Lots of little baby seedlings coming up! So exciting! Here are a few Larkspur (Consolida ambigua), which I sowed from a packet in fall.
Nearby is a hoard of Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damescena), self sown from a transplant I put in last spring.
Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) came up volunteer as well. I hope they'll retain the brown color of the type I planted last spring, but it's likely they'll revert to plain yellow.
California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), sown from a packet in fall, have popped up in several places, but this one is the most robust.
And one of my favorites from Wave Hill: Verbena bonariensis!
Well readers, I spoke too soon!
In my excitement to show you my lovely poppies, I stated earlier that they weren't as robust as they were last year.
After some excellent spring rains, they are more beautiful.
They remain my favorite flower and I couldn't resist an opportunity to highlight them again.
As I mentioned with my tulips, I have been a bit lazy in the past when it comes to bulb planting and always regretful. Part of my excuse is the more compressed growing season in Brooklyn, NY, where I gardened for ten years.
As both a professional and a personal gardener, I found myself weary at the end of a long stretch of non-stop plant nurturing. Since fall and early winter is the time to plant bulbs, my laziness often prevented me from the delayed gratification of a pretty spring display.
I did have these gorgeous Narcissus poeticus in Brooklyn and I must grow them again.
In spring of 2008, having missed the bulb planting window, I purchased some sweet little 'Tete a tete' narcissus already blooming in a plastic container at the farmers market. Once plunked into the ground they bloomed each spring.
In Dallas, I enjoy the varied ebb and flow of the long growing season. Though the leaves drop from the trees in winter, the ground doesn't freeze so we don't have to stop gardening. The scorching summer, however, forces us to hibernate, to a certain degree, in July and August.
When the heat finally lets up in late September, I am refreshed and eager to get out there again. Hence, my lovely daffodils this year! Unlike my tulips which were planted at the same time, these beauties will naturalize and expand with each year.
As part of another project which I will describe later, I'll be moving some narcissus and other bulbs up from the shadier backyard to get more sun and add to my springtime display.
Love this companion plant, Dusty Miller (Centaurea cineraria) which was alowed to grow from a scrawny $1.49, four-inch transplant into this bursting evergreen silver perennial!
I repeat: patience is a virtue.
How about a squeal of delight for the state flower of Texas: bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) blooming in my garden!!!
They are enhanced by the nearby foliage of blue fescue grass (Festuca glauca).
4 inch gardening pays off if you are patient.
Hopefully they will sow themselves and I'll have them every spring.
Yall know how much I love poppies! I'm positively bursting with springtime excitement!
(Papaver nudicale 'Champagne Bubbles')
Orange is my favorite color and we had a separate batch later, but I was glad I got the 'Champagne Bubbles' mix when I saw this unexpected creamy yellow beauty.
I must admit, I should've worked harder to ammend the soil in this newly dug bed. They are not as robust as they were last year. Oh well...an annual after all. Soil improvement will continue!
Continue improving. That's all you can do, right? Every year at this time I kick myself for not planting tulips when I see them blooming elsewhere. They are so showy and require little effort. This year I did plant them (Tulipa 'Passionale') and they are lovely!
Planting took me roughly ten minutes in December. I dig large, deep holes and dump in a minimum of 7 bulbs to get a bouquet effect. Since they cannot perennialize here with our mild winters and therefore lack of chilling hours, they are a bit of a luxury item. But they are so luxurious that next year I will plant more! All my neighbors have stopped by to appreciate them and that (plus the pleasure they have given me) makes it all worth it.
Welcome readers from Dirt Du Jour!
February 18th of 2007 was my very first post. The last five years have held a number of big changes for us. Many thanks to everyone who has visited this enjoyable sidelong project to my garden.
Our wonderful flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) is gorgeous again even after suffering through the horrible summer.
Cabbages and violas brighten up the area in front of the quince.
Loropetalum in full flower, happy settled in it's new spot.
Lots of pink tones this time of year! (Linaria maroccana) gives the long border a lift.
Looking forward to spring!
Much like one gallon gardening, 4 inch gardening is based on budgetary constraints.
To maximize my precious garden dollars, I often buy 4 inch annuals that have the potential to drop seeds and sow a new crop for me next year like this lovely (Linaria maroccana), a wildflower also known as Moroccan toadflax or mini snapdragons. I like how it looks next to my 'Red Sails' lettuce, a 4 inch vegetable transplant.
Just as some folks grow things they remember from their grandmother's garden, I love to grow plants that I learned about at Wave Hill, the beautiful public garden where I used to work. There, we had a sweet little self-sowing white and yellow (Linaria vulgaris) known by the common name: butter and eggs!
Bluebonnets (Lupinus texinsis), notoriously difficult to start from seed, are available in 4 inch pots in fall at NHG. For a little over a buck per plant, I get lovely foliage and the state flower of Texas blooming in spring. At that point, I'm satisfied, but if it also throws some seed around and reappears in the future, I'd be thrilled.
Notice in the upper background of this shot, baby seedlings of another wonderful Wave Hill plant, Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damescena) dropped at random by a plant orginially purchased in a 4 inch container last spring. Talk about getting your money's worth!
Zinnia 'Profusion Orange' planted in early summer, sprawled out to beautify a large area, while harmonizing with copper plant (Acalypha sp.), orange Wallflower (Erysimum sp.) and Dinosaur kale (Brassica oleracea). There is even a little Salvia leucantha 'Midnight' sticking up above the kale on the left. You guessed it! All grown from 4 inch.
Zinnia linearis was also gorgeous from June until December.
Sometimes a perennial like this Salvia farinacea 'Victoria', is sold as a 4 inch annual due to it's dwarf size which groups well with other bedding plants.
It blooms continuously and looks pretty along with other blues planted in the fall, but it also returns from the roots each year. A bargain hunter's dream!
Many people just use 4 inch material for color. Ornamental cabbage grow quickly if you plant them in early fall. Pentas complemented them until a freeze in December. Now rosy wine colored violas maintain a bit of a pink color scheme in front of my flowering quince shrub.
These orange violas attempt to blend in my new pink (not apricot), Apricot Drift Rose, an impulse purchase which looked more peachy in the garden center. Silver accent plants like Dusty Miller (Senecio bicolor subsp. cineraria) 'New Look' help too and will grow fat and lovely with time.
Of course you can start groundcover from 4 inch pots. When folks at NHG ask me — how many do I need? I say that it depends on your need for instant gratification. It takes most groundcover about 3 years to really establish and begin expanding.
Iceland poppies (Papaver nudicale) get planted in my garden as soon as they arrive in stock, usually in October. They live through our winter blooming occasionally, but the real show is in spring. I love poppies so much, I don't care that these don't perennialize or sow themselves. I must have poppies!
Turk's cap (Malvaviscus drummondii 'Pam Puryear') was one of the first items I planted at our house when we moved in around this time last year.
Many Texans are familiar with the red version, but the pink flowers provide a lovely contrast to our house's blue-green trim.
Blooming happily through summer and fall, it tolerates the morning shade and the scorching afternoon sun that this location dictates.
Through our living room window, we enjoyed watching hummingbirds visit the flowers during the miserable summer when we spent much of our time indoors.
Since it works so well in difficult locations like I described, I somewhat randomly added another on the side of the house in spring.
This fall, finally realizing that the lovely effects of this plant would have more impact if repeated all along the front of the house, I added another in this bed, one on the other side and one near a window in back.
In another design blunder, I had orignally placed this Chinese fringe flower (Loropetulum chinense 'Plum Delight') on the other side of the walk where I immediately feared it getting too large.
It's possible that it would've never occured to me to move it to the giant gap on this side unless my dear husband hadn't suggested it! Thank you, Brandon.
These lovely dark colored sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) were a favorite when we lived in Brooklyn.
Earlier this summer we grew and enjoyed them here.
Nothing could be easier to direct sow from seed. This type is called: 'Evening Sun' from Botanical Interests.
Primarily due to financial constraints, I purchase most of my plants in the least expensive size. Sometimes I start with perennials in a 4-inch pot or shrubs in a little container called a "one gallon."
This creates a landscape design challenge: one must imagine what the tiny plant might look like if it manages to reach full size and of course, patiently wait for it to grow.
Since I began working on this garden last October, I've been slowly extending the long border beside my neighbor's driveway. I had dug it out to this point (and also moved the dug up pieces of turf to fill in the patchy back yard lawn).
My niece Arden helped me plant the little shrubs in late May: Grayleaf Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster glaucophyllus), Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora), and Texas sage (Leucophyllum frutescens 'Desperado').
Later, I extended the border to include the Texas sage.
The plan is to slowy extend the border in a curve along the edge of the lawn, creating an enclosure with low to medium sized shrubs and perennials which will partially obscure our view of the road.
August and I visted the Dallas Arboretum in April during their Dallas Blooms spring event with my friend Johnette, her boys and her mother Donna. Though we live close by, it was only our second time to go.
Giant snowball viburnum (V. macrocephalum) blooms were gorgeous in the spring sunshine.
We taught the boys how to identify Wisteria.
Though it's flowers are stunningly pretty, I was surprised to see that they had planted an invasive species, Paulownia tomentosa or Princess Tree.
We used to see these sprouting in cracks in the sidewalk when we lived in Brooklyn so I recognized it immediately.
As you can see, they have hordes of azaleas which were in full bloom.
Another interesting beauty was the Red buckeye tree (Aesculus pavia var. flavescens).
We certainly enjoyed our visit. We must return more often to this nearby garden.
The front yard is slowly coming along. The weather has been more or less wonderful since the beginning of March. We've had lots of warm, beautiful days — perfect for working outside.
The west-side bed has mostly pinks and dark foliaged plants, though, I added orange violas in winter when most everything had gone out of bloom. Our house faces northwest with a few trees in my neighbor's yard partly blocking the afternoon sun so I've spent the past few months trying to learn how much sun the two front areas receive... it's rather patchy.
A little section of the east-side bed sticks out to receive more sun so I immediately planted my favorite flower — poppies — in that spot.
They bloomed a bit in fall, quietly withstood our harsh winter and were lovely the past two months. We can see them from inside our bedroom window and they still have new buds.
In the same bed is an overgrown holly which I trimmed up to remove a bunch of dead wood and previously butchered branches. It's still pretty much a meatball shape and out of scale, but since we are renters, I am hesitant to chop it down just yet.
Attempting to soften the corner and lower branches, I planted liriope (L. muscari varigata/gigantea) underneath.
Though I certainly could've done a more thorough prep, the sunny front yard border has been cleaned up to the extent that I've been forging ahead with new plantings.
The oldest and therefore largest is Centaurea cineraria 'Colchester White,' which I stuffed into a bare spot last fall before ever removing any weeds. I like how the silver leaves look with the trunks of the Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus).
Wave Hill has a large collection of salvias and I grew very fond of them while working there. Beautiful blue Salvia farinacea 'Henry Duelberg' was discovered by Greg Grant in a Texas cemetary thriving without special care.
In the forefront of this photo is another blue mealy cup sage. Salvia farinacea 'Victoria' is a dwarf form staying under twelve inches. It's sold as a bedding annual, but it returned where I planted it in my mothers garden last spring. You can also see blue fescue and love in a mist (Nigella damescena).
Salvia. longispicata x farinacea 'Mystic Spires Blue' crosses another favorite salvia of mine from Wave Hill, 'Indigo Spires' with a dwarf form to make a shorter, sturdier plant with a gorgeous deep blue flower.
Lamb's ear (Stachys byzantia 'Helen Von Stein') is planted on the edge of the bed anticipating that it will spread and widen the border. More to come!
There are many iris rhizomes that I inherited with this house. They are in every area that one could consider a flower bed. I love iris and I happily anticipated what might bloom from this seemingly large collection — perhaps another wonderful gift from the previous gardener?
The first group bloomed in the backyard. White. Not my favorite color, but certainly pretty especially with ivy as a backdrop.
I began to worry that they might all be white. Or not bloom at all!
Then another backyard group budded. Surely, they'll be a different color, I thought, since they have a different bloom time. Nope. More white.
Apparently over time, if an iris bed is not maintained, the stronger white flowers can dominate and choke out other colors. From my understanding, it has been many years since my landlord's gardening mother lived in the house so the white clumps seem to have taken over. Or perhaps she loved white... ?
A big group bloomed a little later in a front yard bed. Arg! More white!
Finally a large separate group in the front yard long border bloomed — yellow!
Two more, which I neglected to photograph, bloomed purple in the backyard. This fall I'm going to move them to a sunnier spot in hopes that they will become more vigorous. Some of the whites might get moved to my mother's garden.