Sunday, November 16, 2014

Autumn in a Trough

The trough plants as a whole are such spring bloomers that their fall colors always seem to surprise me.  This trough holds a dwarf chamaecyparis, a dwarf iris, a dianthus, a variegated sedum, geranium 'Ballerina', and a dracocephalum.  Yes, it sits directly on the drainage grate at the bottom of my driveway, right in front of the garage.  Why not put a trough on top, right?

That's sedum cauticola in the square planter behind the center trough.  It happily shares space with a large quince.  The trough on the right holds a lot of lewisias and is probably the leanest planting mixture that I've tried.  The plants seem to love it though.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Swan Song

Sedum sieboldii seems like the last one to bloom this year.  I love the combo of blue and pink against the grey of the trough.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Trough Gratitude

I asked my neighbor Ray last spring how I could pay him for all of the wonderful alpines from Oliver's that find their way into my troughs each year.  I offered to let him have any of the new, empty troughs for sale in my driveway.

He had something grander in mind, and told me which planters he REALLY wanted. We busted a couple of my older molds out of storage, and in July made the planters pictured above and below.  He paid for the materials, and we spent a humid Saturday afternoon casting them together.

I'll post more photos (I hope) once he plants them.

Friday, October 3, 2014

New Trough this Year

I cast this rectangular trough last summer in a heat wave.  I had plans to sell it, then plans to use it at my garden at work, and finally admitted that, yes, I DID in fact need another planted trough in my driveway.  We gardeners all know how that goes.

L-R  back row: thuja occidentalis 'Teddy', phyteuma scheuchzeri (horned rampion), tsuga canadensis 'Jervis'.  Front row: dianthus gratianopolitanus 'Tiny Rubies', daphne cneorum 'Blackthorn Triumph', androsace sarmentosa, and globularia cordifolia 'Julian Alps'

I planted them in a mix of roughly 25% topsoil, 50% granite grit, with sand and Turface making up the last 25%.  It's mulched with a small gravel.  The trough gets good sun until midday, then is mostly shaded by the slatted fence and my neighbor's house.

I have high hopes for this group.  These are good plants.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cotoneaster 'Tom Thumb'

Cotoneaster apiculata 'Tom Thumb' seems to have gotten the message about autumn starting.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hardy Begonia

begonia grandis

A friend gave this to me last fall, not knowing if it was hardy or not.  I planted it in the shady, moist bed on the north side of our garage.  In the spring it failed to reappear and I thought "oh well" and moved on.  Only in the early summer did I notice its distinctive leaves rising up from the ferns and Solomon's Seal.

I've been warned that this spreads very, very easily by little bulbils at the leaf axis.  I did notice that a small new plant sprouted where I dumped the extra potting soil from the pot that I had used to transport the plant.

I'll be watching this one.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

New Troughs

 I've been casting a lot of troughs lately, now that all of our vacationing is over.  I was hoping that it would be nice and cool but we've been having the hottest spell of the summer.

Above is a rectangular trough that's about 18 hours old, photographed as I removed the sides of the mold.  I've already removed the inner core and the foam blocks that make up the spaces around the feet.

I'm never sure if people understand how much of my handwork is visible in the trough and how much is inherent in the process.  For the record, the left side of the trough above reflects how it looks as it comes out of the mold.  The right side is after I've given it a good scrubbing with the wire brush.

I made these three in one long, sweaty session in the garage.  They are about a day and a half old in the picture.  Right after the photo, I sealed them in plastic and slid them under the deck, where they can cure for a month.