Garden Journal

This year, the spring winds were incessant and felt interminable. In late spring and early summer, it felt like the air was filled with smoke from fires in Arizona and New Mexico. I didn't venture out much aside from walking my dog, Aster or taking her to the dog park.

Summer is the season that I anxiously wait for every year. A little more than a third of the summer has passed and I feel that I haven’t done much gardening this year. I tried to make up for the last few weekends by frequenting three of my favorite nurseries and the garden section of a big box store.

I've been meaning to start using the blog as a garden journal so that I have a record of my plantings, but haven't done much of this. So I'm starting now.
Top: The sempervivum (hens and chicks) that I purchase last summer. I think I only bought one to see if I like the color or not and now I wished that I had gotten more. A common garden refrain of mine. It looks like it should start blooming soon. Clearly, the semps that I bought two weekends ago on the bottom are not the same color as the one on the top. The desert four o'clock (mirabilis multiflora) that I planted last summer is also doing well.
I splurged and bought two one gallon echinacea plants at my second favorite nursery. Cher at Sunray Gardens has a beautiful planting of shasta daisies and echinacea that I've been admiring so I thought I would give a similar planting a try and see what happens. I thought I would add a few white swan echinacea into the mix since I already have one planted.

Seafoam artemesia is crowding out the May Night salvia. And some marrubium rotundifolium (Silver Edged Horehound). I've been eying it in the High Country Garden catalog for a few years and Santa Fe Greenhouses had a 25% off perennials sale so I couldn't pass it up.

Cher, I saw these peppers at SF Greenhouses during my last shopping trip.


Trumpet Vines and Penstemon

One of my former co-workers gave me this yellow trumpet vine as a house warming gift many years ago. Every spring I would prune it, as part of my garden clean up. For years, nary a bloom – then I read somewhere that it grows on old wood. Eureka, so my spring pruning was inhibiting its flowering. I subsequently read that it blooms on new wood. I'm still not sure.
Undeterred, I asked one of the staff at a local nursery if he knew why my trumpet vine wouldn't bloom. He asked me if I fertilized it and I nodded yes.
I was about to give up and dig it up, but decided to put up some lattice for it to climb up. My friend Bev came over and gave me a lesson in using a circular saw and suggested using deck screws that wouldn't rust. I'm not mechanically inclined, but if you show me how to do something I can manage. Up went the lattice and the next year I got flowers for the first time. The trumpet vine didn't bloom as a direct result of putting up the lattice, but I now know how to use a circular saw. 
Fortunately, the Bridges penstemon are not so complicated.



Gaura is one of my favorite plants in the backyard. I think I initially purchased three plants. Two survived the first winter. But I have an annoying habit of reading about plant care and then only trying what I've read on one plant to see what happens. In the case of the gaura, I read that you should prune them hard. So I think, I hard pruned one plant and then waited for new growth to show up on the other one before I pruned. Alas, I have one plant left, the one that I pruned hard. I'm not sure why I continue to use my garden as a science fair project, but I do.
Recently, when I've come home from work in the early evening, the gaura blossoms have been all shriveled up. I thought maybe they were being eaten by bugs, but I think it's just the heat that has dried them out. However, today it rained intermittently for a few hours and it was 66 degrees when left yoga and not 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the rest of the photos the flash kicked on, so they're silhouetted by artificial light. I was so excited to see gaura that wasn't dessicated by the heat or wind that I'm sharing the photos anyway. 
Hard to believe, but it's in the same family as evening primroses. I think the cultivar I bought is called "whirling butterflies." 
They will bloom continuously a few at time for the next couple of months.


Hollyhock Envy

Lee wrote in Lee May's Gardening Life, a post in part about regional plant envy. It was a post about how as gardeners, we envy plants that grow elsewhere so much that we make futile attempts to grown them in our gardens. I have a friend who continues to try to grown potted azaleas in Santa Fe. Sometimes, I covet hydrangeas. However, I've never attempted to try to grow one here. My variation on the theme is not only do I envy plants that grow in other climes. I also envy plants of other gardeners that grow in Santa Fe, especially the hollyhocks below.
As I've driven around the roundabout towards my house, I've seen these fantastic hollyhocks that tower towards the sky. They're over eight feet high. The owners live on the corner and they don't have a hell strip, but some large squares cut out of the concrete where they've planted hollyhocks.
Close up, they almost look like hibiscus flowers. My favorite ones are the yellow ones. And I've seen peach ones at a hotel in Woodley Park in Washington, D.C., but never here in Santa Fe. I have a friend that has some burgundy ones that are almost black. But they're a little too Goth for me.
Hollyhocks against a terra cotta wall are an iconic image in Santa Fe. Painting and prints of them abound. I love the shape of the seed pods.
Yesterday, I made a special trip to photograph the hollyhocks, but there were cars parks along the curb in front of them. Maybe, the owners were having a cookout. I opted not to get out of the car and start snapping photos.
The white ones are lovely, too. Hollyhocks aren't hard to plant. They're one of the few plants that I've grown from seed, but mine have never looked this spectacular.
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