Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

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.


  1. That ceanothus is a beautiful colour, I've not seen one as dark as that before. It goes so well with bronzy grasses too.

  2. You don't believe in doing things by half do you Alison. You have achieved so much. I hope you don't ache too much or for too long for that matter.
    I love the colours and textures, everything looks so good together. The real eye catcher though is the Ceanothus - it's a wonderful specimen. Good luck with getting through that list, if anyone can achieve all they set out to do, you are the lady that can.

  3. If that Kniphofia doesn't throw up a bunch of spiky blooms -- mine are usually kind of one or two at a time -- I can send you some Vetiver grass to put back next to the wall. Vetiver makes a good tall screen and does not reseed because of our cold winters.

  4. Hey, Alison! Good work! The re-use of the colander is inspired--as is your "save" of the old burgundy pots.

  5. That ceanothus is amazing and what a good idea to use colanders for planting. I shall look out for some next time I go to a flea market. Thanks for joining in again

  6. You have done a lot in your garden and it looks wonderful. I'm really looking forward to the quilt of Sempervivums, I can imaginge how it looks like. Your Ceanothus is doing wonderful, love the colour blue of it.

  7. The EOMV is a very useful exercise if it keeps you disciplined like that. That Ceanothus is earth-shakingly beautiful (and we Californian's know earth-shaking when we feel it)! I've yet to see 'Dark Star' down this way but now find I "need" it, even if I'm not sure where I'd put it. (By the time fall planting season comes around, I'll probably have empty spots galore.) You did a wonderful job with your pots - I'm wondering where I can find an old colander...

  8. Oh my how I love those 'new' orange pots !

  9. Oh my goodness, you have been busy, but it is so worthwhile. It looks wonderful. Your Ceanothus is stunning, what a glorious shade of blue.
    The colander was a real inspiration for the Lewisia as they need perfect drainage.

  10. Great changes all around, especially the orange containers. I'd encourage you to overwinter your senecio, if you find you like the look. It really couldn't be easier. Just cut them off before the first frost, no need to dig. Then whenever you get around to it you can pot them up (it's taken me as long as a month). They barely need any soil or moisture but will eventually root and then can be planted back out in the spring. The bulk up so nicely you'll have more and more over time.

  11. Some nice changes and progress there and those yuccas look good in the orange pot, so is the colander planter :)

  12. Your ceanothus is gorgeous! I love your pot color change. Like you, I like my pots on the cheap. Besides, if it were all too would take away the character. I learned the hard way that my lewisia did not like my soil. Too wet I guess, even on a rock wall. Great idea on using a colander!! This is a great post to track your monthly accomplishments :)

  13. Exciting changes ! I love your orange pots and that Ceanothus is fabulous . I'm being lazy , it's been too hot to move anything this week . I think it's going to rain on Tuesday , so tomorrow I should make my move !

  14. I like the miniature tiger wandering through your gravel...

  15. You've been super busy too! I was gonna give myself, and my back, a break today, but you know how that goes. Everything is looking so nice. And your lawn is perfection.

  16. I'm exhausted by your efforts. As soon as I get rested up, I'm going looking for 'DarkStar'. I killed one, but after seeing this must try again.


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