A week ago Sunday, we drove in from Tomball and Sugar Land, Texas and returned to paradise. I spoke in both locations which was tons of fun. Loved meeting all the members of the Sugar Land Garden Club and discussing how to attract twenty-thirty somethings to their club. I’m writing an article on the same topic this week. I’ll let you know when it’s published. I did tell them that we need to invite millennials to garden and to our clubs. We forget to do that. Also, we need to make things fun.
I always love speaking at the Arbor Gate Nursery too. Such great questions, and Bev, the owner, is so kind.
Because Oklahoma had rain–three and a half inches while I was gone–the garden is so beautiful, verdant and green. We got another inch and half last week, and there was more rain three days ago. I missed checking the gauge. New things are blooming throughout, and I was in the middle of simply enjoying the beauty when I saw a giant weed in the middle of my ‘Minnie Pearl’ phlox. I reached down to pluck it out of the ground, and a small crapemyrtle stabbed me in the eye.
I ended up with a corneal abrasion that left me in pain and unhappy for a couple of days. I’m ninety-nine percent better. I guess I’ll wear eye protection as I garden now. Maybe.
The garden colors are exquisite, and I want to share some of my paradise with you including some new-to-me plants I’m growing.
When I left, irises and peonies were thinking about blooming. I returned to plants in full bloom. Roses are also beginning as are the two American wisteria. The fat wood bees get very agitated when I go beneath the arbor, but though the males dance around my head, I know they won’t hurt me. Without stingers, they are all bluff. The lady wood bees are more placid going about their business with little fanfare. So, if a giant bumblebee, who is in the garden nectaring, gets up in your face, don’t be afraid of it. It seems all scary, but it can’t hurt you.
I’ve noticed that in years when we have a lot of rain the garden is so full I can barely keep all the plants under control. In dry years like 2011, the garden shrinks in on itself, and you can better see its bones. That may sound overly simplistic, but it’s something I think about a lot. Early on this spring, I thought we would have a La Nina year. Everything was so dry that even with supplemental irrigation my lettuce was faltering. I was worried, but today, I ate the same lettuce out of the garden. Mother Nature’s ways are mysterious.
If I can get young plants going, a hot summer won’t hurt the garden because I have drip irrigation. About that drip irrigation system, I had two large problem spots. Two of the triangular beds were constantly seeping water. It was hard to see in summer, but I noticed in winter when the sun and dry air didn’t keep things drier. The irrigation company came out and discovered I had two valves seeping. They said it’s due to my hard well water and age. We installed the irrigation system in 2008, and it’s the best thing we ever did.
We are in the middle of spring, and until yesterday, we had rain and cooler temperatures. For a gardener, there’s nothing better. I’m pleased with all of the vines I’m growing up the trellises. I replaced many of my climbing roses with native and non-native vines. Both varieties of American wisteria, ‘Kentucky Blue’ and ‘Amethyst Falls,’ are blooming with abandon, and our bumblebees and hummingbirds are very happy. ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ native honeysuckle is growing great in the gravel with only a little supplemental irrigation. I’m sure its roots reach deep into the bed next to it. ‘Tangerine Beauty’ crossvine is also very, very happy, but I’m also thrilled with my clematis. They love all this rain.
One surprise was the roses. Many of them are blooming with abandon. Some are thinking about revving up and spreading open their petals. Have you ever noticed that so much of gardening is a metaphor for sex and creation? Roses are definitely seen this way. Sex, birth, life and death are all part of the garden experience. It’s humbling once you get over trying to make the garden in your own image. I didn’t get good photos of the roses. I’ll try to remedy that this week.
As for new plants, I found Cleome Senorita Mi Amor® at Arbor Gate in Texas. This is a Proven Winners selection, and I’m excited to see if it grows like Senorita Rosalita®. I bought this plant, but Proven Winners did send me some plants to try this year as they do with many garden writers. I’ll let you know what I like as the season progresses. As for other newbies, I found a gorgeous purple cuphea, and I’m growing a bunch of new coleus I ordered online from Rosy Dawn Gardens. Here’s what I bought: Main St. Wall Street, Trailing ‘Plum Brocade’ (grown before and love it), El Brighto, ‘Campfire,’ ‘Doctor Wu’ (grown before and love), Main St. Sunset Blvd, ‘Spicy’ and ‘Stella Red.’ The plants are all tiny, but below is a photo of Trailing ‘Plum Brocade’ from 2015. This year, I have it spilling out of a container. I should do a post on my containers this week. Would you like that?
As I worked outside today I also thought about the perennials. I planted several new ones when I began losing roses to Rose Rosette. I added Joe pye weed, ‘Little Joe,’ in one of the triangular beds and Filipendula rubra, queen of the prairie, in one of the lower beds in the back garden. Well, queen of the prairie has taken three years to even get started. I was wondering if it will now take off and take over, or will it not? You can’t ever tell how something will perform in your garden, but you really do need to wait three to five years before you can see what a particular perennial will do. If a perennial looks amazing the first year, you may want to rip it out because it’s probably too aggressive. That’s what I was thinking about as I stared down the bullies in my garden. I have so many, and they are so mean. I’ll write about them soon too. Here’s a hint: stay as far away from Autumn clematis as you possibly can. It is a total thug. I hate weed killer, but it was made for Autumn clematis and Japanese honeysuckle.
Did you get to garden today? If so, what were you pondering while outside?