Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Second Year Garden

I went out to the garden to do a little work for the first time since December.  The rotting remains of once vibrant leaves, looking like zombies of their former selves, are coating all the available dirt.   The ephemeral-ness of gardens sort of pisses me off.   Sigh.

I learned a lot last year from my first gardening year.  Most of what I really tried to make survive, did just fine, despite less than an inch of rain during summer.  Yes, the entire 3 months, with 89 straight days above 90.

But today, I am ripping out my mistakes none the less.    Lantana is a great plant for this area, but I have to face it. I hate it.  It just smells awful to me.  Its unkempt in a way that does not appeal to me.  And its downright huge.  I pulled the biggest offender out of the back garden today, and the other 3 in the front garden's days are numbered.   Life is too short and there are too many other things I want to grow for lantana to be in my life anymore.  (if any of you Charleston people want a 4x4 ft lantana plant you just let me know).

I also moved the butterfly bush.  It is also too big and needs too much sun for where it fits.  So he's gone out back to the parking area where he can have all the room and sun he can stand.  I won't really get to see him much as he lies beyond the fence... but hey, my neighbors will be happy come August with this great purple bush growing where weeds once grew.

Showy evening primrose is doing a little too well, and I ripped out half of that.  Now that he's very established, and in an idea situation, according to the experts, he better be covered in blooms or he's gone this time next year.  Too invasive.

I got rid of the crinum lilies (gift to my mom).  They just aren't me.  They grew well though.  And by the way should you ever want to dig them up they the bulbs are the size of eggplants down there!

I got rid of the Sedum (Autumn Joy).  For the time it was blooming it was great... but at least here, it looks like giant broccoli for 80% of the year.  Just not me, and doesn't match all the other flowers in that super sunny portion of the garden.

The yarrow, which I cannot keep from the super flop, is also going to Virginia, as soon as things thaw up there, where it can be planted in the 'ignored' bed, and just be a field flower.

In the spaces left by all this, I am adding some more of what did great, AND I loved.  I will be adding a few more coneflowers, more agapanthas, more area for cleome to reseed, and a few more rose bushes.  I have another hydrangea whom I got for 4 dollars in late November and never made it out of its pot.  And its out there putting out buds, despite his severe neglect.   I have planted a start of blue sky vine (Thunbergia Grandiflora) which was stolen (the cutting) from a neighbor (I hope he forgives me, and cringe if he saw me out there at 7am trying to cut the piece with my keys).    And when the time comes in May foxgloves will again be the star of the show around here.  

For full year top performance at my house anyway the awards go to the various rose bushes and the coneflowers, they really didn't care that we had a real feel temperature of 104 for all of July and August.  As far as annuals go, the angelonias, torenias and African bush daisies are the winners and they will all be back, in force.

Finally, I also learned that I can't be a full time blogger.  I just get too distracted, so I think what I'll do is just post when I have something to report or show, and if its twice one week and then once in 3 months, that will just be the way that it has to be!!!  I want to do it, but I don't want to stress about it!

Happy Gardening 2011 everyone.  I have the next two weeks to clean up and get the garden ready for the race, and then we're off to a year #2!!!


  1. Gld to see you're still around :)

    I think I may finally be able to get back in the garden a little this week, temps are supposed to get into the 70's by the weekend here in SE NC.

  2. Dear Jess, How lovely to hear from you again. Oh yes, this all sounds very sensible to me. It is so therapeutic to purge the garden of plants which really do not live up to their growing space.The list of plants that you are going to add sounds perfect to me. Indeed the Rose and Echinacea combinations alone sound lovely.

  3. Good for you, Jess. I can see that although your garden is only in its infant stages, you as a gardener are seasoned. You're right. Life is too short for catering to plants that don't really trip our trigger. Get rid of them and grow the ones that really speak to you, I agree. And write when you can. Blogging is supposed to be fun, not a chore. :)

  4. Hi Jess~~ I'm honored that you thought of me regarding the roses. However, my climate is really rainy during the winter months but dry in summer. High humidity is the norm in winter but rare in summer. That said, I can recommend roses that work for me: 'Gertrude Jekyll' is an English rose with medium pink fragrant !! flowers. It will probably get blackspot on the older leaves but it's not a big deal really. 'Jacques Cartier' is another good one and 'Jeanie LaJoie' is a great medium pink miniature climber. Have you tried the new 'Knockout' series of roses? They're not fragrant but fabulously reliable bloomers. I have two of the dark pink varieties and they're everything they claim to be. Another climber with good disease resistance and wonderful pink flowers is 'William Baffin.' Not much fragrance though but still reliable and beautiful. Please feel free to ask me more about these roses if you like. For me it's just been trial and error. Many rose bushes have gone by way of yard debris cart. Sometimes it's just trial and error. Have you contacted your local county Extension office? Often they can recommend plants for your specific location. I look forward to hearing what you choose and how they do! Thanks again for thinking of me. :)

  5. Jess, It's great to hear what's happening in your garden. I so agree that a big part of gardening is figuring out what works in your garden and what you love. I think many of us start out by trying out lots of different plants and then narrow our choices down to a smaller number that are stars for us. -Jean

  6. Sounds like you are becoming a fantastic gardener. Don't forget to keep on top of your weed control.

  7. Got your question about coneflowers. "Hey Compost, its Jess downtown. I have a question to ask you as a long time area gardener.. do you grow coneflowers? I am all the sudden concerned because it has been soooo rainy this winter and I'm wondering if they are rotting in there? I generally have good drainage, but...

    I am going to be really upset if these things generally rot here. Can you share any experience with them? (mine are Merlot and Kim's Knee High's)."

    I have had no problems with Kim's Knee High coming back. I have had problems with the slew of brightly colored hybrids out on the market being anything more than high priced annuals. I, in fact am still loving the straight species, E. purpurea as my choice for the garden. Whatever you do, don't mess with them. they are late to come back in the spring to begin with.