Switching It Up

This planting needs

This planting needs some  ‘switching up’ to renew it for summer.  I went to work last night removing all of the plants and finding new spots for them to grow.

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When the weather finally warms up, late April or early May, those winter and early spring pots we planted so lovingly last autumn just don’t look so good anymore.

Between plants which never quite recovered from winter’s bite, and early season annuals gasping in the heat; there comes a day when you really look at a pot and say to yourself, “Enough! Time for a change.”

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"Enough!"  Monday afternoon this poor planting looked ragged enough I was determined to change it out.

“Enough!” Monday afternoon this poor planting looked so ragged I was determined to switch it out for something fresh.

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That day was yesterday for the large hypertufa tub installed on the ‘pedastal’ in our ‘stump garden’ last spring.

I like the idea of ‘four season’ pots which drift from season to season in the garden with only minor adjustments.  While that is an nice idea, it doesn’t always work out as planned.

The original Dusty Miller planted in this pot last spring lived, but was seriously burned by the cold.  I’ve moved it out of the pot now to a less conspicuous place in the garden where it can continue growing.

The Violas, still blooming, will not last much longer in full sun.  They have been moved to a bed in partial shade.  The snaps could have grown on here for quite a while.  Planted a few months ago in earliest spring, they often make it through our winters.  I’ve moved them to a bed in full sun where they should perform well this summer.

After a full year of watching this pot, I decided to populate it with plants which thrive in hot and often dry conditions.  I want a large and showy display which won’t need regular care of any sort to continue looking great.  Mission impossible?

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May 25, 2013, before the Brugmansia gained much height.

May 25, 2014, before the Brugmansia gained much height.

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The original planting last summer included Coleus, Dusty Miller, a Brugmansia, some golden Sedum and Creeping Jenny.  I expected the Brugmansia to grow several feet and bloom with huge pendulous flowers in late summer.

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July 18, 2014

July 18, 2014

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Although it grew, it never performed as expected.  Everything else in the pot looked great all summer, but required nearly daily watering to avoid the late afternoon wilts.

So I’ve chosen a new group of plants this summer in hopes of an even more vibrant display, even on those days when I don’t have the opportunity to water this trough.

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May 5, 2015 garden 002

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The headliner is a pink Mulla Mulla, Ptilotus exaltatus ‘Joey,’ which will grow to 15″ in full sun.  This tender perennial (Zone 9) loves neutral to chalky soil with sharp drainage.  Beside the Mulla Mulla grows a very large leaved variety of culinary Sage.  Sage thrives in full sun and well drained, even rocky soil.

There is a very subdued palette of color in the pot this year, moderated by two fresh new Dusty Miller plants.  Only a recent fan of Dusty Miller, I like the lacy texture of their leaves and their ability to withstand drought and sun.  I expect texture and scale to make this planting interesting as the season unfolds.

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This heat tolerant Verbena will fill an area almost two feet in diameter.

This heat tolerant Verbena will fill an area almost two feet in diameter.

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The only concession to soft trailing flowers comes from the Lanai Twister Purple Improved Verbena draping over one end of the pot.  I hope it will spread to soften the entire top of the ‘pedestal.’

Finally, I added several clumps of the golden Sedum back into the pot since it obviously thrives here year round and makes a nice pop of chartreuse against the silvery foliage and lavender flowers.  The entire pot is mulched in fine, light colored pea gravel.

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The newly planted pot on its pedestal, this evening just before sunset.  All of these newly planted varieties will grow quite large over the summer with very little attention.

The newly planted pot on its pedestal, this evening just before sunset. All of these newly planted varieties will grow quite large over the summer with very little attention.

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The Creeping Jenny and remaining Sedum removed from the pot is already earmarked for use in a new bed I’m ready to construct tomorrow.  It will grow alongside Oxalis triangularis in the back garden.

This is my first experience growing Ptilotus exaltatus and the Lanai Twister hybrids of Verbena.  It is good to try new things each year, and the Mulla Mulla is known as a good flower for cutting and for drying.  I am looking forward to growing them on and seeing how these varieties grow together over the coming months.

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I plant to "switch up" this pot tomorrow adding Salvia, Ivy Geraniums, and maybe even some Basil.  The tiny plant on the far right is a "Kent's Beauty" Oregano which survived the winter.

I plant to “switch up” this pot tomorrow adding Salvia, Ivy Geraniums, and maybe even some Basil. The tiny plant on the far right is a “Kent’s Beauty” Oregano, which survived the winter.  The bare stump is from the Brugmansia I tried to over-winter outside.

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There are still lots of pots with actively growing Violas around the garden.  I’ll be moving them to shady spots this week as I continue re-planting containers for summer.  I purposely waited this long both to enjoy them, and to give time for some of the dormant plants in the same pots to awaken.  While patience is a virtue, at some point patience creeps into procrastination.

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May 5, 2015 garden 012

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I’ve collected several trays of new plants this week, and I’m ready to work with them over the next few days.  There are lots of geraniums this year, a fair lot of Salvias, a good assortment of fragrant Basils, a few more Dusty Miller plants, now a half-dozen large white Marigold plants I’ve been waiting for the Patton family to offer for sale at their Homestead Garden Center near Toano.  They grow the marigolds, and many other annuals, organically in their own greenhouse each spring. If one has patience to wait for them; healthier, more affordable plants simply cannot be found in this area.

Planting pots for the coming season, or switching up established pots, requires the vision, energy and creativity needed for all of the other art forms.  Like painting a canvas, all of the elements have to come together harmoniously.  But as in music, time is the essential element.  Only as plants grow and weave themselves together does the gardener’s vision materialize.

Whether it takes weeks or years, our gardens remain works in progress.

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May 6, 2014

May 6, 2014

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Woodland Gnome 2015

 

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In a Pot On Wednesday…..

March 18, 2015 pot 008

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We have celebrated the warmth and sunshine of the past several days out in the garden, preparing for a new growing season.

We’ve fertilized, pruned, shredded leaves, cleaned up planting beds, and taken absolute delight in the signs of awakening perennials.  Our daffodils have begun their annual ‘season in the sun’ as more and more clumps begin to open.  I’ve planted a few still sleeping perennials and spread some compost.

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March 18, 2015 pot 009

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All the while, I’ve been thinking of those less fortunate… those whose gardens still lie under ice and snow.  I’ve never wanted to live further ‘north’ than Zone 7.  In fact, I like Zone 8 even more.  But for those blogging friends still waiting for your first daffodils to appear, and especially for those friends waiting to see your soil again after weeks of wicked winter weather; please know you are not forgotten or overlooked.

I’ve potted up a little ‘eye candy’ especially for you, to hopefully bring you a little cheer as you wait….

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March 18, 2015 pot 013

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Monday passed quickly, pruners and camera in hand, and late in the afternoon there was no energy left to execute a ” Vase ” for a Monday post.  Tuesday was much the same, I’m delighted to say.

We have visited our friends who run the best garden center in the area,  ostensibly to buy a few bags of compost.  Of course, when I saw their racks filled with colorful annuals and a whole section of tiny perennials at a bargain price; the inevitable euphoria broke my resolve.

Weather forecast ignored, I came home with the first flats of the season.

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March 18, 2015 pot 006

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And that is how “In A Vase on Monday” morphed into “In A Pot on Wednesday.”

Now, there is still snow in our forecast.  We are counting on a “dusting” with the temperatures hovering just above freezing.  These are all hardy plants, and should manage just fine.  And the pot is completely portable if things get colder than we expect.

Here is the lovely Hellebore from the “One Word Photo Challenge: Melon” post yesterday, with a Heuchera “Melting Fire,Allysum and two melon colored snaps.  What I hope you can’t see in these photos are the cloves of garlic I’ve tucked in to discourage any wayward deer who might sneak into the garden.  They won’t bother the Hellebore or Allysum, but they’ve been known to snack on Heuchera leaves.  Garlic has proven effective to protect our pots from deer nibbling.

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March 18, 2015 pot 004~

This pot is nestled at the base of a Dogwood tree, among some budding Autumn Olive shrubs, which will soon be covered in tiny champagne colored flowers.  Sunny now, this area will remain shady much of the day when the trees have their leaves.

Even though I didn’t manage a ‘Vase” this week, please still take a moment to visit Cathy’s post at Rambling In the Garden and see the many beautiful arrangements others have created.

We’ve been tidying up until today.  With the chores mostly done, I took a few hours late this afternoon to finally plant a little color.

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March 18, 2015 pot 012

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The flat of Allysum and snaps are all in the ground.  Such tiny little things now, almost lost among the leafy mulch.  But like all of the other tiny starts of spring, these too, will grow.

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March 18, 2015 pot 010~

Like so much of the happiness in our lives, we take a little here and there as we can.

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March 18, 2015 pot 016

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We are enjoying these first warm and sunny afternoons of spring.  Fully aware that winter isn’t finished yet, we feel its grip loosening a bit more with each passing day.

Woodland Gnome 2015

Winter Annuals

January 15, 2015 ice garden 028

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Ice and light snow covered our “stump garden” Thursday morning when we were wandering about admiring winter’s artistry.

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January 15, 2015 ice garden 029~

Our stump, left from an oak blown over in a summer storm, has been transformed into a “pedestal” with a little hypertufa and some glass.

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January 15, 2015 ice garden 032

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Topped with a hypertufa trough planted with winter hardy annuals and perennials, our stump garden still looks interesting even though most of the plants around it have died back for the season.  Winter’s cold had barely touched the dusty miller, ornamental kale, and Violas  until our ice storm.  The ice coating actually protects them during the coldest weather.  Cold winds can’t strip their moisture.

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January 15, 2015 ice garden 035

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The ice is only a memory now.  We’ve had two days of bright sunshine, with a “spring-like” heat wave up to the low 40’s.

That is all that was needed for the Violas, dusty miller, ornamental kale, and Sedum to perk up again.

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January 15, 2015 ice garden 039

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We are so happy that our climate allows winter annuals to thrive right through until spring.  We can enjoy their beauty during our coldest months.

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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With special appreciation to Patricia for all of your love and efforts today. 

You are an angel, and we love you very much. 

Thank you especially for bringing the amazing croissants…

 

What remains of summer's African Blue Basil.  There are still seeds, and our songbirds find shelter in the branches.

What remains of summer’s African Blue Basil. There are still seeds, and our songbirds find shelter in the branches.

Bejeweled

January 14, 2015 ice storm 025

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Bejeweled, bedazzled,

Cased in glittering ice;

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January 14, 2015 ice storm 038

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Every leaf and stem ornamented

With shimmering bagatelles.

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January 14, 2015 ice storm 047

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Buds magnified

Through clear coats of cold;

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January 14, 2015 ice storm 045

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April’s promises preserved,

Protected,

Perfectly presented.

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January 14, 2015 ice storm 003

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Icy prisms deflect the light;

Reflecting, not refracting;

A frigid glow on wintery  fog.

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January 14, 2015 ice storm 005

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Crystal clear coating coagulates

Out of misty air.

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January 14, 2015 ice storm 024

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Like dipping a candle, icicles grow

Thicker, longer, bumpier with each passing hour.

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January 14, 2015 ice storm 008

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Tinkling bells echo from garden to garden

As branches sway in the biting breeze,

And great ripping groans answer from the ravine.

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January 14, 2015 ice storm 046

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Symphony of sirens in the distance tell of travelers

Who have lost their way on glassy streets.

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January 14, 2015 ice storm 009

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A wicked wonderland, this ice coated world.

Weird and wonderful at once,

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January 14, 2015 ice storm 036

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Dazzlingly devious,

Dangerously delightful.

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January 14, 2015 ice storm 001

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Bejeweled and bedazzled,

Winter has dressed to thrill-

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January 14, 2015 ice storm 053

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Woodland Gnome 2015

Winter’s “Flowers”

Ornamental Kale

Ornamental Kale

 

Look at what is “blooming” in our garden! 

We are just past the Winter Solstice, and the coldest weeks of winter stretch before us.  Our days may be growing almost imperceptibly longer, but frigid Arctic air sweeps across the country, dipping down to bring frosty days and nights well to our south.

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Lichens

Shelf fungus

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Our garden looks a very different place at the moment, mostly withered and brown.  But even now, we enjoy bright spots of color and healthy green leaves.

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January 4, 2014 garden 054.

Some we planned for, some are a gift of nature.

All are infinitely appreciated and enjoyed!

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Ornamental Kale with Violas and dusty miller

Ornamental kale with Violas and dusty miller

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We garden in Zone 7b, here in coastal Virginia.  We are just a little too far north and a little too far inland to enjoy the balmy 8a of Virginia Beach and Carolina’s Outer Banks.  We will have nights in the teens and days which never go above freezing… likely later this week!

But there are still many plants which not only survive our winters, but will grow and bloom right through them!

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Camellia, "Jingle Bells" begins blooming in mid-December each year, just in time to bloom for Christmas.

Camellia, “Jingle Bells” begins blooming in mid-December each year, just in time to bloom for Christmas.

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I saw the first scape of Hellebore rising above its crown of leaves yesterday, topped with a cluster of tight little buds.  Our Hellebores will open their first buds later this month.

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Hellebore with a new leaf emerging.  Bloom scapes have emerged on some plants in the garden.

Hellebore with a new leaf emerging. Bloom scapes have emerged on some plants in the garden.

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Snowdrops are also poking above the soil line now in several pots.  Snowdrops, named for their ability to grow right up through the snow as they come into bloom, open the season of “spring” bulbs for us each year.

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January 4, 2014 garden 057.

Camellias and Violas remain in bloom, and our Mahonia shrubs have crowned themselves in golden flowers, just beginning to open.

There are several other shrubs which will bloom here in January and February.  Witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, is on my wishlist, and I hope to add it to our garden this season.

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Mahonia

Mahonia

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Our Forsythia are covered in tight yellow buds, ready to open in February.  Our Edgeworthia chrysantha has tight silvery white buds dangling from every tiny branch.

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Edgeworthia

Edgeworthia

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They look like white wrapped Hershey’s kisses, or tiny ornaments left from Christmas.  These will open in  early March into large, fragrant flowers before the shrub’s leaves appear.

Although many of our garden plants are hibernating under ground, or are just enduring these weeks of cold until warmth wakes them up to fresh growth, we have a few hardy souls who take the weather in their stride.

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January 4, 2014 garden 065.

This is their time to shine. 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014-2015

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Male flowers have appeared on our Hazel nut trees.  We will enjoy their beauty for the next several months.

Male pollen bearing “flowers”  have appeared on our native  Hazel nut trees. We will enjoy their beauty for the next several months.

 

 

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