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

Monday, November 30, 2009

End of month view - November 2009.

A few months ago I joined in with Helen from The Patient Gardener's Weblog and chose a spot in my yard to take an end of month picture. Since this it at the entrance to the front of my house I thought it would be a great place to focus on and see what might need changing.

It was interesting to go back just one month to see the changes. Last month there were still some leaves on the Japanese Maple and many on the ground below the tree. Since then the rest of the leaves have fallen and most of the leaves raked. I've gotten the bulbs in the ground and some Violas planted as well. After looking at these pictures I see that the hydrangeas could do with some pruning, but I won't prune them back until very early Spring.

Hardy fuchsia 'Pat's Dream' is still blooming.

Another difference this month is the Hydrangea leaves changing to a yellowish-gold color. It's difficult to see in this picture the pretty red color of the new branches on the Japanese Maple 'Orido Nishiki'. They definitely add some color to this area.

Most of the flowers on 'Nikko Blue' have become an extremely pale shade of blue, except for this late bloomer. I've cut several flowers off to bring in for some color inside this winter.

It's hard to believe in one month it will be the end of 2009, and the eve of a new year starting. I wonder if we'll have had our first hard frost by then or maybe even some snow?
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Not bad for the end of November!

I've always said I love gardening in the Pacific Northwest. We are very lucky to have a fairly long growing season. While in the early spring it sometimes feels like it's taking forever for much to happen, it's the late fall and early winter time that I realize just how much will still grow and bloom here into November and December. I think many gardeners around here garden almost year round. Except for the days that we have some very cold weather or snow, there's almost always something I can find to do outside. I once read that if the ground isn't frozen you can still move plants around here, and believe me I do.
So when I saw that it wasn't raining outside today and we had no other plans I of course decided to do a little cleanup and take a look around the yard.
These are some of the buds and blooms I found in the front yard today:

An 'Endless Summer' bloom that's still hasn't changed to pink like the rest of the flowers on the shrub.

Rose 'Kimberlina' has had this bud for awhile, but it's just decided to bloom. There are several other buds as well.

An unknown pink Pentstemon. This plant died all the way to the ground this past winter which is unusual for them in my garden. It will probably bloom until the first hard freeze.

The $2 Penstemon 'Raven' has the most gorgeous deep purple blooms. The camera really didn't capture the color very well.

If you want an easy rose that blooms forever and has the glossiest green leaves then Flower Carpet Roses are a great choice. It is loaded with buds and flowers and I think it will also bloom until the temperatures drop into the freezing range.

No flowers here, but look at the vibrant color of Bloody Dock (Rumex sanguineus). I planted this months ago but the surrounding plants covered it and I forgot all about it until today. It's hardy in zone 6a - 8b so it should overwinter here. If it survives it will get moved to a much better place.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Rustic Colors' is still managing a few little flowers.

Hellebores (H. orientalis) all seem to be pushing their buds up almost a month early. These are one of my favorites. I remember buying these many years ago and my husband being shocked at the price. They've been worth every cent and I've gotten quite a few seedlings which have been moved into my backyard.

And last is the cute little Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium). It was plopped in this spot at the end of summer after not looking too happy in the pot I had it in. It seems to like where it is now, I was surprised to see blooms on it now.

What a nice way to finish off a busy weekend to see so much color outside.
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Friday, November 27, 2009

Hummingbird in sports mode.

While the flowers have pretty much finished for the season I've been focusing more of my picture taking on the different birds in my yard. The hummingbirds, as many people know, are some of the most difficult to take pictures of. We've had quite a bit of hummingbird activity lately here. Over the last three or four years I've noticed that the Anna's hummingbirds stay here through the winter. They love the hardy fuchsias and Abelias, but I also keep the feeders freshly filled. If we ever do have a heavy frost or freeze the fuchsias will be no longer be blooming and I want them to have a place in my yard for them to get a drink.
I've taken pictures of hummingbirds before, and gotten some pretty good pictures for a "point and shoot", but the one thing I've had difficulty in doing is getting more than one shot before they fly away. Now that I have my new camera (new since around May), a Canon Powershot SX10 IS, to use this winter I've been trying all different settings to see what works the best.

Perched in a resting spot in a tree in the schoolyard, this female Anna's hummingbird rested between visits to our feeder.

I've been trying everything to capture them, but they are so fast that it's hard to get a good shot.

Not long ago Kathleen mentioned taking some bird photos in Sports mode on her camera. That made perfect sense to me. So I changed my setting to the Sports mode to see what would happen. All of these pictures are taken in that setting.

Although the lighting wasn't the best I was able to capture quite a few shots in this mode. I was able to take continuous shots which is something that I've had hard time getting my camera to do in other settings.

I hadn't been able to capture a wing in mid flight before, so the Sports mode really helped. I've read reviews on my camera and found that others saw the same thing in Sports mode, not the most clear but able to capture continuous action photos . In this review I read that using the Aperture Priority mode ISO 80 took a much more clear picture.

The main reason I got this camera was to take pictures of my family, and with one daughter already in sports I want to be able to take some clear action pictures of her. Basketball season has just begun and now thanks to the hummingbird I'll have some experience with the sports mode. I'll also be trying the Aperture setting mentioned above and see what the differences are.
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I'm one of those people who peeks out the curtain every morning to see what the weather is like. Lately it's been the same thing every morning, rainy and dark. What a beautiful surprise I had this morning when I looked out and saw the pink skies from the sunrise.

The sun cast a pink glow over everything.

I loved how it illuminated the trees from behind.

It was difficult to capture Mt. Rainier during the sunrise because of the lighting, but the lower foothills of the Cascades were visible.

It's always surprising how fast the sky changes while the sun is rising. I stood in the front yard to soak in the pink glow, it was amazing.

About 2 hours later you could see all the snow on Mt. Rainier. Just breathtaking!

How thankful I am to be able to take the time to enjoy this beauty!

It was never completely clear of clouds this morning, but it was bright and dry. So bright that the Littlest Gardener brought me her bathing suit to put on her and was quite upset that it wasn't as warm as it looked.
I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving that will be celebrating tomorrow. We'll not only be celebrating Thanksgiving, but my nephew's first birthday. I am so lucky that my whole family will be there, including my sister and her family from Idaho.
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Monday, November 23, 2009

Getting the pond ready for winter.

I'd been waiting for the rain to let up so I could get the pond ready for winter before it looks like this here:

Since it stopped for a very short while yesterday I knew I had to finally "take the plunge" into the very cold water and get the cleanup done. Thankfully the only part of me that had to go in the water were my hands and arms, but I really was hoping for at least a sunny day to do this job. Living in Zone 8 I'm pretty lucky that there isn't a lot I need to do, but there are basic things that are important for any pond owner to do before the cold and freezing weather is here.

*Earlier in the season (about a month ago) I added Crystal Pond which is a natural enzyme to help breakdown any sludge at the bottom of the pond.

*An important thing to know, if you have fish, is to stop feeding them when the weather cools down below 50 degrees. The fish cannot digest the food and it becomes toxic to them.

*I always scoop as many fallen leaves out that I can with my net. By now most of what's going to fall in has already done so, I rarely have to net it out until next fall. When the neighbors had a large leaf Maple tree I would put bird netting over the pond in the fall to prevent so many from falling in and making such a mess.

*I also give my filter, which is a simple pump inside a biological filter, a good cleaning using the hose.

Before it's cleaned you can see all the sludge that collects in and on the filter.

After I take it apart and spray all the parts clean with the hose.

*I remove the annual plants that have either been killed by the first frost, or will be, so that I don't have to try to fish them out of the bottom when they sink.

*I cut back any of the perennial plants that are dying back and any of the lily pads that I can reach as well. All those pads and plants will sink to the bottom and contribute to the "sludge" at the bottom.

Before netting the pond and cutting back the plants it still looks pretty good, but all it will take is one hard freeze and they will all turn to mush. It's not much fun trying to work on the pond when it's freezing cold.

*I leave my filter and pump running all winter. It's rare that our pond freezes more than a few inches (enough to support the weight of our 12 pound dog which insists on scaring me by walking across it). The waterfall running is enough to keep the ice open and to provide oxygen for the fish.

*Some people just use an air stone to help the fish with oxygen. Other people use pond heaters to help keep the ice open. I'm very lucky not to need to do either.

*I notice as the temperatures get cooler that string algae can become a problem and I have to be sure to scrub the waterfall occasionally during the winter with a special brush that I found for cleaning birdbaths.

Ready for the winter.

These are the steps I follow each year about mid fall when it starts to cool down. I find that it's an easy process that takes me an hour or two at most. I've had very good luck with not loosing many fish over the winter and never have had any problems loosing plants as long as they are hardy in our zone. The only downside are very numb hands at the end of the job.

When Spring is closer I'll share how I get my pond ready for Spring and Summer.
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Fertilizer Friday - November 20th.

It's hard to believe that we're this far into November already. We've had a very wet and windy November so far in the Seattle area. Trying to get outside to do much of anything is difficult unless you want to be soaked and windblown while out there. I found that we are quite a bit above our normal November rainfall already. Our average for the whole month is 3.4 inches. As of a couple of days ago we are at 5.16 inches and believe me it's rained a lot more since that last measurement. There are rivers on flood watch, luckily we don't live near any, but I always feel bad when I watch the news and see all these homes that flood. Not everyone can afford to just move and really have a rough time during our rainy season. The wind has also been awful. We've had windstorm after windstorm this week. Ever since the big windstorm in 2006 people around here get very nervous. During the storm in 2006 we lost a lot of shingles from our roof, which led to ceiling leaks and blue tarps on our roof for the rest of the winter until the roofing companies finally had time to replace our roof.
Now for something much better than our weather, flowers! It's Fertilizer Friday which is hosted by Tootsie Time every week.

Oxalis crassipes 'Rosea' is too cold to open right now, but once the day warms a little all these pink buds will open. It normally blooms most of the year.

I feel bad that poor Rose 'Don Juan' gets forgotten about most of the summer, but this fall he's definitely calling out to us with these beautiful rosebuds.

Water Hawthorn (Aponogeton distachyos) has recovered since the raccoon "attack" last week. There are several new flowers. I've noticed it reseeds in my pond and have a couple new ones coming up.

I know I've show Kaffir Lily 'Fenland Daybreak' (Schizostylis) a lot lately, but it's just so pretty I can't help it.

Phygelius or Cape Fuchsia 'Croftway Coral Princess' is still sharing some blooms.

Some of the planters on the deck that are adding a little life to the yard. The Meyer Lemon tree (on the left) is just waiting outside until it's cools down and then I'll bring it in. This will be my first year trying to overwinter it.

One of the fall planters that the Littlest Gardener helped me with.

And last is this funny little Primrose that was already blooming. I think the slugs have already found the leaves, but so far the flower has survived their late night munching. I love these little surprises this time of year.

I hope you'll visit Tootsie to see what else is blooming around the world, inside and outside.
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The pond in November.

After two nights of lots of wind and rain the sun tried to peak out a bit yesterday while I took my November pond pictures. It's been fun looking back at these recently to see some of what's changed since last winter. I did a little more rearranging yesterday with the heucheras. They are so much fun to mix and match colors. Of course as I dug a new planting spot I already dug into bulbs that I just planted, I don't think I damaged them, but it did remind me of why I usually don't have many return.

I can't believe how big the Pickerel Weed got. It supposed to be hardy in our zone, if it survives I'll have to divide it and give it an even bigger pot.

Geranium 'Wargrave Pink' at the front of the pond is blooming a little more. I have lots of these that have self seeded through the yard, but this is the only one blooming now.

A view through the Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata cylindrica) 'Red Baron'. I can't wait for it to spread around. It's got new growth coming up now after I divided it in half when I bought it. I usually check plants when I buy them to see if they can be divided or have more than one plant in the container.

Looking through the fuchsia magellanica by the pond. The hummingbirds have rediscovered it like they do every fall.

This year I didn't get the seedheads cut back on the Ligularia 'Othello' and now I'm really glad I didn't. Not only are they neat looking, but the birds have been eating them.

One of the visitors resting on the fence. We had lots of Chickadees, Bushtits and Juncos come to the pond in the mornings.

I wonder if December's pond pictures will have snow or ice in them?
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