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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Getting Back Into The Swing

I don't know if any readers have noticed, but for most of August and September, I haven't really been posting all that much, except for participation in a few memes like Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, Foliage Followup, and Anna's Wednesday Vignette. I haven't been doing much gardening to write about. I was so discouraged that the heat and drought did such a number on the brand new Hydrangeas that I planted this spring in the bed along the back fence. Also, at the beginning of August I injured my neck and left shoulder, and that definitely put a crimp in gardening.

But I was still planning and scheming for changes I had decided to make to that Hydrangea bed. I started stockpiling drought-tolerant plants, haunting all the fall sales, where I managed to find many great plants for 40% or even 50% off.  Once my arm started feeling better, I slowly began digging up the Hydrangeas and many of the other plants in that bed, along with the Pernettya that I had planted and killed, deader than a dead thing. I pulled out one of my two red elderberry bushes, because I wanted to plant a chocolate Mimosa, and really I didn't need two elderberries. Even though it's a PNW native and probably used to our dry summers, the heat and drought this year had it looking like death warmed over. The Hydrangeas went into pots, where I can have more control over how much sun and water they receive.

So, a couple of weekends ago, I drafted Nigel into service, and he helped me add some sand to the bed for better drainage, and roto-tilled it in. Then, last week I started laying out the plants, and finally, this Sunday and Monday, I dug holes and planted everything.

Former Hydrangea bed with shrubs and many perennials pulled out

Nigel and I added sand and he tilled it in, to lighten the soil and help with drainage.

Plants being stockpiled over the course of two months, waiting in the Folly to be planted

Besides wanting to make this a drought-tolerant bed, I also wanted to try to deter the nasty rambunctious raccoons from digging and playing in the bed. I posted here about the damage they've done. Therefore, many of the plants I've used are poky and prickly, like Dasylirion texanum, Berkeya purpurea, and Acanthus sennii, as well as somewhat caustic, like Euphorbia, or smelly, like Lemon Thyme. I've also added four-foot tall rebar stakes with decorative, colorful bottles on top, to try to create obstacles that might keep them from running wild through the plants. And I bought a water 'scarecrow' type device, that senses motion and will shoot water at them.

The bed planted up anew, with several different ornamental grasses and other drought-tolerant perennials

I'm looking forward to some of the plants self-sowing and creating swaths, such as Stipa tenuissima and Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'

I created mini-swaths with trios of the same Echinacea (this one is either 'Cheyenne Spirit' or 'Solar Flare')

Acanthus sennii, Miscanthus 'Morning Light' and Geranium 'Ann Folkard'

Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition'

Sesleria autumnalis

Kniphofia 'Fire Glow'

Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate'

Concrete orb, aka raccoon toilet, has been planted up with a prickly Eryngium agavifolium, with the hope that no raccoon is going to want to stick its butt in those spines.

I really needed those two months to regroup and plan and heal. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what this bed looks like next summer.

Stop reading right here unless you're really interested in reading a long list of plants. I just want to document what I've planted.

Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate'
Nolina 'La Siberica'
Dasylirion texanum
Echinops 'Blue Glow'
Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow'
Euphorbia 'Ruby Glow'
Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit'
Echinacea 'Solar Flare'
Echinacea 'Dixie Belle'
Kniphofia 'Fire Glow'
Oreganum 'Kent Beauty'
Eucomis 'Aloha Lily Tiki'
Crocosmia 'Gold Rush'
Eryngium 'Neptune's Gold'
Astrantia major 'Star of Beauty'
Thymus x citriodorus (Lemon Thyme)
Thymus pseudolanuginosus (Woolly Thyme)
Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'
Amsonia hubrichtii
Berkeya purpurea
Geranium 'Ann Folkard'
Allium christophii
Allium 'Gladiator'
Tradescantia 'Bilberry Ice'

Panicum virgatum 'Rotstrahlbusch'
Miscanthus 'Morning Light'
Sesleria autumnalis
Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition'
Carex comans 'Bronze'
Calamagrostis brachytricha
Schizachyrium 'Standing Ovation'
Stipa tenuissima