As one of the positive outcomes of the seemingly never ending construction work on the roads and sewer system in our neighborhood, a new sidewalk bump-out on our corner has blessed us with a sizeable new strip of land to plant. Good soil it is not - the city just put a few inches of top soil over the clay, gravel, and crushed up concrete that had been under the old sidewalk - and, facing southwest, it bakes in the sun all day long. Consequently I have been working on filling this new border largely with heat-loving and relatively drought tolerant perennials and some shrubs. I started out with a bunch of Eastern prickly pears (Opuntia humifusa) that had been living somewhat unhappily in pots on the balcony and a tiny Agave havardiana rescued from the Michigan garden as well as a whole lot of threadleaf giant hyssop (Agastache rupestris), balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus), and lion's ear (Leonotis nepetifolia) seedlings started indoors in February. Then came lavender to line the garden edge and some more perennials from a garden center nearby and red hot pokers (Kniphofia uvaria) grown from seed last year and overwintered in one of the raised beds in the garden, and then orders of more perennials and antique roses from Annie's Annuals, Select Seeds, Joy Creek Nursery, and Rose Petals Nursery. The plants are young, of course, so even as they are starting to take off there is still lots of empty space, which I have been filling in with annuals - different varieties of African and French marigolds, zinnias, strawflowers (Xerochrysum bracteatum), Persian and Eritrean basil, and roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa), and some gladioli.
The new border in the evening light
In the older part of the garden, meanwhile, many things are still a little bit behind compared to the last two years, but many of the cool-season annual flowers are doing beautifully.
Peas, garland chrysanthemums (Glebionis coronaria), and Shirley poppies (Papaver rhoeas)
The historic 'Cupani' sweetpea beginning to bloom
This is currently my favorite color among the stocks that are beginning to bloom
The first pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) since December
On the deck my bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla 'Otaksa') which overwinters on the backstairs landing is coming along beautifully even though it looked rather sad when it came out of its winter quarters, and a few days ago I took cuttings of my new fancy large-flowered chrysanthemum babies in hopes of getting bushier plants and an extra set of saplings to set out in the garden.
Hydrangea macrophylla 'Otaksa' beginning to color
Young chrysanthemums and fresh cuttings
Otherwise, too, the plants on the deck - most of which are not in the best condition in the spring after having had to spend the winter inside, plagued by low light and spider mites - are beginning to fill in again, and hopefully the green of new foliage and the colors of flowers will predominate over the orange of terracotta pots and the brown of the wood.