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A Summer of Severity!

August 12, 2010 Tags: , , , , Blog No comments

This summer has certainly been tough for people in the horticulture field, and plants-alike!  We went from receiving average moisture in the early summer, followed by a drought period for about a month.  For a week or two, we had begun to receive average rainfall again.  And for the last few weeks, we haven’t been getting as much as we did then, going more toward another drought.

Today officially breaks that dry streak of weather, as we have been getting steady rain for most of the day.  The year has certainly been tough for many plants, not to mention the hard winter that we came out of, with a delay in spring leaf unfurling and flowering.  Despite the sporadic nature of the weather, I have still been able to gain a vast amount of experience growing plants of all kinds.  Actually, I was able to learn more!

A view of my vegetable garden in mid-June

Close up of a tobacco flower.  I am growing a smoking variety of tobacco, Nicotiana ‘Schelozzi’

A view of my herbaceous section.  As mentioned in previous posts, I decided to incorporate more edible plants and vegetables into this area where flowering annuals were last year.  Some include cabbage varieties, Swiss chard, lettuces and onion varieties.  You can also see my large patches of Calendula (orange flowering) and Verbena bonariensis that came up from seeds from last year.  The seed spread throughout both sections of my garden.  I am very pleased with the flowering of the calendula!  However, it seemed that by August they have started to die back.  This may be because of the lack of moisture,

My vegetables in early August.  So far I have been harvesting variegated eggplant (purple with white stripes!), squash and some tomatoes.  I have harvested cool season crops earlier this year, obviously.  But, have noticed a rapid decline in production once we struck hot weather in late June.

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The PG Exhibition Gardens are filling out and looking great!  My garden has really gone through some serious change since my last post in early June!  The plants have really been unified together in their block planting patterns.  The containers have really filled out and they are fragrant!  (picture taken in early July)

A view from behind the seating wall.  The Artemesia ‘Red Fortune’ is still blooming and growing well.  You can see how much the Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ has grown.  We have debated whether we should cut it back because it is blocking our container view, but it is blooming so nice and has been for many weeks now, so we will wait!

Another shot of the garden.  (Picture also taken in early July)

Too much water!  A leak has been created in one of the irrigation lines, BELOW THE SOIL SURFACE! The sections of our garden has been overly saturated from the water traveling through the soil pores through a process called, capillary action.  These agastache were too wet and as you can see are beginning to show signs of decline!  We had to remove them, unfortunately.

An August picture!  The plants have filled in much more and are healthy, for the most part.  We have had a few problems…

Some of the containers, look how full they are!  On hot, dry days, we are watering them once a day.  We are especially watering the container with the Brugmansia (the one pictured with the larger leaves)

A close up of a new plant I am now familiar with, Centranthus ruber ‘Coccineus’.  This saw this plant all over the place when I was in England!  In fact, it was so robust and vigorous that it was growing through and in the cracks of stone walls!

An awesome combination of textures and color,k in my opinion… Calamagrostis ‘Karl Forester’ and Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’.  Also pictured are the new replacements for the previous ‘Red Fortune agastache that were removed, Monarda-Bee balm.

A picture of replacement Artemesia ‘Powis Castle’.  Since this is the first year that this space is being used as a garden, the drainage has not yet been improved adequately.  It seems that our artemesia have been developing Pythium root rot from being too wet.  Artemesia sp. does not typically like a lot of moisture, to begin with.  Here we replanted several artemesia but this time, we planted them higher than normal, incorporated coarse sand into the back fill mixture, and we also applied RootShield product to the roots.  RootShield is a natural microbial fungicide that helps to prevent root rot in various crops.

These artemesia were unintentionally planted above soil grade when we installed the garden.  These have not suffered from the root rot fungus and are doing well!  The problem with trying to re-plant is that the spores may still be in the soil, and intense cultural control such as removing the entire area of soil may be needed to remove it.  The plants will start to wilt when they are dry, or when they are infected with the fungus.  It is up to an experienced gardener to determine if the plant needs watered, or if it is going downhill and will soon need a replacement plant of the same, or something different!

One last problem to report about… Our Heliotrope arborescens ‘Alba’ has showed serious signs of decline and desiccation.  The plants were doing great during mid June to early July when we had a longer period of hot and dry weather.  But, as the moisture began to return, even with the hot days (that  heliotrope like), the plants started to decline, fast!  I have talked to several gardeners about this problem.  Heliotrope sp. can be very difficult to grow.  In fact, it can be like one of those plants that lives when it wants to, or dies when it wants to.  The conditions have to be almost perfect, and that aint happenin’ outdoors!  Not even at Longwood!  We may need to find a replacement plant for this soon.  See how the foliage immediately turns from healthy green, to sickly dark brown/black.

Pictured on the lower left is one of my new, favorite annuals, Salvia ‘Golden Delicious’. Also known as, Pineapple Sage.  And yes, it smells like pineapples when you rub the foliage!  The only thing that I’m not sure that I am loving about this plant is that is will usually require more water than normal annuals.  Although, it has been doing fine when watered every few days, when planted in natural soil.

Thanks for reading my posts!  I will continue to post every month or so… Hopefully more frequently in the near future!

Coming soon… Big projects at Longwood that I have taken part in: The East Conservatory Entry Plaza Construction Project-plantings, and a large transplant of Taxus sp. trees for the Topiary Garden replacement!

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