A couple of weeks ago my one remaining rose (Zephirine Drouhin) was just about perfect.
That foliage, those blooms -- complementing the support quite nicely I must say.
The combination with the almost golden leaves of the fresh Pleioblastus viridistriatus bamboo...
...well, it's eyecatching to say the least.
In fact that rose was just magnificent, even from all the way across the front yard:
I just had to stop working and enjoy. Ah.
Even the white alliums were blooming at the right time, as if they knew that they'd look so much better while the rose provided a backdrop:
Alas, this is a rose with a short blooming time, and it will soon be back to a wall of foliage -- if I'm lucky and I can prevent the blackspot this year.
Why do I keep this rose around if it only blooms for a few weeks a year? For one thing it's the only rose I have that has not succumbed to rose rosette disease. For another, it's 99% thornless -- a requirement when planted next to the driveway. Finally, the deer don't eat it for whatever reason. .
Last year was a "weak" one for me when it comes to the garden. I didn't do too much out there and added very few plants. In fact, I had a goal to spend no money on plants last year, so visits to area nurseries were few. I did come very close to that goal by the way.
This year I have no such goal. The garden is more important this year, and it's time for me to get it back into shape. To some extent I'm not concerned about spending on plants this year... but should I really admit to that?
A harsh winter and a year of near neglect have left most of the planting beds looking pretty, well, neglected. I also had more overwintering failures than usual, probably because I didn't water things enough or start bringing things in earlier. In any case, this means that there are more empty spaces to fill, and I chose to fill many of them with...
...annuals. (Or at least what act as annuals in my climate.)
In fact -- and here's the hard part to admit -- I spent about $175 on annuals earlier this week.
I'm not talking about rare or special plants either; these are pretty standard, common annuals. Well, at least for me. Here's what I brought home:
Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' (2)
Salvia officinalis (Culinary Sage) (2)
Salvia officinalis 'Purpurascens' (2)
Salvia coccinea (3)
Salvia elegans (Pineapple Sage) (1)
Salvia leucantha (1)
Salvia farinacea 'Victoria Blue'
Lemon Eucalyptus (1)
Purple Fountain Grass (10)
Papyrus 'King Tut' (2)
Artemesia 'Powis Castle' (2)
Sweet Potato vine -- brown cultivars are my favorites! (2)
Cardinal climber (2)
Hyacinth bean vine (1)
Leonotis leonurus (1)
Tradescantia zebrina (1)
Ruellia brittoniana (1)
Lots of salvias because nothing eats those. Most of the rest of those don't get eaten by anything either. The only thing on this list that I know both woodchucks and deer eat are the sweet potato vines, and those are going up on the deck.
The longtime reader will notice that some of these are plants that I've overwintered before: purple fountain grass, papyrus, tradescantia, ruellia. My papyrus died during the winter (probably not brought inside early enough), and I chose to not try and overwinter the fountain grass this year -- easier just to buy a few new ones. I somehow missed bringing in any tradescantia, and my ruella is slow to emerge -- so I got one just in case. I'll have so much of this by the end of the summer I'm sure.
They came into the garage the first few nights just in case the baby woodchucks got curious
I even bought a hyacinth bean vine although I have oodles of seeds from last year. I did this because I wanted the 2-week or so head start that a plant would give me over starting seeds. When you're dealing with deer, bigger is usually better. Quantity certainly is, and I'll have that once the seeds sprout too.
So I've fallen off the wagon in a pretty big way. Are dozens of perennials next? I don't think so, but I'm not saying "no"...
It's so difficult to plant shop when you have to consider how likely a plant is to end up as deer or woodchuck poop. .
I've got a problem. It's this hinoki cypress (fernspray cypress?) -- Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Filicoides'.
It was a perfect choice 10 or so years ago when the bamboo was tiny and this space was mostly empty. The flattened evergreen foliage on curving branches looked so great! Unfortunately, things have changed.
The first problem isn't the main one: this plant is getting too big for its space. It's slow growing but will eventually reach 20' (6m) or more, and almost as wide. I already have to push branches out of the way when going down the stairs next to the bamboo, or duck down.
The primary issue with this plant though is obvious from every photo: the dieback of older foliage.
This happens every year, and was easy to take care of when the plant was small -- I'd just brush the crunchy brown stuff off.
Now that many of the branches are out of my reach though, this is a difficult and time-consuming task.
All of the green is toward the ends of the branches...
...which makes the middle -- especially when cleared of brown leaves -- very branchy.
Here's what it looked like when it was very small in 2008 just before the bamboo box was built:
So green, with a great foliage to branch ratio (even though it's kind of lost with everything else going on in that bed. Now though...
So I'm thinking that it might be time to get rid of this tree. If I do though, what to put in its place?
Plus, there are some shade lovers underneath it that took a while to establish... .
I've been doing quite a bit of cleanup in the garden the last week or so, and much of that work involved pulling leftover leaf clutter out from under some plants. (Some was left as mulch intentionally over the winter, and some is from the oak tree that drops leaves until early spring it seems.) I've noticed so many different types of spiders under there, what are categorized as "hunting spiders" because they don't build webs to catch prey.
I noticed one interesting one the other day on the Pachypodium -- which I've been keeping on the porch until I figure out exactly where I want it to go.
It somehow caught a moth, which must be what made me notice it as I walked by:
Those eyes... have you ever wondered why they have so many? It seems that while the central pair of eyes are the ones that see the most detail, the smaller pairs provide motion detection. At least one study suggests that one pair of small eyes in particular gives the ability to detect when something is moving toward them:
A (2012) study finds that while the center, or principal, pair of eyes is good at picking out details, one of the side pairs is crucial for warning spiders when something is coming their way.
This "looming response" is the equivalent of a human ducking and covering when a baseball flies toward his or her face. But humans rely on just one pair of eyes to both avoid the baseball and see the details of its stitching. Jumping spiders use four eyes for the same tasks.
Now though, my attention to detail and dedication to growing something edible (by humans) has paid off, and a bumper crop will soon be harvested!
Yes, there are still a few weeds. Yes, it looks like I just threw kale seeds by the handful without carefully planning, considering yields, or anything else -- like planting in the raised beds instead of the walkway area.
...you should know that there will be no ducklings in my pond this year. Don't be too disheartened though, as the story is not nearly as sad as it was a couple of years ago.
You see, the lack of ducklings has nothing to do with this guy...
...nor any of his cohorts as far as we can tell. Not raccoons, nor foxes, coyotes, or anything else.
It seems that behind the lovely azaleas in bloom...
...the nest has been...
Well, not empty in the sense that there certainly was a female duck sitting on it for weeks, even taking care to cover it with feathers and leaves whenever she left to eat.
But the nest has never contained any eggs, at least as far as we can tell.
She's been leaving the nest around dinner time for an hour or so, and the other day she never returned. The nest was completely undisturbed, and there was no evidence of foul play -- not even a shell fragment.
I suppose it's possible that something (raccoons?) carried off the eggs at some point, but it seems unlikely to me.
So we're spared any sight of carnage this year. Of course it means that the only fun thing I'll see swimming around the pond this year is...
...a cardinal? (what the..?!) Would a female duck really sit on an empty nest for the entire month? .
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