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'...how 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 2016...it 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!

22 comments :

  1. Looking so good! These last few warm, dry days have really given the garden a kick in the pants. I don't replace plants that die either, I do the same thing, use more of what's thriving. Love those annual wildflowers.

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    1. Thank you Alison! Yes, the warm weather of late has been wonderful for plants and people alike. Sounds like we both take the practical approach to replacing the dead ones.

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  2. Wow!!! I love watching your progress. It's really taking shape and looking good! Happy gardening!

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    1. Thank you Joanna! Happy gardening to you, too! :)

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  3. So much spring activity going on. And all that space, wow!

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    1. Oh yes, all that space! All that space....(just don't look at all those weeds!)

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  4. When your garden wakes up, it's up! It looks fabulous. I'm particularly envious of the Camassia and the Tiarella, both of which I've tried and failed to grow here. And there are many more of these plants, like the foxtail lily, that I covet but know I don't have a chance of growing. I love the mixed sedums too. I've no doubt that your garden will continue to astound as it develops.

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    1. It's awake, for sure! So why can't you grow foxtail lily? I would think it would love all that sunshine. The Camassia - it's a special one indeed. I am sorry you can't grow it successfully.

      As far as astounding as it develops, nature is a wonderful thing...I feel like I've just introduced a particular tapestry of plants in particular areas and am letting it go from there. Nature = amazing.

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  5. I am obsessed with weed suppression. Do I detect a similar sentiment in your writing? I don't spot any weeds in your photos. Either you have been a weeding superhero or have learned to position your camera strategically. Either way, it all looks grand.

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    1. Why yes you do detect a similar sentiment! Hee hee..well, they are there, mark my words. They are in the gravel paths, the "lawn", the dirt...just mostly small-ish so you don't see them so much from a photo. And clever camera angles of course. Come over and see for yourself! Thanks for the sweet words, Rickii.

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  6. This post definitely has positive tone, and if I may project my feelings upon you, well then I'd say this last week of sun and warmth has done us both good. Isn't it amazing to see life, where just a few months ago everything looked dead? I am so happy your garden is giving you rewards for all the work you've both done. It looks wonderful and you guys are amazing!

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    1. You may project your feelings on me, for you are spot-on. I thought of that last weekend at the blogger's plant swap, that I didn't hear anyone complain about weather...we must be feeling better! Vitamin D baby and the warming of the bones is very healthy indeed. The garden is starting to wake up...I was especially looking forward to this spring because I had planted soooo many thing, it's always like opening presents in spring when everything takes off after roots have established themselves. This year, I felt cheated for a long while because it never came never came never came then last weekend, it was here. Feeling better, hoping you are too :)

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  7. Pretty pretty pretty! Spring sure looks good on you! (On your place.)
    Bees! Exciting for Facilities Man.
    Your wild area of fringe ups looks great, and your wildflowers, and your sedum tapestry. Fave photo is your sugar & spice Tiarella at the top. 💚

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    1. Bees! Yes, he learned a lot in bee keeping class. I am excited to host them, too. Fringe cups, wildflowers and sedums..oh my! Yes, that Tiarella is so lovely, glad you like it!

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  8. The gardens are looking wonderful! I especially like the "woodland management" with the Tellima. I love simply encouraging native plants while removing invasives. My dream garden is what I would call an enhanced woodland, mostly just managing the invasives and letting the natives do their thing, with a few treasured exotics plugged in where they look like they belong. I had Nemophila last year, but haven't seen any sign of them this year. I need to hurry and take photos of my garden for a similar post. The heat, while nice for encouraging things to grow and new flowers to open, caused just as many flowers to move past their peak. Now, pounding rains threaten others.

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    1. Thank you Evan. I like the term "editing" too to describe what I'm trying to do in the shadier areas of the property. I like your idea of an enhanced woodland, we are striving for the same thing!

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  9. Chickadee garden is looking fabulous ! I've become less weed obsessive since I got rid of all the lawn, they just blend into the mix.

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    1. Oooh, thank you Linda! Good to know about weeds - maybe I'll get there someday, for now I must get them ALL. Ok, a percentage of them.

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  10. It all looks great, Tamara. Love the eco-roof.

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    1. Thank you Grace! The "eco-roof" is fun, I see it on my way to and from the front door every day so get to really enjoy it.

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  11. Wow, so impressive what you've done — and all so quickly! Look forward to seeing it in person at some point! (and BTW thanks for adding eGardenGo to your links!)

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  12. Beautiful.
    I loved meeting you.
    Janicce.

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