidifying regimen. Since I'm going for lower maintenance, those shrubs are not on my favorites list.
Above is yet another shot of 'Royal Sunset' lilies, which were very pretty this year but required deadheading, ugh.

I'll still have perennials and roses in my backyard garden, lots more of them than sane people grow, but they will be concentrated in focal areas instead of spread everywhere. 'Rozanne' geraniums (above) will have a heavy presence as groundcovers. Serious gardeners have already heard plenty about this plant, but my newbie-gardener friends need to know that this is the Best Plant Ever! It blooms from June to frost without deadheading (hallelujah) and comes back every year. It can grow in sun or shade, though it doesn't like intense heat. Hardy to zone 5. One foot tall and 2-3 feet wide. Love that low-maintenance color.