Mid-Spring at Chickadee Gardens

As I promised in last week's post, this week is all about pretty things, not ugly utilitarian soil amendments and tractors. Let's have a little fun and enjoy fruits of our labors. I give you a late April/Early May walkabout at Chickadee Gardens.

This is remarkable for a few reasons: One, it's beautiful, and, two, it's a native iris, and, three, I did not plant it. This is exactly what I hoped would happen, i.e., native wildflowers and other plants would populate my garden naturally. I have disturbed a lot of soil on these two acres the last couple of years and brought up a hell of a lot of weed seeds. I hope those will eventually fade as natives move in and spread.

These next few images are in the shade garden. The ferns are jumping out of the ground right now. I have lost track of which fern this is. Chime in if you know.

Epimedium x warleyense's orange flowers are what sold me. I love the idea of epimediums or bishop's hats for they are semi-evergreen and can handle dry shade. I had trouble getting them going in the old garden but I've had some success here so far. I also have a few Epimedium x versicolor 'Sulphureum' nearby and they are starting to spread a little underneath fir trees. 

I did show this recently, but it is worthwhile to see its leaves after they have unfurled. How cool is that? Salix nakamurana var. yezoalpina. Although I have it in shade, it tolerates full sun with moist enough soil.

A wider shot of part of the shade garden. Note the nice black compost on the berm in back. Oh, yes, a few (10, maybe?) wheelbarrow loads took care of this side of the berm. I've been wanting to do that for two years. It will help keep weeds down and finally give some organic matter to what is otherwise clay trucked in by the former owner to make that berm. 

A Japanese maple in a pot by our front door was a seedling in the old garden. I do not know which one it is, but it is lovely, adding a woodland feel to our entryway.

Moving out into the sunshine: Ribes x gordonianum has amazing color. The blooms are gone by now, but I caught this photo a couple of weeks ago. It's a cross between R. sanguineum and R. odoratum.

The edge of the gravel garden in late afternoon sun. Foreground is Thymus 'Pink Ripple' which will be in full bloom pretty soon, a favorite of honey bees, Fescue 'Beyond Blue', Armeria 'Victor Reiter' and many others also included.

Fothergilla 'Mount Airy' is finally blooming. I have only had sporadic blooms the past two years but this year it's covered. Yay, for plants finally settling in and growing!

Aquilegia 'Black Barlow' has seeded around. A lot. But it's ok with me, it's a columbine I really like.

A columbine or Aquilegia from work, a Joy Creek seedling that comes true from seed. 

 Another that was already here, I don't know which one it is but I let it stay because of the dark stems.

 We have two redbuds on the property that are finally in full bloom.

 From a different angle.

Geum 'Totally Tangerine' from Annie's Annuals several years ago is rocking right now.

Late afternoon springtime sunshine. All of the maples, dogwoods and other large deciduous trees are simultaneously leafing out. So are my allergies.

Here's a little before and after. This is looking west in late summer 2015.

Same general area, to the left a little, taken this week. This is the edge of a wooded area I affectionately term The Shrubbery. Up front is Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon', to the right is Physocarpus 'Diabolo' then the hydrangeas begin. There are many other little plants that are difficult to see at this stage, but in a few years time I'm hoping it will fill in.

Asphodelus albus blooming for me for the first time. Purchased at work, this is what our website says about it:

When Asphodelus albus with its five-foot spikes come into bloom in our Four Seasons Garden, they cause quite a stir. Numerous branched spikes, literally covered in large, starry white flowers, rise out of a basal clump of broad, flattened foliage. The leaves are blue green and about two-and-a half feet long. Spring. 3-5 ft. x 2-3 ft.

A sweet little rockery plant, Veronica armena.

The flax is blooming. It adds such a light touch to the garden. I let it seed where it will and basically edit it out where I don't. I got a quarter pound of seed two years ago and sprinkled it throughout the gravel garden. I'm pleased with its performance so far.

Oscar the agave on the left, Fescue 'Beyond Blue' in the foreground, Lupinus sericatus in between the two on the edge of a path through the sunny labyrinth garden.

Tulipa batalinii 'Bright Gem' has been a pleasant surprise. I love species tulips, this one is very petite and glows in the border. The gray-green leaves add another dimension for me, going well with other gray green foliage in the gravel garden. It will form clumps in time rather that diminish.

As they fade they get paler in color.

The Himalayas on the left are completely covered in compost. Oscar the agave in the foreground.

We are lucky enough to have three Cornus nuttalii, our native dogwood, on our property. This is the nicest of the three and is stunning for a long period in spring. I have to admit, when we bought the property and after this tree lost its leaves for the year so we could not identify what it was, we were tempted to cut it down because it looked sad and possibly dead. We decided to have patience and thank goodness for that, it is a notoriously difficult tree to get established but is well worth it. I have no idea if this was planted or was already on the property when the house was built.

From underneath our oak tree, the afternoon sun caught my eye. Sweet woodruff in the foreground is filling in nicely, as are several Ceanothus gloriosus 'Point Reyes' that are finally blooming after two years.

Things will be moving at break-neck speed beginning this week, I think. Everything will be happening at once. The veggie garden will be exploding, the flowers and bees humming with activity and, yes, the weeds will strut their obnoxious stuff. I feel much farther along with garden chores this year than I did this same time last year where we were so far behind due to the awful winter and wet spring. I'm hopeful this years' garden will be better than ever, but I am at Mother Nature's mercy, to be sure, and in the end, that's all right with me.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. I'm off on a special trip to Austin, Texas, for the annual Garden Blogger's Fling where I shall meet with 80 or so fellow garden bloggers and explore the rich gardens both public and private that Austin offers. Stay tuned for I'm sure will be many posts covering what I see and experience. For now, happy gardening and thank you so much for tuning in! 


  1. Your garden looks great, as usual. I love your columbines, but especially that 'Black Barlow.' I'll have to see if I can find seeds for that, such a beautiful color. Have fun at the Fling, I hope you take lots of pictures to share on your blog!

    1. Thank you Alison! I will save you some Black Barlow seeds, I may have extra :)

  2. Love the exuberance of spring and you certainly have lots of that activity going on! Oscar the agave, wow!

    1. Oscar is a super star! I wish I had a whole herd of Oscars...

  3. Oh my goodness, all the path laying, all the shoveling dirt and manure, all the planning, and all the sweat and blisters . . . It all comes together, starting in spring. You have created a paradise, bravo!

    1. We are getting there, thank you for your sweet words, Connie! Spring is a wonderful time of year for sure!

  4. Love that Asphodelus albus!

    1. Isn't it fabulous? It's getting better with more blooms, too!

  5. You can grow so many different things. I love that orange blooming epimedium. I think my garden needs this. Oscar is a doll. I hope you have a great time at the Fling. I can't wait to read all about it.

    1. Your garden does need and orange epimedium. It was slow to start last year but this year it's put on so much new growth. It's a good one! Oh, and many Fling posts to come - once I get all 5000 photos sorted out!

  6. Yay! I love the volunteer Iris tenax. I know the feeling. I thought it was wonderful when they started seeding into one bed here. Now they're popping up all over the garden.

    Your garden is looking wonderful! This should be a fantastic year for growth, now that you've been there a couple years.

    1. Yay for volunteer natives that we like! I'm thrilled you are having the same experience...it's so exciting!

      Thanks for the sweet words, Evan. I hope your garden has an explosion of the kind of growth you want - i.e. no weeds!

  7. Beautiful and so impressive seeing the tons of work you have put in pay off. It was an pleasure meeting you at the Fling so I could tell you in person how much I enjoy watching you two build this garden!

    1. Shirley, it was a pleasure meeting you too! Wasn't that a blast? I'm exhausted, how about you? Now off to sort through photos...hahha!

  8. Wow, Spring has arrived! As I wear my "flower floozy" label with pride, I enjoy seeing all those pretty blooms. I adore that Ribes and your species tulips have cemented my intent to order some species tulips to plant in my own garden this fall. (Maybe we'll actually get some rain next winter...) I was glad to have the opportunity to meet you in Austin, if only briefly!

    1. Kris, it was SUCH a pleasure meeting you. Brief but good.

      Blooms are fun, and that ribes - oh, and the species tulips - are so worth it. I hope you get the rain to go with them.

      Hope you had a good time on the Fling, I look forward to your pics and others to see how others saw each of the many gardens we visited. Cheers!


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