Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Yard Full of Pink Jasmine Vines

I spent some time this weekend trimming back the runners from the pink jasmine vines on the back deck. Its a beautiful vine but takes quite a bit of maintenance to keep it from going rampant. The front yard pink jasmine is fairly easy to control but still sends out runners galore at the base and grows out into the porch walkway. I have to trim this plant back every few weeks in the summer. Pink jasmine really needs a tall area to climb up. We have some vines crawling up the wall outside the deck and this is where they really work best, just minimal trims on the runners at the base and the plants grow up a good six to eight feet tall billowing out at the top of the laced trellis.

The back yard deck presents a different problem with the pink jasmine. At least with the front porch there is a pole as part of the front porch the jasmine can climb up a bit and there is only one plant there. The deck must have five or six plants and the deck is not very tall so you end up with billowing tops over the railing and runners going everywhere at the base of the deck. Its very pretty but quite a handful. I wish it bloomed as much as night blooming jasmine but I assume that is due to the cool coastal weather. I've decided to trim the tops as needed and keep the runners trimmed up well during the summer during their rapid growth period instead of trying to trim back the plants multiple times during the summer. I have to say if you decide to use pink jasmine in your yard be prepared for quite a bit of trimming to keep the plant in line and give it plenty of room to grow upwards. Our deck railing at five feet tall is not tall enough for this vigorous plant, at least here on the north coast.

Any jasmine is good as far as I'm concerned and I love the smell of night blooming jasmine. The pink jasmine vine has small delicate white flowers with a pink tinge, a sweet smell (not as strong as night blooming jasmine) and the arching branches are really lovely. If you've got the space for pink jasmine and can give it plenty of room to climb its a great plant to have in your garden.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Creeping Raspberry Groundcover

I have long admired the creeping raspberry plant grown at our local nursery as groundcover near the plant displays. The mounds of leaves have great shading of green and turn burgundy in fall and winter. The plant sports small 1/2 inch white flowers followed by amber-colored fruit. Creeping raspberry (Rubus calycinoides) is a mounding ground cover that is unique and one I've wanted to grow since moving to the north coast. The mature plant height is 2 to 4 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide, surviving in full sun to partial shade. The plant has a cascading effect and appears more of a shrub like shape than groundcover to me. The nursery plant I've seen is much taller than this however as everything grows bigger here on the north coast.

I've been lucky enough recently to get a cutting of this plant and am now trying to root it. The creeping raspberry is a dense plant that likes sun. I think it would look wonderful placed in the front yard sitting between the passionflower vines on the fence and the climbing roses. There is room for another creeping raspberry plant on the opposite side of the passionflower vine near the rhododendron. The shape of the plant is mounding and works well in difficult areas of the yard, apparently good for hot, dry slopes and other areas where moisture varies from very wet to very dry and once established is drought tolerant. I've had difficulty growing other plants in the areas next to the passionflower vine so this may be the solution. The plant forms runners rooting in the ground and establishing more nodes and more colonies. The creeping raspberry spreads at a moderate to fast rate but it isn't an invasive plant.

If I successfully root this plant I will make many more plants from it. There are a number of sunny spots in the backyard that would look great swathed in this dense groundcover.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sunshine for Kiwi Vines, Sunflowers and Butterfly Bushes

The kiwi vines are starting their rapid growth during the warmer coastal weather. Now warmer coastal weather here means 60 to 70 degrees. We're still in the mid 50's to 60's most days in April. Once March hits the kiwi leaves start budding out and forming. The kiwi vines produce very small, pretty ivory cream colored flowers before setting fruit. This vine covers many months of leafing out, flowering then setting fruit for the winter season. This last winter the fruit just didn't ripen correctly. This could be due to the lower amounts of rain we received here on the north coast this past fall and winter. I'm guessing this was the culprit, the kiwi fruits never sweetened or fully formed. We'll see what happens this year. In the meantime the leaves are flying up high and winding around the metal sculpture. When the vines die off we're thinking of replacing them with grape vines. As far a we know grapes do grow up in this region. It will be interesting to see how they do in our yard. This all depends on how long lived kiwi vines are, If I remember correctly they are long lived vines. I would not suggest you plant kiwi vines unless you have a huge, heavy structure to grow them on, they are very vigorous vines.

My husband cut back the five butterfly bushes in mid April, usually we cut them back a little earlier in the season but it does not seem to matter when you cut them back because they always grow up to 10 to 12 feet tall within a season. The butterfly bushes are placed on the back yard fence behind the kiwi vines. I'm looking forward to their blooms this summer and the host of butterflies that visit while they are in bloom, the butterflies flying down in swirling patterns through the middle of the back yard towards the conical shaped lavender, deep purple and magenta flowers.

I planted the bronze red sunflower seeds I got from my BBC magazine, lining up against the rest of the back yard fence. They are tall reddish sunflowers and should be striking when they surpass the height of our fence, but no doubt they will be no match in height compared with the butterfly bushes.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pink Climbing Roses and Bluebells: The Start of Spring Blooms

Spring season in my yard starts with the bluebell bulbs blooming. The bluebells start flowering early the same time as my container of crocus bulbs. There are a few drifts of bluebell bulbs the previous home owner planted in our backyard near the gate. The bulbs are about 8 to 10 inches tall with a vibrant blue color to the flowers. They come up reliably every year and bloom for a few weeks, then the blooms start to fade as they are right now in my garden. Their bright blue flowers are a cheery reminder that spring has begun. This year I noticed there was a bluebell bulb that had seeded in one of my containers of carnations sitting next to the back yard steps off the deck. I'll leave it there and hope more bulbs form in the container. Its probably time to dig up a few extra bluebell bulbs to add to the other container so they both host bluebell flowers next year.

The climbing pink roses are starting to bud with a few blooms showing already. This variety of pink climbing rose blooms early on in the year. There are three main bushes of the climbing pink roses. There are two of the same variety and one of another variety with slightly darker rose colored flowers covering the corner of the front yard. Here are photos of the two varieties in full bloom from last year's garden. The rose blooms are small, beautifully sculptured and fragrant. I cut the roses back more this past winter than last to see if the number of blooms improved and to keep the roses in a prettier shape for the season.

The previous homeowner planted the roses and they have been established for quite a while. Unfortunately these roses only bloom for a month or so then they are done for the season. Now I'm not sure this is because of the variety of rose they are or if the weather is just not warm enough to sustain summer blooms on roses here on the north coast, it is something I will need to research more. I think it is the variety of rose that is the reason behind the short bloom season. After having grandiflora roses in my back yard in Petaluma that bloomed for months on end its sad to see these roses stay for such a short time. As it is I will have to enjoy them while they bloom. Perhaps adding some large flowering clematis to climb up the rose bushes and bloom in summer might dress up the greenery of the roses once they stop blooming.

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