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

Sunday, May 31, 2015

End of the Month View -- May 2015

Goodness, I almost typed June into the header, which is an indication of how warm our weather is right now at the end of May. Although to be really accurate for the PNW, it's been more like July -- hot and dry. It's an aphorism here that the rain stops exactly every year on the day after Independence Day -- July 5. For my 6 years of experience that's been weirdly accurate. When it starts up again in the fall is anyone's guess, but in a normal year we get rain until early July, and then it stops for at least 2 months.

This has been anything but a normal year, for many communities around the globe. Flooding in Texas, rain in late spring in California, murderous heat in India. Scary. I can only hope things even out, and return to a new (perhaps not completely altered beyond recognition) normal.

I've got changes going on in the gravel garden too, which is the focus of my EoMV posts this year, although the intensity of the work there has tapered off from the frenzy at the beginning of the month.

Here is my list of gravel garden goals for the month of May. I only accomplished one of them.

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

In retrospect I'm not surprised I didn't get as far as I wanted, because I took a week or more off from tending the garden to go on vacation in Southern California. I needed the week before the trip to pot up plants, completely empty the greenhouse and pot up my tomatoes out there (since those were the only plants the pet-sitter was tasked with watering). And when I got back from my vacation, I needed another vacation to recuperate from vacation! My tomatoes got huge while I was away, I would bet that they doubled in size in about a week. I should do a post about the greenhouse, it's been a while.

The only goal that I accomplished is number 4 on the list, and that one only partly. I managed to rework another area of the gravel garden, but not all of it. I didn't start on my Sempervivum quilt, or plant the Agave americana, or the Senecio. So those chores will stay on the list for June.

Looking down through the center of the Gravel Garden

The plants in the area that I reworked back in April are settling in, at least the Opuntia at the front are doing well

The two Opuntias haven't skipped a beat, in fact, in producing new pads

One has a new pad coming from its belly, at one of the dimples where there is usually nothing but spines and glochids

The grasses that I moved to the back of the bed to buffer the garden from the neighbor's weedy patch are looking rather grim

When I part the grass strands, though, it does look like the Carex testacea is still alive, there is plenty of green

New green strands on the Mexican feather grass too

Kniphofia caulescens has crisped up considerably

It looks much better after a ruthless trimming

I had hoped that spring rains would help to settle these plants in, but we haven't had any spring rains, at least not our usual. I transplanted more grasses in another area of the Gravel Garden, and so far those seem to be doing better. With those, I actually soaked their root balls for a week in water, and then transplanted, and they seem to have responded better to that treatment.

The line of grasses behind the Styrax japonica -- Carex testacea and Mexican feather grass -- were transplanted a couple of weeks ago

Stipa gigantea behind, Carex testacea in front

The Styrax is flowering

Newly planted in the gravel garden -- variegated Opuntia, Agave 'Mateo,' and Hesperaloe

I should transplant my Libertia peregrinans to other spots in the Gravel garden, this started out as one small 4-inch pot's worth

A recently transplanted clump of Calamagrostis is hiding behind the huge clump of Euphorbia, where one of my fungally challenged Yucca 'Bright Star' used to be

I brought my succulent pots out of the greenhouse to their places on top of the gabions

The Echevaria is blooming

I've got rebloom on the Lewisia in the colander too

And I found tiny pink flowers on the tip of one of the burro's tail Sedums in a succulent pot

Ceanothus 'Dark Star' is not a patch on its vibrant April self, when it was full of dark blue flowers, it's Dullsville now

But the 'Ann Folkard' Geranium at its feet is flowering now

I always set out tender dry-loving plants in pots on the gravel near the Gravel Garden -- a selection of Aloes, Agaves, Puyas, and Echevarias, which you can see in the photo below. But they need organizing, since I simply brought them out of the greenhouse and dumped them willy nilly. My plan is to repot the Agave 'Blue Glow' into that empty larger container in front. Will I get that accomplished this year, before it's time to put 'Blue Glow' back in the greenhouse? Who knows?

A couple of days ago I received fall bulb catalogs from John Scheepers and Van Engelen. I'm considering ordering some rock garden species tulips for the Gravel Garden. Will little species tulips work with Agaves and Opuntias? Will I remember to order? Will I even remember where I put the catalog? Will I run out of oomph in fall and neglect to plant what I order?

Goals for June:

1. Plant Sempervivums.
2. Plant Senecio.
3. Maybe spread Libertia around a bit.
4. Order fall bulbs.
5. Repot 'Blue Glow.'
6. Water. Cause at this point I'm afraid the rain is mostly done till fall.

Helen at The Patient Gardener's Weblog hosts the End of the Month View meme. Lots of garden bloggers participate. Check out Helen's current post here.