A Bright Spot

The new normal is stressful. Gardening keeps me sane right now. I imagine if you are reading this there is a good chance you have a garden and, hopefully, it is keeping you sane also. Can we be stressed out and still enjoy the garden? I hope so, for this is an exciting time of year in the garden when leaves form and the early spring light catches them just right, creating an illuminating effect. Also, spring flowers are emerging and bulbs planted last fall are showing their faces for the first time. The veggie garden is starting and there is hope in the air as far as nature is concerned. So, if I can offer up a little joy by showing photos of these magic moments, I will gladly continue blogging about the garden and sharing bright spots in the world. Here we go:

This opening photo shows the berm garden early spring. Most of the perennials here have not surfaced; what you see are what is evergreen - that is, present year-round. The ornamental cherry trees we inherited are blooming which to me, marks a passage from winter.

Pulmonaria 'Benediction' after three years is forming a nice-sized clump in the shade garden. That blue. Oh, my heart skips a beat. This part of the shade garden is primarily blues and whites when it comes to flower color.

 A sweet Primula 'Gold Laced' given to me by my boss at the nursery a few years ago.

Flowers of Brunnera macrophylla 'Garden Candy Sea Heart'. Does anyone have the story about that crazy name?

 New this year, my colleague and I split an order of Anemone 'Black and White' from Floret Farms last fall. I was quite surprised to see them blooming a few weeks ago - I expected a late-spring bloom.

As the sun warmed the garden, the flowers opened up so you can see the "black" part.

Chaenomeles x superba 'Hollandia' purchased at Gossler Farms Nursery a few years ago. It's still quite small, but I have high hopes for this quince.

Ipheon uniflorum, a tiny little bulb with sweet, star-shaped flowers.

 Here they are open to the spring sun.

I am fairly sure this is Anemone blanda, however I have no idea how it got here. Free bulbs maybe?

Ah, the first of any tulip blooming right now. These beauties were gifts from our DEAR friends in the Netherlands who often surprise us with a gift of bulbs. This one is Tulip praestans 'Shogun'. They know us well. And it's orange, just like the national color of The Netherlands.

This is Berberis darwinii getting ready to put on a show.

Pulmonaria 'White Echo' from work.

Fritillaria meleagris that just developed flowers in a speedy couple of days.

Sweet Cardamine trifolia, an easy and tidy small edge-of-the-path kind of shade plant. It is evergreen and, once established, can take a bit of dry shade.

Flowers of Epimedium × versicolor 'Sulphureum' - a shade ground-cover that definitely tolerates dry soil.

Pretty Veronica 'Georgia Blue', another evergreen ground-cover for shade or sun. I find it does infinitely better in dappled shade, looking smashing year-round. The ones in full sun just don't thrive as do these.

I have many Ribes or flowering currants on the property, the majority are simply our native Ribes sanguineum, which is what is pictured. I find, however, that each one is variable as far as coloration of flowers. They range in shades of pinks with tinges of white.

This one is a named cultivar, R. 'White Icicle'.

This is another straight species, R. sanguineum. See the difference in color? These gorgeous shrubs/small trees are quite adaptable and hello - bring on the hummingbirds. Oh, yes.

The foliage is why I have this plant, Brachyglottis greyi, syn. Senecio greyi. It has yellow flowers in summer that frankly, I could do without. Evergreen, full sun, drought-tolerant (I give it no supplemental water ever), supposed to be borderline hardy for me but has done remarkably well in my zone 7b garden.

That foliage! Veratrum nigrum from my friend and fellow garden blogger Alison of Bonnie Lassie. This is a shade lover and a vernal stream lover. OK, I have no vernal stream but it just goes dormant in the dry days of summer.

Carex conica 'Snowline' is hands down my favorite grass for shade. It is just so easy and never needs cutting back and is evergreen. It stays in place and grows slowly. It brightens up dark areas and, en masse, is stunning. I have had three original plants for some 8 years now so fairly long-lived. Since we moved here I've added several more.

Native Sedum spathulifolium 'Cape Blanco' spilling out of a pot.

Foliage of Salix eleganos var. angustifolius, a centerpiece in the labyrinth garden.

A view from the driveway. It's shaping up to be a lovely spring.

Just to remind ourselves how far we've come, I've included a "before" photo.

From the top of the property looking east towards the chicken yard. The shade garden has been extended all along the northern fence and will be the focus of much of my attention this gardening year, carefully weeding mossy (keeping the moss) areas to preserve that green look, weeding in general and transplanting clumps of Oxalis oregana and other freely growing shade plants to help it fill in. It's a huge space all told.

The end of the berm garden looking east. Most perennials are still asleep but it looks pretty good for very early spring.

By the fire pit (on the right). I would say the clean up efforts are about 90% complete at this point. Now it's on to weeding and critter control. I love being at this stage in the evolution of this garden - I see my neighbors who are newly dealing with 2 acres and seeing their wheelbarrows in full operating mode all day makes me really grateful we don't have to do that any more. We did, and now it's paying off.

While I'm not a fan of garden art per se, this Buddha was FM's before we met and I have come to love him. He faces east watching the sun rise. He also watches over Lucy's grave.

Green! It won't be long before the field grass is dormant for the summer. I'm enjoying the green today.

The top of the berm with the shade garden on the right and straight ahead.

To cheer us up I busted out the deck furniture for the first time since last fall.

There is a surge in interest in growing your own food, even more so now that we are in the midst of a pandemic. We are lucky in that we learned some basics years ago. If anyone is wanting a little help, Oregon State University's Master Gardener program has offered their online veggie growing course for free right now. Check out the link here.

Pictured is the edge of the orchard. The plum trees are all that are in bloom this early, but soon there will be many more trees in bloom. The mason bees are ready to go for pollination, too.

The raised beds have all been planted - seeds of cool loving crops such as radish, spinach, lettuce, green onion, a few beets, bok choy and other leafy greens. Hopefully, the asparagus will be a good crop this year as this is the fourth year it has been in the ground and the first time we are allowed to harvest spears. Check out the chives already - the green grassy stuff at the base of the middle bed. Yum. I highly recommend perennial food sources such as chives, asparagus, artichokes, tarragon, rosemary, strawberries, blueberries, etc.

I have lots of cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, onion and a few other starts going in the greenhouse. If anyone needs cauliflower in the future, I think we've got you covered. I counted some 138 starts yesterday. No guarantee they will all be successful, but from where I stand we might be swimming in cauliflower which freezes well, by the way.

Two areas on either side of the raised beds have been tilled up ready to go for their eventual planting. Gooseberry shrubs in the foreground, left.

Artichokes are growing like crazy - the center dark-composty area is the asparagus bed.

In addition to all of this, the nursery where I work is still open so I'm going to work as per usual. It's a great place to work but I have a lot of anxiety about being there. We can self-isolate fairly easily on 40 acres, but still. Mail order nursery business is up and running and most people are choosing to order online and if they are local, pick up at the nursery as a will-call. That seems to be working fairly well and will likely be the norm moving forward. At least we can provide plants for those of you staying at home to have something to do. For that I am glad. We are considered a business that is allowed to remain open, partially because of the capacity to self-isolate.

Gardening and staying at home is a silver lining of all of this. I hope that other good things manifest as a result of this chaos. And maybe people will enjoy the experience of growing their own food. We certainly do.

That's a wrap for this crazy week at Chickadee Gardens. Happy spring everyone, really, and happy gardening. May we all find a bit of peace in nature.


  1. After just being terrified by an article re someone who has corona virus it was a soothing balm reading and viewing the lovely pictures of your garden. Your garden has definitely evolved over time into a lovely sanctuary. Thanks for the beautiful tour. Stay safe.

    1. I am so glad it was a good experience. Gardening does that for people. Thank you. xo

  2. Thanks for the glimpses of spring in your garden - I make the rounds each day in my garden (regular lot size) and cheer on every new leaf and bud that appears! I'm especially impressed with the black & white anemone. I'm getting ready to plant a Hydrangea macrophylla 'Zebra' that I found at Kordell's fall plant sale and I think a bed of B&W anemones around the base would be too cool! Even though the anemone blooms might be spent by the time the hydrangea flowers, the black stems of the hydrangea would be complemented by the anemones.
    Also, thanks for the link to the OSUMG veggie class - I just signed up for it. The veggies in my raised beds didn't do so well last year so I'm looking forward to reconditioning the beds for this summer's veggies!
    I really enjoy reading your blog every couple of weeks - definitely a bright spot in the week when one is gardening in place :-)

    1. Aw, I"m thrilled you signed up for that course! The master gardeners have fantastic information, I wish you all the best with your veggie garden. Yes, those anemones sound like they would be a nice fit with your hydrangea. Let us know how it turns out!

  3. The garden is looking great! It's really filling in nicely. Love seeing the expansion of the shade garden.

    1. Thank you Evan - yours is looking smashing, might I say? Wow. Your hard work is paying off in spades.

  4. It's wonderful to see Spring unfolding in your garden, Tamara. While SoCal's Spring is further along, I know yours will catch up quickly and out-distance ours. I eliminated my edible garden a couple of years ago in favor of a floral cutting garden and now find myself reevaluating the wisdom of that strategy, although I do have gobs of citrus and the artichokes on my back slope should provide a nice harvest.

    1. Ooh, I'd trade chunks of land for citrus and artichokes. Wait..I have artichokes. D'OH ! I mean avocados. Well, you can always plant a few veggie seeds in a pot and see what happens! Enjoy that citrus and artichokes...damn...now I"m hungry.

  5. Looking wonderful Tamara, that anemone! Oh my. Please stay safe at work.

    1. Thank you thank you Danger. That anemone...I am really impressed. I will stay as safe as possible, thank you ;)

  6. It is always a delight to see your garden. I especially like the before and after photos. It doesn't look like the same place. It is so much better. Your garden is way ahead mine. Seeing yours makes me anxious for things to get growing here. Cheers.

    1. Thank you Lisa. Is mine way ahead of yours? Well...I guess call it anticipation for good things to come to YOUR garden. Soon. Soon we will all be in warm spring and summer - despite what else is going on in the world. We can all look forward to that. Enjoy your garden!!

  7. Your gardens look fabulous, T - I bet it feels great to just stand back and enjoy all those long months of labor! I find the currant's color variations really intriguing. Can you believe it - I have a Ribes seedling that planted itself right inside the 6' tall metal planter that is the home of the Dasylirion. Just discovered it the other day - it's very pink! So now I have a conundrum on my hands. How the hell am I going to be able to pry that one out?? Of all the places it could have settled down.... sheesh!

    1. Wow...what are you going to do? That's a tough one. Maybe grab it with tongs and pull it out - roots and all - ?? Good luck, Anna...let us know how it goes! If anyone can figure it out, you can.

  8. The transformation is amazing. I do hope I get to see your garden this year!

    1. Thank you Phillip! I hope you can too. Once all this health stuff passes we should do a mass open garden.

  9. My goodness has your place evolved rapidly into magnificence! Wow!

    1. Thank you Hoover Boo! Happy gardening to you!

  10. Inspiring as usual - love the vegetable garden. Seems like a great place to sit on a warm day and watch stuff grow.

    1. Thank you, Hans! The veggie garden is our favorite place to sit on a warm day - it's my favorite thing to do, seriously. Love it. Thank you and happy gardening!

  11. Fantastic pictures. It's wonderful to see how many people are making the most of these uncertain times by breaking out the garden furniture, lighting the grill and spending time with family.

  12. Stunning photos! I can only image the amount of work over the years you've put into your property. Thank you for sharing and I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog and checking blog that you read as well.


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