From the Producer: 3/1

February 29th, 2008 Posted in Uncategorized

So, last weekend we got the first sunburn of the year, if you forgot to put on your hat, like I did. This is typical for the last week of February, when we threaten to put the sweaters under the bed and bring out the shorts. But I guarantee that the day you haul all the “woolies” to the cleaners for moth-proofing, we’ll get a cold snap.

Photinia-ville is finished! I moved the rose again, so we’ll see what happens to that guy. I nabbed a Silverado cenizo and thryallis, on sale even. Silverado is a compact to grow to 4 foot, and with my spacing, it won’t hide its window. The thryallis will grace it to the right, perhaps shading the air conditioner a bit.

Last weekend, I lifted the hummingbird-lover flame acanthus (Anisicanthus wrightii) to remove entrenched ruellia roots. It’s doing fine, as are the spurts of existing liriope I moved around, which should be cat-hugging groundcover by next year. I watered in everyone with liquid seaweed/fish emulsion and topped things off with three bags of cedar mulch. What a difference from a few months ago! Instead of a forbidding side area, it’s open and attractive (albeit sparse at the moment), so you can get a good look at the windows that need washing. I’m really glad that I edged with the cut stone border. I sure hope the meter reader appreciates it!

As tempting as it was to move the plumbagos beyond it at the front edge of the house, I’m waiting until the woolies are back from the cleaners. Instead, I dug up determined ruellia and nandina progeny. I’m not mulching those areas until a few rains hit us, when I know they’ll return in triumph. I want to keep an eye out to make sure their glory is short-lived. In the meantime, I’m loving all the bulbs.

Nandina-ville at the front door beds is almost finished, too! I moved a grass lily (Anthericum saundersea) from the front room window bed to the yaupon holly on the other side of the sidewalk. It’s a nice contrast to the new columbine in the dappled light situation they both like. The grass lily did so great for me last year, proffering small white flowers for months. Mainly, I like it for its 14 inch or so grassy texture. It will fill the gap between the spring and fall blooming bulbs with the same upright form. For late summer bulbs, I added some rain lilies that I hope will naturalize.

Then, to accent the butterfly iris and silver germander, I tucked in some Purple Heart (Setcresea) that I dug up from the den window side. Perfect touch! I blew off the bubine, after all, and added another Huntington Carpet rosemary.

Opposite that bed, in front of the den window, I added a Salvia greggii to balance things out, along with another rosemary. I plan to move around some of the Purple Heart in that bed to offset its forefront asters and others, but will wait a few weeks. No reason to take a chance on all my free stock! All that remains for those two beds are the Yucca pallidas. I checked the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. They’ll have them at their spring plant sale in April, so I may nab them then, along with some plants for the backyard.

In the main stretch of the front bed, I moved asters that were shaded by one Lindheimer muhly to the edge in front of the evergreen sumac. The new “Powis Castle” artemesia to its right pulls silver to the end of the bed, offsetting the silver germanders. The purple lantanas at that corner are emerging like gangbusters, so I may not need to add any, once I move the overpowering plumbagos to the background. All that’s left for that section is a shrimp plant I plan to divide from the backyard, and Mexican heather at the border to the water hose path.

Essentially, I’ve simply updated a garden that’s always been ready for all seasons. For evergreen structure, there are butterfly irises (now), hardy yellow daylilies in every section, silver germanders, columbine, rosemary, and salvia greggis, along with the yaupon, evergreen sumac, and established cenizo. The asters, grass lily, and zexmenias are briefly dormant, and the Lindheimer muhlies look fine even when winter-browned. One plumbago, geared to hide the water hose, is still green! I’ve always had “Powis Castle” artemesia until last year’s rains drowned them. It’s one that you can expect to replace after several years, but they grow back fast.

There’s also color in every season, starting with spring bulbs and oxalis against the yaupon and sumac berries, followed by the salvias, columbine, daylilies, lantana, plumbago, Mexican heather (replacing the drowned pink skullcap), fall asters and fall bulbs. Purple heart, silver germander, and artemesia break up the green, and in fall, the muhlies’ seed heads are a sight a block away!

At the curb beds, which I’ve made very simple (rustic, shall we say?), there’s rosemary and bulbs, spring mountain laurel flowers and summer’s desert willow blooms, purple lantana, zexmenia, Mexican feather grass, and The Fairy pink rose.

It’s not highbrow, but it’s a lot more fun than the rigid row that came with the house, and certainly, in recent months, something that’s taken me out of front yard inertia to renewed enjoyment.

Until next week, Linda

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