Monday, May 28, 2012

Hummingbird/Butterfly Garden Project

I have a few garden projects I have been working on since I moved up here. I just completed one of them - a new hummingbird/butterfly garden. I regret I did not take a before picture, but trust me, it looked just like this only enclosed by a hedge:

The area was full of 2-3 ft high weeds/grass/small trees with a bunch of vining vinca mixed all in. Let's just say it was a ginormous mess.

After 2 days of weeding, digging out vinca to reuse in a different spot, ripping out himalayan blackberry brambles (dear god, I had forgetten how awful the fight against those thorny monsters can be), pulling out rocks, rocks and more rocks, and ripping up old plastic weed suppressing material (which did not suppress anything by the way, and just kept the water from getting underneath killing any flowers that were once in there and the weeds just grew on top), and adding some compost, I was left with this:

Oh, and I also found that nice copper bowl birdbath in the weeds on the side of the house, cleaned it up and reused it in this new spot.

This area actually drains well and gets pretty hot during the day. What's that? Hot!? Did you say hot and dry? If anyone knows hot and dry, it's a gardener from Central Texas! Now you are speaking my language! I took a trip to the local Hardware store to see what they had and - oh my goodness! - flowers galore! So many things to choose from. I dug around and found a bunch of plants that should like this hot spot in the front of the house.

I picked up some tall campanula and some tall garden phlox, because I remember those doing really well in a similar spot in the garden we had when I was growing up here in the PNW. I also picked up some black and blue salvia, red-riding hood penstemon, agastache, russian blue sage, spanish lavendar, dianthus, coreopsis, and sandwort.

There were already a few large boulders in the spot, but they were mis-balanced in the bed, so I had the hubby wheel-barrow over some more and placed them around to add some nice, balanced structure. I also had him trim the hedge up all fancy. Now it looks like a hedge out of Alice in Wonderland.

This is the end result:

I think it looks pretty darn nice. I still would like to get a couple roses to stick in the front 2 corners of the flower bed, but other than that and adding some mulch, it's all done. I even hung up a hummingbird feeder. Now all I need is to find a bench to put on the lawn in front of this so I can chill with a drink and watch the hummers and butterflies.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bloom Day - May 15, 2012

My first bloom day post from the Pacific Northwest! I actually don't have much since I'm still getting settled in, but I do have a few blooms to show off.

Um, first a little background on the plants I moved. I wanted to move EVERYTHING I had in pots along with said pots, but um....I ran out of space. Literally. We closed the truck up and the back door slid down scraping the side of the fish tanks and stands. Yes, my cichlids took priority even over my plants. We moved them in aerated buckets powered by giant computer backup batteries in the back of the car 2200+ miles. But! The empty tanks were filled with plants! Every space was filled.

What does a plant fanatic do when they run out of room for all the potted plants? They de-pot each and every one of the treasured babies and put them in bags. Oh, yes I did. I'm that nutty about my plants. Sadly, I had to leave many of my prized pots behind (the neighbors were pleased as I told them they could have the pots I left behind and they gave me huge smiles and many thank yous). They were just too large and heavy to stack and fit in the truck. But the de-potted and bagged plants could easily be shoved in every crevice I could find. I tetris-ed that truck as full as I could. Every free space filled with plants and bulbs. Sadly, I had to leave my lemon and lime trees behind *cries a little*. I was, however, able to bring my miniature mandarin orange tree back with me, so at last there's that. I'll just purchase new lemon and lime trees later.

Did all my plants make it? Most of them did. I'm actually surprised since we spent a night in Durango, Colorado and it froze that night. But, they were all packed in pretty well, so I guess they were fairly protected. I'm pretty sure I lost a white abutilon, but I'm still waiting to see if it comes back to life. The succulents all made it, but one is pretty beat up and I'll have to trim it way back. Other than that, most everything came through ok and are temporarily in ugly plastic pots while I hunt down new fabulous pacific-northwesty pots for them.

Here's a couple things from the move that are blooming for me this month.

First, the Aztec lilies! These seem to really be enjoying their new climate and are blooming it up right now:


The Texas Tuberose are also blooming. These were beginning to bloom when I moved and I had to *very carefully* de-pot and pack these so the 4 foot bloom stalk wouldn't break in the move. I can't believe it made it in one piece, but here it is:


And of course spring in the PNW means rhododendrons! How I have missed these. They are blooming crazy right now all over the place. Purple:

Pink and yellow ones:

The rhodies attract hummers and there are at least 4 rufous hummers around fighting over them. The rufous hummingbirds would only occasionally winter in my garden in Texas, but they spend all spring and summer up here. Here's one of the resident rufous hummers at the new feeder I put out:

As a side note, rufous hummingbirds sound exactly like light sabers! (just throwing a little geek in for good measure here) Well, that's it for bloom day this month. Hopefully I'll have more next month - I have a big garden project that is consuming most of my free time right now. Happy Bloom day everyone!