Gardening where the sidewalk ends

One Tough Daffodil March 29, 2010

Filed under: bulbs,flora — greenwalks @ 9:20 am
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For anyone who has had trouble getting daffodil bulbs to flourish, I have one to suggest for next spring – Narcissus poeticus.

Poeticus daffodil

I have had bulbs of it in my current and previous garden that continued to bloom for years with zero assistance, where many $ of other, showier daffodils perished after a single bloom (or not even one).

As an example of how it can thrive in non-ideal conditions, I dug out a bunch of bulbs, mostly scilla, last summer when we changed some things around in the back garden, and many got tossed into a garbage can lid for future re-planting or give-aways. Guess what happened… nothing. Until spring:

Tough daffodils

There wasn’t even any soil in the lid. Now THAT is one tough daffodil! I think the variety is ‘Pheasant’s Eye.’ It also has a lovely scent and the bloom time is super long.

Do you have plants that seem to do fine no matter how poorly you treat them?


Check Out the Bellevue Botanical Garden March 25, 2010

… with SAGBUTT this Sunday, March 28, at 1pm! For details, click the “What is SAGBUTT” link at the top right of the Greenwalks home page. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment here or shoot me an email:

I visited the BBG last spring at around this time, when they were in the throes of revamping their perennial beds. It was a huge undertaking and it will be exciting to see how much things have transformed over the course of the year! Sadly, I can’t find my pictures from that visit, but if I do I’ll try to do a before/after sequence next week.

On an unrelated note, shrubs and trees are leafing out with wild abandon, since spring continues to advance with warm days galore. I don’t think my yellow-twig dogwood usually buds up in March… this one’s flowers are usually not much of anything special, but I liked this one branch that seemed to float out above the rest.

Yellow-twig dogwood blossom in spring


Plant of the Day: Tulipa Turkestanica March 16, 2010

Filed under: bulbs,flora,spring — greenwalks @ 8:25 pm
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Every year since I planted this unusual species tulip, Tulipa turkestanica, it comes up in the spring and I forget what it is and have to go look it up. This year, it was a neighbor’s inquiry that alerted me that it had even started blooming – a few clumps in the parking strip get extra sun this time of year and had started early.

The thin, strappy foliage and smallish, bell-like flowers always fool me – I think they’re going to be fritillaria or some other, forgotten, early-season bulb. I have a real soft spot for species tulips, and add more each year in no particular pattern or color scheme. Right now, I have white, soft red, purple, and yellow ones all showing themselves. On sunny days, they open their petals and drink in the light, just like me.

Here are the turkestanicas, happily blooming next to muscari, which was an accident but a nice one, I think.

Turkestan tulip

I doubt I will ever get to Turkestan to see them bloom in the wild, but that would be pretty cool. Have you ever traveled to a far-off place because you wanted to see a particular plant?

Tulipa turkestanica


There It Is! March 11, 2010

Filed under: perennials — greenwalks @ 2:06 pm
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Way back in the summer of 2008, I bought and planted a hebe ‘Red Edge’ and then moaned about its lack of signature coloration. Then I noticed that it redeemed itself by living through not one, but two harsh Northwest winters in a row when all of my other hebes bit the dust. It’s in the far end of my parking strip and I don’t get down that way too often this time of year, so I was pleasantly surprised to see its new foliage is displaying the scarlet-rimmed characteristic for which I was lured to buy it in the first place!

Hebe 'Red Edge' shows its colors

I think it’s pretty safe to say that this one will be a keeper. I’ve read that it prefers regular mulching and water and doesn’t thrive in clay soils, but it is supremely neglected in this location and seems fine. It might never grow very wide, but that solves yet another issue, the need to thin it. I am all about the easy-care plants these days.

Hebe 'Red Edge' in early spring


Pink Petals in Parking Strips March 4, 2010

Filed under: flora,trees — greenwalks @ 9:03 pm
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Does such a profusion of plums become prosaic? Or does it produce perfection? Peruse at your pleasure!

(This post is dedicated to Grace, who perennially pines for pink.)

Okay, enough with the alliteration. Seattle in early spring (yeah, I know it’s technically winter still, but it hasn’t felt like it in a long time so I’m going to go ahead and just call it spring. The plants and animals sure think it is!) offers an almost overwhelming spectacle – entire streets lined with wildly blooming ornamental plum trees. Apricots, cherries, magnolias, cornelian cherries, and many others abound as well, but the plums are ubiquitous and seemingly the earliest, so when they arrive it feels like spring is really here. The pinkness is impossible to ignore and hard not to be cheered by.

My neighborhood has gone nuts for these trees. Many have deep purple leaves so a long line of them can be a little blah in the summer. But oh, for these few weeks, they shine. I have been crossing my fingers for no lashing storms to hasten the petals to an early demise, and so far we’ve been lucky. Standing under some of these, neighbors have stopped to comment and enjoy the spectacle together.

So, without further ado, the reigning queens of the blossom ball, all from parking strips!

Plum trees abloom

Ephermeral plum blossoms

Venerable plum tree

Pink plum blossoms on pavers

Plum tree bloom explosion

Parking strip pinkness

Mini plum branch

Blue skies and pink plum flowers

Pink confetti in the grass

Pale pink plum blossoms with purple leaves beginning to emerge


Thorny Surprise March 1, 2010

Filed under: oddities,pruning — greenwalks @ 12:42 pm
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Conventional wisdom has it that we should prune back rose canes around the time daffodils bloom, right? Well, spring came early to Seattle this year and I am way behind the earth’s pushed-forward clock already. Finally got around to pruning back my sad neglected roses last week even though at least some daffodils have been doing their thing for a while now.

While I was hacking away, I found this one really weird cane that was covered in a huge profusion of deep-red thorns. The rest of the canes were nothing like this.

Freaky rose cane covered with thorns

Does anyone know what would cause the plant to produce something so odd? I almost left it, but it was 5′ tall and right in front of our living room windows, so I reluctantly chopped it down and put it in the yard waste with the rest of the clippings. Ah, the wacky and wonderful world of plants!