Monday, May 26, 2014

Summer Annuals 2014, Patching Grass Successfully

I am a fanatic about photo journaling my garden, and have been for about 15 years, when it was just small islands of flowers in my yard.  My summer garden annuals were planted this past week at the front of the house. Here's a look at the front of the property right now, my so-called before - before the summer annuals grow wild and fill the beds entirely:
Front of house, right side
I love this mix of flowers in a red, white and blue color scheme for summer.  This year, I have white vinca, red geraniums, blue angelonia and purple heart, or wandering jew.  My apologies to my fellow master gardeners and all the horticulturists out there - I use common plant names, for the most part, most of the time.  I left Latin back in high school.
Front of house, left side
Remember having wandering jew back in the '70s as hanging house plants?  We put them in the flower beds for the first time last year and absolutely loved the look, especially after they filled out.
Street front, outside of gate
In front of the gate, which butts up to the parking pad adjacent to the street, we omitted the wandering jew, but may insert a few later (they were not readily available at planting). We added a little red & white variegated verbena called voodoo star outside the gate. I've put my first of summer-long, weekly Miracle-Gro applications on the annuals, and it won't be long before they'll take off.  I like both looks - neat and tidy, as well as full and fuller. :)

I still have six containers throughout the landscape that I need to shop for, plant, and place, but that also means I'll be watering every day that it doesn't rain.  Besides, I've already been watering regularly for the past nearly two months, patching grass.

This past fall we had new steel edging put around the entire perimeter of our landscape garden.  Part of the reason for doing this was due to a flareup of  Mr. P's OCD caused by bare patches in the grass.  I kid you not.
Front of house, right side - October 31, 2013 - amending grass edging
Years of manual edging was delineating the intersection of where the porch arc met the straight line of the walkway, and the grass edge was creeping nearly four bricks' width away from that point, driving Mr. P over the edge, lol.  The photo below better illustrates the delineation (see bottom, right corner of photo).
Front of house, left side - October 31, 2013 - amending grass edging
If you look closely at the photos above from last fall (taken October 31, 2013), you'll see about 6" of dirt and seed outside of the annual bed, beyond the steel edging.While new grass started coming in pretty well already last fall, it still needed reseeding this spring (see next photo).
Front of house, right side - patchy, over-wintered grass edging, March 2, 2014
Notice the wintered-over pansies (i.e., smashed to smithereens), and the daffodil bulbs emerging in the photo above.  That photo was snapped March 2, 2014.

By April 2, 2014, the daffodils were blooming, the pansies rejuvenating, but the grass was still bare. So, on April 11, 2014, I seed mulched the area; meaning, I threw about 10# of fescue mix grass seed on the dirt and worked it in, among the soil & grass already there, across about 50' of the front of the house.
Seed mulching against steel edging April 11, 2014 - front of house, right side 
Seed mulching against steel edging April 11, 2014 - front of house, left side
After about two weeks, it really started getting fuller, but not quite right (or perfect, in OCD terms). So I threw another 5# of seed on it for good measure.
Grass amendment progress, against steel edging, April 26, 2014 - front of house, left side
Now, six weeks after the initial spring re-seeding (via seed mulching), the grass looks as you see in the first photo in this post (taken May 20, 2014).  Let's look again.
Grass amendment, fully patched against steel edging, May 20, 2014 - front of house, left side 
It's already been a busy spring in the garden just amending the grass. Generally speaking, I am not a grass person - that's Mr. P's job. Flowers are my thing. Somehow I got tricked into doing this patch job - first, along the front, near my annual beds. When I got to the point where the front strip looked good, there was the rabbit escapade in the yard. So while I was fixing that, I went all OCD, just like Mr. P. I started outside of our brick wall adjacent to our neighbor's property, amending nearly 100' of bare, weed-whacked space about 6" out.

This stuff is NOT for sissies. The thing with grass is you simply have to start it before it gets hot or after summer is over. It's all better for now, and the OCD has settled down for both Mr. P and me, I'm happy to report. However, the Bermuda grass that's been creeping its way into the lawn the last 2-3 years is starting to bother both of us, and that means a complete overhaul, which I am dreading.

Other annuals I plant each year are mandevilla vines on each of the four corners of my trellis. Some years the stars align, and the plants are happy, conditions are right, and the vines completely cover the trellis.  I'm hoping for that kind of summer.
Mandevilla vines on four corners of trellis - May 20, 2014
Meanwhile, there are more blooms in the garden.  As the irises wane, I am seeing the first flush of spirea and roses blooming, along with purple salvia.  The bee balm will soon follow (behind the salvia in photo below).
Spirea, roses, salvia, bee balm - May 21, 2014
My buttercups (as they are known in my world, but some call them sunshine cups, even primrose) are starting to bloom, as are the delicate love-in-a-mist.
Buttercups, with rose-of sharon in center (re-emerging rhododendron in front) - May 21, 2014
Love-in-a-mist - May 21, 2014
The kousa dogwood trees are pretty this year, too.  They're full of white blooms, always later than the traditional dogwood trees.
Kousa dogwood trees in bloom, on either side of curving landscape - May 19, 2014
My clematis is still not blooming, but I am thrilled that my nandina plants are showing a full recovery from winter's freeze. I had resolved myself to having to replace them, but they are all doing well!
Nandina bushes, recovering! - May 21, 2014
Moving on, I'll be working on containers next.  The work of staking my perennial hibiscus plants is also fast-approaching (really need to get started now), as evidenced by the photo below.
'Lord Baltimore' hibiscus - May 21, 2014
This variety of hibiscus, 'Lord Baltimore' - will grow to more than 8' feet tall when staked.  I have three plants in the back of the landscape (shown), and three more directly diagonal from those, at the front corner of the house.  These plants are WORK from May through the first of July, when the first, plate-size blooms show. I place more than 8 dozen, 6' stakes in and among these branches, and single-handedly tie each one - sometimes 2-3 ties per branch - to the stakes for support.  Why?  Because I love the look and enjoy immersing myself among them, in a lounge chair, under an umbrella to enjoy the fruits of the labor.

I'm tellin' ya, gardening grows the spirit and soothes the soul. What grows your spirit?

I link and party with any given number of these fine hosts: