Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fall in the North Coast Garden

As fall continues on the north coast I'm still finding growth happening with new and established plants. The sword fern I planted next to the front porch is sending up a new curled white fern shoot from the base of the fern I planted in spring. I originally dug up from the main fern plant from under the holly trees, one of two sword ferns I brought with me from Petaluma. When first planted this fern it had a rhiazome with two frond stems and some roots; now a third frond is curling up from the soil. Having had good success in dividing and planting this particular fern this tells me that the new fern is now established in its porch corner and will eventually grow up to be a hardy specimen.

The sweet peas I grew in the pot on my deck were planted out and are starting to grow up the obelisk structure. It may be late in the season for the new sweet pea plant but you'd never know it since it is sports new blooms ready to open. I'm hoping the sweet peas do well over the next month so I can gather some seeds for next year's garden.

The passionflower vines on the fence have done great this year. After the hard cut back of the vines in early spring and the weekly watering regime for the vines the extra work has paid off this season. A few weeks ago I counted 34 purple and green flowers on the vines; this past weekend the count was up to 50 flowers! The foliage is so lush it can be difficult to see the pale green and purple flowers as they fade into the green leaves. Still it is exciting to see so much flowering on the once bare vines.

The passionflower vines in the trellis boxes need a top dressing of time released fertilizer and new dirt to help the two new vines I planted get a good start for next season. I replanted my small blue hydrangea plant in the front yard where the crocosmias were crowding out the area until we dug them up. After digging up the overbearing crocosmias we found two beautiful specialty grass plants hidden in in the corner. So far it looks a little bare with the specialty grass on one side and the small hydrangea in the center but soon enough the hydrangea will grow bigger and fill the space. I'm hoping to find some nepeta in the garden center to sit next to the hydrangea next spring, the local kitties should enjoy the nepeta as much as I do.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Planting Heaths and Heathers

Saturday was spent planting heaths and heathers in the garden. My husband and I were out in the yard by noon, an hour earlier than usual. The forecast was for rain so I did my best to plant four gallon pots of heaths and heathers in the front yard. I had one spot open in the walkway border to the right of the house and planted a pink flowering heather there. The remaining plants were planted in the big border to the left of the house, two heathers and one heath planted there. It was busy work and I was moving as fast as I could. The heath was another large bell flowering plant with pink bells, matching in color the other heath planted there already. The other two heather plants both have pink/lavender flowers and are fairly tall and wide, they should go well with the other heathers planted in the flower bed.

As soon as I finished the fourth planting the rain started, first a light drizzle turning into a heavy drizzle, which made us head indoors quickly. I have three more heaths and heathers to plant. I've decided to plant them beneath the pink jasmine in the back yard. I have naked lady bulbs in the beds below the jasmine plants so not much is in the beds so far. I can see the three plants doing well there in the back yard. One of the heathers is "Silver King", I had this plant in the back yard in Petaluma and it grew to a huge size, it is a beautiful plant with silver foliage and lavender flowers.

The photos in this post are of two heathers in place in flower beds planted last fall. The larger pink heather is in the main flowerbed in the back yard with a new purple fuchsia cutting planted behind it in the center of the flower bed. The other plant is a low growing heather planted near the rhododendron in the front yard, it is surrounded by a ground cover of blue flowering lithodora. My goal is to add as many heaths and heathers to my garden as I can fit in. They are beautiful, hardy plants that need minimal upkeep once they are in the ground for a year. A good weekly watering for the first year, making sure the roots are not waterlogged and the soil drains well, then a yearly trim after blooming will keep them happy and looking good.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Annual Heath and Heather Farm Sale

October 4th was the annual heath and heather farm sale in a nearby town outside of where we live. I always look forward to the sale, anticipating the variety of heaths and heathers they have available. Last year I was able to purchase a number of heaths (erica) plants with large bells and I've been very pleased with the growth and flowering results of these new heaths over the last year. This year there were almost no heath plants available, unfortunate but I did manage to get two this year. The rest of the plants were heathers with their delicate leaves and flowers. Any heath and heather is wonderful as far as I'm concerned so I was happy to buy as many as possible. This year my husband and I decided we'd get more plants than usual, our purchase added up to twelve plants in all!

As in the past the farm owner is available to answer questions about the plants from buyers and holds short seminars while you visit. They always have treats of sweets, appetizers, coffee and tea spread out on a table in the backyard valley setting so you can munch and shop at your leisure. The old apple tree has a bench built around the base with tiny chirping birds flitting around in the branches. This year a small squirrel was hopping around in the branches and making squeeks at all the excitement down below him, unwilling to come down while the farm owners border collies wandered around the visitors in the pasture. It really is lovely there and feels like a mini vacation whenever we go to the farm for the sale.

I was able to purchase 5 inch pots and 1 gallon pots all at $3.25 each, a great price for such big heath and heather plants. I have a number of larger sized heather plants and one heath plant to add to the garden, probably in the front yard to add to the family of heaths and heathers already in place.

My plan was to plant up the barrel in the back yard with four or five heather plants, digging up the bulbs from the planter and replanting them elsewhere. We did just that this past Saturday, I replanted the brodiaea bulbs and daffodils around the obelisk with sweet peas climbing up the structure. We moved the barrel over into a sunny location and I planted four heathers and one heath in the barrel. One of the heathers has an open expansive growth pattern with pink lavender flowers. Two of the heathers are erect varieties, one with multiple cream orange colors on the leaves while the other has lime green and brown marking on the leaves. Two of the smaller plants found a home in the barrel. One has a lavender flower paired with deep green leaves while the smallest sized plant is a heath with deep green leaves tipped all year long with bright cream and peach colors. It is really pretty already even though it is only a 2 inch pot size plant.

I'm most excited about adding heathers and a heath to the barrel in the backyard. You can see the barrel from the dining room window, it should be really beautiful once the plants grow out and reach a year or two in the barrel. I can't wait to see the end result a few years from now.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Butterfly Bush and Fuchsia Favorites

The butterfly bushes finished flowering last month, I wish they flowered longer but they are spectacular while they bloom. This is my favorite color, it is a magenta bloom. The dark purple bloom is also gorgeous, we have two of each along with two of a lighter purple butterfly bush lining the back yard fence. I imagine if I cut back the spent bloom spikes there might be another flush of blooms during summer here. I may have to try this out and see what happens. I have a cutting of the magenta butterfly bush in a gallon container to try and root it over the winter. I'm not sure if it will work but its worth a try. Butterfly bushes are so hardy I would think rooting them would be fairly easy. I'll have to read up on rooting cuttings for butterfly bushes and see what advice I can find.

The thymifolia fuchsia is doing great under the holly tree in the back yard. It took a good two years to get this plant established under the tree. The tiny dark pink fuchsia flowers are blooming pretty much year round, much the same way they were blooming in my Petaluma garden all year long. Fuchsias love the coastal weather and grow well here in Eureka. The thymifolia plant is a good two feet tall and spreading up and out each season. Planted in front of it is one of my two-toned pink fuchsias I grew from a cutting. I have a small thymifolia plant I grew from a cutting of the thymifolia fuchsia under the holly tree. It is planted between the two Grosso lavenders in the front yard. After two years in the ground the plant is finally starting to get taller. I'm hoping for as much growth for this plant as the one in the back yard. The combination of purple wands of lavender surrounding the tall dark pink thymifolia fuchsia will look beautiful against the front of the house.

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