Tuesday View: The Season Progresses

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It is very springlike in the South Border now.  The most noticeable new development at the moment is the mass of lavender bloom just starting to open. in this case Lavandula stoechas "Madrid".  L. s. "Blueberry Ruffles" is always a bit behind as well as a good deal smaller.  


I'm enjoying the effect as "Madrid" and its miniature rose neighbor grow together.  Although I'm getting a bit nervous too, as I can't figure out where either will stop!

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As the weather warms, there are good things and bad in the border.  I must recheck my young sweet peas, which were getting much too dry earlier today.  I've been unable to buy my usual heavy-duty mulch (pelleted sawdust normally used for horse bedding; some of you may remember my experiments with it during the garden's first summer).  I put a light mulch of composted manure over, but apparently it hasn't been quite enough and things have been drying out.  I hope all will be well as I'd hate to lose my main crop of sweet peas for the season!


Further down the border my new Penstemon parryi is putting out a bit of bloom.  It's still a bit wispy, as are the flowers.  I hope it will fill out quickly as, in its full glory, this is among the most elegant of Arizona native perennials. 

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My old Penstemon parryi is not so far along toward bloom.  I'm really not sure what it will do this year as it has become quite overshadowed by the rapidly expanding Eremophila maculata "Valentine".  I didn't want to risk everything on an attempt to transplant it as it seems likely to have a temperamental taproot.  With a couple of kills behind me, I have become wary of transplanting desert natives!  So I decided to replace this plant first and move it after...  


In the photo below, you can see just how crowded its position has become.  This was due to an identification error when I brought the plants home and, in the height of my inexperience, thought the (unlabelled) Eremophila in question was the low-growing E. x "Outback Sunrise"!  Live and learn!

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And then there is the lone tulip bud from Tulipa saxatalis.  I planted five or six of these originally.  They bloomed well last year, but now they are going the way of so many bulbs here: dwindling down to unblooming foliage.  As this is the most commonly recommended tulip for low-chill climates, it seems my problem is something other than lack of freezing temperatures.  Too bad, as I would love to grow these and little T. clusiana var. chrysantha.  Perhaps as I go on I will learn what is at the bottom of so many bulb failures here, but at present I am mystified.

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On the other hand, the paperwhite narcissus varieties are proving most reliable!  Here is my noID narcissus in front of Eremophila "Valentine" again - both still blooming heavily.

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Well, this spring is proving time for a good deal of enjoyment of now-established plants as well as plenty of dither over some significant gaps in the borders.  In the South Border, the worst of it is coming from the seasonal gaps created by trimming back the ornamental grasses.  I suppose that is the stage the garden has reached (and the gardener!).  Thanks to Cathy at Words and Herbs for hosting the Tuesday View meme, which has certainly helped me focus on working through the growing pains of one border, at least!

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Weather Diary: Sunny; High: 74 F (23 C)/Low: 46 F (8 C); Humidity: 16%-74%

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Comments: 8
  • #1

    Kris P (Wednesday, 08 March 2017 17:18)

    Eremophila 'Valentine' may be pushy but she sure is pretty! I've had similar experience with species tulips and bulbs like Crocus - they gradually disappear. Narcissus and the South African bulbs - Freesia, Sparaxis, Ixia and Watsonia - do much better here. Your Spanish lavender is well ahead of mine.

  • #2

    Cathy (Thursday, 09 March 2017 08:22)

    You certainly have a lot to contend with, learning to garden in your climate. I love the Eremophila, but see the problem it has created. And taproots are tricky things! I am afraid I can't help with the bulb problem. Some of mine are dug up by mice or squirrels or even voles and moles, but most of them seem to survive at least for a few years. The lavender is looking so lovely now. I wonder gow long it will bloom for. I suppose I don't face the same problem of gaps, since my whole garden is one big gap in winter! LOL! Perhaps you could plant some annuals like Cosmos or Californian poppy? Thanks for sharing Amy! :)

  • #3

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Thursday, 09 March 2017 12:11)

    Kris - I've not featured "Valentine' much this year, but I need to - quite a beauty! I hear you on the bulbs... Last fall I focused on getting more narcissus in; this fall I'm planning for lots more freesias! Ixia has done well too, and I still need to try Sparaxis.

  • #4

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Thursday, 09 March 2017 12:18)

    Cathy - It's definitely been a challenge, but that's true in any climate - winter cold is no joke to deal with either! Lavender bloom times are a curious thing here, with some, like this one, being distinctly seasonal and others coming up with flowers any time of the year. Good news this morning - my sweet peas are surviving. I think the dry conditions set them back a bit, but I'm still hoping for flowers a bit later! And I think you're right - annuals are probably the best answer for the late winter/early spring gap!

  • #5

    Brian Skeys (Friday, 10 March 2017 00:15)

    I just wondered what the advice in your area is regarding the depth of planting is for tulip bulbs. I know they can be planted a lot deeper than the normal recommendation. I hope the sweet
    Peas do ok every garden should have some.

  • #6

    Jane King (Friday, 10 March 2017 01:27)

    Gosh Amy, you certainly face challenges which seem extraordinary to a south of England gardener like me! I am in awe at what you achieve in the face of such extreme conditions. Love the textures and rich colours.

  • #7

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Sunday, 12 March 2017 01:15)

    Brian - Planting depth was one of my first questions too, especially as I had planted quite deep the first time around - in a fit of good will, with recollections of how well it had worked in my first garden, where frost-heaving was a real danger. Since then I have mostly stayed with the old three times the size of the bulb rule, having never seen any local information telling me otherwise. I must get the soil tested; I should have done that earlier, but it got lost in the excitement of starting ;-) The sweet peas look set to survive and, happily, I have found some volunteers from last year as well, which are much more robust! Hmmm...

  • #8

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Sunday, 12 March 2017 01:22)

    Thanks so much, Jane! I always reassure myself that there would be challenges anywhere, but I admit that sometimes it becomes a bit much. Of course, the biggest challenge is simply learning a whole new set of plants, but that is great fun... if slow work...!