Through the Garden Gate: Monday, August 3rd

I've been remiss in posting my Monday views through the garden gate. I can't remember why I missed the 20th of July ... looking at my garden journal, I see I spent most of that morning outside. I picked up 20 bags of organic compost, ferried them home in FloraBob and then used a goodly number of them to plant the 11 Gulf Coast Muhly grass I bought at Joshua's Native Plants on the 14th. FYI, I washed off most of the soil from their roots, even though it wasn't a peat based mix, and puddled them in thoroughly. They've been watered every other day by the sprinkler system and are settling in nicely. I have more thoughts to share in another post on the peat issue. I might get to that later today or tomorrow, if things are slow at the model home where I'm working the next few days. Anyway, by the time it had cooled down enough to go out in the garden to take pictures, it was dark. So the gate remained unopened that Monday.

Last Monday, I was down at the Houston Chronicle all day, making entries in their plant database. They had asked me a while back if I'd be interested in helping them build this database of plants suited to the greater Houston growing area. It's already proven as interesting and educational an experience as I'd expected and I'm looking forward to helping my fellow Gulf Coast gardeners learn more about what plants work for us, as well as learning more myself. My first day there, I brought in some of the ailing Iris cristata for the Chronicle's garden editor, Kathy Huber, to look over. She's as knowledgeable and helpful in person as she is in her writing, and we had a nice chat about some of the garden challenges we've each faced recently. (Kathy's shade garden was rendered a sun garden by the vicissitudes of Hurricane Ike and this summer's weather has added insult to injury). By the time I'd gotten home, I'd settled in for the night before it occurred to me that once again, I hadn't opened the gate.

This morning, I'm taking a look through the gate before I head in other directions. Changes include the whacking back of the Laura Bush petunia, pulling out of summer-stressed parsley and a serious haircut to the Echinacea. The Vitex tree is suckering big time: the light green you see the left of that large branch is shoots that have arisen along and near the trunk. One of the things I talked with Kathy Huber about is taking drastic measures: cutting the trunk of the tree down to the ground and letting it regrow. Of course, no sooner do I threaten that than it starts another bloom cycle. It's taking up a lot of room and blocking a fair amount of light, so cutting it down would give me room for more roses or some other shrub that I haven't tried yet. Should I put it to a vote on my sidebar????

Periodically, I show y'all the seamier side of things here at Wit's End: here's the view TTGG in a different direction. The hose is rarely to be found neatly coiled in its blue tub ... most often, the Head Gardener has to watch her step as she makes her way along the path, in an effort not to trip and break her foot yet again.

This, my friends, is one of the sad stories on my corner of Katy. It's a Goodwin Creek Lavender and, as the late herbalist Madalene Hill would say, it's going to its fathers. Thanks to my garden journal, I see that it was planted on November 30th. I should be grateful it's lasted as long as it did since previous tries at growing it have been much shorter in duration. Even those it's in about as Mediterranean an area as can be found in back, I suspect the humidity was too much for it. Madalene Hill recommended mulching with granite or pea gravel. I may plant another one and try that.

Since I prefer to leave you with happy thoughts, as it were, I'll close with a picture of my Salt Marsh Mallow (Kosteletzkya virginica), a native plant that is currently wowing me with scads of these pretty in pink blooms.


I vote for leaving the Vitex to cast some much needed cool(er) shade in summer. I sympathize with your hose problem. What's the point of putting it back if you're just going to haul it out again soon anyway?
The Mallow is coolly elegant. Can you get marshmallows from it?
I am sad about your lavender Cindy. What a shame. As for the Vitex..not sure what to vote. Do you really want to keep it, or are you ready to explore new options? I think that is what you need to think about. Sad or glad if it goes away?
Unknown said…
I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on the subject of peat on transplants. I've often wondered if that was the reason I never have success with the 6 packs annuals they sell. How exactly do you remove the "soil" around them without damaging the roots.
I vote to leave the vitex also...I like the height it offers. Maybe when the suckers are gone it won't seem so intrusive? I find some lavenders can't take major heat when young...could that also be part of the problem?
Rose said…
I vote to keep the Vitex, too, but then I'm one who has trouble tearing anything out once I've planted it. My garden usually looks like your second photo, too, Cindy:) And I have a dying lavender just like yours. It's planted next to another one that is doing fine; go figure. The pink mallow is lovely!
Leave the hose! Better yet, draw a picture with the line...your garden looks lovely!
Carol Michel said…
Thanks for the pretty flower picture at the end. I vote "keep" on the Vitex!

Now, be careful out there! Watch out for hoses.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens
Layanee said…
It looks quite lovely TTGG even if it is dry. My hose is in a heap also and I tripped over it just last evening. That did not inspire me to coil it up though. The mallow looks sturdy.

p.s. Heard that Wendy's commercial advertising boneless wings made from 100% chicken breast and LOL once again. When is a breast a wing or when is a wing a breast...hmmmmm
My vote is for leaving the Vitex, although I can see how you'd be frustrated, especially w/the suckers. It's such a cool looking tree though, and I wonder how it would look if allowed to come up from the suckers.

I experience your lavender problems as well. I have one "Grosso Fat Spike" that is still hanging in there but all the others have died a very similar looking death. I think we just don't live in the right climate.

Speaking of climate, I hear thunder right now! Keep your fingers crossed!