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

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Finally some time in the garden!

This week the kids are out for mid-winter break.  It seems like they've been home from school more than in school this year between winter break, teacher days off, snow days and now another break.  Anyway, we've been having fun, but I've been hoping to spend some time outside this week in between all of their social outings.  The weather up until today has been pretty miserable so I guess it worked out for the best.  During this break last year we spent it out front ripping up our grass, building raised beds and putting in a picket fence.  This time I just got to go out and have fun.

 The Littlest Gardener decided to move her fairy garden out front under a Lavatera bush.  I think it looks very cute.  Soon I will be planting a small David Austin rose that I ordered in that open spot.  The fairies will have to be careful not to get poked.

 Along the opposite part of the yard I planted a new bare root David Austin rose 'Benjamin Britten'.  This is where the Delphiniums are returning and I think it should look very pretty together, not to mention when the Clematis on the trellis is blooming too.

 A couple of weeks ago my husband and I transplanted all of what was already there after we added some nice new compost.  If you remember we found that the soil delivered last year when we built this was the wrong kind and the plants really struggled.  Today I direct sowed some lettuce, radishes, snow peas and tons of sweet peas after seeing that Jenni was having luck with her seeds already.

 I think this might be the prettiest Primula I've ever seen.  The picture does not do it justice.  It is called 'Victoriana Gold Lace'.

 Hellebore 'Pink Frost' which was added last year is covered in flowers.  The Hellebore 'Pink Marble' that was planted at the same time looks terrible, no new growth and no flowers.  They are in the same area, not sure what's going on.

 The birdhouse on this potting bench on the front porch seems to be the chosen home for a pair of Bewicks Wrens.  They've been working on it for about a week now.  In the backyard I saw a pair of Chickadees checking out a birdhouse.

 In the backyard the Pink Flowering Currants (Ribes sanguineum) are getting closer to blooming.

 Clematis 'Nelly Moser' has lots of new growth as do most of the Clematises.

 Old-fashioned Bleeding Hearts are coming up.  If you look closely you will see the whitish looking flowerbuds already forming.

 Last year after Sweet Pea's other rabbit Cookie died we made a small garden for him.  She chose this pretty Hellebore off the clearance rack, it's called 'Cotton Candy'.

 While checking on the blueberries I found that the Littlest Gardener has turned this bed into a play area.  She likes to make pies, etc.  It can be planted next year I guess.

 Plants in the pond are beginning to send up new growth.  They need some cleaning up but I'm not brave enough to stick my hands in that cold water yet to prune them.

The roses also got pruned today.  I usually prune them after President's Day.  It felt so good to spend some time outside!
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A miracle in my garden...

I'm afraid to get too excited about what I found out in the garden the other day.  There are certain plants I've tried and tried and had little success with.  There is one especially that I have longed to have growing in my garden.  And now, I see that there is a good chance it will happen this year.

Hellebore 'Mardi Gras Double",  not the miracle, these are very easy to grow luckily.

I wanted to show the pretty speckled inside.

Hellebore Winter Jewels 'Cherry Blossom', probably missed the peak day by a day or two.  Somethings been chewing on it, not sure who to blame.

Hellebore - Christmas Rose type.

No this Pulmonaria isn't the miracle, although the flower surprised me today!  These bloom for months once they get started.

A happy surprise to find the Pieris in the container starting to bloom, but not really a miracle.

This might be second on the list of miracles.  The pinecone mulch seems to have prevented the squirrels from digging up the tulip bulbs.

Here is my miracle... a Delphinium is returning and the slugs haven't completely decimated it yet.  There are two that I planted last summer but since I've never had luck with them returning or being completely chewed up by slugs I sort of thought of them as an annual.   These are the one flower that I wish I could have a large stand of like I see in English cottage garden pictures.  I have sprinkled a pet and wildlife safe slug bait around them and will be guarding them them for the rest of the spring.  I will be keeping my fingers crossed that they will be blooming in June.

Any miracles occurring in your garden or any that you hope will this spring?
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Monday, February 13, 2012

Our day at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.

Yesterday I attended the last day of the Northwest Flower and Garden Show with my oldest daughter Sweet Pea.  The theme this year was 'A Floral Symphony'.  As usual we enjoyed looking at the many large display gardens, wondering how they were able to get some of the large trees, boulders and other things set up.  I think one  day I'd like to be there during the set up process.  We were lucky enough to meet up with fellow bloggers Alison (Bonney Lassie), Paula and her mother (Petunia's Garden) and Kylee (Our Little Acre).  Nothing like chatting with other people that love gardening the same way I do.
I will say that I really enjoyed the couple of gardens with the vegetable gardens since that is what we are focusing on this year.  I'm not sure whether I noticed a theme this year with the designs (other than the music one).  There were lots of bulbs, lots of conifers and lots of Hellebores. 
I thought I'd just share some of my favorite parts of the display gardens and rather than describe each one just let you enjoy.

The lighting was dim which makes someone with my lack of photography skills have a difficult time really capturing the colors.  I would say that the theme part of the show seems to take away from the gardens for me, even though I am a huge music lover, the music to me in a garden is the sound of bees buzzing and birds singing.  But it still was an amazing show and I really loved it.  After our tour of the gardens we wandered through the plant market and all of the other vendors.  There is a great variety of things being sold.  I wish I had an endless supply of money to buy all the things I wanted.  One of my favorites were these cool metal owl sculptures, they had them displayed on the top of a pergola.  I wish I would've gotten pictures of them. 
We came home with a glass pond float, cute cement bunny for the Littlest Gardener, a 'Sunshine Blue' blueberry bush and one miniature rose that Sweet Pea insisted she "needed".  (Uh oh, she really sounds like a true gardener doesn't she?)
Truthfully though, the best part of the day was spending some quality time with Sweet Pea!
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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Another "Spring" day.

We've been enjoying the most beautiful weather here lately.  It's been at least in the upper 50's and even made it up and over 60 degrees a couple of times over the last 4 or 5 days.  Of course that meant spending lots of times outside.  I've had a chance to start a project I thought I wouldn't get to until March and am now sore from all the work I've gotten done.  I forgot how achy I get the first couple of times after really getting down and doing work.  Lifting, carrying and digging things outside after not doing much for a few months is tough on my body, but it does help me feel less guilty when my lunch ends up being Doritos or a Snickers bar.

On the far side of the pond the ground had really gotten low.  This whole part of our backyard is on a gentle slope and after months and years of rain the ground starts to wash away.  It made planting anything there difficult because it was lower than the pond edge.

I moved in a few plants from other parts of the garden and a few Primroses and Violas for some instant gratification.

I was walking around my favorite nursery trying to decide how to spend the points I'd earned over the last year and spotted this Hellebore.  It hadn't even been unloaded yet but I knew that's what I wanted to use my points on.  It is Hellebore Winter Jewels 'Cherry Blossom'.  It's not quite all the way opened but I couldn't wait any longer to post a picture.  I added it to the new bed by the pond.

A surprise Snowdrop by the pond.  Did I plant that?  I don't remember doing it.  I love these types of surprises.

I can't wait to see these Crocuses, that I planted last fall, all the way open.  They seemed to have grown overnight!

Crossing my fingers that this will be the year the variegated Rhododendron blooms.  This is it's third year and no blooms so far.  It's a good thing I like it for it's foliage or I'm not sure I would be patient for much longer.

Ribes sanguineum 'King Edward VII' is really putting on new growth.  If you want a flowering currant that grows quickly, this is the one to plant.  It has caught up to my other Pink Flowering Currant in just 2 years.

I found the first Hellebore blooming today!  This was a seedling from a larger plant.  The rest aren't much further away from blooming.

My husband took a couple of days off (a very rare thing) and how lucky that it was at the same time as the nice weather.  We ended up getting compost to mix in the front raise beds.  It looks and smells so good out there.  I LOVE the smell of fresh compost.  Now all I need to do is get some seeds started.

From the looks of the forecast this is probably the last day of our "fake spring" and we'll be going back to our usual cooler and wet weather, but I can always hope for just one more day.
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Friday, February 3, 2012

A very surprising visitor!

I could tell as soon as I looked outside today that it was going to be a pretty day.  The mornings have been lighter recently, but it was even more bright today because the sky was clear.

Not the greatest picture of Mt. Rainier this morning, it was pretty early here and the lighting was tricky.

Since I was heading to the pet store I went outside to check whether we needed rabbit food.  The sunbathing squirrel caught my eye.  He reminded of how our dog goes from room to room looking for a spot of sun to lie in.  I ran in to get the camera because he just looked so funny there.  I wonder if this is the one that has buried apples in all the planters?

Now that my attention for what I went outside had been diverted I looked just over to the right and noticed the pair of Chickadees on the birdhouse.  I've been noticing birds checking out the birdhouses over the last week or so, seems kind of early to me.

This is what really surprised me.  The Littlest Gardener and I were laughing at the squirrel still when this butterfly fluttered down and landed right in front of us.  After looking around trying to ID what type it is, I think it looks as though it's a Red Admiral butterfly.   I have never seen one this early, it's usually at least May before any butterflies other than Cabbage Whites are around, sometimes even later.  Maybe it's a symbol of an early and nice spring?

The Crows are never a surprise, but sometimes I wish they were.  They are always around and scaring off other birds.

There have been lots of birds in the waterfall yesterday and today, but I haven't been able to get any good pictures.  They tend to come early and the sun is still low in the sky making the fence cast a lot of shade.

I was sitting on the deck stairs just soaking up some sun (like the squirrel had been) and kept hearing a very angry hummingbird.  I eventually got up and walked to the other side of the deck and in swooped this hummingbird.  The Anna's hummingbird is a year round visitor, but it won't be long before the Rufous return.

There is just something about hummingbirds I love.  Now that they are regular visitors to our yard, I still get excited every time I see one.

I had to get a picture of the Cascade Mountains that can be seen over our side fence.  This is the view the squirrel was enjoying.  We are so lucky to have such beautiful views of the mountains around us.  If I walk to the end of our street I can see the gorgeous Olympic Mountains where the sun sets every evening.  These types of days make me love Washington and forget about the many gray and rainy days.

No wonder the butterfly was out early, it felt like spring today!  Maybe the Groundfrog knows something the groundhog doesn't?
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