In a definite case of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do, I have been busy planting this week. If I had seen someone at the nursery with as many plants as I had on my carts, I would have labeled them a novice. Nobody plants in the middle of summer. But I have a good excuse, or a couple of them. I really want to attract more butterflies to the gardens and since there are so many of them fluttering around looking for their favorite flowers, I figured now is a good time to add some of them to the garden before I forget.
Rose of Sharon
I also have an upcoming event taking place in my gardens. We entertain a lot, but not usually in the summer or out in the gardens. It just so happens that all our parties seem to take place in the winter when the gardens are rather quiet and people gravitate to the inside of the house. Plus there is such a great selection at the nurseries this time of year! I am usually not visiting them much in the summer, but they are just packed with all kinds of great plants that I don't always see other times of the year.
So although I'm happy to be able to utilize the gardens for a wonderful summer party, this is just not a good year for taking advantage of the flower beds. I have lost a number of perennials, either due to them just being at the end of their life cycle (not all perennials live forever) or because we have had an issue with the new low volume sprinkler heads not putting out enough water to keep anything blooming, or in some cases, alive. Of course the ongoing drought is not helping either. So I have been trying to choose wisely and water efficiently to give these new lovelies a good start, even if it is the middle of summer.
Into the later half of July and we still have overcast mornings, some much needed but unexpected rain, and it is finally starting to get hot enough to turn the tomatoes ripe. I even picked my first fig this morning and will savor it in a couple days with some cheese and honey.
The tomatoes finally got staked by my son who stopped by a couple weekends ago and made a run to the nursery for me.
I have tried to make it as inconvenient as possible for the dogs to get to them and enjoy them before we do.
The red among all the foliage is a welcome sight! Along with the different basil that also appreciate the sunny days there is a carpese salad in the near future.
These oranges have been sweet and tasty for a while, which usually doesn't happen until the heat kicks in to give them some flavor. Must be an excellent variety (that I can't remember) for the coast. It is always a good idea to shop the local nurseries that know what varieties do best in our fickle climate.
With the water regulations in play, most of the flowering perennials that would be in bloom now are laying low. It hasn't been terribly warm yet, so there are still some corners of the garden in the shade that hint at what the garden used to be during years when there was adequate rainfall. I'm surprised to see the baby tears since most of the other tiny groundcovers have disappeared, but this little corner near the front door sits in the shade and must get a good dose from the sprinkler nearby a couple times a week. Other plants a few feet away are shrinking and shriveling. Sometimes I am fooled by what hangs in there and which plants cannot handle the stress.
I have to admit that my garden is looking pretty pathetic right now. Even though most of the plants are rather drought tolerant and I don't think it is necessarily the water restrictions that are causing the havoc as much as the erratic summer weather combined with my lack of attention. It is cool and overcast for a few days, then hot and humid for a while, then dry and windy.
I have very few things in bloom when this should be the peak season for things like roses and lilies. Most of my lilies have disappeared over the years and I still have the new bulbs waiting to be planted.
The roses have been cut back hard due to looking very shabby from sawfly larve, an ongoing problem. I need to make a trip to the nursery for some organic treatments and keep up the spraying. There are a few blooms here and there.
I am getting concerned because I have a big event coming up here at the house and only about six weeks to get everything in shape. But this week we have our four oldest grandchildren coming for their special week with us so everything is just going to have to hang in there a little longer - I have more important things to do right now!
I use aeoniums as ground cover in a number of spots for the simple reason that they are so easy to propagate. Just take a rosette and stick it in the ground and you have a new plant.They do best in bright areas or filtered sun. But they are not fool proof in that they do need some regular water. They are not cactus! The picture above is a spot that they are quite happy in, a neglected corner with just the right amount of sun and water.
This picture is a spot they are not too happy with, along the curb in the front yard. My garden helper put them in on his own when the creeping thyme wasn't doing so well. Naturally they can't be walked on so maybe not a great choice next to where people park and get out of their cars. But the main problem is not enough water in this spot. There are sprinklers here, but the soil is so thin and sloped that it just won't seep into the ground and these guys are thirsty (but they are still creating offspring I notice). They ball up and turn red when not happy. I am planning on replacing them with dymondia in the fall or next spring. Not my favorite groundcover as far as looks go, but I guess you can't beat it for being tough and drought tolerant. Almost anything will be an improvement over this!
We have been enjoying peaches, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, blueberries, strawberries and one tomato from the garden this week. There are only a few grapes on the vines (need to prune next winter) but they are starting to ripen too. Fruit from the garden is almost too easy in some cases!
I do love my Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum) that grow in the Moonlight Garden. They have been in the same spots for many years and never fail to produce lots of tall, cheerful blooms all summer.
My only frustration is that I have planted them in a few other spots, trying to spread their glory, but they have never taken off and in fact disappear. I suspect they must be very tasty to rabbits that don't venture this close to the house.
They are practially pest free unless you have slugs and snails from what I understand (I don't have to deal with those pests, I am guessing the local rodents take care of them, but I did get rid of them with Sluggo (organic snail bait) when I first moved in and they have never returned.) Another nice thing about these big daisies is that they make the perfect landing spot for all kinds of friendly bees, bugs, and butterflies. One more thing - they make great cut flowers. If only I would get around to making bouquets for the house!
It seems like the groundcovers that are not succulent in nature have a really hard time doing well with limited water. I'm guessing it is because they usually have very shallow roots. Convolvulus sabatius (Ground Morning Glory) is an exception. It is really more like a very short shrub, growing about three feet wide, along the ground, and I'm assuming it has deeper roots because of this. You buy it in one gallon containers and it doesn't naturally root, reseed or send out runners (unlike crazy vine morning glories) so maybe it isn't really considered a ground cover, more like a ground hugger! I do love the color and the easy growing nature of this charming plant, blooms all year round and drought tolerant too! You couldn't ask for more!
A shady nook in the garden that rarely is seen by most viistors still has a few English primrose blooms left thanks to the cool, overcast weather we have been having. The hellebores were done blooming months ago. These primrose were in a basket I used for some dining room arrangements in March and were just kind of stuck in the ground when they stopped blooming, but I guess they had more buds to show!