Saturday, November 15, 2008

November 2008 Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

For Carol's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, I decided to finally reveal my newest garden bed. For those of you keeping track at home, that's THREE new garden beds in the last six months, which is probably one or maybe two too many. Ask the front yard gardens. They'll agree. More on them later.
In September, I took advantage of a gardening WOO to dig this bed. I decided fairly quickly that rusty metal and broken glass are not the best plant-growing mediums so I borrowed my friend's truck once again for a drive out to the Natural Gardener for some of their Hill Country soil. A yard of HC soil weighs about 1400 pounds, 500 pounds more than their Revitalizer mulch, and about 400 pounds more than the recommended weight load for my friend's petite truck so I had to make multiple trips to get all the soil shown above--one and a half yards, or two dog lengths.

For those of you keeping track at home, that's the fourth time I've borrowed my friend's truck, which is probably one time too many. Ask the truck. She'll agree.
So the bed probably could have used a bit more soil, but after putting my friend's truck out of commission, I decided that that window of opportunity had definitely closed. One and a half yards would have to be enough. (Note to self for next time: a yard of soil, despite its name, isn't all that much. Go ahead and have multiple yards delivered.)
The finished bed measures about 12 feet by 5 feet (at it widest) by 8 inches deep. It gets morning sun, afternoon shade, and some late afternoon sun, although the shade is a bit deeper now. It's already in shade by noon.
On October 1, I planted the bed. Given the hot weather we were having, I probably should have waited, but only if my calendar had shown another gardening WOO before mid-November.
Some of the plants I'd been collecting and storing in my #1 garden utility item were already starting to show signs of having waited too long, like this blue porterweed (aka rat's tail. Had my husband known of this alias, he never would have selected it. Long story. Hilarious even, if you weren't the one having rats rain down on you.)
On that same buying trip I picked up this plant, identified on the tag as Dicleptra Mexican Hummingbird Bush. I think that should be Dicliptera (look at me! using botanical names!), but I still can't find a good image online of the flowers. It's not Firecracker Bush or Mexican Firebush. If I remember correctly, the flowers should be purple.

Here's how the bed looked right after I planted it:
Some of the other occupants include a friend's society garlic and black and blue salvia, another friend's chile pequin, an American beautyberry (as it looked then),
a lemon rose mallow (as it looked then). Have I just violated the first rule of Bloom Club by showing a picture of a plant in bloom on a day other than the 15th? Perhaps I can make up for it by showing the pineapple sage, which is blooming as I type?
Here's how the rest of the bed looks today. I've added a Forsythia sage on the left. I've kept some room there for the Turk's cap I plan on transplanting from the alleyway to this bed in January. I also added two Gulf Coast penstemons I had bought for the front yard. One is thriving; the other isn't but I'm giving it a chance for a comeback before I compost it.
I've also added some of MSS's red spider lilies. They didn't bloom for her so I'm not sure how good the odds are that they will bloom for me, but as we really aren't in control of Mother Nature, I figured they were worth a try.

I've also got a couple of other items to go with this bed. I plan to add a bottle tree with the blue bottles Pam passed along to me back in May. Today I hope to attach my husband's beedominium (™my husband) to the shed.
And now on to the much neglected front yard. I watered it little to none over the summer, and it shows. a few years ago I stuck plants in the ground before I had much any gardening knowledge. The front is very shady, the soil sucks, and the elm tree roots run through it, making digging very difficult. The plants survived and thrived in the summer of 2007 because of the unusual amount of rain. Fast forward twelve months and I can't even bear to show you pictures.

I had refurbishing the front yard beds on my gardening to-dos. Feeling cocky with a bit of knowledge under my belt, I thought I could save them. I even bought a few new plants, but in the end, I decided I had overgardened. The need to keep the new plants alive in the back with limited to nonexistent rainfall won out.

But all is not completely lost. Yesterday as I walked up the front path I saw a flash of something large out of the corner of my eye. I'm calling it the world's largest leaf-footed bug. Seriously, it's about two inches from antenna tip to stern.
In the reverse of what normally seems to happen (but which is increasingly the norm chez Vert these days), the presence of this huge insect alerted me to the fact that the Barbados cherry had refused to succumb to my neglect.
It may not quite be blooming, but I think it deserves special merit for trying so hard.

So that's my not-very-many-blooms Bloom Day post. I and my new friend will be looking for yours.


  1. Hi vert,

    I loved your comment 'maybe one or two too many...ask the front garden". It is so the story of this garden! When your husnband decides to sell his beedominium...put me down for at least one! The solitary bees would love that housing unit!

    Some months there are alot of blloms and some months jyst a month I will be showcasing plastic flowers!


  2. I so enjoyed reading your post. Great selection on plants, hope they thrive. I love my pineapple sage. I have some seeds to offer on one of my older posts let me know via email if you want some they are free and I don't think I'm finished harvesting them yet.

  3. LOL! I LOVED your Bloom Day post, Vertie--and the way you measured the length of that new bed. I really want to ask the story of your husband and the rat's tail plant... but then, on the other hand, I don't. The stories my imagination conjured up are pretty amusing on their own... :)

    Btw, add me to the loves-the-Beedominium list!

  4. One of the things I've learned this year reading all the new Austin garden bloggers and visiting so many gardens is that the only way to garden successfully in Austin is to truck soil in.

    I am fascinated by the Beedominium(tm). Did your husband make it. If he opens up an Etsy store, like Gail, I'd be interested in getting one.

  5. Put me down for a Beedominium, too!

    That looks an awful lot like Dicliptera suberecta, and if so, the blooms are orange. I didn't know there were any purple blooming varieties ... if this turns out to be one of them, I'll trade you cuttings of the orange for the purple!

    I saw your tweet re the rat and the compost pile. I actually gasped and said "oh NO!" so loud that EMan asked what was wrong.

  6. Vertie, I saw the rat-tweet, too, and think rattail is a horrible name for a flower!

    With such a good foundation your new garden should bring you many future bloom days even if the leaf-footed bug and Beedominium are the stars of this one!

    Since moving to Texas we may have spent more money on soils, mulches and amendments than we have on plants, bringing it home bag-by-bag. Having an entire truckload at once sounds like a luxury!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  7. Vert - Great garden bed. Can't wait to see it all filled up. Love the beedominium too!

  8. The Beedominium is cool! Do you have residents yet? Good luck on all your new beds...I think I over gardened this fall as well!

  9. Oooh, I love the beedominium! I second MSS that your husband should totally make a few of these to sell. I'd love to buy one. Any chance he'd be willing to do this for a few other Austin gardeners? I've downloaded directions to make my own, but I know that I will never, never find the time to do it myself.

    Your new beds look like they're going to be amazing butterfly bait in a year or so. I had the same issue with my back yard as you had with your front yard, this summer. It was survival of the fittest back there, and after a certain point I just gave up. I've spent the last month or so potting up most of the plants back there so I could dig a few yards of compost and wood chips into the terrible dirt before putting the survivors back in. Hopefully the sight at the end of next summer won't be so gruesome.

    As for dirt and everyone's comments on dirt, oh boy, do I agree. Before I wised up to The Natural Gardener's soil blends, I'd get the truly awful bags of "topsoil" from Home Depot, which was just as bad as the "dirt" in my yard. I just wish the Natural Gardener's delivery fee wasn't so steep! I'm always weighing that against the thought that my poor Camry only holds 8 bags of dirt!

  10. I like that, the dog who shall remain nameless. My herbs are scattered through the rest of the beds. We can tell when and where the dog has been by smelling of her head. A dog that smells like rosemary is really better than, well, you know, dog smell.