Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Friday, September 11, 2015

Planting out the pot ghetto

Cooler weather has finally arrived! Even though the thermometer telling me the high yesterday was 83 degrees, it felt more like 75. Maybe it was all those days over 90 that made it seem so much cooler. 

Despite today and tomorrow forecast to be a little warm, the cooler weather has me thinking about planting again. Which is a good thing, considering the pot ghetto I've amassed this summer. I think it's tripled in size since the end of winter, at least. 

Most of the plants in the photo below, at least, have a specific purpose, a set destination. These are going to the driveway island makeover. The other four fifths of the ghetto in the photo above are the random accumulations of a hopeless plant addict.

Last weekend, I started setting out plants from the ghetto to decide where to put them. I'm still not quite ready to dig up all the established plants in the driveway island, though, so these potted plants were merely to get an idea.

While I was in the driveway island, I spotted this maneater in a patch of bearded iris. She could very well be one of the tiny babies I released in the vegetable garden and have spotted intermittently over the summer in progressively larger sizes. She looks about ready to lay her own egg case. A skinny green suitor was nearby, torn between continued life and completing his biological imperative. No one said it was easy being green.

While I'm not quite ready to start work on the driveway island, other areas are ripe for planting, since I don't have to uproot any mature plants to put the new ones in.

Much of this area, from the driveway just behind me to the dry-stack wall surrounding the raised bed in the distance on the left, stays green all summer, even this summer. It's also, for the most part, shaded during the hottest part of the day, especially now with the sun moving lower. I feel comfortable planting in this area ahead of the fall rains provided I water well at planting. I'm now using a technique I learned from Paul Bonine of Xera Plants, digging a planting hole twice as big as the rootball (which I usually do) and filling the hole with water. I then let the water drain and repeat the process once more. This helps ensure the soil stays moist for longer. It does pay to stalk Facebook groups, after all. Beyond the raised bed, the lawn turns into dead, brown wasteland (well, tinged green after that last rain storm). Even there, though, I think I'm ready to start planting. That August storm dropped almost 2 inches of rain on the yard. With that, the cooler weather, and the new planting technique, things should be fine.

 Yesterday I finally got a few things in the ground, expanding the circle around my Acer metcalfii into a full bed around 15 feet long by 7 or 8 feet wide at the widest point. I need to get some newspaper pinned down on it to keep the creeping buttercup from reclaiming the area. At the far right is a Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum 'Cascade' and an Aspidistra elatior, barely visible. The viburnum was a rescue plant. It did put out a few new leaves after I brought it home and started watering. However, as I was planting it I noticed at least some of the bark at the base rubbed off to reveal dead wood. Hopefully there is enough living tissue connecting the shoots to the roots. If not, I'll be replacing it with something else next spring.

Now for a rundown of the other plants. In this photo, on the right, Azara microphylla with tiny, dark green leaves. Clockwise from there: Hosta 'The Shining', Cyrtomium falcatum, and Aspidistra elatior. In front of the aspidistra is an Ardisia japonica 'Hakuokan' that I dug out from under a rhody, where I had originally planted it last summer to protect it from the deer. Fences are wonderful things. The aspidistra and cyrtomium were moved from a bed near the back deck that gets too much sun and is too dry in summer, on top of having absolutely terrible soil that can flood in winter. Both plants should darken considerably now that they are in better soil with less sun. I need to figure something else out for that other bed.

Ardisia japonica 'Hakuokan', a semi-shrubby evergreen groundcover. Or at least it's supposed to be evergreen. It lost most of its leaves last winter. But then, it had just been planted and it was raised in Hawaii. It took a while to get going this spring, being trapped under a rhody for its own protection. Hopefully it makes it through this winter and can take off faster next spring in this more open spot. It is supposed to be hardy to zone 7, after all...

The hosta spent the last two years in a container on the back deck. It had grown to the point that it was shrinking...wait, what? Yes, the leaves were half the size this year compared to last year. It has also been impossible to keep it watered this summer, even on a north-facing deck, and it didn't show any signs of blooming. Divided into three plants, these are the first hostas I've actually planted in the ground! I had a couple miniatures in containers on the deck, safe from the deer. The Shining was a freebie, with big, chartreuse leaves and 4 inch long, pristine white, deliciously fragrant flowers, so I put it in a big container on the deck. I had planned to divide it, replant it in the container, and give away the extras, but with the new fence, I can actually put them in the ground! Sorry, I'll have to divide it for giveaways another time. This time I'm using it to fill some of the copious empty space I have. In front of the two hostas, I planted Adiantum venustum, divided from a patch in the bed by the back deck. This groundcovering fern is supposed to be evergreen, but I'm pretty sure it died down last winter. I wasn't here, so I don't know. Hopefully it will behave better in this new location. I left half of the clump in the bed by the driveway, as it seemed to be doing well enough, if not exactly thriving. That may change next summer, as the aspidistra in the previous photo was providing some shade for the adiantum. The other half may be joining these two divisions.

I also planted my little Corylopsis spicata seedling in this bed. Hopefully the chartreuse color is retained and isn't a fluke of the potting soil it was growing in.

Also relocated from the bed by the deck, Mukdenia rossii 'Karasuba' (also known as 'Crimson Fans') did not appreciate its former growing site, being rather hotter and drier than I had anticipated. The cool, moist soil, amended with plenty of compost, in its new location should provide better accomodations.

And finally, for now, the two Cyclamen purpurascens that I purchased from Garden Fever get a piece of the new real estate, too. I remember claiming last time I wrote about them that they didn't have much fragrance. Maybe the flowers that were open when I bought them were old, because I change my opinion. They have a wonderful, bubblegum scent, though you do have to get down on your hands and knees to appreciate it. Maybe once there's a whole patch of them it will be detectable while standing upright. Both plants are developing lots of seed pods, and more flowers. Cyclamen purpurascens is one of the few hardy cyclamen that will remain evergreen, with no summer dormancy, provided it has sufficient water. It also starts blooming before Cyclamen hederifolium, but can continue blooming into fall along with that more common species. This is the third species of cyclamen to join my "collection," with C. hederifolium and C. coum making up the rest.

Well, back to planting! Oh, but wait, there are plant sales this weekend... Hmm, add to my pot ghetto before I even really start emptying it out, or stay home and keep planting?

P.S. Please note that I have changed the settings for comments to allow anyone, including anonymous users, to comment. Hopefully this will solve the problem for those of you who have experienced difficulty commenting. However, this also means I've had to set up comment moderation, as last time I tried to do so without, it wasn't long before the spam vultures started circling.

16 comments:

  1. Quite exciting to get planting isn't it? And you pot ghetto looks so neat!

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    1. Yes it is! And thank you! My pot ghetto had some rezoning in spring. Much easier to keep things neat and less weedy on a concrete slab than a patch of weedy lawn.

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  2. Hooray for the cooler weather. Your redone bed looks great! I've started some reworking in the back garden where the raccoons have ravaged things. I need some Aspidistra for my shady back corner.

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    1. I love fall. Hope your reworking produces a garden that can handle the raccons better.

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  3. I'm envious of both the drop in your temperature and your ability to get started with your fall planting. Our miserable heatwave is expected to hang on a few days yet and all I can stand is an hour or so in the garden in early morning and again in late afternoon. Nothing much is getting done except emergency measures to keep what I've got alive through this heat.

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    1. I hope your heatwave ends soon. We're experiencing a 3-day return to 80's (90's for Portland), but after that it's back to 60's and perhaps some rain. It's so good to plant again!

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  4. Wow - it must have been hot there this summer to consider 83F 'cool'. I start to expire when it hits 75! You've made huge inroads in the planting out from the pot ghetto and its looking really good. I really like that Corylopsis - they are a stunning shrub when mature

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    1. We set a new record for the days over 90 this summer, and that's after breaking the old record just last summer. I don't care for temperatures over 75, either! Corylopsis are a favorite of mine, too.

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  5. You have your work cut out for you but, as gardeners, I guess we would call it play. Cooler weather coming up for planting, so I say don't miss the plant sales.

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    1. Yes I do! And yes, it is also play ;) I do plan to hit actual sales, where things are marked down. Less sure about the temptation of the HPSO fall sale. Though I suppose it can't hurt to take a look, right?

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  6. You must remember that long view, from the driveway to the raised bed, and take annual pictures from the very same spot. I just love seeing the transformation that take place in the garden when plants start taking off. Oh, and I went and got me a cyclamen to add to my own collection; your description of it was just too tempting.

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    1. Will try to remember to take those pictures! Hehe, always happy to be a plant addict enabler.

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  7. Nothing better than staying home and planting - it is so marvelously satisfying to stand back and see the happy campers get established. I love the cooler temperatures, but also lament the shrinking daylight. Time to dig the headlamps out, I guess... Anyway, it looks great, and I agree with Chavliness - it would be great to see it develop over time from the same viewpoint. :)

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    1. Agreed! Will try to remember that viewpoint when I take pictures in the future.

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  8. "The random accumulations of a hopeless plant addict" made me laugh out loud! I just got a few Cyclamen purpurascens on sale at Vassey Nursry. It was a warm day, they were on an elevated display thing and the sweet scent was what caught me, along with the deep pink color of the flowers. I vote for going to plant sales. The Heronswood sale is this Saturday!

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    1. Funny, but true! Good for you! Mine didn't really produce much scent until after I got them home. Darn, doesn't look like I'll make it to the Heronswood sale. Too much going on here. Looking forward to seeing it from your perspective!

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