Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bloom Day May 15, 2014

So, I've been super busy cutting, trimming, and reclaiming the woods and weeds into a new, ginormous garden. I did finally get one small area of the woodland garden planted up. I'm trialing some different plants in it this year and one that has done just spectacular for me so far has been the Himalayan blue poppy. I'm so freaking excited about it that I will leave just this for my bloom day post this month:




Happy Bloom Day, everyone!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Wintering Annas Hummingbirds

It's going to be mighty chilly this week - into the low teens at night! Don't forget to put out out nectar for our overwintering hummingbirds and keep it thawed out for them. These guys need all the energy they can get to stay warm!

Tips for feeding hummers in the freezing temps:
  • Remember not to adjust the mix! Keep it at a 1:4 ratio sugar to water.
  • Use christmas lights wrapped about the feeder to keep it from thawing or
  • Swap out feeders to keep them from freezing. Make sure to put the feeders out before dawn if you bring them in at night. I have several feeders and just rotate them.
More info on feeding hummers in the winter:
Feeding hummers in winter

This Annas hummer in the pic below was up feeding just as the sky was seeing its first hint of light in the very early dawn this morning:


He's chilling out on the red huckleberry bush defending his favorite feeder. Invaders, beware!:


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year, A New Garden

I've been absent from posting for a while. I have been mostly in cleanup mode in the yard. The entire thing really needs some serious work and that has been the priority over the last several months. No flowers or plants can go in until the yard is prepped.

We are still working on raising the canopy in the two large trees groves and I need to have a large delivery of rocks (for a retaining wall) and mulch brought in, so those things are on the agenda. We are still cleaning out brush, etc, but managed to really clean a huge chunk of that stuff out over this past Autumn. This spring we are going to be working on putting in a large vegetable garden and that is also a huge project in the making right now.

I did find some time today to get out in the front yard and plant a couple hundred spring bulbs. Yes, they should have gone in earlier in the year, but it was always raining on my days off and I wanted a dry day for this. Today was gorgeous, so I took the opportunity to get to planting! I can be so impatient sometimes. I have these great visions for my new garden, but there is just so much prep work to make sure it is done right. So, it feels really great to get some new things in.

These are bulbs of  some mixed narcissus and some frittilaria:


These are a bunch of mixed crocus:


Some small allium:


I also planted some daffodils and bluebells putting clumps here and there. The ground was quite full of rocks so I put the giant pick-axe to work today! Once I got most of the rocks out, I mixed some garden mix with the native dirt to get some more nutrients in the soil.

Along with the bulbs in the ground, I planted a wine barrel full of tulips. Here's to hoping for a flower filled spring in my new garden. I'm so excited!

Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Garden Bloom Day September 2013 - A Day Late

Ahh, dammit. I'm a day late with bloom day again. It's hard to keep up when you are working full time AND busy cleaning and clearing an entire acre for a new garden. I do have some fun things blooming, so I'll just get right down to it.

Fall in the Northwest is for dahlias! I filled a wine barrel full of orange and yellow ones and here they are. They are about 4 feet tall in the barrel. Pretty!:


And some smaller yellow/orange pompom dahlias as well:


I have another wine barrel planted with some nasturtiums:



When I lived in Austin, September was for Oxblood lilies and it is apparently time for those up here, too!! I'm so excited these bloomed for me up here! They didn't do anything last fall, just hung out in the ground being boring bulbs, but I think they were confused since I moved them last year. But this year, Wooo!! Here they are in all their glory and I'm so very glad I brought some back with me. If any bulb represents Austin gardens, it's the Oxblood lily:


More coming up:


Another southern plant growing for me up here is turks cap. Love this one:


Another one that is doing splendid in hanging pots for me I brought back last year from Austin is the firecracker fern. The hummingbirds go crazy over this one:


Here is some big red sage. It really needs to go in the ground, but I still don't have the bed ready yet, so its blooming in its pot:


The bird peppers are turning red. Very bright red!:


Another red one is the dragon wing begonia. I'm just about ready to bring these into the solarium for the season:


Black and blue salvia and hot lips salvia in the background:


And last, but not least, I discovered some white perennial cyclamen coming up in the corner of the lawn, so I dug it up and moved it to a more prominent location where it came be noticed and spread:


That's it! Happy Bloom Day!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fragrance in the Evening

One of the things I really did love about the Austin summer evenings were the night blooming flowers - the tuberose, the moonflower vines, and especially the datura (devil's trumpet). They would fill the summer nights with an intoxicating scent that just blanketed my garden. I brought seeds for the datura with me when I moved along with a bunch of mexican tuberose because I just could not bear to leave them behind. Would they grow up here? I didn't know, but I was sure gonna try to get them to grow.

The tuberose have been all crowded up in pots for a year, but they are finally blooming!:


I bought some moonflower vine seeds from a local store earlier this year and they did grow and are now flowering as well! I've been meaning to get this one repotted in a large pot, but just haven't had the time. It doesn't seem to care and the flower is bigger than the 4-inch pot the vine is growing in right now:


Both the tuberose and moonflower vine are filling the night air with their heady scent and reminding me of the sultry southern summer nights I left behind, but without the heat and humidity.

I also have some datura (devils trumpet) that I have started from seed which are growing pretty well right now, but are not yet large enough to bloom. No worries though, I have a solarium to move them into when the weather starts to cool down and they can keep on plugging along. I will have datura blooms one of these days.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Bloom Day - July 15,2013

Happy Bloom day! I've been absent from bloom day for a bit as we were in the middle of a move to our new home (see previous post on that). I don't have many flowers right now since I'm working from a blank slate, but I do have some pretty things blooming in pots. Here's what I've got:

Begonia. I overwintered these tubers with resounding success:


Fuchsia, black and blue salvia, hot lips salvia, hawkshead fuchsia, and red geranium in pots:


Close up of Hawkshead fuchsia:

Closeup of black and blue salvia. This is one of the hummers very favorite flowers:


Lavender fuchsia:


Hot pink fuchsia:


Purple and white stripey petunias:


Red geranium and pink guara:


Firecracker fern:


Blue hydrangea patiently waiting to be planted in the woodland garden:


Atom gladiola:


Shasta daisy. These are one of the few flowers in the ground right now:


It's been a long time since I haven't had much of anything in the ground to show off and feels a bit weird, but that will be fixed as time goes on. I've got a big project ahead of me and soon I'll have many wonderful and fun things to share. For now its all about planning, dreaming, and building. Happy Bloom day everyone!

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Blank Canvas

Sorry I've been gone, we were in the middle of a move to the Eastside of Seattle Metro area and it consumed all of my time. But, I am so very excited to be back on my old stomping grounds! We purchased a wonderful house that sits on a very pretty piece of property, it just needs a little (read a super, ginormous amount) of work to make it beautiful.

I have always had this dream of having a ginormous blank canvas to build a dream garden in and well, now I have it. I have to pinch myself as it has been a very, very long journey to get here. All the way to Austin, Tx and back. More than a decade in the making. All the events that have happened, good and bad we used to bring ourselves to this place. The new house sits on an acre that overlooks the woods with a stream  that runs to the lake down below. I don't have to look into the window of the neighbors bathroom or bedroom or living room. Nope. Just trees. I am thankful every single day for this view of lush, green, goodness:


The yard is huge. And, a huge overgrown mess. Truth be told, I'm a little overwhelmed, but totally up for the challenge. So here's the rundown:

The side yard is actually pretty clean, just full of boring lawn. A large part of this lawn will be replaced by a woodland garden. The first task is to reuse all those cardboard boxes from our move and lay them out in the yard and cover them with mulch and let it all break down to shrink the lawn:


The front yard is pretty clean like the side yard. I've got about four wine barrels with veggies and dahlias lined up out that way right now, but I'm planning on putting in a trellis and planting hops:



Against the house is a terraced area that is full of half dead grass and weeds because it is too shady for the lawn that was planted to grow there. I'm working on replacing this right now with shade-friendly small trees and all manner of bulbs and shade loving perennials and natives:



Around the back is a hill that leads from the deck stairs to the tennis court. Oh, yeah, the place came with a tennis/basketball court which I initially hated, because I thought that is where a veggie garden should go instead! I have changed my tune and the tennis court is staying, it just seems so...snobby...but it's fun and I'm learning to play some tennis. (I have stopped whacking the ball a million miles over the net at least, so I'm improving). I will be putting some kind of stairs in here, along with a jar fountain up on the top:


Off to the right in the shot above, you can see a patch of the largest deciduous huckleberry bushes ever known to mankind. Oh! And some Peonies and Iris on the left against the house. Here's a shot showing  the huckleberry patch and looking beyond:


Off yonder is a mound septic system. Ick. It is ugly, but I'm gonna fix that! Oh, yes. This mound will eventually be covered in perennials and grasses and groundcovers (no trees or shrubs or deep rooted things can be grown on or near a mound system). Yep. This is where the butterfly garden is going:


The challenge? Plants bunnies won't eat. The entire world's population of bunnies lives in my yard. I'm actually thinking of planting them a nice clover crop on the shady side of the mound. That kept them out of the Olympia veggie garden. Distracted by delicious clover, they were.

On the topic of woodland creatures, in that photo of the mound above, looking towards the back, there is a cedar grove. I was back there clearing it out and blazing trails (really nifty woodsy area back in there) when I happened upon a yellow jacket nest. Yep. I pulled out a blackberry bramble that was growing from a rotted stump and out poured thousands of yellow jackets! They pummeled me with their stings and vicious, relentless biting as I tore out of there as fast as my legs would carry me. That all resulted in a trip to the ER and a very miserable week of wasp sting recovery. I now am the proud owner of a wasp-sting kit complete with EPI pen. Yay.

Moving on, we come to the old horse shed on the tree covered knoll. Yeah, there was once a horse that lived on this side of the property:



This shed will soon be painted turquoise and pink, maybe purple? I dunno, but it's gonna be fun Austin colors. I loved the colors down there and want to incorporate them into my new garden. Central Texas meets Pacific Northwest. It'll be fun!:


I had to cut some steps into the hillside to get up to the shed. Guess what I found? Another bee nest! This one was full of native, miner bees, though. They were non-violent and just buzzed around, so I let them be until they calmed down:


While trimming the overgrown trees and shrubs, I found....


A lake view! I have a view! I had no idea. The horse did. He had a great view from his horse shed. Guess where I'm putting a bench and a trail and a woodland garden? And the hubby has promised to reinforce the shed, add a second viewing level and build a spiral staircase up the huge fir tree to access this second level. He better make this happen. It's really not nice to tease about these kinds of things.

Here is all the overgrowth we cut out from that area that was obscuring the view:


Those black bags are full of ash and nails - 10 pounds of nails! - mixed in with the burn pile the previous owners made you see in the picture below. This is a big project, cleaning up all the nails they tried to burn in the fire. Ugh. Who does that? Geez. What a mess. I'm still working on it, but when it is finally cleaned up a nice fire pit will go here along with a nice picnic table:


Back down behind the fire pit is where the fenced in area for the horse once was and will now become my veggie garden once I get time to borrow and bring the tractor with the tiller up here for a weekend. And, yeah, that ugly fence needs fixing/painting/hiding as well:


All that area on the slope around the (snobby) tennis court is going to be covered in perennials. I am slowly collecting clearance items and also growing them from seed:



Did I say I was overwhelmed? I am totally overwhelmed, but I can so fix this. Oh, yes. This will be my dream garden. I've already been poking around and found some neat plants hiding here and there. Here are some celandine poppy coming up in the shade through the mulch that was piled on them in order to sell the house:


And I also discovered this guy. I don't know what it is, but very pretty:


Until I can get the garden really going, I have all my potted plants to keep me entertained on the deck:


Fuchsia, geranium, rose campion, milk and wine lily:


Close up of the milk and wine lily. I brought this one back from Austin with me and it had never bloomed before, but has bloomed twice in two weeks for me this year! I'm ever so excited:


Now it does rain a lot in the Pacific Northwest, so to complete this garden I needed a solarium which I can sit in and watch the rain come down and the sun come back out. We're not in Kansas anymore! Rainbow shot through solarium windows:


So that's it. My blank canvas. It's a huge, multi-year project. May the powers that be give me the opportunity and time to finish it. And so it begins...