Sunny Spell

After last week's rant about hating March, I have changed my tune three days into glorious sunshine and actual average (not below average as it has been) temperatures. While it's still a despicable month, if it offers up a spell of dry weather during my days off I'll be nice and forgive the typical nastiness. Here is a tour around Chickadee Gardens mid-March, photos taken in a dazed trance by that glorious fire globe in the sky. 

This vignette, one I had imagined years ago but have waited to see it come to fruition, is quite satisfying as a dry garden combination. Arctostaphylos 'Saint Helena' in the background is large enough to limb up the bottom branches thereby exposing gorgeous bark. In the foreground is Euphorbia rigida, on the left Hebe 'Karo Golden Esk' and on the right Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata'. 

Red bark of coralbark maple, Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku' stands out against greens behind it.

A second Arctostaphylos 'Saint Helena' on the left and Callistemon sieberi on the right. At the callistemon's feet is a small Yucca rostrata while many hebes dot the area, adding rich greens to a dry gravel garden.

Erica arborea 'Golden Joy'

Drimys winteri

Arctosaphylos 'Sentinel'

Not all of the garden was planned. The salal, Gaultheria shallon is here in a few woodland areas and this vignette is one I especially enjoy. We tend to leave stumps and snags to decompose as they will.

A view of the meadow garden and gravel garden from a distance. Many grasses in the meadow are evergreen such as Carex testacea and Anemanthele lessoniana that seeded around quite a bit last year.

Hellebore seedling from the gardens at work. Every year there are thousands of seedlings that are cleared out. One year my colleague and I collected dozens at Mike's encouragement and planted them throughout our respective gardens, expecting white flowers. They are finally blooming and have all turned out to be this lovely dark raspberry color.

Evergreen grasses and emerging perennials in the meadow. 

Striking winter maroon foliage color on Cistus corbariensis.

Similarly gorgeous color on Hebe 'Red Edge'.

Phlomis russelliana seeds against Berberis darwinii that will soon be in bloom, covered in orange.

Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Sasaba', one of many osmanthus in the garden. This is by far the most dangerous with its super spiky foliage.

This may not look like anything spectacular, but it illustrates my process. I had a bunch of terra cotta pots surrounding Buddha from the moment we moved in five years ago. Primarily to detract from the immature garden above, they added much needed color to a lot of hardscaping. Over time, however, some pots cracked or flaked apart. They became something I overlooked that did not bring me joy, so I removed them to clean the area and pick up the broken bits. I liked the clean look much better, realizing the broken terra cotta was a bit of an eyesore that I did not see because I was so used to them being there. Plus, the color of terra cotta here just doesn't work for me. Add to that the fact that the garden above is filling in nicely, that's what I want to look at. The pots were moved to a sunny deck for now. The garden happens in stages, after all.

Always a sight for sore eyes, the barely visible new growth on Salix eleaganos var. angustifolius means foliage is on the way. Wahoo!

FM used a tree trunk as a bench long ago when he cleared the land for the veggie garden. The north side of it has become a miniature ecosystem.

My mossy paths are nearly covered. A vision imagined countless times, it's so satisfying to see this come to fruition.

Ardisia japonica is an evergreen spreading groundcover for shade. It is semi-woody stoloniferous plant and spreads by underground runners, slowly in my less-than-wet shade garden. It reaches about 12" tall.

The garden was rototilled March 12 and 13th, a little later than last year.

The garlic is up an' at 'em! That's a welcome sight.

Last autumn was the first time I have ever planted daffodil bulbs. I'm not a fan of dying bulb foliage in summer, pretty picky that way. But now that we have an orchard with tall grass, daffodils seem a necessity. I ordered up a mix of Narcissus ‘Tête-à-tête’, 'Ice Follies' and 'Jetfire' This is the first to bloom - the petite ‘Tête-à-tête’. They are so cheerful we can hardly stand it.

Narcissus 'Ice Follies' in its first stages of opening.

In the heart of the orchard, islands of yellow can be spotted. Oh, how I have imagined a daffodil sprinkled orchard over the years. We have planted the seed, let's hope they naturalize in a speedy way.

March is the month that spring begins, so I can't really hate it. A little sunshine went a long way towards making me much less grumpy. Nature always has the last word, after all and I for one am glad for it.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting, we love hearing from you! Happy gardening!


  1. Thank you for sharing your sunny days. I always appreciate hearing about the progress of your garden - it helps me learn and imagine things I'd like to try someday. Your photos are all lovely, even when some plants are at an awkward time of year - the garden composition makes up for it, and is clear to see now with the lack of foliage.

    1. I'm so thrilled you find some value in the keeps me going, comments like that!

      Composition is challenging - thank you for your kind words, teuth! Keep on gardening....!

  2. I can tell that you're headed into a beautiful spring, Tamara!

    1. Ooooh, I hope so! That would be fabulous. I'm ready!

  3. I envy your moss walk. I have one started but our area has had so many prolonged drought times the past few years and that just encourages weeds. Bah....

    1. The moss walk is one of my favorite things, Lisa. It will go semi-dormant in dry summer weather but that's ok. The trick I've learned is to keep it cleared of debris (seeds, weeds, really) and it kind of grew all on its own. A lucky part of living in the Pacific Northwest! My battery powered leaf blower is my new best friend.

  4. Anonymous1:15 PM PDT

    My favorite line from Spring is Busting Out All Over: "the young Virginia creepers are a-huggin the bejeepers out of every morning glory on the place"

    1. Oooh, that's a good one Rickii!! xoxoxo HUGS my friend!

  5. A beautiful start to the season! I’m curious about how you manage your meadow- or do you manage it? Do you cut it annually? It’s so green and I see no remnants of last year’s seedheads. In Georgia, it’s probably too late for me to cut, but I wonder if it would be a cleaner look. It would also help to keep down the woody plants that are creeping in.

    1. Oh, the meadow...good question! I cut back dead foliage annually, but late in the season (now, actually). It's a once a year kind of clean up. On the soil surface there are a bazillion native wildflower seedlings that will make it fill out in short order. I let them go to seed and keep the cycle going.

      Keeping out woody plants is key - and as little soil disturbance as possible. A great book that covers this topic is Garden Revolution by Weaner & Christopher. I highly recommend it.

    2. Thanks for the reply; I will check out the book. I should have been more specific: do you mow your meadow?

    3. Ah, I have in the past (with mixed results) but it's so small that I simply use secateurs to cut back asters, grasses and other perennials in late winter. That works well for me and takes an hour or so. Mowing is a good option if it's a larger area.

  6. "The garden happens in stages, after all" ... well said! And I love that long bench eco-system.

    1. Doesn't it? Thanks Danger! The log is pretty cool, I must admit.

  7. I only recently found your newsletter after years of following Danger Garden while living in AZ, though Loree has mentioned your blog often. Appreciate your generosity in sharing your knowledge and ideas. I'm still trying to get past the collecting of plants I find cool and combining them into a pleasing composition. Your blog is so inspiring to me as a new NW gardener. (I had also ordered plants from Joy Creek while in AZ and was able to attend the Hydrangea class by Maurice 2 years ago after settling in Salem. What a place!)

    1. Hi Sisterwitch and we're thrilled you found the blog! I am most happy to share what knowledge I've gained and mistakes made in the spirit of community sharing. We all have experiences to contribute to the cause of learning, I too love learning from other gardeners.

      I imagine you are experiencing a whole new world of gardening here in the PNW - so different from Arizona! I too am still trying to get past the collecting of plants vs. creating a beautiful, calm space - the elusive dichotomy issue many of us in gardening experience.

      I'm also thrilled you know about Joy Creek! It's a wonderful place to work. Feel free to come out and introduce yourself, I'll give you a tour of the gardens sometime. :)

  8. Anonymous6:41 AM PDT

    That first vignette is stunning! Heck, so are all of your photos. It's great to see your garden's progression. Thanks for continuing to share it with us... beautiful and informative!

    Steve B.


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