The Garden in January

January at Chickadee Gardens is traditionally sparse. Sometimes I refer to it as the "Arctic tundra" with good reason: blank. frozen dirt.

One of my on-going goals in gardening is to consider winter interest, so I have been not only adding more evergreen plants and shrubs but leaving lots of spent perennials to stand through the winter for interest, and also for cover and food for the birds. Here the evergreen native Sedum oreganum never disappoints, sword fern in the background keeps it looking fresh. 

In the front garden I left the dried leaves of Hakonechola macra to give interest and add a nice rustling sound when the wind blows. In the foreground the cistus plants are getting a bit more sun now that I've hacked back the Spiraea douglasii (that was getting out-of-control huge).

Here you can see the Myrica rubra trees. Paul at Xera helped me to i.d. these two mysteries. There's a great website called Street Trees of Tokyo that he suggested, sure enough that's what we have here. 

Oh, the semps always look good. I have turned to these more and more in the garden and am not disappointed. They handle our wet winters, always look perky and keep spreading slowly. What's not to love?

While I did not plant the moss, it is technically part of the garden and shines in winter. It's a miniature world in there.

I spent a lot of time getting lost in the moss.

So far the Cotula hispida is evergreen for me and looking fine. Last year I lost my "field" of it and desperately waited for Xera to sell me more. They did not disappoint. I blogged about that here.

Last year I lost an arctostaphylos (well, actually several that had been newly planted) and replaced it with this. So far so good. I can't remember the name and my plant files are locked away in Excel hell, let's just say I asked Greg at Xera Plants what the toughest arctostaphylos is, and he recommended this.

This is only one of two arctostaphylos that survived last year's freeze, this one was gifted to me by a family member who owns Holden Nursery in Silverton, Oregon. This one is Arctostaphylos x coloradoensis 'Panchito'.

How about that bark? It has done remarkably well, I don't know how available it is, but if you find it, it's a good one.

Now that the goldenrod is gone for the season you can actually see my hidden sign. This is what I'm most proud of, platinum certification with the Backyard Habitat Certification Program here in Portland. Look them up if you're interested, it's why I garden the way I do, and they do incredible work.

Now for a bit of griping.

We are having the old oil tank on the property located and taken care of, therefore the gas company paid us a visit and did a little art project without our knowledge or permission. Of course it would be fine if they let us know and we could guide them a little or if they could use something other than paint. I mean really.

It's a good thing that's mostly dirt.

 Did you have to spray the plant? We get the point, it's not that hard to imagine a straight line from point A to point B.

My sedum is now spray-paint yellow.

As is one of the Cotula hispida.

I feel better now. Moving on. Backyard:

So this is what I mean by more greenery. The grasses and native sedums and even the Penstemon pinifolius are all evergreen, as well as the Cunninghamia lanceolata, which is finally growing and filling in.

 Here it is one year ago. Kind of grim.

 Same shot today. A little more life, the sun in this shot helps, for sure.

Other before and afters: Here's a look at our new paved area back in 2011.

I added an area for planting (and Lucy inspected it for quality control).

Here it is today. A little more green than before...the jasmine is beginning to fill in, a very welcome sight to see in mid-January. In the summer-time it is kind of swallowed up by the native grape vines, one planted on either side. Vaccinium ovatum are also filling in nicely, but they are slow-growers.

My bit of farming for the winter--a cover crop of crimson clover. I have big plans for this tiny patch this year...bring on the lettuces, the radishes and more!

Another before and after: Here is a shot of it before we even had the pavers or eco roof in. Check out the area to the left under the green fence. Concrete all the way. That eventually gave way to the above paver installation shot, then to another addition to the garden.

The little shady annex garden. Here it is newly planted in February last year (here's the post).

This time last year this little slot of a garden did not exist. It brings me such joy. Today the native ferns and Vaccinium ovatum have done quite well. There is a jasmine in there, too, I know it won't see a lot of sun and probably won't bloom, but that's ok, I'm more interested in the leaves.

This area is looking just fine. Hebe 'Quicksilver', blue fescue, Convolvulus cneoum or silver bush morning glory. All evergreen. 

Some evergreen grasses add a bit of sparkle in an otherwise brown shady area.

The daphne is getting ready to bloom and is bigger than ever this year. The yucca in the pot with sedum has also grown.

So there it is, a quick snapshot of what's going on in the garden in January. Of course, other behind-the-scenes activities are under way such as seed catalogs, ordering and planning, evaluating what looks good and what can be improved upon, and moving plants around in my head for the springtime shuffle. It has been a mild winter so far and for that I am grateful. Let us hope for a freeze-free end of winter and glorious spring gardening ahead.

That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens, what's going on in your neck of the woods?
Thanks for reading and until next week, happy gardening! 


  1. Lovely plantings! And that yellow "paint" won't last long. I have my yard marked every year, to avoid damaging the underground utilities when I dig.

    1. Thank you for reading and your kind words...I think the yellow paint has already started to fade :)

  2. At least the backyard was safe from the yellow paint :) you do have a lot of winter interest in your garden but leaving the grasses untrimmed was a nice extra.

    1. Yes, indeed - I must look at the bright side of it all. The grasses are a bonus for me this year, let's just say Scott inspired me.

  3. I cam commiserate on the painted plants and hardscape, I've had similar problems in the past. The plants will eventually grow out of it, but not the paving bricks. Maybe you can pry them up and turn them over? I appreciated all the before and after photos. Lots of bare dirt showing here too, at least on the few areas that I've cleaned up. The rest is brown sticks.

    1. Thank you, Alison! Finally someone to commiserate with. I kid...there are many who do. Sheesh. I will work on it this wet and rainy weekend I think. Brown sticks indeed, hopefully not for long!

  4. Your garden looks lovely Tamara, lots of green and things going on.

    I can also commiserate with the yellow paint. It was dark when you guys came over but had it been light you would have seen it towards the end of the drive, on the sidewalk, and dots throughout the gravel. Thankfully this time there was nothing on the plants themselves, but only because I was home and leaned out to ask for their sparing (this was from the water line repair, previously for other things they've sprayed the plants too). The good new is that it does eventually wear off, a little scrubbing might hasten it.

    1. Thanks for the sympathy, Danger. It's a good thing you were home and I'd rather have a bit of yellow paint on my plants, truth be told, than to have your plumbing issues you had to deal with recently... :( It will wear off, I just wanted to complain as it was so shocking! The scandal! Oh my!

  5. Anonymous10:23 AM PST

    Arctostaphylos x coloradensis 'Panchito' is a good plant. And its hardy to zone 4 at least. Nice to see it here.

    1. Yay! I'm glad you approve, I was wondering if you were familiar with it.

  6. Wow, what a TON of work! Did you guys bust up the concrete with a hammer? Wonderful transformation.

    1. Ooh, well - WE didn't bust it up...but we paid someone to do it! We're not THAT studly, Fifi :)

  7. Love the moss photos! I'd be writing a letter to the gas company. That would make me see red. I mean seriously, have a little respect for other people's property! Gad. I'm all fired up for you. LOL

    1. Yay! Glad you like them! Yes, the gas company is on my doo doo list for sure. Thanks for the sympathy, Mindy! I need it right now!

  8. I have total winter disinterest in my garden. It's a brown boring blob of blah with a few patches of green. I do love your moss. Ours was blasted into oblivion when we had our house power washed last year and the patio rebuilt. I do love your garden. :)

    1. Oh, I'm sorry! Blobs are no fun at all. Moss is good...we do have the moss in Oregon to be sure :) You know I was thinking of you this week as it was this week last year that Jimmy the hummingbird came into our lives and you found my blog - that was a good week when we met Jimmy!

  9. There's absolutely nothing grim or sparse about your beautiful winter garden, Chickadee. It's packed with interest, and seeing these pics brings such happy memories to mind from the Fling last summer. And I'm still loving the blue and green cheery paint in your garden too.


Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments! I love hearing them, I will approve comments as soon as I can. Yay!

Popular Posts