Sunday, April 26, 2015

It's Alive! Panicum virgatum 'Northwind' Switch Grass

Whew! I'm very relieved that my Northwind switchgrass [Panicum virgatum 'Northwind'] is showing signs of life, meaning it survived the winter. I posted earlier about the different types of ornamental grasses in my yard, and how not all of them were awake because there are 'cool' and 'warm' season grasses. Northwind is a warm season grass, and is just barely showing signs of waking up this last week of April.

northwind switchgrass emerging

northwind switchgrass dormant
I transplanted and divided this grass into thirds last October. I got the plant on sale because it was late in the year, and I'm hoping to get 3 for the price of one!

The middle plant has just 1 tiny green shoot emerging - just barely alive, but that's all I need for it to come back and eventually turn into a whimsical 7 foot tall grassy screen.

Brunnera macrophylla 'Silver Heart' Flowering

After waking up around April 5, my Brunnera macrophylla 'Silver Heart' is growing fast (getting a bit leggy even) and has tiny blue flowers on top. I thought this was going to look more like a hosta when I bought it, but it's growing vertical into a little mound.

Brunnera macrophylla 'Silver Heart'

Brunnera macrophylla 'Silver Heart'

The flowers are very tiny, and a pretty blue - which is different from everything else in my garden, and the first flower to bloom in my shade garden.

New Additions: After Eight Oriental Lily and Japanese Painted Fern

This happens all the time, I went out to get something very specific (bluegrass seed to re-seed over what my dad thinks is just the annual rye from a mixed bag) and I came home with 2 new plants: a Japanese Painted Fern [Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum'] for the OTHER shade garden (the bamboo side), and an oriental lily called After Eight [Lilium 'After Eight'] that I thought Chris would like since he loves his Lilium 'Tiny Pearl' that he picked out.

Lilium 'After Eight'
Lilium 'After Eight'

newly planted lily
'After Eight' on the left and 'Tiny Pearl' on the right

Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum'
Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum'

Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum'
Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum' - young and not very 'painted' just yet

I saw a Japanese Painted Fern at work in the full shade bed behind a residence hall, and I've been eyeing it online for a while. It's actually on my wish list and now I get to cross it off.

I got the Lilium 'After Eight' because it's full height should be a little taller than Tiny Pearl, and it should fit into the area by the downspout where the hibiscus used to be. When I tore out the hibiscus I found it was chalk white all the way down to the root, dry and brittle, and sitting in a puddle of water - I had dug a hole in the clay and filled it with the hibiscus' very fluffy potting mix, so it had been filling up like a bucket. Before planting the lily I filled it with top soil and tried to raise the lily up a bit.

Possible Chlorosis in Itea virginica 'Sprich' Little Henry® Sweetspire

After putting in my brand new Itea virginica 'Sprich' Little Henry® Sweetspire that I got through the mail, the plants look to be doing well, putting on a tiny bit of new growth, a couple lower leaves drying up - but the overall look is that the leaves are turning color. Kinda blotchy, more reddish, not that bright lime green like when they arrived. The stems are also redder than I thought they should be. So what's up with that?

Itea virginica 'Sprich' Little Henry
Itea virginica 'Sprich' Little Henry - leaf discoloration but not sure why - April 26, 2015

Itea virginica 'Sprich' Little Henry
Itea virginica 'Sprich' Little Henry - fresh out of the mailbox, lime green slightly wilted leaves - April 10, 2015

Possibility #1: Chlorosis?
I'm not even sure what chlorosis is, but I gather that it is "a condition in which leaves produce insufficient chlorophyll" (Wikipedia) because of some type of environmental strain. I read that Itea virginica like more acidic soil, and I've never tested my soil or tested the pH in my new backyard bed. I guess it could be chlorosis?

itea virginica leaf discolor
Leaf discolor detail

Possibility #2: Sun Burn?
Little Henry is a full sun to part/moderate shade shrub, so maybe after being in the mail going to direct south facing sun is just giving it a little sun burn until it can adjust to the new light conditions?

Possibility #3: Watering?
Not sure if this would be over or under watering, but watering is probably my most common way of messing things up so far. I read that these can tolerate pretty moist soils, and I have resisted the urge to go water them since we have been getting showers on a consistent weekly basis - but maybe they don't like to dry out at all when they're first planted?

Possibility #4: Nothing is wrong that's just how they look in Indiana full sun
It's new to me! Who knows, maybe they just bronze up a bit in the full sun and that's okay? Now that I look at the two photos back to back it looks like it is certainly plumping up and putting on some new leaves.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' Frost Damage

We had a couple nights down in the 33°-36°F range and ended up with some frost. I covered most of my 'soft' plants, and my newbie plants, but I didn't cover my Annabelle hydrangea that are now the size of small shrubs growing all new wood from being cut to the ground this winter.

annabelle hydrangea frost damage
 Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' frost damage on leaf

annabelle hydrangea frost damage
Brown spots on  Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' leaf from frost

Here is what the frost did to them, little brown patches on the leaves where the cells must have burst from being frozen. Kinda reminds me of a bruise, I wonder if it's biologically similar. One of the benefits of obsessively monitoring your plants on a daily basis is that you can determine that new appearances are indeed caused by the frost, and not just a coincidence of something else going on.

I also noticed one of them is kinda runty, it's the same one that I thought the fertilizer company sprayed with broad leaf weed killer, maybe it's just a runt or maybe it's running into a piece of garbage underground or something. Come on little guy!

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'small Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Budding Hobby: Ode to Buds

I've been keeping a watchful eye on tree buds in my yard lately, tapping my toe and waiting impatiently for leaves to show. I thought I'd use this blog post to document some of the changes I've noticed. So here's the bud news roundup!

linden tree buds
Linden tree buds in the front yard - I managed to track down the exact same bud for a before and after photo

First up, the young Japanese maple [Acer palmatum] next to my front door (dark green with some purple leaves but not sure what kind). When 3/4 of the leaves dried up last summer I pulled them off because I read that Japanese maples have a second set of leaves they can put out. While I saw the buds beneath the first set of leaves, they never opened.

japanese maple dried upjapanese maple dried up

 I'm pretty sure my over-watering and the direct midday sun are what caused this. Hopefully if it comes back it learns to work with the stark contrast in light.

japanese maple buds
When I removed the dried up leaves, I saw these little buds beneath where the leaves attached

I figured this tree was a total gonner, until I saw these new signs of life. Tiny buds (some extremely tiny) forming where none were before. Will this tree come back to life? Will it adapt to its mix of direct sun followed by complete shade on the north side of the house?

japanese maple budsjapanese maple buds

Ok, so these tiny Japanese maple buds aren't all that exciting to look at - but the fact that this tree isn't completely dead is pretty neat.

linden tree buds
Linden [Tilia cordata] in the front yard busting out! My dad says Linden buds look like boxing gloves

river birch new leaves
River birch [Betula nigra] leaves emerging today, April 18

Young Erigeron speciosus 'Darkest of All' Already Blooming

I ordered this Erigeron speciosus 'Darkest of All' from High Country Gardens and it arrived sturdy but bent over in the box - most of the other plants were much smaller and this one was taller so it looked like a question mark for a few days. Now a couple weeks later, it still hasn't stood up straight (maybe I should have staked it?) but it is thriving and now blooming.

It has sort of a weed look to it, I think it's called Fleabane and some types are considered weeds - this species, however, is an ornamental cultivar.

Erigeron speciosus 'Darkest of All' blooming
April 18, 2015 - Erigeron speciosus 'Darkest of All'

Erigeron speciosus 'Darkest of All' stem
Fresh out of the box after 4 days of shipping, a little wilted but still fine

darkest of all
A few days later, now growing in an 'S' shape with the top turning toward the sky

Erigeron speciosus 'Darkest of All' flower bud
Erigeron speciosus 'Darkest of All' flower buds forming in a cluster at the top of a long stem

Echeveria pulidonis Propagation After 14 Weeks

I'm not going to post all the photos over again, but you might remember I'm propagating Echeveria pulidonis in a ramekin on my windowsill. It's been a very slow process, slower than I imagined when I saw other blog posts of succulent propagation. They are nonetheless adorable and growing a lot quicker now that they have 'leaves' of their own and more roots.

succulent propagation 14 weeks
Echeveria pulidonis propagation from leaf after 14 weeks
Take a look back at the first 8 weeks in these progress photos. I decided that these babies are big enough for their own tiny adorable terra cotta pots from Walmart (only 32¢ each). 

echeveria pulidonis roots
Echeveria pulidonis - a rare look at the delicate roots between pots
small rocks in bottom of pot

small succulent in tiny pot
14 week Echeveria pulidonis in a tiny terra cotta pot
baby succulents in small pots
Cute succulent babies!
tiny pots for succulents
New tiny terra cotta pots in the window

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - April 2015

It's been a big month for my yard and since my Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day post in March. It's time for a monthly check-in! A month ago I was still awaiting my first crocus blooms. Now in April, they've come and gone, and other much bigger perennials are waking up and taking off quickly. I only have a couple plants blooming - and they are both new additions that were already in bloom at the store, so that's kinda cheating.

Phlox subulata 'Drummond's Pink'
Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, April 2015 - Phlox subulata 'Drummond's Pink'
Armeria maritima 'Dusseldorf Pride'
Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, April 2015 - Armeria maritima 'Dusseldorf Pride'

Other than blooms, I have a lot of progress with other plants emerging. Not just a tiny sprout here and there, but actual growth and some real movement! My much anticipated Hosta 'Sum and Substance' are finally waking up too - I guess the bigger varieties sleep a little longer because 'Patriot' has been emerging for a while now.

hosta patriot emerging
Now emerging - Hosta 'Patriot'
A little slow to start - Hosta 'Sum and Substance'
Siberian Iris
Moving on up - Siberian Iris
Finally awake - Echinacea prpureua 'PowWow Wild Berry'
Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'
Really accelerating now, woohoo! -  Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Faucaria tigrina Tiger Jaws Succulent

I spotted this cool and kinda creepy succulent in Lowe's, I have never seen it before. It's called Tiger Jaws [Faucaria tigrina] and looks like little monster mouths opening. A tiger isn't the first thing that comes to mind when I see this, I would say it's more of a shark mouth, or an alien, or a dinosaur. It might make an interesting addition to a carnivore garden even though it's not actually a carnivorous plant. It just looks mean!

Tiger Jaws Succulent
Faucaria tigrina - Tiger Jaws succulent
Tiger Jaws SucculentFaucaria tigrina Tiger Jaws Succulent

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Releasing a Green Panda (Bamboo) into the Wild

I ordered this Green Panda bamboo [Fargesia rufa 'Green Panda'] online from Amazon. It came in the mail in the dead of winter, but survived and was growing on my windowsill all winter. Now it's spring time and time to say goodbye - I have to release my baby green panda to the wild - by putting it in my side yard.

Green Panda clumping bamboo
Fargesia rufa 'Green Panda'

This side yard gets about 2 hours a day of direct sunlight and the rest is completely shaded by the houses. I consider it partial/full shade but not super deep dark shade because these are 1-story houses with light colored siding that still provides ambient light.

This green panda bamboo should get to be 6-8 feet tall, and tolerate grooming to become a little fountain of bamboo coming off the side of my house and complimenting the Asian-ish look of the rocks and Japanese maple tree.

green panda bamboo
Still very young Fargesia rufa 'Green Panda'

It's only about 14 inches tall right now, but hopefully will put on some growth this summer. I hear it grows super fast. In the pot it was putting out a new leaf a week on each of the stalks. I guess that's pretty fast.

Fargesia rufa 'Green Panda'
Here's a baby photo of my green panda the day it arrived

Friday, April 10, 2015

Super Tiny Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome'

I ordered two of the Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome' aka Purple Dome New England Aster because I love the deep purple color of the flowers and I wanted something that would bloom in late summer or early fall, like a hardy mum, but something that would fit into a smaller space. These looked like a good dome shape at 24 inches tall and 18 inches wide.

I saw online that they ship in 5 inch pots, so I was sort of hoping for something a little larger to arrive. I was surprised that these little sprouts were only about 2 inches wide. They have a long way to go, and can hopefully bloom this fall. My lavender arrived 3x as big in a pot half the size, what gives?

Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome'
Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome' arrived smaller than I was expecting, I hope it grows quick and can bloom into a nice dome this fall.

Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome'

Fresh Out The Box! It's Mail Order Plant Day!

I was so amped to learn that both my plant deliveries would come on the same day - today! I got a whole bunch of stuff from High Country Gardens, and a few shrubs from Greenwood Nursery. I think this will about do it for mail order plants this season. To save on shipping, I'll check on a few last minute buys at the local nursery (they said they would have Black Mondo Grass and Japanese Forest Grass within the next 2 weeks).

Ok, time for some unboxing photos... High Country Gardens had a very flat box with all the plants neatly rubber-banded into little plastic baggies laying on their sides. They shipped from Colorado, and they were nice enough to combine two separate orders into one to save me on shipping. The plants were just a little bit wilted which isn't bad for traveling for 4 days.

mail order plant packagesmail order plant packages

I got 3 shrubs in a box from Greenwood Nursery and they shipped out of Tennessee. The box was taller and was filled with shredded papers. A little messy but that's one way to recycle those paper shreddings.

mail order plant packagesmail order plant packages

Itea virginica little henry by mail

My Itea virginica 'Sprich' Little Henry® arrived without wilting and looked pretty fresh and ready to go.

These were only my 3rd and 4th deliveries of live plants, after my Green Panda bamboo, and Chris' Valentine's Day bonsai tree. I like these packages much better than my bamboo in the dead of winter that was kinda scary, and the bonsai in about 3 cubic feet of foam peanuts.

I would definitely order from both of these retailers again!