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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The big purple rhodie.

A few people asked about the big rhododendron in my post yesterday.  I sort of purposely didn't tell my husband to put the flash on when he took my picture under it.  I'm one of those people that hates having my picture taken.  But this rhodie is looking so beautiful right now I thought I should give it the pictures it deserves.  
When we bought this house 10 years ago this poor shrub barely had any blooms on it.  I've worked very hard to bring it back to life.  I've put compost around it and pruned all the dead branches out.  A few years ago we took down the scraggly Aborvitae hedge that grew along the fence to the right of it.  We also had the large cedar behind it limbed up so that we could get some more sun in our garden.  All these things have helped it to put on its best show ever this year.  It has been absolutely full of bumblebees.  When I'm working in the garden near it I can hear a loud buzzing from them.

As you enter the side yard the purple flowers are hard to miss.

Closer still.

A perfect backdrop for the water garden.  Lots of herbs and flowers are planted in the corner bed here.

I love the red inside, no wonder the bees love it so much.

Now I think these are much more flattering pictures!
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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Where in the world is Bilbo: Washington!

Bilbo made it safely to Western Washington yesterday on an 80 degree day with blue skies.  Thanks to Prairie Chicken of Winnipeg, Canada for packing him safely and including a magnet, key chain and a cute stuffed mosquito that buzzes.  Of course my girls loved all the surprises included.

Bilbo found the first Starbucks after his long flight.

Thanks to Bilbo's visit I noticed that there are 3 water lily buds above the water now.  In the background you can see he was enjoying a visit with the littlest gardener's friends.

Bilbo checking the Poppy and Larkspur seedlings.

Bilbo in the front yard surrounded by mallow, iris, liatris and phlox.

Bilbo in one of the containers on the front porch.  It's really starting to fill in now!

If you are interested in having Bilbo visit you, let me know in your comment and I'll add your name to the hat.

#1) COPY & PASTE these rules into your post on Bilbo if you receive him. The post must be titled WHERE IN THE WORLD IS BILBO: (your city). If everyone copies the rules, then the person you send it to will know what to do. If each post is titled the same, we can keep track of Bilbo and follow him on his adventure. PLEASE do not forget to copy and paste these rules into your post if you receive Bilbo.
#2) In order to participate you MUST leave a comment on the post about Bilbo with the blogger that has him. That blogger will draw names from the people who left comments on that post. Once the winner is selected Bilbo will be on his way to see your garden.
#3) When you receive Bilbo please take a photo (or photos) of him in your garden as well as a photo of yourself with Bilbo.
#4) Rules are linked to http://northmobilegardensociety.blogspot.com/ . Please leave a comment on The Dirt Princess' page so she can keep track of him and let other bloggers know where Bilbo is, and post where bloggers can see his latest travel.
#5) Please try to get Bilbo out the door as quickly as you possibly can. If at all possible please try not to keep him more than 7 days. We want to get him to as many places as we can in 6 months.
#6) Bilbo will travel for 6 months, April 21, 2009- October 21, 2009. If you have Bilbo at the end of this 6 month time frame, you will ship him back to the Dirt Princess athttp://northmobilegardensociety.blogspot.com/.
#7) When Bilbo arrives back with the Dirt Princess, there will be a great post letting everyone know where Bilbo has been, when he visited as well as links to the bloggers posts that had Bilbo.
#8) There will be a list enclosed with Bilbo for each blogger to sign once they receive Bilbo. That list will be sent back to the Dirt Princess.
#9) Should anyone have any questions please contact Dirt Princess at
#10) The blogger that is has possession of Bilbo is responsible for shipping him to the next blogger. Please handle him with care. He is ceramic.
#11) Bilbo may be shipped to countries outside the United States. We want everyone to join in on the fun!
#12) If you would like to throw in a little something with Bilbo to ship the next blogger, please feel free. Add to the excitement. See what Bilbo brings you when he arrives at your door step.
Have fun and DON'T forget to copy the rules into your post when you receive Bilbo.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

How about some color!

It's hard not to notice the color beginning to jump out of the garden right now.  A few weeks ago I was glad I had lots of interesting foliage to look at.  As much as I appreciate the leaves it's the flowers I really love to see.  

Spiraea 'Magic Carpet'

Syringa x prestoniae 'Miss Canada' is just beginning to bloom.  This type doesn't have the same yummy fragrance that Syringa vulgaris does.   It does have a scent, just different.  I'll show a picture of it when it's fully blooming.  The flowers form a "looser" shape than the Syringa vulgaris too.   The bumblebees seem to still like it, they were all over the open blooms.

My youngest sister and her husband landscaped their backyard last summer.  She asked if my other sister and I wanted the iris.  Of course we said "Yes!!"  Who doesn't want pretty, free plants?   These iris are a really pretty, light lavender.  Thanks Maureen!!

This Daylily was here when we bought the house.  I've dug it up and spread it all through the front yard.  I've shared it with my sister too, the one that also took the free iris.  I don't know the variety, but it is a lemony-yellow.  This one doesn't rebloom, so we enjoy them while they last.

Ornamental strawberry (fragaria ananassa) 'Lipstick' grows near our driveway.  A tough and pretty groundcover that will put up with foot traffic.  It does occasionally produce edible berries.

I think this guy got a little mixed up.  He and his lady friend were hanging around yesterday morning but couldn't find the thistle feeder.  I moved it to a tree where it may be more visible.  I'm glad to see the American Goldfinches back.  The last couple of years they haven't been around much.

The sun is already out and we're supposed to get a high of 76 today!

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

A few new flowers and a lucky shot!

New flowers are showing up daily again.  It felt like my garden had been on hold other than the pretty Columbines that have been blooming.  June is usually a great month in my garden.  I see that lots of plants are covered in buds.  
Here are a few new flowers that I found yesterday:

Geranium - unknown.  I did find a geranium tag for 'Plenum'  I wish I remembered when I bought it and where it was planted.  It's supposed to be a double lavender flower.  I hate when I have a tag and no plant.  Usually it's the other way around.

Geranium 'Johnson's Blue'  I didn't even notice buds on it, now it's got lots of flowers.

Viburnum plicatum  'Summer Snowflake', still taking it's time growing, but has quite a few of these pretty flowers.

Unknown bulb, but I think it's in the allium family.  It smells like onions, I'm pretty sure I've accidentally weeded them thinking they were chives.

Pink Lupine

I realized the original lupine picture wasn't very clear, so I went back out later in the day and this is when my surprises came.  
First I looked down and out of the corner of my eye I caught this, the first clematis 'Nelly Moser' bloom.  It's way down at the bottom, not really even noticeable.
'Nelly Moser' and 'Jackmanii' grow here together.  'Jackmanii' is the giant one.

'Nelly Moser', isn't she beautiful?!

Then I stood camera in hand waiting to catch one of the Chickadees bringing food to the babies in the birdhouse.  I stood and waited.  I missed him going in.  I stood and waited more, I missed him coming out.  As I put my camera down I heard a "whoosh" and I knew what that was.  I turned  and took one shot and look what I caught!
I'm pretty sure this is a male Rufous hummingbird.  Male Anna's also frequently visit this new feeder.

This was a case of right place, right time and camera in hand.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New spring buds and blooms.

It's felt like summer the last several days here.  The kids had a long weekend for Memorial Day and we spent lots of time outside.  We planted 2 types of Sunflower seeds, 'Lemon Queen' and 'Mammoth'.   I planted some basil, thyme and grape tomatoes.  Did lots of watering, which feels strange after having so much rain recently, but the seedlings really need it.
Here are the some of the plants that have enjoyed the sun as well:

A new English Rose that I planted earlier this spring.  'Abraham Darby' will have peachy pink/yellow flowers that should have a strong fruity fragrance.  It should get to be about 5 feet tall.  I hope it lives up to it's description.  I don't have a lot of roses, but I really love them.  It's fun to try at least a few in the garden.

I wish I remembered what type of Dahlias these were.  As you can see the slugs have found them, but I put out some children/pet safe slug bait and now the plant has grown quite a bit.  I call this dahlia the 'Lazy Gardener's Dahlia'.  I've never dug the tubers up, except to divide it,  and yet it continues to return every year.  It has deep maroon flowers.  When it blooms I'll post pictures, maybe someone will know the variety.

These sweet little violas are just thriving right now.  They light up a shady area under the fast growing Japanese Maple 'Orido Nishiki' in our front yard.

Honey bees hard at work in the columbines.

Meadow Rue (thalictrum) is beginning to bloom.  I love the fluffy look of these flowers.  This plant gets quite tall, about 4 feet already.

Nigella / Love-in-a-Mist is just starting to bloom.  This year I didn't have as many return.  Hopefully the ones that are here will spread themselves around.  I love the shape of the flower and its airy foliage.

This pretty big yellow Columbine is finally blooming.  It's always the last one to bloom, but it's worth the wait.  This is the only one that I started from seed many years ago.  It looks like sunshine to me!

Just as pretty from the back I think!

I'm sure this is a relative of the previous yellow one.  I found it further down the path, it's the same shape but very pale yellow.  This is the first year I've seen it.  I hope I find more next year.

We're supposed to have more sunny weather for the rest of the week.  All this sun this time of year seems unusual to me.  Maybe it's a payback for the unusually cold winter we had, giving some of the plants that were damaged a chance to recuperate. 

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Things that make a gardener happy.

As a gardener sometimes it's the little things that make us happy.  I think with all the hard work that we put into our garden sometimes it's nice to find things that we don't have to work at.  The little surprises we find as we're going about the weeding, watering, digging and planting.  
Things like:
Flowers that bloom no matter how much they get stepped on or ignored like the
Ornamental Strawberry (fragaria ananassa) 'Pink Panda'.

Flower buds on plants I didn't even realize were there, like this Foxglove (digitalis) growing between a planter and the Japanese Maple.

Beauty that came from flowers cross-pollinating in colors I didn't even know could exist sometimes.

Plants that can grow anywhere surprise me when plants I've done everything right for don't grow at all.

Surprise seedlings from plants I love like this verbena bonariensis.

Seedlings that germinate in a few days like the Zinnia 'Envy' that I'm so excited to see.

Knowing that juicy treats haven't been eaten by the slugs yet.

Figs growing on a tree I thought was dead.

Potatoes that my 2 year old planted, that I was sure would never sprout.

Flower buds on the first tomatoes I've ever started from seed.

These are some things that make this gardener happy!  

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