December 4, 2012

Fall Pansies and Kale

Here are a few photos of the fall annual plantings at the Spokane LDS Temple.  Our director, Marilyn, put them together and I think the soft orange, warm plum and frothy mauve worked really well.

I've been taking a break from blogging for the past few weeks while my garden is going to sleep for the winter.  It has been nice to have more time for other projects.  I'll probably try to post once a month through the winter before picking up again in the spring.

One project that's been getting a lot of my creative energy is our living room remodel.  We removed a gas fireplace and added another window as well as updating most of the furniture and moving everything around.  Even though this is a garden blog, I'll probably post photos of the remodel when we finally finish everything.

My husband and son took care of most of the fall garden cleanup.  It was wonderful!  Now the evergreens and stones are keeping some structure going and it doesn't look too bad out there.

Even though I am looking forward to getting past the shortest days of the year and reaching next year's gardening season, it's nice to have a break from garden chores for a while.  Happy holidays to everyone!

October 24, 2012

Fall Planting for Spring Surprises

Fall planting in my garden is finally finished after getting several hundred bulbs and a few bareroot perennials in the ground.  Now there's just all the fall cleanup to do - cutting back dead perennials and cleaning leaves out of the garden.  Most of the color is gone from the garden, but the little lavender fall Crocus speciosus are still blooming in the front yard (above). 

I planted fifty 'White Splendor' Anemone blanda around the trees and roses in the front yard.  Last fall I planted some but forgot to soak them first, and none came up in the spring.  This year I dutifully covered them with lukewarm water and let them plump up overnight before planting.  Before soaking they looked like dried doggy poo.  After soaking they looked like fresh doggy poo (above).

I also added more crocus:  early yellow 'Golden Bunch' and later violet 'Grande Maitre', above.  Newly planted tulips include more 'Salmon Impression', more pale yellow 'Jaap Groot', and white 'Maureen' which blooms at the very end of tulip season.  One hundred more of my favorite 'Tete a Tete' mini daffodils came from John Scheepers, and I really should have taken a photo of the giant bulb clusters.  Many of the bulbs were 4-nosed, meaning four bulbs were hooked together at the base to be counted as one bulb.  Wow!  That will make a lot of flowers in the spring.  In past years I have planted bulbs in clusters around the yard, but this year I tried to extend the clusters into sinuous lines.  We'll see how it works when they come up in spring. 

I found a place in the front yard for another 'Coral Supreme' peony (above) from Swenson Gardens to match the other two.  This new one will take a few years to catch up to the others, which should bloom heavily next spring since it will be their third year in the ground (in their first year peonies sleep, in the second they creep, and in their third they leap).  I also added a third 'Capital Red' tree peony from Cricket Hill Garden in the backyard.  This spring one of the tree peonies I planted last fall died back at the end of the main stem and looked like it was completely dead.  Cricket Hill was ready to send me a replacement (great customer service!), but then the peony leafed out from lower on the stem and started growing happily.    

After trying twice before to order 'Heartbeat' super poppies (Papaver) and having the nursery run out before filling my order, I finally received four poppy roots from White Flower Farm this fall.  I had only ordered three, so I'm not sure if the extra one tucked in there was a mistake or if one of them was too small to count.  No complaints, though!  I've been excited for a long time to see how these burgundy, twice-blooming poppies do in my garden.  I love the orange-red poppies in other gardens but don't want that color in my scheme, so I'm happy to find what I think will be the perfect shade.    

October 9, 2012

A Good Review for the Spokane Temple Grounds

Last month we had a review of the Spokane Temple grounds by leaders from the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, UT.  The church has high standards for the upkeep of temples and checks regularly to make sure each of them are in good order.  I was happy (and relieved) to hear that the leaders were very pleased with the beauty of the temple grounds here in Spokane.

Apparently most smaller temples like ours have mostly green landscaping with just a few small flower beds.  At the Spokane Temple we have many areas for perennial and annual flowers.  This creates more work for volunteers, but it is a labor of love and makes a beautiful display for the many visitors.  These first two photos show annual flowers outside the front gates in July, including 'Blackie' sweet potato vine, 'Opera Lilac Supreme' petunias, 'Zaraha Double Cherry' zinnias, 'Evolution' salvia, 'Serena Blue' angelonia, dusty miller and sweet alyssum.

Marilyn is the landscaping director at the temple, and she does an amazing job of organizing volunteer groups from all the congregations in the area.  Thousands of hours of work have been contributed this year by church members to pull weeds, deadhead flowers, spread bark, rake leaves, trim groundcover, plant bulbs and perennials, water, and do anything else that needs to be done.  The photo above shows the lavender flowers of perennial 'Rozanne' geranium with the striped foliage of Iris pallida variegata.

I moved to this area five years ago, just as the temple grounds were being relandscaped.  I was asked to serve on the landscaping committee the next year and was sad to see that the new plants were still small enough that the grounds looked very sparse.  This year the groundcovers and shrubs were finally large enough enough to look full and lush.  Of course the trees need a few more years (decades?) to look really good, especially since we had to replant fifteen trees this spring.  The photo above shows 'Blue Gown' campanula with 'Hummingbird' clethra.

It has been great to watch the temple grounds mature and become more beautiful over the past few years.  One of our big considerations on the landscaping committee is making the grounds photo-friendly for weddings.  Unfortunately that has not been the case at the Spokane temple, but I think it will become better for photos as the shrubs and trees continue to fill out to make better backdrops. 
In the next month we'll be working to get 5,000 spring-flowering bulbs planted at the temple.  Marilyn asked me to plan the bulbs this year, which has been great fun.  One of my main goals was getting more flowers earlier in the spring, so we'll be planting hundreds of crocus that will start blooming in February.  The entrances will feature fancy tulips and fragrant hyacinths in bold colors to celebrate spring.  I also included several hundred of my favorite mini-daffodils ('Tete-a-Tete').  English bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) and windflowers (Anemone blanda) will be new additions to the show.  I'll be sure to post photos in the spring.  Above are 'Wave' petunias in pink, white, and bicolor.     

September 26, 2012

Colchicum cilicicum Might Be My Favorite

Of the four types of Colchicum blooming in my garden right now, Colchicum cilicicum might be my favorite.  Its color is more vivid than the others (including 'Giant', 'Waterlily' and what I'm guessing is C. byzantinum), and it has multiplied amazingly well since I planted it last year.  Of course our cool, wet, long spring was perfect weather for most bulbs to increase this year. 

The bulbs in my garden have sent out up to 6 or 7 flowers each.  They look best in a large grouping where you don't notice the lack of leaves so much.  The tulip-like leaves grew in spring and died back by midsummer.  When planting colchicums, it's easy to think only of the flowers and forget that the large clumps of leaves will grow in that spot next spring.

The flowers are mostly white when they first poke through the ground and become more colorful as they mature.  Bees like them, and so do my neighbors.  These bulbs aren't as commonly available as the spring bulbs that are filling the garden centers right now.  I've ordered colchicums from White Flower Farm and from Brent and Becky's Bulbs

I posted about C. cilicicum bulbs here last fall (including photos of the leaves), but these photos are better.  Colchicums last well as cut flowers, though C. cilicicum would only work in a small bouquet because of its short stems.


Colchicums are one of the few plants that are best transplanted while in bloom.  I moved these three bulbs this week and look forward to bunches more blooming here next fall.

September 7, 2012

The Last Lily of Summer

Lilium speciosum var. rubrum is blooming for the first time in my garden right now.  This is by far the last true lily to bloom, as the Asiatics bloomed in June and the Orientals followed in July. 

It is very fragrant.  I keep expecting it to smelly spicy like Oriental 'Stargazer' lilies, since the coloring reminds me of that cultivar, but the scent is sweeter than that.  More like a bearded iris.  Very yummy!

Although they can grow to 5 feet tall, mine are under 3 feet right now.  The bulbs probably need a few years to reach full size, and this part of the garden needs more compost to help the plants along. 

The blooms are so graceful.  I used to dismiss the downward-facing lilies, but they're definitely growing on me. 

I also have a few of the white version, Lilium speciosum var alba.  The petals on this flower aren't as recurved as the others yet, but I expect they'll keep reaching backward.  I'm very happy to have these new additions to the late summer garden.

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!