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Friday, May 20, 2016

Update around the yard today

Everything is slowly coming along in the yard as we already approach the end of May. So far there has not been much growth to talk about with my plants because it's been a pretty chilly month. My yard has only reached 80F 2 times this entire year, April 18th (80F) and March 10th (81F). I've noticed that consistently reaching 80F + for a high temperature and 60F + for a low temperature is needed to give the tropicals a kick. This blog post should be the ugliest of the year and some of the plants are UGLY as can be. So with that in mind, here's my yard!

Transitioning tropical plants back to life outdoors can be difficult. I've been overwintering large palms indoors for at least 6 or 7 years and I still do not have this down to a science. I've noticed that overcast and cool springs result in more sun damage to tropicals than sunny springs. This is why it's sometimes worth keeping large palms indoors for longer. In any case my bottle palm has seen better days after looking great just a few weeks ago. I may have to move it from this spot, but we will see. I do not have plans to buy any more large tropical palms so I'll be working hard at keeping this one alive and well!


Elephant ear closeup. I have relied so heavily on elephant ears as potted plants so I am a bit nervous about these planters. 

 

The plumerias look horrible but will look great in a few weeks. I love these plants because I don't have to worry about transitioning them back to outdoor life. They drop the leaves they grew indoors and quickly grow outdoor leaves. So easy! 


Plumeria "Jenny" seems to be a reliable spring bloomer. Should put on a beautiful show when the weather warms up! 


Plumeria "Crazy" is one of my favorites. It is an incredibly reliable bloomer. Last year every branch was blooming and the bloom heads lasted for up to 9 months (February to October!). Even in the tropics that is a very long life for just one plumeria inflorescence if you look carefully it is pushing up another bloom head. It should be blooming by the 4th of July.


Spanish Moss makes everything better!


In my last post you saw that I purchased a Farfugium gigantea that I was contemplating putting in the ground. I decided to put it in a large barrel pot with some fuchias. It is loving it's shady spot and the cooler weather. The interesting and large leaves compliment the philodendron in the back and break add a ton of interest to this corner of the yard.

This is the first time I was successful overwintering an Ensete Banana. It is off to a fantastic start and should be massive come Fall.  


A nice place to sit after a long day in the yard. I've had these livistona palms for 6 years now. Despite them being very hardy, I think they look more tropical than my tropical palms! 


This is my first year doing an elephant ear planter in YEARS. I usually put elephant ears in the ground, but I recently went to Gasko's Nursery in Monroe NJ and they had fantastic prices on Elephant ears so I felt comfortable getting more creative. 


As you can see the spanish moss is lacking a bit on this side of the tree. The Trachys look great though going into their 8th summer. I planted them when I was just a freshman in High School as tiny seedlings. I thought by the time I graduated college they would be absolutely massive. They might not be huge, but they hold their own at 6 feet tall. You can see my Empress Wu Hosta (the largest hosta around!) and my tiny Livistona palm (going into it's 7th summer in the ground!), my 2 new hardy gardenias, and my blood banana. Somewhere in the mix is a few elephant ears, ginger, cannas, and a sprouting Musa Basjoo 


Here's that Livistona. It's practically a die back perennial since the foliage almost completely burns during the winter due to a combination of overheating from the christmas lights I put over it and from cold weather. But it always looks nice again by the time fall rolls around and it's been in the ground since 2010. Also notice my blue med fan palm to the left. It never gets any formal protection and it's been in the ground since 2011.


Hopefully the plants in this corner will be huge in a few weeks.


Another angle from my Plumeria. As you can see it's looking pretty pathetic right now. Next week should hopefully get it growing!


Underneath my beech tree is my huge Monstera (got this as a tiny plant from the grocery store back in 2010), my rubber tree (Home depot purchase back in 2009) and some strawberry planters that I've dedicated to Bromelaids and succulents. My Alphina Ginger is looking a bit worn out after spending the winter inside my garage but it will be fine in a few weeks!


A different Angle 


My Needle palm looking fantastic after its first winter. I protected it!


My camellia not looking so fantastic. It bloomed consistently for 14+ years but the past few winters have really set it back. 


One of my favorite plant purchases this year was a Magnolia Ashei. It's a low growing form of the gigantic long leaf magnolias which is why it should be perfect in my tight NYC backyard. Underneath my magnolia is my new Garden Rainbow Azalea. The blooms change color as they age. I am excited to watch this corner continue to grow! All these plants are really hardy so I'll never worry about them during the winter.


The Magnolia Ashei looks like it has a bud already which is really exciting. 


Look at how massive the leaves are! They put some banana plants to shame. 


Here's a few surprises! 

I NEVER thought elephant ears were hardy in NYC but this is the second year I've had them sprout back from the dead after the main clump was dug up for winter storage. Black Runner elephant ears are pretty hardy! 


I have a 7 year old purple heart clump next to my livistona, but this is the first time I have seen a purple heart plant randomly overwinter in my yard. They are pretty hardy plants if they can survive my winters!


After years of looking I finally found a banana canna (canna musafolia). This canna has pretty boring blooms but incredible, massive leaves and grow to huge heights. This one is in part shade so I'm expecting really large leaves possibly at the expense of a slower growth rate. We'll see!


My largest Brugmansia (which is at least 6 years old) rotted almost to the roots this past winter while in my garage. My other brugmansia which I have only had for 1 year and was also in the garage had no die back. I have no idea why my large one decided to die back and my small one which always gives me problems is off to such a strong start, but either way both are looking good. This corner will be filled with ginger, cannas, and elephant ears as well. 


I got a fig called the "Bronx Zoo Fig" last year. There is no information at all about it on line, but it's pretty hardy. It's in a cooler spot in my yard and is growing back very vigorously. The leaves are shinier and more divided than my Brown Turkey Fig and this fig is possibly a bit hardier.



Here is my Agave Parryi. I bring it into the garage when temperatures drop below 20F and that's about it. It's an incredibly easy plant to take care of and it looks really cool.


These Earthboxes are pretty good for growing vegetables. Last year I had 4 cucuzza vines growing in 1 box. That was way too many vines so this year I just have 2.


My coconut, spouted in Spring 2009 and a cool looking Begonia.


Various mandevilla vines.




Eastern Prickly Pear ready to put on a show!


Look at all those buds!!!


I try to keep my front entrance pretty uneventful! 


While Crape Myrtles are practically becoming a staple in the city, the spanish moss is a little out of place for NYC - just the way I like it! 


My new basjoo was huge when I planted it. Hopefully this means it will be gigantic by the time fall rolls around. I'd love to be able to walk under it! My Loquat to the right side of the picture is also looking great. It survived its second winter and it bloomed all december long (there were bees surrounding it on Christmas!)


Just the Loquat


Did some underplanting next to my Southern Magnolia. Some Hostas, a ground juniper, and coral bells add some texture and color but what I think makes the area so unique are the hardy japanese ground orchids and tassel ferns. 




My Southern magnolia still in transplant shock from having to be replanted last June. It's got some flower buds and some new growing buds so hopefully it fills out. I don't think the shade from my neighbors tree helps!


My Fatsia Japconia came from a nursery in Long Beach, CA - probably one of the warmest climates in the US and therefore the worst place to buy hardy sub tropicals. But it overwintered pretty well. There was some die back, but it saw temperatures at least in the low teens and possibly the single digits and it was planted in the ground in late August. I am really happy with how it handled its first winter.



Some dwarf cannas sprouting up.


My Sabal Minor was protected believe it or not. It's growing but it looks pretty pathetic. 


My Sabal Birmingham also protected and looking sad. I am happy its still alive though! If it can grow 2 fronds this season I'd be pretty happy. 3 fronds would be amazing! 


My other sabal minor sailed trough this past winter with some protection but less protection than my nearly dead sabal minor. Goes to show the variation from specimen to specimen. In front of my sabal is a black and blue salvia. I'd consider them borderline hardy in NYC. This one did great though, it's even sending volunteer plants a few inches away from the original. The blooms are beautiful and last from June until the first very hard freeze. My clematis is brightening up the corner as well! 


Speaking of corners heres the shadiest corner in my yard. Ferns, Camellias, and a Trachycarpus are the plants of choice here.



Thanks for looking!!

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