In the Garden with a Sore Back

I really, really like how the garden looks now that the gardeners have finished their big project. There are still weeds and things still need work, but the level is back down to an acceptable roar, and this is without anybody even tackling some of the worst weedy areas (like the Fern Walk, which I can hardly look at it is such a mess). However, they did weed out some plants I wanted to keep, and I want to replace those as soon as possible so they have a chance to get acclimated before summer sets in.

This weekend Noel was going down to Southern California for a two-stop dance tour with his band (this is way less cool than it sounds), so I figured I'd get a bunch of garden projects out of the way while he was not around to work with me on the deck.

Cartload of plants at Annie's spring party

So first thing Saturday morning I headed out to Richmond and picked up a cartload of plants at Annie's Annuals Spring Party. I hate crowds, and Annie's gets very crowded so I usually try to avoid the parties, but it just happened to be this weekend, and I doubt I will make it out there again until fall, given how things have been going.

Anyway, with all these plants I won't need to make a large-scale plant purchase for a while (though last night I stayed up late reading plant catalogs just in case). As is often the case, lots more things were available in the nursery than were listed as available on the site, so I was able to pick up a bunch of plants I thought I might have to wait on.

What you can't see is that somehow, while loading these plants into the car, I popped something in my back and by the time I got home I was in agony. I do have some muscle relaxants for this situation, but I try not to do any work while using them because it's too easy to injure yourself even more. I took some Ibuprofen and got to work. I know, sometimes my inner New Englander comes out and I just cannot go inside and lie down and rest.

Planting in the swath

One of the areas I really wanted to get planted up was the swath. The neighbors liked the idea of succulents there, and I wanted to do a series of native plants and hummingbird favourites. All of that will fit in the space with no real conflicts, so win-win.

I got a couple small pots of Calandrinia spectabilis. A while ago I removed the Calandrinia spectabilis that I planted in 2006. Not because it was in trouble, but because it was so large and vigorous that it was getting in the way of my weeding the roses out. It has pretty flowers and it fills in quickly, which mean good things for the upper swath.

I also added some more clarkias (they are drought-tolerant and pretty, and reseed themselves which means less work for me), and a few other interesting plants. I also transplanted some more pieces of Salvia spathacea, which has done very well in the back and should do well here, hopefully attracting hummingbirds.

Buddha and his new plantings

I got some new Scleranthus biflorus to replace the one that got weeded out by the gardeners. Of all the plants they removed that was the one that gave me the greatest pang, since I had had such trouble getting it established in the first place. So I got three. I think Mei Fa will look awesome when they get grown in (I've always liked the smiling fat Buddha best).

The Salvia garden

I also got some new salvias for the salvia garden. That area had gotten overgrown and out of control recently, so I was happy to see it cleared out and cut back.

Planted here are Salvia iodantha and Salvia pulchella x involucrata, both of which are listed as unavailable on the site; they are both in the nursery if you are local.

Savvy readers will note that Salvia iodantha grows to six feet wide by eight feet tall, which is a nice substantial bush. That is why the area looks a bit sparse right now.

The daylily bed

There was plenty I didn't get round to. Like pulling out just about everything in the daylily bed. I need my back's full strength for that one, alas, since it involves digging up a bunch of grass and hauling compost around, and all those sorts of things. The plants I got to replace the daylilies will have to wait. Also, if anybody local wants some Nelson iris roots, let me know, since it looks like I will have plenty of them after this project.

How did these unirrigated roses get wet?

At the end of the day yesterday, I noticed this. That's a wet rose. The roses are unirrigated. Wet roses means irrigation leaks, which is not good news. Of course, on my list of things to do this weekend was reworking a lot of the irrigation (the gardeners, used to low-water situations, buried my irrigation lines under the mulch, which clogs the high-volume heads I use) and extending it out to the containers (which I also planted up).

So this morning I hauled my aching self out of bed and got to work fixing the irrigation. Which meant an emergency trip to Pagano's to get a new hole punch since my previous one went missing.

Water shooting out of the mulch

Once I turned on that circuit, it was obvious where the leak was. There was something awesome and dramatic about this geyser, but randomly spraying anything and anybody with water three times a week is not the intended purpose of this hose.

Most of the fixes were easy: hoses were disconnected and needed reconnecting, and those went smoothly. I also added irrigation to the three containers out front, which have suffered for my inability to remember to water them.

The containers in front before irrigation

Yesterday I planted a bunch of new plants in the containers: a fuchsia with tiny flowers, a few low bedding plants, and a new dianthus. I really should do something more dramatic there but I love little tiny plants.

With irrigation

The irrigation tubing is not too obvious, and should keep everything nice and moist in the containers without requiring human intervention too often.

I also sorted out the back irrigation, so now it is working better than it has in a year or so. I even swapped out the cloggy sprinkler head watering the Meyer lemon in the container for a dripper that should stay running nicely without too much work.

There are still some places where I will need to come through and replace the tubing outright (you can only repair it for so long before it starts oozing water when under pressure), but they can wait until my back is less stiff and sore. When we get the deck done I'm going to have a bunch of work running an irrigation circuit for the planned planting beds under it, so maybe I will tackle all the irrigation projects then.

posted by ayse on 04/15/12