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


  1. It's good to see you back! Quite an undertaking here - especially coming off of that neck/shoulder pain. My efforts this summer have been disappointing and discouraging - hampered by the hip and knee surgiers of last year that I'd hoped would be fully healed by gardening season. Oh well.....

    I particularly like thatt chocolate-colored plant The rest are most interesting, too. I'll look forward to watching the progress in this flower bed.

  2. "It's always something," in the words of Gene Wilder's late wife. I was too caught up in my own woes hardly to notice you weren't posting as much. You sure planted a long list of new things.

    While I was checking on the provenance of my wildflowers, I noted that wildflowers tend to divide at the middle of the continental US. No wonder you have so many interesting things that aren't grown much here. Echinacea is one of those Eastern natives now morphed into good plants for the whole country.

    Glad to see blogging picking up; almost time to set up the greenhouse for another season.

  3. Glad to see you returning to gardening and blogging, and hope the shoulder continues to heal. Take it easy!
    The Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate' is just gorgeous.
    And I'd love to see the look on the face of the raccoon that dares to try... :)

  4. I love that such a cool plant palette came from giving the old F-U to raccoons. I'm glad you're back!

  5. Glad to hear you're on the mend! I totally sympathize with your summer apathy...and this summer has been particularly trying. I kind of just threw up my hands and stopped caring a while ago...and still haven't quite gotten any enthusiasm back...especially since the ground is still hard as a rock...ugh! I hope your raccoon deterrents make the difference...those little rascals can be quite a pain when they set their minds to it!

  6. Aarrgh! The drought, the raccoons, the've had a rough time. I hope the spiky things solve your raccoon problem.

  7. Yay! Back at it....great. Those damned raccoons, perhaps your spikes will deter them this time. Let us hope. Yes, the summer was a harsh one but it sounds like you persevered and planted to upgrade, so you win!

  8. I knew the raccoon f-ers were screwing with your garden mojo, as well as the heat effecting your desire to garden. I didn't know you'd gone and injured yourself too! Glad you're back at it...and with a fabulous plant list!

  9. Your new bed looks so interesting, I hope the plants work out for you. I'm also moving to drought tolerant and toxic plants, especially I'm adding more Euphorbias. I have more mole, vole, deer, and rabbit problems than raccoon, though they did show up this year. They are really attracted to water features. I lost quite a few plants to the drought and heat too, partly because I also injured my knees this year and couldn't water as well, so I sympathize. I've concluded all the heavy gardening work I did constantly was gradually eroding my knee cartilage, so I'm having to really reduce the severity of the work I do, which is very limiting on 2 acres. I hope you made a full recovery. I love your Chocolate Mimosa, it's so cool!

  10. Sorry to hear you have had an injury but I bet you were pleased to get some time in the garden and start to achieve your plans

  11. So good to see your enthusiasm bubbling up again. I really think you're on to something with the obstacle course. I don't have near the raccoon problem you do but always get a few, so I employ lots of obstacles too with new plants. This is going to be gorgeous!

  12. Well, you certainly came roaring back, declaring full-on warfare on the raccoons and planting up a storm. It was too hot to garden this summer anyway.

  13. I'm glad you're feeling better. You've certainly thrown yourself back into gardening. I'll enjoy watching your new space develop - and I hope to hear full reports on the effectiveness of your raccoon deterrents. As you know, I face an ongoing struggle there too. Now that I'm digging up the former lawn area, you'd think they'd jump in there and dig around while it's wide open but no, they still prefer to dig around plants.

  14. Far too hot for much of anything but watering this summer. I like your plant list, probably because I have quite a few on that list , all very good in my dry garden.
    I'll bring along some spiky Eryngium for you on Sunday !

  15. That was a lot of work, and those are a lot of new plants! I sure hope your goals of low water and raccoon deterrence work out. I look forward to seeing and hearing about the results.

  16. So sorry to hear about your shoulder, yes I had noticed that you were missing! You have done wonders with your new bed, I hope you have successfully found a way of keeping the raccoons away from your plants, keep us posted!

  17. Sorry to hear about your injury! I wondered why you weren't posting as often as usual. Glad to hear that you'v healed and am in awe of all the work you did to reinvent that bed!

  18. I'm glad you're healed up. Sorry you got hurt in the first place, though. I haven't been posting much, either, for various reasons. Now I'm thinking of sticking to a reduced, but more regular, schedule since I finally have a full work schedule again. Isn't it wonderful to be back planting? I spent two of the last three weekends making new beds. Now I'm out of compost! Mayday! The new plants look great! I hope the prickles and rebar help to curb the raccoons.

  19. Your bed looks great! I love grasses, but don't use them as much as I should. Glad you are feeling better. Thanks for sharing.

  20. I like the new drought-tolerant bed, especially 'Blonde Ambition'.

  21. What an amazing job you have done on your new bed and a great list of plants. I hope you are fully recovered now.

  22. Oh, the joys of a new bed to play in. And that perfectly edged lawn has me swooning.

  23. I like how the orb looks with this plant!


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