April Flowers

The rather rainy month of April has yielded quite a few blooms, but no big chores so far in this rain. Those will have to wait for our pending dry-ish weather. In the meantime, the plant purchases keep showing up in my car, wave by wave, awaiting their permanent homes in the garden. Before the digging begins, let us look around the gardens and see what is interesting this month.

Berberis darwinii, Darwin's barberry, has come up a few times recently in my world. This is one discovered by Charles Darwin in 1835 in South America. I have two that have finally put on a little growth. Evergreen with amazing orange flowers, these are tough plants. Naturalized and invasive in New Zealand, they are little trouble in the Northwest, but I did read that they could be problematic in California. I'll keep my eye on their status and if they become a problem here, I'll certainly take them out. For now, they are fine and I am enjoying them.

Primula polyanthus 'Gold Laced' was a gift from Mike, one of the owners at Joy Creek Nursery, year before last. It finally settled in and is happy, although quite wet on this day. 

A wonderful tree that was already on the property, Cornus nuttalii, our native dogwood. Notoriously difficult to grow, we are thrilled it's here. The birds love hanging out in this tree awaiting a turn at the sunflower-seed feeder.

Sedum 'Winky' was a throw away at a nursery I worked at a couple of years ago. It has rebounded with vigor and is a really lovely, upright sedum.

Geum rivale, also known as water avens, is a water-loving geum that occurs naturally in the northern U.S. as well as parts of Europe. This is what the flower does, it doesn't open beyond this and that's ok with me. The bumble bees really appreciate this early-blooming flower that does especially well along pond margins or swampy areas.

Sedum oreganum in the foreground and S. spathulifolium (likely Cape Blanco) in the background, both native to the Northwest. These are such great sedums for me reliably carpeting areas when happy with a solid mass of weed-smothering succulent goodness. Here they spill out of an old concrete container.

Armeria maritima 'Victor Reiter', a low growing rock garden plant that reliably performs in my gravel garden. April is its peak flower time, but if I shear off the blooms once spent, it will re-bloom. 

Sedum confusum, a sedum from Mexico, has bright chartreuse leaves. Here it spills down the corner of a rock wall, happy as can be. I find this particular sedum to be much happier in part shade.

Another native plant, Ribes aureum, also known as clove currant for its wonderful scent of cloves. It is an upright deciduous shrub that now lives next door to our honeybees.

The unknown flowering cherries are in full fluffy force this week. 

The shade garden is coming on strong. Here, evergreen Saxifraga x geum 'Dentata' on the left is going bananas while the golden leaves of Dicentra spectabilis 'Gold Heart' shines in shade. I had no real love for the bleeding heart, it was a throw-away from work a while back, but it has really won me over due to its luminosity in shade. I still have no love for the flowers, sorry. Polystichum setiferum 'Bevis' ferns on the right.

Uvularia perfoliata, a recent purchase from work. This spring ephemeral will hopefully spread in the woodland garden to make masses of merry bells.

An impulse buy, Diascia 'My Darling Tangerine' fits right in to an orange part of the berm garden. 

Two plants that were already here, a NOID rosemary and NOID bearded iris. The textures together are quite pleasing to me.

The rosemary willow or Salix elaeagnos ssp. angustifolia is starting to really grow. I'm so happy about this plant, I can't wait for it to put on some girth as it takes center stage in the labyrinth garden, literally being in the very center.

Succulent tapestry. I have a habit of tucking in broken pieces of sedums all over the edges of borders. In two and a half years, these have totally filled in. I like the random look, too. In the center is S. divergens, a native sedum to the Northwest. The one on the left is disputed, I believe it's a form of S. album. A NOID Sempervivum or hens and chicks on the right.

The undersides of Quercus hypoleucoides or silver oak. Wowsers...can't wait for this beauty to grow tall enough so I can see underneath the leaves without turning them over.

I recently dug up a bunch of Geranium macrorrhizum starts from my mother's garden to add to the edge of our shade garden. Pictured is an area between two trees where grass will not grow and is kind of an eye sore. I added compost and the starts last weekend which will eventually look like the plants behind them to the right which were also from her garden a couple of years ago. I'm hoping they colonize and help add another layer visually to this part of the garden and help to define a sort of path, also. It's all about baby steps...seeing what areas are defined, what needs definition, imagining what would make an area look better, creating depth and mystery by layering and not letting the eye see it all at once. Little by little we are building this garden.

 The ugly side...trying to keep it real. This is the state of the wood chips a month or two in. They have settled, weeds come through and I'm a bit frustrated. The plan is to cut back the tops of these weeds and add MORE wood chips the next load we receive. See, it's not all glamour. Haha. That project will have to wait for drier weather.

Another compost day last week. The "Carex triangle" or as F.M. calls it - the "Carrot triangle" - saw a fresh load of black gold. I think the total number of wheelbarrow loads was 18. The major areas of the garden have now been composted (we're keeping a running total of our wheelbarrow loads, I'll give the final number when it's all gone), what's left will primarily be added to the veggie garden, which we hope to cultivate next week if it does indeed dry out as predicted.

From this vantage point you can see both composted beds at once. Aaah . . . makes me feel so much better looking at the lovely color just knowing how much good it's doing for the garden and how many weed seeds I have successfully smothered. I'm easily amused.

While the rains continue, we peck away at planning and (me) buying plants. Soon we'll be into high gear around here once the weather warms, the flowers bloom, the veggie starts get transplanted, the bees start flying and the rest of the plants get in the ground. For now, however, we're enjoying five eggs a day from the girls and I'm happy to report SweetPea the turkey nestles in with the girls every night. Well, not in their coop but on a perch safe inside the white-domed pen pictured above (far right), attached to the coop. They are all secure for the night and during the day, really prefer to all be together. Another win for the farm. We adore her/him and welcome the addition to the family.

That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting! We do love sharing with the world and love to hear what you are all up to. Happy gardening one and all!


  1. You do have many beautiful blooms. I love barberries but they are invasive here in SW IN. I am glad you are keeping an eye on yours. The succulent quilt is gorgeous. I too love the different textures together. Your garden looks grand. We all have those areas that don't get the most attention. We seem to notice when someone else is looking.

    1. Aah, they are invasive for you too, then. They have not been listed on any invasive reports here in Oregon, I think they are also an issue on the East Coast. Those succulents, wow...they are so easy, we do love them.

      We do have areas of a *ahem* few weeds...ha ha - it's just how it is and we must just laugh about it. Right?

  2. Great selection of blooms! And building up all that compost will also pay dividends in years to come with the quality of soil on those beds.

    1. Thank you guys! I know...delayed gratification with the compost. I already notice areas that got a good amount two years ago are so much richer with microbiotic health and worms. Yay compost!

  3. A sedum for shade! I've now got that Sedum confusum on my list of Plants I Want. Love the shot of the sedum tapestry too. Let me know if you ever want any more Geranium starts. I don't have G. macrorrhizum but I have Biokovo and Biokovo Karmina, which are hybrids of it. All you have to do is stick a piece of it in the soil and it roots easily. I can bring some to the swap if you want.

    1. Don't you love hardy geraniums? If you have extras, I have the space for them :)

      Bring some for sure, I'll bring you some S. confusum! Don't you love bloggers' swaps?

  4. Lookin' good, lady! I would love a cutting of Winky if you are going to the swap.

  5. You have some lovely plants in this post! I'm impressed by how well sedums do in your garden. (Many struggle here.) I'm in love with that Berberis darwinii too. I think I saw it featured in one of Evan's posts as well but it didn't occur to me it might grow in SoCal; however, my Sunset Western Garden Book not only says it does but also that it's evergreen and may not require a lot of water. It's strange that I can't remember ever seeing it for sale here.

    1. Yes, sedums do require some water, which is a surprise to many.

      Maybe that B. darwinii is listed as troublesome for your area? I don't know...it seems to be sort of readily available. Maybe because it gets large (6 feet or so) it's not so popular?

  6. I've got that S. confusum in shade too, a great plant. Can't wait for the oak to tower over you too!

    1. Isn't it a lovely sedum?

      When that oak gets tall, I'm probably going to do an "I love you, Oak" post. It's sooo pretty.

  7. I love the flowers on that barberry and have contemplated getting it. I cannot figure out where it would go though. It gets rather large, doesn't it? I love that color.

    1. It does get large, in the gardens at Joy Creek Nursery it is about 6 - 7 feet tall and covered in blooms. Amazing.

  8. I just spread compost over a bed today. I love the way the dark compost makes all the plants pop, and of course all the good it does for the soil. Love your blooms, and the sedums and Saxifraga x geum 'Dentata'. I have a wee patch and have decided I need more. Oh, how the weeds have run amok during these endless rainy days. So much to do!


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