Thursday, May 25, 2017

Here Comes the Sun

This week I thought that the garden deserved a second look as it's suddenly summer. It went from 50 degrees to 90 in a day, literally. Nevertheless, I am happy it's sunny and so are the plants. 

Geum 'Totally Tangerine' purchased from Annie's Annuals a few years ago has never looked better. At the old garden I threatened to toss it because it would wilt and not bloom. I obviously had it in the wrong location. Here, it is in heavy clay (that's quite wet) and mostly full sun.

In the afternoon, a bit of shade is cast so it hasn't fried.

What I originally envisioned as "meadowy" areas are finally filling in. It's a matter of weeding out the undesirables and encouraging the wildflower and grass seeds sown last year. From time to time, I catch a glimpse through the sunshine where the angle is just right rendering the whole scene full and lush. Of course, when I look closer there are still many gaps, but they are closing in.

 Still  many gaps . . . soon . . . soon it will be a meadow.

An evening shot of Lucy and the Dianthus hispanicus or carnations in full bloom. I tell you, these are the BEST smelling carnations. So sweet, you can catch their scent from quite a distance.

Areas other than the "meadow" are also showing signs of filling in. Here Stachys 'Helen von Stein' went from little starts last autumn to full-grown plants. They were a gift from my co-worker Ricki of the garden blog Sprig to Twig.

The blue flax seeds I sowed last year have bloomed this spring. They are a nice glue that fills in many cracks in the garden right now.

I found a couple old rotted half barrels on the property and, of course, made garden art with the bands that held them together.

Another carex area on the left. These were little seedlings in the gravel at work that would have been tossed into the weed bin. I collected them and, wow, look at them now.

These lupines were also throw-aways from work. We had a flat of them that shriveled up, so we cut them back and each took a couple home. I had zero expectations so I am incredibly impressed. These are by the front gate so passers by (what few there are) can also enjoy them. This is a good example that most plants will bounce back no matter how bad they look in a nursery pot. So many plants don't do well in a container, lupines are one of those plants.

A no i.d. iris given to me at one of our garden blogger's swaps. 

Antennaria rosea or pink pussy toes. I love the common name. A native plant of these parts, takes a beating in the sun and keeps slowly spreading to form a silver groundcover mat. In spring these cute little flowers sprout up.

Aquilegia or columbine 'Black Barlow' has happily seeded itself around the sunny garden.

Anthriscus sylvestris 'Raven's Wing' in full bloom.

A columbine with no i.d. It's one I quite like, all white. It seeded itself in a shady corner and I think I'll keep it.

Sisyrinchium bellum, native blue-eyed grass. I brought some from the old garden and also allowed it to seed around this one. It's like a little tiny iris.

Parahebe perfoliata flowers.

Parahebe perfoliata, an eucalyptus look-alike in small form. It is drought tolerant and loves a gravelly site. Perfect.

Grevillea x gaudichaudii, an Australian native ground cover grevillea I did NOT expect to live out our winter. Surprise! It did fry a bit, the leaves turned black but all new growth quickly started this spring and it's now flowering. I am shocked, it's only supposed to be hardy to zone 9 or 8b but it was somehow spared in my 7b garden.

No i.d. bearded iris - possibly 'Superstition' (thank you Nell!). These were here when we bought the property, I kept these darkest black-purple ones. The yellow and light purple ones now live elsewhere in very happy gardens.

A few heat-loving Heuchera sanguineas 'Firefly' and 'Northern Fire' backlit by the evening sun.

The setting sun at the top of the driveway. This rock garden area has filled in nicely.

The far northwest corner of the property. This shade garden is also filling in nicely and is wonderfully cool on a hot day.

Somehow we have many hostas, throw-aways from another nursery where I worked. I do like hostas, I don't love them but these might make me change my mind to love. They don't seem to be bothered by pests (yet!) and look pretty healthy. I guess my complaint about them is that they tend to look scraggly by the end of spring and certainly by the end of summer, and muddy up what could be a lovely scene.

Also in the shade garden, some columbines that were seedlings from work that were given to me. Well, they were rescued from being victims of the compost pile. We were encouraged to dig out as many seedlings as we could carry and I'll tell you they all survived and bloomed like crazy this year. I fear I may have a columbine-only garden before long. It's a good thing they are easy to remove.

A pretty variegated heuchera hardy geranium whose name I have lost. It has a purple flower and does well in my full shade garden.

A few ferns and grasses starting to emerge after a long cold winter.

Saxifraga x geum 'Dentata' is happy in its new home. Spreading slowly but surely, this evergreen clumper always attracts attention.

The stems of native Heuchera chlorantha.

A few updates! We recently had a "work party" - a few friends expressed interest in coming out and working for a day (which was strange to put friends to work . . . but, hey, if they ask, we deliver!) We decided to work on a new path by removing many inches of sod and replacing it with gravel. This is the edge of the labyrinth garden connected to the orchard and vegetable garden by this path. There will be a second one, but this is a main thoroughfare. Once the fence is removed, it will be a main path though the whole garden. Thank you everyone for your super hard work!

Here it is looking directly east. The new path area is distinguished by the lighter colored gravel.

The Dutch white clover is filling in nicely in the orchard. And what's that beyond? The rest of the eastern area has been completely cleared (after the stump removal guy came out and Facilities Manager combed the area for roots) and cultivated by FM. Can you see the newly planted fruit trees? They are, for all intents and purposes, planted. Yay! Here comes the orchard! Thank you, FM.

Speaking of thanking FM, here he is putting the wire cables into the railing on the deck.

Very faint, but if you look closely you can see three cables going across. A little more secure than before and certainly not as intrusive as the old fence:

Just in case you forgot.

The garden is surprising me in many ways. Plants that I gave up for dead are beginning to emerge, mostly. Seedlings are everywhere, too - most of them are identifiable but a few will reveal themselves in time. It was my intention to have many seedlings for appropriate plants to reseed themselves and create a bit of cohesion. It's exciting to see, and now that the whole orchard is in and the veggie garden is nearly in, we can breathe a little easier. Things will take care of themselves to a certain degree. We still have yet to plant the berry bushes and a few other perennial vegetables, we also have yet to finish a couple of paths in the orchard and veggie garden. The many berms now covered in plastic for solarization will be planted up in a couple of month's time, and beyond that, I see mostly maintenance rather than major projects.

I say this now, but I will probably get a few more crazy inspired ideas and eat my words.

FM says don't forget about the irrigation water pipe installation project. Yikes!

That is the report this week at Chickadee Gardens. Thank you all so much for reading and until next time, happy gardening!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The May Garden

And all of a sudden it was spring. Hooray! The soil has warmed and plants are happy. They are showing their appreciation by blooming, leafing out and generally looking perky. Here's a tour of the May garden, mostly made up of plants that went into the ground one year ago.

Tiarella 'Sugar and Spice' is one of my favorite woodland plants. Tiarellas in general are high up there for me, I would love to see a whole forest floor of the native ones grace my own garden. This is a pretty special pant, however, with its dark centered leaves and larger than average flowers that remind me of twinkling stars in the woods.

The dry river bed garden saw a few losses this winter, but these phlox, artemesia and sedums are very happy and spreading.

A little vignette that I am thrilled to see. An Armeria maritima 'Victor Reiter' is flanked by Sedum oreganum on the left and some Sedum spurium or another. My happiness comes from the fact that they are happy and spreading to fill in the nooks and crannies, helping to keep weeds down.

Here a lavender cotton and Sedum 'Angelina' are quite happy and spreading in the labyrinth garden. It brings a warm glowing spot to this part of the garden we can see from a long distance.

One of the several Miscanthus sinensis 'Cabaret' grasses is finally emerging. In the background Solidago 'Fireworks' is forming nice large clumps, something I was encouraging. There are also two Artemesia 'Powis Castle' in there as well as a Tetrapanax papyrifer and Chasmanthium latifolium or northern sea oats grass.

Here's a geum I got at work, Geum rivale. I love it, it's very hardy and its flowers are quite subtle with gorgeous soft colors.

A closeup of its flower. I can tell you the bumble bees like this one.

I ordered about 50 Camassia quamash or common camas bulbs last year and planted them in the fall. They are all just now coming up and the few that have bloomed so far have especially dark blue flowers. I understand they are variable in color, I am pleased to see this dark blue. It is a native plant of my area and was an important food source for Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest. I love these, they very well could have been on this property centuries ago before it was cultivated.

The Eriophyllum lanatum or Oregon sunshine has spread to a lovely gray green clump and is just now blooming. I thought that the winter might have damaged the center of this clump but all the foliage grew back and also spread a little. This is easy for hot and dry locations and is native to the Northwest.

Just a sweet hardy geranium, no i.d. Nice pop of color.

Salix eleganos var. angustifolius, rosemary willow named for its narrow rosemary-like foliage. I am looking forward to seeing this plant grow in my garden, as mature specimens are stunning. I planted it in the very middle of the labyrinth as a centerpiece.

Leaves of an Eremurus or foxtail lily. I planted about 8 of these early last year and only one emerged and bloomed. I thought that was all we were to see of these glorious flower spikes but lo and behold, this year there are about 6 that emerged. I am thrilled.

Facilities Manager and chicken say hello!

The not-yet-opened bloom of Cotinus 'Pink Champagne' from Xera Plants. Such lovely shades of burgundy and green on the foliage.

Limnanthes douglasii or Douglas' meadow foam, a native wildflower that forms a low mat. Although an annual, it reseeds. The insects do love this one. I have seen all manner of teeny tiny flying critters as well as bumble bees and honey bees.

I bought one last year, and this year, I have several little clumps around. The Geranium 'Rozeanne' will eventually take over after these die back.

A hebe and phlox in the gravel garden.

Last year, I sowed a good amount of native wildflower seeds (late...uh-oh!) to see if I could get them to fill in some of the blank spaces to out-compete the weeds. The report is that many have come back and are blooming, and although it's not an impenetrable mass of wildflowers, they are scattered about and blooming. Nemophila maculata shown here, also known as baby five spot.

Nemophila menziesii also known as baby blue eyes. Very charming. In addition to these, California poppies and flax are coming up all around.

Cornus alba 'Elegantissima' - variegated red twig dogwood. We easily see this from the house -- it really brightens up a shady spot.

A view of the hydrangea patch (some of these were already here, others moved to this locale) with some woodland garden in the background. Stumps in the distance are from the recently downed big-leafed maple.

Tellima grandiflora or fringecups in the same woodland area pictured above. I did not plant these, rather they are a common native woodland plant that were naturally here already. The triumph of this scene is that I weeded out the invasive plants like blackberry and a host of other smothering culprits and encouraged this patch to grow and spread. It's more along the lines of woodland management rather than intensive gardening and replacement of plants. Bark pictured in this photo is from the recently downed big-leafed maple tree. It was so cool covered in moss, I had to use it for something special. I spread it around any newly weeded bare soil in this area -- I told myself it would help with weed suppression. At least it looks better than bare dirt with weed seedlings, right?

Deutzia crenata var. nakaiana 'Nikko' - a find at work. The white buds open to sweet flowers. Deciduous small shrub for a shady spot. 

A recent discovery at work, Spiraea x vanhouttei 'Pink Ice' about that foliage color? When the buds do open they will reveal white flowers. This takes sun to part shade.

Moving on to other parts of the garden. Here, Facilities Manager continues his efforts to clear the recently de-stumped land of roots. The pink poles mark where the rest of our orchard will be planted.

Speaking of stumps, how's this for a monster? Can you spot FM's head behind the pile for scale?

Our beehive finally arrived! I blogged about Bee Thinking, the Portland company that made this. You can revisit that post here. The hive is oiled up and ready to go. As I type this, FM is at beekeeping class and will be ready to host our first bees in the coming weeks. More to come on that front another day.

Nearby the beehive, I spotted the return of this lovely native iris. I found them last year, but feared they might have all been mowed down. Luckily, that is not the case.

Moving on to another corner of the property, the shade garden is really taking off. I will do a more complete post all about it in the coming weeks. The sword ferns planted on top of the berm are a new addition by FM -- he relocated them from the area that is now the orchard. We love them and saved every last one.

One last area I wanted to report an update on is what I call the eye-level eco-roof. It's a large area in full sun against the retaining wall that had a few sedums when we bought the house and property. I have been adding random sedum starts here and there to create the same impact as the eco-roof at the old house had. Only this one you can actually inspect up close.

OK, a few sedums are more aggressive than others. Still, the tapestry is pleasing to my eye and it's pretty much zero maintenance, at least not yet.

Mixed in here is Acaena saccaticulpula 'Blue Haze' along with Sedum oreganum, S. spurium and S. spurium 'Tricolor'. 

Good ol' sea thrift or Armeria maritima. I brought these from the old garden and planted a few in the rock wall garden. The ones that survived are quite happy and finally blooming, a little late but that's ok.

A parting shot of the part of the garden I first tackled on this property. That was in February of sure has changed since then. Plants have filled in and are creating a tapestry of textures and colors that will hopefully endure for years to come.

While I lost many plants this past winter, even more survived and are thriving. I look at it as a chance to put into practice "survival of the fittest" because I realize with this much to take care of, I want minimal maintenance plants. The ones that did survive (which is really the vast majority) have proven their worth to me. Am I replacing dead plants? I am replacing many, but not with the same thing. The plants that performed so well over our brutal winter and spring are being repeated elsewhere to fill in gaps, which, in the end, will give a better sense of rhythm and coherence to the whole. I knew when I started it would be a big experiment...and so it begins. 

That wraps it up for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you so much for your interest and for reading and commenting. May wonderful spring days be ahead for you all. Happy gardening!