Monthly Archives: May 2014

Yes, You can Grow a Lush Border—Even in Sun-scorched Areas

 

Tough, yet beautiful performers in this border include Turkish veronica (r. front), catmint (l. front), dart's dash (behind veronica), sun daisy (between dart's dashes), redleaf rose (r. rear) and Lydia Woadwaxen (l. rear).  The agastaches are hidden behind the redleaf rose.

Tough, yet beautiful performers in this border include Turkish veronica (r. front), catmint (l. front), dart’s dash (behind veronica), sun daisy (between dart’s dashes), redleaf rose (r. rear) and Lydia Woadwaxen (l. rear). The agastaches are hidden behind the redleaf rose.

Do you have a spot in your yard that gets so hammered by sun and wind that nothing will grow there?

For me, it’s the south side of my front yard. Every summer, the lawn in that area turned to straw because of intense sun from the south and west. So three years ago, I converted that wasteland into a shrub and perennials border.

Some of my initial plants didn’t survive that tough microclimate even though I amended the clay soil. So I had to get serious and plant some of the most bullet-proof plants I could find. Once I did that, I was able to grow a lush-looking, low-maintenance border.

The backbone of the border is shrubs—three evergreen Lydia Woadwaxens (Genista lydia), one redleaf rose (Rosa glauca) and two dart’s dash crimson roses. I lost a third dart’s dash rose, so I’m still keeping a close eye on the dart’s dashes to make sure they can take the heat.

The woadwaxens bloom in late spring, the redleaf rose blooms in early summer, and the dart’s dashes bloom throughout the summer, providing successional bloom.

Although this area gets shade in the morning, by early afternoon, the sun starts blasting.

Although this area gets shade in the morning, by early afternoon, the sun starts blasting.

As for the perennials, they include Turkish veronica (V. liwanensis) and Little Gem dwarf candytuft (Iberis sempervirens ‘Little Gem’), which are both mid/late spring bloomers; Purple Mountain® sun daisy (Osteospermum barbariae var. compactum), a late spring to mid-summer bloomer; Little Trudy® catmint (Nepeta x ‘Psfike’ P.P. 18904), a spring to fall bloomer; and apricot sunrise hummingbird mint (Agastache aurantiaca ‘Apricot Sunrise’), a mid-summer to fall bloomer.

Since planting these hardy specimens, I get along with Mother Nature much better, and she rewards me with vibrant color throughout the growing season.

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Filed under Garden Maintenance, Landscape Design, Plant Geekiness

Let Vegetables Spice up Garden with Bright Colors and Flavor

NuMex Easter ornamental pepper brightens a border or patio. (Photo courtesy of National Garden Bureau)

NuMex Easter ornamental pepper brightens a border or patio. (Photo courtesy of National Garden Bureau)

This morning as I walked to the library, I noticed that a neighbor had covered her shrubs with white sheets to protect them from last night’s below-freezing temperatures.  Her front yard resembled a collection of spooky trick-or-treaters.

Now that temperatures are forecasted to warm up, the plant covers can come off, and we can install warm season vegetables in our garden beds.

This year, why not make your garden more enticing with vegetables that are ornamental, as well as flavorful?

NuMex Easter pepper, a 2014 All-America Selections winner, is a compact plant with small clusters of cute, hot ornamental peppers in Easter-egg shades of lavender, yellow and light orange.  Although this beauty won’t tolerate frost, it will tolerate normal to dry soil conditions and deliver solid performance as a container plant or low-growing edger.

Lemon cucumbers, with their fresh, mild taste, are a delight in the garden.  These round fruits with their lemony-yellow color reach about three inches in diameter and can be eaten like an apple.  I grew these last year and dubbed them a favorite for both appearance and flavor.

Calliope eggplant is a small, oval Asian-style eggplant so attractive that you'll want to display it before eating it. (Photo courtesy of National Garden Bureau)

Calliope eggplant is a small, oval Asian-style eggplant so attractive that you’ll want to display it before eating it. (Photo courtesy of National Garden Bureau)

Calliope eggplant provides a stunning display with its white-striped purple skin complemented by soft green foliage.  At maturity, the fruits are three to four inches long with a diameter of about 2.5 inches.

Lizzano F1 semi-determinate cherry tomato offers a continuous crop of fruit to perk up  containers or hanging baskets.  As the one-inch fruits mature from green to bright red, they display color rivaling that of many flowers.  Lizzano is a 2011 All-America Selections winner.

To see more delicious and attractive vegetables, visit the National Garden Bureau website at ngb.org.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Plant Geekiness, Produce Dept.