Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's Time To Try Something New. .

This summer has been hot. .one of the hottest on record. .
Wait. .have I said that before??
I have re-evaluated my gardening tactics, and come up with a plan B.
It is ALWAYS hot here in southcentral Kansas. .always!! This year it is hottER, but not a new concept. Things take a lot of water around this place. .more than I can deliver, even with drip irrigation.
I have been trying to plant more natives and xeric things in the gardens that will be able to withstand the climate.
But, a month ago or so. .in the heat of the . .er. .heat. .and possibly a depression-driven manic state. .
I decided. .on a whim. .some of my best shopping experiences happen that way. .
to make a change.
This. .was. .the little mugo pine that I transplanted to the area between the house and the pond. .Not a good year to do that. .but it seemed to need more water than I was willing to give it even before it's move. (If you are horticulturally challenged. .the mugo pine is the brown stick like thing between the lovely green weeds. .of two different varieties!)
This. .was. .the lovely little baby blue eyes blue spruce (which I WILL try again someday. .just somewhere else). Now, I have maintained that the darn undetected bagworms got it. .but look at it's location. .Full sun (which it needs) 4 feet from aluminum siding on the south side of my house. .guessing it has a warmer microclimate right there. Honestly. .even though I babied that spruce with water up until it's demise. .I'm not sure it would have survived the higher temps there anyway.
My solution???
Succulents. .from where else. .but High Country Gardens.  This one is probably my favorite. .and the names and dimensions are for my future review. .cause you'll notice that the names are not easy to say. .nor will they be easy to remember!!  This is called Dasylirion Wheeleri. .Desert Sotal (Desert Spoon) and it will grow to a plant about 4 ft by 4 ft. I was drawn to it's blue-green strappy foliage. .I think it will fill in the area as well as I hoped the spruce would.
These little cuties are some varieties of living stones. This one Titanopsis, Karoo Red, should have fabulous red blooms on it, nearly covering the evergreen foliage. .another plus!
Similarly, another low growing variety that will also flower. They form tight mats of greenery, which I think I will like. This one is called Aloinopsis Spathulata.
This guy is what most people envision when they talk about agave. .I really like the look of it with it's thick, wide leaves.  It is called Agave Ovatifolia (Whale's tongue century plant) and gets about 2-5 feet tall and 3-6 feet wide. Yes, those are little spikes at the top of each leaf. .and they are sharp, they slice right through the wrist of a good quality garden glove!! I will consider it to be like a razor wired fence to keep children out of my waterfall rock. .only more aesthetic.
Here's a little agave. .
Agave Parryi Flagstaff gets 18inches x 18-30 inches. When it blooms will have a 12 foot high stalk with flower on the top that will attract hummingbirds. .I hope I live long enough to witness that!!
Finally, Agave Utahensis V. Kaibabensis (Grand Canyon Century plant) gets to be 12-15 inches by 18 inches.
The whale's tongue agave is in the locale of the dead mugo pine. .and the other two smaller agave are closer to the house. My hope is that they will grow well enough to fill in the bed. I watered them all in after planting. .and now need to leave them be. I will move the drip irrigation system out and curl it back down toward an area next to the pond that doesn't have irrigation. They should be happy with very little water. .20-40 inches a year. .and our average is 22 inches of rain per year. .we might be just a LITTLE under that this year!!
So far, I love the new look!! I'm pushing the cold limits on a couple of the plants. .they are hardy to zone 6. .which is the zone I am in. .but this past winter we had several zone 5 nights. I am hoping that the southern exposure microclimate will help them to survive any future cold snaps like that!
Amazingly. .I didn't have to ask twice for Jeremy's help to build a fence near the new Atlas cedar. We plan to use cedar trees from the pasture (it is a noxious weed in these parts) and do a split rail type of fence. It is slowly coming together in my mind. We postponed our cutting trip from last Sunday afternoon since it was 107. .looks like this Sunday and Labor day will be in the EIGHTIES!! HEEE HAAAAW!! This Joe Pye weed (above) self seeded on the north side of my house. So I think I will transplant some of them to the new fence area.  I also plan to relocate some Pampas grass, and some of my maiden grasses, Karly rose grass, and variegated grass that can easily be divided. I also have some seeds in mind to sow next spring in the area. Somehow. .I'm sure it won't look like it does in my head. .primarily because there will be no snow-capped mountains off in the background. .just broken and junk vehicles. .but alas. .I KNOW it will look better than what isn't there now!! 
Donkey tail spurge. .one of the only surviving succulents in my rock garden. .
not sure why. .
but will need to figure it out!!
Maybe one of the reasons that I love gardening so much is that. .
if at first you don't succeed. .
there are at least a million other varieties that will probably succeed. .
and if they don't. .
well, at least you had fun trying!!

By the way. .thanks to everyone who resonded to my last post. .I felt a little behind to know most everyone had already read the book, but enjoyed everyone's remarks about the book!! And congratulations to my friend Rhonda from Oklahoma. .who will enjoy every minute of the book she will receive in the mail!!
Wishing everyone a fabulous week in their own worlds!!


  1. Sometimes we just have to think outside our normal views of what belongs where.
    I discovered High Country Gardens a few years back--though I don't have heat, I do have a lack of rain, and they have such a huge selection of xeric/low water plants, I had no trouble finding goodies for my zone 4 (brrrrrr) garden. Can't wait for updates on your new plants. Hope they give you many years of trouble free growing.

  2. Those living stones are very cute. Hope the agave likes your place too.
    Hubby and I took a bike ride Sunday and I was eyeing the pastures to see what looked good after this long hot summer. Planning on more natives too and I need to add some more succulents too.
    Can you just cut the cedars and use the wood right away or does it need to dry first?

  3. I love it!! I hope they do great for you. I really really REALLY like those little living stones. They are adorable and I may have to get some! Your donkey tails look great. Mine croaked. Quite possibly from my husbands obsessive watering of the yard. =/
    I told Danny we needed t-shirts that say I survived the summer of 2011. To which he replied WHAT are you TALKING about? We haven't survived yet! HAHA
    Surely it won't be hot forever...

  4. I'm with you. Four years ago when I moved from MO to KS, I brought along all my irises. They do alright, and bloom every year, but unfortunately, their bloom time coincides with our spring 45 MPH winds which promptly shred the blooms EVERY STINKIN' YEAR. I'm considering pulling them out of my flowerbeds and planting them all on the north side of a shed out of the wind. And I'll replace them with native wildflowers. I already have a bed of them and more wildflowers seeds too. MY Kansas motto is "if you can't beat em, join em." and plant something Kansas can't destroy.

  5. I will look forward to the book, Melanie, thank you! :)

    I enjoyed the pictures of all the succulent plants. That looks good. I like your idea with the cedar fence and grasses, too. I'm toying with ideas about our back yard - it's long and narrow. We might do a big potato patch next year, and then use the rest of the space for an obstacle course and an archery area. Maybe help us (J and I - LOL) get in some kind of shape and have fun at the same time. :)

  6. Greetings Fellow Kansas,
    I'm in Shawnee. Where are you located?
    I'm glad you've discovered High Country Gardens. Good luck with your zone pushing. It always feels good when you're victorious.

  7. Well, I am sure those succulents will thrive in that kind of weather. I just can't believe the temps. you guys had to deal with this summer!! I feel for you! All of your new plants look great. It will be great to see pics of them as they mature.

  8. Yes sir, I do love the succulents! I'm with you. Ha ha! We have been so dry all summer here That is what I should try. Remind me not to go sneaking around your house and step into your Agave plants!