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!


  1. With only just a few weeks since I looked at your garden pics, things are filling in nicely. And summer hasn't even arrived yet!

    1. I tell you Mark and Gaz, summer arrived in a week around here. Wow. I think I'll be dealing with a full-blown jungle by the time summer does arrive!

  2. I - so - love this blog, Tamara! (And I take notes!) Beautiful to see how it's all coming together; so exciting.

    And so inspiring for me, newbie that I am; I've already profited by the practical wisdom you've shared. I expect that most of your readers are already hardcore gardeners just like you, but everything here is still so accessible. THANK YOU!

    1. Stephen, this is probably my favorite comment I've ever received. I am SO thrilled you gain something from my crazy plant adventures, for that was always the intent. We are all in this together and all learn from one another. We are certainly always learning and are happy to share our trials and successes. You are welcome :)

  3. Fifty to 90F in a day - yikes! We've been experiencing wide temperature swings too but nothing quite that dramatic. It's wonderful seeing your infant garden grow up, which it seems to be doing very quickly from my vantage point. I have a soft spot for all the pretty flowers but everything looks great.

    1. It's nutso - definitely not normal. Well...the garden is growing up - and I too am excited to see it! Pretty flowers are a-okay with me, too :)

  4. Ah Tamara it's beautiful! So much to be amazed by. I'm thrilled your Grevillea x gaudichaudii came through, yay!

    1. Yay for the Grevillea! Woo hoo! I KNOW - who would have thought. I actually thought of you when it bloomed because I think we both bought ours at the HPSO sale last year, if memory serves me. I am so excited it lives and frankly, shocked. The mystery of plants....

  5. Odds are good your dark purple bearded iris (not Siberian) is 'Superstition'. A glamorous moment in spring!

    That saxifrage-geum with the toothy round leaves: what a beauty; it must fly off nursery tables. I am now seized with yearning for it, and just about every saxifrage I see. Gaah! Must go plant before I start searching for them...

    1. Oh, thank you for the tip, Nell! It is a glamorous one for sure.

      The saxifrage is fantastic - I think we have it at Joy Creek Nursery where I work (we have mail order too) if you have trouble finding it. Go plant first, though! :)

  6. Loved seeing the before/after pix of the deck side of the house - what an incredible transformation! Kudos to you and FM :-)

    1. It's pretty amazing - the change it's been through. Thanks for the comments and for reading, Colleen!!

  7. Anonymous12:23 PM PDT

    Wow your garden is amazing and will be a showstopper in a few years when everything is filled in. Love the salvaged throwaway plants that are thriving.

    1. Thank you so much! Such kind words. The salvaged plants are my favorites, actually - they have a story and that makes it just a little more special.

  8. Wonderful to see how your garden is developing and growing. Better and better!

    1. Thank you Hoover Boo - nature sure takes care of itself....amazing!

  9. The garden is looking amazing! I'm just a little jealous that your Nemophila reseeded and is blooming this year. None of mine came back. I don't think it likes the manufactured "soil" I mulched my new beds with. Bare, native soil is the way to go for native annuals! Though Collomia grandiflora seems to like the manufactured stuff just fine. Now if only the rabbits would stop eating it!

    I dug a few Carex comans for you yesterday. Still lots more that can come out. I hope you aren't afraid of it reseeding.

    1. Thank you Evan! Maybe your great soil has something to do with it as you mention. You're welcome to some seeds when these are done blooming. Thanks for the carex, I'm not afraid of reseeding, I would like that! Sorry about the rabbits, too. Oh, life in the garden is always exciting.

  10. Your garden looks better with every post. You've done so much great stuff to your space and Mother Nature is sure doing her part as well!

    1. Aw, thank you Peter! You are too sweet. Mother Nature is really kicking it into overdrive and for that I am so grateful :)


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