Holding My Breath

It feels normal out there. It scares me. Yes, our springtime has been abnormally normal. No premature heat waves, no scorching of tender foliage, no freak hail storms nor rain nor cold records. Just days of mild sunshine and temperatures mostly in the 70s with a bit of rain thrown in to keep it green.

This reminds me of springs of my youth. It all looks so lush and so full of life. Much of the damage caused from the horrid January storms is being swallowed up by all that lushness, and Hooray! for that. However, I cannot help but wonder when the unpleasant weather will arrive. We're so used to bizarre weather patterns that mild feels deceptive. So, for now, I hold my breath loving what the garden and weather are telling me: It's all okay. For now.

Here then is a mid-June peek around the garden.
Some of the plants in this border feel as if they are coming on later than usual, but it's hard to tell any more. There were a couple setbacks here including an Ozothamnus 'Silver Jubilee' that died last year and just visible on the far right a Hebe diosmifolia (we'll see it later on in this post) that also had a rough winter. So did a Leptospermum lanigerum 'Silver Form' that we will also see later in this post. Even with setbacks I really enjoy the foliage combinations here.

Arctostaphylos pumila looking smart, but there were a few large branches on the opposite side, bottom, that died. I noticed a few HUGE mole mounds in there so that could have played a role. Otherwise, it looks pretty happy.

Jerry from Botanica Chaotica asked about the view from our new pavilion. This one's for you, Jerry. FM is currently removing some of that grass and will add wood chips later this week. I will add plants, of course. This view will evolve over the coming months.

The Kolkwitzia amabilis occupies the majority of the view. This now huge shrub has been in bloom for weeks on end and still has a lot of bumble bees visiting. You can just make out the pavilion in the background shadows.

Here it is with our new borrowed chairs from a very dear and generous friend. They are from Crescent Garden and are pretty darned comfortable. And made for the outdoors. We love them.

Moving away from the shade garden to sunnier areas, the California poppies have been on fire this year reaching a couple feet or more in height. Every year they come and go where they will, I do take them out when they flop all over everything including pathways.

Sidalcea campestris still blooming in the meadow area and well-visited by pollinators. This started blooming in mid-April and will keep going for a couple more weeks.

Most of the arctostaphylos have grown fresh new leaves, this one included. Arctostaphylos 'Saint Helena' with a now rather muscular trunk that is just beginning to exfoliate.

Sedum kamstchaticum 'Variegatum' with a visiting bumble bee.

Cheilanthes lanosa (syn. Myriopteris lanosa), purchased from Sebright Gardens last spring, and its beautiful fresh silver fronds.

Clematis recta 'Purpurea' which really is upright until its weight makes it spill over the edge of the retaining wall.

Baptisia 'Wayne's World' has never looked better. This very upright and small clump has been slow to establish but oh my, the smoky stems with white flowers is a striking combination and worth the wait. I spied a hummingbird drinking its nectar earlier this week.

Wide shot from the edge of the labyrinth garden, the baptisia is visible in the center, slightly left. Two other baptisias - one blue purple and one yellow are also in this shot. They are really fantastic plants for drought tolerance and a dry garden as they form a rather substantial tap root that helps them sail through dry periods.

Diascia integerrima 'Coral Canyon' is a Plant Select selection. A very heat and drought tolerant twinspur, I bought several last year to add to my dry garden. I'm not convinced I love the color but in this photo it looks charming.

Purchased from work last year, Delosperma 'Alan's Apricot'. Frankly I'm surprised these (there are three) survived, I thought they would have rotted and/or frozen but they have not only survived but have grown substantially from a little 4" pot.

Olearia lineata 'Dartonii' has rebounded after a complete defoliation this winter.

Eschscholzia californica with Heuchera 'Firefly' in the background makes for a hot combination at the edge of the labyrinth garden in full hot sun.

Eucomis 'Oakhurst' looks great this time of the year but is shy to flower and flops open mid-summer. But for now it's pretty dramatic with Achillea 'Terracotta' foliage in the foreground.

Itea 'Henry's Garnet' flowers ready to bloom.

Eriogonum heracleoides, parsnipflower buckwheat, has spread to form a rather large patch on the edge of the labyrinth garden where again, it's very hot and dry and sunny.

Arctostaphylos manzanita 'Saint Helena' doing her thing.

Checking in on the crow garden (we feed the crows nearby) where FM added wood chips to cover the now bare soil (I had spread several inches of fallen leaves to decompose over the winter which mostly killed the grass). The yellow flags are where I planted several more Teucrium chamaedrys as the Dorycnium hirsutum that were there did not like being covered with leaves and died. The chickens scratching this area all winter (they LOOOVE going through leaves) during FM's "let the chickens out" outings (grrrrr) didn't help either. It will take a couple of years for the teucrium to get up to size but that's okay. Now the ground is covered and weeds won't be such a big problem here. I enjoy looking at this and seeing clearly the triangle that was, a year and a half ago, grass and weeds is now bursting with color and flowers for pollinators.

Dianthus deltoides 'Flashing Lights' is very impressive. Low foliage, only an inch or so tall is topped by wiry stems with really electric red-pink flowers. No scent on this carnation but the color and form make up for it. I never water these and they are in the hottest driest edges of the labyrinth garden.

Unknown white salvia - has been here for years and has been super forgiving, coming back year in and out in a most difficult site. The bumble bees love this one.

Hypericum olympicum var. citrinum a plant I purchased at work last year on Preston's recommendation, has been very floriferous and tolerant of its hot and dry site. It is a very small hypericum at only 15 or so inches in height.

Wide shot of the gravel garden with many hebes, a couple arctos and grasses.

Leptospermum lanigerum 'Silver Form' which should be evergreen had crispy, black foliage following January's deep freeze. I left it in place thinking it would recover and indeed it is just starting to grow new foliage.

Phormium tenax 'Atropurpureum' turned all shades of brown and for the first time I cut all the foliage off at once a couple of months ago. I'm glad to see it rebounding.

Hebe diosmifolia was a gorgeous, emerald green hebe that also turned black/brown and fried in the cold. I saw a couple of small green bits at the base so cut it back several weeks ago. While it's not been fast to rebound it's an experiment at this point but admittedly is very painful to look at for the time being.

Several years ago Danger Garden gave me a Dianella revoluta 'Allyn Citation' which has been a lovely plant up until this winter. It went totally brown and I thought was dead outright. After getting in there to remove it, there were signs of new growth so I shall leave it, hoping for a full recovery.

Acca sellowiana, syn. Feijoa sellowiana, also completely defoliated this winter but look at it now. Honestly, I did expect it to rebound as it defoliated in the same way a year after I planted it and totally recovered.

Not a winter casualty but a hard prune because of its size and where it's located in the garden, this Hebe 'Karo Golden Esk' got a hard haircut earlier this year. It is filling in nicely and the new growth should overtake the stubs of sticks pretty soon. This experiment has been successful so far.

Finally Ceanothus 'Italian Skies' with a severe pruning has rebounded beautifully with bright green leaves and it even bloomed (you can just make out the last of the flowers in the center). I am SO glad I didn't rip these out as they took some time to get this large and would be sorely missed. But it was all an experiment and I'm glad I did cut them back hard. The bits I did remove were clearly dead and quite brittle, so by removing them more air and light can get in there and help it along its way.

Am I jinxing myself for saying it's been such a mild and lovely spring/early summer so far? We have been extremely fortunate as so much of the world is experiencing record heat waves and storms. Our hearts go out to you. It's rough out there. For now, in our region, we're truly enjoying mild temperatures, gentle rain and some good sunshine too. For this we are most grateful. And a little skeptical that it will last. But we have today. I'll take it.

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


  1. Looks terrific. Always such good info. And I'm with you on the whims of the weather gods. Just thought this morning that the garden is so happy making, but any day...

    1. Thank you!! Enjoying it while we can, Patricia...indeed we are at the whims of the weather gods.

  2. Your garden looks lush and beautiful, Tamara. And I love your new pavilion. I know that sense of apprehension about what could be around the corner with respect to weather, though. We haven't had a truly hideous heatwave here in some time now but I suspect it's naive to believe our luck will hold indefinitely, especially as a shift to La Nina conditions appears to be in process.

    1. Thank you, Kris. It looks as good as it ever has right now and I suppose that's what scares me - we've had so many wounds that it's taken a long time to heal. Now that we're doing so I am holding on as long as I can. I hope that your lack of any hideous heatwaves continues and that the June gloom you describe keeps it cool. With La Lina it will change, though, I imagine.

  3. I thought your new chairs were from Crescent Garden, I sat in one just like them during the NWFG Fest. Very comfy, although you need something to put your feet up on.

    Thanks for not only including the beautiful (so beautiful) but also the plants in recovery, it's good to see what's what in other people's gardens. As for the weather, I too have been wondering how long this strangely normal (boring?) weather will last...

    1. You know, you might have sat in this very chair! That's where they came from. And yes, we need a foot stool for sure. And you're welcome about the not so beautiful recovery plants - there are certainly more out there but I wanted to show the resilience of some of these. It's good to share information with other gardeners. And I'll take boring weather any day by the way ;)

  4. Anonymous11:44 AM PDT

    Looking lovely! I enjoyed the view from the pavilion too! It was nice to put myself in your place, imagining relaxing there with a glass of wine on a summer evening. Oddly, I'm finding many plants have come on extremely strongly this year. Wondering if it was cold enough to knock back some insect pests a bit.
    I may check into that apricot Delosperma as I did lose most of mine. I have a small straggling remnant of the usually vigorous old purple variety but lost the rest.
    Your white Salvia looks a lot like a Veronica to me, at least if I'm interpreting size and distance accrately.

    1. You know, the cold setting back some pests isn't something I had considered until you mentioned it. That could very well be true. Yes, the Delosperma 'Alan's Apricot' is so good. I am truly impressed. If you can find it it's a winner. And I thank you for the veronica i.d. - I see where it looks like one but its foliage is sage scented and the flowers are definitely salvias. I'd love to know which one it is, I'd get a few more.

    2. Anonymous11:09 PM PDT

      Now you've got me googling­čść I did run across a nursery in Ca online a while back that sells only salvia. It's called Flowers by the Sea. I took a look and they have a number of white ones (to my surprise). Not sure if I can include links here. www dot fbts dot com. I haven't purchased their plants so can't say much about that, but their database is extensive and they did help me identify an unknown Salvia.

    3. Hee hee...I did a bunch of googling too and I *think* it's Salvia 'White Profusion'. Also, THANK YOU for the link, I had forgotten about Flowers by the Sea and wow, what a salvia collection! I appreciate it!

  5. We'd best enjoy "mild" and "normal" ("typical"?) while we can. Here down south, two rainy winters in a row is a thrill, a miracle, a marvel.

    Your garden is fabulous!

    1. Indeed, Hoover Boo. We are enjoying mild and normal while we can. I'm thrilled you all have had some good solid rain these past few years. Hooray! And thank you for your kind words!

  6. Looks beautiful, looks like your garden used all the rain to its advantage! THOSE CHAIRS! WOW, they are stunning.

    1. The chairs are pretty fabulous. Comfortable, too.

  7. Anonymous8:09 AM PDT

    I adore the view from the new pavilion! I almost wish Kolkwitzia amabilis was out a ways, allowing the full panoramic experience.
    "Wide shot from the edge of the labyrinth garden"... the layering, the gentle colors, the Phlomis spires... so gorgeous, it doesn't get better than that.
    Speaking of Hebe 'makeovers': the Hebe 'Purpurea Nana' I bought a couple of years ago looked shabby and gangly; being on borrowed time, I cut it down to inches from the ground. It rebounded beautifully. I think Hebes are good like that, and I'm convinced Hebe 'Karo Golden Esk' will do the same, though may take a bit longer for a mature plant.

    1. Ah, thank you Chavli. Once again your words are so sweet. The edge of the labyrinth, right now it is in its prime, for sure. I'm glad your hebe rebounded, they have a resilient nature. I agree, I think my 'Karo Golden Esk' will be just fine. It has already grown so much since its hard prune. Cheers!

  8. The Pavillion shots have Luis thinking he might want to build one back up in the trees behind our house, where it is more secluded. He had some hammocks up there years ago, but to be honest we never sat still long enough to enjoy them. Thanks for showing the view!
    On pins and needles myself, wondering what the summer will bring. Was foolish and bought several water guzzler plants for one of the irrigated perennial beds, as this spring has been such a relief after the previous two. Yet, the ground under the Dougfirs is already powder dry and I have needed to water new plants already. Enjoy each day while it is here. This spring has been one of my favorites in a long time.

    1. Oooh, so Luis is going to build a pavilion! Fabulous! I tell you, in the shade like that - it's going to be the best spot in the garden once the weather warms up. Nice and cool, open for breezes and a great view of bird activity. Actually it is already a favorite spot for me - it will be for FM once we get some mosquito netting. They don't bother me but he seems to attract them. Keep us all posted! We'd love to see what you come up with.

      As far as the summer, yeah, I hear you. Buying several water guzzler plants - I mean of course you did because half the year is soaking wet so it makes sense. We have to have a dual personality to be able to garden here. And your powder dry soil - **sigh** - yes. I fully understand. Enjoy each day indeed and this spring has been a favorite of mine, too. Cheers and garden on!

  9. Anonymous5:15 PM PDT

    I absolutely love your blog and the valuable info I find here. Your garden is beautiful!! I live in the Canadian Gulf Islands (zone 7b) with SW exposure just off the ocean. We get a lot of sun and salt air, a true Mediterranean climate. We are extremely careful about water usage and have an orchard full of deer, I have borrowed many of your plant suggestions that have flourished. Thank you so much :)

    1. Gosh, thank you so much! Your home sounds lovely, just off the ocean with sun and salt air. I used to live in Santa Cruz California and your description remind me of that. Being careful about water usage there too - while I'm not surprised it is an example of how our weather patterns have changed. I am so glad you have borrowed plant suggestions - that's fantastic! Anything in particular that you are loving right now? Cheers and you are welcome! :)


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