Wednesday, June 12, 2013

You didn't think I was done, did you?

Leucanthemum
A few posts ago, I talked about how I had been moving plants around, in the hopes of finding a spot where everyone is happy. Oh, how I dearly wish I could say to you, dear readers, that after all those moves, I was done and everything was perfect. HA! Hardly! As every gardener knows, things are never perfect, and the garden is never done. As things grow and conditions in the garden change, I'm constantly re-evaluating how things are doing...and, if I'm able, moving them to a better (hopefully) spot.

Sometimes, however, there is a plant that just outstays its welcome. Such is the case with Leucanthemum, or, as they are commonly known, Shasta Daisies. It's not that I don't like them...I always found them cheerful...and they grew in a spot that killed almost everything else. However, they had one major drawback...

gnarly
...this! They grew full and lush until they started blooming, then they flopped open in the center, exposing the ugly, gnarly stems and flattening any plant near them. I've staked them, tied them up and cut them back...but, in one shape or form, they always look like this. I finally decided I'd had enough a few weeks ago, and out they came.

Molinia closeupDead Knautia
They were replaced with the grass on the left, Molinia 'Strahlenquelle', which I got from Wind Dancer when I visited with a group of fellow bloggers a few weeks ago. I'm so much happier now...and hopefully this grass will live in this admittedly awful soil. Time will tell...but as we all know, grasses are tough and pretty forgiving. This problem solved, let's move on to the next. Earlier this spring, I moved a Knautia macedonica 'Melton Pastels' plant from one spot in the front parking strip to another. While it seemed to settle in well and grow happily for a while, it started to decline after it started blooming last month. Eventually I realized it was dead...and had decided to leave it in place until the right replacement presented itself.

Blue Knautia Closeup
As luck would have it, at a chance trip to Al's Garden Center in some far-flung suburb of Portland, I spotted this beauty. It was labeled as straight Knautia macedonica, but its blue color hinted that it was some lucky cross, as regular Knautia is a rich, ruby red. I decided on the spot that THIS was the replacement!

Knautia patch
Here it is, planted along is pink and red brethren...I love the color, especially in contrast with the reds and pinks. I hope this one reseeds, as I'd love more of this color!

Knautia remnant
Of course, this wouldn't be my garden if it didn't give me the old "Told Ya So", here's the spot where I removed that now-deceased Knautia. Either it reseeded into it's old spot...or I missed a piece of root, because it's coming back in the exact same spot, up through the Sedum I replaced it with.

Bare spot
For some reason, I seem to lose more random plants during mild winters than during colder ones. This spot was the home of a large, beautiful Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'. It didn't come back this spring (although there is a seedling, which I removed and planted elsewhere). I could not decide what to do with this spot.

Chocolate Dragon Planted
At the same trip to Al's that resulted in the new blue Knautia, I found this puppy, Persicaria 'Chocolate Dragon'. Yes, I hardly need ANOTHER Persicaria, but this one promised the color of 'Red Dragon' at a more compact 2' tall. I thought, "What the hell," and bought it too. I have to admit, I'm a little in love with this one.

Chocolate Dragon closeup
It's so freaking cute!!! I have no idea why my garden is so hospitable to Persicarias, but they are starting to outnumber every other genus in my garden!

Blood Brothers in ground
And now for the last plant relocation for today. A few years ago, I planted a beautiful new variety of Panicum, called 'Blood Brothers', here in the north border. They are beautiful, but don't seem to be bulking up at all, especially in comparison to other Panicums in my garden. Sadly, as the Persicaria 'Firetail' around them have matured, they are totally out-competing the Panicums.

Northwind plants
After consulting with Heather a few weeks ago, I decided to replace them with Panicum 'Northwind', which is much more vigorous. While I give up the wonderful, red-tinged foliage of 'Blood Brotehrs', I get a stronger, more upright habit, and this area needs the structure and bulk.

Planting setup
Have you ever wondered about the process I use to move plants around in a small garden with little room to excavate or maneuver...well, here it is...it's a well-orchestrated ballet of sorts. Not a graceful ballet, mind you...but ballet, all the same!

Northwind Planted
And here they are, all planted. Let's hope they do better...and that this site isn't just completely inhospitable to Panicums!

Northwind comparisonBlood Brothers in Pot
Here's what I'm hoping the 'Northwind' plants will look like in a few years time. Those 'Northwind' in the background were planted last spring...yeah, they bulk up fast! Of course, I didn't just toss out the 'Blood Brothers', they are too beautiful, so I've put them in a temporary home, where, without any competition, they will hopefully bulk up in a few years time.

Gordon Glamor Shot
There you have it, a few more changes in my garden this spring...I hope you are having as much fun as me, moving things around and making changes. If only our husbands/wives/partners understood and didn't shake their heads at us as we head out to move plants for the third and fourth time...seriously...this is the LAST time! Ok, yeah, probably not the last time ;-)

62 comments:

  1. Lool it's a good thing that your plants don't mind all the moving :D
    I just have to say that pretty purple flower you bought is actually knautia arvensis (not macedonica). I don't know how you'll like it later...it can grow up to 2m and it seeds itself. All of them are bluish and here they grow in meadows like weed. :)

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    1. Aha! I was wondering about that, Leanan! I'll have to keep an eye on it ;-)

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  2. I love that you began and ended your post with pictures of the owner of the place who seems quite amused with your digging and moving of plants. I'm impressed with your planning and tidiness as I usually suddenly decide that something needs to come our and end up spending a lot of time tripping over pots, stepping on tools sending their handles up to smack me in the head and cleaning up afterwards. Your way makes much more sense! Your new Persicaria is faboo! The dragon is a favorite of mine but I'm always cutting it back so that it doesn't flop all over its neighbors. A compact version would be heaven!

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    1. Well, I do all of those things too...but I manage to at least keep most of the dirt off the sidewalk ;-)

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  3. I have learnt from experience that the height & spread given on plant labels is approximate at best. And as I now garden on a steep slope a whole new dimension comes into play. As long as I garden, things will have to get used to being moved!

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    1. Oh yes...gardening on a slope is so tricky! No one ever tells you how to deal with that...and I'm still learning!

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  4. Hi Scott,

    I'm feeling the same way about Shasta Daisies and am half decided to get rid of one of my now large clumps because as you say, it's unsightly. It's taking over and even beating the previously un-stoppable flat-topped Aster! I'd much rather the Aster take over than that as they have a much longer season of interest and are way prettier. I won't be taking any Shasta Daisy at all with me when I eventually move.


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    1. Absolutely, they are just so messy...there are better options out there!

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  5. I've been making lot of changes in my garden all spring, and moving things hither and yon. One of those changes involved getting rid of a bunch of Shastas that I grew from seed, for exactly the same reasons as you, their post-bloom (and sometimes pre-bloom) ugliness. Glad you saved the 'Blood Brothers' Panicums, I hope they bulk up better in that pot. 'Chocolate Dragon' looks like a great Persicaria.

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    1. Oh yes, Alison, I couldn't get rid of 'Blood Brothers', as it's so beautiful, and entirely my fault that it wasn't doing well. Believe it or not, it already looks happier in its new home...it just did NOT like being crowded!

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  6. The real owner of the place has supervised you well :) great choices and hopefully all will perform well, better than the plants before them.

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    1. Hahahahaha...they do keep an eye on me to make sure it's all done to their satisfaction ;-)

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  7. Isn't is a great feeling when one finally decides to shovel prune something that hasn't performed well? Love all the plant choices and rearrangements. I especially love the Persicaria 'chocolate Dragon'. I've never seen that around here.

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    1. It really is, Deanne...even though I have a hard time committing to it!

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  8. As soon as I read the word Leucanthemum I knew exactly what you were going to say! I feel exactly the same. Looks good until flower and mines is on it's final warning!!
    I love those little Knautia bobbing about like that. Knautia is another plant you grow Scott that doesn't like my garden. Strangley enough Scabious do not too bad but the Knautia don't. Another garden mystery.
    There isn't a day goes by that I don't move something - a ballet dance just about describes the way to do it!

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    1. That's so surprising that you can grow Scabiousa, but not Knautia...I wonder why?

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  9. I've been slowly replacing my Shastas -- one of the first perennials I planted years ago -- with white-flowered Echinaceas. Longer bloom time, sturdier habit. The Shastas are not all gone yet though.

    50% of my Persicarias did not make it through the winter (okay, I only had 2, but still). Love the 'Chocolate Dragon'!

    It's not the moving of plants that makes my wife look at me funny -- it's the buying of more when there are still dozens that haven't been planted. :)

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    1. Hahahahahaha...well, yes, there's THAT too...but I don't like to think about that if I can avoid it ;-)

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  10. Oh I love moving plants - it's fun and exciting and my hubby doesn't mind as at least I leave the furniture in the house alone LOL. My shastas grow in awful soil too but thankfully they haven't flopped...yet!

    I would love to grow Knautia as the bees would love it but I don't think I'd get it through a winter here.

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    1. Good to know your hubby doesn't give you any grief...and yes, I leave the furniture alone, for the most part :-)

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  11. The two knautia together look beautiful.

    You are such a neat plant mover. I am clearly not, hence my envy.

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    1. Hahahahaha...well, it's probably not as neat as it could be...but I keep the sidewalk from getting too muddy, at least!

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  12. You have been very busy. Lots of interesting additions to the garden too. It is possible that your problem shastas only needed dividing, but save that tip for another time.

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    1. That could be, Patty...I still have a section of them...will have to give it a try!

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  13. What's a garden without change? Boring! LOL. I removed tons of Shastas a few years ago. I think you will be happy with the changes.

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    1. I totally agree, Zoey...and they do say it's the only constant in life, right :-)

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  14. I loved your Knautia so grew a couple of 'Melton's Pastel' from seed last year that are blooming now, one is red and the other is the color of yours. I like them except that they are so tall and spread out so far. I also bought a variegated one from HD that is starting to bloom now, the deep red, and it is much more compact, plus love that foliage!

    My Red Dragon is always tall and skimpy, it is in shade, so I tried pinching out the growth tips but it didn't seem to help. I do appreciate that it keeps coming back.

    I have a caption for your cat photo: "That's very nice, human, but WHERE IS THE CATNIP?"

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    1. Yes, they can get pretty tall (much taller than I thought), don't they! You could also look for 'Mars Midget', which stays about 15" tall and wide...much more compact.

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  15. The Garden Historian Mac Griswold, once said "Gardening is the slowest of the performing arts". A lot of preparation goes into a performance as documented by this meaty post. Good luck with this year's performance, Scott.

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  16. I have some of the red knautia and love your blue, which looks a little like a blue scabiosa flower. I have tried removing knautia twice. Once I was successful, the other time they came right back. A vigorous plant as you say. I have 'Northwind', I think it is my favorite grass.

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    1. They definitely want to live, don' they, Jason! I love 'Northwind' too...it's such a standout grass!

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  17. Those same Leucanthemum were booted from my garden years ago. I just don't have the patience to support and tie things up. Well, actually, there are a FEW plants I will put stakes in for and gather up, but Shastas just didn't make the cut. That compact little Persicaria is lovely, and I admire your tidy and organized approach to moving plants.

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    1. I'm the same way, Jane. There are quite a few plants that I have to rig harnesses for to keep them upright, but the Shastas just never thrilled me...especially since they don't "die" particularly gracefully!

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  18. Well, yes, the Persicaria is pretty spectacular! And the Knautia is nifty, too. You are much better about pulling out and rearranging plants than I am. But I'm learning. ;-) I really have trouble giving up on plants, but sometimes you just know another plant would be happier in the same spot. Enjoy the dirt digging! ;-)

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    1. It's definitely something I ponder long and hard before actually doing it...and I almost always try to give the plants another chance in my garden (or at leaset, in someone else's garden)!

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  19. Your ballet looks to be very well choreographed. Do passers by ever comment on what your up to or complain about the "blocked" sidewalk? With our park going traffic I'm always amazed at the things I hear.

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    1. I usually try to limit my shenanigans to really early in the day, if possible...and even when I don't people just go around me. If they grumbled, I didn't hear them. Granted, they were probably afraid to grumble too close to the sweaty, cross, cursing man ripping out plants ;-)

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  20. A pedestrian ballet: what a concept. And as to the husbands/wives/partners...I think they are just as happy to have us obsessing over plants so they can go on about their business.

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    1. Hahahhahaha...that's probably true...at least we're out of their hair for a bit ;-)

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  21. Your changes sound good. Sure look good. Of course I liked the end of the string of photos with your arrogant little girl laying there watching the show. :)
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. Hahahaha, she was quite smug the whole time :-D

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  22. That periwinkle Knautia is so pretty! I really hope it reseeds. And I think if you move things around just a few more times Norm will finally understand it . . . or maybe not. But it's worth trying.

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    1. I really like it too, it's just different enough to keep things interesting, but maintain a feeling of continuity. I'll be surprised if Norm every really gets on board with the whole "gardening" thing!

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  23. I've been moving one or two things around this week too! Hopefully no more for a while now.
    We lost our Knautia this spring, after over two years of constant all-year-round flowers. I cut it back early in the year, new growth appeared at the base, and then died off. Not sure if a frost caught it, or it just couldn't cope with being cut back so hard. I must replace it. Your blue one looks more like the wild scabious it is related to in that lovely pale blue; very pretty.

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    1. Oh no! It's so odd how some things seem totally find one minute, only to croak the next :-(

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  24. I had to move Shastas, but it was because I found their aroma repugnant--I am weird that way. But they were lining my driveway and I thought neighbors were letting their dogs use my flower bed for other purposes...

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    1. Hahahaha...that's not fun at all! There are plants I would NEVER be able to have in my garden either...Boxwood and Junipers...smell just like cat pee to me!

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  25. I am waiting for my Shasta to melt out and flop..only a matter of time-days perhaps.

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    1. It's so sad, but true, they just don't have the strongest constitutions, do they?

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  26. You have done a great work in the garden! It look so lovely!

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  27. I'm right there with you about Shastas.

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    1. Glad to know I'm not just cursed, Greg :-)

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  28. Shasta daisy hit the compost pile here years ago. Even with dead heading I never got the promised rebloom and it spread so fast I was having to dig it divide it just about every year. I agree with Jason, your blue Knautia looks exactly like Scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue'. Based on your glowing recommendation, I planted a Panicum 'Northwind a couple of weeks ago. It was a large size to start so I look forward to watching it fill in.

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    1. Oh, Sue, I think you'll love 'Northwind', especially since it's so upright...very beautiful!

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  29. Shasta daisies have some kind of gravity problem. I grow just one, and in such close quarters with other plants that there's no place to fall.

    I totally get moving plants. Usually there are losers in the fight-for-light and I must rush in like an ambulance squad and perform rescues, which to the casual observer looks like the nut-case woman is digging stuff up again. Which I suppose is also true, but still...

    ps: I used to think no grasses for me, but you and Alberto are making inroads.

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    1. Thanks so great...I hope you do add some grasses, they are invaluable for structure and movement!

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  30. And wasn't yesterday's rain perfect for helping our plants settle in? It's nice to know I'm not the only one constantly moving things around.

    I love that dwarf red-leaved Persicaria. 'Red Dragon' is a beaut but so big. I will be on the lookout for 'Chocolate Dragon.' Thanks for the tip.

    You mentioned the pink California poppies on my blog. Here's what I did. I bought seed from Silverton, Oregon-based Silver Falls Seed Company. I bought the 10 grams package and sprinkled them around. The entire packet must have germinated! I have tons of plants. Here is the link:

    http://www.silverfallsseed.com/seed/Individual-Flower-Seed-Species/California-Poppy-Carmine.html

    I've had really good success with Silver Falls' seed and highly recommend them. It wouldn't hurt to apply a little slug bait when you sow them because, as I'm sure you know, slugs are the bane of seedlings. Good luck and let me know how it goes.

    Your garden photos are awesome as always but your kitty...oh what a total cutie pie. You must have been on your belly to get that great shot. Give him a scratch under the chin from a fellow cat person. :)

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    1. Thank you so much for the seed source, Grace!!! I bought my seeds from a local nursery this spring, and probably planted them too late. I'll give these guys a try, though...love those blooms!!!

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  31. I envy you, here in Italy I can only successfully move things in Autumn so that even if I walk around thinking to myself, "that must be moved" or "I might find a better place for that" I can't actually do it until September when strangely enough there are a hundred other things that need doing too! Christina

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    1. I can totally understand that, Christina. I actually prefer to move things in the fall, too, since that's when we're pretty much guaranteed cool temps and ample rain...but sometimes I just can't wait! Of course, now I have a summer of watering to look forward to :-)

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