Category Archives: Pruning

Pulmonaria and Aster Pruning, Pieris Dead-Heading

The pulmonarias bloomed several months ago, and afterwards their foliage needs to be cleaned up.

'Bertram Anderson' pulmonaria before pruning

‘Bertram Anderson’ pulmonaria before pruning

'Bertram Anderson' pulmonaria after pruning

‘Bertram Anderson’ pulmonaria after pruning

Ciscoe Morris advises to cut down one’s fall blooming asters so they don’t get as leggy and so that they don’t bloom too early. We only took off one half, to be safe.


Aster Novi-Belgii 'Daydream' before pruning

Aster Novi-Belgii ‘Daydream’ before pruning

Aster Novi-Belgii 'Daydream' before pruning

Aster Novi-Belgii ‘Daydream’ before pruning

Aster Novi-Belgii 'Daydream' after pruning

Aster Novi-Belgii ‘Daydream’ after pruning

The big pieris was dead-headed, cleaning up its look.

big pieris before deadheading

big pieris before deadheading

big pieris after deadheading

big pieris after deadheading

Lupine Pruning and Moving

As I stated in a previous post, I have mixed feelings about the lupines. The bloom period is so short, and afterwards they look so awful. We had three alongside the sidewalk (which got bigger than I expected), which is pretty good real estate. The co-gardener and I both independently came up with the idea of moving them to the back and putting something else in instead.

When they look good (although the best part was while I was out of town):

2013 Miscell 1618 lupines

When they are finished, look bad, and need to be pruned:

2013 Miscell 1824 lupines before pruning and removal

The pruning pile (note the powdery mildew):

2013 Miscell 1834 lupine pruning

The lupines after pruning – not attractive:

2013 Miscell 1835 lupines after pruning

We dug them up and moved them to the back. While they were blooming, I liked the way the three looked together. However, once the blooming is over it is too much blah in one area.

These new spots (in the middle of the backyard) don’t look like much in the pictures, but here they are:

Lupinus Russell Hybrids 'The Pages'

Lupinus Russell Hybrids ‘The Pages’

Lupinus Russell Hybrids 'The Governor'

Lupinus Russell Hybrids ‘The Governor’

Lupinus 'The Chatelaine'

Lupinus ‘The Chatelaine’

They might rebloom this year, but the blossoms will not be as abundant. Or, the lupines might die (a couple spent the night out of the ground because we ran out of soil-building compost).

A dwarf shasta daisy and a salvia were put in that spot by the sidewalk. Pictures of that later.

Planting, Pruning, Potting

This is recent work that the co-gardener and I have done in the yard. The order is not especially correct, but that little matters.

This planter is from the garden show, and will have flowers spilling out of it soon

2013 Miscell 1235

I pruned the last set of ferns

pruned fern pile

pruned fern pile

You can see that the ferns that I previously pruned are coming back nicely

ferns growing back

ferns growing back

Potted conifers

potted: Cryptomeria japonica 'Pygmaea' and Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Spiralis'

potted: Cryptomeria japonica ‘Pygmaea’ and Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Spiralis’

potted: Cryptomeria japonica 'Pygmaea'

potted: Cryptomeria japonica ‘Pygmaea’

potted: Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Spiralis'

potted: Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Spiralis’

These two heucheras (‘Snow Angel’) were moved out of the shady woodland garden, where they were not doing well, and into the peony area. Hopefully they will refoliate and flourish. Ciscoe Morris, at his talk, mentioned that heucheras sometimes need to be moved.

moved: Heuchera sanguinea 'Snow Angel'

moved: Heuchera sanguinea ‘Snow Angel’

moved: Heuchera sanguinea 'Snow Angel'

moved: Heuchera sanguinea ‘Snow Angel’

A new lamium was planted in the peony garden, in partial shade. It had two different tags on it – “White Nancy” and “Pink Chablis,” so it is unknown what color it will be when it blooms.

deadnettle: Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy' or 'Pink Chablis'

, deadnettle: Lamium maculatum ‘White Nancy’ or ‘Pink Chablis’

This year’s African daisy (osteospermum)

African daisy: Osteospermum

African daisy: Osteospermum

The lantana potted up

Teenie Genie compact lantana: Lantana camara 'Monike'

Teenie Genie compact lantana: Lantana camara ‘Monike’

I thought that since lewisias need so much drainage, a pot might be the way to go.

Lewisia cotyledon 'Sunset Series'

Lewisia cotyledon ‘Sunset Series’

The new evergreen honeysuckle, planted. It is to grow over a woody section of the big clematis.

evergreen honeysuckle: Lonicera 'henryi'

evergreen honeysuckle: Lonicera henryi

The co-gardener did some spontaneous pruning of the abelia (Abelia x ‘Edward Goucher’) so that it would no longer merge into the ceanothus (Ceanothus thrysiflorus ‘Perado’). Some of the neighbor’s bamboo came out too.

pruning pile: abelia, bamboo, cherry trees

pruning pile: abelia, bamboo, cherry trees

pruning: neighbor's bamboo

pruning: neighbor’s bamboo

after pruning: El Dorado ceanothus: Ceanothus thrysiflorus 'Perado' and Abelia x 'Edward Goucher'

after pruning: El Dorado ceanothus: Ceanothus thrysiflorus ‘Perado’ and Abelia x ‘Edward Goucher’

after pruning: El Dorado ceanothus: Ceanothus thrysiflorus 'Perado' and Abelia x 'Edward Goucher'

after pruning: El Dorado ceanothus: Ceanothus thrysiflorus ‘Perado’ and Abelia x ‘Edward Goucher’


shasta daisy: Leucanthemum x superbum 'Marconi'

shasta daisy: Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Marconi’

shasta daisy: Leucanthemum x superbum 'Silver Princess'

shasta daisy: Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Silver Princess’

sea thrift: Armeria maritima 'Dusseldorf Pride'

sea thrift: Armeria maritima ‘Dusseldorf Pride’

variegated sea thrift: Armeria maritima 'Nifty Thrifty'

variegated sea thrift: Armeria maritima ‘Nifty Thrifty’

variegated sea thrift: Armeria maritima 'Nifty Thrifty'

variegated sea thrift: Armeria maritima ‘Nifty Thrifty’

variegated sea thrift: Armeria maritima 'Nifty Thrifty'

variegated sea thrift: Armeria maritima ‘Nifty Thrifty’

sea thrift: Armeria maritima 'Alba'

sea thrift: Armeria maritima ‘Alba’

Echinacea purpurea 'Pink Double Delight' (coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea ‘Pink Double Delight’ (coneflower)

wallflower: Erysimum 'Winter Orchid'

wallflower: Erysimum ‘Winter Orchid’

Scabiosa columbaria 'Pink Mist' (pincushion flower)

Scabiosa columbaria ‘Pink Mist’ (pincushion flower)

Seeds to plant (plus some poppies not pictured here). The zinnias, nasturtiums, and poppies are already in (near the fountain).

This year's seeds (plus poppies)

This year’s seeds (plus poppies)

The hops vine (Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’) in the ground. It, too, is hopefully going to cover up the woody part of the big clematis.

golden hops: Humulus lupulus 'Aureus'

golden hops: Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’

The new dahlias from the garden show planted

dahlias planted

dahlias planted

And as always, I’ve been weeding

Weeding, Planting Sedums and Herbs, Pruning Jupiter’s Beard

Recently the co-gardener and I did some work in the garden. I can’t say that it was a ton of work, but I wanted to post about it regardless.

I weeded the cornus/yellow garden, the woodland garden, and the stump area. Yes, I am still catching up – some of the areas of the yard have not been weeded yet this spring. I’m getting there though. I think that if I gave it a solid eight hours I could have it done.

The co-gardener planted up the sedums and hens and chicks from this post. I think they look quite nifty in their container. I need to make a little chart of them and then take the tags out. They are: Sempervivum ‘Ruby Hearts,’ Sempervivum arachnoideum ‘Spumanti,’ Sedum lydium, Sedum acre ‘Aureum,’ Sedum oreganum (native), Sedum spathulifolium ‘Carnea,’ Sedum sieboldii ‘Mediovariegatum,’ and Sedum album ‘Faro Form.’

2013 Miscell 1040 sedums 2013 Miscell 1041 sedums

The co-gardener cut down the over-abundant Jupiter’s beard (Centranthus ruber) in hopes that this way it won’t get as leggy by mid-summer. I really wish that I had before and after photos, or a picture of the debris. I do have a shot of how one clump looks now. The Jupiter’s beard probably needs to be divided, but it has really deep taproots and we just haven’t taken the time in the fall to do it.

pruned Jupiter's beard (Centranthus ruber)

pruned Jupiter’s beard (Centranthus ruber)

Also, the co-gardener re-planted the pot of herbs. Last year all of the herbs were variegated, and included a variegated rosemary and a variegated mint. This year it is a little less varietal, but still looks nice. Included: unmarked prostrate Rosmarinus officinalis, Thymus x citriodorus ‘Silver Posie,’ gold variegated thyme: Thymus x citriodorus ‘Aureus,’ lime thyme: Thymus x citriodorus ‘Lime,’ Thymus x citriodorus, tricolored oregano: Origanum vulgare ‘Variegata,’ an unmarked curry: Helichrysum italicum, golden variegated sage: Salvia officinalis ‘Icterina,’ and Thymus pulegioides ‘Foxley.’ I guess the pot has a lot of thyme in it, but that is alright.


herb pot in April: it will grow-in

herb pot in April: it will grow-in

Finally, little nutmeg creeping thyme (Thymus praecox ‘Nutmeg’) was stuck in the ground, near the sidewalk. It is supposed to get a foot wide and one inch tall.

nutmeg creeping thyme: Thymus praecox 'Nutmeg'

nutmeg creeping thyme: Thymus praecox ‘Nutmeg’

Planting Conifers, Weeding, Dead-Heading Hydrangeas, Cutting Astilbes, Juncuses, and the Bluebeard

In the past week, the co-gardener and I have done a variety of work in the garden. You may have noticed by now that we are buying faster than we are planting, so getting things in the ground is a priority. Also, I am working at weeding the whole garden, and it is going slowly. Some areas have not been weeded yet this year, and until they are, will not be appearing on this site. Weeding is a boring subject and will probably never include photos. Otherwise, I will give some details, although possibly not in order.

The co-gardener got the four delphiniums in. They are delicate things, and the leaves were getting broken and etc. from the plants falling over in the wind. Well, and interesting thing: we bought some catnip and then, in a hurry, I forgot to put it up. So I looked out the window and saw our cat seemingly chewing on the delphiniums. I couldn’t make sense of it, until I remembered, “the catnip!” I went down there, put the plants up, and offered our cat a piece. Jay doesn’t usually care about catnip – we plant it in a hanging basket in memory of a departed cat, Rufus – so I was surprised that Jay was interested in it. He ate the piece, and then started chewing on a delphinium. I am not sure if the delphinium smelled like catnip from formerly being next to it, or if it just looked similar enough. I thought “ack! the delicate delphiniums!” and brought down a catnip plant and let Jay enjoy that for a few moments (and then he lost interest). Anyhow, the co-gardener planted them in the rose garden but I am not including any pictures because I have not weeded that area yet. Upon seeing little evidence of any emergence of last year’s delphiniums, the co-gardener got disgusted and said that if they were going to be that way, no more delphiniums would be purchased. I think that there is still time for them to pop up. Besides that, I did see one growing. I pointed that out, and the co-gardener just repeated the disgusted statement. I think maybe four were in the ground from last year – I’d have to do some thinking to know the number for sure.

The co-gardener finally dead-headed the hydrangea heads/blossoms/puffs. No one had gotten around to it. The back part is still not done – it is difficult to reach. Dead-heading is kind of calming, but I was trying to put a priority on the weeds.

dead-heading hydrangeas: partway through

dead-heading hydrangeas: partway through

pile of hydrangea puffs

pile of hydrangea puffs

pile of hydrangea puffs

pile of hydrangea puffs

I realized that the astilbes had new growth, so it was time to cut out last year’s brown stuff. I tend to leave it there for awhile in order to know where the plants are. There are five astilbes in the swamp.

astilbes before pruning

astilbes before pruning

Astilbe x arendsii 'Hyacinth' before pruning

Astilbe x arendsii ‘Hyacinth’ before pruning

Astilbe x arendsii 'Astary Pink' before pruning

Astilbe x arendsii ‘Astary Pink’ before pruning

While in the swamp with the astilbes, I cut at a few juncuses. I read somewhere that this is ok: that dead pieces just happen. We will see if they get perked up.

an example of a brown juncus: Juncus effusus 'Unicorn'

an example of a brown juncus: Juncus effusus ‘Unicorn’

The co-gardener decided to prune the bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Korball’  Blue Balloon). I said to look it up online, and the co-gardener replied “you know, pruning is my specialty.” Sigh.

pre-pruning Blue Balloon Bluebeard - Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Korball' Blue Balloon

pre-pruning Blue Balloon Bluebeard – Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Korball’ Blue Balloon

The co-gardener and I did some planting in the conifer garden. I will include pictures of the end result in a separate post. First of all, the conifer garden had to be expanded. This involved moving:

Tasmanian mountain pepper - Drimys lanceolata new location

Tasmanian mountain pepper – Drimys lanceolata new location

The plant was not moved very far. It is still along the fence, but no longer next to the purple osmanthus.

mountain pepper - Drimys lanceolata and purple-leaf osmanthus - Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Purpureus'

mountain pepper – Drimys lanceolata and purple-leaf osmanthus – Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Purpureus’

I will make the next post about the updated conifer garden. See the last post for additional information about some of the conifers. Unfortunately, I do not think that there is any space for a fir (abies) or an arborvitae (genus including western red cedar, thuja). It would be spiffy to have every kind of conifer in the conifer garden, but it probably won’t happen. Too many cryptomerias, chamaecyparis, and blue spruces.

Ciscoe Morris at a local nursery

Ciscoe inspecting the plants he is to talk about

Ciscoe inspecting the plants he is to talk about

Ciscoe in the middle of a good story

Ciscoe in the middle of a good story

Ciscoe and our favorite nurseryman, trying to fix the microphone

Ciscoe and our favorite nurseryman, trying to fix the microphone

Saturday April 6th I went to a talk by Ciscoe Morris at a nearby nursery. The co-gardener was able to show up partway through. ::Gets out notes:: I got to the nursery a half hour early and, worried about the amount of people already there and the small amount of chairs, I didn’t wander around looking at plants but instead sat down. I started in the third row and then after awhile decided to move up to the second row. After awhile more I thought “what the heck” and took a spot in the middle of the first row. It appears that no one wants to sit in the front. Ciscoe arrived about five minutes before the talk was to begin, and began looking over the table of plants about which he was supposed to talk. I was a little amused by this – in my mind there would be some coordination of effort between the nursery and Ciscoe in selecting the highlighted plants. At one point while Ciscoe was examining them a lady sitting towards the front asked him if a plant was a hebe… he said no, that is what he thought at first too, but it was actually related to a huckleberry. Suffice it to say, Ciscoe didn’t talk about that particular plant. Oh, during the entire talk there was a microphone problem – pressure had to be applied in just the right spot for it to work – so for awhile various people held the microphone for Ciscoe. I’m not sure how much the people in the back heard – the event was not entirely indoors and the rain was pounding.

The format was that Ciscoe would talk about certain plants, in between which he would take questions from the audience. I was familiar with some of these plants, and with others I was not. Some I grow, such as the pulmonaria, flowering currant, monarda, and rhododendron. Some questions provided useful information for me, and others were less relevant. I think that I will share an accumulation of information here.

  • Pulmonaria, otherwise known as “lungwort”: I knew about pruning after bloom to improve foliage, thanks to Ciscoe stated that the plants like moist shade, which is nice because that is exactly where mine are ( Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Splash’ and Pulmonaria longifolia ‘Bertram Anderson’) – and they seem to be doing quite well. Supposedly the leaves look like lungs, but I don’t really see it, so I tend to call the plants by their scientific name, pulmonaria. Ciscoe said that, like other plants with “wort” in the name, “lungwort” was used in the Middle Ages as a medicine – specifically for lung problems. Ciscoe said that pulmonarias are called “soldier-sailor plants” in England, but I forget the details.
  • Flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum: Ciscoe/the nursery specifically presented the same cultivar of the native species that I have, ‘King Edward VII.’ Flowering currants are famous as hummingbird plants, and the rufous hummingbirds show up from migration when the plants are blooming in the late winter / early spring. Unfortunately for me, Ciscoe informed us that flowering currants, as native plants, have no tolerance for summer waterings. This is bad, because my two (the cultivar and the species) are in areas that get watered in the summer (July, August). I can’t just stop watering because of the currants! Ciscoe said that he knew of many flowering currants that died from watering. I guess I will just cross my fingers. By the way, flowering currants are scented.
  • I asked a question about my flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Kan Toyo’). It was purchased in the fall (2011), and did not bloom the following late winter / spring or the one after. This, by the way, is a good example of why buying a plant in bloom can be useful, although some plants (such as lilacs) are known to bloom at the nurseries and then discontinue once they are planted, taking several years to begin again. I asked Ciscoe if the quince was going to ever bloom, and he said that flowering quinces grow to be very old, so sometimes take a few years before blooming. Well, that means that I don’t need to pull it out! Ciscoe also mentioned that flowering quinces are very difficult to move.
  • Monarda, also known as “bee balm”: ‘Jacob Cline’ was on the table – the version I see the most – so Ciscoe talked about monardas. I have heard him talk on the subject before, I think at the garden show. He said that they like sunny and moist. I put mine (Monarda didyma ‘Petite Wonder,’ Monarda didyma ‘Petite Delight,’ Monarda ‘Pink Lace,’ Monarda didyma ‘Aquarius,’ Monarda ‘Fireball,’ and Monarda didyma ‘Jacob Cline’) somewhat underneath the apricot tree (never fruits) and it is not especially moist there. They seemed to do ok last summer: we will see if they flourish this year. Of course, monardas are known to be hummingbird plants. As I had heard before, Ciscoe said that monardas pop up all over in no time, but are easy to pull out. Some of the monardas in the garden are pink, some are red, and some are purple, so it will be interesting to see what color the “pop-ups” are. Oh, Ciscoe said that ‘Jacob Cline’ is less likely to get powdery mildew than some varieties. He gave some directions about cutting down monardas, but went pretty fast so I am not entirely sure that I wrote it down correctly. I believe that he said that about this time to cut down some of the monardas by 1/3, some by 1/2, some by 1/4, and to leave some alone. Do this again in three weeks. If one does so, bloom time differs, and monardas bloom-out quickly. I am not sure if I will do that this year, since the monardas were only planted last summer. Stay tuned for pictures this summer!
  • Ciscoe talked about an ornamental rhubarb and answered a woman’s question about her trumpet vine which had not bloomed. I am going to skip that information here.
  • Someone had a question about something, causing Ciscoe to talk about alfalfa meal for awhile. I have never added alfalfa meal to plants – I figure that organic fertilizer is enough. Anyhow, he said that it is good for things that bloom for a long time, and to fertilize those every six weeks. He said to skip plants that only bloom once, like peonies. Apparently one is not supposed to breathe in the dust from the alfalfa meal. The proper way to administer alfalfa meal (like other fertilizers) is to scratch it into the soil. He said that it is important that the alfalfa meal have no rabbit minerals added, and one must go to extra effort if one uses pellets. For pellets, one should soak them overnight in a water bucket to make a sludge, and then administer that. He said that it is important to keep the bag in a metal can or else one will get mice.
  • For some reason, a rhododendron was on the table, so Ciscoe talked about those for awhile. He told a great story about his time at Seattle U., but I will let you hear it yourself sometime. Anyhow, Ciscoe has seen rhododendrons over fifty feet tall, adding that they get bigger than they are supposed to. Typically, those with bigger leaves get bigger than those with smaller leaves. Any place that there was ever a leaf, one can cut the plant down to that spot and it will come back. One can cut a fifty foot rhododendron down to four inches and it will come back. Ciscoe added, before telling his story, that many rhododendrons have great bark.
  • Someone asked about canna lilies, but I don’t remember the question itself. Anyhow, Ciscoe said that some varieties (some of the interesting ones) don’t come back the next year. What he does is he digs them out in the fall, puts them in a dark nursery pot in his unheated garage by a window, and replants around Mother’s Day. One thing about Ciscoe Morris: he has an unheated garage with a window that is used solely for plants. Do you have a large window in your garage? I heard him say, I am not sure if it was at the talk or on TV, that he removed a wall of his garage and put in a window. So, when I hear the “unheated garage by a window” advice (which seems to occur often when discussing how to tend to certain plants over the winter), I roll my eyes a little bit. So, don’t be surprised if your canna lily doesn’t make it.
  • This question is kind of important. A lady told Ciscoe that her peonies won’t bloom. He said that they are planted too deep, that peonies must be at the soil surface in order to bloom, and that ones underground almost never bloom. Buds need to be above the soil line. So the other day I went out and viewed the new peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sorbet’) and wondered. I am pretty sure that I planted it with the bud above the soil… but I guess I will find out in a few weeks when it either blooms or does not bloom. The co-gardener picked out the new peony at the garden show, so I will feel a bit bad if it doesn’t bloom. I looked at it, and got this feeling like it might be too late to dig it up (the roots are underground) and play around with it. I might be wrong, but I was not inclined to do it. Ciscoe told the audience that one never has to divide peonies – they will grow a long time – but can divide them in fall if one wants. Peonies need full sun, and one should never mulch over them. So you know, many peonies smell great.
  • Rock daphne: Ciscoe talked about the rock daphne on the table. The garden has three daphnes (Daphne odora ‘Aureo-marginata,’ Daphne odora ‘Zuiko Nishiki,’ and Daphne x napolitana) – they smell great – but there is not a rock daphne. Yes, I understand why. Ciscoe said that they need spectacular drainage, and in this clayish yard, that cannot be guaranteed. Rock daphnes are spring blooms, are fragrant, do well in a rock garden, need full sun, and should be mulched slightly to keep them living. Based on the drainage requirement, I do not see a rock daphne in the future.
  • Lewisia: I am not sure what type of lewisia was on the table. Some types are native, and Ciscoe said that they grow on the north side of a rock. He said to cut them back and they will bloom again. Good drainage, bright spot. I had been curious about lewisias before, but had never actually purchased one. Something I had read intimidated me – perhaps the part about good drainage, I am not sure.
  • Ciscoe likes to talk about hummingbirds – he even has some statistics memorized. He mentioned Grevillea victoriae (what I categorize as exotic) and Chinese and hybrid mahonias (Oregon grape is a type of mahonia). As Ciscoe reports, hummingbirds make their nests out of spider webs, which expand as the babies grow. Sweet.
  • Gentian: Ciscoe showed this, which is blue, and the co-gardener was going to buy one but forgot. Gentians like sunny spots, well-protected from afternoon sun, well-drained. The plant was a very nice shade of blue.
  • Beesia: I am not familiar with this plant. Ciscoe said that it is a slow-spreading groundcover for the shade, and to cut down its leaves in spring to keep it from looking ugly.
  • Epimedium: I have been curious about these but have not purchased any. Ciscoe told the audience that there are many kinds, some of which are evergreen and some are not. Some epimediums turn red in the winter. Ciscoe recommended them for dry shade. Perhaps I will make space for one at some point.
  • Ciscoe mentioned that people should cut ferns down now. I already cut most of them down as according to Ciscoe’s book, but it is true that two ferns which are hard to access have not been cut. Speaking of ferns, they are not coming back especially fast – those fiddleheads are not speedy.
  • Someone asked if there was a plant that would deter cats. Ciscoe thought for awhile, and said no. He mentioned that groundcovers might help. The co-gardener, who had arrived late so was sitting towards the side, called out to plant catnip in the neighbor’s garden. Ciscoe then talked about catmint, which is related to catnip, and how the nursery employee told him that cats would leave it alone, but they did not. We had this experience somewhat with Nepeta x faassenii ‘Walker’s Low’ but not with Nepeta ‘Limelight’ – and only when the catmint was freshly in the ground. Some cat smashed it down, like it had taken a nap on the catmint.
  • Ciscoe told the audience that he typically does not lift his dahlia tubers, but puts western sword fern branches on top during the winter to insulate them (he gave a description of the process but I did not write it down). Unfortunately, the co-gardener pulled out the five dahlia tubers in a frenzy during cold weather, and then left them under the upper deck, so they might not be any good anymore. Lifting dahlia tubers is a little elaborate – at least according to the instructions that I have.
  • Geum ‘Eos’: Thinking back, I don’t remember what this plant looked like. Ciscoe said that it keeps putting out flowers, and that the specific specimen had beautiful golden foliage (which I presume I noticed at the time). Ciscoe said that every three years, the plant will send underground offsets and that the original will stop blooming. One is to swap out the original with the new plant. I doubt that I will be doing this for a plant which obviously did not leave a lasting impression (it has only been a week since I have been to the talk).

That’s the end. I did not write down every question that was asked… some were a little silly (“will these two plants look nice together?”).

Flowering currant, 'King Edward VII' - Ribes sanguineum

flowering currant, ‘King Edward VII’ – Ribes sanguineum

red flowering currant species - Ribes sanguineum

red flowering currant species – Ribes sanguineum

'Raspberry Splash' February 18

Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Splash’

Pulmonaria longifolia 'Bertram Anderson'

Pulmonaria longifolia ‘Bertram Anderson’

Grevillea victoriae 'Marshall Olbrich'

Grevillea victoriae ‘Marshall Olbrich’

Grevillea victoriae 'Marshall Olbrich'

Grevillea victoriae ‘Marshall Olbrich’

After the talk I waited in line to talk to Ciscoe and have my picture taken. I asked him if I should cut down my phygelius (“cape fuchsias”). I had the penstemons, salvias, and hardy fuchsias on my mind. He confused me a little, ultimately saying that I could and that phygelius will get huge. They run underground. I must have been too excited, because I missed some of the details.

The talk was not entirely indoors, and the co-gardener got cold and left before looking at the plants much. Thus, I only ended up buying one plant, a new hebe.


Hebe pimeleoides 'Quicksilver'

Hebe pimeleoides ‘Quicksilver’

I had seen this hebe several times before, but they tended to be gangly and untidy. This one looked pretty great. No, I don’t really have a place for it. I picked up some sunflower seeds and a new bag/block of soil-building compost.

Nursery prices have gone up since last year. Hmm, I shall not  complain about any given nursery or nurseries as a whole, but their prices can be high. It is one thing for a shrub to cost $20, but another thing for a perennial. Sometimes I am “curious” about a certain plant, but that curiosity is not worth $20. Prices have gone up at all of the nurseries that I have been to recently (except maybe the nursery on the Olympic peninsula where we bought the Bee rhododendrons), so it is not a comment about any particular business. The situation is unfortunate, and keeps me from buying some of the higher-priced perennials.

Rhododendron Planting, Penstemon and Butterfly Bush Pruning

Yesterday, April 4th, I worked in the yard. Although I had not had the rhododendron Bees long (see the previous post), I wanted to get them in the ground promptly. The reason:

Rhododendron 'Berg's Queen Bee'

Rhododendron ‘Berg’s Queen Bee’

The nursery keeps some of the rhododendron plants in the ground, in rows. ‘Berg’s Queen Bee’ was one of these plants – it was not potted but, in effect, bare-root. Therefore, it was important to get it in quickly, and while I was at it I figured I would plant the other four as well.

Before I started, I did a little bit of pentemon pruning. In his book, Ciscoe Morris says to prune them in mid-to-late April, but I was getting antsy, and because I was going to be planting right next to a penstemon, I thought I’d go ahead and do it. This is largely done to keep the sizing under control, but also some of the leaves didn’t look that great (penstemons are evergreen perennials). Size?

Penstemon 'Mother of Pearl'

Penstemon ‘Mother of Pearl’

Penstemon x campanulatus 'Garnet'

Penstemon x campanulatus ‘Garnet’

Much too big. I cut them pretty hard:

 Penstemon x hartwegii 'Blue Midnight' and Penstemon x hartwegii 'Firebird'

Penstemon x hartwegii ‘Blue Midnight’ and Penstemon x hartwegii ‘Firebird’

I think they will be fine: the penstemons are pretty robust.

As you can see from the pruning piles, there are a lot of penstemons in the yard.

2013 Miscell 0818 Penstemon prunings 2013 Miscell 0819 Pentemon prunings

The pile on the right is of the variegated pentemons – yep, we found variegated penstemons!

I did some weeding in the rhododendron area, and pruned the butterfly bushes. Ciscoe Morris says to cut them down, but the co-gardener didn’t think it should be all the way since they are new plants, so I went about halfway (maybe a little bit more).

Butterfly Bush prunings

Butterfly Bush prunings

They are dwarf bushes, so planted somewhat close to other (dwarf) shrubs.

Butterfly Bush - Buddleja 'Blue Chip'

Butterfly Bush – Buddleja ‘Blue Chip’

Butterfly Bush - Buddleja 'Purple Haze'

Butterfly Bush – Buddleja ‘Purple Haze’

I wonder if I should have taken ‘Purple Haze’ down further, but it will probably be alright.

I needed to move a phlox out of the way of the new rhododendrons.

Variegated Phlox - Phlox paniculata 'Goldmine' - moved

Variegated Phlox – Phlox paniculata ‘Goldmine’ – moved

Depending upon how big that ceanothus (Ceanothus impressus ‘Vandenberg’) gets, I may have to move it again.

Pictures of the Bee rhododendrons can be seen in the previous post. Only ‘Patty Bee’ is currently blooming (as of a few days ago). In a few years, the area will look great. We will see how the birds like the situation.

2013 Miscell 0825 Rhododendrons planted

Oh, I almost forgot to mention – it rained the entire time I was working.



Conifer Garden, Hebes, Wallflowers, Heathers: Planting and Maintenance

Tuesday April 2nd I worked in the yard, primarily in the conifer garden. It was time to plant the heathers, which were purchased at the garden show in February, and before planting them in the conifer garden I needed to do some weeding (I also weeded the red-twig area while I was at it). I included pictures of the conifers and also an overview of the conifer garden in a previous post.

Before planting the heathers, I planted the ‘Patty’s Purple’ Hebe and the Hebe x franciscana ‘Lobelioides’ in the front yard, in front of the house. To do so, I had to first move a wallflower (Erysimum linifolium ‘Variegata’). As I looked at the two variegated wallflowers, I realized that they should have been cut down several weeks before. I have not read anything about pruning wallflowers, but the things were growing on their sides, weighed-down apparently, with a tiny little stem to ideally hold up the branches. One plant was floppy, but the other was solidly on its side. I cut them down. I knew that I would be moving one, and perhaps it should not have been pruned and moved in the same day, but after a brief consultation with the co-gardener, I went ahead.

2013 Miscell 0770 Wallflower - Erysimum linifolium 'Variegata' - moved and pruned 2013 Miscell 0771 - Wallflower - Erysimum linifolium 'Variegata' - pruned 2013 Miscell 0772 Variegated wallflower prunings

The wallflowers don’t look like much now, but I think they will bounce back fine, and won’t be as floppy now that they are growing from the base.

Once the wallflower was moved, I could plant the two hebes.

Hebe x franciscana 'Lobelioides' and Hebe 'Patty's Purple'

Hebe x franciscana ‘Lobelioides’ and Hebe ‘Patty’s Purple’

They are both going to get quite big, so my plan was to put them in front of a section of the foundation that shows. Hebe ‘Great Orme’ (planted Fall 2011) promptly grew quite large, so I am hoping that these hebes don’t take too long.

2013 Miscell 0773 Hebe x franciscana 'Lobelioides' and Hebe 'Patty's Purple'

Yes, one would have probably done fine, but it was a good excuse to get two.

After this I finally planted the heathers in the conifer garden.

2013 Miscell 0735 Heathers alphabetical

Our soil is heavy clay and includes a lot of glacial rocks, so nothing is as easy to plant as one might think. More pictures can be seen in the previous conifer garden and heather post. By the way, I think that some of the heathers might actually be heaths, but the grower’s tags said “heather” so I’m sticking with that for now.


Salvia and Phlox Pruning, Berry Tending

Monday March 25th I worked in the yard, as it was not raining. I pruned the woody salvias (‘Red Velvet,’ ‘Stampede Punch,’ ‘Stampede Lavender,’ and two ‘Black and Blue’), which was somewhat fun. I also pruned/cleaned up three of the Phlox paniculatas (‘Flame Light Pink,’ ‘Goldmine,’ ‘Blushing Shortwood’). Phlox paniculata ‘Flame Coral Red’ didn’t seem to have any new growth at the base yet, so I left it alone – this allows the old stems to act as markers.

2013 Miscell 0612

The rest of the time I spent weeding the cane berries and removing dead leaves. It took a long time and was strenuous. The far side of the berries, by the rockery, is just not that accessible, so it took a lot of contorting. I also did some tying of the canes (although there is more to be done). I was disappointed that I didn’t get more done, but I should remember that that job always takes a long time.

2013 Miscell 0643 2013 Miscell 0644

The first two rows are fall-bearing (or “everbearing”) raspberries, so last year’s growth has been cut down. The last row contains the regular summer-bearing raspberries, which fruit on the previous year’s growth. I have kept these two types of raspberries apart, but within the rows I have planted many different varieties. At the end are blackberries – ‘Cascade’ and ‘Boysenberry.’ I am not sure how this year’s crops will go… I have had some problems with verticillium wilt before.

Lawn, pruning, weeding, and strawberry-planting

Yesterday I had a work-day in the yard, largely because I knew that it was the last rainless day for awhile.

I had purchased some more Hood strawberries at the home/garden/grocery store, so planted them in the strawberry pyramid. They were not much more impressive looking than last time, and I don’t think that I got all ten. Bare-root strawberries costs less, but I feel a little uncertain about it.

Bundled Hood strawberries

Bundled Hood strawberries

The only lawn in the yard is a tiny non-circular one in the front yard. I finally brought myself to tend it yesterday, but inconveniently had planted some bulbs too close so sheared the edges. I had the idea that I would shear the whole thing, but it was too time consuming so I got out the weed-whacker. Much to my irritation, I hit two bulbs with the unwieldy weed-whacker. There has been talk of taking out the lawn and putting in Stepables lawn-replacement groundcovers. I definitely like this idea.

2013 Miscell 0569 2013 Miscell 0571

I didn’t do all of my weeding before weed-whacking, so ended up with lawn clippings all over the weeds – not convenient. After whacking, I weeded and cut at a fern – not worthy of a photograph.

I also removed mulch from around the base of some plants: I had put it there during a cold snap. You can kind of see what it looked like from this picture (formerly used):

Hebe 'Jasper'

Hebe ‘Jasper’

I decided that sufficient new growth had begun, so pruned the four hardy fuchsias (as according to Ciscoe Morris).

2013 Miscell 0573 4 Hardy Fuchsias prunings

Hebe ‘Pinocchio’ suffered some weather damage, so I cut it down. It had grown really fast, so I am not concerned about it making a good recovery.

2013 Miscell 0572 Hebe 'Pinocchio' pruning

Weeding is not that enjoyable, but it is part of being a gardener. Nicely, for part of the session my face was amongst hyacinths and near a daphne, so I was surrounded by pleasant fragrance.