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Archive for the ‘Butterfly Garden Landscaping’ Category

Out of the Old Comes the New

It is hard to believe that it has been four months since my last post.  Life has been really busy.  The holidays, the loss of my grandfather, getting ready for the baby who’s scheduled to arrive at the end of May … so many things and very little time for gardening.  Good thing there’s not much to do over the winter in the garden!

The past two weekends I have spent a considerable amount of time in the yard straightening up after the winter, getting things ready for spring planting and installing a new garden bed.   We had such a dry fall and winter that the yard really was in poor shape.  I lost a crop of broccoli as well as lettuce due to the hard freezes.   I should have covered them and mulched better, but I really thought they’d do alright.  Unfortunately, I was wrong.  Luckily, the spinach fared alright through it all as did the carrots and we enjoyed the harvests.  The spinach is finishing up now – literally going to seed as I write this.

Bloomsdale spinach going to seed

This spring, I have Celebrity and Early Girl tomatoes in the ground, along with bell peppers, habaneros, cucumbers and zucchini.  My wife also wanted to try watermelon and cantaloupe, a first for us, but we’re going to give them a go.   Looking back at the garden’s performance last year, I made the decision to put together another garden box – this time on the north side of the house where it will be in full sun all day long.  The other boxes just didn’t allow for enough exposure to the sun because of how the shade falls in the afternoon.  They only received – at most – six hours of direct sun, but most vegetables need at least eight hours to be really productive.  The new garden box measures eight feet by four feet and is a lower profile (half the height of the others).  This may prove to be small for the watermelon and cantaloupe, but time will tell!

The dry fall and winter also made for a very disappointing wildflower bed.  As the year before, I sowed the seeds in October, but they just never came up.  I made sure to keep the ground moist, but stopped after about thirty days when it was apparent that they weren’t going to germinate.  Instead of letting it sit there completely bare and taunting me with weeds, I worked it over and bought some transplants as additions to the butterfly garden.   Those include:  two Texas Lantana, two Trailing Lantana, two Fern Leaf Lavender, two Mexican Mint Marigold (tarragon), two scarlet verbena, two Mexican Heather (cuphea), and two Euryops.  I also sowed Maximillian Sunflower seeds in the northeast corner of the yard (down at the very end of the photo immediately below).

What was once the wildflower bed is now a home for flowering natives

Scarlet verbena flowers

Euryops flowers - "African bush daisy" - part of the Plants for Texas program

Trailing lantana - these two new transplants makes a total of three in the garden - I love them!

Fern Leaf Lavender- a new addition this year and part of the Plants for Texas program

Fern Leaf lavender flower - BEAUTIFUL!

Tarragon - I think this is Mexican Mint Marigold

Spontaneous primrose almost ready to flower (reseeded all over the yard from last year's wildflower bed)

Despite the dry spring thus far (I think our last significant rain was back in September), the perennial flowering plants are coming back to life.  Out of the old, comes the new – as they say.   Already, I have about ten milkweed plants coming back to life.  There are still about twenty that haven’t come back yet.  I’ll give them more time and hopefully they will.  In the meantime, I’ve sown another twenty seeds as replacements if they don’t come back.  If they do, well – the more the merrier (at least for the Queen and Monarch butterflies!).

Milkweed is coming along already!

It seems I’ve lost one of the Texas Lantana.  It has yet to sprout any new growth, but the other plant just a few feet away is already rebounded.

Texas Lantana

The Black-Eyed Susans have come back up, and it seems they’ve also reseeded around the original plants.  I left enough room for them to fill in!

Black-Eyed Susans

One of the purple prairie verbena is starting to make its way back, but the other is still lifeless.   They bloomed all the way from March through winter until we received snow.  I sure hope they do so again this year – the butterflies loved them.  In preparation, I pruned them back several weeks ago.  I’ll give them a couple more weeks to see if they made it through the freeze.

Purple prairie verbena starting to come back on one side

The fall aster has also spread its growth outwards, creating a larger diameter of new growth.  It is such a pretty plant once it begins flowering, so I’m already anxious to see how big it will grow over the summer and how spectacular it’s fall show will be.

Fall aster

The Four Nerve Daisies are a wonderful part of the garden.  The foliage is evergreen, unlike most of the plants in the garden.  It was lonely in its little corner of the bed while everything else retreated for the winter, but it continued sending up yellow flowers through the fall and early winter.  Now that spring has arrived, it has grown considerably and has a multitude of new flower stalks ready to open up!

Four Nerve Daisies

The rosemary bushes are also evergreen and unscathed from the winter months.  Here you see both plants, the prostrate rosemary and the Tuscan Blue.  The prostrate put on a show of blue flowers late in the fall.  I prefer the flavor of the Tuscan Blue, though both are highly aromatic.  I love to run my hands through them and take a deep breath!  MMmmmm!

Prostrate rosemary (foreground) and Tuscan Blue

Another evergreen plant is the Double Knockout rose bush.  It is covered with new buds and soon will be adding some great red hues to the garden.  I can’t wait!

Double Knockout Rose Bush

Both Copper Canyon Daisy plants are sending up new growth, too.  In the fall they were absolutely covered with yellow blooms.

Copper Canyon Daisy

I was worried about the Zexmenia, but it has surprised me.  Just in the past few days alone, it has sent up a lot of green leaves…

Zexmenia

Salvia greggii was also green throughout the winter, and with the onset of warmer weather, has really bushed out (these were taken after I pruned it back a bit).  I have two different colors: white (foreground) and red (behind).

Salvia greggii

One of my favorite plants in the garden is the Indigo Spires salvia.  It died back completely to the ground over the winter, but it is going strong now that spring has arrived.  It grew to over four feet tall by four feet wide last year, covered in eight inch long spires of purple flowers that were a favorite of bumble bees and honey bees.

Indigo Spires salvia (two plants)

The Autumn Joy sedum was a late addition last fall, but it turned out to be beautiful with pink flowers that darkened to red.  It died back to the ground over winter, but you couldn’t tell it by looking at it today.  Also, Turk’s Cap has just started popping up over the past few days.

Autumn Joy sedum

 

the other sedum plant, up close

Turk's Cap growth (all within the past three days)

Whirling Butterfly Gaura bushes also died back completely during the winter.  Judging from the growth they’ve put on the past couple of weeks, they could easily be twice the size that they were last year.  These were also a hit with the honey bees last year and added a whimsical feel to the southern side of the garden as the flower stalks twirled and whirled around in the breeze.

two Whirling Butterfly Gauras

new buds on the Gaura bush

this Gaura bud already shows signs of additional life ... not quite sure what these little guys are

The Spanish lavender is looking a little lean, but it is still managing to form flower buds.  These were very popular with the honey bees, too.  After it flowers, I will prune it back by a third and hope that it bushes out again.

Spanish lavender

Since I use so much thyme in cooking, I have a total of four plants now.  This one is easily a foot in diameter and is starting to flower.  My favorite chicken marinade uses a couple teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves, a tablespoon each of fresh rosemary and oregano leaves, 1/2 cup of olive oil, a teaspoon of sea salt and the juice of two lemons.  GREAT on the grill!

English thyme

thyme flowers

And, FINALLY, the herb garden.  In the pots, I have peppermint from two years ago.  Due to neglect, it mostly died (yes, you CAN kill mint!), but it’s coming back again.  In the bed below are chives (which should be flowering soon)(6 plants), oregano (3), thyme (2), and Italian parsley (3).  Two of the parsley plants almost succumbed to the freeze, but, with a little pruning and care, they have put on more leaves and soon will be huge bushes that will threaten to crowd out the other plants.   I plan to add a couple of basil plants as well to the garden, which I’ll probably pick up tomorrow.  They will have to go elsewhere in the garden as they won’t fit in here.  Also, in the bed behind the lantana, I have two fennel plants, two Italian parsley plants, and three dill plants (all of which are host plants for swallowtail butterflies – Yes, I love those big black beauties and will be raising a few more broods this year!).  They will all go to flower and be a good nectar source for all of those beneficial insects that are welcome guests in the garden.

Herb garden, 3.19.11

Oh, I almost forgot.  I put a new bed in the front yard, outside our bedroom window.  I have two Desperado sage bushes in there (planted last fall) and have just recently placed about fifteen blue lobelia plants and about twenty red pillar salvias.  They are remarkably colorful (like most salvias) and should attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.  Take a look at this striking, scarlet beauty!

Red Pillar Salvia

 

Monarch Nursery

Last spring I ordered ten milkweed cuttings from livemonarch.org.  When they arrived, they also arrived with 75 free milkweed seeds.  I sowed the seeds and then let them sit outside until July when I finally got around to transplanting them.  I ended up transplanting a total of 32 plants along the southern fence line.  The heat of the summer killed off a few of them, but I now have at least 25 plants over two feet tall and all of them are blooming.  Besides seeing a couple of monarch caterpillars and a couple of queen caterpillars, I thought that the monarchs must have missed me this year (I haven’t seen one land on any of the plants in the yard).  I was very excited to go out yesterday and find about thirty monarch cats busily munching away on the milkweed.  Here are some photos of them:

Milkweed bed looking west

 

Milkweed bed looking east

 

 

Fall is Coming

I took a much-needed leave of absence for the last month or so.  The hottest month of the year in Central Texas is August, so there was little I could do in the garden besides try to save a few plants that burned up in the hot, dry weather.  Now that the hottest weather has passed, I’ve managed to get outside the last couple of weekends to survey the damage, pull up unwanted plants and do a little maintenance.

The veggie garden is all but finished for the summer, but I still have some peppers and tomatoes that should be producing through the fall.  I have some broccoli in the ground now for the fall/winter garden.  I do have plans yet to get spinach, carrots and lettuce in the ground as well.  I can’t believe it’s that time of year again.  Last spring we were lamenting the fact that we would have no more fresh spinach and lettuce for awhile and now it seems it’s come around so quickly that I’m a little behind.

yellow and green bell peppers and cayenne in the back (not visible)

broccoli!

I certainly intended to be ahead of the game at this point, and indeed I was a month ago.  I sowed several broccoli and spinach seeds inside, but – due to neglect – they suffered and I decided to let them die off.  I bought broccoli transplants instead.  I made sure to put them in a different bed this season as it is recommended to plant them in the same place every three years.  The spinach I’ll sow directly as soon as this week – the time is right now.  The carrots will soon follow and then I’ll do successive plantings of lettuce through the winter.  I can’t wait until I get them on my plate!

The herb garden suffered a bit through my neglecting it the past month.  Then we received such a torrential downpour from the leftover tropical depression that the plants just looked downright ugly.  I harvested what I wanted, then ripped up the remaining plants and threw them onto the compost pile.  Fire ants had moved into the bed, no doubt relocating from some other spot due to all of the rain.  Having the garden bare was a good time to kill them off using several pots of boiling water.  I think I succeeded in killing most of them off, as is evident by the piles of red carcasses!

flat parsley, chives and oregano

In the meantime, I have more chives, parsley and oregano going, but I need to find some thyme as well.  I don’t plan to grow any more sage in the herb garden, and instead have expanded on the chives and oregano – and hopefully thyme (all the local nurseries were out).  I use those three herbs more than anything  – well, those and rosemary, but I have the rosemary planted elsewhere.  The basil plant grew so large due to my continuing to trim off the flowers that the weight of it finally tipped it over following the heavy rain.  I pulled a good six cups of firmly packed leaves off of the one plant and made pesto.  I have a tub of fresh pesto in the fridge that we’re eating on (we put it on some homemade pizza the other day and it was outstanding!) and another tub frozen in the freezer for later use.  I still have so many dried basil and sage that I can seriously provide for our needs for the next year or two, provided they stay fresh.

Butterfly garden

The butterfly garden is not disappointing me.  In early March I landscaped the area and dropped several plants in.  Now they have taken over the spot and are putting on a good show.  The verbena didn’t suffer at all through the summer and I’ve had to trim it several times to maintain a nice, compact bush.  The Texas lantana is sprawling out everywhere, especially now that I’ve cut back all of the fennel (which, by the way, is now growing back!).  The fall aster is gearing up for its fall show, with a beautiful display of lavender flowers.  The black-eyed susans look like they’re done for the year, but I’m still hoping they’ll come back this fall.  There are a couple of new flowers, but the foliage looks pretty bad.  The trailing lantana continues to push outward across the gravel walkway and will need to be cut back … again!  It has not stopped flowering since March.  The far end of the butterfly garden is in desperate need of re-spacing.  I’ll have to transplant the salvia greggii and the zexmenia, which has been overcome by the indigo spires and copper canyon daisies.  I’ll most likely have to move the rosemary, as well.  Since the tarragon didn’t make it through the summer, I now have room to move it over.  I’ll wait another couple of weeks to do that.

blooming milkweed (from cuttings) and verbena

indigo spires salvia and copper canyon daisies (right)

trailing lantana and four-nerve daisies (foreground)

whirling butterfly gauras

fall aster staring its fall show

zexmenia with a couple of blooms

Texas lantana and fall aster

thyme walkway

And the milkweed is doing well, too.  The largest suffered through the heat and dropped most of its leaves, but it has since rebounded.  The other cuttings are really flowering now.  Those that I started from seed are getting larger.  I was worried about them for awhile.  I had to water them literally every day to keep them alive through August.  The ground was so dry that a huge crack opened up along the entire length of the bed.  I lost a handful of the forty plants I had because they fell into the crack!  I put down some fresh dirt, mulched with compost and that seemed to work, but it wasn’t until all of the rain the past few weeks that the crack has filled in and the plants have taken off.  It’s almost time for the monarch migration.  I don’t know if they’re far enough along to generate much interest from them as they migrate, but there is always next year!  I was shocked to discover a couple baby monarch cats on them today, … so, we’ll see!  Despite my expectations, it looks like they ARE going to flower this year, even though they typically do not the first year from seed (which surprises me since I planted them in July!).    I have also harvested a hundred or so seeds from the cuttings that produced pods.  Perhaps I can get them going next spring …

milkweed bed grown from seed

milkweed plant

the cluster at the top indicates they will bloom soon

baby Monarch caterpillar!

I also ripped out all of the spearmint.  I wanted them to flower, which they did, and because of their invasive tendency, I decided to do away with them.  I pulled them up a couple of weeks ago, which was no easy task – they’re roots and runners sprawled in all direction.  Yet, after two weeks, there were no signs of them coming back to life, so I decided to plant a couple Turk’s Cap plants as well as Autumn Joy Sedum.  We needed more red in the garden anyway.

Turk's Cap (rear) and Autumn Joy Sedum

That’s all the updating I have for now.  I’m off to the nurseries to see what I can find, then I have a day cut out for me.  I’ll be brewing some more compost tea and doing some transplanting and trimming.  I’ll be back with some updates in the next few days, so thanks, in advance, for checking back.  I’m sorry, once again, for my absence the last month or so!

If you don’t mind, leave me a comment and let me know what you’re up to in your garden!

Butterfly Gardening: To Bt Or Not To Bt?

© Illustration by Joseph

Butterfly gardening is a rewarding hobby.  With a fair amount of research and some hard work, you can transform an area of your yard into a happy place for the neighborhood butterflies to stop in and enjoy.  If you are lucky enough, they’ll soon call your garden home and produce further generations for you to marvel at and enjoy.

Besides planting the right flowers to serve as nectar and host plants, it is important not to use pesticides in the butterfly garden.  Pesticides are harmful to beneficial insects like butterflies, butterfly larvae (caterpillars) and bees – the pollinators you are attempting to attract to your garden.

So what happens when mother nature sends a marauding army of caterpillars  to munch down your prized plumbago or a battalion of flea beetles to bite through your hibiscus?

I use a few methods of organic control described here and they have worked well, but this year has been productive for those little pests in my garden, especially the caterpillars.  While away for a week on vacation, the caterpillars tore through the herb garden, chowing down on the sage.  Webworms have moved in as well on the thyme plants and rosemary.  I usually have success just handpicking them, as with loopers, but with webworms it is a little more complicated.

Looking online, I find many references to the use of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) as an organic pesticide in the garden.  Bt is a soil-dwelling bacterium and is, therefore, all natural.  It has been used since the 1920’s as a pesticide (Bt-dusting), and, as Wikipedia points out, it is also a naturally occuring bacterium found “in the gut of caterpillars of various types of moths and butterflies, as well as on the dark surface of plants”.  (1)

Recently, however, Bt has become quite a buzzword in environmental debates because agricultural companies have been producing genetically modified crops that express the Bt genes and proteins as a means of pest control since the mid nineties.  Some speculate that this use of GMO/Bt crops is the reason for dwindling numbers of beneficial pollinators as well as Colony Collapse Disorder in the last decade.

The reason for this speculation is because, as a pesticide, Bt is an excellent larvicide and performs its work indiscriminately against beneficial insects and pests.   Since adult butterflies/pollinators begin their life as larvae, GMO crops expressing the Bt genes may have a negative environmental impact on them.  That seems to make sense to me.

So this leads me to the specific question, “In a butterfly garden, do I or do I not use Bt?”  That is a question you’ll have to weigh the answer out for yourself.  In my garden, the answer is not to use Bt.  I want a healthy environment for our winged friends to live within.  Even though Bt is natural, it is not fair.  It will harm all caterpillars that come into contact with it.  Introducing large quantities of bacteria to an area is not even really natural, if you ask me, but then neither is adding fertilizer using the same rationale …

Regardless, other butterfly gardening websites I’ve consulted say no to Bt.  The ButterflyWebSite says that Bt “kills butterfly larvae” so it warns against its use.  (2).  Likewise, Jeff Schalau of the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension writes, “pesticides should not be used in or near butterfly gardens. This includes Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) which is a toxin to caterpillars.”  (3).  In a news release from the University of Illinois Extension on 4/5/10, Jennifer Schultz Nelson, Unit Educator of Horticulture is quoted as saying, “Many gardeners prefer to use the more ‘natural’ insecticide produced by the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) … This insecticide kills all kinds of caterpillars, even those that later become the butterflies you are trying to attract.” (4).

I’ll heed the warnings and keep Bt out for the meantime.  I’ll continue to do battle with those pesky webworms by handpicking, water-hosing and soap spraying.

Still, if I find myself unable to surmount the webworm problem, I may ask myself again, “To Bt, or Not to Bt?”

Coming home, it’s not only me who has grown

Sometimes, a simple week away from the everyday life can have profound effects on one’s peace of mind.

When we chose our camping destination in Colorado, it was important to us to be in an area that was free of as many artificial distractions as possible.  We didn’t want electricity.  We didn’t want running water.  We didn’t want cell phone reception, Wi-Fi, internet, television, cable, radio …

It was nice getting back to the basics, to “chop wood, carry water”.   We had to haul our water in a water bag some fifty yards to our site, where we filtered it for drinking or for use in cooking, showering, cleaning, etc.  We relied on good old fashioned solar energy to heat our shower water.  While we had a propane stove for ease in cooking, we also cooked over a fire, started from flint and steel and whatever dry tinder and firewood we could collect.   At night, we didn’t have a television to sit in front of, or separate rooms to disappear into.  There was the warmth of the fire, and us, huddled around it, talking, laughing, and letting our minds entirely unplug.

I slept well despite being inside of a tent at 10,000 feet in the wilderness at 45 degrees!  Perhaps it’s because that was the first time in years my body/brain had rested without the constant bombardment of cell phone and wi-fi radiation, electromagnetic energy from the electrical currents we wire our houses with, and the unending stimulus of media at my fingertips!

There are truly important things in life, and then there are unimportant things.   Sitting on the mountain, that distinction became quite clear in a number of areas in my life.  We waste so much time and energy building lives full of man-made things, while we are largely cut off and clearly do not value as much as we should the natural world that has been the cradle of humanity since our days began on this planet.  The grandeur of the mountains has stood for all to see for millions of years, and I’m happy that man – with all of his selfishness, materialism, and overconsumption – had the sense to reserve parts of America as wilderness areas, to be untouched for future generations.

I don’t know where the path leads that our global consciousness has set out upon.  I don’t know why many people have to go through the darkness to understand and appreciate the light.  On our present course, we’re flirting with disaster, destroying our planet with the toxic run-off of our industrialized world.   It saddens me that so much of our society is completely severed from the natural world – their home!   How lost we all must feel at times, as we attempt to conform our lives to an artificial design.

Sitting in traffic for two hours everyday it is quickly apparent how many people look completely unhappy and zombified by their jobs and too many stimuli …

I’m ranting here, sorry.  Isn’t it funny how, after you’ve been gone from home awhile, your house looks different?  Something about the lighting, the colors seem strange … We all noticed it when we returned home.  Surely nothing in the house has changed.  Was it just us that changed?

Colorado definitely left its mark on us again, but we aren’t the only ones who have changed.  We returned to a jungle in the backyard.  Ok, not quite, but MY how everything grew while we were away!  The Austin area must have received a lot of rainfall.  The verbena had all but grown together, choking out the milkweed.  The lantana grew by leaps and bounds and is intertwined with the fennel that has exploded in yellow flower umbrels.  The creeping lantana is spilling out across the gravel walkway and engulfed more milkweed planted nearby.  And the beans are putting on now, and the tomatoes that were void of fruit before we left now have about 15 tomatoes.  The peppers are just chock-full-o peppers, too.

It seems I do better when I’m not trying to garden.  🙂

Texas Lantana in the foreground (I trimmed it back some) and fennel in the back

Butterfly garden bed after trimming. I didn't know verbena spread so quickly. It's branches propagate readily by rooting where they hit the ground.

Butterfly garden bed after trimming the lantana, indigo spires and butterfly weed.

Our pepper bed: cayenne, orange bell pepper and anaheim

Maters!

And more maters! Thought I'd have to wait until fall!

Ring-o-Fire cayenne. Yes, they ARE extremely hot!

Cal Wonder Orange Bell Peppers (green until mature)

Bean-o-plenty

Baby beanlings

Every leaf I turn over reveals more beans ... (Tendergreen and Bush Lake)

Anaheim peppers - marked as jalapenos when I purchased them!

the black-eyed susans are really looking great

the spearmint bed is flowering now

spearmint flower

hibiscus

double knockout roses

Common milkweed is now flowering (grown from cuttings)

common milkweed flowers

Lady Bug oh Lady Bug, do you want a feast?

A Year of Change

It was just over a year ago that my wife and I decided to start a little garden.  It started with a strawberry plant that we killed after enjoying a mere handful of berries.  I’m glad that didn’t discourage us and we decided to keep adding more and more plants.

At first it mostly centered around vegetables, but my wife wanted flowers, too, so we added hibiscus, gardenia and lavender.  Then we added cuphea, lantana and lobelia.  By the end of the summer, I had caught full-blown gardening fever.

I built a few more beds and went to work planting a fall garden.  Half of those plants didn’t make it, but I kept going.  I planted a bunch of colder weather vegetables like lettuce, broccoli and spinach.  They did outstanding and really started producing once the coldest part of winter was over.

Then we realized that we didn’t want to just grow vegetables.  We wanted to do some landscaping and enjoy the back yard a bit more.  The back yard was a completely empty palette before we started work on our projects.  Now, just months later, I’m happy with the results.

Am I done planting?  Not on your life!  We’re going to continue to expand the garden and beautify our back yard.  We want to give back to nature.  So, we’re doing it all organic, and growing native plants that beneficial insects love.  Stick around another year, we’ll have a lot more to show for it!

The side yard before any garden beds or butterfly garden

The back yard before any work was done - just a lonely strawberry plant

Back yard now

Now I just need to get some furniture.  The small makeshift bench has served a purpose, but I never intended to keep it so long.  I want a couple of nice benches, a couple of bird baths, and some little items of interest.

Thyme to Transplant Between the Flagstones

It was a beautiful day today, was it not?

We woke up at 7 Saturday morning to go down to the Round Rock Farmer’s Market, where we picked up some beautiful carrots, a couple of loaves of tasty homemade bread (one was pumpkin, and the other was cracked pepper and Parmesan) and some homemade natural soaps.   On the fly, my mother-in-law, wife and I headed on down to Round Rock Gardens, a local nursery off of Sam Bass near southbound I-35.   It’s funny, but I was thinking as I approached the gates to the nursery that I was just as excited about looking at plants than I used to be going places like Best Buy.  I spend less time playing with gadgets these days, which is good.  I spend time in front of the computer researching, writing and working, but I mostly just love to be out among my plants.  I find this more rewarding than any gadgetry.

🙂

Visiting a nursery, however, is now just as bad as visiting Best Buy used to be.  Every plant beckons to me for its escape with promises of lush foliage and fantastic blooms.  I have to stop myself.  Literally.   Since I didn’t intend to go there in the first place, it didn’t make much sense to go spending money, but … so we picked up a couple of Whirling Butterfly plants, a rose bush and I picked out four yellow creeping thyme plants to intermix among the Mother of Thyme that arrived Thursday.   I wanted more than that, so kudos to myself for a little elf control.

The sun played peek a boo a little this morning as I began work on the flagstones.  I had already installed the stones, but needed to go back and dig out the dirt between them to provide better soil for the thyme plants.   I dug down about 6-8 inches between each stone – a task that took me a couple of hours because the soil was mostly heavy clay with some small limestone pieces.  I worked together some organic garden soil, compost and landscaping soil and put that into the troughs I dug out and firmed it down.  Then I went back through and stuck skewers into the ground to get a better feel for placement of the twelve Mother of Thyme plants and where I would work in the four yellow thyme.   After getting that straight, I dug out holes and dropped the plugs into their new home and watered deeply.  I’m pretty pleased with how they look even now, but here in a few months, when they creep between the stones and fill in, it will be truly nice.  These thyme plants only grow about 4″ tall, but have a spread of 2-3′.  They also spread fairly quickly.  Both varieties blooms pink in mid-summer.

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This is the yellow thyme, which can withstand fairly heavy foot traffic once established.

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This is the Mother of Thyme

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Flagstones before any work

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After digging out between the stones and filling with soil

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Figuring out plant placement - brown stakes represent the yellow thyme

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after plugging in the thyme plants

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another view

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And, just so you can visualize with me, this is what I hope to have it look like:

creeping thyme between stones