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

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Something to look forward to...

Is it spring yet?  Just kidding... sort of.  After the freeze we had last week the garden doesn't have much blooming besides some cheerful Pansies and Violas.  I see lots of buds have formed on Hellebores, rhododendrons, Sarcococcas and Camellias but it will be awhile before I get to see them blooming.  It's been very rainy and the ground is too wet to do much in so I've already been going through my garden photos to remind myself of what the first blooms will be.  These spring bloomers have always been very reliable in my zone 8 garden, I would plant all of them again and if I have room I'll gladly add them to other places.
Here are some of the first flowers that will be blooming in early spring:

 Hellebores (H. orientalis) are usually the first to bloom and can be blooming as early as January.  Last year I added a double and am very excited to see how it looks this spring.  I've already made room for another double in the entry garden.  Hellebores can get very pricey, but the good thing about them is that they reseed freely and will give you lots of babies to move or share, they don't usually look like the parent plant though.  The flower buds come up from the ground in late winter and seeing those buds are one of my favorite discoveries in the winter.

 Corsican Hellebore (H. argutifolius) blooms a little later than the ones above.  They also bloom on the end of the flower stems, they already have set quite a few buds.  This was a seedling from a friend and has already started reseeding in my garden.  This type can handle quite a bit more sun and gets to be about 2 feet high and 2 to 3 feet wide.

 Tete-a-tete daffodils seem to be much easier for me than the larger daffodils.  These have been multiplying like crazy over the last few years.  I love how they look popping up from the snow, the yellow seems extra bright then.

 Pulmonaria is another favorite.  It starts blooming very late in winter and then continues to bloom for several months.  This is another that will reseed which is great because they tend to be a little expensive too at most nurseries.

 Winter Hazel (Corylopsis) 'Buttercup' has the sweetest flowers.  They are hard to photograph with my camera because of how light they are.  The whole shrub is covered in the dainty yellow flowers, then it leafs out after.  It's very slow growing, which is good since it probably doesn't have much growing space where it is.

 Old Fashioned Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra spectabilis) is another flower I look forward to seeing.  It seems to start showing signs of life in late winter and once it starts coming up it grows quickly.  These remind me of my mom because when I was living in an apartment and didn't have a garden I asked her to plant one in her garden so I could see what they looked like.  I had only seen the name and was dying to know what the flower would look like.  Of course under my mom's green thumb it grew larger than any of mine have ever dreamed of growing.  I also grow the 'Alba' variety which is pure white and just beautiful.

 Camellia japonicas are early spring bloomers in my yard.  I see them blooming a month or so earlier in other gardens, I think it must have to do with the amount of sun mine get.  I know not everyone is a fan of Camellias, but they do well in my garden and I appreciate their evergreen leaves as well as the pretty flowers.

Pink Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum) is not only my favorite spring blooming shrub but also the hummingbirds who fight over it.  It took a few years to really get settled in under the pine tree, but now it is loaded in flowers every March.

A few other late winter/early spring blooms are Sarcococcas, Water Hawthorn (which grows in the pond), Tulips and Crocuses. 
What are some of your favorite early spring bloomers?
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Perfect gardening weather.

Yesterday felt warm in the 40's compared to the 20's we had been in most of the week.  The coldest it got down to one night was 12 degrees!  Sadly the cold weather killed off any last blooms or buds that may have been trying to flower.  So rather than be too disappointed about the state of the garden I convinced my family to come outside while it wasn't raining and help clean up a bit.  I loved every minute of being outside even if it was spent pulling up slimy dead annuals and raking up wet leaves.

 Believe me these Hydrangeas look 100 percent better than they did before the pruning.  Sadly I realize that there is no way the Japanese Maple will be coming back to life.  I pushed against the trunk only to see that the ground all around it moves as if the roots have all rotted.  My husband offered to take it out for me, but I secretly want to do it myself, so I told him we'd wait to do it.  It's not that large of a tree that it would cause damage or injury if it decides to fall over on its own.  Besides knowing me I'll be taking it out before Christmas is here, maybe even before the end of the week.  As I mentioned in previous posts this is our second maple to die here, the clay ground is just too wet here during the winter and spring and the roots just don't have a chance.  The other plants seem to thrive in the soil, so once this tree is out no more trees will go in its place.

I think this garden will be the first place to get worked on in the spring since it's the garden that is right in front the front door. The window that is seen in this picture is where the computer is so I look out at this area often.  I'm already excited to get out there and start digging but for now I'll keep working on the plan.  And lets see how long it takes before I'm showing pictures of the area after I take the tree down.
I know that if I don't get out and work in the garden on days that it's not too cold and not raining that this winter will feel very long.  I enjoy having an excuse to get outside and see what's happening up close and personal. 
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving thanks.

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."  
  -- Thornton Wilder

The path in November
The path in June
Waking up to the kids telling us to look outside it was snowing on Thanksgiving morning was definitely a reminder of all I have to be thankful for.  A healthy family, great friends, a warm house, food to eat and the surprises nature gives us.  Winter is still a month away and yet we are on our fifth day of snow.  Luckily the weather is warming a bit and the roads should be safe for traveling.  We will be going to my sister's home for dinner where we'll see an uncle and cousins and their families that we don't get to see that often.

I'm also thankful for all the friends I've made through blogging.  I'm thankful for all I've learned both on your blogs or comments or emails that have been left for me.  So many days I've read a blog that had a quote or poem or picture on it that changed my perspective on how I was feeling that day.  Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving today or not I hope you have a great day and find something extra to be thankful for.

Thank you!
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Be a faithful friend and you'll have one in return.

It ended up snowing most of yesterday and now we are having an "arctic freeze".  Record breaking weather again here.  It seems to be the year of records.  Our high today will be colder than the record low for this day, and the nights dropping into the teens.  We were fortunate to not also have to deal with the winds that others nearby had and then lost their power.  Traffic in and around Seattle was terrible last night because no matter how much this area tries to prepare for snow, it's the freezing and ice that seems to bring everything to a halt.  Most of this area is very hilly and it seems that no matter where you want to go there is at least one hill to deal with.  I don't mind it if we have nowhere to go and today we're all home since everything has been canceled.
First I embarrassed my oldest daughter by sledding on our street, but I had fun and she finally loosened up.  Then the girls had fun sledding and making snow angels.  The snow was too dry for making snowmen today.  As we walked we saw evidence of all sorts of wildlife including bird tracks and fresh mole hills.
When we returned home I looked out at the pond to discover our neighbor cat sitting on the frozen pond.  I went in to get the camera but he had left, instead I found that one of our new friends was perched on the same trellis that the hummingbird used last year.  The little Anna's hummingbirds that stay here all winter appreciate the fresh sugar water that isn't frozen.
Several times she chased away other hummingbirds while I was out in my bare feet and Crocs taking pictures.  I didn't even notice that it was only 20F while I was getting up close.

She was busy keeping an eye out for other hummingbirds and wasn't bothered by me.
 When the sun hits the dark patch under her chin you can see the beautiful red feathers shimmering, although it's not visible in these pictures.

 After chasing away another hummingbird she replenishes her energy.

 I honestly think her allowing me to get up close is one of the most wonderful things I have ever experienced.  It just does something to me to have the honor of getting this close to nature.

 I tried this one on macro just to see if it made a difference.  That green is gorgeous!

 After returning from another chase she rests on the Daphne 'Summer Ice' which is still blooming.

This corner of the pond is where the cat had been sitting, the warmth of his body melted the ice through.  I also see that I forgot to bring in my Salvia 'Golden Delicious'.  Everything else looks pretty good, just a bit wilty from the cold.

I think around this area if you are faithful about filling your hummingbird feeders and bringing them in so they don't freeze you can make a beautiful friend like I did.  Once I can get out again I plan to buy at least one more feeder so that they can all have something to drink on these especially cold days.
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Monday, November 22, 2010


We had to wait a really long time to finally see snow again here.  Last year we had no snow at all which is very unusual.  Normally we get it at least a few times during the winter and then the news teams are out doing live broadcasts and everything is canceled.  Today the kids in our area were already at school when the snow started and I can only imagine how anxious they all are to get out for the day so they can play in the snow.  I get almost as excited as my kids do when it snows.  I've been known to get up during the night and peek out the window to see if it's snowing. 

Rose 'Kimberlina' still had quite a few flowers blooming up until today.  In fact we hadn't even really had a frost yet.

The snow really started coming down heavily for awhile.

The pond looks like a big slushee.  Birds have been flying through for a drink at the pond since the birdbaths are frozen.  Hummingbirds are fighting over the feeders.  I'm tempted to buy a couple more to hang out since there have been several of them in our yard and they aren't good about sharing.

It's supposed to get much colder here in the next few days, I'm sure the pond will have a layer of ice over it by then.  I'll leave the waterfall going to keep a hole in the ice.  That will make sure the fish have oxygen and the birds have water.

Yesterday our family drove into the city to Swanson's nursery to visit the reindeer.  We were able to pet them and the Littlest Gardener sat in a small sleigh and had her picture taken with one.  I was surprised at how small they are, no wonder it takes 8 to pull Santa!

 Right next door to the reindeer are Curly the camel and Moe the miniature donkey.  They were hilarious together chasing each other around.

Now the Littlest Gardener and I sit inside drinking our hot chocolate while the pumpkin spice candle makes the house smell delicious and are enjoying watching the snow.  Even though this winter is supposed to be cold we just never know when we may see the snow again, so we're enjoying every minute of it.
Right after I published this I looked at my sidebar blogroll of Pacific Northwest garden blogs only to see many of us are posting about snow today.  Guess I wasn't the only one anxious to see snow!
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The pond in November.

I can't believe November is half over already.  We've been having lots of wind and rain the last few days, so beside going out to take pictures there's not much I can get done in the garden.  It looks like it will cool down this weekend, but I'm not sure it'll be cold enough for a frost still and the chance of snow seems to be diminishing too.  Still, it definitely feels like winter is here.
The pond seems to be filling with leaves again, but I'll wait to scoop them out until the leaves are off all the trees.  The fish have been fairly active still.  I noticed recently there seem to be fish missing again.  I haven't seen signs of raccoons, so I'm wondering if the herons have been sneaking in.  The strangest thing I found while weeding a few weeks ago was a fish in the middle of the shed garden.  I have no idea how it got there, something must have dropped it.  Last winter the heron pretty much emptied our pond, I'm hoping that doesn't happen again this year.
Today while I was out I saw two hawks circling above the school behind us.  Normally we don't see a lot of hawks around here because the crows chase them away.  Maybe the hawks will scare the herons away.

 I love the fuchsia magellanica this time of year.  It is still covered in flowers and will be until after the first hard frost.

 This stake with the little pot on it is to mark where some of the bulbs I planted are.  This will hopefully prevent anyone from stepping on them as they emerge of me from digging into them again.  I got the idea to spray paint them from another blog this summer, I can't remember which one it was though.  Salvia 'Golden Delicious' is still blooming in the container.

 Here on the fence you can see the trellis I painted last week.  It really adds some nice bright color.

 I'm so excited that the Beautyberry 'Profusion' is doing so well.  It was planted last year after seeing it on many blogs.  I'm so happy to see how many berries it has in it's first year.

Speaking of spray painting things, this is another trellis I painted last week.  It could use another coat, but will have to wait until next spring.  My hope is that the Pieris will cover the light transformer boxes eventually.  I love these little purple Violas, they are one of my favorite flowers right now.

I wonder if the pond will have ice on it, or maybe even snow in December's picture.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

November 2010 Bloom Day

November garden bloggers bloom day is here and we are lucky enough to still have flowers blooming in the garden.  Still no frost here, although I did see that the National Weather Forecast has predicted a chance of snow for the weekend.  Yesterday I planted some more bulbs that I found at the grocery store (I wasn't looking for bulbs but they were right there at the entrance calling out to me), Tulipa greigii 'Quebec', and planned to take more pictures of flowers after I was finished but by 2:45 pm it was already starting to get dark, a little earlier than usual because it was so overcast out.  During the summer at that time it's too bright to take pictures, now at that time it's too dark.

 Rose 'Tamora' didn't grow much in height this year, but has produced lots of blooms for it's first year in the garden.

 'Kimberlina' is covered in opening buds.

 The Lavender has a new round of flowers which is surprising.  I planted these as 2 inch plants last year and they are huge now.

 The Abelias are covered in flowers.

 Cosmos still blooming.

 On of the longest blooming perennials in my yard are Red Valerian (Centranthus ruber).

Tiarella - I think this is 'Neon Lights' is just starting to bloom.  In fact all the Tiarellas have new blooms on them.

Also in bloom are some Heucheras, hardy fuchsias, Mexican Orange (Choysia ternata), Geranium 'Rozanne' and 'Wargrave Pink', Daphne 'Summer Ice', Calendula and Pansies.
To see who else has flowers blooming now visit Carol of May Dreams Gardens who hosts Garden Bloggers Bloom Day the 15th of each month.
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Will you be the winter regular?

Around this part of Washington the Anna's Hummingbirds stick around for the winter.  The Rufous hummingbirds have been gone for awhile now heading south to warmer temperatures.  About 2 weeks ago I noticed an increase in Anna's hummingbirds in the yard and since the only thing left blooming for them are the hardy fuchsias I was quick to refill the hummingbird feeders.  By the end of that day I noticed there seemed to be a regular at both feeders.  Last year I had one (the hummingbird in my header) that was a real regular, especially during a much cooler than normal period of 2 weeks in which I would take the feeders in each night so they wouldn't freeze.  My little regular would be sitting and waiting for me each morning while I rehung the feeder.
While Sweet Pea and I were doing some spray painting outside we heard this little girl sitting in the Dogwood tree chirping between visits to the feeder.  She would rest there, fly to the feeder then sit in the Butterfly bush, back to the feeder and then back to the Dogwood tree again.  She continued this pattern the whole time we were out there.  It seems that during the cooler weather they are either much less shy with us or they are just too cold and hungry to care.  Maybe they know we're the ones providing them their food.

Balancing on the very tip of one of the Dogwood branches.  Look at all those buds for next spring!

The lighting was a little tricky since it was early and very overcast out.

In these two pictures I was standing right underneath her.  I love how you can see her feathers.

I wonder if she'll be our regular this winter?  If the weather is as cold as predicted I'll be busy bringing the feeders in and out each day.

And this is what we were spray painting.  The long trellis from the back fence behind the pond which has Clematis 'The President' growing on it.  The little table was $7 from IKEA and perfect for a plant.  The other trellis is in a wine barrel container that I just planted a Pieris japonica in and filled the front with the cutest purple Violas.  I love how it turned out.

I wanted to share a really good website that I use pretty often to help ID birds that I'm not familiar with.  It's called whatbird.com.  It covers the United States, Canada and quite a few other countries as well.  It helps to ID birds by size, color, location, bill shape and a lot more.  So it can be really useful for those times that you don't get to really see all the details, but maybe enough to help figure out what type it was.  Another great site to learn more about birds is All About Birds, the Cornell lab of ornithology.
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