My garden has never looked better. My Bottlebrushes are still sad, but they are coming back – slowly. Everything else seems to have come alive in a very short period of time. I turn around and something else is blooming or poking up through the earth.
So what is looking particularly good? My roses. I have one rose that I was about to give up on and it is blooming for the first time in three years. Not just one puny little blossom, but lots and lots. I just mulched them with composted cow manure and that should make them even happier. My roses seemed to thrive after the cold spell and I have heard other gardeners say the same thing – that their roses have never looked better.
I like the look of Gaura (Oenothera lindheimeri), but mine never has looked that full and had the flowers that they should have- until now. They have come alive after just taking up place for a couple of years. The cultivar is called “Whirling Butterflies” and the flowers look just like that. Gaura is one of those plants whose DNA extracted by plant scientists called for a name change. It is now in the evening primrose family. I saw those busy scientists at work last May at RHS Wisley’s research facility, Hilltop. Wonderful place, but I wanted to shake my fist at the scientists who are making life a little harder for those of us who use Latin binomials to identify plant families.
I have tried a new type of allium that I saw in U.K. last year. It is called Allium bulgaricum. I always wonder if this is wise because our climate is so darn warm, but up they came and I like their odd look.
I have replanted African bush daisies (Euryops chrysanthemoides.) this year. I have always said that perennials are not forever. In both my garden and in a pollinator garden that I maintain, the African daisies got woody and had mildew and just looked pathetic. When I pulled on them, they came out with hardly any root structure. Death by old age. Fortunately, they are not expensive and easy to find at local nurseries. I hope that my roots are in better shape. When I bought the new plants, I noticed that they are now called “California bush daisy.” This definitely sounds more native. And that is why I use the Latin name.
All of my salvias have come back up. Hooray. They are some of my favorite plants since they thrive in heat and humidity and the deer do not like them. Those new “Rockin” varieties from Proven Winners seem to be very tough. I love a plant that blooms for an extended period of time and my salvias are blooming now and will until January.
I did try something new this year – I planted a small gravel garden. Gravel gardening is becoming very popular, but not so much in the U.S.A. I had a spot where nothing grew. The topsoil washed off in every heavy rain. I put down several bags of compost to a thickness of about 8 inches and then put five-six inches of pea gravel on top. You dig through the gravel and put your plants in the topsoil. I used plants that like heat and full sun. So far, so good. I will keep you posted on how it looks in August! That will be the real test.
My pitcher plants are blooming right now. Once the flowers are finished, the new pitchers come up. I have added two new “pitchers” this year – Satchel Paige and Pedro Martinez. I needed some diversity and they are tall and proud. I buy my pitcher plants from the Pacific Northwest even though they are native here. You must buy them from an accredited grower and not gather them in the wild as they are protected.
My book Lowcountry Gardening for Newcomers: How to Succeed as a Comya Gardener is selling slowly but surely. You can find it at LowCo Gardens in Port Royal as well as the Greenery on Hilton Head. The last chapter says it all with its title “I Have Killed More Things Than Most People Plant or How to Let Go.” I do not pretend to know it all. I have had successes and many failures, but I plug on. That is what we do as gardeners.
Enjoy the wonderful spring weather and get out there and play in the dirt.