Lots to Love

Enjoying the garden is the theme for us right now. I know so many gardens suffered from the brutal winter we endured, but May seems to be the balm that heals wounds and leads me to love the garden all over again. As I walk around and around and around obsessively looking at everything in the garden, I realize so much of it has fared really well and is thriving. Those plants that suffered at the hands of winter are for the most part rebounding and may not look good now nor for several years, but there is enough surrounding the wounds that they are less noticeable than they would be in a much younger garden. I have a lot to be grateful for here at Chickadee Gardens, our never ending work-in-progress. I choose to enjoy it in its totality, wounds and all. Let's have a look.

The pavilion is finished, save for a few decorative details. The chairs will be replaced with more substantial relaxation in mind and more sword ferns, Polystichum munitum, will be added around it to soften the edges.

It's a lot of joy to just sit there.

From the side. You can see the dock (as I call it) is pretty much level with the gravel on the right, that's the entrance point. The roof overhead will keep fir needles and light rain from falling on the deck. You'll notice a disco ball hanging in the center, that's an FM touch for sure. On super hot nights we can sleep out here, provided we get a mosquito net. How exciting!

My mossy path is visible from both sides, possibly my favorite feature of the entire property.

Let's check in on one of my newer garden beds, this is affectionately called the Crow Garden because the spot where we feed the crows is nearby. The area was mulched heavily with leaves to help suppress  grass and weeds. It's almost there but when I get another load of wood chips I will now mulch between the Teucrium chamaedrys (right side, darker green blobs) especially. The Dorycnium hirsutum didn't fare well here, they were overwhelmed by the leaf mulch I think.

Eriophyllum lanatum, Oregon sunshine, has done exceptionally well here as I thought it might. It has spread substantially and will be allowed to do so as it wishes.

The edge of the area with the orchard and greenhouse in the background. The orchard seems to be doing fine this year, though the nectaplum that suffered from peach leaf curl every year was finally removed. We planted an apple in its place.

 Teucrium blobs with our home in the background. The teucrium or wall germander will grow much larger and eventually obscure the ground around them.

A very kind and special friend Meagan gave me many Lupinus albifrons starts as well as so many other little treasures she starts from seed. Most of these, some five in total, area doing quite well and a couple are blooming. They were planted last summer and were not impacted by the winter cold in the least.

Arctostaphylos silvicola 'Ghostly' is growing quickly right now as are most arctos in the garden.

Cirsium occidentale, a native and really cool thistle, has multiple buds.

Detail of one of the buds. Its flowers are either reddish or hot pink, I'm hoping for hot pink. I am very excited to see this one bloom.

Bumble bee visiting Penstemon cardwellii.

How about a wider shot: This penstemon, native to my area, is an evergreen subshrub that loves excellent drainage and sun. I see it hiking on Mount Saint Helens, for example, among rocky scree and it's quite happy. This is one plant. I am happy I successfully propagated it by cuttings, crossing my fingers the rooted cuttings continue to grow.

In the late afternoon sun the edge of the labyrinth garden has a bit of magic to it.

Another wide shot, this is looking east through the gravel garden and meadow area on the right.

Oscar, Agave parryi var. truncata, has made what I see as a full recovery from this time last year. You can see its relocation and past issues in this post.

Limnanthes douglasii, Douglas' meadow foam, is past its peak as far as looking great. Still, I adore how it spills down this bed and into the gravel. I appreciate this native annual as it sets prolific seed and is loved by teeny tiny pollinators. It's so dense that it tends to drown out weed seedlings, too. By July it has basically dissolved, drying out and leaving nothing but seed behind.

Looking past the Himalayan mounds towards our home. Planted among this Ceanothus gloriosus is Romneya coulteri and Melianthus major. Both had a hard winter and were set back but are rebounding nicely with the onset of warmer weather.

Sidalcea campestris, checker mallow, with a rather large cardoon in the background.

Iris tenax that showed up by the fire pit several years ago. This native iris is popping up all over the garden and I happily allow it to go wherever it wants. This particular clump has grown steadily to be quite substantial.

Polypodium scouleri, leather leaf fern, is sending up new fronds, eventually obscuring last year's ratty looking fronds. I was afraid it wouldn't compete well with the Oxalis oregana but it has, year after year, held its own and manages to get tall enough to pop through.

Looking west at the end of the afternoon past a naturalistic area we call the Western Woodland. There are a few small stands of native hazlenut with Polystichum munitum, sword fern, Gaultheria shallon, salal, and several treasures I interplanted throughout including Calycanthus 'Hartlage Wine' which is just barely visible on the right side, center.

Clematis recta 'Purpurea' comes back faithfully year after year. I like the color echo of the bearded iris behind it.

I managed to clean up the edge of this area of the shade garden. I laid in bricks as an edging. The area towards the right were the gravel is was once really bad grass. It never grew well in so much shade so I dug it out, planted a bunch of pretties and mulched with gravel (it's what I had on hand, I would prefer wood chips). It cleans up the overall look and flow of the area and makes it easier for FM to mow with the addition of brick edging. Little by little the grass is removed.

To round this post out, we have a critter alert! I saw what I believed to be a leaf in a bush but it was moving. It was this, a silk moth, Polyphemus moth, Antheraea polyphemus. Did I mention how HUGE it is? That's my gloved hand in the background for scale. I was a little startled to say the least. This is the first time I have seen one.

As it was in full sun during the middle of the day with lots of birds about, I let it crawl on my hand (that was a little unnerving due to its huge size) and I took it to a shaded, protected area by our front door where it stayed the rest of the day. It would have made a substantial snack for a passing bird and normally I don't interfere but since I'd never encountered one before I wanted to give it a fighting chance. By morning it was gone. Look how cute and furry it is! And those antennae! What a treat to have encountered such a magnificent moth. 

Also on critter alert, I noticed several hundred frog eggs in my tiny fountain on our deck. I'm so excited! Pacific tree frogs have been busy and I welcome whatever little ones emerge. I suppose that means I won't be cleaning my fountain out for several weeks. Oh well, that's ok.

So much going on yet so little....the pace is slightly slow - perfect for me right now after an incredibly busy start to the season. The veggie garden is planted, the big FM projects are complete, now it's a matter of maintenance and praying to the Chip Drop gods. May the wood chips be with you. And also with me.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, we do love hearing from you and knowing what you are up to in your own gardens. Happy gardening, I hope there is joy out there for you all in your green spaces.


  1. I love the new pavilion! The entire garden is looking great. The silk moth was a nice discovery, as is the prospect of baby frogs. I haven't seen frogs in a garden since I was a child, which is sad - although I suspect that my huge population of lizards are just fine with conditions here.

    1. Thank you Kris. The silk moth stopped me in my tracks. Never have I seen a larger moth/butterfly, it was startling! We are excited for the frogs, yes, but we love lizards, too. We don't get many of those but I'm glad you do.

  2. Anonymous7:06 AM PDT

    Excellent job, the pavilion is! I chuckled at the chairs though... they are a "5 minute break and back to work" kind of chairs, rather than "put up your feet and relax"... I'm glad you'll be replacing them with the latter, you've earned it :-D
    Love all those wide shots of the garden. I know it's spring exuberance time but the bones of the garden are getting noticeably larger too, not just the seasonal stuff, and it's really fun to see. In photo 24 (from the end) you have a substantial conifer, bluish green 'arms'... do you have an ID for it?
    The soft edging of the shade garden turned out perfect and so much easier for the mower in chief.
    The Polyphemus moth is impressive. Those 'sleepy eyes' on the back may deter or confuse some predators. Such a fun discovery.

    1. Anonymous6:29 PM PDT

      (4th from the end...)

    2. They are indeed the five minute break chairs...I borrowed them from the veggie garden area where they are put to good use. I'm really excited about our new chairs - a dear friend is loaning us a pair she received as a gift. They look pretty posh.

      The arms plant is Chamaecyparis 'Wissel's Saguaro' - SO good.

      And good observation of the eyes on the moth, nature is amazing.

  3. The pavilion is a beautiful thing! I am glad to hear chairs more suitable for relaxation are on the way, as that need was my first thought when I saw the pic. How wonderful those four trees were planted in just the right manner for the FM to build such a lovely feature.
    Lupinus albifrons, sigh. I love that plant so much but my last one finally bit the dust. If you propagate them please sign me up!
    Good to see that Oscar is looking grand again and that moth! Oh my... so big, so furry!

    1. Glad you like the pavilion! After all, yours was the inspiration. While ours isn't as substantial as yours is, for light use it's perfect. The trees - the story there is we have three rows of Doug firs planted (not by us) that were supposed to be a crop at some point, apparently. They were waaaay to close together, so we thinned them heavily and these four just happen to have been left as they are.

      I'll let you know when I have some Lupinus albifrons for you, Loree!

  4. How lovely it is to sleep outside. The pavillion is awesome. The lupine is beautiful, what a nice gift!

    1. I'm actually looking forward to a hot night so we can take the deck for an overnight test drive. I do adore the lupine, so silvery....so lovely.

  5. Anonymous12:21 PM PDT

    Your garden looks wonderful, despite a harsh winter. --hb

    1. Thank you! It was brutal, wasn't it? Hopefully the rest of the year will be mild and lovely.

  6. Anonymous8:05 AM PDT

    Your garden looks fabulous and the new pavilion is very enticing. I hope the Chip Drop gods come through for you. I need another load hoo.

    1. All hail the Chip Drop gods. Thank you! I hope they visit you soon as well.

  7. A nice, simple pavillion design that will keep the vertical elements from cascading down onto your contemplative, relaxation spot. I like it because it doesn't obstruct the view - you can still see the surrounding trees and garden. The trick will be how to sit still long enough to relax and enjoy. But, what is the view that those chairs are looking towards?

    I could (almost) imagine a night under the disco ball, with flashing lights, karaoke speakers, and a minibar. Teasing, a little, of course.

    Yes, I propagate all of my P. cardwellii by cuttings. For some reason, I have terrible luck with the seeds. Still envious how long your plants have been able to survive. I get a year, maybe three, then they are gone.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful comments, Jerry! I agree, the simple design and see-through nature of the structure is very appealing to me too. The view from the chairs is ok, we're working on a couple improvements. I'll include a photo from that angle the next time.

      Ooo - karaoke anyone? You know, that calls for a party. You're invited.

      As far as my P. cardwellii, I can only imagine it's so happy where it's at because the soil is SO well-drained, as in a ton of sand (not added by me). I got lucky? I grew a few in the Portland garden which never lasted long. I hope this one doesn't burn itself out!


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