Mid-Winter and A Little Website Housekeeping

It is officially mid-winter and we are happy to report a rather dull, average winter thus far (of course I've just cursed myself by saying this, but what the heck, I'm feeling like a rebel). As far as the garden is concerned, it's a slow grind until spring but it's still wonderful to wander around and take in the foliage colors and textures. But make no mistake, there is still a lot to do! I've been busy planning our vegetable garden and planting onion seeds as well as dividing and propagating plants to sell for the upcoming spring season. Cleaning hoophouses and tending chickens (the girls are laying!) are also among some of our chores. History has shown us that we'll be in full-speed-ahead mode by March. So before I become swallowed up into all of that, there's a little housekeeping to be done. I thought I'd combine that with a snapshot of a rather wet garden here at Chickadee Gardens on a dull February day. 

Housekeeping: First of all, many of you have noticed that the Blogger email subscription service ended last year. I have added a subscription service through follow.it, you can find it on my home page. If you would like me to manually add you, please send me an email at chickadeegardenspdx@gmail.com and I'm happy to do so. I have addresses of everyone who was subscribed before and I added them back to this service, which is spam-free and private. If you are on that list and wish to unsubscribe, I understand. I just want to give a heads up to this wonderful community that if you receive an email from follow.it for this blog, it is legitimate. I know just enough about all of this technical stuff to be considered dangerous and I hope I don't muck it up. Just trying to keep up with the times but please do send a note with any concerns or questions. Pam Penick of the blog Digging has been using it successfully for a while now and I simply receive an email in my inbox every time she publishes a new post. This should operate exactly the same way.

Next, I'll be speaking at the Corvallis Evening Garden Club March 6, so if you are in the area I hope you can come over! 

Finally, I will be working one day a week at Cistus Nursery, one of the finest in the area. Come by and say howdy on Thursdays if you can! I'm thrilled to be a part of this wonderful team of plant lovers. Plus the fabulous Bridget, my new boss, has redesigned the website! It's fantastic. I look forward to learning a whole new group of plants and sharing with you all.

I think that wraps up the housekeeping. Now, back to our regularly scheduled program of winter photos of the garden. Here we go!

A wide shot of the labyrinth garden with Cupressus macrocarpa 'Golden Pillar' (or 'Donard Gold', not sure which is which) in the background. This shot is hebe heavy with, from front to back, H. buxifolia, H. 'Red Edge' and H. cupressoides

Arctostaphylos pumila and friends on the outer edges of the garden. It's getting ready to bloom and I can sense the hummingbirds know this.

The center of the berm garden with a lot of foliage color for February. The reddish foliage in the center is Itea v. 'Henry's Garnet' whose leaves often persist through the winter into spring and summer.

Agave neomexicana (is this really Agave parryi v. neomexicana? Does anyone know?) looking dashing. These are mounded up with lots of crushed gravel for drainage. Even still, the very bottom leaves often die back in winter.

Dangling over the retaining wall of the berm garden, Juniperus conferta 'Blue Pacific' has finally grown to a decent size. I have coveted Danger Garden's amazing plants in her front garden as she is the inspiration for mine.

Always impressed with complimentary colors, the reds of the Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku' look great in the same photo as Hebe 'Karo Golden Esk' and their vibrant green foliage.

A wide shot of much of the gravel garden and the edge of the meadow garden.

Sparkling foliage of Ozothamnus 'Sussex Silver', a dry border shrub that has been most tolerant of neglect.

The southern edge of the property

Looking up towards the deck, the path and steps are nearly hidden by plants. Imagine that.

Another dry border scene with very differing foliage types. Arctostaphylos 'John Dourley' has reddish tints to new foliage while Brachyglottis greyi has very silver, cool foliage. Let the mingling begin.

My garden shed and surrounding beds.

Erica darlyensis 'Kramer's Rote' - most of the other heathers are a little behind from years past, just starting their long bloom cycle.

Clematis cirrhosa ‘Wisley Cream’ is definitely behind schedule. Usually beginning blooming in November or December, its buds are just now getting large enough to open. This is the only fully opened flower on the vine. 

Another of my many winter projects is cleaning out my photo library so I have come across many photos where I scream "oh my gosh look at this!" to FM. This is from June 2020 and while it's not a huge difference, I do note the plants have all grown quite a bit.

Here it is today, the phormium having put on a lot of weight as well as the Arbutus unedo 'Compacta' behind it. The foliage color of Chamaecyparis 'Heatherbun' is starkly different from summer to winter. I love before and afters. 

This before and after is going from pretty spring foliage of last May to what it looks like in February. This is in the shade garden when Podophyllum 'Spotty Dotty' was holding court.

Same place as seen in early February. Still some interest there but it goes to show how much those deciduous perennials add to the garden.

Sweet little evergreen and silver Trachelospermum jasminoides 'Variegatum' with Carex conica 'Snowline' make me smile. Not bad for February.

We were generously given two large plants from a dear garden client and friend who rescued them from neighbors who moved out of the country. I'm pleased to have added a good-sized Schefflera taiwaniana here and an equally large unknown eucalyptus in another part of the garden. Thank you, Jackie!

Spongy soggy green moss makes me happy.

Stems from Aruncus dioicus remained standing this year, I love the effect.

Our native sword fern, Polystichum munitum, gets ratty in winter but they actually look pretty great this year. These were mostly here when we moved in but we've added more and allowed them to multiply, creating a kind of ground cover for under fir trees.

Details - Ophiopogon 'Nigrescens' paired with that same Carex 'Snowline'

Holboellia coriacea, an evergreen climber is gaining size climbing up a redbud.

Closing out this post with a parting shot of FM hanging out with Pixie while he is being a chicken shepherd. These hens, all 18 of them, are quite spoiled. Not only do they have their own super-deluxe coop, they have 1/3 of an acre of their very own open, airy garden to destroy. Even still, we let them out of their enclosure a couple of times a day to (what, get fresh air?) eat field grass and search for bugs in the orchard. They LOVE it and scatter about in 18 directions as if they were on the adventure of a lifetime. FM walks around with a bamboo stick to guide them and surprisingly, they obey FM. After 20 or so minutes it's time to herd chickens. Oy. The life we lead. At least they're giving us eggs, quite a surprise as they usually take the winter off (we don't light the coop to give them a natural break in their egg laying). So, we're selling at $245 a dozen. KIDDING. But really if you figure how much organic chicken feed costs, it's not far off.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. Thank you so much for reading and commenting and subscribing! Thank you for your patience while I wrapped my head around fixing the subscription issue. My head tends to be in the dirt. Woo hoo! Happy gardening one and all.


  1. Anonymous1:15 PM PST

    I trained my chickens to come when called by saying "chick, chicks, chicks and when they looked at me, I'd toss treats in from of me. they'd come running for the treats and then when I just called. I miss having chickens, but they can make a mess of a garden. I'd walk my dog around the block and the 4 ladies would follow us; Lena Corn, Tippi Hendren, Lauren Barncall and Ingrid Birdman.

    1. I love the names you gave your chickens.

    2. Those are great names! How fun to have a whole crowd of critters going on a walk with you. Fun stuff!

  2. As I struggle to keep pace with chores in my half-acre garden, I'm awed by your ability to do so much work on your 2 acres. I use the blogroll on my own Blogger site to alert me to new posts on the blogs I follow regardless of their platform - fortunately, Blogger hasn't elected to terminate those updates.

    1. The only reason we can get so much done around here is because of FM's retirement and my working from home (mostly). There are two of us nearly full time at this. The blogroll works for me too, by the way - great to have a couple of options out there.

  3. So appreciate receiving the notice of a post again. Hopefully winter continues to be humdrum and not throw anything nasty at you again. I can hear your enthusiasm building for the coming season. Congrats on your new spot at Cistus. Look forward to hearing all about the new plants there.

    1. Yay! I'm glad you're up to the subscription service. I am feeling enthusiastic, maybe prematurely but I'm going with it. And yes, I hope to do some Cistus posts soon!

  4. Anonymous8:35 AM PST

    First, congrats on your new banner. I love that shot: I think you had to crouch down low to take it.
    I bookmarked your site and check it (daily) for new posts. For me it's easier than getting email notifications.
    I enjoyed seeing the photo titled "My garden shed and surrounding beds". Not an angle you photograph often, and I examined it closely. If I had such a cozy shed, not much work would get done...
    I also love before and after photos. Although your 'Spotty Dotty' is a stunning, I love the quiet winter shot a lot: it has a tone of interest and holds its own in winter. A mark of a great garden in my opinion.
    Fresh organic eggs! Yum!

    1. Why thank you Chavli! I'm glad you noticed! I don't think most people see it if they go directly to a blog post and not just the home page. I did have to crouch down! Ha! Good observation. And yes, glad to know you have a method of following blogs you like that works for you. That photo of the garden shed, when I selected it I though the same thing - that it is not an angle I show very much, not sure why. I guess I think there are better ones out there but it's fun to mix it up.

      And yes, eggs! We can hardly believe it. We're thrilled.

  5. Oh, lots of evergreen joy! Bravo! Your sword ferns look so beautiful-- mine are a curled up, burned out, crispy mess. The cold winds this year have not been kind to any of the broadleaf evergreens. Most are very wind burned. Probably no Arcto flowers for the hummers this year either-- bummer. 13 degrees with 60 mile winds will do that. I think going forward my best bets for winter interest will be conifers and deciduous stem color. Love love love the shade garden pics-- my favorite section. I also of course love that you spoil your chickens so much. They are very fortunate to live in such a paradise. I'm very much looking forward to my new babies next month.

    1. Thank you, Gina! I'm sorry about your sword ferns, it sounds like many of you on the east side got hammered hard with those cold winds. That bites. And no arcto flowers! That's not fair. **sigh**

      Yes, maybe conifers and stem color are more wind proof? You would know. And yes, the hens are spoiled (so is the tom turkey), as are yours. I look forward to meeting your new peeps soon!

  6. I was surprised the other day when checking spelling for a presentation to see Agave parryi v. neomexicana—what? When did that happen? I'm not changing my caption on the photo, at least not yet. I have a big note to myself to follow your lead and get follow.it set up. It's ridiculous how long I've put that off (and yet still...).

    I wish I could say this was a "dull, average winter thus far". I feel like I'm living in some strange parallel universe where this will be a winter to remember—and not just the melting agaves, phormium and cordylines. So many hardy evergreens that have dropped all or most of their leaves. Prized pyrrosia and aspidistra that are fried. The list could go on. Not to mention the fact the ice completely obliterated my Christmas plans.

    1. OK, thank you. I am not sure what's correct so if anyone in nomenclature knows, please chime in. I'll keep saying just Agave neomexicana until someone pokes me with a stick.

      I am SO SORRY about your melting/damaged plants from winter weather. My heart really breaks for you. I thought about this all day yesterday. It's just weird pockets of weather - like last year I had the devastating April snow that literally had me wanting to move to California. It was so bad in our little weather bubble, others in town had barely a skiff so it's just so unpredictable. I have faith, however, that many of your broad leaf evergreens will bounce back. I remember my Feijoa (Acca) sellowiana lost all its leaves our second winter here. Greg Shepherd told me to leave it, it will likely bounce back and by golly it did.

      Also your pyrrosia and aspidistra? That's rough, Loree. But I'm crossing my fingers for you. And Christmas...what Christmas? I get you. Me too.

  7. Anonymous5:07 PM PST

    Oh man...Cistus is such a great nursery but they could really use your people skills to interface with customers (more than one day a week).

    1. Ah, Cistus is a great nursery. I'm sorry you had bad experiences! Who knows but there's great leadership there now and Bridget is wonderful. Please come visit, Ricki! I'm there Thursdays xo

  8. My son in LA keeps sending photos of empty egg shelves in local markets -- so hooray for your hens! And so good to know I might bump into you at Cistus on Thursdays! I do catch current posts from the blog rolls of other bloggers so not sure I'll sign up -- my inbox is a disaster because I'm a terrible housekeeper!

    1. Really? Gosh, our local stores still have lots of eggs. Interesting! But yes, hooray for our hens! And please, yes, if you come to Cistus I'd love to see you!

  9. Ok, what?! Corvallis has a garden club and you are going to be there?! I have this in my calendar and hope to stop by and see you.

    Plus, thank you for mentioning how you are able to get so much done in response to Kris's comment. Sometimes I forget that other people have help and are able to spend more time in their garden than I am. It's a great reminder that I shouldn't be comparing and helps me refocus on what I have been able to accomplish with the resources and time that I DO have. You have a beautiful space that I find very inspiring.

    You've got a great eye for photography. That is something I hope to learn how to do better in the future.

    1. They DO have a garden club! I'm thrilled you are hoping to come by! If so let me know and I can bring you more carex if you want.

      You are welcome about my comment to Kris. I really want to keep it honest and real - we're doing this on a scale most people simply can't or don't have the land for. It's a huge experiment and our aim from the get go was to share what we learn. Your garden, skills in propagating and growing gorgeous plants is evident by the pics on your blog. And thank you for your photography comment, I think I got okay at it after photographing Joy Creek gardens once a week, 52 weeks a year, for 6 straight years. In other words practice through my job. Thanks again and I hope to see you next month!


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