Sunday, 24 May 2009

no more rhodies

I gave up the battle to save my rhodies.  Two of them died outright and the other two are pathetic.  I couldn't stand the thought of another summer of desperately pampering them through the heat.  So I pulled them all out., compare the roots systems of these two.  The one on the right was one of the first to die, notice how its roots are pretty much in the same ball they were in the pot.  The one on the left was in the corner with the "magic fungus" mycchoriza.  The one on the left was by far the healthiest of the four.  I just hope that magic fungus keeps thriving!

It took me this long to pull out the rhodies because I was trying to decide what to replace them with.  It's a real puzzle because I have to find a shrub that will work in two beds, one of which is in a lot of shade and one gets hot sun for several hours in the summer.  I finally decided on oakleaf hydrangea, "Hydrangea quercifolia".  They take the dry, heat and sun a lot better than normal hydrangeas and certainly better than rhodies.  They'll need a bit of water in the hottest months but I think they'll thrive. they have "four seasons of interest" - fresh dark foliage in the spring, long spikes of white flowers in the summer, dark wine-red leaves almost until spring and interesting bark in between.  At the moment they have these lovely dark leaves. topped up the garden beds even more as the soil level was pretty low and planted them this weekend.  They'll have all winter to settle in and hopefully spread out some strong roots before the summer heat.  You can hardly see the little guys in this photo but I assure you after a few years they'll grow right into those beds, maybe even too big but hopefully the size of the bed will restrict their size a little.

I'm also planning another trick to help them along.  The bed on the left is the one that gets some hot sun in the summer, which also heats up the brick and the soil.  I'm planning on planting some Dichondra "silver falls" along the front, it's a silvery trailing plant with small leaves that loves the heat.  It should grow over the front and shade the brick, keeping the soil cooler in the summer.  Look here for what it should look like eventually. and I almost forgot.  I was happy to get rid of some more of my dirt pile to top up the beds.  It's up against some brick that edges a lawn.  Turns out worms in the lawn had figured out a way through the brick and into the bottom of the dirt pile.  Look at them all!  They made a fine addition to my garden beds.


Mrs. Phillips said...

Alexa, it's becoming so beautiful. I can't wait to see it in person someday soon.