Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Clean-up, continued

I've spent several more hours hacking through various portions of the upstairs bed. I've got everything cleared and then some.

First, can I just mention my lack of enthusiasm for Turk's cap. I actually love the little swirled flowers but, in my garden at least, Turk's cap runs rampant. When I'm at the garden store and see Turk's cap for sale I find myself rolling my eyes. When I moved into this house I was mildly excited to find the various outcroppings of the plant. Now, 13 years later, I'm considering Round Up. I've cut it back, tried to dig it up. Nothing works. It spreads, it doubles in size every year. It dies to the ground and comes back at twice the size. The flowers look good for a while and then the leaves go all crinkly and half dead and it quits blooming and all I'm left with are straggly, six foot tall stalks that lean every which a way. Okay, I'll stop babbling.

Today I chopped — and chopped and choppped — down the eight or so major clumps of Turk's cap in the upstairs yard. And found even more spots where it's doing its best to spring up. And then just for good measure I chopped down most of the misbegotten yucca from the corner of the long bed. I left a couple of pups in the far back but I opened up some serious space for something new. In the picture you can see the two trunks of yucca that I sawed off (as well as piles of various other debris waiting to be bundled up).

The space is backed by the wisteria (which is on the arbor in the downstairs yard but which tries its best to creep into the upstairs bed) so whatever I put in there needs to be able to fight that off or cohabitate politely. I have a Pride of Barbados volunteer seedling in the front yard that I may try to move. And then there's the question of the monster hamelia just to the right of the new bare spot (well, in three months it will be a monster; right now it's a few bare sticks poking up out of the ground).

On a happier — or at least less agressive note:

Here's the manfreda "Macho Mocha" that I bought late last summer. It's grown enormously and has now taken on its characteristic spotted coloration. And it's got at least three pups growing under the bottom fronds. The pot stayed out during the cold weather; we might have been able to move it but I decided to take the chance. I covered it during the ice storm and on a couple of other cold nights but the cold didn't seem to bother it at all. I'll give it a bit longer and then I'll try to remove the pups and repot them.


Annie in Austin said...

Uh oh, Susan - I just bought one of those pots of Turk's Cap. I planted one a couple of years ago and it's barely increased, and died totally to the ground over winter. Same with a white one from last spring.

Some day I might be trying to get rid something that I planted, but it's all small stuff now.

The manfreda is great looking - but it's amazing that it could stay outside all winter!


Susan said...

Annie —

I've wondered whether someone planted the Turk's cap here or whether it just occurred naturally. It comes up kind of like hackberries in my yard, along fence lines. Then it spreads. If I was really interested I guess I could find out if it's spreading underground or by seed but I just want to get rid of it!!

Pam/Digging said...

I love Turk's cap, but I can see why you'd dislike it if it's trying to take over. I think it spreads via layering. I sometimes find long stems lying on the ground that have rooted. Do you cut it all back to the ground after a freeze? That might prevent some of the rooting, if that's how it's spreading.

I have a potted manfreda maculosa that stayed out all winter too, though I covered the pot during the ice storm. It's an interesting little plant that blooms about every other year.

Susan said...

Pam -- I definitely noticed that layering thing going on as I was cutting the Turk's cap back. One of main complaints about the plant is the way the stems flop about willy nilly. It's just such a random plant, or at least it gets that way after about June. In general I don't like a plant that starts looking ratty halfway through the year. I don't mind a plant that stops blooming as long as the structure of the plant looks basically okay. Maybe my Turk's cap is just weedy and the stuff for sale in the garden stores is more refined!

-- Susan