Although when I began my gardens I was only thinking of the grand perennials called main event flowers, I soon realized it took more to make a real garden. Shrubs have made a great addition, adding height, fullness and color. A huge advantage is the easy care. Nandina rarely requires any attention at all. Azaleas require none. Lilacs might be pruned once a year but we know they go on and on for generations with no care at all. Hydrangeas, camelias, red twig dogwood, and viburnum are more great looking plants that require little to no effort. Let them go a few years and they are fine. Or you may like to tidy them up once a year, or cut the flowers to bring indoors. There are of course others, but these have won a place in my gardens due to their color, longevity, and flowers.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Two years ago a gardening friend Jen gave me these iris. I have never been a fan of iris, and they require replanting every few years so I thought them not worth the work. However, I love the the wide bluegreen blades o the foliage. So I decided to try more, and these are exceptional. The purple in the falls blends with the other purples blooming now and the tall flower stalks are justly regal. They are impressive during this short bloom time, then I will have the foliage as a foil to other colors and textures through the year.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
On Saturday I saw peony plants for sale in a local nursery for the first time ever. Costco usually has bare roots that need several years growth to flower, but peonies have not been a plant of preference here. I really do not know why. Perhaps because we are called zone 9, and perhaps because most of our local nursery people are Puerto Rican, we get a lot more tropical type plants which do not take to our sloppy cold winters. SoCal is where you get your real zone 9. But now Monrovia has taken to growing and selling the old time plants like lilac and peony. Good!
So peonies are blooming! The key to growing peonies is to get the eyes (those little pink shoots at the top of the roots) situated correctly in the soil. Peonies need chill, and while we have enough for them to grow, the eyes need to be very shallow, even sitting at the surface, to grow well here. As perennials, peonies shoot up dramatically in the spring. The buds come up with the peonies, they flower at various times, all in April and May here, and then sit all summer with rich green foliage, and then die back in the fall, again at varying times. The dead foliage needs to be trashed, not composted. While peonies are lovely here, they really come into their own in cold climates with shorter growing periods. In Alaska, Denise has peonies blooming nearly all summer by planting early, mid and late blooming varieties. Her lilacs do the same. I am just happy enough to have some, even though my main plant is pink. My new species plant that Rob and Candace gave me last year does not have flowers this year. I am not sure if it is just settling in or if it actually needs more cold. We will see as time goes by.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
This is my herb and lettuces garden, right outside the back door. Maybe you can tell I often step out for a piece of aloe for my hands. I have veggies and herbs in various places but it is nice to have these right outside to step out and snip a bit for meals. What's growing right now? Across the bench, aloe, seasoning celery, parsley, cilantro, and then a pelargonium for color. At the end, lemon verbena, rosemary and potatoes. Coming back along the ground, two kinds of chives, spinach and several kinds of lettuce. Time to get some basil going!
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Paving still to come.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
I wandered outside this morning and found a dozen or so snails trailing over the tops of plants. I stomped those and spread more snail bait. These gorgeous spring mornings are as welcome to the snails as they are to us! : ) I use safer snail bait, the iron phosphate stuff, primarily because with all my allergy and coughing the last thing I want is poison dust in my lungs. Another benefit is the snails do not die immediately so you do not get gross piles of dead snails as you do with the other snail poison.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
P Allen Smith at Home which has been picked up by our local PBS station. Then, inspiration struck! What a great creative compromise! I have always wanted to fence in the back garden, thinking it would look better and make more sense in the yard if it were contained. Jerry on the other hand loves wide open spaces and has absolutely not wanted any fences inside the yard. Today I very suddenly thought of using the pile of what used to be concrete edging to make an enclosure, or at least the idea of such. I have 'ruins' made from the same concrete in the side yard, so the theme is continued. I love this! It reminds me of books where the characters stumble into some old ruined cottage remains and find the decades old garden still growing. I will feel terrible tomorrow I am sure, as it was hard work, but so worth it.