Monday, May 4, 2015

Juggling Trees and Shrubs -- Part Three

Part Three of Juggling Trees and Shrubs. Read Part One here and Part Two here.

Although I redid the bed in the back garden along the fence just a couple of years ago, I realized last summer that when I redid it, I put full sun perennials in it, mistakenly thinking that the bed got more sun than it really does. Last fall, I bought a few plants that were more appropriate to the back garden's semi-shade, planning to redo it then, but ran out of energy and interest. The end of gardening season, after the first frost, often makes me depressed and lethargic. I used to associate that depression with the oncoming holiday season, but Loree at Danger Garden pointed out that it also coincides with the end of the gardening season, a brilliant insight that had never occurred to me before.

Anyway, I finally took a stab at pulling out all those full sun perennials -- Echinacea, Liatris, Coreopsis, Penstemon, Veronicastrum, Aster -- that did nothing but grow tall and weak and then flop all over each other. When they flopped, they also covered up the four Cardiocrinums growing in that bed. I realized that I wanted to make the Cardiocrinums and Meconopsis, which are growing well there and are much better suited to the semi-shady conditions, the focus of that bed. And I decided to augment them by buying more, which I did this spring. Those sun-lovers will be much happier in the front garden, in the same bed with the new Magnolia macrophylla, written about here in this recent post. The bed also had a tall vine maple (one of three growing in my garden), too close to the front and superfluous. Out it came.

I fell in love with the fall colors of Hydrangea flowers last fall, and realized that Hydrangeas would make a much better backdrop companion for those shade-liking perennials. The bed was also home to one of my three vine maples, and so I decided to take that out too, and replace it with a smaller 'Forest Pansy' Redbud (smaller than the very tall one growing in my front garden). Smaller is good in this case, because it will put the Redbud's dark purple leaves and bright pink flowers right at eye level.

Space cleared out behind the Cardiocrinums

To make even more space, I decided to thin out the enormous clump of limbs on the native Filbert (Corylus) in that bed, one of the few shrubs that remains from the previous owners (the squirrels love it).

Limbed-up native Filbert/Corylus

'Forest Pansy' Redbud, Veratrum nigrum and Hydrangea 'Blue Cassel' waiting to be placed

Hydrangea 'Cityline Paris,' Hydrangea 'Endless Summer,' Stachyurus praecox 'Magpie' and Pernettya rubra waiting to be placed in the bed

Perennials in waiting -- Meconopsis 'Lingholm,' Veratrum californicum, two Cardicrinum giganteum, Aconitum cammarum 'Stainless Steel,' and Aconitum 'Tall Blue'

'Forest Pansy' foliage

A pile of Corylus limbs waiting to be cut up and put in the yard waste bin

That same pile a couple of days later, after going at it with bypass pruners, loppers and a bow saw

Think the yard waste bin is full?

You bet it is!

The bed has also been slowly filling up with Mahonia nervosa, probably bird-planted. I pulled out several of those as well, and potted them up.

Mahonia nervosa in a variety of sizes, dug from the bed to make more room

The After photo, with the spaces filled

Pernettya rubra

'Forest Pansy' Redbud and Hydrangea Cityline Paris

The spindly branches of Hydrangea aspera 'Plum Passion,' moved from a bed in the front garden and replanted under the Filbert, with Hydrangea 'Pistachio' in front

Stachyurus praecox 'Magpie,' given a large space, because according to what I've read online, it could get 8 to 12 feet high and wide

Two newly planted Meconopsis 'Lingholm' with the beginning bloom stalk of a Cardicrinum

More newly planted Meconopsis 'Lingholm'

'Lingholm' has the coolest orange hairs all over the leaves

The native vine maple that came out to make room for the redbud is now living in a pot, and not the happiest camper

It has lovely pleated leaves, but is looking decidedly droopy

An area of that bed just a little further to the left is in need of a makeover too, but one thing at a time (actually with me, it's never one thing at a time, it's all the things all the time).

I'd like to move those lady ferns into deeper shade, and pull out the Panicum, Aster 'Prince,' daylily and Tradescantia that would probably prefer more sun

This little gravel path that goes up into the deep shade of the northeast corner of the garden needs to be reclaimed from the Corydalis lutea, Dicentra formosa, Allium cernuum, and Sisyrinchium californicum that are taking over

And now, that's it for big makeovers this spring. Although the rest of that bed that runs along the back fence could use re-doing as well, I think I'm going to leave that for the fall. I'm finally starting to run out of steam (as well as places to put some of the plants).

Saturday, May 2, 2015

End of the Month View -- April 2015

There's a good reason my End of the Month View post is late. I've been so focused on reworking so many other areas of the garden (See Parts One and Two of Juggling Trees and Shrubs here and here), that redoing the Gravel Garden, which is the focus of my EoMV posts, has gotten short shrift. If I hadn't waited, I would have had very little to show you, because I didn't get much work done on it till Thursday and Friday.

About all I accomplished in the early part of April was to dig out several large clumps of Nepeta 'Walker's Low,' divide them up and ship them off to a good home, to Frances of the blog Fairegarden, in Tennessee. Frances recently moved to a new home and is working to build an entirely new garden, an endeavor I'm quite familiar with, having moved here to Washington 6 years ago from a home we lived and gardened in for 25+ years.

The space on the right, now the home of one of my small Yucca rostrata, used to have a Nepeta 'Walker's Low' planted there

I'm planning to put a "quilt" of Sempervivums in the gravel around the Yucca rostrata, Trachycarpus and Ceanothus, to keep the weeds out as much as possible. I dug up a few clumps already and separated them, pulling off all the old dead leaves from the rosettes and sorting them into piles. I need to get them back into the ground ASAP, but they'll probably be ok for a while.

A variety of Sempervivum, dug up and sorted, waiting to be replanted as a "quilt" under the Trachycarpus and Yucca rostrata

I spent a good 6 hours on Thursday out in the Gravel Garden, digging and moving and re-arranging. I moved the grasses that were in the front of the bed into the back, and planted some of my newest acquisitions in their place.

The front of the gravel garden is no longer the home of various grasses, but rather a more sparse and simple look -- Agaves, Opuntia, Beschorneria and black mondo grass

Agave parryi 'J.C. Raulston,' dug out of one of the culvert planters and rehomed in the soil, with a companion Pulsatilla vulgaris

Opuntia, Beschorneria and a golden Sedum (possibly 'Angelina' but it doesn't resemble my other clumps of that)

Agave bracteosa, Opuntia and black mondo grass

The two nicely sized up Opuntia plants were a gift a few years ago from Loree of Danger Garden. I had originally planted them in the stock tank at the back of the bed with a Tetrapanax, but they've now survived 3 winters and have gotten nicely larger, so I'm trying them down in the soil.

I dug out a clump of Northern sea oats and one of my Yucca 'Bright Star' from this space, and filled it with a second Yucca rostrata

On Thursday I also dug up and transplanted my Grevillea 'Marshall Olbricht.' It was being terribly crowded by the Ceanothus 'Dark Star.' At the same time I moved the Kniphofia caulescens that was hidden under the Ceanothus farther to the right, so it's now out in the open and getting plenty of sunlight. (Oh, my aching back!)

I'm sure the Grevillea will be happier in its new uncrowded spot, but now of course there is no tall plant there to act as a screen

Perhaps the Kniphofia caulescens on the right next to the stock tank will now bulk up and provide lots of tall flowers.

Kniphofia caulescens surrounded by Stipa tenuissima and Carex testacea against the concrete block wall

I intend to plant some Agave americana pups between the clumps of Stipa  and some Senecio mandraliscae (as an annual) amongst the Carex. The Agaves will grow in the ground just for the summer, and then I'll dig them up again and overwinter them in the greenhouse, because they haven't proved hardy here. The blue of the Senecio will work well with the orange grass. They're readily available every spring, so if that combo works, I'll just toss them at the end of the season and buy them new again next year.

Mexican feather grass and Kniphofia caulescens

The orange Carex with the beautiful blue of Ceanothus 'Dark Star, and on the left, the scrambling Geranium 'Anne Folkard'

At first I thought I might get rid of the grasses, but it occurred to me that they might make an effective barrier against the weed seeds that blow into the bed from my neighbor's yard, plus my neighbor's cats love playing in them.

My neighbor's ginger cat, exploring the Gravel Garden, on his way to get a good sniff of the Nepeta, and to scamper in the grasses

On Thursday I also dug up all three of my 'Bright Star' Yuccas, intending to pot them up as an attempt to stave off the fungus that causes Yuccacne. I'm hoping maybe if I keep them dry under the roof of my front porch, it will help. But for that I needed 3 orange pots. I saw a Yucca "Bright Star' in an orange pot at the Portland Yard, Garden and Patio Show, and loved it. I decided to reuse 3 old fiberglass pots, but because they were a faded burgundy color, I would have to have a go at spray-painting them. I washed, scrubbed and sand-papered them, and then out came the orange spray paint!

Old pots, washed up in more ways than one

"New" old orange pots -- not perfect, but they'll do for now
Replanted Yucca 'Bright Star,' which I hope will save it from the Yuccacne fungus that spoils its beautiful strappy leaves

I have a wide variety of pots, some fiberglass, some plastic, some ceramic. Some frost-proof, some not. Some were expensive, but most were quite cheap -- thrift store finds, in fact. Like me, there's not a lot of style to them. But they do the job.

A recent thrift store purchase -- a nice, heavy, footed pot for only $10.99

Lewisia in a colander, still blooming like mad

While weeding the Gravel Garden, I discovered a Lewisia that I planted there a few years ago. I thought they had all died on me, but one remained, so I dug it up and intend to pot it in another old colander, which has proved ideal for my other Lewisia.

Lewisia waiting to be potted

My goals for the month of April, as set forth in my last EoMV post, were:

1. Remove the Grevillea and replant it elsewhere -- Done
2. Finish weeding and cutting back -- Mostly done
3. Dig and pot up the two blemished Yucca 'Bright Star' -- All three done

Gravel Garden goals for May:

1. Plant Sempervivum quilt
2. Plant Agave americana between Mexican feather grass
3. Plant Senecio mandraliscae amongst Carex testacea
4. Start work on revamping the plants in the remainder of the Gravel Garden

The End of the Month View meme is hosted by Helen at The Patient Gardener's Weblog. You can read her current post here, and check out the links in the comments from other gardeners around the world who are sharing what's new in their gardens.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Juggling Trees and Shrubs -- Part Two

And now for Part Two of the Tale of Juggling Trees and Shrubs. Read Part One here, in which I transplant a Hinoki cypress from one part of my garden to another in order to make room for a Magnolia macrophylla and a Japanese maple.

I've also been hankering for a Stewartia pseudocamellia, a tree with beautiful white Camellia-like flowers and peeling bark that would be at home in a part shade spot in the back garden. In order to plant it, I needed to take out the smaller of my two Indian plum trees. Oemleria cerasiformis is a wonderful Pacific Northwest native small tree, one of the first to flower in late winter, but not only do I already have a larger one growing in a different bed, but my neighbor has an even bigger one just on the other side of my fence, so we don't really need three in the immediate vicinity.

On a recent visit to Bellevue Nursery, I found a very nice 5 1/2-foot tall Stewartia (Hooray for yet another 20% off coupon), but to get it into position (with Nigel's help and a hand trolley), I was going to have to temporarily remove some shrubs -- a Viburnum trilobum 'Red Wing,' a native Euonymus atropurpureus, and a Hamamelis 'Jelena.'

So, one recent weekend I did a lot of digging and then Nigel helped me wrestle the new tree into place behind the stream. Although it's over 5 feet tall, it looks small next to the enormous Douglas firs that tower over my garden.

It's got plenty of room to grow upwards!
The slender trunk is already showing signs of the lovely peeling bark that Stewartia is known for

Stewartia flowers -- it's loaded with buds, which hopefully will open soon

The current lineup behind the stream (l-r): Hamamelis 'Jelena,' Stewartia pseudocamellia, Myrica californica (Pacific Wax Myrtle) and Leycesteria formosa (Himalayan Honeysuckle, hard to see, hiding behind the Myrica)

Myrica californica was one of the first trees I planted here, in the hopes that it would provide screening from neighbors' blue tarp-laden yards. It's much bigger than it was when first planted, but it still hasn't topped the height of the fence. I saw one last year at the Elisabeth C. Miller Garden in North Seattle, and theirs was huge, so I have high hopes for the future. According to what I've read online, it should eventually reach a height of 20-30 feet.

Myrica californica and Leycesteria formosa

Since I had a blank slate there for a short time, I decided to take the opportunity to re-arrange the perennials that were growing beside the stream. I haven't been happy with the tall grasses that I planted too close to the water, because in the shady spot they had a tendency to flop and droop their blades and inflorescences into the water. They also very quickly became much too crowded. So I dug out everything, found a new home for some of the grasses, and then replanted the Primula 'Bellarina,' Carex 'Ice Dance,' and Euphorbia. I also planted several large healthy clumps of a nice Epimedium that I love, which used to live in the front shade bed, but got removed when I replanted that bed recently. Now it's much tidier and I'm much happier.

But I did end up with some shrubs that I now don't quite know what to do with.

Viburnum trilobum 'Red Wing' has now gone begging for a home in another bed. Somewhere.

I love its reddish new growth, so I really need to find a spot for it

The Euonymus atropurpureus, aka Eastern wahoo, has yet to show me the cool blooms that made me want it in the garden.

Indian Plum, removed to make room for the Stewartia, is looking a bit bedraggled. I'll probably give it away on craigslist.

Stay tuned for Part Three, in which I remove one tree to make room for another. Again.