Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Garden in May

As we are slowly working away at the garden, I have noticed the blossoming and settling in of some plants, a very good sign indeed. I have no impressive before and afters this time. Just a jaunt around to see how things are shaping up.

The Astelia 'Red Gem' made the transition from the old house just fine. Here I've finally weeded around it and added some gravel, extending the bed out a bit more. Every inch I claim as garden is a victory.

Starting our little tour near the northwest corner, I wanted to show the stairs David recently built. On the left, they are most useful for climbing to the far corner to the new shade garden. Little by little we are making our mark on this piece of land. The rustic stairs will eventually be softened with sedums on either side and maybe a few larger rocks, but for now they're just plain useful and wonderful. Thank you, David.

Heading directly east along the retaining wall (which leads to our front door), I have been planting little sedum starts that are really starting to take off. I decided this whole area will be a sea of mixed sedums, like an eco-roof only at three feet off the ground.

Still farther along, I have begun to take out many unwanted things and replace then with plants I've moved from other parts of the garden and also plants from the old garden. There used to be a sea of Alchemilla mollis, lemon balm and some kind of oregano. It was everywhere and has taken several months to remove. We'll be working on it for years I imagine as even though the main plants are gone, I'm sure there are roots and seeds saturating that heavy soil.

This area was, until last weekend, solid Alchemilla mollis. Now it's Liriope 'Silver Dragon' (formerly in a hanging pot and now divided) with a Zenobia 'Blue Sky' in the center. This area is one of the only shady areas along here.

Looking east. Those Azaleas along the wall are going to go away. I'll move them to the forest-y area, a well-suited site rather than full, hot, scorching sun.

A wider shot showing some of the gravel I've been adding. There's compost under there, too, but it will take a lot more of both to get this soil in shape. The whole area where you now see gravel on the front half of this bed was all Alchemilla mollis. All of it. Now there are some Geranium 'Rozanne' and trailing rosemary. More geraniums on the way.

From the eastern end of the retaining wall looking west. There is Echinacea 'White Swan' and Veronicastrum virginicum in there, among other things. It looks sparse now....patience, Tamara...patience. It will all fill in soon enough.

This end also sports a carpet of sedum, although not as much as the "eco-roof" area at the other end of this retaining wall. It kind of ties it all together in the bigger picture.

Moving on to the northwest corner. A detail of the shade garden. There will be paths and a woodland feel. The plastic on the berm is to deny blackberries light and water. Eventually the berm will be covered in Oxalis oregana, if my plan falls into place.

Here we are looking at the far northeastern corner (I'm standing facing east). David has cleared old, dead spindly Douglas fir trees, you can see the stumps. He affectionately calls this the "East Fields Park". Well, it just may end up being a park, after all. Seriously, though, it will be left pretty wild. I'll transplant some woodland natives along the fence and some sweet groundcovers in the open area.

Now around the corner of the house to the gravel garden.

Let's see if it's filling in.

A few new plants, a few old ones from the old garden. Everything seems to be doing well.

The fire pit, I was convinced, needs to be bigger and in another location so we opted for this table arrangement where the fire pit was originally going to go.The hole in the middle has been filled in by a stump-table partially buried for stability. The stump came from the old maple that was cut down last month by David and his brother Tom who came to visit. Tom cut a mean, flat surface for us! There's just enough room for two chairs there and a couple of drinks. It's coming along bit by bit.

Here is the view from the deck, new table in the middle.

Now let's check out a few flowers and details of the gravel garden. Here, Verbena bonariensis, a transplant from the old garden, is doing well and starting to bloom.

Digitalis 'Honey Trumpet' from Xera Plants. Blooming away and quite happy.

A combination of Astelia, Parahebe, Leptospermum and an existing peony.

OK, one more time...the Astelia 'Red Gem' is really one of my favorites. Looks much better with a skirt of gravel instead of weeds.

Leptospermum lanigerum 'Silver Form' from Xera Plants. This is also a transplant from the old garden. I was worried it would not make it, but it's quite happy it seems.

Farmerus davidii in his orange best. Common name: Happy David Beast!

The campion was here. I decided to leave some to temporarily fill in while other plants are still small.

This is a Dianthus from the nursery, a former throw away that I saved last fall.

Finally the Hebe 'Quicksilver' (one of three) is putting on new growth. Whew...I thought it wasn't going to make the move but it is telling me otherwise.

The former plant prison has been reduced to this grouping of grasses and Amsonia which will be planted in what is now lawn (soon to be removed lawn). I want a big area connecting the gravel garden to the labyrinth garden with grasses. That's the plan, anyhow.

Speaking of the labyrinth garden, let's see how it's doing.

At least there is some green to look at instead of rocks and sand.

And color, too!

My Salix elaeagnos angustifolia in the very center of the circle. The sunflowers I had nothing to do with. That's all the birds. They wanted their own garden, too, apparently, so I happily left them.

I'm starting to put in paths and imagine what they will look like. The Liatris spicata forest is coming along nicely, too. Those were on the property scattered about, I gathered them all up and planted them in a mass.

Eriophyllum lanatum or Oregon sunshine. A tough, native drought tolerant plant I got at the nursery. This is at the far end of the circle where little to no water is not a problem for this sweet spreader.

Rosa glauca, also a new acquisition from the nursery, is quite happy. So am I.

Cattius hobbingtonia sampling the grasses while sister Cattius lucyloo looks on. Yes, we have begun to let them out in the garden little by little, but supervised. They can run right through the deer fence and would not know what to do or where to go as they are pretty much indoor-only cats, so we really do have to stay with them and keep them from wandering too far. Their little excursions usually last about 4.62 minutes and end with us seriously wrangling cats to get inside. Yes, David retired to herd cats. Luckily the Bengals are easily guided to the back door....yelling at us the whole way. By the way, moments after this photo was taken, my lens had a smudge right in the middle. nose print....I would have had some great photos to share on this post but they were, well, damaged goods. I love ya, Hobbes. Thank you very much.

That's what's happening around these parts right now. Slow and steady is our pace, the ibuprofen is plentiful. We love it though. Stay tuned for chicken house adventures as well as other before and afters.  Thank you for reading and happy gardening!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

My Husband Went to Australia and All I Got Were Plant Photos

David traveled to Australia this month; I stayed home with the cats. Yes, the cats. Who had more fun? OK, don't answer that. I did train him well, however. David did not take photos of architecture and people, rather he came home with plant photos. Whether or not David knows the plant names is irrelevant -- he takes them now and questions later. Much like a lot of us, actually. 

I invite you to sit back, relax and enjoy autumn in Sydney and Adelaide and Kangaroo Island via the eyes and words of the Husband, David.

Hello, Everyone. G'day! as my Aussie friends say. How ya goin'. Mate? Hey, first up is the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. We've visited before, you can see that post here. In the hectic pace of a city of 4.5 million, the garden is a wonderful refuge.

Most of Australia is dry, so plants that thrive in dry weather are well-represented.

One of several lovely fountains and statues. 

Tamara was surprised to see these Japanese anemones. But it is autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, after all. The days were warm, sunny and the nights just a bit cool. Like our "Indian Summers" here in Oregon in late September and October.

With business district of the city in the background, this is an interesting placing of old concrete bits and parts of buildings and bridges and whatnot. Not a graveyard, exactly, but fun. 

Sydney has a new park. It is made up of native plants and sandstone blocks. 

Newly planted, it will surely fill in quickly and provide a lovely promenade along the harbor.

Reminds of that rock formation in Ireland. Something like the Staircase of the Gods. 

I love this.

The new Barangaroo Reserve will grow onward, too, as it connects to Darling Harbour.

Now we move to South Australia. I visited Adelaide's botanical garden on Mother's Day.

Tamara here...I think I would have really enjoyed this. I have not been to Adelaide, hopefully someday.

I found this crazy tree. Hey, they eat meat-pies in Australia. Why not a sausage tree?

Kigelia pinnata or sausage tree, native to Africa.

This is the native landscape portion of the garden. Gum trees and wattle bushes. All it is missing is a wombat or a wallaby. 

Araucaria heterophylla. This is one of my favorite, all-time trees, a Norfolk Island Pine. I have not seen one so large. One of these days I will have to visit Norfolk Island. It is somewhere in the Coral Sea northeast of Queensland.

I don't know much about the Adelaide garden. It began in the mid-1800s, I think. I know Adelaide was settled by well-to-do English folks. Unlike Sydney, which started as a penal colony.

Puya alpestris.

It was a great day to just wander around and appreciate the trees.

This is a sweet little conservancy. Built about 100 years ago, it was recently cleaned and restored to its original grandeur.

This is so lovely.

A great many yuccas in bloom. I guess due to it being fall down there? Tamara here -- I think these are Agaves....and maybe Danger Garden's favorite Joe Hoak - or some version of it??

Getting ready to bloom.

Okay, we are moving now to Kangaroo Island, which is the first settlement in South Australia. Folks found the soil not great for farming, though perfect for stands of blue gum and pine trees. My friends own nearly 1,000 acres on the west end of the island. Tamara and I work hard on two acres. Can you imagine 1,000? OMG! Well, it is lovely out there. Nearest neighbors are five miles away. Heavens!

Gums trees in the ravine, pine trees across the field.

Mushrooms! Not to be eaten, I am told.

My friends are sheep and bee farmers out there. I do not know the name of this ewe.

Here's a wattle bush. Very common plant across Australia.

Not sure what this is, though I can guess. This plant builds a columnar base as it grows upward.

Here are some sweet birdies pecking around in a park in Kingscote, the island's "capital," which is home to 1,500 folks and a couple of dozen pink-grey parrots.

I suspect this is a Norfolk Island Pine.

I walked on a beach that was not sand as much as shells. Tiny, broken shells.

And some beach plants.

Not to mention some softball-sized sponges.

Nope. Not Ireland. This a classic depiction of the eastern half of Kangaroo Island's landscape. Green fields, sheep and gum trees in odd shapes and sizes. 

Now, back to Sydney on the way home. My hotel was across the street from the royal gardens.
Lucky me! Hey, the garden is marking its bicentennial this year. Even the sign is plant-based.

200 years old! Yikes!

I liked this fern growth on these palm trees. Sweet ferns.

I like this toothpick of a palm tree. 

Nearly finished is The Calyx, a new nature-based destination inside the garden. It opens in June. Here's a link to their website. Tamara here - I need to go see this when it's complete. Anyone with me?

My hand, a big leaf.

This small area is full of textures and types. Tamara loves this stuff.

Striking Hibiscus.

Ginger, anyone?

Rhododendron 'Archangel' -- Vireya rhododendron, an Australian hybrid of R. konori bred by Graham Snell of Highfields, Queensland.

I loved this strange tree. 

It's like an old book glued to this tree. Very strange.

More birdies!

Oh, just cockatoos hanging out in the shade. Nothing to see here.

And a giant Banyan tree. 

Finally, this tree fell over a few years ago and they dare not straighten it. You know, this tree reminds me of Australia. It is a bit odd, folks drive on the left side of the road, and they make the best of whatever happens. But through it all the tree and the culture grows and strengthens. Give me Australia any day, any week, any time. I love it.

(Tamara here. We did see this tree in my very first post about Australia, but it's worth repeating. For another Aussie post but not specific to Sydney, you can revisit that here.)

You know, I photographed these pictures to stay in cosmic contact with my dear wife, who puts up with my worldwide ramblings. These are my gifts to her (and the cats, too)!

Thank you, dear Husband. I love the photos and the opal earrings, too -- you are the best gem of all. That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always thank you for reading and putting up with something a little different (the Husband)!! Until next time, happy gardening!