Sunday, August 30, 2015

Gardening Season 2015 and Fall Bulbs

As fall and winter approach, my thoughts reflect on this years garden. What I've learned, what worked, did well and thrived, what didn't, and a wish list of changes and improvements I hope to make for the next season. Coming to terms with what does well in my yard has been difficult, as many plants, shrubs, and trees that I like shouldn't be planted there because they'll die. Accepting that everything I may like in the yard won't thrive in shade has been humbling. Even with the many branches cut from the Norway Maples that hang over my yard, the area is still mostly shaded. 

Philadelphia has warm humid summers perfect conditions for powdery mildew in the yard. I've battled it unsuccessfully for the past several summers. I started off well spraying plants thought to be susceptible in the past with organic spray. It worked for the peony this year or was it the added sun from cutting tree branches that helped? The disease did show it's head on the stems prior to cutting them. Spraying stopped when temperatures warmed up, not a good idea.The likely solution is, planting more natives and plants that have learned to deal with conditions in my zone including mildew, and avoiding those  that are most susceptible to the disease in spite of my love for them. Not watering plants from the top is said to help but, mother nature does not water from the bottom and many plants don't get mildew although their leaves get wet during every rain shower. I think having a combination of conditions in your garden and having plants that are more susceptible adds to the problem.

Some of the things that didn't work were hydrangea planted in containers. They were beautiful but now have dropped most of their leaves and those left are covered in powdery mildew. I even added 2 more in the ground in another flower bed not a good decision when evidence that they might not do well in my yard are visibly apparent. I love hydrangea why can't the conditions in my yard behave? Can't change that and cut down all my neighbor's trees. Then heat and having to water would be another problem. I'll have to make the choice to purchase them as annuals only, enjoy the blooms and not expect them to return. Lets see what they do come spring as I'll leave them in the container because from what I've read powdery mildew is not contagious. 

They were so beautiful when they first came. That rose bus did well most of the summer until now eaten every leaf. I'll have to work on that too next season.

Also purchased and planted in August were pink coneflower in a gallon container. Enough to divide into 3 plants. One section died and the other 2 still have foliage low to the ground and look healthy without further flower spikes. Hopefully they're developing good root growth before fall. Coleus continued to be eaten by slugs or some other unknown insect. Something really loves them. 

They didn't look that way for long. They also usually suffer from powdery mildew although it is a native. I love them but they don't usually love my yard. They've been planted in my yard before and died out.
Many bare root plants purchased at the Philadelphia Flower Show did not make their appearance and those that did had little growth. The blue agapanthus had a cluster of foliage but not a lot. There were no flower spikes. I also purchased the white ones but if there was a root within the peat moss it had deteriorated by the time of planting. A bare root fern bore one leaf as of August. Shooting stars never made their appearance neither did another bare root Lilly purchased from Bluestone Perennials. Anemone did come up but they dried up due to lack of my watering. The ones I've had in the past were really pretty but they didn't return the next year. I won't buy more because I'm not attentive to watering and plants I need to avoid plants that require a moist environment such as the astilbe planted several years ago have difficulty. 

All  things considered, those were the only problems but it could have been worse. Losing plants due to bad choices have to stop. Disappointment set in when I read today that black eyed Susan's are biennial so the ones just planted may not return next spring. What a disappointment. Hopefully sprinkling the seed heads already dried on the plant will result in new plants in the spring. My cucumber and tomatoes developed disease although the broccoli and strawberries did well. Two pepper plants were pulled. I planted them super late and they won't do much by frost and cool season annuals can be planted in their place. The container with lettuce seeds has some something on the surface of the soil that looks like coffee grinds. I don't know what this is but it's not normal and the whole container will be emptied and washed before planting broccoli. 

A major success were the lilies I'm in love and ordered more including the tree type that grow tall. They flourished in the yard all summer and cented the yard with their perfume. As always the impatiens put on a show. I'd love white ones next year, maybe. Working on color combinations in the yard for next year is important. A variety of color combinations in spring bulbs is okay but, the red and green of the sweet potato vine bothered me all summer. A monochromatic color scheme would be better but my choices usually come from what's in nurseries in the spring. Growing as many annuals from seed so I have the combinations I want isn't an option as space and time won't accommodate this. Ordering that number of plants online is too costly so I definitely won't be doing that. It's fun working on possibilities for the spring. As fall approaches perennials are discounted and I've taken advantage of this. I bought some hosta for my cedar planter and 2 fern which will go in my planter on the steps. The goal is more carefree plants that require little attention. 

The annuals are beautiful but I'm tired of sweeping up spent bloom from the impatiens out front all summer and watering every day sometimes 2 times a day due to the heat. In the yard I can use the hose with my new watering wand  to give the plants a good soaking and water deeply hopefully encouraging good root growth. Out front carrying a 2 gallon watering container in and out the house for refills is not fun. Okay, I was entice by fall bulbs already at Home Depot. It's not even September. Not a big selection but they had the orange/red ones that did so well this spring and I wanted more. They'll stay in the basement until October when the temperatures get cooler and then I'll bring them to my porch to await planting and hopefully they'll stay nice and solid as they are now. Other ordered bulbs should be arriving in late September. Ordering online allows a larger selection of bulbs although I haven't been disappointed with the size and performance of my Home Depot or nursery purchased bulbs. There weren't any paper whites yet although I ordered some on line. No zivia this year. I wanted a variety that didn't get too tall and need support. I'll share some more of my wish list and plans in another post. Am I blooming where I'm planted? For now and who knows maybe the future. Still thinking of another house in another neighborhood. Only God knows the answer to that.

I have visions of these ferns taking over the outside planter. I don't want an all green foliage planter but it's time for a change and something else that returns every year. The hosta go in my planter out back. They're still annuals planted in it but I may remove some so the hosta can be planted and get established before winter. Some annuals will still be squeezed in for some color. Thankfully the planter didn't have problems with plants wilting as those in the ground although the planter was watered the least.
I'll plant one pack of red tulips out front. I love the pop of color with the many purple perennials out front such as the salvia and catmint. Children are curious and I hope they aren't curious enough to pull up the alliums. It won't look pretty but this fall I'll put chicken wire with mulch over the bulbs I plant to deter squirrels from eating them and keep it from being unsightly. 
Gladiator alliums for a good price. On line they were really expensive for only one. I ordered some that are pink, white, and yellow online.
Tulips are very healthy with no molded ones. I'd love to have a small refrigerator to put them in till planting time. When my daughter graduated from college she brought home the one I purchased for her. Not a wise decision to give it away having it for bulbs or chilling seeds that need chilling would be wonderful. Too late for that. If I find an affordable one dirt cheap I'll get one in the future.
From this past spring. I had to have them again.

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