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

Friday, April 30, 2010

Fertilizer Friday - April 30

Not only can't I believe the week is over, I can't believe the month is over! I'm looking forward to the month of May in the garden, that's when a lot of flowers in my front yard should start blooming. This time of year it doesn't take much to get me excited though. For example finding I didn't kill the Astrania that I accidentally dug into twice in the last month, a single leaf has come up again and this time I'll remember it's there. I was also happy to realize that both Autumn Sage (Salvia gregii) and Salvia 'Black and Blue' (Salvia guarantica) are coming back, both are borderline tender perennials here. I was disappointed that Echinacea 'Tiki Torch', Geranium 'Rozanne' and Clematis 'Henryii' didn't survive the winter. They should all have been hardy here and those were three that I really hoped would have returned, especially since none of them were cheap! The Salvias were inexpensive and in fact were both sold as annuals in the nursery I bought them from. Oh well, guess that's just part of the gamble we take as gardeners.

Getting back to things that made me excited was this Uvularia grandiflora finally, after about 5 years, bloomed! It's not quite as spectacular as I imagined, but still the fact that it bloomed at all makes me happy. I'm wondering if it was marked wrong and is a different type of Uvularia - any ideas?

Clematis 'Nelly Moser' seems to be up to her usual tricks. Just as I thought it was doing so well in its new spot, the vine is beginning to dry and the leaves turn yellow. This happens every year, although this year it has far more buds than usual. After reading about Nelly on other blogs I'm beginning to think it's a touchy Clematis that's disease prone.

Something interesting I found were these supposed Iris reticulata. The rest of the Iris reticulata bloomed in early Spring, these just sent up foliage. Now it seems as if a flower bud may be coming up. I planted these ones last Fall and they are all doing the same thing now.

Meadow Rue (Thalictrum) is still blooming. The Meadow Rue in the shade still just has buds.

Geranium endressii 'Wargrave Pink' has just begun blooming. This one reseeds everywhere, and seems to love the dry shade. It's hard to complain about a pretty flower that will grow in dry shade, so I usually let several of the seedlings grow.

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) is a native perennial ground cover here. It dies all the way back in Fall and then in Spring comes up with these pretty white flowers.

Columbine (Aquilegia) is another reseeder that I would never complain about. I love how they are all different in my yard.

This Columbine popped up through the Hellebores.

Fertilizer Friday is hosted by Tootsie Time each Friday. Visit Tootsie to join in or to see who else is "flaunting their flowers."
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Blooming "bones".

One thing I've learned from gardening is that getting the "bones" of the garden planted first is important. The bones of the garden are usually trees and shrubs, but can be things such as arbors or trellises, that add structure and height and often provide a backdrop for the flowers and foliage to shine against. I remember reading this advice many years ago, but because I'm rather impulsive I had a very hard time following it. I wanted instant gratification so I kept planting flowers. As time went by I started realizing something was missing, it just never looked right. It was the "bones" that were missing, they did matter and I needed to try to go back and fix that. Trying to go back and add them is not very easy, and so whenever I talk to someone that is just starting out with their yard I try to stress how important it is. I've done a pretty good job now, especially in my front yard, to add mostly shrubs that will eventually reach enough height to provide some year round interest and most importantly to let the perennials planted in front of them a background to show off in front of.
Since I'm really a flower lover most of the bones of my garden also put on their own show of flowers, many of them Spring bloomers, which works out perfectly since the taller perennials won't be blooming for quite some time. Now I have flowers that are blooming up higher as well as the Spring blooms that seem to mostly be shorter plants.
Here are a few of the blooming "bones" of the garden now:

Mexican Orange (Choysia ternata) is an evergreen shrub that handles our cold winters pretty well. The fresh white flowers do have a bit of a citrusy scent. Some people find the smell of the leaves not very good, but I've never been bothered by it.

This little Deutzia 'Pink Minor' has been shown a couple of times lately, but I just had to show the flowers up close. They almost look like they are made of wax. Once the flowers fade it will fade into the background, but now it's loaded with flowers in an area that not much else is blooming yet.

Weigela 'Minuet' will stay on the small side. Hummingbirds love the flowers. Once it finishes blooming the Peony and roses nearby will take over.

Weigela 'Shining Sensation' was planted mostly for the wine colored foliage, but I do love the red flowers too. I'm hoping this will fill up a space in front of our back fence and plan to add perennials in front of it.

Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) 'Ludwig Spaeth' is part of the summer background for the butterfly garden once it finishes blooming.

Deutzia 'Chardonnay Pearls' is another one that was chosen not only for it's flowers, but for the foliage color.

Most of these shrubs haven't reached their full size yet, but eventually many of them should help add more structure in the garden, as well as making the garden easier to care for since none require any pruning. What are some of your favorite "blooming bones" in your garden?
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Monday, April 26, 2010

The front yard in Spring.

I realized I hadn't taken too many pictures of the whole front yard for awhile. I tend to start taking pictures of individual plants out there and forget to get pictures of the bigger picture. I've found that I've been focusing on my backyard quite a bit, but this weekend noticed the front needed a bit of weeding. I've been working on the "driveway garden" quite a bit lately, and I'll share pictures of that once there are more than seedlings and bare ground showing.
Many flowers in the front yard won't really start blooming for another month or two, but it's still filling in pretty well.

This Dogwood could make anything look good. To the right of it are lots of Oriental Lilies (at least the ones the squirrels didn't dig up), roses, Phlox and other perennials. I just planted the Dahlia tubers by the birdbath that I had dug up last Fall. To the left towards the front are of some of the Alliums 'Purple Sensation' that I planted last Fall. I've never grown them before, but after seeing them on so many blogs last year I knew I wanted to try them.

About two-thirds down the bed looking back to the house are more Phlox, Liatris, Peonies, Columbines and more coming up. Can you tell I love old fashioned cottage garden flowers?

At the end of the bed looking back towards the "butterfly garden", which I think will get a name change this year if more butterflies don't show up. Maybe "pollinator garden"? Lamb's Ear, Rumex, Coreopsis, Red Valerian, Monarda and lots more here.

Back at the other end of the bed, but on the inside of the yard looking out Tulips and Daffodils bloom while many of the shrubs and perennials are quickly filling in, many with buds.

Looking down the bed there is quite a bit of empty space to fill in... I guess some of the winter sowing can go here.

The 'Iceberg' rose, which is about the easiest rose I've ever grown, will have lots of Pink Poppies blooming around it thanks the Littlest Gardener. I had no idea she planted so many. There are also a few different low growing Veronicas in here as well.

Aside from the Lilac 'Ludwig Spaeth' not much is happening in the butterfly garden. The Butterfly Bush is making it's come back after being cut back. It won't bloom until July, but there are lots of flowers that will be in bloom long before then.

This is the shady corner next to the butterfly garden. The Snowball bush has just taken off in the last couple of years. My husband estimated it's about 12 feet tall! The flowers are quickly growing and should be really pretty in a couple of weeks. Forget-me-nots, Pieris and Tiarella are blooming now.

No birds moved into the birdhouse this year, but look at this pretty guy (or girl?) that's been visiting the front yard. This is a White-crowned Sparrow and we don't see them that often in our yard. Occasionally in the Spring they show up for a few days. This one though seems to like it here and has been around for the past week.

I normally try to include the Latin names of my plants because I know we call many of the same plants by different names, and those Latin names help us to know exactly what it is. I had too many plants to list this time, but if you have a question about what a certain plant is I'll be happy to answer.
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Friday, April 23, 2010

Up high and down low - Fertilizer Friday.

I love this time of year, I look up I see flowers and I look down and I see flowers! And of course everywhere in between has flowers or buds that are very close to blooming. But, one plant I've been anxiously waiting to see bloom is my Lilac. I've been patiently driving past many houses in town admiring their Lilacs and trying not to feel too jealous. I wonder if some of the homeowners even pay attention to them. Are they going out and smelling them? Cutting fresh bouquets of them? Well, my patience has begun to pay off...my Lilac finally is deciding to bloom.

Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) 'Ludwig Spaeth' is a beautiful deep purple and it sure has been worth waiting for. I am so lucky that it decided to bloom on some lower branches this year which makes it much easier to smell. I even saw blooms on the lower back which will be perfect to cut and bring inside.

And also blooming up high is the Pink Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida). It's at it's peak right now. The windows at the front of the house look right out at it, and I find myself stopping and looking out frequently. It definitely has some years that bloom better than others, and this is a great year for it.

I just love those flowers!

At the base of the tree is Deutzia 'Pink Minor' which I showed about a week ago. It looks just perfect with the Dogwood, the flower colors are almost exactly the same.

The Iris from my sister's yard are getting flowers. Last year I just had a couple, this year I see quite a few buds coming up. I wasn't even sure when Irises bloomed here because I hadn't grown them before.

Saxifraga 'London Pride' has blooms! Linda brought me this when she came to visit. This is the neatest plant, I love the variegated leaves.

And over in the raised beds in our side yard up high the Fig tree 'Desert King' is leafing out and producing it's first crop of fruit which is called the breba crop. The breba crop grows on last years growth in the Spring. Another crop will grow later in the summer. 'Desert King' is a variety known to do well in the Pacific Northwest.

Down at the Figs feet are strawberries. This combination seems to do very well. The strawberries have lots of time to fruit before the leaves of the fig are fully leafed out.

Speaking of fruit the Meyer lemon tree which has been growing inside all winter in a pot has now moved back outside. That one little lemon is still growing (the Littlest Gardener's hand gives an idea of the size) and I'm guarding it with my life ☺

Fertilizer Friday is hosted each Friday by Tootsie at Tootsie Time. Visit her to join in or see who else is "flaunting their flowers."
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The pond in April.

All the sun we had earlier in the week seems to have put everything around the pond into growing overdrive. I'm not sure if it's just the sight of leaves on so many plants that make them seem bigger or if they really have grown that much already since last year. The weather has been gray and rainy the last couple of days, but at least now when it's raining it's not as cold as it was, and in fact I think the plants have appreciated the water.

The April pond on a gray day makes everything a bit gray looking. The plants on the opposite side of the pond were almost all new or transplanted during the fall, and everything is looking great. The conifer to the right is a Juniper (Juniperus communis) 'Gold Cone'. The new growth is a yellowy/gold which looks great with the Deutzia 'Chardonnay Pearls' in front and Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) Coppertina to it's left. I'm trying to stick with a color theme here. Already I'm finding myself diverting from it, but trying really hard not to.

There are several Heucheras planted to the front of the plantings I mentioned above. Right now this is my very favorite, Heuchera 'Marmalade'. It has taken off growing so fast and has such nice coloring. Next to it is Japanese Blood Grass which is just starting to come up. Behind it is a Fuchsia magellanica, but it will be awhile before it really starts to do anything.

This is looking across from the opposite side of the pond from the first picture. I think the fish have been spawning, I've seen them chasing each other around like crazy. Even at 11 p.m. when I was letting the dog out I could see them chasing each other. The first time I saw it happen I thought the fish were trying to hurt one of the other fish. It wasn't until after doing some reading that I found I must have had only 1 female and 3 males. That poor fish wasn't left alone for days. Rarely have we seen the tiny babies. Many of them are eaten by the larger fish, but occasionally we see them hiding under a waterlily leaf. Each year a couple survive, last year 2 made it and now are the cutest little fish. They are white with orange and black spots which are Shubunkin markings.

This side of the pond has a leak between the liner and the edging stone. These plants are constantly getting moisture from the leak, and even better the water has natural fish fertilizer in it. The large round leafed plant is Ligularia 'Othello', the smaller leafed plant between the Hostas is Chleone or Turtlehead.

I'm still loving how the pond looks framed by the arbor I put in last year. On the left side of the arbor Clematis 'Nelly Moser' is getting very close to blooming. In the past the most I've gotten from is one bloom, then it would die to the ground. Already it seems to like this new spot. On the right Clematis 'Comtesse de Bouchard' is growing quickly too.

I plan to add Water Hyacinth and Fairy Moss (Azolla) which are both floating plants as soon as I can find them. Maybe by next month's pictures there will be waterlily buds or even flowers to share.
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April monthly garden bouquet.

I'm joining in with Noelle of Ramblings from a Desert Garden again for the April monthly garden bouquet. She started this fun idea a few months ago and she invites us to create a bouquet from our garden during the third week of each month.
This month was a little difficult because most of the flowers blooming now are small and I just can't bring myself to cut a tulip or a daffodil. So, I decided to try and create a color theme this time and focused on blue and white with a little green thrown in for good measure.

I've got more Spanish Bluebells than anything, but it looked kind of boring with too many of them. The Navelwort (Omphalodes cappadocica) 'Starry Eyes' is still blooming as is the White Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis).

Ferns, Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum), Forget-me-nots (Myosotis) and Columbines (Aquilegia) make up the rest of the bouquet.

Something I realize I have very few of are vases. I love using Mason jars or simple things like them to hold flowers, but wanted to find something else for this one. Looking through a china cabinet reminded me of this Belleek vase my Aunt gave me a long time ago. She was my godmother and had given me a few pieces of Bellek, a type of Irish pottery, for special occasions. It was fun to rediscover this vase and made me think of my Aunt who passed away a few years ago.

Visit Noelle to see her pretty April garden bouquet or to join in with her.
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