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

Thursday, July 2, 2015

End of Month View -- June 2015

It's June 32nd, and you know what that means, right? It's time for the End of Month View.

This year I've been using the EoMV meme to document changes to my Gravel Garden. Despite our extreme June heat and drought, I've been making progress. Fortunately, the Gravel Garden is a dry garden, and the plants don't mind the conditions, although to get established, they do still need some water.

I haven't made as much progress as I'd have liked. The plants might not mind the heat, but I do. All the work I've done on it this month has been during those few morning hours when it's still a bit cool.

I've made a really good start on planting my Sempervivum quilt. I decided to buy some Semps, rather than taking them from various other spots in my garden where they're growing. I knew I didn't have enough, and I knew that I could buy lots for a good price at Woodland Park Greenhouse in Sumner. Officially, the sign says they cost $1.84 apiece, but I got three flats of 12 in four-inch pots (and each pot contained lots of offsets) for $50. For those who are math-challenged, they should have cost me $66 and change. They're very flexible on pricing there, especially if you're buying a lot.

Olive green and bronze Semps in 4-inch pots from Woodland Park, for less than $1.84 each

None are named varieties and there aren't many different ones to choose from, but I didn't care about that. I did find some named cultivars at Windmill Gardens, for more money, and to give me more variety.

The ones on the left with tags came from Windmill, the ones on the right from Woodland Park

Small Semps in 6-packs from Windmill.

I started my Semp quilt by (carefully) cutting back the enormous Euphorbia that was growing there. I really wanted to avoid brushing against it while working in the area, because it can cause a poison ivy-like reaction on bare skin. Then I scraped as much gravel off the top of the soil as I could. I planted each Semp approximately 8 inches apart, to give them room to fill in with offsets. Twelve inches apart was too far, and 6 seemed too close. I settled on 8 inches.

Here you can see the beginnings of the quilt, against the wall

Pile o' gravel
After planting, I had to sift the soil out of the gravel and replace it, a back-breaking chore.

I briefly (for about a nanosecond) contemplated giving the Semp quilt an actual design, like a real quilt, but gave that up very quickly as enormously impractical. I ended up just alternating colors/varieties.

It doesn't look much like a quilt yet, but give it a few years to fill in

I had to work the design around the desert perennials that are already growing in the bed

A little further to the right, under the Ceanothus 'Dark Star.'

I'm planning to edge the quilt with Sedums, to give it the look of having a fringe

Still left to plant: a couple of handfuls of Semps, some Sedums and a few pots of Mexican feather grass

The larger Semps have already started spreading out

In last month's post I showed the clumps of orange Carex testacea that I had transplanted to the right of the Ceanothus, and lamented that they looked like they might be dying.

Well, they were.  I pulled them out without so much as a tug. I probably could have nudged them out of the ground with my foot, they came away so easily. I bought four new ones, but haven't planted them yet. I'll probably wait till the fall rains are imminent.

Most years I arrange pots of tender desert plants in front of the gabions and culvert planters in the Gravel Garden, but this year I've been so intent on redoing it that I've left them a jumbly mess, after hauling them out of the greenhouse. I don't think the neighbors mind that look, but I do.

Messy pots

That's as much as I've accomplished, not even close to my goals, as delineated in last month's post.

Goals for June:

1. Plant Sempervivums -- mostly done.
2. Plant Senecio -- nope.
3. Maybe spread Libertia around a bit -- forgot that one completely.
4. Order fall bulbs -- where did I put those catalogs?
5. Repot 'Blue Glow' -- not a chance
6. Water. Cause at this point I'm afraid the rain is mostly done till fall -- Hey, I did that!

New goals for July:

1. Plant Senecio
2. Order fall bulbs
3. Repot Agave 'Blue Glow'
4. Water

I'm going to leave you with some closeups of flowers and other pretties from the Gravel Garden.

Dyckia flower


Ornamental Oregano

New Opuntia pads make me laugh!

They start out cute and turn into Pinhead from Hellraiser

Helen at The Patient Gardener's Weblog hosts the End of Month View. You can read her EoMV post here.