Planting the deck always starts out innocently enough but then degenerates into a huge project. This year was no different in that respect, and to even get started with the ritual power washing all the winter debris of kid-play and kitchen remodel-scraps had to be dragged off first.
The entire covered part of the deck is filled with debris and scaffolding in addition to the furniture and terracotta pots which need to be stored under cover for winter (they’ll crack if they freeze while still wet and filled with wet soil). btw the dark gray object is the old kitchen sink, so even that is out here…
So hauling off trash is the first project, then the cleaning, then the decision that all the mishmash of geriatric plastic planters should match, so off for a paintbrush and some leftover paint.
No more black nursery pots, or old teal and faded gray, all the plastic was painted with my trusty mocha-tinted, all surface Sherwin Williams paint.
Our last frost date is around the 15th of May, but most planting jobs are usually procrastinated way beyond that. This year the big deck planting was pushed off until June 8th, which meant a lot of sitting around for the earliest purchases but it also meant clearance sales were in full swing.
I tend to spread out while setting the deck up. There’s a mess everywhere🙂
So this is where the ‘meh’ comes in, and since the weather is kind of ‘meh’ today as well it might be the best day to discuss… I usually go out with little to no idea or plan and as a result come home with whatever catches my eye. Usually it works out, but this year I just feel like something’s missing. Maybe I need yellow, maybe it’s the lack of sweet potato vines, maybe there’s too much red, maybe it’s the pink… I’m not much of a ‘pink’ person.
One purple fountain grass is nice, three might have been overkill, still the rosemary enjoyed its division and replanting, and most other plantings are hanging in there. You may notice my amaryllis bulbs tucked in here and there. The strappy leaves don’t look half bad in my opinion.
I should be giving things a nice liquid feeding each week and part of the ‘meh’ might be that things are underfed. A rich diet for these flashy annuals is what they thrive on, and upon thinking back it’s possible I’ve missed four out of the last five feedings. As usual I’m my own worst enemy.
I do like how the creepers, in this case cascading geraniums (pelargoniums), work their way through the railing. They’re very popular with the hummingbirds even if the color might be a little too orangey for the companion plantings.
Some other disappointments have been the underperforming vines. My three little babies, the Chilean Glory vines (Eccremocarpus scaber) did not take off as planned. Apparently they are foolproof but this fool will challenge that label since my plants (nurtured along from tiny seedlings) made a go at it but then died off one by one. I did get to see one single bloom cluster of amazing little orange lipstick tubes of color but that was it, and I think if I was brave enough to beat back the grasses, I would find my last glory vine has also passed over. That’s too bad but I’m already excited to grow this plant again next year since I’m sure things will go differently even if I do everything exactly the same… but in the meantime at least my snapdragon vine (Asarina scandens) is coming along.
Snapdragon vine (Asarina Scandens) growing up into the purple fountain grass. At least this one has been a forgiving grower and easy bloomer.
While many of the plantings leave me uninspired, a few things are doing great. The oleander and overgrown spikes are back for another year and the canna ‘cannaova rose’ is again putting on a nice show. The canna just hit a lull (probably lack of fertilizer induced) but I’m sure will return to glory shortly and I’ve divided last year’s roots up between a few spots so it’s likely you’ll see these showing up elsewhere as well.
Those little dracaena spikes which show up in nearly every pre-made container planting seem to turn into something a little more interesting given a few years of growth. My goal is to have a small grove of these some day soon🙂
There are a few new things this year which did beat the ‘meh-ness’. Gazania are a plant which although they don’t grow consistently for me, do look great when they feel like it.
The unusual colors of Gazania really don’t blend well with any look I’m going for but who cares, they just look cool when opened up for the sun. (just keep in mind that they close when the sun goes away…)
By the way I forgot about the elephant ears and the new crape myrtle, both of which are not ‘meh’. The two are just soaking up the rain and heat and humidity and picking up where the petunias and million bells drop off, but before I begin to sound too positive let me point two things out. First I have too much red, and since the obviously red myrtle was labeled purple I’m innocent there. Second there’s a plant missing out of the small terra cotta pot in the front of the photo. There’s a cute little b***ard chipmunk who decided it would be fun to end my three year relationship with a slowly growing clump of lithops (living stones). After a few days searching I found the chewed up corpse under a nearby shrub. Time will tell if the shriveled bits can recover, my only hope is that they were poisonous.
Blood red crape myrtle and geraniums, pink ‘bubblegum’ petunias, elephant ear (Alocasia calidora?)… an ‘interesting’ look I suppose.
I still need to mention the digiplexis which just came into bloom this week. It’s a inter-species cross between a foxglove (digitalis) and an Isoplexis (Canary Island foxglove) and when it first hit the market in 2012 it immediately went on to many ‘must have’ lists. My must have list is always a few years behind but I was finally able to try it out this year when I found it for a reasonable price.
Digiplexis ‘Canary Berry?’. It’s nice enough but I’m not overwhelmed yet. It’s one of the foxgloves, and I love a nice foxglove, but this non-hardy version might be something left for those everything-grows-for-me San Francisco gardeners who have super mild winters and cool nights which bring on stronger colors.
So there’s good and not-so-good out there and to be honest no matter how it looks it always beats the deck in January. January seems to keep all gardening outcomes in perspective and as I check things out every day and multiple times a day I’m still happy with it. Now if only I could get out there and fertilize, but the lawn needs mowing too and I’m not doing both until things cool off a bit.