Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Fall Garden

This morning is misty and the grass is still wet at 10:30.  We might see the sun sometime in the mid-afternoon and we might try to do more garden grooming.  I got restless and went out anyway to take some pictures of what's interesting in the garden now.

This is a hardy geranium named Rozanne, growing next to Russian Sage in one of the berms that define the two corners of our pie-shaped lot.  We believe in using multiple plants of the same variety when planting a large feature like a berm.  Rozanne has grown well this summer, and some plants have increased to over a two-foot spread, such as the one down the line in the same berm (below).

In May of 2011 we planted three Redbud "Forest Pansy" trees in this berm.  A year later we watched them snap off, one by one, from the force of wind gusts.  Thinking the bad luck was a fluke, we replaced the first casualty with another single-stem Redbud.  When the second one broke a couple of weeks later, we replaced it with a shorter, multi-stem Redbud.  And then when the third went down we decided not to replace it.  Clearly, the location is too exposed to strong winds.  Before I got around to removing the stump, suckers sprouted in a beautiful fountain shape, providing us with a "replacement" multi-stem tree, which will stay there just like that.

The exceptional heat stress this summer, together with a growing season that began with warm weather three weeks earlier than usual, subjected our daylilies to a climate like the Deep South.  They have seemed to grow more powerfully because of the amount of warm weather, but they have also suffered the random yellowing and death that is common in Houston, but seldom seen here.  I'm afraid I'm going to lose this new plant of Steve Moldovan's LOVE AND MARRIAGE.  It has the telltale appearance of a daylily that is sick and rotting above the crown.  I'm seeing this in four or five of my seedlings and in four or five other named varieties in a collection of about 900 varieties.

The varied response to multiple weather shocks is something I have not seen in twenty years of collecting daylilies.  Here's an interesting contrast in response.  I bought new plants of converted diploids in the spring and planted them next to each other.  The picture below shows the robust growth of Tet. CRYSTAL BLUE PERSUASION, which responded to the weather shocks by not flowering at all.  If you look on the ground to the right of this plant, you may see a very small fan emerging from a badly damaged crown of Tet. OUT OF THE BLUE, which flowered and then disintegrated.

The tiny regenerated fan is near the right edge of the picture above.  I moved about 3" of mulch out of the way so the little fan could feed on sunlight to the max.  Here's a picture of the sprout:

A few days ago, this fan was barely visible.  It's growing rapidly now; but if the crown tissue is rotting, the fan will lose its life-support system.  If the fan does not die from rot, the open question is whether it will have the cell mass necessary to withstand the multiple freezes of our winter.

We seem to have two kinds of Butterfly Bush in the back yard.  This taller one needed to be staked a couple of weeks ago when powerful winds just about uprooted it.

It is a nice presence in the large open space of the yard, but I wouldn't want it to grow any bigger.  In the adjacent bed we have a more squat variety that I also like very much.

I think I prefer the shape and size of this one better.  Off to the left of these beds is the area of Kathy's raised beds, which she has planted in cool-weather crops in the past two weeks.

The photo below is entitled "Give Peas a Chance," that's all we are saying about it.

Kathy tells me these are Snow Peas for our stir-fry dinners.  She has mapped each bed so she can tell what to call the sprout-du-jour.  These below look to be beets.

The earlier planting in Bed 1 is now up several inches beneath a porous garden cover.  Snap beans galore!

And at the other end of Bed 1, "shell peas."

Finally, in bloom today in one of the seedling beds, is 12-25 Wren's Song X Heir to the Throne.  It's good to know that it shows the blotches from all the mist in the air today.  That will be something to watch for next season.  It's one of many potential deal-killers in evaluating seedlings.  But for now, it's one of just a handful of daylilies in bloom at the end of September, and it's pretty.

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