Friday, April 21, 2017

Random Post About Birds in the Garden

Many types of birds visit the garden every day and it's just fun to watch them do their thing. Sometimes, less fun like when the ravens open up the garbage and pick through it to get clam shells and the like. (Sneaky little buggers at it, too!) I actually enjoy the ravens, I just don't want them in my garbage, so I try to keep the garbage in until garbage day. 

We have a large rabbit population which means raptors often make visits. Here's our local bald eagle up in the tree above the garden. Owls often make an appearance at night, but I have yet to get any pictures of those elusive beasts:

We have Anna's hummingbirds and Rufous hummingbirds. The Anna's hang out all winter, being replaced by the Rufous in the spring. Sometimes, we have both kinds in the summer, but the Anna's seem to like to move off to higher elevations once the temps warm up and the Rufous move in. Below is a newly arrived Rufous this spring:

Here he is at he feeder. Once too many hummers show up, I hang multiple feeders on opposite sides of the house to attempt to minimize the fighting:

Sapsuckers spend quite a bit of time in the garden. So many things for them to eat:

We also have Pileated Woodpeckers that spend quite a bit of time in the garden. Last year, we had an entire family hang out on 2 of the snags in our yard - 2 adults and 3 juveniles. I thought about taking the snags down at one point until I realized all the critters they hosted including squirrels, woodpeckers, sapsuckers, flickers, chickadees, and many others. Since the snags aren't in any danger of hitting any kind of building or structure, they are staying and will continue to host all kinds of wildlife. 

Spring has Sprung!

Well, it's been a very, very, very wet winter and spring this year. My garden is at least a month behind. The flowers have finally begun to bloom, though! Here's what I have going in my garden right now:


Blue hyacinth and pieris. Both smell delicious!:

Pulmonaria. I rescued these from a brush pile in the woods when we first moved in. They are starting to spread and look fab now that a few years have passed:

Some sort of purple rhododendron:

Narcissus Thalia after a rain shower:

Fancy blue giant hyacinth that smell amazeballs. These drench the whole backyard with a fab scent:

Fritillaria meleagris. I really like these a bunch and they have done very well in my garden the last 2 years. I'm thinking about adding more:

Closer shot. Notice the white one in the bunch:

Trilliums! Oh, How I adore you. This is our native trillium ovatum in a sea of native dicentra formosa:

Vanilla leaf! I'm so excited! I added these last year and was hoping they would take and they did! I'm working on creating a large swath of these in the woodland garden.

Redwood sorrel, the workhorse of the dry, deep shade garden. I planted these in the western red cedar grove. I have few options here and these fit the bill with shining green colors. I hope to have carpets of it blanketing the grove: 

Native wild cherry tree in bloom. So pretty, but so fleeting:

The salmon berries have been blooming for several weeks now. They hearken the return of the Rufous hummingbirds each year:

Trillium luteum. I planted these a few years ago and it looks like they may finally bloom this year. Fingers crossed!:

Bergenia. Evergreen, takes shade, sun, or poor soil. It can be split a gagillion times to make more. How can you go wrong? This is one tough customer and these live in a very shady part of the garden. I do have some others in complete opposite conditions on the sunny slope and they do just as well:

Yellow stream violets. I finally have a good little grove of these going. Diminutive little things, but I love them. They seem to thrive when planted along with mosses in an open, but shady area. They like to pop up along the woodland trail here and there (and, yeah, that's hail on the ground, it's been a bit stormy lately): 

Erythronium. I don't remember which variety this one is specifically. I've planted various ones and they seem to take a few years to get going. This is the first group really doing well for me. I plant them, they seem to disappear for a year, then come back with leaves, and the next year begin to flower. I guess they just need a few years to settle in:

Bleeding heart Gold Heart. I have this planted along with trillium luteum and if I can get the trillium to finally bloom, they should look spectacular together:

More Narcissus Thalia. I like this one because it's tough and takes a beating:

Pasqueflower. I've moved this a few times due to rabbits wanting to make lunch out of it. I finally moved it to this rocky slope and the rabbits seem to leave it alone here. Too much trouble to get to, I guess:

Another trillium. They pop up all over the place in my woodland garden:

This clump of trillium is really spreading. I've already split it once and this year there are even more in the clump! This one grows in the stumpery of old cedar stumps:

 Some fun daffodils next to the new gold leafed spirea Gold Flame:

Tulip Clusiana. These just keep coming back for me year after year. The rabbits don't seem to bother these species tulips, either. I haven't had as much success with the yellow species tulipa sylvestris as the rabbits like to mow those to the ground for some reason. So, I'll stick to survival of the fittest and add many more of these guys to my garden:

Multiple clumps of Tulip Clusiana. These are growing along the sunny, dry slope below the sport court in my garden:

And that's what's blooming for now. My garden is still pretty new and is still in a major building phase, but I'm starting to really be able to add some fun things in now. It's been a lot of work, but I'm looking forward to continuing the garden build this year.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


I was out turning over the decomposing leaves into the garden today and in many of the forkfuls of soil were earthworms! Big fat worms, medium worms, and small baby worms. Worms everywhere:

Why is this a big deal you ask? Because this is garden section number 2, the one that I built from scratch 2 years ago that sits above the ground. I brought in some base garden dirt, added a ton of composted chicken manure and have been adding autumn leaves, green cuttings, kitchen scraps, wood ashes, shredded newspaper, kelp meal, old aquarium water, and bone meal ever since. The first year it produced nothing but beans well (which fix their own nitrogen), last year it produced peas and beans very well and the rest of the veg at about 50% of what it should have:

This year I hope to have a fully functional garden. Worms help aerate the soil, minimizing soil compaction and allowing plants to access water and air easily. As the earthworms eat their way through the garden soil, they produce waste - worm castings - that are full of nutrients such as phosphorus, calcium, nitrogen and magnesium. The more worms in a garden, the more productive that garden soil will be. Last year there were a few worms in the garden, but not many. This year, there appear to be many worms! Color me excited to see how the veg garden will perform this year with a garden crawling with worms.

Monday, January 9, 2017


One of the first things I did when I began the garden was to plant grapes along the fence of the sport court. It gets very hot along this area and stays sunny all day long. I thought, heck, I'll give grapes a go. Well, a couple years later and I harvested 20 pounds of grapes from the 2 vines I planted! And that was after the deer ran off with several mouthfuls. The grapes totally took over the fencing and provided us much needed privacy on that side of the yard:

These are the Canadice grapes. I also planted Glenora and harvested an equal amount of those.

All of those grapes became jelly! Beautiful jewel colored jelly. This is the Canadice grape jelly:

I also thought I would try my hand at preserving grape leaves and that also turned out pretty well:

This year I planted a white grape as well and if it follows the growth pattern of the other 2 vines, will begin to bear fruit this next year. I think I better learn how to make wine.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Perennial Slope Garden Through the Seasons

The last couple years have been spent removing 3 ft tall weeds from the slope below the sport court. I have slowly been clearly it and replacing with perennials. Sometimes the plants work, sometimes not so much and I shift things about. As it is, I have snapped pics of all 4 seasons, which turns out, is pretty neat.

So, here is Spring and as you can see, there are many iris on this slope on the right. I split a 30 year old declining iris bed up and moved several of them to this spot:

The iris love it here and are really making a comeback. I think they just needed split up:

There are also species tulips I planted here. The rabbits don't seem to bother these like they do the hybrids:

Closer. These are Tulipa Sylvestris:

I think these were Tulipa Clusiana Cynthia:

And Byzantine glads. Yep, these are the real deal:

Same slope in the Summer. Crocosmia, Guara, Lavender, Jerusalem sage, California poppies, several varieties of Penstemon, Achillea, and many others fill this space. And look at the rampant grape vines! Glorious! Beyond the Crocosmia and escaping the camera shot are 2 Gooseberry shrubs and maybe 11 or 12 Lingonberry shrubs that are really starting to take off. I'm really excited about those.

A closer look at the slope plantings and a garden lantern surrounded by OxEye daisies and California poppies:

Nasturtiums and California poppies:

And here we are in the Autumn. Goodness, I do so love having real seasons again! Here, the grape vines are turning fabulous colors, the blue gray of the Lavender really stands out, Guara foliage turns more reddish as the nights cool way down, and the huge fuzzy leaves of the Jerusalem sage add texture:

Winter! Snow blankets the perennials with the Achillea and Jerusalem seed heads providing texture to the winter garden.

I have expanded this bed even further along the slope this year adding shrub roses, more guara, more herbs, and other interesting plants. I can't wait until spring so I can watch the slope fill in the rest of the way.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Brand New Year - I'm back!

Wow, It's hard to believe it has been this long since I posted to this garden blog. My life has been so busy the past couple years that I hardly had time for myself. I love living in the Pacific Northwest. It truly is my happy place. The last several years have been spent working, working, and working some more and spending what little time I had to myself outdoors hiking, exploring, and of course gardening!

Even though I love where I live, after a decade of hard work, I realized that life was passing quickly and that if I didn't stop and look around a little bit, it would pass me right on by. So, this past year I made a life choice to take a sabbatical and spend some time with my family. It's the best decision I have ever made. I went to visit family I haven't seen in a couple years, I took a month long vacation to Yellowstone National Park and hiked over 100 miles of back country and boardwalks, spent weekends hiking in Mt Rainier National Park, ran many cross country miles in my state parks, visited the coast, learned to cook real food (how funny that I love to grow veggies, but never was a very good cook), completed a 5000 piece puzzle, learned to can and preserve all manner of gardened and foraged foods, and of course worked in my new garden I am building. I had some days where I just sat back and enjoyed the sun hitting my face while sipping an iced tea and reading a book. It was fabulous.

I feel as though my mind is finally refreshed and I'm ready to tackle this new year and whatever it may bring.

I knocked around the idea of changing the name of this blog since I haven't spent much time with it recently, but really, the name still applies. The sun french fries me when I'm out in it and I really am a pluviophile. So, the blog name is staying and I'm returning to frequent it.

Without further adieu, here is a pic of the backyard perennial garden as it was this last summer and I'll be back soon with more garden-y updates. Happy New Year Everyone!

There are many daylilies in this bed as well, but bloomed earlier in the spring. Here are the lemon lilies:

These bloom the same time and I think are hemerocallis dumortieri:

Here are the lilies all together. The neighbor lady who has lived in her house for over 30 years gave these to me when she was splitting the massive clumps of them she had:

On the sunnier side of this flower bed are the liatris, coneflower, rudbeckia, and hollyhock mallow. This is really the first year they have bloomed like this since I started them from seed. I think I had a couple coneflower the year prior, but that was it. Everything in this bed has to be rabbit-proof because, well, we are overrun with rabbits here. I tried to grow some giant allium in this bed, but the rabbits mow it down every year in early spring. So I gave up on those. Oh, well. At least they don't eat these!