It seems the only reason I have time to write here is because I am not feeling quite well so have taken the day off while Allan weeds on our gardens at Discovery Heights, an area I feel comfortable delegating because there are no precious new plantings or mysterious seedlings that no one but I would recognize. Normally, I would work through what slightly ails me but am desperate to not get sick before next week’s Hardy Plant Society Study Weekend!
So here’s what I have been planning to write about: the many thoughts that occur while we work on the container gardens in Long Beach, Ilwaco, and other private and public gardens. It might look like we are just deadheading or watering, but there are all sorts of worries going on in the background at this time of year!
You may recall we planted this beach approach container in the rain. Now, I was hoping and am still hoping that having a memorial plaque on a planter would protect it from vandalism, so I fervently wish it were a bird that pulled out a plant where you can see a hole. The plant was still there, just moved to sit atop the soil several inches away, so perhaps, just perhaps, it was a gull or crow who did the damage. Allan had gone to check this planter on his own, bless his heart, and the rain had kept the little plant moist so he was able to pop it right back in.
In Ilwaco, on one side of the street I have a lovely planter which was totally redone this spring and thus had less bulb foliage to contend with. Right across the street, I have a planter that plagues me with discontent. Its Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ was too big so I cut it back by half, which usually works by making it bloom with smaller but more profuse flowers. But our late spring storms beat it up and now I find it an embarrassment. It will perk up…surely…but for now I am dissatisfied, yet it seems too wasteful to do the container over.
The container to the left is okay….Not glorious but it will do. The one to the right gives me a thrill because I planted it mostly in yellow to echo the colour of the little cafe. It would be the only planter in town that has a yellow erisymum center except for a little problem with mislabeling….(More on this a bit later.)
Oh, and here is another problem (above); usually the Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (center photo) has profuse and lovely blue flowers at this time of year, but a freak 45 mph wind storm and constant, record breaking rain has made it look pretty pitiful. So what to do? Cut it back and wait for a second bloom? Pick off every yellowed leaf? In this case, I decided to cut it halfway back and am not sure that was the correct decision. Just looking at this photo makes me want to walk downtown and cut the rest of it off.
Back to the mislabeled Erysimum: A reputable and excellent local nursery got a whole shipment of gallon sized Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve’, and then some of them started to come out with bright yellow flowers. I decided I wanted some of the yellow ones, to put by that yellow cafe, and at a McDonald’s drive through pocket garden, and a few other places. I tried, as did the nursery owners, to sight out which ones were going to be the yellow ones, but when I planted a pair of planters at Diane’s garden next door to the Red Barn horse arena, I was horrified to see one of the two alleged ‘Bowles’ Mauve’ emerging bright garish yellow in a garden where the owner likes pastels and purples and blues! Then I remembered the purple one I’d planted in a whiskey barrel next door at the barn, and did a quick switch. I wonder if anyone noticed that the colours changed overnight?
An odd thing also happened with the Ilwaco street tree gardens, which are small enough to almost be called planters (at least for the purpose of fitting the story into this post!). First of all, I was might grumpy to see my Salvia viridis (painted sage) plants just stepped on…I mean really, sometimes, what is the point of planting special little things?
Most of the Ilwaco tree gardens were doing quite well despite the wind, with solidly established perennials. We are slowly removing some of the bricks because they are such a trial to weed between, which is why I had had room to add a few annuals salvias.
When the trees were originally planted, I added some free perennials starts that I garnished here and there: (left) Geranium macrrorhizum with fragrant leaves, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’; (middle) golden marjoram, the same geranium, and a dwarf Solidago (goldenrod); right; variagated bulbous oat grass and some of the geranium and a chrysanthemum. To our surprise, we recently found one of the trees completely denuded of underplantings except for two dandelions and some chickweed which had been hiding under the perennial foliage!
I got one of the kind folks from the merchants who pay me to care for these gardens to find out what happened. The store owner beside this tree had decided the plants underneath were weeds and removed every one. I can’t recall what….free things like some Lady’s Mantle, a Chrysanthemum and some self seeded white feverfew. (The oddest things was leaving behind the dandelions and chickweed…) I don’t want to be mean and say which tree it was, and I hope no one will be able to tell because it now has six new plants under it that should make it blend in with the others. And let’s face it, Lady’s Mantle and Feverfew ARE a little boring to some gardeners who have gotten tired of their self-seeding frenzies.
Oh, and the idea of having the yellow cafe’s planter being the only one in Ilwaco that had a yellow Erysimum, and all the rest would be centred with Eryisimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve’? Well, at least three of the others are popping out bright yellow, so…so much for that.
Meanwhile, in the Long Beach Planters:
That damnable windstorm whacked my cosmos badly; even some of the ones that I thought had survived browned off and plotzed within a week. We went round and did a second planting, and have a few more to do a third planting in the areas that were hardest hit. If I had read the Cliff Mass weather blog at ten AM on the morning when we went out to plant…I would have waited…but we were just loading the car at the time he posted his dire wind warning.
Two of four of the lush gallon sized Salvia patens that we had placed on either side of four of the lamp posts in Long Beach planters broke right off in the wind, but pluckily they are putting out new growth from the base.
The good news is that the gorgeous baskets from the Basket Case Greenhouse were not yet hung in Long Beach for the big wind storm, and they came through a second and lesser wind storm with no damage. One of the city crew members waters them daily, including weekends.
And here’s a little thing that has made me really happy: I planted this little red plumed cutie in two Ilwaco planters (and promptly lost the tag, so I can’t tell you what they are). I have no idea how well they will do in a container that gets watered three times a week, but the best news is that two weeks later, both plants are still there!