Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring Planting and Pruning on The North Coast

This past weekend was a race against the rain as I went out into the garden early to ward off the rainy afternoon forecast. As it turns out the rain didn't hit until that evening. Still I got plenty done in the hours I spent outside. I started off planting bulbs I had ready to go into the garden. The first bulb was a dahlia, the coloring is a deep purple with white tips, very pretty. I planted the dahlia next to the roses and passionflower vines on the front yard fence. I planted two dahlias last year and they didn't come up so hopefully this sunny location will do the trick. This dahlia is supposed to produce up to 18 flowers on the one plant.

Next I trimmed the roses since they are shooting up spurts of growth for spring. I cut the branches that were growing high above the rest of the plant back as far as I could. No flowers on these branches so its no problem to cut them back that far. The lines of the three rose bushes looked better after a trim, and the little pink roses are budding and starting to bloom on all three bushes.

Next on the list was the planting of four summer lilies. There were two lilies to each box of bulbs, one of white Peruvian lilies and the other pink Spider lilies. I spaced them out with a pink and a white then another pink and a white lily at the base of the back yard deck under the pink jasmine vines. From where I sit under my green covered arbor I will be able to see these new lilies when they bloom. Both varieties of lilies have swirling shaped flowers so they should be stunning when in bloom. Next I planted 5 lily of the valley pips. I tried planting lily of the valley last year and they did not come up, sometimes the cheapy bulbs from the local store are a hit or a miss. I planted the pips in a shadier area under the camellia, hopefully the shady spot will help these tiny flowers grow well.

I have been meaning to plant the Thymifolia fuchsia I had rooted from the original plant and finally planted it opposite of the original plant under the holly trees. I almost removed the original plant after two years of minimal growth then suddenly the plant took off. It will probably take a few years for this new plant to grow big, the same as the original plant, so I will have to be patient.

My final task outside on Saturday was to cut down another of the butterfly bushes. There was a good foot of new growth already on the plant, so they are in full growth mode now. I cut back the second of the magenta butterfly bushes, it filled the garden waste bin about two-thirds full. Next are the three purple butterfly bushes, one light lavender and two dark purple varieties. Luckily these butterfly bushes are smaller than the magenta varieties so they should take a little less time to trim up. Let's hope the rains stay away next weekend so we can get another one or two trimmed up for late summer bloom on the north coast.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thymifolia And Fuchsias In The Spring Garden

As spring begins already the fuchsias are starting to sprout green leaves at the base of their woody stems. I cut back all the fuchsias right before spring to give them a chance to grow well by summer. Here on the north coast fuchsias bloom well into fall since most blooming of flowers is delayed a month or more in seasons, I can only guess this is due to the long rainy season and coastal weather here.

The two-toned pink fuchsias are all full of green leaves near the base of the cut back wood stems, one of them has even produced a flower bud already. This two-toned fuchsia produces flowers from mid to late spring through late fall, it is really quite a sturdy, long blooming fuchsia. The color combination as I've mentioned before is really beautiful and works well with the purple, blue and yellow flowers throughout my garden.

The Thymifolia fuchsia in the back yard is getting huge. I haven't really cut it back although it may be at the point of pruning. The Thymifolia fuchsia under the holly tree has bowing stems now, a good two feet tall and wide. I will take cuttings this spring from the new growth of this fuchsia to propagate more plants. I have one cutting that is ready to plant once the rains subside here. The Thymifolia fuchsia cutting in the front is finally taking off after two seasons, it is set between the two Grosso lavenders under the living room window with purple dutch iris growing behind it. The Thymifolia fuchsia is about eight inches tall now and full of small dark pink fuchsia colored flowers. I'm excited to see how big this plant gets with the full sun yard. So far it looks as healthy and viable as the Thymifolia in the partly shaded area in the back yard. I recommend this fuchsia highly, it is a real workhorse in the garden. The Thymifolia fuchsia is very reliable since it is covered in tiny blooms all year long, giving hummingbirds that stay in the area the rich nectar they need during the fall and winter months.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Trimming Butterfly Bushes

This past weekend was spent beginning to trim the butterfly bushes near the back yard fence. I tackled the biggest two bushes, both of which had new growth on them and had reached about 14 feet tall. The plants have gotten bigger over these past 3 years, with more to trim down every year. Usually my husband trims the butterfly bushes back, so this year I offered to help and did the cutting of the large limbs while he pruned them down to fit into the yard waste can. By the time we were done with 2 of the 6 bushes, the trimmings from two biggest plants filled the yard waste can. Luckily the rest of the butterfly bushes have less branches so they should be easier to cut back. It will take a number of weeks to cut all the butterfly bushes back since the yard waste holds only so much. My husband spent time pulling down the unripe kiwi fruit from the kiwi vines near the butterfly bushes. This is the second year the kiwi fruit did not ripen correctly, I'm not sure what the problem is unless the vines are old and can't produce well anymore. Even then the branches and leaves look very healthy and the leaves are starting to grow rapidly on the vines.

After another mowing of the front and back yards this week our garden looks much better. There's plenty to do, the curly willow is sprouting small leaves but needs to be trimmed at the top and bottom from last year's growth. The climbing roses are starting to bud out and send a few rogue branches up skyward. Every year I spend time cutting back some of the rambunctious roses, some of the branches stay even to the top of the plants while there are a few here and there that grow six to twelve inches above the line of the roses. Its not easy to maintain them during this kind of growth and the roses can be cut back only so far in winter since they are old climbing stems that have been in place for years. A few of the roses have opened their pale pink flowers with many new buds just waiting to bloom.

The hosta I planted in a container on the deck a few weeks ago is growing rapidly and doing well. There is only a few inches of the base of the plant above dirt but it is exciting to see it do well so soon after planting. The nearby violets in a pottery pot are blooming and have recovered from their winter die-back. The dutch iris are producing their sturdy stems with leaves and getting ready to flower. Now if only the continuous rain would subside, the forecast says rain this coming weekend, we'll see if there is a break in the rain to run out and trim up the roses.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Bulb Planting Time

This past weekend was spent mowing and planting bulbs. My husband did the mowing this time, the first good mowing after winter and the rains subsiding. I often mow but this weekend I got to plant a variety of bulbs instead. I planted windflowers in the barrel, this batch of windflowers are mixed colors so this should go nicely with the purple windflowers already growing in the barrel. The pot of chives and flat-leaf parsley have been growing well since spring hit. I noticed the chives were growing well but suddenly have a large infestation of small black flies covering it. I've had the same infestation on my penstemon and foxglove in other years. I sprayed the chives with a soapy solution, we'll see if that does anything to kill off the small invaders.

My aunt advised me to dig up my amaryllis bulbs and plant them in bark in pots outdoors. I had them in the ground originally but she said she had some amaryllis bulbs that rotted in the ground. She had luck planting them in bark in pots so I did the same, the amaryllis are sitting near the hot tub now near the newly re-potted pink orchid.

I moved out to the front yard to plant my purple daylily next, it found a home near the roses and passionflower vines. I've never had good luck with daylilies so this time I'm hoping this daylily does well. I planted two bulbs that produce bunches of white flowers on each stem. I've forgotten the name at the moment since they are bulbs I've never planted before. I thought adding some tall white flowers to the mixed colors of columbines and freesia in the border behind the drooping cherry tree would look good together.

I noticed the drooping cherry tree is starting to bud and flower, it is getting more beautiful each year, a little taller with longer, fuller branches and more pink flowers as the tree matures. Once the pink bloom disappear its time to spray the tree for the yearly infestation of flies cherry trees are prone to. I have tried natural solutions but unfortunately they do not work, and the fly larvae leave the trees leaves a mess. I don't like using anything other than natural solutions but in this case I'll need to spray the tree with a pesticide. I tried a soap and water solution that unfortunately didn't work last spring. I'll keep trying different sprays until I hit on one that works well for the cherry tree.

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