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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Looking for color on a(nother) dreary day.

 We are back to the usual wet and gray days we've seen so much of lately.  It was so nice to see some dry days last week after weeks of gray, wet weather.  I'm glad I enjoyed the sun while it was here because the rain is back.  There are many rivers with flood watches and we are just about double our average rainfall for March.  Between rain showers today I took a walk around the yard to see what has changed, it seems that there are changes overnight during this time of year.  The apple and pear trees and blueberry bushes are all very close to blooming.  I found flower buds on Clematis 'Nelly Moser' and 'Miss Bateman' and other Clematises seem to just be taking off growing right now.  The tulips all have buds up above the leaves now.  I found that a few plants that were "missing" are now making their way through the soil.  I also found that weeds are just going crazy too, I just need a couple of dry days to take care of them.
Here is a bit of color I found today:

 Enjoying the view of our neighbors Forsythia.  Some years he cuts it way down and we can't see it, so glad we can this year.  The ground drops about 4 feet on the other side of that fence so this Forsythia is pretty tall.

 I like the view of the path from this angle.  Daffodils and Tete-a-tetes are all blooming, but facing the fence, Golden Mock Orange and the pretty leaves of the White Bleeding Heart all pop.

 Finally the Old-fashioned Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis)  has buds starting.  They are so behind and seem much smaller than usual.

 Muscari is just about ready to be picked for little spring bouquets.

 Pink Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum) is beautiful this year.  It has gotten so tall and is covered in flowers.  So far I haven't seen any Hummingbirds at it, maybe they don't like the rain either.

 Marsh Marigold in the pond which needs a bigger container.

 Navelwort (Omphalodes cappadocica) 'Starry Eyes'.

The flower from this Epimedium surprised me, it's so bright it stood out against the Crocus and Bluebell foliage around it.

Probably one of my favorite container plantings I've ever done.  It is so bright!

Looks like our next chance at a dry day is Sunday, otherwise it's rain all the way through next weekend.  I'm just hoping this spring won't be as wet and cool as last spring was.  It was hard on many of the plants (and gardeners).
All words and photos in this post are property of A Gardener in Progress. Pin It

Monday, March 28, 2011

Voila, Violas!

I've visited several nurseries lately, and it's still a bit early for a huge selection of plants.  I have my mental list of plants I want to buy as soon as I see them (Agastache 'Golden Jubilee' and Alstroemeria to name a couple), and I'm being good so far in not just buying other perennials until I know where I want them to go.  I'm able to pass by the summer blooming bulbs now since I've still go some to plant and also because they don't give me the instant gratification I'm looking for now.  But the one little plant I'm just drawn to lately are the cute little Violas.

The latest to find their way home with me.  It was all I could do to just stop at 5 since there were so many pretty choices.

'Sorbet Baby Face Orchid'

'Sorbet Antique Mix' has the tiniest flowers I've seen on a Viola before.

'Penny Mickey' is the largest flowered Viola I found.

'Sorbet Coconut Swirl' I think might be my favorite, not sure if it's the color or the name because it makes me hungry.

'Sorbet Lemon Chiffon' is such a sunny color.

I planted these several months ago and they have really filled in.  The color is so pretty, it almost glows.

Wish I could remember their name.

While at the local big box store today I saw another pretty display of Violas, and while I did stand and look at them, I made myself resist them until I get the rest planted.  
Every spring I'm drawn to Violas, but they are usually hard to find.  It seems this year there is a much bigger choice, at least the places I've seen them.  They should overwinter fine here and hopefully even reseed.  Maybe the Violas are finally giving Pansies a run for their money in the popularity department?  I hope so, I love their sweet little faces.
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Friday, March 25, 2011

The shed garden in March.

Somehow we lucked out yet again with another nice day.  It was supposed to rain both yesterday and today, instead we had sun and mild temperatures.  The only rain that fell was during the night.  The Littlest Gardener and I have spent as much time as possible outside soaking in the Vitamin D.  She was busy leaving supplies out for the garden fairies.  I guess they can never have too many small sticks, leaves and pieces of gravel.  Now that she's four and a half she's really fun to have outside with me, her imagination has just taken off.  She routinely looks for signs of fairies in the backyard.  We know they're out there somewhere, but she tells me they are afraid of people.
Last year Sweet Pea and I started what we now call the shed garden.  It had been part of the side yard where we kept yard waste cans and whatever yard junk that had no other place to go.  Since removing the old metal shed and adding a new one last spring this whole area has taken on a whole new look.

It's hard to imagine that this time last year this was all gravel and leftover piles of bricks, plant pots and other junk.  I'm really happy with how it looks just one year later.

Ribes sanguineum 'King Edward VII' was planted in the shed garden last summer.  It has already grown so much and is loaded with blooms.  Everything in the shed garden has to compete with our neighbors huge Cedar trees roots on the other side of the fence.

Deutzia 'Chardonnay Pearls' has been in my garden for years, but I moved it to the shed garden last year.  I'm surprised it's already got blooms on it.  (Tina, is yours at about the same stage?)

Some of the tulips I planted last year are loving the sun.  I think things grew overnight, these buds were not this far up last time I looked.

Lewisia that I found at the fruit market last year already has buds.  I read that these can be difficult plants, but it loves it here.  I hope they have more this spring since they were such a great price compared to what I just saw them for at a nursery.

I'm not sure if the Dogwood will bloom this year, but at least there are leaf buds.  This one has never bloomed well.  I love how a row of Foxgloves planted themselves along the fence behind the tree.

This is taken looking out from the shed.  There is still some nice blank planting space left.

To see what this area looked like last year click here.  It's so fun taking an unused and forgotten part of your yard and turning it into a new garden space.  Especially if you have a small yard like we do, the whole yard becomes valuable garden real estate.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Path garden is waking up!

 Today felt like it should've been the first day of spring.  It was sunny and warm (around 60) with a gentle breeze blowing.  I spent the majority of the day working in the front yard, but had to see how the path garden was looking since it's pretty behind where it normally is this time of year.  I was happy to see that everything is waking up, in fact I was shocked at just how quickly some things had changed since I last looked.

 A look down the path from this morning.  It's hard to see in this picture both Clematises on the arbor have lots of new growth.  I know I should prune 'Comtesse de Bouchaud' back but it's so full of new growth, some of which look like flower buds, that I've decided to leave it and will prune when it's done blooming.  Geraniums are filling in along the deck.

Golden Mock Orange (Philadelphus) is leafing out.  I can't wait to smell it's pretty white flowers soon.

Old-fashioned Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis) is starting to grow much faster now after some warmer weather.

One of my and the hummingbirds favorite spring blooming shrubs is Pink Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum).  I just love how it looks against the bark of the Ponderosa Pine.

Navelwort (Omphalodes cappadocica) 'Starry Eyes' is beginning to spread some.  It's flowers are a true blue, but tiny.  You need to get right down low to appreciate them.

Camellia japonica 'Marie Bracey'

Corylopsis (Winter Hazel) 'Buttercup' is a tricky one to photograph.  It has the softest butter yellow flowers.

 Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum commutatum) is popping up all over the place.  I'm so happy it continues to spread under this big rhododendron.

I also found flower buds on Epimedium, as well as tiny leaves emerging where I thought a mole's continually pushing up on another one had killed it, and flower buds on the fruiting currant bush.  Still no signs of life on a my favorite hydrangea in the path garden.   No signs of Uvularia or Virginia Bluebells yet either.
Sometimes I get so focused on one part of my garden that I sort of forget about other areas.  It's little signs of the path garden waking up that remind me of how pretty this part of the garden is in spring.  It just might be my favorite part of the yard this time of year.
Hope you are finding more and more of your garden waking up soon.
All words and photos in this post are property of A Gardener in Progress. Pin It

Monday, March 21, 2011

A good weekend!

Finally dry weather and a free weekend coincided.  This weekend we got to enjoy our front garden after weeks and weeks of hard manual labor out there.  We had dry weather and we did see some sun but it stayed mostly in the low 50's.  We had fun plant shopping and planting when we got home Saturday.  Sunday my girls and I went to a plant sale where we found some more plants.  The Littlest Gardener and I planted Sugar Snap bush peas in the new raised bed, I planted Oriental lilies and gladiolas by the picket fence - only one bag of Dahlias left to plant now!  So fun to be digging small holes rather than shoveling loads of soil, gravel, etc...

 I already love how this little area is going to look.  I planted some Corsican Mint to grow around the stepping stones here.  It makes me hungry every time I smell it.  The purple flowered plant is an Erysimum or Wallflower 'Bowles Mauve',  I just love how long this plant blooms for.  I've also planted Agastache and a Lavatera to fill in the corner.  Lavatera is a favorite of my husband's and I thought the least I could do is let him help choose some of what will grow here since he did the majority of the hard work, usually he doesn't really mind what I plant.  Along the front fence (inside) I planted several different perennials that I hope will grow up through both sides of the fence.

 Just a few dwarf boxwoods for some evergreen color, I don't want anything that gets big because I plan to have lots of other flowers and grasses mixed in here.

 While I was out I noticed that the Muscari is finally starting to get flowers.  The Littlest Gardener has been asking when the Grape Hyacinths will be ready to pick.  We have so many growing that it is one flower I don't mind how many she picks.

 Crocus enjoyed some sun.

 Daffodils blooming in the shed garden.  Not too far from this area I planted more Tiger lilies.  They seem to do really well back here in the sun and close to Cedar trees.

 My new plants from the plant sale on Sunday.  I found Epimedium, Trillium, Drumstick Primula, another type of Primula, Tulipa turkestanica, Papaver rupifragum and another that I can't remember the name of.

 Epimedium 'Elfin Pink' has the sweetest tiny pink flowers.

While I was at the plant sale I got to meet Alison of Bonney Lassie and her husband.  It was a lot of fun to talk with Alison in person.  It's funny how much we knew about each other, not ever having met or talked in person before.  I didn't get to stay long as the Littlest Gardener was cold and done with plant shopping.  Look at the cute birds that Alison gave me, so nice of her.  I can't wait to see what she bought since she was just getting started shopping as we were finished.

This time of year I seem to have an ever growing chore list of what needs to be done outside.  For this week I need to finish pruning Clematises, sow more seeds both inside and outside, pot up some of my indoor seedlings and get some potatoes planted.  One thing not on our list this year - grass mowing.  Half our town was out mowing this weekend and happily for us we weren't one of them.
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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lucky me!

I sure have had a string of good luck lately.  In a matter of about 2 weeks I won not one, but four giveaways!  I've signed up for many giveaways over the past two years of blogging and have won a couple.  But imagine my surprise and excitement when it seemed like every time I checked back to see who the winner was I saw my name.

First it was the $100 Proven Winners giveaway on Heather's blog Dusty Bay.  I'll be sure to post pictures of the plants when they arrive.  Heather has a great blog and is another Pacific Northwesterner and lives up in Canada.  Take a visit to see her beautiful flower and plant posts.  Lots of great plant information there.

Then it was Becca's giveaway on A Southern Garden by Becca.  Becca is in Alabama and I love seeing how different it is down there.  She is a very good hearted person and always has something kind to say.  She also has the cutest dog Buddy who is her garden buddy.  Becca was having a blogaversary giveaway and look at all the things she sent.  I'm totally hooked on the butter pecan coffee, the smell is unbelievable.  Just opening the box the scent of butter pecan started making me hungry.  Now I have to figure out how I will get more of it :)

Next, I found out I won Linda's giveaway on Gardening by Trial and Error.  Linda is hilarious in both her blog and her comments.  I was so lucky to get to meet her last year when she drove all the way up from southern Washington to my house.  She came loaded with plants and seeds to share.  I'm waiting to see how the Siberian irises look when they bloom this year.  We like comparing what's blooming in each others gardens during the year since we are in the same state yet about 3 hours driving distance from each other.

Finally I got an email from Phillip of Dirt Therapy that I won a book from his giveaway.  Phillip is also from Alabama and has a beautiful gardens that he shares with his fantastic photography.  He also shares delicious sounding recipes with pictures of the final product.  I only wish I enjoyed cooking as much as gardening.

Even though I've only met Linda in person, I feel a real connection to my fellow garden bloggers.  Some I've gotten to know a little more through comments on each others blogs, emails and Facebook.  There are so many good and generous people out there in the gardening world, I feel privileged to have gotten to know so many and be able to count them as friends.
Today I'm heading to the Northwest Perennial Alliance plant sale and am hoping to meet up with Alison of Bonney Lassie.
Oh, yeah and one more good thing... today is the first day of Spring!!
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Friday, March 18, 2011

The pond in March.

There's been so much time spent in the front garden lately that I've been making it a point to take regular walks around the backyard to see what's happening back there.  The pond is looking good but the string algae is at the point where I need to be scooping it out more regularly.  This is normal for my pond in late winter/early spring.  Once it's a bit warmer that type of algae slows way down.  The Littlest Gardener and I were at the pet store looking at fish yesterday, they had a good selection of pond fish (inexpensive koi, sarassas, comets) but I'm going to wait at least another month until the pond gets a chance to get the good bacteria growing in the filter again.  I use a powder that is all natural enzymes that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria.  It also contains barley which helps inhibit the growth of algae.

 The starts of tulips, Dutch iris and other bulbs are starting to show around the pond.  I notice far fewer iris reticulata blooming this year.  The Clematis that grows up the birdhouse post, trellis and shepherd's hook all have lots of new growth.  In the middle of the pond the bright green is the string algae.  Scooping it is on my to do list this weekend.

 The small planter around the waterfall was where I planted some small daylilies, I can't wait to see how they look this year since they were new last summer.

 White Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra spectabilis) are usually behind the pink ones, this year they are much further ahead.

 I planted fritillaria last year and am so excited to see these flowers.

 Daffodils are really taking their time opening, but they are getting close.

 Another flower I'm excited to see are the Gregii tulips I planted last fall.  I love the speckled foliage.

The weather is looking promising for the weekend, I hope we really do get some sun.  Hopefully we'll do some plant shopping for the front yard and maybe get some Sweet Pea and poppy seeds planted out front.  We finally had a couple of dry days, although they were cold and mostly overcast, at least the ground had a chance to dry a bit.  I'm beginning to think I lost quite a few plants this winter.  So far it looks like a David Austin rose, a hydrangea, a hellebore are probably dead and there are several other plants that are still missing. 
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Front garden update - almost there!

As I was sorting through my pictures for this post I could hear the movie that the Littlest Gardener was watching, 'The Princess and the Frog' (a very cute movie that takes place in the south) and the song that was playing was "Almost There" (click here to hear the song).  It seemed like the perfect song for how I feel about this front yard project that we've been working on.  We really are almost there!
My husband's family was here for the past 5 days, and what a great visit it was.  As I mentioned in my previous post my father-in-law was a cabinet maker and my husband spent a lot of time helping in his shop while he was growing up.  They had a lot of fun working on this project together.  I know my husband learned a few new tricks from his dad too.  Apparently rubbing soap (bar soap works best but liquid will work too) on screws makes drilling them into wood easier.

The set up in the garage.  I had an idea of how I wanted the arbor to look and told my FIL.  I got the inspiration from seeing a pergola he had built for his older son that lives in California.

The only time I got nervous was when I looked outside and saw my 77 year old FIL on top of the ladder as they shortened the posts.  Here they were figuring out what length they wanted top to be.

The finished arbor.  They primed it in the garage to make painting it a little easier later.  This way there will only need to be one coat of paint applied.

I love how it turned out and can't wait until there is a rose and or Clematis growing over it.

The proud builders.

The gate from the driveway.  We plan to put a couple of pickets up on the right side, but that can be done another day.  That way the yard should be pretty well enclosed so our dog can be out there with us and not tied up like she usually is while we're out front.

The old washtub I shared the other day is almost full of water from all of the rain.  I think nature decided for me that this will be a water garden.  A couple people mentioned they had a problem with metal washtubs getting too hot for a water garden, but I'm pretty sure our weather stays cool enough that it won't be a problem.

So, as you can see from the pictures we really are almost there.  All we need to do is give the fence a nice coat of paint and we're done.  Except for the planting, but that will be fun, not work.
All words and photos in this post are property of A Gardener in Progress. Pin It