A warm welcome

Just as visitors are welcomed back to Diggin' It, volunteer plants of lantana and snapdragon warmly welcome a gardener to her new home.

Courtesy of Judy Lowe
A thick row of lantana spills over the wall and onto the sidewalk in front of the house. In zone 8, it has become a perennial.

Welcome back to Diggin’ It, the garden blog of The Christian Science Monitor. It’s been on hiatus for 4-1/2 months while I moved from Massachusetts to South Carolina and finished a new book about herb theme gardens.

Now, I and the eight other garden writers who blogged for Diggin’ It are back and ready to share what’s been happening in our gardening lives.

One of the nicest things that happened when my husband and I moved into our new house in late July was finding unexpected flowers to welcome us. We were expecting the huge crape myrtles blooming about the house – we’d seen those when we were house hunting in April.

Yellow butterfly magnets

But what surprised and delighted me was a mass of brilliant yellow lantana spilling over the low wall in front of our house – which is painted pastel yellow. I’ve never lived in a yellow house before and had been wondering about color combinations for perennial and annual flowers.

I think that yellow is one of the most cheerful and welcoming colors – and that mass of lantana really set our house apart. When we give directions on how to find us, we don’t have to say, “It’s the fifth house on the left,” but “Look for the yellow flowers. You can’t miss them.”

Yes, I know that some lantanas are invasive, but this one is going to be killed back to the roots when temps fall in the 20s, to sprout again (I hope) next spring. In the meantime, it’s a butterfly and moth magnet.

To a gardener, this was serendipity at its best. But there was more. A large terra-cotta container sat on the porch next to the front door. It had obviously contained annuals at some point. But the house had been unoccupied for months, so it was empty of vegetation when we bought the property.

Cool-season annuals in steamy heat

Then, when we moved in late July, we discovered that two hardy yellow snapdragons had popped up in the pot from seeds obviously dropped from plants grown there previously. Since the temperatures were around – or over – 100 degrees F (38 degrees C.) daily at that point, and snapdragons prefer cool weather, these plants really had a will to grow.

I love snapdragons and was thrilled, but have to admit that getting settled and finishing my book took priority over watering them.

They received water from thunderstorms until a few weeks ago, when we were at a garden center picking up bales of pine straw for the back yard and I noticed six-packs snapdragons just in and being sold for $1.88. I grabbed one, added the plants to the pot, and began watering regularly.

I knew that I’d get at least a couple of months of blooms because snaps like cool weather – and it’s going to take a while for temps to cool down in South Carolina (even if it’s already fall where you are).

As to the lantana, I’ve done nothing. I think they may receive some moisture once a week from our underground sprinkler system. But I’m not sure of that. Lantana is a survivor – and really loves the heat.

Your welcome to Diggin’ It is just as warm as ours was to our new home. We invite you back daily to hear from Craig Summers Black, Karan Davis Cutler, Betty Earl, Lynn Hunt, Doreen Howard, Mary-Kate Mackey, Penelope O’Sullivan, Donna Williamson, and me.

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