Tuesday’s Tips — Favorites from 2010

Hello? Tink, tink, tink — anybody out there? Activity in blog-land is at a near standstill and we feel like we’ve been talking to ourselves the past couple of weeks. Of course everyone is busy with the holidays, but still…it’s a little lonely in here.

We thought we’d share a bit about the past gardening season — successes and failures, plants or plant combos that excited us. This kind of review is very helpful for planning for next year’s garden.

Mary Beth: This was my first growing season back in Colorado after 5 years on Block Island. I enjoyed reconnecting with my poor, neglected garden.

My vegetable garden was mostly successful with lettuce, strawberries, beets, herbs, tomatillos, and radishes all doing well. The exceptions were kale, chard and squash, which grew to two inches and then, for reasons unknown, stopped. In spite of that little glitch, I was so pleased with how well the vegetable garden did that I put in more beds with about twice the amount of room for veggies this coming season. I also had great success with the potted vegetables (tomatoes and peppers) that I grew on the deck.

I noticed that our Colorado garden had a lot of pinks and blues. So to remedy this I bought some plants in different colors towards the end of the season. I also divided and moved many plants into new and existing beds this fall. I’m looking forward to seeing how it will all come together.

Plant combos I can’t wait to see when they fill in: new bareroot Basye’s Purple rose from the Rose Emporium planted next to the Iceberg climbing rose. The orange butterfly weed combined with Jupiter’s Beard. The one flower the butterfly weed had in the fall looked amazing with the Jupiter’s Beard, very hot color combo. Agastache ‘Desert Sunrise’ combined with Russian Sage and a soft pink rosa rugosa and miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ that I placed in a new bed next to the pond. This coming season I plan on adding more white, silver and flowing grasses to all the beds.

Barbara: I’m still fighting the idea that I have a shade garden and am frustrated that the low light prevents me from growing any vegetable but lettuce. Still my tomato jealousy was at an all-time low this year because all the gardeners in this coastal region of Southern California had a less-than-ideal tomato season. The weather was too cool and overcast for these sun- and heat-loving plants.

I did find a bit of sun in which to plant blood butterfly weed, Asclepias curassavica, (similar to the one MB planted) with Mexican sage. It looked great. Soon I’ll move them even closer because if I can get them to intertwine a bit I think it would look even better. These are also plants that hummingbirds, and of course butterflies, love. We’re always thinking about the birds and the beneficial insects as we plant.

The coffeeberry — Rhamnus californica ‘Eve Case’ — I planted this spring is doing very well. It’s a handsome plant with large cranberry-to-deep-purple berries (for the birds) and grey-green leaves. I want to get a couple more.

In the next few weeks I’m going to start moving plants around. I’ll give a few of them a second chance in different locations. And I’ll “shovel prune” the ones that didn’t perform.

In my clients’ gardens I had great success with giant blue scabiosa. I just planted Convolvulus cneorum ‘Snow Angel’ in another’s garden. (Click here for a “beauty shot.”) I hope it does well because I’m in love with its sweet white flower and silvery, soft grey leaves.

As we get ready to celebrate a brand new year, we’re looking forward to the growing season ahead of us and to sharing our experiences with all of you. Thanks for coming to visit. We appreciate each and every one of you!

Wishing you a healthy, happy and prosperous 2011!

Barbara & Mary Beth

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