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

Sunday, January 31, 2010

End of month view - January 2010

I started joining in with Helen of The Patient Gardener's Weblog several months ago to share an end of the month view of a part of my garden. It's been a great way to see what changes could be made or things I really like about this bed.
I've noticed a lack of interest going on in this area over the last couple of months. There are several Heucheras around the edges to provide some color and as much as I like them, they don't seem to provide enough for me. I definitely need to add some more evergreen type of plants here.

I'll be getting out soon to cut back the dried Hydrangea flowers since there is lots of new growth coming now. Pine needles have collected at the base of the shrub and even though it looks a little messy, it gives the birds some great shelter. There are always Juncos and Wrens hanging out in there. More and more bulbs are popping up, in another month there will probably be at least some new flowers blooming.

Winter Daphne (Daphne odora) has the most buds I've ever seen on it. My hope is that it will eventually block part of the hose reel behind it.

This Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis) and another actually came up from roots of another one that I moved years ago. This is one of my favorite Spring flowers, I love the drooping pink and white heart shaped blooms.

This view is walking up from the driveway where lots of perennials are beginning to sprout. The Japanese Maple 'Orido Nishiki' has lots of new red leaf buds on the branches. It's difficult to see how red the ends of the branches are, so pretty right now. This tree is definitely something I love about this bed.

I spent time last night working on a plan for what I'd like to do with this bed. One thing I do know I'd like to add is some perennial type of gold or chartreuse colored grass that I think will look nice with the many Hostas that are already there. Maybe some evergreen ferns as well. As usual for me, the planning is almost as much fun as the planting.
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Friday, January 29, 2010

Warmest January on record - Fertilizer Friday.

It looks like some of us Pacific Northwesteners on our way to setting another weather related record. This January is on it's way to becoming the warmest January on record. During this past summer we hit the hottest day ever recorded in Seattle, then this past December we had record setting lows when an Arctic blast came through. While it's been kind of nice to have such a mild winter, I also know that many plants here need that winter chill to help set buds. We also need the cold to help get rid of many garden pests. I'm going to be very interested to see what this Spring brings.

Last year the iris reticulata was blooming on the first day of Spring. Now it's almost in bloom and Spring is still a ways off.

The Hellebore 'Royal Heritage' looks so pretty with the sun shining through it.

I don't think I'll get tired of looking at this 'Royal Heritage' variation. As the sun has been out, they have been lifting their faces more. I think this is my favorite flower picture of the year so far.

One of the Hellebores in my front yard seems to have perked up since I cut away the old foliage. It's flowers are beginning to lift up as well.

Seeing all this new growth and flowers has gotten me to thinking about starting to stock up on my fertilizer of choice: compost! There have been years I was too busy to have a chance to get a nice layer of it in my garden, but after seeing what a big difference it makes I'm already planning on when I will start to get some of that black gold into my garden.
Fertilizer Friday is hosted each Friday by Tootsie at Tootsie Time. Visit her to see what she's got happening in her garden or greenhouse as well as other gardeners from all over.
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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Clearing my Clematis Confusion.

Clematis have always been one of my very favorite flowers, and the fact that they are vines and can grow up taking less space in my yard has made me love them even more. But just the word Clematis has caused me confusion. My Mom always pronounced it "Cle MAT is" so that is what I always called them. It wasn't until years ago I heard it pronounced another way "CLEM ah tis".
The other confusing part about Clematis was the pruning. I guess I had been lucky that the first few I bought were types that bloomed on new wood. So, at the end of summer I would cut them down and then next summer have lots of blooms. It wasn't until I bought 'Nelly Moser' that I finally learned about the correct pruning times. I couldn't figure out why I would only get one or two blooms on it.
Now I find that I've accumulated 14 and except for a few, it's hard to remember when to prune each one. I've written out lists looked up each one and written down the pruning time. Then I've lost each list and had to start over again the next year. I thought I would use this post to keep track of my Clematis as well as explain a little about when each type is pruned.

Type 1 or A are Spring bloomers and require no pruning unless you would like to thin them or cut out dead vines.

Clematis armandii is one I had but unfortunately decided to move last summer and it didn't make it. I'm sure I'll be adding another this year, maybe the pink 'Apple Blossom' variety.

'Southern Cross' a new one last year which is zone 8 - 9, so I may be pushing it a little, crossing my fingers it makes it.

Type 2 or B is divided into two groups
usually bloom May - June on previous growth, and may have a second smaller flush of flowers later in summer on current growth.

'Josephine' - grows happily in a container on my deck


'Nelly Moser' - tends to die back every summer, I've moved her to a new spot to see if she'll be happier.

'Nelly Moser'

'Piilu' (Little Duckling) - pruned at wrong time and no blooms last summer

B2 bloom on last years and current growth usually continuously from June - September. Pruning should take place late winter and just cutting out tangled or dead vines.

'Crimson King'


'Miss Bateman'

Type 3 or C bloom on current wood only. These should be pruned as close to the ground as possible to the first two sets of buds. These bloom during the summer and are fast growing.

'Alionushka' - easy care and blooms great every year


'Comtesse de Bouchard' - new last year, bloomed into the fall
'Etoille Violette' (viticella) - blooms like crazy in hot side yard
'Jackmanii superba' - as easy as they get and blooms like crazy

'Jackmanii superba'

'Little Nell' (viticella) - new last summer, few little blooms

'Little Nell'

'Peppermint' - new last summer, crossing my fingers I see this one again
'Ville de Lyon' - another very easy one that has huge flowers

'Ville de Lyon'

I'm sure my list will continue to grow, especially since I have 3 already on my wish list. I fertilize Clematis by putting new compost around them in the Spring. If you have any other tips about Clematis I'd love to hear them as well.
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Monday, January 25, 2010

A walk down the garden path...

It sure was one of those mornings that calls to you to take a walk outside. There was blue in the sky, the birds were active and the bright sun just drew us out to soak in it's warmth. The pathway is a favorite part of our yard, though narrow it always seems to have some sort of activity taking place. This morning the birds were everywhere on it; the Chickadees, Stellar's Jays, Juncos and Robins were out in full force looking for something to eat.

A look down the the path is seen through my favorite purchase last year, the arbor. The arbor has a Clematis on each side, both showing signs of new growth. I hope my vision of a flower framed shaded path will happen this year. It is probably the thing I am most looking forward to seeing.

One of the many Juncos that were in the path garden today.

At the end of the straight part of the path is the big Cedar tree. I see the perfect spot for a double Hellebore right in front of the Hydrangea, too bad we couldn't find one today at the nursery. After I finished with pictures I got all of the foliage cleaned up on my Hellebores, what a difference it makes!

My favorite Hydrangea across from the Cedar tree. I'm crossing my fingers for flowers this year. Last year a late freeze killed the flower buds. This year I'll be out with sheets to protect it if any more freezes are predicted.

Some of the Pulmonarias have buds. I divided this plant and spread it all down the path. I think it is 'Roy Davidson', it has done great under the Cedar tree.

The Corsican Hellebores are getting closer to blooming.

Heading back down the path towards the pond you can see lots of bulbs sprouting. There are Bluebells, Snowflakes (leucojum), Crocus and Daffodils planted.

A look back through the arbor to the pond.

And my favorite picture of the day is my Littlest Gardener taking a little run down the path.

This week we have lots more rain predicted so it was nice to take advantage of a dry and sort of sunny day to enjoy being outside and breathing in a little fresh air.
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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Beautiful, like a rainbow.

When I see a rainbow or think of a rainbow, this line from Cyndi Lauper's song "True Colors" from 1986 always seems to come to my mind. A pretty song to represent such a beautiful piece of art from nature. Rebecca from Prefer to be In the Garden asked us to share rainbows from our gardens to help brighten up winter.
Just looking back through my Spring and Summer garden pictures made me feel warm and brightened my day. I think lots of us like to look back at sunny day pictures, part of the fun for me is remembering flowers I'd forgotten about and made me more anxious to see them return.
The interesting part of putting this rainbow together for me is that I thought I'd have trouble finding orange flowers, and have no problem with purple flowers. It ended up being the opposite. I used to think orange clashed too much with most colors. But once while shopping in a nursery I overheard some women and one discussing how certain colors of flowers "didn't go together". The other woman said that they are all part of nature so of course they all go together. While I don't personally think every color combination goes together it did open my eyes a bit about being less critical of orange and combining it with colors I never thought it "matched".

Here is my rainbow:

Monarda 'Jacobe Cline'

Red Breadseed Poppy

Geum 'Fire Lake'

Zinnia 'Apricot Blush'

Leopard's Bane



Zinnia 'Green Envy'

Hydrangea 'Nikko Blue'

Salvia 'Black and Blue'


Clematis 'Jackmanii superba'

Here is Cyndi Lauper singing "True Colors" in the video below:

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Hellebores and Pansies for Fertilizer Friday.

It's hard to believe it's only January right now. Around town I've seen Witch Hazels, Forsythia and Flowering Quince in bloom already. Our gardens are being awoken early here, and I'm really hoping that Mother Nature isn't lulling the plants into a false Spring only to be zapped by an Arctic Blast. Last year we had snow into March, which isn't completely unusual. The Hellebores and Pansies in this post are blooming at their usual time for here though and I won't worry about them if it does get cold again, they are both very hardy plants for my garden.

One of the Hellebores (H. orientalis) from the front yard. Because these flowers face down I have to hold them up, I tried to blur my hand a bit here so the flower gets all the attention.

This is the plant the flower above is on. It's by far the largest in my yard.

This view gives you an idea of the different stages these plants are all in. All were planted at the same time from the same place. There's one more maroon one at the very end behind the big white one.

Some of the Hellebore 'Royal Heritage' under the big Cedar in our backyard. 'Ivory Prince' and the Corsican Hellebore both have buds. I need to get out and cut back the old foliage on all of the Hellebores, they are looking a bit beat up.

These Pansies are the 'Skyline Copperfield' series. They have done so well in the window boxes since Fall and are blooming their sweet faces off!

The flowers look so different from each other, the flower above and the two below are all 'Skyline Copperfield'. This one has quite a bit of red in it.

More pink and yellow on this one.

These are my favorite of the group, more washed out and "frilly" looking.

Viola 'Ultima Baron Merlot' looked cute blooming in the Muscari foliage.

Fertilizer Friday is hosted each Friday by Tootise at Tootsie Time. Visit her to see what other gardeners are "flaunting their flowers" as well as join in with your own indoor or outdoor blooms.
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