Thursday, March 26, 2015

Chickadee Gardens in March

Spring is here! Actually it feels as though it's been here for a few weeks on the West Coast (apologies to anyone still covered in snow). It is time to document plant happenings at Chickadee Gardens, be it early or on-time. Here is a rundown of blossoms, emerging growth, bulbs and grasses coming up, leaves, twigs, and everything in between.

Our Loropetalum chinense or Chinese fringe flower is on fire this year! It got badly damaged when the crape myrtle lost a jumbo-sized branch and smashed into it, causing a huge portion to break off. We thought it was a goner, but as you can see it rebounded with gusto.

Would it really be spring without tulips from our dear friends in The Netherlands? Thank you, Stella and Walter!

Love the foliage on this! A NOID hellebore gifted to me from Amy Campion, a fellow garden blogger who, by the way, recently posted about how to germinate milkweed or Asclepias speciosa seeds. You can read about that post here. Plant some milkweed for the monarch butterflies! OK, moving along…

Native Ribes sanguineum glowing in the afternoon sunshine. The bumble bees and hummingbirds have been all over this one. I feel it's a couple of weeks early this year.

Here it is again in a wider shot. The Styrax japonicus or Japanese snowbell tree to the right is leafing out early. It started in February. Underneath you can see the NOID hellebore and just under the red hummingbird feeder Echinacea purpurea is barely emerging (behind the metal cat). It also started in February.

The tall skinny tree is Viburnum opulus, a native tree with wonderful fall color and berries eaten up by birds. Purchased at Bosky Dell Natives in Oregon City. It's a fast-grower! Below it is a Hydrangea macrophylla 'Mariesii Variegata', a lacecap variety with variegated leaves that has beautiful blue flowers in the summer. Purchased at Joy Creek Nursery. Both are early in leafing out this year, I think. Anyone else think so? Clematis armandii on the fence in the background.

The Clematis armandii 'Snowdrift' had a banner year, blooming a full three weeks early.

Podophyllum pleianthum popping out of the ground, its mushroom-like growth also came a bit early.

A week later, its umbrellas have unfurled and are rapidly growing.
The above shot was taken March 15th, this was taken March 23rd.

In the shade garden, Corydalis lutea on the left has yellow blooms and Dicentra formosa on the right, a native woodland beauty has white blossoms.  The corydalis is nearly evergreen while the dicentra, deciduous, seemed on time for its spring-time emergence.

Libertia ixioides 'Goldfinger', evergreen.

Narcissus bulbocodium 'Golden Bells'. New from the Yard, Garden and Patio show this year so no idea if it's late or early. I do know that the slugs love it.

It seems the nasturtium fairy has visited my garden this year. Nasturtium 'Spitfire' from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds seen here. Already coming up! I stuck a few seeds in the ground a couple of weeks ago thinking it was waaaay to early to sow nasturtium seeds but it was one of those freaky super sunny February days and I was inspired. I love the outline on the margins.

Sedum confusum happily spilling over. Didn't skip a beat. This sedum really impresses me, it has stayed bright chartreuse for two straight years, no damage from weather and doesn't mind the rain.

Heuchera 'Marmalade' putting on lots of new growth. I have noticed an abundance of cutworms near them this spring, probably due to the mild winter. Much cutworm hunting has been going on around these parts to be sure. This heuchera is my favorite, handles sun or shade and is quite vigorous. In general, I'm not a huge heuchera fan but these won me over.

Moving around to the front, more lovely tulips from our Dutch friends. So orange! We love them!

Fresh spring growth on a native Spiraea betulifolia. This bud will open up to a cluster of beautiful tiny white flowers.

Corydalis flexuosa 'O'byrne Blue' from Xera Plants, a new purchase earlier this spring. I think I'm going to like this new addition to the shade garden.

My beloved Polypodium scouleri. The fresh new fronds means it's a happy camper. Native fern, too. Evergreen and small, one of many in the garden.

More fresh spring growth! This lovely native vine is Lonicera ciliosa or orange honeysuckle. Deciduous vine, a bit on the tricky side but I'm having good luck with this finally. I have two vines, this one is in pretty much full morning sun and looks pretty good.

Saxafraga x geum 'Denata', evergreen.

Rhododendron pachysanthum.

The ever lovely Vaccinium ovatum, evergreen huckleberry showing some new growth.

Here's a fun flower, Anemone nemorosa 'Green Finger', a great find from Joy Creek Nursery. I feel like this one is pretty much on time. It's slowly been spreading over the past three years. It goes dormant in the summer.

Another note-worthy native, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi or kinnickinnick. Sweet little blossoms! A drought tolerant ground cover once established.

Erodium chrysanthum emerging fresh and green. From Xera Plants. Sweet yellow flowers. Easy, drought tolerant.

The bare crape myrtle, some Hakenochloa macra coming up, Geranium macrorrhizum and friends.

NOID lilac in the front hell strip with some promising buds.

Sparkler sedge.

Astelia nivicola 'Red Gem' from Citus Nursery.

Loropetalum chinense looking sizzling with a carpet of native Oxalis oregana at its feet.

That wraps up a look around the garden this March. After sorting through photographs from last year and also reading through my garden journal, it's true that, yes, the clematis is a full three weeks early in its bloom, the daphne has come and gone a couple of weeks early and the daffodils are already completely done. People on the East Coast are just now digging out of a horrific winter, so it begs the question, what the corn is going on? Just a freaky year or is this another step in the ladder of climate change? The winter of 2013-2014 for us was horrible, we lost so many plants in two major deep freezes, so it could just be as simple as a mild winter for us this year. We have enjoyed the lovely  weather, to be sure, as have the plants. After last year's losses, we'll take this year's warmth, thank you very much.

That's what's happening out in our neck of the woods, how about you? What do you think of the weather patterns?

Thank you for reading and until next time, happy gardening wherever you are and may your weather be mild and spring really and truly be upon you.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Just a Girl With a Hammer: A Portland Garden

Fellow garden blogger and friend Heather Tucker of Just a Girl With a Hammer has an amazing garden. And house. And she did it all herself. She made all of the D.I.Y. mistakes so you don't have to.

Heather was also an organizer of the 2014 Garden Blogger's Fling--plainly, a woman of many talents. So when she asked for my take on her back garden, I was a little surprised because she's got it down. So if there's any chance to see a fellow gardener's garden, I'm there! Did I also mention she's certified gold with the Backyard Habitat Certification Program? Oh, yeah. This woman rocks.

While I jumped at the chance to make a post-Fling visit last July, we decided that since her back yard was in a state of transition that I would present this post only on her super gorgeous low-water front yard, especially as it seems the West Coast is in for another dry year in 2015. Here are some design ideas and a few gorgeous native plants sprinkled in for some ideas if you are looking to xeriscape this year as now is the time to visit your local nurseries and do some spring plant shopping.

 Here's her rain garden (here's a link to a pdf of how to build one). In the foreground is California fuchsia or Zauschneria californica. It dies back in the winter but comes back with little to no water and spreads. Hummingbirds love it, too. Upper-right corner is Juncus effusus or common rush, another native. This grass can handle the wet clay of a Portland winter or the hot dry of a July dry river bed. Sedum 'Angelina' is spread throughout.

 A wide shot of her lovely home. Here's a link to a post of her "before and after" when she bought the house when it was in foreclosure. Did I mention it was in an episode or two of the t.v. show "Portlandia"? That's right, this place is a landmark. Famous. Heather is sought after by the important ones. Yup. The "Adult Babysitter" episode of Portlandia can be seen here.

Closer view of the front walk. The Yucca recurvifolia now lives with Danger Garden. These things happen.

Agave agave. Is that like pizza pizza? Lovely agaves in the hot dry south-facing sun. Some companions seem to be Lewisia cotelydon, another Pacific Northwest native that loves the gravel. Heather's got them planted in here.

Dasylirion wheeleri, or spoon yucca, not a native to Oregon but to the American Southwest. At this rate Oregon will become the American Southwest soon! Kidding aside, they are hardy here! I have two and I love them. Carex grasses in the background are also great for xeriscaping.

 Agastache rupestris 'Navajo Sunset'. A great plant for hummingbirds and pollinators, also native to the American Southwest and Mexico.

Heather planted the garden with the idea to water only twice a month, as she admittedly hates watering.

Ricinus communis 'New Zealand Purple' (I think).

Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam' foreground left, thrives in poor, dry soils, attracts butterflies.

Verbascum 'Arctic Summer' front and center, Mahonia x media 'Arthur Menzies' behind.

How gorgeous! I love love love this garden.

Aaaah, one of my favorites, silvery buns of goodness. Cotula hispida, Heather's did not die! Heather's has great drainage and a perfect environment.

 Heather has a new mason bee home! She reports many new residents! Great news!

Physocarpus, 'Coppertina'. Physocarpus capitatus or Pacific Ninebark is the native Pacific Northwest version that I have that does not have this gorgeous dark foliage. Both have clusters of white blooms in the spring.

 Miscanthus sinensis zebrinus or zebra grass.

Bouteloua gracilis 'Blond Ambition' grass seed heads float like eyebrows.

Pennisetum macrorum 'White Lancer.'

See what a dry creek bed can look like? Very cool. Would you ever have imagined it in Portland? Yes, it does get this hot and dry here for half the year. This is a very appropriately planted garden with little maintenance for Heather.

One of my personal favorites, Sedum 'Matrona'. Always great for sunny hot locations and for pollinators. Its late-summer blooms seem to go on into autumn, too.

A final look back at a very lovely garden. I am excited to see her back garden later this summer. I will be sure and share it with you!

Heather's plant choices all fit so well for this beautiful xeriscaped front garden. They attract pollinators and are low maintenance and as mentioned earlier, she only waters twice a month even during the hottest months of the year. These photos are from last July and you can clearly see it looks amazing and I'm sure it continued to do so throughout summer into fall.

These are considerations I myself am making when planting anything new. Even though I live in the wet Pacific Northwest, it's clear that weather patterns are changing. Even without obvious changes, this region is hot and dry for a good portion of the year so this kind of planting makes sense no matter what the immediate future holds. Whether or not you enjoy watering, conserving water is something those of us in the West need to think about. And if it's this gorgeous, then, hey! I'm with you, Heather!

Thank you, Heather - a.k.a. Just a Girl With A Hammer!

That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens. Thank you for reading and until next time, happy gardening!