Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hardy Pampas Grass Season 2

I absolutely love this exotic specimen grass. I feel dwarfed by it, and I imagine being on the African Savanna or in the jungles of Vietnam - not that I've ever been there or know what it's like, but this huge grass just seems so out of place in an Indiana backyard. I also like how it blocks my neighbors house, and looks to be easily 15 feet tall in just it's 2nd year. The only downside is that it only looks good for a few months a year and then I'm left with a rather bare corner of the yard waiting for this warm weather grass to wake up again.

Last year, this grass put up 2 stalks and clocked in for a final height of 10 feet 8 inches. Judging by the height of the fence and the photo from last year, I'm guessing it will easily smash that record. There are also (let me count them) over a dozen large stalks this year.

Here is this year's grass:

Erianthus ravennae 'Hardy Pampas Grass'
Erianthus ravennae 'Hardy Pampas Grass'
Compared to last year:

Erianthus ravennae 'Hardy Pampas Grass'
Pampas grass last year

Fall Favorites: Gaura lindheimeri and Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome'

It's officially Fall - I've had my first pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, the sun is once again south of the equator, and it's time for some last minute planting, grass seed, and gorgeous under-rated fall blooms. Here are a couple of my favorites blooming right now:

Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome'
This aster is easily twice the size of anyone's mums right now, and comes back year after year. It's called Purple Dome for a reason, and is completely covered with these gorgeous purple flowers. This is one of my favorite plants in the yard, partly because when I first got it, it was this tiny little sprout and surprised me with how well it did even in the first season. Can't say enough about this one, wish my yard was bigger so I could plant more!

aster purple dome
Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome'

Gaura lindheimeri
I didn't know what Gaura lindheimeri were until I saw them on the sale table at Lowe's. What a pleasant surprise! The foliage looks like rosemary and the flowers look like little butterfly kisses on red stems. Simply gorgeous! Give me more! 

Gaura lindheimeri
Gaura lindheimeri blooming after 2 weeks after being on the sale table because it was a dried up runt. This specific variety is BELLEZA Dark Pink. 

Extended Dry Side Bed and New Gaura

I finally got around to finishing the side bed on the dry shade side of my house. I took a couple divisions from Hosta 'Libby' because they grow so vigorously, and bought a Japanese spurge that hopefully will fill in the area nicely without becoming a nightmare. I gave it plenty of room to spread out, and maybe it will become the bed edge all on its own. Fingers crossed!

dry shade beddry shade bed


Pachysandra terminalis
Pachysandra terminalis - Japanese spurge
 
I enjoyed my Gaura lindheimeri BELLEZA™ Dark Pink that I put by the utility boxes so much that I tried to go back and get more. I was only able to find this Gaura lindheimeri 'Star Pink' which I guess is close enough. I put it in the back to fill in the back full sun bed a little more. This bed is starting to become a hodge-podge, but maybe when I start to see what does well and what I like, I can thin it out or do more repetition of the good stuff rather than having one of each.

Karalee® Petite Pink Gaura lindheimeri 'Star Pink'
Karalee® Petite Pink Gaura lindheimeri 'Star Pink'

Great Combo: Black Mondo Grass and Golden Moneywort

I'm loving this combination of black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens') and golden moneywort (also called Creeping Jenny Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea') in my shade garden. The dark black leaves of the black mondo grass contrast nicely with the lime green of the Creeping Jenny. The golden moneywort also helps to crowd out the weeds and provides a lush groundcover that is just unstoppable. I got these on the sale table a while back and they just took off!

Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'
Black Mondo Grass with Creeping Jenny 
Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea' and Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'
Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea'
Black Mondo Grass with Golden Moneywort
The black mondo grass has been growing but not very fast. It put out little side shooters - it will slowly (SLOOOOWLY) spread by rhizomes to populate the area.

Here is a throwback to when I first put them in... I can't believe this groundcover took off and covered the whole area in only one season, since March 27. I'm also a little frustrated with how slow growing the Black Mondo Grass is, which I guess is why it's so expensive. I sure hope it lives through the central Indiana winter.

black mondo combination
Throwback from late March

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Bright Pink Fiery Feathery Annuals

I saw these at my brother's house and I didn't ask him exactly what kind they were, but from a quick Google search for bright pink feather like fire looking annuals, they appear to be wheatstraw Celosia argentea var. spicata 'Flamingo Feather' - appropriately named from the hot pink color (no filter). 

Celosia argentea var. spicata 'Flamingo Feather'
Celosia argentea var. spicata 'Flamingo Feather'

Celosia argentea var. spicata 'Flamingo Feather'
Celosia argentea var. spicata 'Flamingo Feather'

They seriously look like you took bottle brushes and dipped them in a vat of pink highlighter ink. I was so amazed I stopped mid conversation and walked over to take a picture. 

If anyone knows exactly what variety these are, let me know in the comments, but I'm fairly certain Celosia argentea var. spicata is close enough. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Mulch and Late Summer Blooms featuring BELLEZA Dark Pink

The little prairie patch near my utility box got a bit of a facelift today. AT&T finally came out to bury the new cable line, so I was able to mulch and clean up the area. My new Gaura lindheimeri BELLEZA™ Dark Pink are going gangbusters and already started flowering and rooting in well. I can't wait to see them in the Spring and blooming all next summer.

Gaura lindheimeri BELLEZA™ Dark Pink
  Gaura lindheimeri BELLEZA™ Dark Pink

mulched utility bed
Here's my mulched utility bed

In other parts of the yard, my dwarf red hot poker plant is taking it's transplant to the rock garden very well, and even put up 2 new blooms. I'm hoping that's a sign that it will survive the winter and come back next year. Glamor shot!

Kniphofia hirsuta 'Fire Dance' - Dwarf Hot Poker Plant
Kniphofia hirsuta 'Fire Dance' - Dwarf Hot Poker Plant

Also in the rock garden, this Sedum 'Dazzleberry' is blooming even though the rest of the plant looks a hot mess! I hope it comes back a little less leggy next year. Also check out these grasshoppers mating, and my aster 'Purple Dome' is getting ready to put on a HUGE fall show with tons of purple blooms ready to pop. Any day now!

dazzleberry sedumtwo grasshoppers


dwarf poker plantaster purple dome

My Favorite Dog Pee Spot Patching Product

We just had a large dog move out of our house when our previous room mate left, and now we're patching up all the dead grass pee spots the dog left behind. Fall is a great time to grow new grass, so I'm hoping to have a lot of good grass come in before winter.

hand with grass seed over lawn

The stuff I swear by is the EZ Seed that looks like grass seed mixed with instant coffee. When you add water to it, it expands like a sponge and holds water in all day long so your grass seed has just enough moisture and doesn't dry out. You can't just dump it on top of the grass though you have to prepare the patches by ripping out the dead grass and adding a bit of fresh topsoil to the hole.


I had about 30 pee patches from dog pee all over the yard, and the dead grass came up super easy. There were a few spots where it felt like the brown patch had some good roots in it still, so I let it go and I'm hoping it will come back on its own. Of course all the holes would eventually fill themselves as the grass sends out shoots to the side, but some fresh seed will help it along for sure.

bare spot in lawn
Cleaned the dead patch like cleaning a wound so it's ready for fresh seed

top soil patch in yard
Filled the empty patch with fresh topsoil so the grass seed has nooks and crannies to catch onto

process of cleaning out dead grass from patch
Room mate Zack helping out in the yard

bag of ez seed
Love this stuff, but it was like $54 for the big bag. A bit pricey but better than the smaller jugs.

yard with brown patches
Final result, now we wait for a week for the seeds to germinate.
The morning dew is enough to wet the patches in the morning and then usually I got out when I get home from work and give it some more water just to keep it moist overnight.

I also added some topsoil and EZ Seed to the low spot where the pear tree used to be 2 years ago, this is still not naturalized into the rest of the lawn after all this time!

ez seed in yard

Update: 10 days later...

grass seed 10 days later

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Recap: Best Blooms Summer 2016

I have a ton of photos from early spring before anything was really happening, and then as soon as things really started blooming my blogging slowed down. Here is a recap of summer bloom photos that I neglected to post.

Siberian iris
Siberian iris

Lily 'After Eight'
Lily 'After Eight'

Erigeron speciosus 'Darkest of All'
Erigeron speciosus 'Darkest of All'

Hosta 'Frozen Margarita'
Hosta 'Frozen Margarita'

Siberian iris
Siberian iris

Lily 'After Eight'
Lily 'After Eight'

Salvia sylvestris 'Little Night'
Salvia sylvestris 'Little Night'

Purple coneflower 'Magnus'
Purple coneflower 'Magnus'

Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum'
Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum'

Erigeron speciosus 'Darkest of All'little night salvia


Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’
Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’

pink and purple flowers with rocksurprise lily close up


Lily 'Tiny Invader'
Lily 'Tiny Invader'

Lily 'Tiny Pearl' (front) and 'Tiny Invader' (back)
Lily 'Tiny Pearl' (front) and 'Tiny Invader' (back)

Lily 'Tiny Shadow'
Lily 'Tiny Shadow'

Summer Views from 2016 Quick Garden Tour and Update

I don't intend to recap every single thing that happened to my yard this year, but I will post a collection of photos in case I want to look back at them during the winter, or have them to compare to future photos. Here are some of the major events:

1. My epic battle with the rabbits continued for months, and I'm trying to make peace with the fact that they will eat some of my plants, and that's okay. (trying to convince myself).

2. My hardy pampas grass grew to record heights, I can't wait to cut it down this winter and get the official measurement.

3. My emerald green arborvitae in the back yard got a weird disease and partially died, had black fronds, then grew back, and actually put on some good growth.

4. I had 2 out of 15 or so Surprise Lillies bloom this year, which was a surprise indeed, I heard they don't like being transplanted.

5. I had a short Japanese beetle scare a few months ago and had to spray my birch trees. The spray seemed to take care of them, I only had to use 1 bottle. 

6. My mail order purple coneflower 'Magnus' came back to life and actually flowered!

ruby falls weeping redbud and hostas
Front yard Summer 2016

sick arborvitae
Emerald green fighting off a disease, it seems to be winning. The mail order phlox around the base is taking well and should be nice in the Spring.

south facing full sun garden
Late summer back bed, not much blooming but things are definitely getting bigger. I'm liking the idea of a back bed that is more filled in with plants touching or overlapping and blooming at different times.

birch tree plant pairing
Back bed island earlier this summer. Birch trees put on a lot of healthy growth, can't wait for them to do it again next year, they are super healthy in spite of a Japanese beetle scare a few months ago.

purple dome aster
Back bed late summer 2016 - Purple Dome is about to flower, blue fescue is looking good against the pink rock.

russian sage and coneflowers
Early summer view of the utility box bed, Shasta daisy did great this summer, but the Russian sage is getting a little unruly, I cut a bunch out and replaced it with my first try at Gaura 'Dark Pink' which I'm hoping is hardy in this zone. I moved the PowWow Wildberry cone flower to the back because it's really too short to hide the boxes anyway.
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