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The First of my Twelve

I’m joining Diana at Elephant’s Eye in her monthly “Dozen for Diana” meme. Our friend Donna in New York is calling hers “Simply the Best“, I’m calling mine, “My Garden of Twelve“.

So I’ve known about this for a few weeks already and honestly, I’ve started my post for it four times! 4 times I started and four times I deleted. I just couldn’t get it right or feel any real passion for the plant profiles I was trying to do. Then I read the brief again. What does she really want us to do?

“1. I would like you to imagine a new empty small garden: Perhaps an enclosed courtyard? The view from a window? That new garden bed?
2. Choose Twelve plants that grow happily in your climate and soil! Make a list tailored for your garden.
3. Diana favours indigenous/native for wildlife. She also has roses. What do you like? What works in your garden?
4. Colour / scent / texture / interest – so we see A Garden.”
~ Diana of Elephant’s Eye (Western Cape, South Africa)

Right, now I get it.

Only, I don’t have to imagine an empty bed. I have one. A recently stripped bed. Its been stripped, composted, mulched, watered, left. It’s ready for some planting action. I have no plan. So lets use the bed and make a plan. 12 plants. 12 months. 12 progress blog posts.

[one_half]Bare Garden of Twelve in Jan, 2012Bare Garden of Twelve in January 2012[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Another angle, January 2012Another angle, January 2012[/one_half_last]

Current bed details:
Size of the bed: 3,2 metres long, 2.1 metres wide.
Aspect: East facing, against my west boundary wall.
Full sun / partial shade under the Birch tree.
Existing Plant material:
• A Birch tree, fair size.
• A young ornamental cherry (could be moved).
• A few random plants (Carex, Helichrysum petiolare, Lamium) that may be moved to other areas in the garden. Or not.

Desired Style: My own. I’ll work it out as I go along, but I’m thinking roses and grasses … perhaps. I can have 12 plants. And they need to work.
Name of the bed: For now I’ll call it my garden of twelve.
Intended plants: 12 plants. 12 that work. 12 plants that I love.
Problems / special considerations: My pets often walk in the front part of this beds so plants situated at the front cannot be delicate or fragile.

The First of my Twelve
Right, it’s nothing very exciting, terribly exotic, prestigious or even desirable. But I love it!

[one_half]Carex Evergold with petunias in my gardenCarex Evergold in my garden[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Carex Evergold grouped in my gardenCarex Evergold in my garden[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Bordering the Heliotrope in the Rose bedBordering the Heliotrope & Roses bed[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Chameleon plant peeping throughChameleon plant peeping through Carex[/one_half_last]

Plant: Carex hachijoensis ‘Evergold’ – Sedge
Why? I took a walk around my garden and asked myself the question … “If I pulled out every single plant and started from scratch, what is the very first plant I would plant again?”. In my garden, its Carex evergold. I just adore everything about this hardy plant. I know its not indigeneous, spectacular, bla bla bla … but it makes me happy and makes me want to be in the garden. So if I have these, then the rest follows.

In my garden of twelve, they already exist from the previous planting. As you can see in the photos (of the bed, above), they are planted all in a row – my rookie mistake. I plan to remove a few, then reposition the rest to create a more natural look. staggered, perhaps with a low growing, flowering ground cover in between, or something else, we’ll get to that … this is the First of my Twelve!

Carex Evergold

Plant Profile:
Type: Rush or Sedge
Family: Cyperaceae
Height: 0.75 to 1 feet / Spread: 1 to 1.5 feet
Blooms: Yes, but rather insignificant
Sun: Partial shade to sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Very low
Growth habit: It is a fairly dense, clump-forming sedge grown for its foliage effect.
Leaves: The leaves are grass-like, arching and variegated (creamy yellow with dark green borders).
Problems: To date I am not aware of any problems with Carex in my garden. I’ve lost one (a newly planted one) to what I think was cutworm. Other than that, they are easy, low maintenance, with a nice mounding growth habit. It is not spreading itself in my garden so is very well behaved and a bonus is that it can take a fair amount of abuse in terms of my pets trampling on it – which they like to do!
Seasonal interest: Carex is evergreen here in my climate, and looks great in all seasons with no colour changes.
References: Some information from the Missouri Botanical Garden, the rest is my own observation and experience.

My Garden of Twelve by Month in photos (Starts January 2012).
(From my Flickr Gallery which will be added to and updated monthly)

For a list of good memes, see our list at Gardening Blog Memes.

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Gerbera and friends get potted

The big ugly broken terracotta pot just outside my office that looked so stunning with the spring flowering Ixias I wrote about a while back (and also showed off here) was looking very sad now that the Ixias are finished for the year. I’ve been patiently waiting for them to die down as I want to save the bulbs for next year, but I also wanted to do something with the pot. I’ve had the idea to make this a “seasonal pot”, i.e. to change it every three months with seasonal annuals or bulbs. So today I cleaned up the remains of the Ixias, added lots of new compost to the pot and looked around for something to plant in it.

It gets pretty hot where the pot stands and gets a good few hours of direct and bright sunlight, so the new Gerbera daisies I bought last week seemed an obvious choice. I thought they would look pretty boring planted all on their own when I remembered the Dusty Miller seedlings I nurtured from seed. Yes, they were ready to get planted out and a few Carex “frosted curls” could look good with those two … so I planted them all together. A few weeks and we should have a fairly nice display going on.

Gerbera and friends get potted

Pretty combination, Gerbera and Carex

In other news … I finally got my act together and tied the Mandevillas up onto the triangular teepee thingy I’ve had for months. Looks pretty.

Mandevillas tied up

Other than that, I’ve been shunting around and laying compost and mulch, transplanting plants that were not thriving to new positions, pruning, cutting back, tidying etc. … doing my final preparations for summer which officially starts on Thursday, here in sunny South Africa.

What have you been doing in your garden?

Happy Gardening

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Additional grasses

When I started with the layout of my grass feature, I knew that I would have a few gaps where I could add some low ground cover. So off I went (again!) to the nursery and assembled a few new grasses to add to my collection. I wanted to share these with you, seeing I took some photo’s of them this week. I also found out that these grasses actually came from Fairholme Nursery. So I was very pleased to see that Builders Warehouse’s Nursery at Sunningdale had a lovely range of grasses.

So here are my additions to my family:

Armeria Maritima – “White Thrift” – Thrift or sea pink is a compact, low-growing plant which forms a dense, mounded tuft of stiff, linear, grass-like, dark green leaves (to 4″ tall). Tufts will spread slowly to 8-12″ wide. Tiny, pink to white flowers bloom in mid spring in globular clusters (3/4-1″ wide) atop slender, naked stalks rising well above the foliage to 6-10″ tall. Sporadic additional flowering may occur throughout the summer. Flower clusters are subtended by purplish, papery bracts. In the wild, thrift or sea pink commonly grows in saline environments along coastal areas where few other plants can grow well, hence the common name.

Carex ” Frosty Curls” – Carex albula ‘Frosty Curls’ is an evergreen perennial grass that has a dense clumping growth habit. The foliage is a silvery color and as the ends die back the blades will curls hence the name Frosty Curls Sedge. This grass does best in partial shade to shady conditions and can get 12″ tall with a 2′ spread. When planted on a hillside or when allowed to spill over a wall Frosty Curls Sedge gives the illusion of flowing water. Frosty Curls Sedge is an excellent choice for mixed containers as well, giving them movement. Does best in a moist well-drained soil.

Deschampsia Caespitosa – ” Tufted Hair Grass” – The feathery flower spikes can be green, silvery, golden, purple or variegated with these colours. Tufted hair-grass arches gracefully; this is a delicately beautiful grass of damp grassland and marshes. It has a tendency to be invasive and its coarse tussocky habit threatens to form a monoculture unless it is controlled. Hmmm, I did not do my homework before I planted this grass, so I best watch it carefully.

Dierama Latifolius – “Angels Fishing Rods” – This is not a grass but I liked it. D. latifolium is an evergreen perennial with grass-like leaves and in summer, it bears pendant pink or red, bell-shaped flowers, on slender, arching stems that move in the slightest breeze. Another name for it is wand flower.

[one_half]ArmeriaArmeria Maritima[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Deschampsia CaespitosaDeschampsia Caespitosa[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Carex Frostey CurlsCarex Frosty Curls[/one_half]

[one_half_last]DieramaDierama Latifolius – image from google[/one_half_last]