"One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it brings."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A few blooms before I go.

I wanted to share some new blooms I found in the garden.  After making the butterfly garden over the weekend the most I feel like doing is taking pictures of flowers! 
Here are the latest blooms:
Deutzia 'Chardonay Pearls'  This is when it looks best, right before the blooms open and it looks like pearls are growing from the branches.  This shrub has stayed very small, about 2 feet by 2 feet.

Dicentra spectabilis White bleeding heart.  They don't seem to get as big as the pink variety, but I still love them.  Their foliage is a little more yellowish green than the darker green of the pink flowered variety.

Dicentra hybrida Fernleaf bleeding heart.  I've read that these are hybrids of D. formosa and D. eximia.  This is the only flower, but at least it grew at all this year.  

Solomon's Seal (polygonatum)  I managed to save all but one from getting stepped on this year.  They have begun to spread, and I'm really happy about that.  They are under a twisted old rhododendron that probably won't bloom for another month.  Solomon's Seal likes shade and doesn't seem to mind the fairly dry soil they are in, although I think they prefer more moisture.

And now I'm off to help chaperone my oldest daughter's class trip.  We'll be gone for 3 days and 2 nights so I won't be around to visit your blogs until the weekend.
I hope to have pictures of the native plants that grow where we'll be.
See you in a few days!
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

An apple a day...

is hopefully what we'll be eating this fall.
The "supposed to be" dwarf grafted apple tree is blooming.
They are the sweetest smelling and beautiful flowers.
This is by far the most blooms I've ever seen on it.  I've been reading that the cold winter we had was good for the fruit trees, and would help them to set more fruit.
There are 5 varieties grafted on here.  Unfortunately all the tags have fallen off over time and I can only remember one of the branches, Gala.  I think I remember this one because it was the first branch to produce fruit.  Maybe some apple aficionados will be able to help identify the apples when they are ripe.
The varieties are:  
and an unknown.
Now I just hope that the apple maggots don't find them.  I'm going to see what type of traps I can find, I want to keep my yard pesticide free.  
Until then I get to look out my kitchen window at these pretty flowers.
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Monday, April 27, 2009

The new butterfly garden.

What does a gardener do with spare time and too little planting space?  They make a new garden!  That's exactly what happened this weekend.  We started our garage cleanup Saturday morning and while my husband was taking some garbage to the dump I had some free time.  Free time usually results in a new project in the garden.  So, as I looked around the front yard I decided to pull back the edging in front of the lilac and butterfly bush.  I pulled all the edging stone and dug out what seemed like endless amounts of turf.   
This is what it looked like at the end of Saturday.  I felt like I had one of the hardest workouts I've had in a very long time.  It is about 4 or 5 feet wider than it was.
The next day I spent digging and leveling the stones.  I had to have "the muscle" chisel one of the stones to fit.  Then I filled it in with lots of garden soil.  I know I need several more bags to fill in the low spots, but I couldn't resist planting.  Everything I planted I already had and just transplanted to this area, except for the Salvia 'May Night' that I found at Home Depot when we went for the soil.  
The plants that were already there plus what I moved in should all attract adult butterflies or their larvae.   In front of the butterfly bush (buddleia alternifolia) and lilac I planted:  penstemon, echinacea, scabiosa, liatris, monarda, salvia and Wallflower (erysimum).  I have a lot of other butterfly attracting plants and shrubs nearby as well.  I edged it with lamb's ears (stachys), I don't know if it attracts butterflies, but just thought it would be pretty there.  Quite a few of these will also attract hummingbirds.  I moved a birdbath to the new planting area with a stone in it so birds or butterflies can drink out of it.
It's right out our living room window and I can't wait to watch the butterflies and birds enjoy it.
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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Please leave, I'm asking nicely.

You three plants know who you are.  Every year I spend hours digging you up, pulling you out and ignoring you.  Yet you just keep coming back for more punishment.  I don't have anything against you personally, I just don't want you here.  I've seen you looking quite beautiful other places.  Places that you could roam and be free.  In fact I've had you in other gardens and thought you looked quite pretty.  It's just that here, in this garden, I don't want you.
Bishop's weed (aegopdium podafraria)
and ajuga
came with this house.  Not many plants did, and the others left when I asked them to.  You two have been haunting me for 10 years and just don't want to give up.  I've seen you in nurseries with tags that say "vigorous", they should've said "relentless".  Please let this be the last year of pulling you out and untangling you from other plants.  I don't need ground covers where you are.
Now Lady Bells (adenophora) I only have myself to blame for you.  You were supposed to be a replacement for the delphiniums that refuse to grow here.  You have your tall beautiful spikes of blue flowers and you put on a pretty show every summer.  Little did I know what was happening underground as you spread up into all your neighboring plants.  You popped up through and tried to push them aside.  I tried to keep you under control and last year I finally had it.  I spent hours digging deep down and chopping you up.  Unfortunately I found out later that you sprouted from every chopped piece left in the ground.  Again I spent more time pulling every leaf and root piece up I could find.
Funny that your tag said you didn't liked to be moved, you actually seemed to love it.  So after all that work what do I find as I'm spreading compost, you're all back!
What plant do you wish would just go away?
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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pear trees are blooming!

The sun did come out yesterday and it was a nice warm sun.  My littlest gardener took a much needed nap.  She's only 2 1/2 years old and had been trying to give them up.  Luckily yesterday I was able to convince her to take one.  While she napped my little white dog relaxed in the sun and I spread compost, planted a couple of plants, mowed the grass and watered the seedlings.  A truly great day where all I kept thinking about was how much I loved being outside in the garden. This morning I'm thinking about my sore back, but it's worth it when I look out the window to see everything looking so nice.
While mowing I realized that the pear trees we planted last year were in full bloom.  They just needed that one day of sun to encourage them to flower.
The girls each have "their" tree.  This one is my older daughter's (Sweet Pea) tree.  
 It's a Comice and is supposed to be a great dessert pear, it is also blight resistant.
We needed to find another pear that would cross pollinate with it at the right time and so we chose the Orcas to be the littlest gardener's tree.  The Orcas pear tree was actually found on Orcas Island which is one of the San Juan Islands.  It is supposed to be an excellent pear tree for the Northwest and disease resistant as well.
She was napping so I'll have to take her picture by it later. I like looking back at pictures of the girls standing by trees we've planted to see how much they have all grown over the years.  Wonder if we'll get a few pears to try this summer?
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Friday, April 24, 2009

A little sun, a little rain.

After several days of rain, the sun made a return yesterday, although it wasn't a very warm sun.   I have to admit I didn't mind having a bit of rain since I had just planted more seeds and plants and transplanted more of my winter sown seedlings into the ground.  Everything is looking good so far except for the nicotiana sylvestris.  It looks a bit wilted while all the other winter sown seedlings are already growing.  I just sprinkled the left over seeds and will see if they grow.  I'm hoping some will make it because this is one I've really wanted to see.
As usual I was amazed at what a few days of sun followed by some rain will do for the plants. 
I've completely lost track of what seeds are where.  At this point it'll just be surprises everywhere.  Maybe next year I'll color code them with plant markers or something creative. These are most likely one of the three types of poppy seeds I've planted.  I've got poppies coming up everywhere!

Fragaria x ananassa 'Pink Panda', I've also got 'Lipstick', but I don't see any blooming now.   There are quite a few blooms and buds on this variety now.  I need to do a little cleanup around them still, it's in an area of the yard that I sort of forget about sometimes.  I like this as a ground cover because they are easy to weed around.  Plus they bloom all summer and produce edible berries.

Choisya ternata 'Mexican Orange' - This was new last spring and really got beat up by the snow.  I'm happy to see there are quite a few buds on it.

Lots and lots of new lily pads coming up, they'll send up bigger leaves as the weather warms.  The first set are always on the small side.

Syringa x prestoniae 'Miss Canada' - Loaded with buds that are growing quickly.

Syringa vulgaris 'Ludwig Spaeth' -  I can't wait to smell these, a real favorite of mine.

Clematis armandii - Finally blooming and actually looking good.  The sun was shining from behind so I couldn't get a good picture of the whole vine.  It looks pretty good after all it's been through with branches falling on it, snow and having to get moved around while the fence was being built behind it.

The sun is back out this morning, now I'm just hoping it warms up a little and I'll get a chance to spread some more compost.  I've been busy spreading this every dry day I can.  I think 10 more bags and I'll be able to check this job off my spring to do list.
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

My favorite tree.

This month marks 10 years since we bought our home.  I can't believe it's been that long already!  When we first saw our future house we were overwhelmed by the overgrown front yard.  You could hardly see the house from the street.  The previous owners clearly were not into gardening.  It's an older ranch style home, but in a great neighborhood and in a great school district.  With a 6 month old baby those two things were at the top of our wish list.  We could see all the potential the house had and it was in good condition.  As we walked through, the owners (a for sale by owner home) encouraged us to look at the backyard.   As I stepped onto the deck I was greeted by this gorgeous tree.  It was in April then and so this is pretty much what I saw.
This giant Japanese Maple must've been planted right around the same time our house was built over 30 years ago.  At some point a previous owner added a large deck onto the house and built it around this tree.  When I looked at the tree I could see its branches are perfect for kids to climb and sit in.
All year this tree adds so much interest.  In the winter the bare tree holds the snow on it's many branches.
In spring we watch the chartreuse leaves and tiny red flowers emerge as soon as the sun comes out.

In the summer it's the perfect umbrella over the table and chairs when we need a cool place to sit.  And in the fall it has the most beautiful color changes I've ever seen.  Often I go to the school yard behind us so I can get a really good view of it's shape and colors.  
The birds rest in the branches and the squirrels sometimes use it as a bridge to the taller trees. A few years ago we had the pine tree that grows over it limbed up and wow did the maple take off reaching for the sun.  If you click to enlarge this picture you can see the lichen and moss that grows on it.  I read that seeing lichen growing on a tree is a sign of a balanced environment and clean air.  Apparently it won't grow where the air is polluted.
I wish I had a better camera to really capture the whole thing, it's at least 30 feet tall.  From what I've read a mature Japanese Maple can reach 50 feet.  
I really think this tree is priceless, and I'm so grateful to have it in my yard.  How could we have passed up this house with something like this to look at everyday?
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hearts and Bells

Two of my spring favorites have just started to bloom, I think they liked all of the sun that we had earlier in the week.  Today the rain is back so I'm glad I took these pictures yesterday.
The first ones are my Bleeding hearts (dicentra spectabilis).  Many years ago, when I still rented an apartment, I remember seeing pictures of these in a magazine.  I begged my Mom to plant one in her garden so I could see what those heart flowers looked like up close.  She did, and under her green thumb it was the biggest bleeding heart I think I've ever seen.  Now I have several of them, both pink and white.  The white are a bit behind though and not quite in bloom yet.  I love how they start out from the ground and just get bigger and bigger.    

One of my other spring favorites are the Spanish Bluebells (hyacinthoides hispanicus).  These will naturalize fairly easily and I have them in several places in the yard.  I think I've mentioned before that my older daughter used to like to dig these up and spread them around while they were blooming.  Now when I see them blooming or coming up in an unusual place I think about her.  The ones that ended up in the sunnier spots are definitely farther ahead.  

And here is the first spring bouquet of the season!  I like using old canning jars or small baby food jars as vases.  Since I'm no floral designer they just go along with the simple bouquets I put together.  Happy Earth Day!
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Look what I found!

Yesterday between errands and having a little time to get more of my winter sown seedlings in  the ground, I took a look around the yard.  I noticed that more of the seeds I've planted are beginning to finally sprout.  In fact I came dangerously close to weeding some before I remembered I had planted them!  I really must control myself to not pull every stray green thing now.  Do you find yourself on the way out to the car or to get the mail stopping and pulling random weeds on your way?  I sure do!   
While I looked around I was really surprised by how many flower buds there were.  These are just some of the future flowers I found:

Heuchera - I think this is 'Plum Pudding'

Heuchera 'Firefly' - A real hummingbird favorite

Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium) - I bought a couple of these many years ago and they continue to reseed, then I move them throughout the yard.  I love the grape smell the purple flowers have.

Peony - There are lots of buds and it seems to be growing overnight!


Aquilegia - Another one that has just reseeded all over, I think these flowers will be deep purple and ruffled. 

Is this what I think this is?  I planted Virginia Bluebells (mertensia virginica) last spring and thought it had died.  The bud caught my eye as I was looking at one of my hellebores.  There is only one stem coming up from the ground.

 To me there is no better time of year than during Spring when buds seem to appear overnight and the foliage is so fresh looking.  I have quite a bit that's practically hours away from blooming.  If the sun sticks around for a couple of more days I'll have lots of new blooms.
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Monday, April 20, 2009

Water garden book giveaway Winner!

First I want to thank all the people who entered the Water Garden book giveaway!  It was a lot of fun to do and hear about the different types of water features you have in your gardens.  
The little gardeners helped me to choose the winner.  We put all the names in a most fitting drawing pot, the pond net.  Here are some of the pond fish gathered around to see who the lucky winner is.....
The Comets, Sarassas and Koi all gather round the lily pads

My oldest gardener puts her hand in the net of names and she draws....
Tina from In the Garden!  Congratulations Tina!  Tina's blog is a great one, full of very interesting information.  I feel like I learn something new every day there, so go give her and her co blog writers Lola, Skeeter and Dawn a visit if you haven't yet.
Hope you all have a great day and get some time in the garden!
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fence building with birds.

Yesterday we finally finished the back fence!  While we built we had some entertainment from the birds.  As I was standing practically inside the Pink flowering currant (ribes sanguineum)  to hold it up for my husband, a hummingbird literally buzzed right by my ear to try to chase away another that must've quietly been hovering near me.  They made quite a fuss chasing each other.  I saw that the Rufous won out, like they usually do.  He didn't mind a bit that I was there and even hung around while I tried to get a picture.  If you enlarge the picture you can see his red throat.
A bit later I started noticing sticks dropping from the pine tree.  I knew they were from some other type of tree and was a little confused.  The day before I noticed quite a few under the same tree, it had been windy so I just assumed they had blown off the maple tree and ended up there.  While I was looking up I noticed two crows landing at the top of the tree with sticks in their beaks.  It looks like they are building a nest high up in the tree. I hardly noticed crows in our yard until last summer.  Now they must have decided this is a great place to live,  because I've seen 3 other pairs building nests in the trees across the street and behind our house.
Back to the fence.  This is a new clematis 'Henryi' that I just planted to grow on the fence.  I've seen the name of this one quite a bit, and often read that it's a favorite.  It's supposed to have 8" white flowers, and bloom June to September.  They will grow in part shade to full sun and get to be 10 to 12 feet long. 
More sun is due today, and I hope to get some planting and cleanup done.
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Saturday, April 18, 2009

New color in the garden.

I found some new color in the garden yesterday.  Most is newly bought, but some is returning from last year.  It seems a lot of pink and maroon is making its way  to my garden.  I notice I go in waves of what color I'm attracted to, and lately it's those two colors.
The first thing I saw were these pretty pink tulips blooming in front of a Corsican hellebore.  It seems like hardly any of the tulips from last spring returned and I can't blame it on squirrels.  I think I'll be doing a lot of bulb planting this fall.
I found that my new Magnolia 'Vulcan' has a few blooms on it.  Two of the buds are very frost damaged and this one looks like something bored it's way into the flower.  It looks like another bloom or two will open and then I'll have to wait until next spring to see how it really does.
These are a couple of purchases from my plant shopping a couple of days ago.  Rumex sanguineus which is grown for its foliage and Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red', which not only has these pretty maroon leaves but spikes of white flowers as well.  It was the 1996 perennial plant of the year.  I planted 2 last summer and liked them so much I thought I'd add another.
Here is Sempervivum 'Helgham Red'.  We have a terra cotta planter in the hot part of the yard that we have a mixture of succulents in and thought this would be a nice addition.
Last but not least is the new fuchsia 'Swingtime'.  I'm hoping no birds make a nest in it this year.  The last time that happened involved me watering the plant thinking the birds were gone.  I hadn't watered the hanging plant for weeks and that day as I put the hose up 4 or 5 little baby birds jumped out and went hopping all over the yard.  The parent birds were not happy as I tried my best to corral them to a safe area.  I still feel bad about it, even though I did see the parents taking them to a shrubby area.
Today calls for sun, perfect weather for... indoor soccer and fence building.  Oh well, at least some of the day will be outside.  I hope all of you attending the SAGBUTT meeting will share the details, I wish I could go!
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