Around the Farm in August
Every day I work outside at home is a great day. I may be exhausted by the end of the day, but it's worth it. We just keep chugging along without looking back. Part of the role of this blog, however, is to document for ourselves the progress we make on projects so we can look back. Often times I surprise myself with how quickly things are filling in.This week we'll see a few updates, small improvements and some filling in by the stars of the show, the plants.
This area on the east side of the house was originally sheet-mulched this winter. You can revisit that post here. I planted four (well, two divided) Miscanthus sinensis 'Cabaret' grasses to set the tone - for what, exactly, I knew not. The look of the four stately grasses worked. There are repeat patterns and grasses tied into the whole notion of connecting this property with the outlying land. I also added our "bronze bird bowl" rock birdbath that David retrieved from the old house (yes, it's still for sale). So what to plant around the bird bowl? Carex comans 'Frosted Curls' has a color that I am in love with, so decided to seek them out. A friend of mine who is a landscape designer, Colleen, offered seedlings from her own garden. I have a few more on the way from fellow gardener Evan of The Practical Plant Geek. Gardeners are wonderful people! I appreciate both donations so much.
Next small improvement: This. Ok, not the whole grass issue, that's another problem. I'm talking about the two pavers and the lack of path to define these beds. Remnants from what was here this spring that needed to be changed.
I knew the soil had to be evened out and frankly, it's so rock-hard that I had trouble. David stepped in after we soaked the area with a sprinkler. He leveled the paths and I chiseled away at the drop off on the right side.
Fun with mud!
We then dumped gravel over the whole thing. I will add some kind of edging to part of this area, although I am researching materials.
Here, as seen from the deck, you can really make out the beds. The island in the middle will have sedums spilling down its edges instead of a border, for I want this to be a softer edge, plus there's no room for edging. Ironic in a two-acre garden. I suppose some of my city girl cram-scaping tendencies have not left me.
This past weekend I added rocks to the area I chiseled away to help with erosion. I will tuck in pockets of sedum here and there to soften it.
Some of the soil from the drop off that I chiseled away ended up just behind this row of rocks to raise the soil level that was dipping down quite far on the edge of the path. I moved four Coreopsis rosea, two of which were gifts from Matthew of The Lents Farmer blog at our garden blogger's plant swap this spring. I like them better grouped together and I understand they might reseed around. That's great as that is the look I desire.
Here is how not to plant tomatoes. We don't have the big veggie bed ready this season, so David decided to use this one raised bed from the former garden on this site (yes, it's in there) and stuck our four small tomato starts in with some top soil and compost and called it good. Now we have Tomato Monster. I don't know where one starts and the other ends. I guess I neglected to stake them.
We are, while they are here, enjoying the evil blackberries. We have let a few people pick from our field, as seen here:
Easy access! I've made a cobbler, the neighbor a pie, my mom made a cobbler, too, I believe. Anyone else? These will be gone by next season, so come and get 'em now. David the Blackberry Destroyer is working hard to eliminate these green monsters!
Time to stop and smell the flowers. Helenium 'Mardi Gras' is just a workhorse of oranges.
The Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Fanfare Blaze' purchased last year is so much happier in its new home.
The birds have been at the sunflowers.
Filling in: This Olearia lineata 'Dartonii' and self-sown aster make a handsome pair. Throw in Verbena bonariensis in the background and it's a silver purple party.
Sunlight through a plume poppy or Macleaya cordata. This plant is one I have not grown before but always enjoyed its soft, large leaves.
Zinnia 'Seniorita'!! I tried growing these from seed a few times at the old garden but they never really got hot enough where I had them planted. This year we're successful. They are supposed to be shades of salmon and pink, I think I'll let the more salmon and coral colors reseed while I'll pick the pink ones. They may not come true from seed, but it's fun to experiment. I hope they seed all over the labyrinth garden.
I saw a mature Grevillea victoriae at the garden of John Kuzma for the first time two years ago while on the Garden Blogger's Fling here in Portland. You can revisit that post here. Love at first sight, I now have one in the labyrinth. Purchased where I work at Joy Creek.
Rudbeckia! These were already on this property, but I moved them and consolidated them to the wilder areas near the open grass. They really are cheerful and do have a certain summertime meadow quality about them.
The berm garden on the north side of the property (that gets a ton of sun) continues to undergo changes. I added many Carex testaceae or orange sedge to the mix, took out many scraggly Allium schoenoprasum (common chives) to move to the veggie garden and added Carex flacca. The crocosmia, which were already here but have been consolidated to a sweeping area, are really blooming away.
One of MANY asters that have self-sown all over the place. While I really admire these plants for late season color and their contribution to pollinators, they will be moved to the outer areas of the garden.
At the fall garden blogger's swap last year I was given a stick in a four-inch pot. "Plant it! You need this, you have the room" said one fabulous Kate Bryant, garden writer extraordinaire. OK, will do - Hydrangea aspera. I now know, after working at Joy Creek Nursery, what this will do. Some say 25 feet high. We shall see...it has put on some growth and been given plenty of room.
Hakonechloa macra 'Aurea' is glowing from within and growing like gangbusters. For some reason I cannot seem to get a good picture of the shade garden. Soon. For now, this is as good as it gets.
Arctostaphylos 'Sentinel' from my recent Xera Plants visit. Little now, but eventually 8' tall or so. So cute right now! I added a few evergreen natives to the back of the berm garden as I realized it was mostly comprised of perennials. I look at this garden a lot from inside the house, so wanted to have some winter interest.
A fasciated Liatris flower.
Grevillea x gaudichaudi at the hot dry top of the driveway in much gravel. This is a recent purchase from Cistus Nursery, acquired at the wonderful plant sale organized by the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon, Hortlandia. It may not survive out here, but I'm going to give it a good try. Evergreen, cool bottle brush flowers, ground cover that drapes down. Oh, it's great. The new foliage is reddish. From Australia.
Back to the filling in of the plants. Here's a view from the deck in June. Right in the center are three very little bright green Eupatorium capillifolium 'Elegant Feather' (Joe Pye weed).
Here, the three plants are breaking ground and beginning new growth in about May.
Here they are this week. OK, maybe I planted them too close together, after all.
What's great about this picture is not the succulents (although those are lovely), it's that the deck is finally nearly completely painted. Just some touch ups and that painting project is behind us. We still need to add the cables as a barrier, but it is no longer a pink deck.
We can finally spread out and enjoy the hot deck, complete with spiky plants.
Speaking of spiky, we finally got the last of the plants from the old house. We had two potted up Dasylirion wheeleri on the front porch of the old house. Now they happily reside with us on the south facing deck. Home.
As we go along our merry way each day here at the farm, so do the seasons, its seems. The first crop of sunflowers that the birds planted have been harvested. We plan to dry the seeds and save them for our bird friends this winter. It's such a joy to be able to have enough room to take on such seemingly insignificant tasks, it makes me feel very connected in a meaningful way. That is the goal of this place, Chickadee Gardens, after all.
Thank you for reading and until next time, happy gardening!
Thank you for reading and until next time, happy gardening!