March 20, 2008
From the Producer: 3/22
What exciting news—the twice-moved Mrs. Oakley Fisher rose is leafing like crazy in photinia-ville! I always hate it when I kill a plant out of kindness. The bit of rain and record heat were just what it needed. And I’m glad I put the overripe bananas on the feeder, since the heat brought out hungry butterflies, too.
Since we’re probably safe by now, I moved the cycad last Saturday. What a great idea! It was too close to a window off the patio. Now it’s the perfect textural addition to the rental fence bed. While I was in the patio area, I divided and fertilized a small stand of gingers and mulched the whole bed. In other areas, I divided a shrimp plant for the front bed, and moved a pink trumpet vine for the creek bed fence. After they were thoroughly soaked in, I went back with the watering can and a SuperThrive and seaweed mixture.
Some of you have asked if I have a large yard. It feels like it when it’s 93 degrees in March, but it’s your standard 1958 yard, probably a 1/4 acre lot. And believe me, it sounds better than it really is!
But I’ll give you the scoop, starting at the rental-side fence in back. In the beginning, it was dusty crabgrass on cracking clay soil and fire ants under full sun. I’ve made lots of changes as our tree and the rental’s pecans have grown up. Now it progresses from some sun at the end nearest the house to dappled shade at the built-up bed against the creek fence. At the house end, there are the chopped down primrose jasmine, fluffing up in earnest. A Mexican plum, a few nandinas (divided from nandina-ville!), a mountain laurel from seed, evergreen viburnums, an aromatic sumac, a crape myrtle I planted from a cutting, a bamboo palm, the cycad, and a Texas pistache create a privacy barrier. By the way, the crape is in too much shade now, but we like its sculptural look, and it puts on a few flowers every year.
At various points along this stretch that extends out from the old clothesline poles, I have liriope, daylilies, salvia guaranitica, a Philippine violet, Aztec grass, pigeon berry, chile pequins, lyre leaf sage, the purple cordyline I told you about last year (not sure if it made it), lemon balm, butterfly iris, columbine, variegated ginger, and inland sea oats. I’ve also added a new plant for me, a burgundy Persicaria, and we’ll see what happens. I also just bit the bullet and ordered two burgundy crinums—Crinum ‘Sangria’ from Yucca Do. I’ll replace the cordyline with one, with the Persicaria underneath, and put the other at the far end. Also, I’m now looking for an Acanthus ‘Summer Beauty’ that apparently survives the heat and blooms in summer. I’ll move the Philippine violet over a few feet and tuck it into that hole. Now I’m getting very excited about this area! These additions, along with the cycad, will provide the larger-specimen layering this bed needs.
These days, there’s a rough flagstone path between it and the rest of the bed. I edged the path with oxalis, divided over the years from a few a neighbor gave me. Wedelia grows around and along the flags. Recently I moved the agapanthus and added the St. Joseph’s lily to line a section as well.
The opposite side of the path towards the back hosts a Chinese pistache, now a huge tree from its 4’ tall youth. Its circular bed is filled and bordered with a pineapple guava, shrimp plants, plumbagos, a few penstomens, a pavonia, and salvia regla. From late fall until summer, an Acanthus mollis holds court. Some people don’t like this large plant since it disappears in the heat. That’s what I like about it. The summer plants fill the space, and in winter, it takes over when they go dormant. In spring and fall, bulbs also dot this space.
Closer to the house is a circular stone border for kiddie pool, polished off on the patio cove side with Louisiana iris in enclosing monkey grass, an esperanza, and a rosemary.
For a few years, like the back bed, I had grass between the privacy barrier, the tree bed, and the kiddie pool. When I dug out the grass on the back fence, I decided to keep on going. By then I was too tired to dig it all, so I covered a lot of it with thick layers of newspaper, wetted them, and covered with mulch. I made a few more trips to the rock place and edged its winding perimeter with stone. Bingo, another garden was born! Later, I added the flags and path edging plants to give it some semblance of definition.
Anyway, this bed ends at the patio cove with a rosemary as one of its sentries. This is a newly planted upright variety, replacing an elderly prostrate. I planted it on a built-up bed with crushed granite to assist drainage issues.
The other sentry to the cove is a star jasmine at the front edge of the patio. It’s so exuberant on its small trellis that recently Greg pounded in short pieces of rebar and anchored the trellis to keep it straight. We used this trick on the rose arbor a few years ago when it threatened to topple in a high wind with the weight of heavy branches.
I’ll leave you at the cove (where I’m writing this and awaiting rain) until next week. Linda