The Shape of Things

In this time of a global pandemic, work at the nursery has been crazy busy. We are so slammed with customers who find themselves with time on their hands. Naturally gardening emerges as a choice activity. The irony is that all of us who work there do not have time to tend our own gardens. We are not staying home like the most of the world, as the nursery business is open open open. I'm not complaining, though; I'm thrilled so many are turning towards gardening. It's healthy. It's productive. It's calming. It's re-affirming. If we all did it, it would be a much happier planet. 

 I am so exhausted that writing a blog post has not been in the cards for me lately. But I thought "No,  I need to stop and enjoy my own garden!" - so taking a 20-minute tour, I went where my camera took me. At first I just responded to shapes, so I thought of a post all about shapes in the garden. But I got lured into flower colors and, lo and behold, I have a bunch of miscellaneous images. No worries, I'm scrambled, you're probably scrambled, so let's just be scrambled and appreciate nature.

This is the early April garden, mostly in photos. Very few words this time.
The shade garden, Veronica 'Georgia Blue' edging more and more of it as I keep adding this, one of my favorite plants to an area where it does so well. 

 Epimedium 'Sulfureum' flowers rising above the old foliage. This is one epimedium I don't cut back at all, it usually looks pretty darned good.

 Unknown Epimeduium given to me at a plant swap by Lance of Garden Riots.

 Orange flowers of one last Epimedium, E. warlyense.

 Heuchera americana 'Green Spice'

Syneilesis aconitifolia x palmata from the nursery. New this year. 

 Fatsia j. 'Spider's Web'

 Lonicera n. 'Briloni' with Oxalis o. 'Klamath Ruby' taking over.

I've decided to decorate all the stumps. I've gone a little nutty.

 My first ever Pieris, P. japonica 'Flaming Silver'

 An amazing bloom show on Osmanthus delavayi.

 Bright new growth of Dicentra s. 'Gold Heart'

A very good illustration of the difference between Oxalis oregana and Oxalis oregana 'Klamath Ruby'. Can you guess which is which?

 Uvularia perfoliata, merry bells. This is its second year in the garden. I love this plant.

 Saxifraga x geum 'Dentata' and beautiful new spring growth.

An odd plant that is supposed to be a climber (but the squirrels have chewed it sufficiently down that it has no chance) - Ercilla volubilis.

 Grevillea lanigera 'Coastal Gem'

Tetrapanax papyrifer

Sempervivum species, lost the name. 

Veronica armena. 

Hebe 'Karo Golden Esk' 

This falls under the category of "shapes" - round tulip ones, that is.

 Bright chartreuse foliage of Philadelphus 'Aurea'. This has the BEST fragrance when in bloom.

 File this one under "shapes" too, shapes of the artichoke persuasion. Oscar the Agave parryi var. truncata.

Newly planted last fall, Osmanthus fragrans aurantiacus 'Beni Kin Mokusei' came from Almost Eden. So far it's showing signs of being happy by putting on new foliage growth. Very excited for this to establish.

Armeria maritima 'Victor Reiter', a favorite rock garden plant. 

The first mason bee of the year! I literally watched him come out of his cocoon and land here to dry off. So cool! 

So we have a list of chores, wishes, to-do's, that kind of thing. On it was a small path project that I figured would be completed sometime in the summer or fall. FM must be going crazy at home because he started on this two days after I mentioned it to him.

FM says: I don't mind small projects that feature good exercise. It's this or paint the bedroom, re-tile the bath, enlarge the hallway, service the car, polish the airplane, ride the space missile, explore the moonscape, other stuff. Ha! This year is devoted to simple improvements. Last year was the hoophouse behind me! 

Give it some gravel and call it done. Thank you, FM! I'm thrilled! 

And here is where we HOPE to spend more time this year. So far between the cold weather and me working like a dog, it hasn't happened.

I truly hope everyone is healthy at home and, if you can garden, that you are able to engulf yourselves. I feel for people who have no nature outlet, those of you who live in apartments or cities where there is no chance to get close to nature. That's why I'm continuing on with blog posts the best that I can so that maybe a little bit of distraction and nature may enter your lives. It is my sincere hope that the silver lining of all of this is that we can simplify our lives and go back to a more natural rhythm and maybe grow some of our own food as well as flowers. It is a good skill to have. I can hope.

That's a wrap for this crazy week at Chickadee Gardens. As always thank you SO much for reading and commenting, we are - as they say - all in this together. The gardening community certainly is. 

Oh, and thank you to all the nurses, doctors, ambulance drivers, paramedics, grocery store clerks, delivery people, mail carriers and volunteers. You are the glue holding it all together. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.


  1. Great post Tamara. Always fun to see what is happening in your garden. Good that your nursery is still open and you are still able to work but unfortunate you have less time in your own garden. Thank-you for keeping us entertained. Keep yourself safe.

    1. Thank you so much! Well, I'm happy to keep sharing nature with is a worthy thing for sure. Keep on gardening, I say!

  2. Anonymous9:49 AM PDT

    Love your posts! We still have snow in Calgary, Alberta, but it's melting and there are signs of spring. I agree about the Uvularia. I have had one for a dozen years and it is one of my favourites. Do you grow Jeffersonia dubia? Another spring beauty. Thanks for supporting the gardeners in your area by working at the nursery and for supporting gardeners at a distance through your blog. Love it! Joan

    1. Snow folks are a hardy, strong bunch. I'm a wimp - couldn't handle still having snow on the ground, my need for green is too strong...ha ha!

      I grow Jeffersonia diphylla, which I adore. I"ll look J. dubia up, always up for new plants!

      Thank you Joan, happy gardening to you.

  3. "Scrambled" pretty much describes the situation for most folks I know right now. I LOVE your Epimedium! Good work on the part of your FM too. My spouse is working on new compost binds and a paved garbage bin path - or he will be getting back to that when it stops raining here anyway. I'm sure your customers are pleased that your nursery is open. My local garden center shut down in-store traffic. You can call and ask for specific things and they'll arrange for you to pick these up if they have them but you can't see what they have in inventory so it's hit-and-miss (and mostly "miss" in my case). I'm spending more time with mail order sources.

    Best wishes to you and your FM, Tamara!

    1. OH, the Epimediums are so cool.

      New compost bins...that sounds fantastic! have a lot of rain? That's great!

      I hear a lot of nurseries and garden centers are doing similar setups - limited # of shoppers at a time, social distancing, will-calls, etc. - whatever works. People have been generally pretty cool about it all.

      Mail order is a great way to go and ours at Joy Creek is in full gear right now, which is not surprising.

  4. Excellent commentary on our current predicament, and beautiful plants to boot. Well done, both.

    1. Thank you thank you, I humbly say thank you Hoover Boo! :)

  5. I don't think I've seen photos of your shade garden. I love it. The Osmanthus! Last spring I bought Osmanthus fragrans aurantiacus ‘Apricot Echo’ from Almost Eden. I was impressed by how big the plant was when it arrived and it has bloomed off and on ever since, even in winter. Of course we had a mild winter so this really doesn't count. I hope we both have years of success with it. That pathway is great! Nice job FM! I am a homebody by nature so staying home isn't a big deal for me but I feel for those who are pulling their hair out. :)

    1. Oh, there are a few out there but for some reason it doesn't photograph well. I'm hoping to get more posts about it out this year as it matures.

      Ooooh...your Osmanthus has bloomed already? FANTASTIC!! I can't wait for this one to bloom, it looks too good to be true.

      The pathway is fantastic, I agree. I hope we can find gravel one day - our local source is closed to the public.

      Yes, I'm a home body too so this is super easy for me. I think a lot of us gardeners are. Happy gardening, Grace - and thanks for the comments!

  6. We also thank our nursery men and woman!!! Without you things would be much bleaker.

    Garden is looking good...of course! I am sad you're not getting to enjoy it. Seems folks are either laid off/furloughed and scared about not working, or being overworked. Not a lot of in between.

    1. Aw, thank you Danger...really, thank you.

      Well, I do have my long weekends, so I'm actually enjoying it now this weekend. So there's that.

      It is odd - the dichotomy of our shared experiences. So extreme.

  7. Great pics! Love the tour. Really nice path. Since I created two new beds by digging the lawn out, I know how he feels. Is this a shortcut? And are you going to plant the little grass patch?

    1. Thank you Jeanne!! Well - digging sod (which we've done our share of here) is about my least favorite thing to do. It is a shortcut, we naturally go that way anyhow. The little eye-shaped patch will remain grass but the area behind the path will now actually feel more like a border as it has three or four large shrubs (still immature) planted...they won't feel so much like satellites floating in a sea of green!

  8. I love your orange umbrellas...The rest of the garden is fabulous, too. I am inspired to add orange to my space.

    1. They are fun! Fading in color a bit but still bright and cheerful. I have gone on an "adding orange" campaign in the garden since last fall. Love it!

  9. Thanks for taking some precious time to share with us. So much to see! Stay safe.

  10. Anonymous2:01 PM PDT

    The unknown Epimedium is 'Frohnleiten' (E. perralderianum x E. pinnatum ssp. colchicum). It was found in the now lost Alpinum of Frohnleiten, a small town near Graz, Styria, Austria.

    Ihren Blog und Ihren Garten habe ich ins Herz geschlossen! Weiter so und vielen Dank!

    1. Aah, of course...thank you Martin! Aah, danke für Ihre netten Worten. Ich sollte!

  11. You grow Georgia Blue in the shade? How have I not known that this is possible?? I always thought it was a sun lover... Super happy to learn this! Anyway, as you know, I am totally with you on the crazy times. And even though I do get to see you twice a week, I really don't get to 'see' you - work is so nuts. Still, I'm grateful for that - it would be so much worse if we had to shut our doors. I really hope we all learn what matters from this experience.


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