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

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Watch out!

Now that things are beginning to really come out of the ground I feel like I'm continually telling everyone to watch where they're walking.  So many perennials and bulbs are just emerging and I want to make sure we can enjoy the blooms later this spring and summer.   Standing and looking at the big picture a lot of people don't notice the small details (unless you're a gardener) until they really look.
Just look what might get stepped on if they're not paying attention:

Blue Lady Hellebore.  I just planted her, and she's already showing a flower bud.
The flowers look similar to a primula, but I don't remember it's name.  
When I pulled away the dead foliage I could see several babies nearby.
Chelone (turtlehead)
Lot's of tulips are finally beginning to show.
The oriental lilies got pretty beat up last year.  I've moved most of them, but I guess I forgot this one.  I think I'll let it bloom and then move it later.
I'm glad to see that this heucherella returned.  I transplanted it during the summer and it didn't look very happy.  I'm glad to see it survived the move.
Pin It

Friday, February 27, 2009

Mmmmm, 'Sorbet'.

This past weekend while I attended the Northwest Flower and Garden show I was very good and only made one purchase.  It was difficult to do because so many plants were calling out to me.  While at the show I added hellebore 'Party Dress' and cobra lilies to my wish list.  
I had been wanting a peony for the last couple of years, but just hadn't found one that really caught my attention or my budget.  After looking through the many choices I found this one called 'Sorbet'.  I love how there are layers of colors.  They just look delicious to me!
I know the way a peony is planted is very important, so I followed the directions I was given carefully.  I've only planted one other herbaceous peony before, and it has grown and bloomed beautifully.  I decided to plant it near the roses and plan to plant something in front so there will be interest once it has finished blooming.  This one had a huge root with about 4 eyes.
 I'll also need to get a ring support since the rule with peonies seems to be that as soon as they bloom it will rain very hard and all your blooms will droop to the ground.  I guess that probably can wait a year, but knowing me I better do it now so I don't forget before it's too late.  I hope 'Sorbet' will be worth the wait.
Pin It

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A little white dog and a little white fence.

I've read several blogs recently that have shared their experiences with pets in the garden.  At Gardening Gone Wild the design workshop of the month is pets in the garden.  I found this a very interesting topic since we have a pet and a garden and yes, I've definitely had to design things specifically around her.
Our dog Gracie is a 4 year old Bichon Frise.  We really never planned to get a dog, but after meeting my brother- in -law's Bichons we fell in love with the breed.  Here she is when we first went to the breeders.  Before I go any further I must say I highly recommend this breed.   She is very good with kids, friendly, only barks when someone comes to the door, loves to play, doesn't shed and this breed is hypo-allergenic.  
When she was a puppy she liked to chew and eat everything:  plants, rocks and sticks.  I was with her constantly while she was outside to monitor what she was into.   
She eventually outgrew this phase and also decided she really didn't like being outside all that much.  She liked to follow the neighborhood cats around our yard that would visit.  She liked to relax on the chaise lounge chairs in the sun, but that was about it.
That was until she discovered our raised vegetable beds.  About 2 years ago my oldest daughter finally had her first successful crop of carrots growing.  She would check them everyday just waiting to pick them.  Unfortunately Gracie discovered them too and  I came out one day to find her pulling and eating every single carrot.  My daughter was understandably upset.  On top of that I found that there are several fruits and vegetables that are unsafe for dogs to eat, some that we grow.  Among the list are grapes, onions, tomatoes, apple seeds, cherry and peach pits.  I wanted to keep her safe as well as out of trouble with my daughter.
Here's the little carrot eater in action, eating this nose right off the snowman!

We decided to put up a little white picket fence along the side yard where the raised beds are to keep her out while we aren't supervising her.  I actually like how it ended up looking, and now it functions to keep her out and also acts as an entrance to the vegetable garden.  
Pin It

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I have sprouts!

I really wanted to try starting seeds again this year and since I don't have a greenhouse like Tessa at Blunders with shoots, blossoms 'n roots or Frances at Fairegarden I needed to try something different.  They both have had amazing successes with their plantings.  If you want to see flats of happy seedlings those are the places to visit.  I am happy though to notice that I do have some sprouts.  I posted awhile back about my first attempt with winter sowing, when I started hollyhock, larkspur and columbine.  
This is the hollyhock 'Queeny Purple'.  They are already getting their second set of leaves.
Unfortunately the other seeds, larkspur and columbine, never germinated.  I'm guessing that after 3 weeks they probably won't.  Not easily discouraged, I still plan to try some more winter sowing in March.  I wonder if nicotiana sylvestris will work with winter sowing?  
I also decided to try to start some lettuce early indoors this year.  It practically germinated overnight.  This is Buttercrunch, a European Bibb and it's supposed to grow well in containers.  Looks like these guys need to be turned a bit.  Maybe a fresh salad is in my family's future!
This past week I've also sown  Shirley and Breadseed poppies and larkspur directly outdoors.  Maybe I'll have better luck with the larkspur that way. 
While weeding a couple of days ago I found nigella seedlings popping up in the garden.  I planted them about three years ago and they have faithfully reseeded themselves ever since.  The other seedlings in front are an unknown variety of maroon scabiosas that have also reseeded quite generously.  They have a very long stem and bloom all summer.   
 It's been fun seeing the little seeds that I planted and the ones that planted themselves showing their green sprouts!
Pin It

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Overnight blooms.

Yesterday was noticeably mild.  When I checked the temperature in my  car it said 57 degrees.  It just felt like spring.  While walking around outside I was surprised to find flowers that I hadn't noticed the day before.

Anemone blanda
Tete-a-tete daffodils.  Not quite open, but oh so close.  The day before the buds were barely noticeable.
Iris reticulata 'Harmony'
Up close, and personal.
Viburnum 'Spring Bouquet'
Pansy shows a cheerful face.
Seeing these flowers just made me happy, and put me in a better mood the rest of the day.
New growth is showing up everywhere.  Everyday it seems that things have grown overnight.   
Pin It

Monday, February 23, 2009

Water features in the garden.

Yesterday was my turn at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.  I hadn't been in several years and bought our tickets several weeks ago.  Since buying the tickets I was disappointed to learn that this would probably be its last year.  Knowing this I tried to make the most of it, I didn't want to miss anything.  My husband, both of our girls and my Mom had a great time viewing the display gardens and shopping in the market place.  Several times my  2 year old daughter asked if we were at Molbak's.  Molbak's is a nursery that isn't far from here, I guess we've been spending too much time there.   Anyway, on to what we saw.
I'm always attracted to water features in the gardens, so I thought that would be what I would try to pay close attention to.  I enjoy the more natural looking ones and like to see how they have planted around the edges.  Making something look natural inside a convention center isn't easy, but still I was able to gather some new ideas.  It seemed there was a water feature of some sort in almost every display.  From a simple stone with a basin shape to collect water to much more architectural looking ones.  There seemed to be a style to attract almost anyone.

I liked the large boulder here, a great place to sit and enjoy the water and plants.  Azaleas and rhododendrons bloom in the background.
My dream, a beautiful little potting shed with a stream running past it.  Lots of heucheras and ferns.  In the foreground were 3 metal lily pads.
Maybe an urn isn't something you'd really see in nature, but overall this had a more natural look with the larger stones near the edges and trees and azaleas nearby.
I really liked how the hammock almost hung right over the stream.  How relaxing would that be to rest while listening to the water flowing by? 
This was probably my least favorite.  It's difficult to see in this picture, but the pyramid shape is actually all mirrors with water drizzling down.  The plantings around it were very pretty though, mostly these burgundy tulips. 
 I liked the polished stone used in this very relaxing fountain.  The water fell silently over the edges.  
This had a very unnatural, natural look.  I overheard people discussing how unnatural it looked.  I think it's the very straight lines and uniform stone stacking that made it seem that way.
The pool of water around this patio had a small pump running to give the water a slight rippling effect.  I think this would even look nice with some marginals planted along the edges, and possibly even a few fish.  I like how it has the potential to be very clean and simple or softened up with some plants.
Pin It

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Welcome back!

Over the last week or so we've had a real increase in the birds coming to our yard.  Two of these are new to me and it was fun to see them come for a visit.

This little Red-breasted Nuthatch sat there and let me take his picture before flying off.
This Townsend's Warbler made his first visit during the bird count.   
You can see a little better here how vibrant the color is, although it still doesn't do justice to just how pretty the coloring is.  He seems to have made this feeder a regular stop, and sometimes takes a quick bath in the pond waterfall.
Here is a little Golden-crowned Kinglet enjoying a bath.  The one in this picture is a female.  She allowed me to come pretty close to get the picture, but she still looks so tiny in it.  This was the first time I'd seen one of these in our yard.  A few days after I took this picture a male came in for a quick visit.  He sat on the fence and as the sun shone on his head,  his brilliant orange crown sparkled.
There were about 4 Robins of different sizes in and around the pond, this one had been taking a bath right before I took this picture.
The House Finches and Pine Siskins are beginning to arrive too, and have joined in at the feeders by the pond.  I couldn't believe how many Pine Siskins came at once.  I read in the results of the Great Backyard Bird Count that their numbers have increased.  Strange thing was last year I noticed we barely had any.  They had always been a common one on the thistle feeders.  
I'm looking forward to more flying friends, with the weather being a little warmer there really has been an increase in activity.
Pin It

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Good surprises.

How lucky we've been here with all the blue skies this past week!  Outside yesterday afternoon I found a few happy surprises.

 The honeybees were busy going from flower to flower on the sarcococcas.  They didn't stay long on each flower, and I learned why after reading this post on The Gardens at Melissa Majora Honeybee Sanctuary blog.  It has to do with a natural insecticide in each flower that prevents just one pollinator from staying too long.  I was surprised at how many bees were out and how busy they were.  This picture was the best I could do, I deleted so many, that I finally gave up.
On the same shrubs I found this cute ladybug.
When I came back later she was trying to disguise herself as a berry.
There were even bumblebees buzzing around looking for a sunny spot.  I was able to get a picture of this one while it rested on the side of our house.  I'm so happy I learned how to use the macro setting on my camera.  I really enjoy seeing the details and how soft he looks, almost like you could pet him.  There was another one about the same size flying around, but it was mostly black.
This appears to be a heuchera courtesy of the birds.  I'll move it out of where it is since it's right under the flowering currant and won't have much room to grow.  It doesn't look like any of the varieties I have in my garden.  Any guesses on any id?
Nothing better than reaping the rewards of friends in the garden.  I've learned if I treat them well and have what they like they will come to visit and maybe even bring me a little surprise.
Pin It

Friday, February 20, 2009

Who's been digging in my garden?

I was walking out to the front yard when I saw something that caught my eye, holes that I didn't dig for plants.  This nice big hole leads to a tunnel under a weeping cherry tree.
I don't really mind seeing the little holes that I know are from the squirrels.  They don't dig very deep and I usually find these peanut shells nearby.  I know they're just looking for their stash.  I haven't had too much of a problem with them digging up bulbs.
But, it's the mole holes I really don't like.  Every year as soon as the ground begins to warm the telltale mounds of dirt start appearing.  I see them in our lawn and more often in my flower beds.  They push out plants and bulbs, like this little oriental lily bulb.  There was a whole little clump on top of this fresh pile of dirt.  The freshly planted things get it the worst.
I know that moles don't eat plants or bulbs, they are there for the grubs and earthworms, but still they drive me crazy.  I've heard people say it's a sign of a healthy garden if moles are there.  If that's true we must have one of the healthiest yards on the block.  I rarely see mole mounds in any other yard on our street.  Maybe they are secretly laughing underground at us as we carry shovels full of dirt away or stomp around trying to push their tunnels closed.
One year after my husband and I spent a lot of time fixing up a new flower bed he saw the ground moving.  I looked out the window to see him stabbing at the ground with a shovel, I'm sure the neighbors thought they were witnessing a crime in progress.  As much as I don't like the moles I just don't like the thought of killing an animal.  Luckily for that guy, he got away.
I've read lots of articles about natural and unnatural deterrents from hair to chewing gum to flooding their tunnels with water.  I don't know if any of those things really work, but I know the neighborhood cats sometimes can catch them.  The story that always stays in my mind was one that I heard listening to a local talk show host, Pat Cashman, many years ago.  He told the story of his brothers and him pouring gasoline into the tunnels and then lighting it on fire.  I can only imagine how that turned out.
I guess for now I'll just live with them and continue to stomp down their mounds and replant my plants.  
Pin It

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Getting to work!

I think I must have complained too early about spring not coming quickly enough.  We ended up having great weather the past few days.  There was sun and blue skies, even if it did barely make 50 degrees.  I enjoyed getting my roses pruned,  and they have lots of new growth showing.  I don't have too many roses right now, mostly because I have little kids that like to play in the flower beds.  
One of my favorites has been 'Angel Face'.  It has very pretty lavender flowers, almost with a hint of blue, and has a very nice scent, it's classified as a floribunda (1968).  Another great one that never fails is 'Iceberg' with its snow white flowers, also a floribunda (1958).  Both of these also can be found as climbers.   Honey Perfume is a newer one in my garden, it's another floribunda (2004).  It has apricot/yellow flowers and is supposed to be quite disease resistant.  I have only had a few blooms on it, and they do have a nice scent although not all that strong.
Another big accomplishment was finally getting rid of the plum tree that had become an eyesore.  It was right next to our driveway and made such a mess.  The plums cracked every year and no one ever got to enjoy them.  It also became infested with aphids which attracted ants and yellow jackets, not to mention all the suckers it sent up everywhere.  I worked hard to surprise my husband and managed to cut the tree down and dig out the rootball to make room for our newest addition.  
I've always wanted a magnolia tree and we found a really nice one over the weekend.  It didn't hurt that the nursery was having a 30 percent off balled and burlapped trees.  The variety we chose is called 'Vulcan' and is a newer cultivar and no, we are not into Star Trek.  This magnolia should reach about 25 feet. The flowers are wine colored and 10+ inches across and highly fragrant.  I think the magnolia flower buds alone are very pretty.
I hope it lives up to its description.  Either way it should be much nicer than what was there. While I was out I cleaned up the flower bed it was planted in.   My husband brought me many bags of soil and compost to fill in where the stump and roots were.
In front of this bed, to the right in this picture, is a row of spirea 'Magic Carpet'.  They stay small and have golden yellow leaves with a bit of red at the edges.  The flowers are a reddish pink.  I think I will plant annuals around the tree while it's small or until I decide what I'd like to have there.
I love getting started on the spring cleanup early.  I hope we'll have some more mild weather so I can continue my work.  There's more weeding to be done!
Pin It

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fashion in the garden.

There are times I've come in from working in the garden and realize what I've been wearing outside in public.  I know gardening is not a fashion show.  But, I have to say there are days I've looked at my clothing combination and thought "What was I thinking?"   
Maybe it's the combination of capri length sweat pants, socks and Crocs that makes me cringe.  
Maybe it's the rain boots with sweat pants that somehow end up tucked in that make me embarrassed. 
Maybe it's the mornings that I run out for just a minute in pajamas with a coat and end up distracted by the weeds that I wonder if my neighbors were looking out their windows.
These are outfits I would never normally leave the house in.
I live on a fairly busy neighborhood street with parents driving by after dropping off or picking up their kids from school.  When I stand up to wave do they notice my clothing combinations?   
Am I the only one that dresses this way?  Or is it just my impulsivity that I must get out and work in the garden right that minute that I don't even pause to think about what I have on? Gardening shows and commercials always show gardeners wearing clean khaki pants with a button down shirt and maybe a nice straw hat.  Martha Stewart would never be caught wearing shorts and rain boots.   Do most gardeners just wear whatever they have on, whether it's their work clothes, Sunday best, pajamas or a combination of those three?
I've always hoped I would get to be on the show "What Not to Wear".  Not necessarily because I'm always a bad dresser, mostly because the trip and free clothes sound like fun.  I've told my sister I wouldn't be offended if she suggested me for the show.  If they came to secretly film me while I was gardening I know they'd pick me.
Pin It