Thursday, September 17, 2015


 My fellow west coast gardeners seem to be in alignment regarding the unacceptability of August. Yes, there are a few plants that actually look good (the succulents, the grasses, the Salvias) but for the most part growth fatigue has set in along with dust, pre-fall foliage garden debris, and the unrelenting dry conditions that are likely to persist well into October. I'm always happy to show August the door, though September this year  has ushered in our first really significant heat wave, with c-note temps and a string of wild-fire prompted Spare the Air days. While waiting for real  fall weather to arrive I assess the damage perpetrated  by August.

 Stachys 'Bello Grigio' was excitedly snatched up in spring and planted in a spot where S. Helen Von Stein, having become elderly and full of dull grey blobs of furry thatch, was dug up.  Daily water after an initial planting is tolerable for awhile, but Bello has begged for water at least every other day all summer long. I finally said to hell with it, I'd rather water the Fuchsias.

Artemesia 'Guizhou' , a plant that I have seen numerous  times with wonderful foliage and dark stems has spent three years sulking. This was it's  'leap' year, and I suppose the 2015 growth was relatively leap-y compared with its' first two lackluster years, but it's not at all the plant I expected. Sited in prime front garden real estate, it's time for it to cede it's spot to a better player. I'm sending it down to  triple-A (the flipside of the island bed in the back garden) for it's last chance to redeem itself.

Origanum 'Rosenkuppel' . I stopped growing Hopleys purple because of the flopping issue, and found this cultivar in fall 2013 at Digging Dog. In it's defense, it was buried by a very robust Lantana most of this summer. In August a  worker hacked back the Lantana to gain access to a utility box, exposing the poor Oregano to view.

Salvia cardonna...what can the matter be ? A Salvia failure just seems so wrong. I have seen splendid stands of these right here in Norcal, yet mine are just utter crap.

Hydrangea quercifolia.. Here is a plant that I have committed untold atrocities upon. A wine barrel full of my beloved black Bamboo (phyllostachys nigra) sits directly upon it's root zone. In 15 years (yes 15) H. quercifolia has grown  no more than 3 feet high, with no more than two branches and no more than 2 flowers.  This summer I decided I would move it at last , but the plant must be so compromised I am considering buying a new one and seeing how long it takes me to ruin it.

   It's always good to have an excuse to buy more plants.