What do you see on your garden walks? 2012

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Anne Spiegel
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-26

One of the problems with troughs in a very exposed garden is that they don't seem to have a very long lifetime.  The first pictures show what's happening with a trough (hypertufa) that I've had many years.  The plants of note are the white form of Astragalus spatulatus, Phlox pulvinata (ice blue form) and Hymenoxys acaulis caespitosa.  They perform beautifully every year so this is a trough I want to keep.  I moved it and damaged a corner in doing so.  Replaced the corner by cementing a stone that looks like the head of a wolf, depending on how much imagination you have.  Now the side of the trough is also wearing down.
The last two pictures are of a trough that Maichael Peden made which is all cement, I think.  It is incredibly heavy, but is sailing through the winters with no problems.

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Michael, festive color on those Saxes, nice, but it's the late senescence of Allium thunbergii that always amuses me, with that charmingly gauche color combination of pinkish-purple drying florets and orange stems. The Eriogonum color is awesome as well, truly all-season plants.

Anne, beautiful troughs, I can imagine how impressive these are in full growth and flower.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Charming and gauche... you don't hear those words conjunctively used very often. ;D  But I have to agree, it's quite accurate in this case.

Fall/early winter brings out the colors in lots of the cool plants.  While a "normal" person sees this time of year as drab and colorless, there is a good deal of vibrant examples here.  

Ann, I had no idea there was a propensity for multiple flushes of western phlox spp.  I just thought the few times that I have seen such examples were anomalies.  The troughs are wonderful.

Micheal, was the Schlerocactus from seed?  And at what point did you plant it out?  
  Such exquisite work on those troughs of yours that Ann showed.  As a companion to this topic:
Styrofoam Trough Innovations
would you consider starting a new topic with those troughs, perhaps labeled "Hypertufa and Cement Trough Innovations", and explain your method?

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Peden
Title: Guest
Joined: 2012-01-04

Cohan, Anne et. al. thanks for nice comments. One of my aims here has been to display my "common man's" garden and a garden that is not intensely managed; ie. tons of compost, fertilizer, and mass plantings involving the constant addition and removal of material. I wish it to be a partnership with nature with ME as an ACCEPTED partner! The blue spruces in the photos are quite popular around here -those are on the neighboring properties  ;) The path photo was chosen to hide the house across street -Ah! tricky! -although it is not a bad looking little house.

Anne, IMO that is fantastic material you grow in those troughs! I often wonder how a solid concrete vs. a hypertufa trough might differ in cultivation, the solid trough presumably being less amenable to the immediate loss of water (water tables etc.?); less permeable; less "airy". That, and all my troughs have a single drain hole. You may be on front line of any testing along these lines. Sorry the troughs aren't a bit more mobile  ;D but well conceived concrete is extremely durable; that's why I did it the way I did. Is the coin still there? (BTW -love your repair job.)

The Sclerocactus was grown from Mesa Garden seeds (I also planted S. parviflorus). A general (developing) "philosophy" here is: get it out of the pot and into the garden as soon as possible or it is toast! That plant must have been quite a bit smaller when it was first put out. Planting seedlings seems to work well for a lot of things here including cacti -but one must remember to keep watch over them.

Michael Peden
Lake Champlain Valley, zone 4b
Four and a half months frost free
Snow cover not guaranteed

Peden
Title: Guest
Joined: 2012-01-04

And here's another quick endorsement of fall planting/propagating; It works really quite well. It's a little late here because ground can freeze and heave in some situations, but , being reminded by the "International Rock Gardener" that I had Potentilla nitida -though never bloomed in a dozen years- wanting to stretch its toes in new conditions, I went out and ripped up a couple of small "Irishman's cuttings" from my waning plants yesterday to plant in my new limestone rockery. I still think I may see a blossom some day  :-\

Michael Peden
Lake Champlain Valley, zone 4b
Four and a half months frost free
Snow cover not guaranteed

cohan
cohan's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-02-03

With Michael's comments added to Tim's about P nitida being shy to flower, I am now a bit anxious to know what if anything my young plants will do... will be watching keenly this year...

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

Peden
Title: Guest
Joined: 2012-01-04

A few more treasures in winter garb: Areneria hookeri from 2009 seed; A favorite little thing -Sphaeromeria capitata; Potentilla nitida; Eriogonum caespitosum spare blooms for many weeks!; An old Minuartia from the high screes NE of Cortez, Colorado (Paronychia, Dianthus, etc. too); Acantholimon litwinovii color progression and A. ulicinum -still just green -(Moltkia too) interesting to note the difference in winter strategies of not just these, but of other evergreen plants as well.

             

And, of course, moss which finds this time of year most delightful.

Michael Peden
Lake Champlain Valley, zone 4b
Four and a half months frost free
Snow cover not guaranteed

cohan
cohan's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-02-03

These all look great, Michael! I agree, it is very interesting to see the different strategies plants use to solve similar problems..
I have a couple of tiny bits of Arenaria, which I think is hookeri also.. they grew rather fast in the pots, then once in ground slowed down/compacted very dramatically- I thought it was lost at first, but they are still there (or were- who knows what is under the snow?  ;D )

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Spiegel wrote:

One of the problems with troughs in a very exposed garden is that they don't seem to have a very long lifetime. 

I have a couple of hypertufa troughs that are spalling at the top - when they were made, some additional mix had to be added to top them up, apparently (so the cause of the structural weakness seems clear).  The other troughs made at the same time have been fine.  We also had one trough, since dismantled, that was made from a hypertufa recipe that DH found on the internet and used very much against his better judgement - it was soft and crumbly almost from the start; from the texture and from the excess of brown concrete dye we added, we referred to it as "the chocolate brownie trough".  ;D  We've had our oldest troughs for 17 years now without damage - the oldest are finally starting grow lichen on them. :) 
Anyway, just wondering how long did it take for your troughs to start showing damage, Anne?

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Anne Spiegel
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-26

Roughly in the 10 to 15 year range, Lori.  The concrete troughs I got from Michael Peden remain absolutely perfect.  They are very rough on the outside as you can see from the pictures and that makes them look very nice.  My favorite troughs are 1) a real stone sink from Ireland and 2) troughs I got at Berkshire when Sally Cummings was bringing them from a company in England.  They are not real, light enough to pick up and twirl around with one hand before planting and so far indestructible.  Naturally, the company is no longer making them.  Attaching a picture of one of them.

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