Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Log Slice Path

I've been slacking on my posting lately, but with good reason. I have several garden projects in process right now. I just completed one of them. A log slice path:

I needed to build a path, but wanted to use something that was already available to me, i.e. free. I love free landscaping stuff. I mean, c'mon, who doesn't love free stuff? Garden design does not need to be an expensive hobby. So I look around and what do I see? Logs, logs and more logs. Then I rememembered I saw a photo somewhere of a log slice path. Hey! I can make one of those. I've got enough logs to build a damn cabin. So I recruited a family member to start up the chainsaw and hack off about 30 or so slices o' log for me. I dug them in, made sure they were set in ground nice and firm, then mulched the whole enchilada. It turned out super-awesome.

Here's another shot including more of the flower bed:

I cleaned this bed all out and planted ferns, columbines, clematis, violets, sedum, chicks and hens, and a Japanese maple in this spot. It was, quite literally, filled with 4 feet of garbage and rocks from 20 years of yard refuse being thrown into a giant blackberry bramble. I pulled all that out to expose a couple of really cool large rocks that have clam fossils in them and some groovy old stumps. Who knew all that good stuff was in there?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Repotting Cacti is a Dangerous Business

I repotted a cacti I brought with me from Austin today that had outgrown its previous pot. It was obviously very pokey and I had to use some very thick gloves, but I successfully replanted it.

What did I replant it in you ask? While I was on vacation in Hot Springs, Montana this past week, I picked up a really nifty vintage mexican pot at a junk/antique shop. It is just so much more fun to use unique planters when I can find them. The cactus was replanted into this new to me planter:

The cool thing is that the cactus is a Trichocereus cacti and gets these pretty white flowers similiar to the flowers painted on the pot. Should be pretty keen when it blooms!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Scarlet Runner Bean Gazebo

When I was planning the garden this year I decided to put in a gazebo in the center and plant scarlet runner beans all around it. I repainted an old ugly plastic white table and chairs turquoise and put them in the center so I would have a place to sit and enjoy the garden from the middle of everything. It turned out fabulous. Here is the front. The entrance to the garden is just to the left of those zinnia there and leads to the gazebo:

From the back:

I strung twine up and down all around the outside and planted 5 scarlet runner seeds on each of the 3 sides of the gazebo. Cucumbers and nasturtiums were also planted all around with a yellow dwarf dahlia on either side of the entrance. Here you can see the nasturtiums around the gazebo and radiating out into the garden:

Nasturtiums on the right side of the entrance to the gazebo:

And to the left:

The nasturtiums really went crazy and are just huge. Looking out from the gazebo there are more nasturtiums growing at the base of the sunflowers:

They wrap all the way around the gazebo:

Here they are mixed in with the cucumbers and some squash vine that snuck in there at the base of the gazebo:

The runner beans have covered the entire gazebo at this point and are now beginning to wrap themselves around the owl at the top of the gazebo:

The blooms are just beautiful. A bright scarlet red that the hummingbirds love:

Scarlet runner beans originate from the higher elevations of mexico and central america and therefore enjoy cooler climates. They thrive in the Pacific Northwest, but can be grown in warmer climates if provided shade and a lot of water. I was able to grow them successfully in Austin, where I grew them in shade along a fence line. I did need to make sure to keep them watered and they would provide wonderful red blooms that the hummingbirds couldn't get enough of.

The only caveat was that they rarely set beans for me down there and once the temps got over about 95, no amount of watering was keeping these guys alive. They would usually melt in the August heat. But up here they set beans like crazy. The beans can be eaten but make sure they are cooked! The beans are toxic unless thoroughly cooked as they contain trace amounts of lectin Phytohaemagglutinin.

The bean pods on the vines in my garden are green right now, but they will dry out and turn brown as the season wears on. Once they turn brown they will be filled with giant purple and black seeds:

The vines take a little while to get going in the Spring up here - I planted these in early May, but once they take off they can cover 10 or more feet very quickly which makes them excellent for making a bean tee-pee or covering a gazebo. Once they are done for the season, since I grew them on twine, I just cut down the twine and compost the whole enchilada.

Now excuse me while I grab a cup of tea so I can relax in my scarlet runner bean gazebo and watch the hummingbirds fight over the blooms.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bloom Day August 15, 2012

I'm still getting re-assimilated to the Northwest, but I've definitely gotten into my gardening groove. It has been a super nice summer so far in the Northwest - actually it has been unusually warm. Temps have been in the upper 80's and will even be in the mid 90's the next couple days! The peeps around these parts are really feeling the heat, but having just moving from Central Texas, I gotta say that this heat doesn't even phase me. I'm actually loving it! This nice and warm, sunny weather has really set the flowers to blooming, so here we go.

Zinnias. These look astounding! This is the first time for me growing them from seed up here and I'm making these an annual staple. Love them!:

Orange Zinnia:

Pink Zinnia:

The Sunflowers are bloomin' crazy!:

Nasturtiums. These are just huge. Ginormous, even. I'll need to do a separate post just for these:

Wildflower mix. Gorgeous mix of poppies, california bluebells, and Farewell to spring:

Farewell to Spring (Clarkia amoena). I'm really excited about these because I tried multiple times to grow them in Central Texas but it was just to hot and couldn't take the occasional freeze if I tried to grow them in winter. But up here they are simply stupendous:

Lupine. Grown from seed planted early May and just starting to really bloom now:

Scarlet runner beans. These also get huge here in the cooler climate. I planted them in the shade in Austin and even then they always turned crispy by August and almost never set beans, but up here they get full sun and set beans. Love the red:

Lupine and hot lips salvia. This salvia really grows well up here. I'll be adding more of this to the garden for sure:

Cosmos. These are 4-5 ft tall right now. There is deer netting around the garden to keep those systematic plant munchers out, so that's what the netting is in the pic in case you were curious:

Tithonia or Mexican Sunflower. This one is also thriving and just gorgeous:

California poppies. These have been blooming for some time now and are falling all over themselves, but still continue blooming:

Turks cap! I brought this one with me from Austin as it was one of my favorite plants ever, but I had to de-pot it since I ran out of room for all the pots. I repotted it when I got up here and it kind of languished for a while, (I think partly because our spring, early summer up here is more like winter down there so the plant thought it should be dormant!) but I gave it liquid seaweed and with the recent heat it has really taken off. I'm sure it won't attain ginormous proportions like it did in Austin, but at least I still have one to admire:

Gourd blossom. Pretty:

Pumpkin blossom:

Russian Sage. Oh boy, I think this one is gonna get ginormous up here:


Dianthus. It's been constantly blooming since spring:

Orangy rose. I have no idea what the name of it is, but it was on sale and so pretty, so it came home with me:

Spanish lavender. I thought it might be too humid for these up here, but they are everywhere and growing like gangbusters. Another winner:

Red Riding Hood Penstemon. This is the second blooming since spring, so I guess it just keeps blooming all summer:

Agastache. This is so loaded with blossoms, it's falling over. This one was not very successful for me in Austin. It survived, but just barely and I even had it in part shade. But up here it is going bonkers:

Hollyhock Mallow. I want more of these:

Gulf Penstemon. I also brought this one back from Austin with me. It seems to be doing well and is a summer bloomer up here as opposed to a spring bloomer down there.
Lisanthus. This one is a hybrid of the Texas Bluebell. Not as pretty nor as tall, but still nice. How I miss the real Texas Bluebells! My winter project is to try and propagate Real Texas Bluebell seeds. If that fails, the next time I visit Austin, I'm bringing starts back with me:

Big Red Sage. I love this plant so much. I brought it with me from Texas and it seems to be doing fine. I hope to get it to reseed itself:

Rain lilies. I brought a clump of these back with me as well, not sure if they would bloom, 
but here they are blooming away. Yay!:

Pink Snapdragon vine. These I grew from seed in Austin and dug some up to bring with me. They are doing just fine and have started blooming:

Abutilon. Also came with me from Austin, but it is doing better up here than it was down there. It seems to like the cooler weather. I have it in fairly deep shade where it gets only a couple hours of morning sun up here as well:

I have no idea what this plant is, but it came up in the flowerbed and has cotton-candy like fluffy pink flowers all over it:

That's it folks! I'm off to enjoy the hot weather. Happy Bloom day!