The garden is usually a source of great joy. But recently it has been simply depressing to go about the paths, seeing worrisome droopiness in mature trees, shrubs and struggling perennials. Several days passed without any photos being taken, something heretofore unheard of. It was the heat and drought that was the cause of the sadness. Some rain, not nearly enough, has fallen to perk things up and the sprinklers have been running for many hours, water bills be darned. But there have been bright spots, despite the conditions of garden and gardener.
One of several new plants added to the redesigned Gravel Garden, click to read about it here-Redefining A Garden Bed From Flat To Gravel, has risen to the challenge of soil and weather. An order was placed online from Annie’s Annuals, and yes, they do have more than annuals. Among the selections purchased was Verbascum chaixii ‘Album’, shown in macro in the opening image and above in the bed. Annie’s is located in California, where conditions are so very different from southeast Tennessee. We have found that ordering plants from desert type locales has not been cost effective most of the time, many die immediately. But we do it anyway because of the varied selections offered. It is a risk, but sometimes it turns out swimmingly.
Pulling back for a longer view, the Verbascum looks healthy and happy in the bed. The best thing in this venue is always the blue chairs, we even wrote about that here-Photographing The Blue Chairs, but the large leaves of the new resident have helped with the dreaded Little Leaf Syndrome. I was so pleased with how this plant has taken to its new home, four more were ordered from Annie’s.
In full disclosure, there was a free replacement plant sent for the Asphodeline lutea from the original order that died after I may have overwatered it. It arrived happy and healthy in the well packed box. It was my fault it died. I did not ask for it to be replaced, but did send an email to Annie’s asking what might have been done differently on my part. They offered to replace the plant anyway and even filled the shipping box with three other plants, all annuals in my zone. After the offer was made to replace the plant, I mentioned that I had a gardenblog and would say a few words about the excellent customer service I had received. My contact at Annie’s turned out to be a fellow garden blogger! Read Kelly’s blog by clicking here-Floradora. It is so nice to make new friends. (And help send business to companies with such a kind spirit and fine plants.)
Moving on around the Gravel Garden towards the west, there are hopeful signs that the growing season will rise to new heights with the buds appearing on Aster tataricus. A hostess gift a couple of years ago from my dear friend and fellow traveler, Gail of Clay And Limestone, this promises to be a really big aster, or non aster as the taxonomists now insist. This fall will see its maiden blooming. This stalk is already over my five foot almost four inch height.
Despite no supplemental watering, Hydrangea ‘Lady In Red’ looks full of vim and vigor. ‘Lady in Red’ is the first protected (patented) release from the University of Georgia plant improvement program: ‘Continued Adventures in Plant Improvement in the Department of Horticulture and Center for Applied Nursery Research’ by Michael A. Dirr, UGA-Dept. of Horticulture. This breakthrough hydrangea is an open-pollinated seedling of ‘Otaksa’. Behind The Lady, Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Alison’ looks perky as well. ‘Alison’ grows 8′- 10′ high and is a clone discovered by Michael A. Dirr, on the Geogia campus and named after Alison Arnold, one of his master of science students. Both of these Georgia belles are growing in the magical soil of the deceased maple tree Ferngully.
On the slope behind the main house, the view from the lazyboy in the addition from whence all Fairegarden blog posts emanate, there has been watering, almost daily. The backlighting that occurs at this time of year as the sun lowers its searing angle for kinder and gentler rays of illumination has been noticed and noted in the journal. The large leaves of Heuchera villosa ‘Brownies’ look like pink tinted Fudgsicles with the stems as the sticks of this yummy frozen confection. Also growing in the area but struggling some with the lack of moisture are H. ‘Citronelle’. We are looking for year around leaf interest from these plantings. Perhaps some nice fluffy mulch will give them a boost.
Another coleus, name unknown has been added to the wheelbarrow planter along with white Angelonia when some of the original plantings went into organ failure with the lack of rain. Click to read the story of how this piece of equipment became a garden container here-Inspiring Wheelbarrow And A Little Guest. .
Another container whose appearance was unacceptable was revamped with recent purchases from the big box store. Cordyline australis ‘Coral’ and unknown sweet potato vine livened things up considerably. These plantings are not winter hardy here, but will last long enough to fulfill the vision for the dramatically reduced price for which they were purchased until something better catches our attention.
Ruth, owner of our local nursery Mouse Creek, gave me a cutting of this Verbena rigida ‘Polaris’ last fall after I remarked upon its beauty in her gravel pathways. That small stem has increased in size and brought a smile every time we entered the pathway leading to the back gardens. It will be spread about here as pieces become available from this mother clump. You might notice the little California poppy from a free packet of mixed seeds from Renees Seeds, Eschscholzia californica ‘Rainbow Mix’ also looking good at the moment.
This is the second post of the theme what looks good now. The first can be seen by clicking here-What Looks Good Now-Early August 2010. It might become a regular feature here at the Fairegarden. Or not. That is what I love about being the author of this blog, freedom!