Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Summer Bulbs To Plant and Pruning Spring Shrubs

Last weekend was finally a clear weekend with no rain here on the north coast. With this break in the weather my husband and I got out into the garden. His first priority was to mow the front and back lawns since they were so overgrown since the last dry time we were able to mow.

If a plant or shrub seems to be growing well I tend to let it be. I decided this weekend maybe its time to let the butterfly bushes grow as they will. I took some time to prune back part of the butterfly bush sitting against the fence. This butterfly bush tends to grow the tallest and parts of the branches hang over into the neighbor's yard. I trimmed back as much as possible of this magenta butterfly bush until it was cleared out a bit from the fence. I thought about it and decided to let the butterfly bushes grow "as is", with no pruning this year. The butterfly bushes are already a good ten to fifteen feet tall from last year. They are getting so large in the stems its much harder to prune them back. When we first started to visit the Eureka area we spent our vacation time in Ferndale, about ten minutes south of where we are now located. In the middle of Ferndale there is an area between shops where an enormous set of lavender colored butterfly bushes grow. I'm quite sure no one has ever trimmed these back and they flowered every summer we visited while on vacation. This helped me realize it would be worth one season to see if our butterfly bushes flowered as well with or without the annual pruning. As I mentioned the butterfly bushes are so tall and thick that it makes pruning much more difficult. I know they will survive fine without the pruning, this season will tell us if the pruning makes a major difference for bloom as well.

During the rest of my time in the garden I planted a few bulbs. I planted two large dinner plate sized dahlias on either side of the obelisk structure so when they bloom I will be able to see them clearly from the dining room window. The dahlias are a bright yellow with orange/red markings on the inside and edges of the blooms. The plants are supposed to have at minimum eight blooms to each plant. I am hoping they do well in this spot. The dirt has not been changed or added to, which is probably not a bad idea. I will see how the dahlias grow in this spot and then add some new fertilizer and dirt this coming fall after things die back. I also planted some purple brodiaea bulbs to the side of my purple clematis in the front yard near the porch. The clematis has one flower ready to bloom and there are many new green leaves on the stems. The clematis was moved from a pot to the ground fall before last. I am hoping it finally takes off and grows well this season. The brodiaea bulbs multiply easily, this would be a good area to brighten up next to the clematis and lavenders.

There are a number of other bulbs to plant for summer, for now I have to be patient as the rains have begun again on the north coast. It is always fascinating to watch the bright spring growth of bulbs as it keeps raining through April and sometimes even into May in Humboldt County.

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