Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Too hard to resist moving plants

With the fence finished (The last walk-through gate was installed today!) I couldn't resist planting a few purchases and moving the 'Crimson Pygmy' barberries to their new home outside the fence. I struggled briefly with the idea that they might get a bit crispy this weekend, but decided it was worth the risk. Luckily, the weather forecast seems to be moderating its predictions slightly. Now this weekend is supposed to stay below 90F.

On Tuesday, I stopped at Means Nursery to see what they had. I'm going to start making regular visits to catch any good deals on deciduous trees (and anything else I find interesting) to stockpile them for fall planting. This time, I picked up four deciduous azaleas: 'Mandarin Lights', 'Golden Lights', 'Mary Poppins', and 'Fireball'. I'm very much a fan of golden yellows, oranges, and reds, and these four cover the whole spectrum. Deciduous azaleas were one of the things I was really excited to grow once the fence was finished. There was a big, fragrant golden yellow one (probably a hybrid of Rhododendron luteum) at our old house in the fenced area. I would love to find another like it. The four I found at Means are all wonderful, but none of them get as big as that one was. I also picked up three 'Top Hat' blueberries and eight more Carex testacea. The carex are large enough that I plan to divide them so I'll have 16!

Before tackling the barberries, I did a few easy things like planting the blueberries and a few random things I had picked up previously.

The blueberries should grow quite well in the rich, organic soil along the big log in the paperbark maple bed. The three Rhododendron impeditum I moved early are outside of this photo to the right, for reference. At some point, I'll take pictures of the entire bed again so you'll be able to see. But first I want to get more plants in.

I couldn't resist Bolax gummifera at Xera the other day. I'm hoping it will like the fast drainage and rich soil of the paperbark maple bed. If it's successful there, I'll try it in other places eventually.

Hopefully it will make a nice, low, evergreen groundcover in front of the Rhododendron impeditum. I purchased a rather full 4-inch pot, so I planted it in two chunks, the other chunk outside this picture to the right.

I planted the sempervivums I purchased at Tsugawa's in the ramp bed in front of the house.These two didn't have any chicks I could separate earlier for my succulent propagation tray, but they are sending out lots of runners now so I'll be getting plenty more.

I amended another small section of the bed along the front of the house and put in a few plants. About half of the section is shown here, sans mulch. The green rosette in the back is my first (but not my last) Eryngium agavifolium. Diagonally to the left is Veronica spicata ssp. incana, bearing silvery grey-green leaves with white reverses. Later it will have 1 to 2-foot spikes of blue flowers. Silver and blue in one plant! My only complaint is that it isn't evergreen, but that shouldn't be a problem behind the giant yellow heather. The purple sedum is the Sedum 'Bertram Anderson' I bought at Tsugawa's. The cuttings I took from it are slower to root than the other sedums in the tray (shown here) but they are starting to root. It's deciduous nature is also a bit disappointing. I've seen the new Sunsparkler sedums here and there, with the word "evergreen" on some of their labels. Maybe I'll try those, since they have bigger leaves than most evergreen sedums.


I also popped in a couple Artemisia versicolor 'Seafoam', one to the left of the area photographed above and one at the south end of the house. Sorry, forgot to take pictures of them, but they're rather small plants and wouldn't have made for good photos anyway. So on to the barberries!

First, a round of before shots:
All the fading foliage of crocuses and Allium siculum in this photo really reminds me I need to mark their locations to dig up in a few weeks. The croci, at least, need to be scattered around instead of being in these dense masses. I also need to figure out a way to make them less ugly at this stage. I should put them around the plants that emerge later, like the variegated purple moor grass, or even at the fringes of the Carex comans, where I can sweep the carex leaves over the fading bulb foliage once the blooms are done.



That silly red poppy keeps making me laugh at these photos. It, too, needs to find somewhere else in the garden to live. I'm not sure where, though. I'm afraid it may sit around like my Liatris spicata. Neither plant is my usual taste, but both provided ample, deer-resistant color when I was desperate for anything. Now, though , I really have no clue where to put them. They don't fit into any of my current planting schemes.

I cut all the barberries back severely in order to move them.

And the after shots. You'll notice a few plants in pots here and there as I play with their placement. Not sure if I'll plant them this month or wait until fall. These pictures are somewhat embarrassing to share. They aren't pretty, that's for sure. But they are real. Gardens go through awkward, ugly stages as we work on various projects.



So much space! Now that the barberries are gone, I can see better what I'm working with, how I want to move the remaining plants in the bed, and plan what to add.


The barberries were moved outside the fence, at the head of the driveway where the fence cuts the corners on either side. I won't be very surprised if they don't survive in these spots, as they are very dry in summer and I doubt anyone will bother to drag a hose out there after the first year. Still, no sense getting rid of plants when you have somewhere they can go, right?

On the east side of the driveway, the barberries are in especially dry shade. These are the ones I'm expecting to die, if not this summer, then eventually. Prove me wrong, barberries. Prove me wrong. I've read that the shrubby jasmines are good for dry shade. I may track down a few of those to mix in with the barberries on this side of the driveway. Even though they are deciduous, the green stems will provide some "evergreen" color in winter.

On the west side of the driveway, the barberries aren't growing right at the base of a Douglas fir and are only lightly shaded. These ones may actually live. I couldn't avoid digging up a couple volunteer heathers with one of the barberries, so I decided they would look good in front of the barberries. They can grow in their natural state there, without shearing, except to make them a little bushier eventually.

By the time I was finished with the barberries, the energy my cold had allowed me for the day was depleted and I staggered around the yard putting tools and a cart-load of barberry branches away. I managed a few photos of various things around the yard before I finally admitted defeat and went inside. As I type this post, my head keeps drooping, but I couldn't stand going more than two days without posting something. This cold seems to hit and retreat, knocking me out one day and leaving me coughing but otherwise fine the next. Maybe I'll take it easy today, surfing the web for plant ideas for the driveway island and paperbark maple bed.

14 comments:

  1. So sorry to read you're not feeling well, colds hit me hard too. I know that spot where you put the barberries is in deer territory, but have you thought about planting native shrubs there, like red flowering currant, our native ninebark, or maybe vine maples. Both Pierce County and King County run native plant sales in February where you can get quite a few shrubs for very cheap. Mine are all very vigorous growers, and if they survive the deer, they'll be well adapted to not getting watered in summer. I'm very familiar with the ugliness of having a makeover in progress, I've been doing the same in several areas of my garden this year too.

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    1. Thanks, Alison. Unfortunately, all your suggestions for native plants are deer food. About the only natives suitable for that spot would be mahonia or salal. I may put in some Mahonia nervosa. Makeovers are ugly, but fun, aren't they?

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    2. I'm bringing some Mahonia nervosa down next weekend for the Portland Bloggers Plant Sale. Should I set some aside for you? No charge, I would have brought them to the Exchange if I hadn't made other plans for that day.

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    3. Oh, yes please! Thank you so much! That reminds me, I have a few Allium siculum that I dug while taking out the barberries. I promised last year that I would give you some. The leaves are dying back from being dug up, but they should resprout fine next year. I'll bring them with me. I need to give some to Loree, too.

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  2. Rats! Colds should know that this time of year they shouldn't bother gardeners! We've got far too much to do to be ill! Sorry to hear that you're not feeling well. How exciting that the fence is finally done and you are starting to move plants. Look at all that glorious space you now have!

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    1. Thanks, Peter. At least this cold hit during a heat wave so I have an excuse to laze about in the AC.

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  3. I was gob-smacked by the fragrance of Azalea 'Northern Lights' on a recent garden visit and vowed to find one. Now I'm wondering if all those '...Lights' share the fragrance gene? My other concern is the Azalea lacebug, which seems to be doing a number on several of our Rhodies. Any ideas? Be well.

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    1. I'm not sure all the Lights series are particularly fragrant. The label on Mandarin Lights says nothing about fragrance, but Golden Lights is described as fragrant. I haven't noticed any sign of that lacebug. I should read up on it so I can be prepared.

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  4. Hope you feel better soon! Silly virus getting in the way of inspired garden planting :)

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    1. Thanks guys! My head has been so foggy I couldn't even concentrate on reading about plants, much less do any planting.

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  5. It's hard to ignore the siren call of the garden, isn't it? Regrettably, sometimes we do need to stop and give our bodies a chance to rest (or they take their revenge and sideline us for longer still). You've already got a head start on what I'm sure will be an intense period of planting this fall so make the most of this rest period and get well soon.

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    1. It was good to stop anyway, with the heat coming over the weekend. I guess I'll shift from my "take action" mindset and revert to planning mode for fall.

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  6. I hope the barberries survive. If not, you'll find something else that will do well in that area (Allison and some good ideas). More importantly, I hope you'll get better soon. Internet gardening is almost as much fun as the real thing, and often is needed to get cool ideas. The renovated maple bed features the dry creek better, which I love.

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    1. Alison's ideas were good. Unfortunately the deer would agree. Thanks for the well wishes. Hmm, it may show the dry creek beds better, but I think I'll still put plants back in. The half empty look doesn't work for me.

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