Roll Call: Six Months In the Home Garden

by Andrew Keys on June 11, 2010

On January 1, 2010, I launched Garden Smackdown, and what a trip it’s been. OK, so it hasn’t quite been six months, but you’ve probably noticed I’m in the thick of the growing season as we speak, and I want to get this in print before I get busy and forget.

So what’s happened with the plants I’ve blathered on about in the last six months? I think a bit of follow-up is in order. Let’s take a trip down memory lane…

Aralia spinosa

Aralia spinosa: Division I planted last spring is huge and gorgeous now, almost as tall as me and four feet wide, twice its size last year. Fall divisions mostly returned from the root, so they’ll take some time to catch up. I’d have thought fall would be a better time to divide Aralias, but I guess it’s spring. Who knew?

Aspidistra elatior: This marginal is back for a second year, and this time in early June! Some very warm temperatures this spring didn’t hurt, I’m sure.

Baccharis halimifolia: Is apparently BELOVED by winter moth larvae; luckily I nixed them before they did too much damage. I learned from Margaret Roach in an emailed flurry of Urgent Garden Questions that Baccharis very late to leaf out, and that a lot of young wood is weak and dies back. Mine looks awfully spare at the moment, but I know it’ll catch its stride in the hot months. It’s already grown a foot from whence I pruned it.

Baptisia Twilite Prairieblues

Baptisia Twilite Prairieblues™: Oh, man, this plant. My two original clumps are mature this year, they bloomed up a storm, and their leaves are already “bluing” for the rest of the season. (You may remember that’s really why I grow them.) Those I planted last year for clients are growing in well, and there’s a real difference in size based on how early I got them in the ground. Those Baps, they do not enjoy pots. Interestingly, mine bloomed a color closer to lavender this year (and I noticed Nan Ondra’s did as well), whereas last year they were almost black. I noticed lighter bloom coloration in species Baptisia too. I wonder why? Climate? Fascinating!

Cynara cardunculus: Three of four I got from Lynn Felici-Gallant in the fall survived overwintering in my attic! I planted them with some new ones I got at a nursery, and I’m interested to compare how quickly they all grow.

Leuzea seedheads

Leuzea carthamoides: From just a couple of weeks ago, produced prodigiously plump seedheads, but didn’t seem to distribute themselves, so I took it as a sign and cut them off to do so myself. Also divided the crowded clump, and cut some of its foliage back to see if it’d produce a new flush.

Panicum ‘Shenandoah’: Well, they’re still green, but I didn’t get around to moving them out of my main display bed. They’re serving as nice filler while some ‘Dallas Blues’ I carved up mature, and heck, they’re pretty in bloom.

Pennisetum x ‘Foxtrot’: Also divided into many, and moved to a spot near my parking area where I’m actually excited about them. Also shared with Scott Hokunson of Blue Heron Landscape Design and the Garden Designers Roundtable. Will be interested to hear his impression.

Sedum x ‘Bertram Anderson’: Luscious, divided a dozen times over, and I finally have some worthy photos of it for you.

Tetrapanax papyrifer: Despite early signs of what I thought was growth, I think they kicked the bucket overwintering. My spring plant budget is blown, but mark my words: next spring, I have a date with rice paper plant, and this time I’ll have it in the ground long enough to get established and overwinter outdoors.

So there you have it! And how is your garden faring this year?

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