Scorecard: plants vs. me, part one

>> Friday, September 21, 2007

Well, it’s time for a critical look at what did and did not survive in my garden this year.s

This is the first time I have done this since this is my first year as a perennial flower gardener. So far, there are more survivors than fatalities, so I guess I am encouraged enough to continue into next year. Winter will be yet another test.

First, I will examine the backyard beds which are all on the north side of the house.

Here is bed B1, on the west side of the deck and against the south side of the house, as of Sep 21, 2007.

Admittedly, not a very good picture. I will need to replace it with another taken later in the day when the sun is to the west of the house.
The back of the house, when we first moved in was pretty stark. To get from the kitchen back door to the ground there was a porch of 6’ by 6’ solid concrete with three concrete steps down. This deck really changed the character of the yard and it created this ‘nook’ that I thought should be filled with shrubs and perennials. Future plans show a Hydrangea dominating the corner surrounded by Hosta and various other shade plants.

The plants I planted in this bed, over the course of the spring and summer, are:

Astilbe Amethyst (did not make it)
Caryopteris Dark Knight (did very well)
Hosta Golden Tiara (did not make it)
Hosta Piedmont Gold (barely survived)
Hydrangea Parzifal (did not make it)
Lamium White Nancy (did very well)
Marigold Petite Orange (did very well)

Caryopteris Dark Knight

I first heard of this plant this year and fell in love with it. It did so well that I bought two more. One of the others has light green foliage and to me looks a little anemic. Maybe it’s because of where it is planted. I have plans to move it. But this one looks great and bloomed like crazy. And the bees like it! The third one has variegated foliage and I can’t wait to see how it does.

Hosta Piedmont Gold

I don’t seem to be able to find much information on this particular variety. The flower is pale lavender and blooms mid-summer but the flower is not why anyone puts these in their garden. This location, on the north side of the house, is not ideal. It’s in bright shade until late afternoon when the sun reaches under the Peach tree for about two hours. I don’t know if that much sun was burning it or it isn’t getting enough water or the soil is staying too wet. The soil is clay but has had composted steer manure and bark mulch worked into last summer and again the Spring before planting it in May. The leaf tips are not the usual dried crispy brown that is a sure sign of lack of water, but rather they are flimsy as if they are too wet. This one is going to be real challenge to figure out. Once I do get it under control I want several other varieties because do have a wonderful variety of foliage.

Lamium White Nancy

This is spotted deadnettle and is really thriving in this location. It keeps sprouting white flowers all over it and then they disappear only to return again. The foliage is really great, it looks like it is frosted. There are three plants here and I guess I could have put them further apart.

Marigold Petite Orange

What else can be said about Marigolds? I put these here to help create some color because I knew this area would be empty all summer. I am really impressed with their bushiness and long lasting flowers. I haven’t ever pinched the blooms and they just are always there. I am taking this as a sign that they like the shade and the afternoon sun. I have other Marigolds elsewhere in the full sun all day and they aren’t as healthy as these.

The Astilbe, Hosta and Hydrangea all shriveled up and are barely recognizable as having been plants. The really weird part of this is that I planted these three plants, and the Hosta Piedmont Gold, all on the same day and they are all planted in the same location getting the same amount of water, food, and sunlight. There has not been any sign of insect or snail damage on any of them. Why did this one plant survive? Another one of those mysteries that make you go, hmmmm.

Here is bed B2, on the south side of the shed and on the east side of a wooden fence.

This bed consists mainly of Raspberry Heritage planted against the fence. I started with six plants in April of 2005 and they have since expanded into God knows how many. I have had to thin out quite a few to keep them in bounds. They only first produced this year (and they were worth the wait).

The Clematis Jackmanii, climbing up the trellis against the shed, was planted in April of 2006 and is doing well, except they did not bloom the whole year as expected. Last year it produced one lonely blossom at the end of June and was quite large, about 4” across. This year there were about 15 blooms that opened in late May, about the same size as last year, but only lasted for three weeks! The blossoms were darker than last year, and quite beautiful, but I thought they were supposed to last a lot longer.

This is the same bed that I had started a Rose floribunda Honey Perfume last year and it did so poorly that I transplanted it to one of the front yard beds where it survived and flourished.

In 2005, I planted some Plumbago along the shed that did not even last until the end of the summer. There are Daffodils, I planted in November 2004, that came up in ’05, ’06, and again this year just fine.

Out of frustration at trying to find something that will grow in that sunny, warm spot, I sowed about 20 sunflower seeds left over from a couple of packets I purchased in 2006.

Only three came up. I have heard that seeds are not likely to be viable for more than a year unless properly kept. I don’t know how to store them properly and I planted them knowing they may not be even sprout. Getting any of them to actually grow was a fluke.


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