July 31, 2013
Last evening I made it over to the Spokane LDS Temple to take some photos of the annual flower beds in soft evening light. Some of the beds are looking full and pretty, but others are not at their best due to watering challenges and deer. Earlier this week several of us spent a morning assessing each of the thirty-nine watering zones and making many adjustments that should resolve the problems with dry spots, phew. These photos all show the beds near the entrance of the temple on the west side.
As a kid I loved to spend time organizing my crayon box in different ways. Now I get to do that with the annual flowers. I consider texture, form and height when designing, but color is really what most of us notice, right? The permanent groundcovers and perennials in this area bloom in mauve and blue-violet, so I include those colors in the annual flower scheme to tie everything together. How nice that mauve and blue-violet happen to be some of my favorite colors in the garden, especially when a punch of chartreuse, a deep note of plum and some ethereal white are added to the mix.
The plants shown in this photo are: mauve 'Sugar Daddy' petunias, 'Compact Pink Innocence' nemesia, 'Evolution White' salvia, 'Wasabi' coleus, 'Diamont Frost' euphorbia, 'Kent Beauty' oregano, violet 'Marine' heliotrope, '3D Purple' osteospermum, mauve 'Senorita Rosalita' cleome, and tall perennial Liatris spicata in the background.
I wasn't sure if the 'Wasabi' coleus would grow well in this mostly sunny area, but its leaves look healthy despite the warmer than normal temperatures we've had in the last month. Chartreuse leaves make such a nice foil for the other flowers. Thank goodness Marilyn - the landscape director - thought to add some extra drip lines to these beds, since we've often struggled with getting enough water to this area in past years.
In this shot you can see a few violet 'Evolution' salvia spikes. Somehow violet salvia was planted on the north side of the entrance and white salvia was planted on the south side. It's just hard to keep it all straight on planting day with hundreds of plants and dozens of volunteers. It will be most obvious in September, when the salvia are at their peak, but even then I doubt many people will notice. At this point it doesn't seem wise to try to switch a few plants to even things out, since that would rip apart their established root systems and really stress them out in the heat.
The plum '3D Purple' osteospermum daisies were a new plant for us this year, and they've performed very well. They keep blooming even without diligent deadheading. Last year we were very impressed with the long blooming time and minimal deadheading of 'Opal Innocence' nemesia. This year I chose to use 'Compact Pink Innocence' nemesia because of its more vivid color and have been just as happy with this low maintenance, fluffly filler plant.
Last year (click here to see photos) we had grey licorice plant (Helichrysum) in this bed, and in general the flowers were paler. But I realized that since these beds are surrounded by grey concrete and white temple walls, we should use flowers with stronger colors. I'm happy with the changes that make the area more vibrant this year.
This photo shows several tall mauve 'Senorita Rosalita' cleome that have been a favorite with visitors. I guess older versions of cleome had an unpleasant smell and became sticky as they bloomed, but 'SR' doesn't have any of those drawbacks. It's a sturdy, deer-resistant, vigorous plant.
This final shot shows part of the bed just outside the front gate. In years past, we've planted this whole area with petunias and the deer have stayed away. This year they've been eating all the petunias and verbena except for these ones that are planted right around a light post. Sigh. Next year I'll switch over to more deer resistant annuals in this area. I'm already making lists of what to plant next year so we can turn in the order to our grower in January, plant a few thousand more annuals next May, and post more photos on this blog next July.
July 26, 2013
Six 'Little Lime' hydrangeas are living up to their name right now in my backyard. They're covered with loads of creamy lime flowers that make a serene backdrop for fluffy soft pink-flowering cranesbill geraniums. Or they will once the tiny divisions of geraniums fill in. I'm also planning to place some clusters of yellow foxglove (Digitalis grandiflora) in front.
I have one 'Limelight' hydrangea in my yard and love it, but I didn't have room for any more of those with their 6-8' height and width. 'Little Lime' looks just like 'Limelight' but with a mature size of 3-5' tall and wide. The flowers are nice for cutting.
Hydrangea paniculata hybrids like these are super hardy - down to zone 3 - and 'Limelight' bloomed for me even in the last two years when we had really cold springs and my mophead hydrangeas (Startless Summer, LOL) didn't produce any flowers. I expect 'Little Lime' will do the same.
'Little Lime' is supposed to be as easy to grow as 'Limelight', requiring only minimal pruning in the spring to remove old flower clusters. 'Limelight' has managed to survive some periods with little water, though it didn't put on very much growth during those times. It is listed as having average water needs. These hydrangeas are definitely not as easily wilted as the mopheads (H. macrophylla).
I'll have to post more photos in the fall when the flowers have turned cream, then rose, then burgundy. It seems like the leaves of 'Limelight' also turned burgundy in fall. These shrubs are sturdy additions to the garden that bloom from mid to late summer and into fall without a lot of fuss.
Added July 27, 2013 - My 'Limelight' hydrangea has started blooming and its flowers are more creamy than 'Little Lime.' I had assumed that the two shrubs were the same except for size, but it seems the flower color differs as well.
July 18, 2013
I've been amassing Veronica (speedwell) hybrids lately. Their spiky form is wonderful in bouquets with English roses and Astrantia (masterwort), which is my other favorite flower lately. Here is a roundup of the different types I have so far, most of which are still small because they're newly planted or recently cut into pieces and replanted. Above is 'Sunny Border Blue', which grows to 2' tall and a little over 1' wide. The color is a little more blue than this photo shows, though not as true blue as the catalogs show.
Here is 'Royal Candles', which stays a little shorter at 1.5' tall and 16" wide. The flowers are bluer than my photo - it's hard to get true blues or reds just right in photos, it seems. These spikes are almost done blooming, and you can see that they started at the bottom and progressed to the top flowers opening. I like them best when the bottom half is open and the top is still in bud.
This is bubblegum pink 'Giles Van Hees', which supposedly grows to 6" tall and 1' wide but is obviously a little taller than that. In my garden most of these Veronicas bloom in July, which is nice because by that time the big rush of June bloomers has finished and the garden needs some color.
Above is 'Minuet', which is an icy pink with silvery foliage. It grows to 15" tall and 1' wide. Veronicas can handle light shade, sandy or clay soil, and they're supposed to be rabbit resistant. They also attract hummingbirds.
'Red Fox' is the deepest pink Veronica in my garden. It's described as red but I wouldn't call it that. This one is also 15" tall and about 1' wide. The color stands up well to the blazing midsummer sun.
Here is what I think is 'Eveline' (20" tall and 1' wide). I picked it up at Home Depot a couple of years ago without a tag, but HD is carrying Veronicas that look just like this right now and they're tagged as 'Eveline'. In my garden this one went nuts reseeding. It has been fun to share seedlings with friends - they seem to come true - but I'm going to be careful to deadhead this year to avoid so many babies. I'm not sure if all my Veronicas will be so generous (annoying?) with their seedlings. Hopefully not, since the others are V. spicata hybrids and this one is V. longifolia.
The newest Veronica in my garden is 'Icicle', which grows to 26" tall and 1' wide. It's still very small but should be full size by next summer. This is not the best photo, but lately I've been spending so much time watering, pulling weeds and deadheading that I haven't spent much time with my camera.
Maybe someone can help me identify this last Veronica. It's a sweet, light true blue and blooms earlier than the other ones. The spikes are looser and the individual flowers are larger than my other types. I think it must be a Veronica teucrium, but the color doesn't look as dark as the photos of V. teucrium 'Crater Lake Blue' or 'Royal Blue' that I've seen online. It has grown vigorously in sun or shade and looks really nice next to the chartreuse flowers of lady's mantle.
July 6, 2013
I was excited to read about the 'Tuff Stuff' lacecap hydrangea (from Proven Winners) because it's billed as being hardy enough to bloom even where winters are really cold. The last few years have proven my 'Endless Summer' mophead hydrangeas to be 'Startless Summer' duds, with no blooms at all last year and only one bloom the year before from all five of my plants. We did have a very cold spring both years - even June was chilly - so they didn't get a good start on growing before the season ended with early fall frosts. I've moved them into more sun and will give them another year or two to shine before I throw them out.
Anyway, I snatched up the first Tuff Stuff hydrangea I saw at Gibson's Nursery a month or two ago. It's a beauty. The photo above shows one of the lacecap clusters just beginning to bloom. The outer flowers start out lime green before maturing to a deep bubblegum pink in our slightly alkaline soil. In acid soil the flowers will shift toward lavender. I'm not sure if they'll go all the way to blue in very acidic soil or not.
Here are a couple more shots from a few weeks ago. Like other reblooming hydrangeas, this shrub will bloom on new growth as well as old. But it's also supposed to have improved bud and stem hardiness so it's more likely that old growth will survive cold zone 5 winters (instead of dying back to the ground like my other mophead hydrangeas) to produce early flowers the next season. I'll have to report on how that goes next year.
I was so enchanted by this shrub that I bought two more last week. That makes a total of 27 hydrangeas in my backyard. They're obviously a favorite, though I have lots of favorite plants. This hydrangea stays compact at 2 to 3 feet tall and wide, so it's easy to fit a few into the garden.
Here is a shot from this week. These next few were taking in morning shade so the light is cooler than the photos from a few weeks ago that were taken in warm evening light.
Super pretty. It's not likely that this hydrangea will bloom as early next year as it did coming from a nursery greenhouse this spring, but if it looks like this by August or September of next summer, I'll be satisfied.
Here is what a bloom cluster looks like when the tiny center flowers have all opened. In cool weather the leaves turn maroon, though I don't have photos of that yet. In hot weather - like the mid-90's temperatures we had early this week - this shrub needs lots of water to stay healthy and will still look wilted during the afternoon if the sun reaches it then.
Here's a final photo of Tuff Stuff. I really hope it lives up to its name to become a solid performer in the garden. I'll be posting on my other new hydrangeas (Invincibelle Spirit, Little Lime and Big Easy) soon.