Notice anything different since Monday? My talented arborist, Shawn Geiman of Shawnee Trees, visited my corner of Katy on Tuesday morning. If you look at the Texas Persimmon (Diospyros texana) in the corner of the fence, you'll see that it has been limbed up nicely. Now more sunlight can get to the nearby banana shrub (Michelia figo), as well as to the pond. The birds still have plenty of spots in which to hide but you can see the twists and turns of the branches off the trunk ... I love the sculptural look it adds to the tree. You might also notice that the Montrose Purple Vitex is no longer blocking the view in that direction. Shawn and I had a frank discussion about the direction that Vitex had been taking in its life. He suggested cutting the existing tree down and training some of the suckers from the base into multiple trunks. The Head Gardener had been itching to cut it down, as you might remember, so she's quite happy with the decision (and so am I)!
Neither of us, however, are very happy with what's left of the Big Sky Sunrise Echinacea. Compared to how it looks now, which is too depressing to show, it looks almost OK in this picture. It had spent the summer in a pot, protected from the afternoon sun, and receiving regular waterings. Purple coneflowers are vigorous and prolific on MCOK but these hybrid varieties are the opposite. I'm not sure how many more tries the Head Gardener and I have left in us. We do think this specific plant might have fared better had I planted it right after I purchased it in May, washing the soil off the roots first and shading the foliage from the sun for a week or so. We've also heard that some growers recommend removing the first blooms from these plants upon purchase to direct the plant's energy into the roots rather than the blooms. If I succumb to the siren call of yet another Echinacea hybrid, I'll see if following those suggestions yields better results.
Thank goodness for tough native plants like Fall Aster, which are loving the slightly cooler and wetter weather we've had recently. More, please?