July 2012 garden review



It's not that I don't learn from my mistakes. It's just that I keep making new ones. This latest one is the worst garden mistake I've ever made. What possessed me to order pine mulch?????????? And to spread it all over the garden before I realized its acidity would spoil the beautiful quality soil that I'd laboriously built up over decades? How will the plants cope with this assault on their wellbeing? Tune in for the next exciting episode ...



No flowers yet on this Fringe Flower (Loropetalum chinese), but with foliage like this, what's the hurry?


Orange Grevillea flowers are appearing low down on the new, still small shrub, but it's growing well and looking good so far ...


I had forgotten the name of this plant. Diana from Elephant's Eye blog, obligingly reminded me it was an Asparagus Fern. I'd never seen it produce berries before. Here, on the one branch, it obligingly shows a ripe berry, a green berry and an in-between berry.




Both flowers, Lavatera maritima and Hellebore orientalis, look down gracefully, bashfully. Is it because they like to see me lying flat on my back taking photos? No, I think more likely they're getting ready to drop their seeds.


Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), ancient herb, helps compost to break down, good to drink as tea if you've got a sore throat. It's always been in the garden, but it's taller and more vigorous this year because of the rain.


This is the monthly Watch This Space that's gradually getting filled in. In the front the Echiums candicans are growing back, the E. simplex (aka sea anemones) are getting more prominent and ditto the Artichokes in the rear of the photo.


So far from their ancestral home in Africa, these African Daisy flowers (Osteospermum ecklonis) are looking for whatever sun they can find.


Poor forget me nots. Pine mulch all over them, leaves and flowers.  Hope they can hang on, heavy rain is coming soon to wash it off ...  Soon after I took the photo, I took pity on them and hosed them down.


The flowers are starting to unfold and soon the Echium candicans shrub will be crowned by a mass of pink candle-like flowers.


Euphorbia characis - one of the best garden shrubs around. Not fussy, tough survivor, volunteer seedlings abound, tending to emerge in spaces that beautifully complement the garden design.


 This is the self seeded Verbascum that I've photographed before when it was less developed. In spite of occasional tramples (well it had to grow over a path, didn't it?) it continues to grow lush and lovely.



It's winter. It's cold and insects are not as abundant as they are at other times of the year. But a hungry spider still has to eat. This one has managed to catch a Yummy Meal or a Poor Fly - depending on your point of view.


Comments

  1. This, with the berries, looks like one of our Asparagus ferns?

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    1. that's it! I thought it was a fern, but it's quite an unusual form and habit for a fern, isn't it? thanks for this, Diana.

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    2. It's really a 'fern'. Delicate leaves but not botanically a fern. Think of it as wild asparagus.

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    3. I love asparagus - wish I could eat it.

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  2. It's easy to dismiss winter as a nothing time for the garden, but as your pictures show, Catmint, there's a great deal going on!

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    1. I find it hard to imagine living in a climate where snow covers the garden and it really is a time of rest. Sometimes I think it would be quite nice though. There no respite for us.

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  3. I hope your plants don't get sick from the acidity of the pine bark mulch. My soil is naturally acidic, so my plants have to be able to tolerate that. I have killed three euphorbias. :( I love - make that LOVE - how they look, but I just can't seem to make them happy. Maybe it's my acidic soil!

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    1. I love euphorbias too, have lots of them, esp wulfenii - I so hope they don't upset by the sudden dose of acidity. I suppose I could try to remove the mulch, but it seems such a daunting and depressing job.

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  4. You had me at that first statement. So, so familiar. I know I did use pine bark mulch in my previous garden. It didn't seem to do too much damage, but once I learned about its downside I stopped using it immediately. Fingers crossed all will be well in your garden. Your 'watch this space' space is looking fantastic. It's all coming together very nicely.

    I have to agree with Diana. That unknown is definitely the Asparagus Fern. I have it growing up here too, and recognised it immediately. Up here it can become a bit of a thug in the garden, but I'm not sure that would be the case down there.

    You've got such a lot going on in your winter garden. Are you getting out there more these days? Hope you're feeling fully recovered now and able to do lots more gardening jobs.

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    1. the asparagus fern is not a thug here. It has been in the same position since I started the garden and hasn't grown larger or seeded volunteers. I wish it would be a little bit more forthcoming since it is very attractive. I am feeling much better - thanks so much for asking - getting out more and feeling so-o-o liberated after the enforced inactivity. It's a relief to know you used pine mulch and it didn't do too much damage. Fingers and toes crossed!!!!!

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    2. I'll cross my eyes as well Catmint! Lol!

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  5. Yes. The history of mulch and the gardener. I've made the same mistake as well. I tried to clean it up best I could. Don't stress about it. You just learned something new now:) See if you can reuse it in another area. I do like that mulch and some plants like to be around it as well.

    The Asparagus Fern is a great plant for us in the desert. I have one growing in our garden....and it will overgrow its spot which is okay, but maybe you'll like it?? I have it in a planter here.

    Love your shots....especially of the spider and now dead fly:) Have a good weekend!!

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    1. hi chris, i certainly learned something new - I have just had a thought. My mother in law has a garden full of camellias and rhodedendrons, so I will put it in buckets and take it to her bit by bit. But if her garden dies she'll blame me so it's a bit of a risky idea... so pleased you like my shots, I do best with things like plants on non windy days and slow eating spiders - as opposed to birds, that are selfish and always fly off and don't stay and pose! cheers, catmint

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  6. Such a lot going on in your winter garden, wish I could grow echium, that is going to look fantastic. Hope your plants all survive their pine mulch, gardening is a great learning curve.

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    1. yes Pauline, and at times and a very painfully and stressfully steep learning curve. I have piled lots of pine mulch around little echium volunteer seedlings that so far are healthy and happy... now I'm in suspense, but I suppose we never really know exactly what will happen in life or the garden.

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  7. It's so different from mine in your garden! I have a garden in Southern Finland and we are living in the middle of the summer now. We have a common plant and that's yarrow. It's blooming now in my garden. Come and visit my garden blog if you want to see, how it's now in a Finnish garden.

    Satu

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  8. Hi Satu, lovely to meet you. At the moment our gardens are not so different, both cottage gardens, but when it is summer here and winter there I think our gardens will look very very different. I am very excited to get to know a gardener who could hardly live further away than you do. cheers, catmint

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  9. It takes mulch quite a while to change the acidity of soil and even then the changes won't be significant enough to kill your plants. Plants like loropetalum, myosotis (forget me knots) and euphorbia love acidic soil. What is the natural pH of your soil? Also, any plants near a concrete walkway will be growing in soil that is slightly alkaline because of the lime that leaches from the concrete. They might thank you for the mulch!

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    1. thanks so much for this really knowledgable reassuring helpful comment, CM. Phew!

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    2. Hi cm, I forgot to answer your answer about the ph of the soil. I have never measured it so I don't know, but I think it is very healthy because it is full of worms and I continually top it up with organic matter, compost and mulch.

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    3. Soil that has been continually amended with compost, is usually around 6.8 to 7.2 with anything above 7 considered alkaline. Most plants (at least those in the US) do just fine in those ranges. You can check your soil pH with a quick easy soil test or with a little probe you moisten and stick in the soil. That will let you know exactly what you're dealing with. :o) Your soil is probably almost neutral at 7, which makes it perfect for growing most plants!

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  10. I take it I should be happy there is no pine mulch available locally. Not a mistake I would make but thank you for educating me, just in case. I don't have soil since almost all my plants are potted or airplants. I just buy soil from the nurseries and add compost from dead leaves and useful kitchen leftovers.

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    1. I make compost from dead leaves and kitchen leftovers and usually that's enough. I find it a bit fraught getting stuff from nurseries, even soil can have seeds you don't want. The pine mulch looked and smelled beautiful, so maybe it wasn't so bad?

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  11. Catmint, it is so wonderful to watch how your garden progress. The other day I saw one asparagus fern with lots of green berries like yours.

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    1. thanks for kind words steph - so asparagus ferns like tropics too ... very versatile plants.

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