Friday, January 16, 2009

An "almost" free mixed shrub bed

Around mid April 2008, just before my snowbird neighbours left to return to New York, I started a new flower bed on the southern end of the backyard. My goal was to eliminate more grass and lessen the mowing burden. At the same time I wanted to introduce more color and plant plants that are well adapted to the local climate, don't require a lot of additional irrigation.

I had grown some cuttings last "winter". By April, most of them were ready to be planted.
Once I had laid out the bed with the garden hose, sprayed it with roundup and waited about 2 weeks for the grass to die, I dug out 1 foot section of dead grass all around the edge, then made a trench as in my previous post "How to make a free edge".

I planted the rooted cuttings that have been hardened off. See "The Plan", #31 - #34.

It is now 8 months later and the bed now looks like this picture. Expect for two plants in this picture, all the other plants were either grown from seed (some collected, some bought online) or from cuttings.

I covered the dead grass with cypress mulch, as it resists rot and keeps longer than other mulches. I also opted for natural color, apparently the red dye used in the red mulches are toxic. The cypress mulch ages to a natural grayish color. In time the shrubs in this bed will fill out and cover most of it and create deep shade, where weeds will not be able to grow. The plants that are doing well in this bed are:

1. Allamanda bush yellow - store bought at $1.99 as small perennial
2. African daisy - Euryops, grown from cutting
3. Giant crinum lily, grown from self-collected seed
4. Sweet potato vine, grown from slip from store bought sweet potato. I cut off a piece of the sweet potato that had an "eye", placed it in a saucer with a little water on my window sill and kept topping up the water for a couple of weeks until roots started growing. When shoots started growing, I potted it in top soil and watered it for a couple of weeks in the shade, moved it to the sun, then planted at the back of the yard. We've had many sweet potatoes from it already (but now its the dry cold season it has stopped growing). I took one of the growing tips that had some roots on it, broke it off , made a hole in this bed and stuck it in. Its now about 2 months old and growing slowly, since this is the cold and dry season. When spring hits, it will take off and cover this bed in a couple of months, plus I'll be harvesting delicious sweet potatoes until late November.
5. Sanchezia, grown from cuttings
6. Pink hibiscus, grown from cutting from neighbour's bush
7. Thryalis glauca, bough at store during buy one get one half-off sale
8. Poinsettia, grown from cutting from Christmas plant
9. Glorybush, Tibouchina urvilleana, grown from cutting
10. Free fern that grew by itself along with Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfuracea), acquired from a sprouted seedling at community pool
11. Red ti plant, grown from cutting
12. Nerium Oleander, grown from cutting
13. Strelitzia, grown from seed, along with "free" boston fern that grew by itself.
14. Aloe Barberae, bought as bare rooted plant on ebay
15. Pomegranate wonderful, grown from seed, almost 3 years old.
16. Surinam cherry, grown from seed, almost 3 years old.

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