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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Signs of Spring under snow!

We woke up to a very nice surprise today... snow!  Nothing like what the east coast received, but for me it was the perfect type.  Enough to play in and roads are mostly clear and it's on a school break.  The girls were up and ready for a snowball fight and snowman building.

I told them they couldn't throw snowballs at me because I had the camera, otherwise I would've been their target.
Of course since I had the camera that meant I had to see what was happening in the garden, and even under the snow I found early signs of spring.

There was a big Ponderosa Pine covered in snow and...

signs of spring underneath the snow on the Dogwood tree.  Look at those nice flower buds forming already.

There was a Snowball bush covered in snow and...

Blueberry bushes with leaf buds as well as a few new leaves (but those leaves seem a little too early).

I found Sedum snow flowers and...

Camellia flower buds fattening up.

One of the garden fairies must have gotten caught in the snow and left her little bucket behind.

But the Anna's Hummingbird wasn't leaving anything behind in our garden, especially her attiutude.

She buzzed me and chased me off from the feeder I was standing close to.  She looks very innocent sitting at the top of the Dogwood tree.

I think I'm wearing out the pages of the seed catalogs.  I've even pulled out the old David Austin rose catalog and started trying to decide which one I will choose for the front entry garden. This is a perfect day for spring dreaming inside the warm house!
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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Day after Christmas blooms!

We had a very nice Christmas yesterday with my family.  The Littlest Gardener spent the day in her new Rapunzel costume (and is still in it now) and Sweet Pea has been enjoying her new game.  The garden fairies left a gift for the girls under the tree, it's a door that goes at the base of a tree so they can make a home inside.  Once we get it hung I'll share some pictures of it.
Our weather today has been all over the place; windy, rainy, sunny and COLD!  They are talking snow for the middle of the week.  I thought I'd take a quick walk through the back garden to see if anything had changed, and happily there has been a few changes.  It was still windy and getting late in the day, but I was too excited not to take pictures.

I've got flowers blooming!  The Sarcococca ruscifolia or Sweet Box is already blooming and smells so good!  This plant lives close to some large evergreen trees and does really well.  The berries (which aren't edible) are from last years flowers, this shrub is very slow growing and evergreen.  The delicious scent carries throughout the yard.  I'm thinking I will add one to the entry garden that I'm redoing.

The Hellebore 'Mardi Gras Double' that I planted last year has buds coming up.  Click here to see what it will look like in bloom.

A Hellebore starting to open!

Daphne x transatlantica 'Summer Ice', a pretty evergreen shrub, is starting to bloom again.  It blooms almost year round and like the Sarcococca has a wonderful scent.  I highly recommend both of these shrubs for some winter color and fragrance.

I love how this container is looking.  There is a Viola tucked in here, but it's not blooming right now.

I had mentioned some Hellebores that I had been visiting at the nursery a couple of weeks ago.  My husband told me to go buy them for my Christmas present, so here they are waiting for their new home in the front entry garden.  'Pink Marble' and 'Pink Frost' are the two I chose, can you tell I had my 4 year old daughter with me who insisted we needed them to be pink?  I've seen pictures of both of these on blogs and am happy that they will now be in my garden too.

I hope you all had a nice weekend and maybe even had a nice surprise in your garden.  
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Monday, December 20, 2010

A Sentimental Christmas.

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday.  Growing up my parents made it very fun for us kids.  My Mom always baked and sewed and decorated, just went all out.  My Dad would take our family to a tree farm to cut down our tree.  It really was never about the gifts, but about making the whole season special for us and for others.  Christmas eve after church neighbors and friends would stop by to eat the food that both my Mom and Nana would make.  I'm hoping that we are making the same impression on our kids.  We are trying to teach them that it's not about "stuff" but about giving to others in whatever way we can. 
Each year as I look at our decorations I remember different people or places.  I have ornaments that I made as a kid, that were given to me by friends when I was little or the ones that my Mom still buys us each year.
I thought I would share a few things that make Christmas special for me.

This turkey ornament is actually a light bulb.  It was on my great Nana's Christmas tree long ago.  My Nana gave it to me many years ago, probably when I was in high school.  It's made it through many moves and each year when I hang it on my tree I wonder what it looked like lit up on a Christmas tree somewhere in Canada.

This very old Santa was given to me by my elderly piano teacher, who happened to be our next door neighbor, when I lived in southern California as a little girl.  It was very old when it was given to me all wrapped in tissue.  I still remember the day she gave both my sister and I one of these Santas.  I always wonder about it's history.  I still have the piano books that we used during lessons, one of which is a Christmas one.

Our Christmas tree has no theme other than it looks like it was decorated by a family with kids.  I love all the homemade ornaments my kids have made over the years.

This old felt stocking was made for me by a neighbor for my first Christmas many years ago.  I've seen newer and fancier ones, but I could never replace this stocking.  Things with memories are far more important to me than something fancy and new.  I love the ric rac trim, remember when that was on everything?

The Littlest Gardener created this gingerbread house.  We had fun working on it together.

How many people have their very own princess helping them bake?  The Littlest Gardener likes to be dressed up in costumes and Cinderella is the perfect one for making Rocky Road fudge!  Her ballet recital yesterday was probably one of the sweetest things I've seen.  She absolutely loved being on the stage and having people there to watch her.

I want to wish you all very Merry Christmas!  I hope it's a good one full of many new memories.
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Sunday, December 19, 2010

The pond in December.

The kids are out on winter break and Christmas is less than a week away.  It seems as if this year has flown by!  We still have some candy making to do and presents to buy, but other than that we're excited and ready for the holidays.
After all the rain we had last week, we've enjoyed some nice dry days, even saw a good amount of sun outside!  It's been feeling cold again lately, although nowhere near as cold as it is in other places.  I planted a few Violas in some containers yesterday and once again my deck is clear of plants waiting to go in the ground.  I wonder how long that will last?  I've also been reading through my seed catalogs, my favorite right now being the Botanical Interests one.  I think I love their artwork on the seed packets as much as the seeds.  (I'm not being paid to mention them, just truly love their products from personal experience.)  I've been circling lots of seeds that I want to try even though last spring I thought I wouldn't be starting much from seeds this year.  It was a wet and frustrating spring and summer and I didn't have much luck.  But, once Christmas is over I will be putting my order in.  There isn't much more rewarding than flowers blooming that were started from seed in your own garden.

There's not much activity in the pond right now, the fish swim around on warmer days, but mostly rest near the bottom.  Little flocks of birds come by to to bathe.  I love watching how some will balance on the edge of one of the submerged pots to get a drink while others like to roll around in the waterfall.

 I'm trying to figure out how to get some more evergreen plants in the pond area.  At the back of the pond and to the left towards the shed there's quite a bit, but from this angle almost everything has died back for winter.  It's difficult to find space because once spring is here, there will be so much filling in.  This might be the year that I redo the right side of the pond and organize it a little better.

 Right now I'm depending on the Heucheras to add color.  This is 'Autumn Bride'.  It takes quite a bit of afternoon sun which surprised me.  Most Heucheras, especially the lighter ones, seem to like part shade for the afternoon.

 Another Heuchera (can't remember it's name now)  which grows in a group with Heuchera 'Petite Pearl Fairy', 'Marmalade' and near Japanese Blood Grass.

 I think this is a tassel fern.  I planted it a long time ago and it does great right by the pond.  The new growth has a fuzzy texture which adds a lot of interest too.

The Littlest Gardener has her winter ballet performance today which we're looking forward to seeing.   She's been my biggest helper with Christmas this year, being only 4 she's just beyond excited about it. 
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December Bloom Day and something to look forward to.

Well this bloom day is definitely not one of my most flowery posts. In fact I'm surprised that there's anything blooming at all right now. We've had record setting rainfalls, thunderstorms and wind gusts in the 30's and 40's the last several days. Yesterday while the sun popped out for a short while I got out my favorite piece of equipment, my 6 foot ladder, and started cleaning gutters. Next it was onto cleaning up the leaves from the deck again, followed by filling the yard waste with the branches from the Japanese Maple I took down last week. All the while the wind was blowing and I kept looking up watching the trees blowing. Even though the weather was wet and windy I knew I had to get outside for a bit of garden therapy.  Sometimes even monotonous garden chores are a good excuse to get out.

I wandered around hoping I'd be surprised by a flower.  Unfortunately there were no surprises - although I did see lots of buds on plants.  Pansies and Violas are probably all I'll see blooming for at least another month.

I've got quite a few Pansies blooming throughout the yard, but it was so windy I had a hard time taking their pictures.

Purple Violas

This Primrose has been blooming for months.
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol of May Dreams Gardens, where you can go to see what is blooming in other gardeners gardens right now.  I'm hoping January will bring Hellebores and Sarcococca blooms at least.

The Anna's Hummingbird that kept me company while I was outside.  Thinking that if I put up another feeder I would have more Hummingbirds visiting ended up not working out the way I hoped.  Now not only does she guard the old feeder, but the new one as well.  Several times another one tried to sip some nectar only to be chased off.

While stopping by my favorite nursery yesterday to pick up some gift cards (and drool over the expensive Christmas Roses (Helleborus niger) that I can't seem to break down and buy yet) I found the pamphlet for the Northwest Flower and Garden show that is going on February 23 - 27, 2011.  I had heard the theme was going to be something about fairy tales.  Once I got home I started looking at the list of speakers that will be there and couldn't believe how many names I now know from garden blogs, books and the NPR Greendays (KUOW 94.9 FM Tuesdays at 10 am) radio show.  I started circling and circling the seminars that I want to attend and practically circled them all.  Once the holidays are through the Flower and Garden show is the next big thing I look forward to until spring arrives.
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Front garden in December.

Squish, squish is what you'll hear if you're walking through our garden now.  We had quite a thunderstorm this morning and the rain just poured.  I know that we're officially in our wettest month here in the Seattle area, and the forecast calls for more rain.  This time of year I don't think they need to change the forecast much - in fact this whole year felt like they could have left the raindrop symbol under most of the days of the week.  I am so hoping next year brings more sun to us!
Between the weather and getting ready for Christmas I haven't been out in the garden much.  But, there is one thing that got accomplished.  I decided to take down the dead Japanese Maple about a week ago.  It was easier than I expected because so many of the branches were already so dry and dead.  Once it was down the excitement of what to do with this space started.

 I didn't want it to be empty so I dragged the very heavy bird bath over.  I think I like it here and will probably leave it.  I added a new hummingbird feeder, it was discovered by them about a day later.
After the spring bulbs bloom I plan to dig just about everything out (except the Hydrangeas) and start over.  Most of what is in here will go back, but I've already got a growing list of what I want to add in.  The front area gets a lot of sun so I'm hoping I may be able to add in a smaller David Austin rose, maybe even another 'Lady Emma Hamilton'.  I also plan to add geranium 'Rozanne' which I fell in love with over the past year, it blooms from early spring to the first freeze.

 The front of the house doesn't look too different with the maple gone, maybe a little more open at the entry.  Most of what I counted on for "winter interest" was done in by the snow and freezing weather we had a couple of weeks ago.  

 This might look like a bunch of dead flowers to some, but to the birds it's been a feast.  They love the Liatris, Echinacea, Aster, Agastache, Rudbeckia and Verbena bonariensis seed heads.  I just read that the birds also love the seed heads on Monarda, too bad I already cut them back.  We've had so many pretty bird visitors here lately.  It seems that they all like to come together around the same time - first they hit the front yard for seeds, then around the back to the pond and bird baths.

 Seeing the buds on Pieris japonica 'Purity' made me happy since there aren't many signs of life right now.  I couldn't find any flowers blooming right now, not even a Viola.

 Wait, I forgot!  This Lady's Mantle has been blooming all year and is still going.  I can't wait until I have so many flowers to choose from that I have to limit myself.

I know many of us won't be seeing a whole lot going on in our gardens for awhile, but if you want a taste of summer and flowers that are blooming right now, visit Driftwood Ramblings which is a blog out of South Africa.  I'm counting on Desiree's posts to help me through the rest of fall and winter.

I also wanted to add that Anna from the great blog Flowergardengirl has started a great new garden blog directory called "Best Garden Blogs".  I always love finding places with new garden blogs, especially this time of year.  (There is also a Facebook page for it.)
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Back to reality.

After posting spring flowers in my previous post, it's back to the reality of what is currently going on in my garden.  I was surprised to see the sun come out today after a very foggy morning.  I convinced the Littlest Gardener it would be a good day to go out in the backyard for her to play while I raked more leaves.  I like raking the leaves in our yard, not sure what it is about it, but I find it sort of relaxing.  Maybe if I had more big trees I would feel differently.  While I raked and did some cutting back the Littlest Gardener decided she wanted to plant something.  So she pulled a frond from the Sword Fern and decided that's what she wanted to plant.  I showed her the seeds on the back of the leaves.  Sword Ferns are native here and I always mean to buy more to plant in my back path garden.  I have no idea if they will grow, but it was fun for her to try.
I wish I had some flowers to take pictures of, but the snow and cold last week pretty much took care of them for now.  I'm glad I planted Pansies and Violas around so at least they add a little color outside.

 This was surprising, one of the Hellebores has buds on it already.  I wonder how long until it blooms?

 The path nice and tidy after raking and sweeping.  I found some Crocuses that were beginning to sprout.  While I was raking up the front part I smelled the mint scent of the Corsican mint (Mentha requienii) ground cover.  It grows very easily here between stepping stones and is a nice surprise to smell when you walk on it.

 My favorite purple Violas blooming next to the deck.

 A fairy dancing near a waterfall.

 For as much work as this Ponderosa Pine gives us, I just love the bark on it.  A flock of Bushtits sat high up in it a few days ago eating small green cones and dropping them all over the deck.  The squirrels also love to eat the green cones, but they usually chew little branches off too and drop them around the yard.  An Oakleaf Hydrangea is growing next to it, anything that can grow under a pine tree is very tough.

Another fairy relaxing in Sweet Pea's fairy garden.  This fairy moved here from the Hocking Hills of Ohio when Lona sent her to my girls.  Looks like she's made friends with a  yellow snake and blue frog.

And because I know it will be awhile before I see many flowers outside, I decided to try an Amaryllis again this year.  After watching Kathleen showing her's blooming on her blog I just couldn't resist.  I planted one called 'Cinderella'.  I have a feeling that I may end up buying more, I just miss seeing flowers blooming too much.
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