Spring Life

Winter's gloom is miles away, so say the flowers. Here's proof of life this week at Chickadee Gardens.

 A gigantic bumble bee comes in for a landing on one of many Arctostaphylos flowers in the garden. The bumblers rely on these for late-winter, early spring sustenance. Doesn't she look like she has arms and legs in this photo?

Azara microphylla, a fairly new plant for me, is blooming for the first time with vanilla scented yellow flowers. It is an evergreen small tree and has put on a lot of new growth recently.

Flowers of Epimedium versicolor 'Sulphureum', the first they have ever given me. Two and a half years it took.

Veratrum viride, false hellebore, a native plant that is also extremely poisonous. It went summer dormant last year as it loves very wet feet. I'm happy to see it alive.

I planted 10 of these Erica carnea 'Rosalie' last spring. This is the first real growth they have put on and definitely the most flowers. Ericas are wonderful for winter pollination.

Ipheion uniflorum has spread to form a sweet little clump. 

The catkins of Salix gracilistyla 'Melanostachys' have changed from black to these alien forms.

Another salix on the property, a weeping version that was here on the property. 

 Arctostaphylos 'Pacific Mist' is a mostly prostrate shrub that I cannot recall blooming before this spring. It is spilling down the side of a south-facing slope.

Arctostaphylos 'Saint Helena' backs a Hebe 'Karo Golden Esk'. I have three of these arctostaphylos in the garden, I love them so much. It will eventually reach 10' in height, one of which is already 7'.  This one is about 4' high right now.

Epimedium warlyense blooming in the shade garden. 

Pulmonaria 'Benediction' in its third year has finally grown. That blue, it's so lovely in the shade garden.

A winner of a penstemon, Penstemon heterophyllus 'Blue Springs' is evergreen for me and very drought tolerant. It will have lovely electric blue flowers beginning late spring.

Grevillea lanigera 'Coastal Gem' has been in my garden for several years, this year it has really put on the growth and also the blooms. 

A woodland charmer that seeds around, Pachyphragma macrophilla is one of the first plants to flower and for that, it has my heart. 

Ooh, ooh, ooh! One of my favorites, Anemonella thalictroides finally came back for me. I may have others that are buried under leaf litter whose fate is questionable, but this one has made it for sure. It is small but mighty, I hope it spreads a little. This sweet little ephemeral is only around for a few months until it goes dormant in summer.

One of my favorite ferns, native Polypodium scouleri, an evergreen, rounded leaf native fern. It's a little slow to get established, but once it settles in everyone that sees it falls for it.

 Spiraea t. 'Ogon' has grown by a few feet since planted two years ago.

Spikes really look good most of the year. 

Corylopsis - this is supposed to be Corylopsis sinensis var. calvescens f. veitchiana (with dangling three inch flowers), but I think it must be C. pauciflora instead. Either way, this is the first time it's bloomed. It is tiny now but will eventually be 4 - 8 feet tall (depending on what it really is).

Daphne x transatlantica 'Blafra' (Eternal Fragrance) was a bit of a rescue from work. The last one, it was lacking many leaves and was a bit on the wiry side. I bought it as it's my boss' favorite daphne and it has since filled out and is now ready to bloom. 

Ooh, ooh, another spring ephemeral for the shade garden - Jeffersonia diphylla. Those leaves look like lungs, and so delicate. It will disappear come summer. 

Emerging leaves of Carex siderostica 'Variegata' in its second year in the shade garden. These wide leaves are especially interesting for a carex. 

Agave parryi var. truncata 'Gentry' in a pot. These may go in the ground this year.

 One of my favorite hebes and super hardy for us with good drainage, Hebe sp. 'Western Hills'. It doesn't require as much summer water as others might.

 Geranium 'Rozanne' (all 8 of them!) are coming up. What a sight for sore eyes.

Cistus 'Blanche' which was a throw away from work two and a half years ago, has reached 6' tall, easily. Its big white flowers are coming soon, you can see the buds forming here. Cistus are so underused in my humble opinion, in the Pacific Northwest. They take to unamended soil and hot summers so well, they are evergreen, too. I'm told they are also deer resistant with their sometimes sticky or fuzzy resinous leaves.

New growth on Cupressus macrocarpa 'Golden Pillar'.

 Salix eleganos var. angustifolius - rosemary willow is busting out.

Pulmonaria 'Little Star' in its second year has settled in nicely. 

 The foxtail lilies are coming up. Oh, joy! 

Lastly, Facilities Manager tilled the garden last weekend as it has finally dried out enough to do so without ruining the soil. Soon it will be planted with all manner of goodies.

Life never really left the garden, but it did take a nap this winter as it does every year. I'm grateful so many plants decided to wake up and put on their show, just in the nick of time for this weary gardener. I feel like I can breathe again. Plus, it only gets better from here, at least more floriferous so stay tuned for the big flower show coming soon.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. Thank you so much for reading and happy gardening!


  1. Oh wow, so much going on at Chickadee Gardens! That's life in the PNW, far different than here in the mountains of upstate NY where we are still buried under snow. Praying at least a couple of garden beds will be clear enough to work on this weekend as Saturday we should hit 60!

    1. Oh, Debbie, I'm sorry about the snow. Have you hit 60 yet? I hope you can spend the weekend in your garden!

  2. It is always so exciting to see who pops up in the garden. A bit like a treasure hunt for gardeners. Your garden already looks tidy and ready to go. Am jealous as mine is a bit of a disaster once the snow melts. Let's hope for a good growing season.

    1. It is like a treasure hunt, I feel the same way! Well, thanks for the compliment, it isn't so much tidy as I have good camera angles...but it is hard to garden if you have snow, I hope yours melts soon and you can get outside!

  3. You have lots of my favorites, although yours are a little bit further along than mine. I have quite a few Polypodium scouleri, it's a great fern, I've found it to be quite drought-tolerant. One plant I fail to see the attraction of is Veratrum however. I've grown it and mine always go summer dormant and have never flowered, which means it is essentially a Hosta that doesn't stick around. I think I prefer to just grow Hosta.

    1. I'm surprised we are further along than you are, Alison. You know, that Veratrum came from you! I love it, but I get what you are saying. That's good to know about the Polypodium, as Kris is growing it too and she's much drier than we are.

  4. Strolling through your early Spring garden (figuratively speaking) was a joy! I've introduced a few of that same Polypodium last year and I'm comforted to know that it may them some time to settle in. Growing ferns of any kind here is a challenge but I'll give these a chance to prove their mettle.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it! Yes, those Polypodiums take a really long time to spread and start looking amazing but it's worth the wait! Do you grow any Cheilanthes species? It seems they might do well for you.

    2. My Polypodium scouleri I planted 2 or 3 years ago and failed to water well enough as they were establishing are still small, but making progress. Conversely, the Cheilanthes I planted last year took right off with minimal water. I second Tamara's suggestion, Kris! Try some Cheilanthes!

  5. Lots to love here, but besides the agaves (of course), I think my favorite is the Grevillea lanigera 'Coastal Gem', such a beauty! And unlike Alison I go all batty for Veratrum foliage, it’s so sexy!

    1. Thanks, Danger. The Grevillea is pretty amazing, it took a long time to get to this point (partially because it was moved from the old house to here and I don't think it liked the move), but it's a winner. And I agree with you, the Veratrum foliage is so sexy!!

  6. Spring is looking splendid at Chickadee Gardens ! I would expect no less. That lovely Polypodium -I wonder if it would enjoy northern Calif ? Must research !

    1. The Polypodium would likely love northern California...others have commented how drought tolerant it is - plus it's a West Coast native...bonus!

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