Friday, May 29, 2015

Self-Seeding Russian Sage Perovskia atriplicifolia 'Little Spire'

russian sage self seeding
Russian Sage seedling - Perovskia atriplicifolia 'Little Spire'

I left my 'Little Spire' Russian sage standing late into the winter, and I didn't think much of it - then I cut them to the ground in early early spring. Now, my Russian sage has been growing up from the ground this spring and are back to the size they were when I put them in. I hope they get a little taller, I'd like them to be 3 feet tall to hide the huge green power box a little more.

In addition to my Russian sage new growth, I noticed what I thought were weeds scattered around this power box bed. Upon closer inspection, the leaves looked similar to the Russian sage, and my fingers smelled minty after pulling a few. When I went back a few days later, I saw what was clearly Russian sage babies growing all over the place! Free plant babies!

Russian Sage Perovskia atriplicifolia 'Little Spire'
Perovskia atriplicifolia 'Little Spire'

plants around power box
My power box bed looks backwards because I have tall grass behind the power box, so it's not hiding anything it looks like I'm accenting the lovely green utility box. I hope the Russian sage grows in like crazy and hides the whole lot! That's Karl Foerster and two types of cone flower on either side.

I read online that Russian sage likes to self-seed if you leave the dried stalks standing past their prime. However, now I'm wondering if 'Little Spire' from seed is 'Little Spire' at all - isn't the seed the product of sexual recombination? So aren't these new sprouts different from the parent?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

List of Places I've Ordered Plants From Online

In reverse chronological order (newest on top), this is an ongoing list of online stores and nurseries I've used to purchase plants by mail from their website. I'll include a very brief account and links to the individual unboxing post when applicable.

Sooner Plant Farm
I ordered a small tree from Sooner Plant Farm's website. I was so frustrated after driving around town looking for one locally, so I'm glad I found exactly what I was looking for online. Coincidentally, they have rave reviews and awards for their shipping service. I was very impressed when the huge box arrived on my doorstep. It shipped all the way from Oklahoma and the soil was still damp when I took it out of the box. I love this little tree and it's doing just fine! Shipping was about the same as the plant itself, but what can you do - they were sold out at local nurseries and it came straight to my door.

tree in a boxmail order tree

High Country Gardens
I ordered quite a few plants from High Country Gardens all in one batch. I actually ordered in two shipments and they were nice enough to combine them to save me money on shipping. Some of the plants arrived smaller than I expected, but overall healthy. I did lose a Globe Daisy, but High Country Gardens reimbursed me for that one. After 4 days in a box shipping from Colorado, losing 1 plant out of 9 isn't bad at all, and they didn't give me any hassle for the dead one. I was worried they'd want me to mail back the dried up husk or something to prove it.

plants came in the mailplant and ruler

Greenwood Nursery
I ordered three Itea virginica 'Sprich' Little Henry® online from Greenwood Nursery. They shipped in recycled shredded paper and arrived in good condition. They only had to travel from Tennessee to get here, which didn't take long. The leaves looked bright and fresh when I opened the box, and they are working to adapt to full sun in my back yard. One is putting on quite a bit of growth after about a month and a half.

box of shredded paperplants in box with shredded paper

Hirt's Gardens (via Amazon)
My second online live plant order came through Amazon but was sold and shipped by Hirt's Gardens. I ordered a small bamboo plant in the dead of winter and it arrived frozen solid in spite of the hand warmer they included in the package. I thawed it out and the bamboo lived, and is not thriving in my side yard.

live plants priority mailbamboo in a box

My very first online live plant order was from, I got Chris a bonsai ficus for Valentine's Day. I chose this place even though I found the same tree for cheaper on Amazon because they are usually really good at making sure it arrives ON the actual day.

plant with foam peanutspacking peanuts on floor

Even Runty Annabelle Determined to Bloom

I've heard that because Annabelle hydrangea bloom from new growth, they are "determined" to bloom each year no matter what. Well, that seems to be holding true even with my runty Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' that is being out-paced by its 4 brothers. This little guy has buds even on its meager stems.

Poor little guy, he's got the heart of a champion!

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'
Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'
Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'

Green Panda Bamboo Bushy Growth and Tall Stalks

My Fargesia rufa 'Green Panda' bamboo hasn't put on much vertical growth. When I first took it out of the box it was about 13 inches tall, now it's closer to 15 inches tall - but one of the more noticeable areas of growth is a lower bushy section near the base of the stalks. When I first got it, it had none of these.

young fargesia rufa green panda bamboo
Fargesia rufa 'Green Panda' only putting on a few inches up top this Spring but lots of bushy growth below
This bushy growth below with just a handful of longer stalks rising above the undergrowth resembles an older specimen I saw at a local nursery. Below, this Fargesia rufa in a 5 gallon pot has lots of bushiness and just a few stalks rising upward in the middle.

5 gallon green panda bamboo
Fargesia rufa - an older specimen of this bamboo has a similar growth habit with bushy growth below and stalks rising upward, and sort of a gap in the middle.

Compare this to when my Fargesia rufa 'Green Panda' showed up in the mail and had no bushy growth at all, just a few stalks hanging on for dear life...

baby green pandababy green panda

Saturday, May 16, 2015

What's Growing in My Salvia?

One of my Salvia sylvestris 'Little Night' is growing faster than the other, but maybe I've been attributing the increase biomass to a weed and not the Little Night itself. At first I noticed a different leaf texture growing on the plant, but when I saw little white buds forming I knew this wasn't part of the Salvia at all.

Salvia sylvestris 'Little Night'
Salvia sylvestris 'Little Night' with an intruder right in the middle

It must be a weed that came along, and has been growing the whole time. Funny, the one with the weed is actually doing better.

weed buds in salvia

pulling a weed

Salvia sylvestris 'Little Night'

Ok, you might be thinking - great blog post Eric, you pulled a weed, good for you. Well it's Saturday morning and that means I get to inspect my yard and look at it very closely and then blog about taking photos of it, which is like my version of fun!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’ Weeping Redbud in Indiana

I'm giving the Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’ weeping redbud a try here in Zone 6a Noblesville, Indiana. Online I see a mix of 5-6 hardiness, and I haven't seen a review anywhere about Ruby Falls here in Indiana, so let's go for it!

Ruby Falls is a mix from parents 'Covey' (weeping with green leaves) and 'Forest Pansy' (upright with maroon leaves), and I read that 'Covey' is thriving at the Chicago Botanical Gardens protected from wind, and even as far north as Wisconsin.

Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’ Weeping Redbud in Indiana
Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’ weeping redbud - 4 yr old specimen from Sooner Plant Farms

Mine is on the north side of the house tucked into the L shape by the front door and protected from NW winds and afternoon sun by my garage. After my Japanese maple died, I did some work amending the soil and re-directing the downspout. My best guess is the maple died from drowning in a clay bathtub (what a way to go!).

ruby falls weeping redbud by mailruby falls weeping redbud by mail

It spent 3 days in the box going UPS ground from Oklahoma. I ordered from Sooner Plant Farms after I drove to 2 local nurseries here in Indiana. I actually used a vacation day from work because I called a nursery 40 minutes away and they said they had it in stock. After driving there in the rain, it wasn't there. So much for calling ahead! I ordered online that night (Monday) it shipped Tuesday and was on my doorstep on Friday. It arrived standing upright and I tipped it sideways to open it.

ruby falls
One broken branch but otherwise in great shape. The soil was still moist because they used water retention gel.
I was excited to get it in the ground, but first things first, I had to get the dead Japanese maple out of the way first. As I was cutting it down, I noticed just the faintest remnants of green tissue on the bottom branches. I'm not going to wait around 10 years for this tree to possibly rebound. When I dug up the roots, it validated my decision. The roots were rotten except for one tiny section that still had finer root structure intact.

taking out dead japanese mapletaking out dead japanese maple

Next, I wanted to extend the downspout out past the redbud so that rain water would run downhill away from the tree instead of pooling around the roots. I dug a trench following the curve of the gravel/mulch boundary. The plastic tubing didn't extend all the way into the yard, which is fine. I ended the tube with a 8 inch deep gravel pit. Then I connected the pit to a trench I dug along the front of the rock bed, like a moat around the rocks connecting all the way to the concrete walk, then I filled the moat with rocks.

downspout in rocksdownspout extension in rocks

I covered the plastic tube with more rocks and tested it out by spraying my roof with water. The water ran all the way down to the edge of the bed and following the moat around the front. They clay soil actually helps out with this because you can send the water where you want it. In this case, I'm just trying to spread it out as it spills into the grass and away from the redbud location.

pea gravel in hole
What a mess! I think creating order from chaos is one of the appealing things about landscaping

Next, I dug down further than necessary to get the root ball in the ground. I probably went down 2 full feet, then filled the bottom 6 inches with rocks and pea gravel. Then I added a small bag of topsoil, set the root ball on top of that, and added another bag around the top creating a mound that came up to the base of the trunk.

I added back some of the rocks I had moved, but left a good portion bare below the tree to let the roots get some air. I might add the rocks back once the tree gets established, or I might try moss or mulch. I want to see how the moisture works out now that the rain spout completely circumvents the redbud.

indiana ruby falls weeping redbud
Without the downspout catcher, I actually have more room. I might move the rocks around a bit, or try a Liriope or two among the rocks.

Just my luck! As soon as I got the tree in the ground a thunderstorm rolled in and I got to see the new downspout extension in action. No flooding, and good wind protection - I'm feeling pretty optimistic!

New Growth on 'After Eight' and 'Darkest of All'

My Lilium 'After Eight' has been blooming like crazy, but today I noticed something small at the base of one of the stalks. A weed perhaps? Perhaps. Or perhaps the growth of an entirely new stalk?

new growth Lilium 'After Eight'
Lilium 'After Eight'
new growth Lilium 'After Eight'new growth Lilium 'After Eight'

I noticed something similar on my Erigeron speciosus 'Darkest of All' - aside from the beautiful blooms on one sidewinder stem - something new at the base...

new growth Erigeron speciosus 'Darkest of All'
Erigeron speciosus 'Darkest of All' new growth at the base

Erigeron speciosus 'Darkest of All'

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - May 2015

Happy 15th of the month and Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day! It's so nice to have a monthly check-in that I've created a Bloom Day tab in the navigation bar. I don't plan to use this day each month as an inventory of every single plant in my yard, but I would like to highlight the ones that have got my attention.

This Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is also extra special because I have a Ruby Falls weeping redbud arriving by UPS this afternoon! I've had my eye on this tree for a long time and I can't wait to give it a home (and hopefully it likes clay soil more than my poor Japanese maple).

Lavandula angustifolia 'Wee One'
Lavandula angustifolia 'Wee One'
My dwarf lavender "Wee One" is blooming. I have two of them, both ordered from High Country Gardens. One is doing great and the other is just okay - it's still alive and putting up new shoots but had about half the stems die back. It'll be fine!

lavenderlavendar flower

Next up, my Armeria maritima 'Dusseldorf Pride' is doing amazing! I've been dead-heading the old flowers and it's putting up so many more! They just keep coming! It's amazing especially because they come out of this little lump of what looks like grass, it's like magic - how many blooms are hiding in there?

dusseldorf pride flowering
Armeria maritima 'Dusseldorf Pride'
little night flower
Salvia sylvestris 'Little Night'
little henry flower
Itea virginica 'Sprich' Little Henry
after eight lily
Lilium 'After Eight'
Ok, so I like to note that all of the things I have in bloom above were bought and planted this Spring, so they are not growing from the ground up. Everything below, however, was planted last year and has grown from the ground - which gives a much better indicator of true bloom time here in Indiana.

annabelle hydrangea bud
Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' - plants are now above the knee and have buds forming!
Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’
Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’
hand on big leafHosta ‘Sum and Substance’

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Liriope muscari 'Variegata' Lily Turf Coming Strong

My variegated lily turf Liriope muscari 'Variegata' is coming up in full force and looking good. The leaves are noticably thicker than last year, and only 1 out of the 10 died in the back island around the river birch.

Check out these two photos, one from April 19 and the other from today. Nice! Not as fast as the hydrangea but still moving pretty quick. These are supposed to be evergreen so it will be interesting to see if they make it through next winter with better roots.

My goal is to not over water them! Last summer I watered them so much they got all curly and flat, sort of pushed down in a twirly mat rather than standing upright like grass. 

variegated lily turf
Liriope muscari 'Variegata' - May 12, 2015
variegated lily turf
Liriope muscari 'Variegata' - April 19, 2015