Tag Archives: candytuft

Welcoming March

Sunlight greeted the garden this March morning, pulling an Iberis inflorescence out of shadow as February slipped into history.

Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft)

Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft)

A blue-violet Hyacinth opened this week, one of only two remaining from an impulse planting a decade ago.

Almanac and Mulch

Clouds are moving in this afternoon and temperatures will remain cooler than normal, but at least rain is out of the picture for a few days. When I began a project at the beginning of last month to mulch the garden, little did I know we would have rain for 14 of February’s 28 days. And it was cold. What I estimated would take a week is dragging on, although progress is visible and the effort actually has been enjoyable. The driveway had been hidden by 14 cubic yards of double-shredded hardwood mulch, but at this point the remaining pile seems almost a minor detail. There is still a lot of weeding and trimming to do in the back.

Looking Around

The mulching project has afforded me a chance to notice the garden’s earliest plants waking up.

Powerful Wings

A Bald Eagle flew over the garden today. What an enormous bird and, in the true sense of the word, awesome. The Jordan Lake EagleCam is currently monitoring a nest with one chick at nearby Jordan Lake.

Early October Garden

Days of cool rain marked the year’s transition from September to October. The harvest moon remained hidden behind deep clouds.

Yesterday, temperatures and humidity rose dramatically. This afternoon the sun broke through the clouds lifting the temperature to 86F, quite a change from highs in the mid-sixties at the weekend.

Certain signs of autumn belie today’s warm weather. Berries now adorn the Flowering Dogwood, whose leaves had already browned in July’s extended dry spell.

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

A windblown spire of Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage) rests against of Hylotelephium ‘Herbstfreude’ Autumn Joy (Stonecrop). The Salvia’s pink calyx reflects the ruddy, rusty hue of the flowering Stonecrop.

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage) and Hylotelephium ‘Herbstfreude’ Autumn Joy (Stonecrop)

A multicolored flower petal of ‘Blue Sky’ Salvia sits suspended in a spider’s complex world.

‘Blue Sky’ Flower In Spider’s Web

The burgundy Chrysanthemum in the background has bloomed most of the summer and now complements the rose-colored wisps of fall-blooming Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass). In the foreground stands a spent stalk of Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage).

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage), Chrysanthemum, Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass)

Blue-violet Ageratum brightens a dark corner of the garden.

Ageratum

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower), became very aggressive and was theoretically removed from the garden a few years ago. Unaware of its banished status, it displays brilliant yellow blossoms annually.

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

The annual, Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon), has bloomed throughout the summer among the stepping stones of the meditation circle.

Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon)

The meditation circle itself is soggy this week and needs attention.

Pine-bark mulch now sits in drifts, having been swept across the stone paths during the recent heavy rainfalls.

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) still performs satisfactorily, while generous green mounds of Thyme surpass expectations.

Unfortunately other evergreen perennials that were chosen specifically for their drought-tolerance, Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft) and ‘Pikes Peak Purple’ Penstemon (Beardtongue), are brown and may not recover. ‘Purity’ was beautiful all winter and spring and ‘Pikes Peak Purple’ was lovely in spring, but both choices will need to be reevaluated for long-term performance.

A Garden Journal To Conclude July

Cleome (Spider Flower)

Desiccation was the word that best described the garden at the end of June, but as July ends there are some signs of verdancy. July was a difficult month for the already stressed perennials and shrubs, but some decent rains have had a visible restorative effect on many of them. Even the lawn now shows less brown and more green.

While the garden seems willing at this point to make the effort to improve, this gardener is finding excuses. The garden could really use some serious maintenance but as usual, it is getting very little attention as the summer goes along. Among the many tasks that need tackling are applying mulch garden-wide and dividing the irises. I have done some weeding, deadheading and trimming, but not nearly enough to improve the overall effect—there is so much more left to be done. Another week though before I can get some time to concentrate on it.

Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon)

In the meditation garden Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon) lies sprawling across the labyrinth’s path, knocked over by recent poundings of rain.

Last summer was the first time I had planted Angelonia, an annual, and it was outstanding well into October.  This year it has not been quite as spectacular, but it is finally beginning to bloom more profusely. The bees really enjoy the flowers.

Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon)

Garden View With Meditation Circle

The meditation circle is normally a very low-maintenance feature, but a heavy rain this past weekend also washed away much of the pine bark mulch, covering many of the stepping stones.

Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme)

The section of Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme) is mostly green, but in some poorly draining areas it is starting to show some brown spots from excess standing water during the storm.

Perhaps the thyme will bloom yet. There are a few faint colored puffs on it that, when one looks close, are seen to be little lavender flowers.

Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft)

Once the star performer of the labyrinth, Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft) is losing its shine.

Many of the mounds are severely stressed. This time last year it was holding up beautifully and was quite green.

The candytuft bloomed from December to May this year and perhaps needs a rest. Maybe some compost should be added for nutrition.

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

‘Husker Red’ is still working well in the meditation circle. Curiously the leaves of the ones planted last year are mostly green, with little or none of this luscious dark red colored-foliage found in these that were added this year. The coral Dianthus lining the entrance makes a nice pairing.

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) has flopped over but is blooming now and should last well into autumn.

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ and Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Encouraged by recent rains, Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ now has a few new blossoms. Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ is in full bloom to the delight of many insects. The stalks of this Rudbeckia seem very sturdy but, like those of so many items in this garden, they would benefit from staking.

Cleome (Spider Flower)

Cleome has flowered well in one spot and poorly in another.

In early July there was a heartbreaking loss of a Crape Myrtle in the front yard from a freak wind storm.

The same storm brought down a pine into the garden, obliterating a Buddleia davidii and some other plants in an area along the back fence, an area I have been actively trying to invigorate.

‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona Cypress

Zinnia

Actually there are several large gaps along the back fence. In the northwestern corner a ‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona Cypress was planted earlier this year to replace the eleven-year old one we lost last summer. This is a fast-growing tree that will fill this area in a few years. Meanwhile I can tell it has grown quite a bit.

While waiting for the ‘Carolina Sapphire’ to mature I envision this corner overflowing with cutting flowers in the summer, but my efforts have been small.

Zinnias were planted from seeds, but thwarted by extreme temperatures, they remain small and insignificant. I think the birds must have eaten most of the seeds.  This is a rather poor showing.

Transplants of cleome did not survive here.

Also Gladioli planted in this same area flopped over after their first exposure to wind, so they did nothing to make the garden look nice long-term, but their blooms provided enjoyment in cut-flower arrangements.

So, there are many openings and opportunities around the garden at this time. Although I am not doing much work in the garden this summer, I am thinking and planning. I am optimistic the garden will be fun again next Spring. And, while there are no grand views, no wide vistas in the garden right now, it is surprising to me how many individual plants are providing some interest. It seems much better than in years past.

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Meanwhile birds, wasps, bees and other insects do not seem to mind the garden’s disarray, as they feast on nectar and seeds. The yellow of American Goldfinches brightens the garden as these tiny birds feed on various plants—they especially seem to appreciate the Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower).

Hummingbirds regularly visit Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm), which is no longer lush and spectacular but is still in bloom.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

And fresh dew on Shasta Daisies is still a remarkable thing.

Almanac

With two days to go this hot July stopped short of setting a local record for the number of consecutive days above 90 degrees, when the temperature reached a mere 89 degrees yesterday. Precipitation was 0.5 inches above normal for the month (actual month total was 4.64; normal month total, 4.04). Three heavy storms on the 21st, 22nd and 28th accounted for 3.31 inches of that.

Late Evening In An Early April Garden

Achillea (Yarrow), Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft), Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear)

A bit of happenstance in the late evening garden forms a nice texture study. A Candytuft with its bright white flower and slender leaves is tucked between the feathery, dark green of a dwarf Yarrow and the fur-like, silver-gray of a Lamb’s Ear.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

The Tradescantia (Spiderwort) in this garden are violet, purple, and even pale blue, but not usually nearly white with a center that hints of pale lavender.  Unlike the others which are pass-along plants, this was an actual purchased specimen. (Of course, it has moved itself around and is no longer where it was planted originally.)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

The Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood) opened a week ago. The large white petals are actually bracts. The greenish-yellow cluster in the center is made up of about twenty small flowers.

Meditation Circle

The meditation circle has been in bloom since December thanks to Iberis Sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft). Since a series of recent heavy rains the Candytuft has looked really tired and will soon need to be trimmed back. After almost a full year I am still undecided on how to finish planting the labyrinth with evergreens. An annual, Angelonia, bloomed here well into October so it may be a good choice again this summer.

Northern Border

The garden in early April is fresh and growing enthusiastically. In the northern border Meadow Sage ‘May Night’ adds a bit of color, but soon the irises will be ready for a vibrant display.

Northern Border

Early March Garden Tokens

Low temperatures in the twenties for the last couple of nights seem not to have damaged the lovely blossoms on the Coral Delight Camellia.

Camellia 'Coral Delight'

The first flower stems are visible above attractive foliage of the Eastern Red Columbine.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Blooms began in late December and Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose) continues a charming display in several sections of the garden. There are lots of new seedlings this year.

Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose)

Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose) Seedlings

Hyacinth and Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft) brighten a garden near the front sidewalk entrance.

Hyacinth and Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft)

Hyacinth

A Rainy Winter In The Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle Entrance - Soggy After A Rainy Weekend

After facing several years of severe drought in this area, the plants for the meditation circle were selected last spring with drought tolerance in mind. In the past twelve months there have been some pretty decent rains though. As a result much of the thyme is blackened and dying this winter (or at least, dying back) and a few small patches of moss are volunteering near the entrance where water accumulates. The moss is pretty exciting actually. The thyme is Thyme Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme).  It did bloom a little last summer but overall has not contributed much in this location.

Penstemon  mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue) separates the path on the right-hand side of the labyrinth. This plant was mistakenly purchased thinking it would be more similar than it is to the beautiful clumping penstemon, Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’.  Instead ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ has a much looser form. To its credit it certainly has been green all winter.  I just came across some advice to cut ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ back to the crown in winter to promote more shapely, better-behaved growth.

The Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ has beautiful burgundy foliage which, after the few cold spells this winter, became only a little bit limp. These two ‘Husker Reds’, which serve to demarcate a turnaround point in the labyrinth, have performed reasonably well and when viewed close up, help to provide nice winter interest. From a distance one might not take notice, as the color blends closely with the mulch.

Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft) in the center of the circle has exceeded expectations.  Not only has it remained evergreen, it has even bloomed much of this rather mild winter.

The left side of the labyrinth was planted with Angelonia and marigolds this summer and has been simply left bare while the perennials are being evaluated this winter. Annuals are a less expensive option in the short run than perennials and will be used to provide spring and summer color until evergreen plantings can encompass the entire circle.

Garden Sightings

The garden was a captivating place today. Some sights were seasonal, such as that of a bright red Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ and a golden Jackmanii clematis seedhead.

Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'

Jackmanii clematis

Seeing the Iberis Sempervirens blooming in the meditation circle at this time of year is unusual.

Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft)

Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft)

Spiraea in this garden often sends out an early blossom or two, but this year the timing is early by many weeks.

Spiraea

Spiraea

This Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) is not as showy as in summer but it has bloomed long past its expected timeframe.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

The next few days will offer a less hospitable environment for some of these unseasonable bloomers, as a cold front pushes through the area bringing freezing temperatures.