A look around

I'm taking a break from the Portland garden posts to give you an update on my own garden. Last summer I took very few photos of my yard due to the roadtrip and weeks of posts about it that followed.


I wanted to ensure I didn't make that mistake again, so here's a look at some of what's going on right now here (not everything of course, but parts of it). It's not all exciting, but having the photos for future reference is important. Year-to-year comparisons of planting beds, major plants (like bamboo, or trees, or large perennials), trellises -- if you don't have these images, there will come a day when you'll wish you did!

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I started with a few photos from the deck. The above image was shot looking down on the "big triangle bed". I was planning on having several castor bean plants growing here this year, but most of the seeds didn't germinate, being a couple of years old. So there's one main plant and one tiny one underneath it. This one should be plenty though. The purple fountain grass was a new idea this year, and I really like it there!

Looking outward a bit more...


You can see that the banana (Musa basjoo) has come back strong. Even though the main pseudostems all died, the pups have taken over.

Looking to the left now, this is my potted plants area:


I'm still hoping to get many of these into the ground, or at least into bigger pots. The sago palm has finally put on some new growth -- it was looking very sad for a while there, as every leaf was 50% yellow!

Turning all the way to the left, you can see that the Maypop (Passiflora incarnata) is providing the perfect screen! Some of those potted plants have to go (either into the ground or into somebody else's garden) as it's getting a bit cluttered. While I was in Portland the woodchuck got brave and snacked on some of these -- he normally doesn't come this close to the house.


Now at the bottom of the stairs looking back to the right:


And a closer look at the container area:


I'm not paying much attention to the elephant ears this year -- they could be so much bigger if I were.

Moving to the left again, to the end of the driveway where you can see the "prairie" beds:


The milkweed dominates, but all of the pokeweed and Datura inoxia are starting to catch up. I need to thin things out a little, although the deer won't nose around here now because it's too dense.

Turning to the right, you see the ninebark, some canna, my oldest bamboo (Fargesia 'rufa'), and the big castor beans. These are volunteers from last year, and being the biggest of the six that I have (in three different planting areas) lend support to the fact that these do better when grown from seed in place -- starting the seed early in pots then transplanting isn't as good.


A latecomer appeared in a crack on the steps down to the patio. I'll have to remove it soon:


That Pleioblastus distichus is taller than I want too, but I can't dig it up from here. I wish the planting in the front would get this tall! (It will in another year or two.)

Now down on the patio, which is this year the domain of the Maypop:


I want the vines to cover the pergola (and they soon will), but this plant has thick, long roots and sends up new vines from them. In other words it spreads quite nicely, which means that I have lots of giveaway plants (contact me, especially if you're a St. Louis local!), and can pretty much let this part of the yard get vine-smothered if I wanted to. (I do not.)

Moving out into the yard now, a closer look at the bananas and the never-fails-to-reseed cleome:


Annuals that reseed and spread don't concern me nearly as much as tap-rooted perennials that do the same, although I have a really impressive Echinops 'Blue Glow' patch now:


The bees are certainly happy about that! (I'll have lots of giveaway plants of this too in the fall, so contact me!)

What I said about reseeding annuals not bothering me too much? Red-whisker clammyweed is getting a bit out of hand, and has been dropping seed for a few weeks already. I'll have twenty gazillion seedlings to pull next year instead of the two gazillion I had this year.


Rose mallow (Hibiscus lasiocarpus? or is it Hibiscus moscheutos?) also making the bees happy, with the big blooms brightening up the walkway:


That's about it for now. I'll have more on the rest of the garden in the near future.


This is why I've let the Echinops take over: it's fantastic when in bloom! Tough love once the blooms are gone this year though...


How is your garden doing this summer?

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Garden Fancy  – (July 24, 2014 at 8:46 AM)  

Your globe thistle patch looks great! Yours are so very blue -- do you know what cultivar they are? And I love cleome, although I haven't been able to make mine reseed yet, despite their reputation for happily doing so.Looks good! -Beth

linda coombs  – (July 24, 2014 at 9:12 AM)  

Your garden looks beautifully lush , how long have you been their ? I'll have to try Cleome again , mine never reseeded ,probably smothered by something more aggressive. I'm so envious of those Echinops, I've had mine in for several years , hardly any self seeding till this year , finally a few have just appeared .

scottweberpdx  – (July 24, 2014 at 10:53 AM)  

WOW...I can see why you wondered about my own Echinops now! I'm mega-jealous of that patch of them, however, just stunning...and the bees must LOVE you!

Lisa  – (July 24, 2014 at 12:16 PM)  

Everything here is lush lush lush. And did I mention green? Which for the end of July is really amazing. And somewhat bizarre. It was 58 degrees at 8:30 this morning. We've had two days that topped 90 degrees all summer. Weird. I'm starting to worry just a bit about tomato production, although the actual plants look fantastic.

I am strict with myself about photo logging in the garden. At least twice a month I take a series of photos from designated spots. It helps with planning, it makes for fun side-by-side comparisons, and it gets me through the long, cold winters when I browse through my garden photos!

Heather  – (July 24, 2014 at 12:44 PM)  

I've found the same thing with my Ricinus; the self-seeded plants are enormous and my transplants haven't budged.

Alan  – (July 24, 2014 at 1:15 PM)  

It's Echinops banaticus 'Blue Glow'. Single plant several years ago is now dozens. I will rip out many seedlings this fall, and several plants too.

Mark and Gaz  – (July 24, 2014 at 5:13 PM)  

That last photo with the Echinops swathe looks great! Rest of the garden looking good too. The musa patch doesn't look like they just started from pups this year.

Anonymous –   – (July 25, 2014 at 6:41 AM)  

Hey Alan,
Looking awesome!
What is the iris-like plant with yellow blooms in the foreground of the 5th pic?
Thanks, -Jeremy

Alan  – (July 25, 2014 at 8:49 AM)  

Mark and Gaz: Musa does really well in our heat as long as they get water and I keep feeding. Grows fast!

Jeremy: Thanks! That is Canna 'Paton'. I love the slender, upright foliage. The blooms are just icing on the cake!

Denise  – (July 25, 2014 at 12:12 PM)  

I haven't grown echinops in a while -- I vaguely remember it looking kind of ratty, nothing like your magnificent stand of it. The last photo, with the chartreuse grass in the distance, makes me want to try it again with a big grass. And I've never been able to make cleome happy! So well done, having it reseed like that. Looks like an agastache growing nearby?

Alan  – (July 25, 2014 at 10:09 PM)  

Denise: that's Miscanthus sinensis 'Silberpfeil' in the background. The echinops has always been almost maintenance-free for me. I do need to give it some water when it's really hot and dry, but it's quite drought tolerant (taproots!). I'll be glad to give my dig-ups a good home if you're interested in another try...

I was going to say that maybe Cleome needs heat to really thrive, but then realized you're in the Los Angeles area, so that's not it. Does the seed need cold stratification? I always have to thin the seedlings, as they come up in a carpet!

Alan  – (July 25, 2014 at 10:10 PM)  

oh, and there is Agastache foeniculum mixed in with the Cleome. (There's Agastache in almost every bed I have!)

Goneferal inidaho  – (July 30, 2014 at 7:30 PM)  

I just found your blog via Danger Garden. Lovely garden you have there. I just wanted to share that you helped me identify the strange plant I saw growing at a house I saw last year while home shopping. It was the Castor Bean, The home owner had the entire back yard surrounded by them, there were 100's. It was so strange. Maybe they were really into breaking bad.

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