Sunday, November 23, 2014

Putting the Garden to Bed

Saffron Flower.

In late October only one of my saffron bulbs flowered--I was not surprised, since so many of them were dug up and eaten by unidentified rodents last winter. I fed the remaining bulbs heavily and hope they'll do better next year, provided they are not decimated again. I wonder if burying moth balls near them would prevent further attacks?

The pineapple sage plant I bought last summer didn't bloom until the end of September, too late for their beautiful red flowers to attract the hummingbirds. During the summer humming birds enjoyed browsing the calibrachoas in the hanging baskets on the porch--I would see them in the early mornings and late evenings. I'll try the pineapple sage again next year, plant it earlier, and perhaps in a different spot.

I'd ordered lots of new plants and bushes to continue landscaping the back yard: Stella d'Oro daylilies for the border with the Ten Little Indians (I added one more arbor vitae to make it eleven), some butterfly bushes and purple asters. It took a couple of weekends to remove the scrubby sod and work the soil for the thirty to forty foot length, but thanks to the lovely weather it was a pleasant, if vigorous workout.

Eleven Little Indians

I planted a Black-haw viburnum and a Ninebark tree along the rear property line. Along with the dogwood and redbud tree that I planted the year before, these small trees will make a nice transition toward the backdrop of tall trees in the ravine. But what to do in-between these?

On my way home early one Friday evening I came across a sale of ornamental grasses, and stopped to look. I ended up buying three plants for the back slope that Herb hates to mow.  I didn't want to plant Miscanthus sinensis, as my neighbors have this invasive grass and it's already spreading into the fallow fields across the road. I settled for less invasive species: pink Muhly grass, Fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum) and one weird-looking plant of corkscrew rush (Juncus effusus 'Spiralis') that went in the moist bed with the hydrangeas. Needless to say, these few plants nearly disappeared among the empty expanse, and more plants were called for.

Juncus effusus 'Spiralis'

Ornamental grasses with ninebark tree on the right
I found an on-line sale at High Country Gardens, a nursery I remembered from my trips to Santa Fe years ago, and decided to try a few varieties of grasses new to me, some native western: Silky thread grass (Nassela tenuissima), Boulder blue fescue (Festuca glauca 'Boulder Blue'), and blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis), as well as more pink Muhly grass (Muhlenbergia 'Pink Flamingo'). This area is rather dry, so hopefully they'll prosper there. In the spring I can add some lavender and other drought-tolerant plants, maybe even a yucca, to create a desert-inspired border.

After last week's plunge in temperatures, yesterday I finished digging in the last spring bulbs and the few grasses I had not planted yet. Now the last chore left is to trim back the dead tops of the perennials, then it'll be time to put the garden to sleep for the winter.