This is my first full weekend off after a long winter and long busy season at my job. I had such grand plans for Saturday: Get up early, clean the house in the morning while the sun warmed the earth after Friday's rain, and then get outside to do some more garden cleanup and enjoy the afternoon sunshine.
I barely remember turning my alarm off, and when I finally forced one eye open I was horrified to see that it was 10:55am. After taking the dog for a very short walk, and putting dinner in the crock pot, I was forced to rest. A few naps and a phone call to my parents later, I figured out that I must have the flu.
No Spring Fling in Austin for me, but no gardening on Saturday either, in spite of it being a beautiful day. So I indulged in a little retail therapy, garden-style, to make myself feel better.
My friend Meagan is not quite a gardener (yet) but she'll be very happy to see the plants that I bought online yesterday. The spikey flowerheads and thistle-like foliage of echinops ritro* is going in "the mailman's walkway," and you might remember that Meagan very enthusiastically suggested a system of trip wires and booby traps when I first mentioned my mailman woes.
I suppose that the blue globe thistles are the gardener's softhearted alternative, but really I just like them. They are blue, kind of primitive-looking, drought-tolerant and tall so they'll fit the scheme and give some much-needed height to the front garden.
Meagan originally hails from the gardening mecca of the PNW (Eugene, Oregon) and has extolled the beauty of St. John's wort to me over the past few years. I refuse to buy the *ahem* overly enthusiastic groundcover version, and I missed out on buying the bushy 'Albury Purple' for cheap when the first garden center I worked at went out of business. But I have long planned to include 'Albury' in my front garden, and a golden-leaf variety, 'Golden Tusan,' hopped into my online shopping cart as well, in a moment of weakness. (Darn flu! lol.)
I'm not sure where I'll use 'Tusan' yet, maybe as a bright splash in a container. I'll have to spend some more time on Nan Ondra's blog, Hayefield House, for additional ideas. If you haven't yet checked out her 3-part 'Golden Shrubs' posts, or the 'Golden Foliage' perennials post, you're missing out on some beautiful ideas.
Today, I woke up without a fever (I think) but I continued my regimen: Drink 1 Gatorade, refill Gatorade bottle with water 3 times, repeat. Around noontime I felt good enough to go out in the backyard and poke around a bit. I raked out the small driveway bed, which took all of 30 minutes, and then had to come inside to take an hourlong nap.
Late in the afternoon, I went out front and cleaned up the front corner bed and then cut back the rest of the grasses in the front garden. There's still a lot of cleanup to do, and mulching, but I feel better that the bright colors of the bergenia, heuchera (including 'Peach Flambe,' which is also shown above in its near-psychadelic, PNW-worthy close-up) are now unobstructed by old yarrow foliage and such.
Speaking of bergenia, I promised Layanee, Cultivated and a few others that I would show my "bad" bergenia. So here it is, in all its glory!
This is the plain old bergenia cordifolia, and it has much rattier foliage in the spring and no fall color--hence it being banished to the backyard. I should probably shovel prune it, but in the summer it adds a nice thick-leaf texture underneath the cherry tree, and it doesn't mind being dry. And it's far back enough in the yard that I don't have to see it every day!
Because I hate to end a post with an ugly picture like that bergenia, I'll also show one of today's surprises. The chipmunks must not have gotten every single one of the crocus bulbs last spring after all, because one is peaking through this dark-leaf heuchera. (Behind it you see the foliage of more tulips that I don't remember planting. Argh.)
Hopefully this spring will bring more of the welcome surprises, like this little crocus, and less of the unwelcome ones, like travel plans gone awry and flu bugs coming to visit...
*Photo of echinops ritro courtesy of van swearingen, on Flickr