Greenwalks

Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Many Happy Returns July 31, 2010

Did you ever give up on a plant and find that, despite being left for dead, it pulled a Lazarus and came back to the land of the living? I had two such pleasant surprises in my garden this week.

I managed to resist the Phormium craze for ten solid years of gardening; then I saw ‘Sundowner’ and my resolve gave way. When I planted it (as well as about $75 of trailing Rosemary to replace a huge stretch that had died of frost), I reasoned that no winter could be as cold and harsh as the one we had just endured. Ha.

Of course I was wrong about the winter, and thought the poor flax had been a casualty along with the rosemary, the new plants of which all croaked. Then, this week, I noticed signs of life and growth:

Struggling flax

Sometimes, the whole “wait until June” thing is right, only it should be “late July” instead! Maybe we will have a “normal” winter this year and it can establish itself a little better. Well, a gal can always dream!

Another one I thought was gone for good after one happy summer was Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Rainbow.’ I was super bummed, I really liked that gaudy plant with the silly name. But as spring turned to summer, its spot remained empty and I gave up.

But then, about two feet away in my daughter’s veggie patch in the parking strip, looky here:

Gaura volunteer?

Could it be?? I had thought this plant was cold-hardy but maybe it’s not. Or maybe it died for some other reason. In any case, I’m happy to see it has given itself another chance at life in my garden.

Any cases of “oh no, it’s gone… wait, wait, it’s back!” in your garden this season?

 

They’re Baaaaaaack July 29, 2010

Filed under: fauna — greenwalks @ 9:09 pm
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Nope, not the squirrels. I haven’t seen them in a while, although I’m sure they’ll be around once the sunflower seeds are almost-mature.

They walk by night… no, not zombies!

Last guess. Here, I’ll give you a clue:

Beheaded birdbath

Yes, my back is killing me from hefting that stupid concrete birdbath top back onto the base from its flipped position on the ground. Same thing happened last summer around the time the neighbors’ plums started ripening. Hm… any guesses?

 

On the Proper Use of Daisies July 19, 2010

Filed under: flora,summer — greenwalks @ 9:52 am
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A parking strip garden in the Meadowbrook neighborhood of Seattle showed off some great possibilities for that somewhat prosaic and often weedy member of the plant kingdom, the daisy.

I have these in my own garden, in clumps and singles, mostly I think as a self-sower that came over from the neighbors’ to the north. (After having mis-named them twice, I now think they are the Shasta daisy hybridized by Luther Burbank – see what you think, more info here.) I like them okay but they would probably be better if I paired them intelligently with other plants, as this gardener has.

Picking up the daisy center with the bright lemon flowers and bronze foliage of Lysimachia ciliata ‘Firecracker’? Brilliant.

Daisies and Lysimachia ciliata 'Firecracker' (?)

(I am guessing on that plant ID – it is a form of loosestrife so I would need to do more research before planting it myself, as that name sends chills down my spine, invasive-weed-wise. Anyone know if this one is safe?)

Letting them snake in a line through iris foliage and hot pink lychnis? Genius.

English daisy 'snake'

But my favorite – achieving the ultimate country-in-the-city look of a tall meadow while simultaneously covering up the mailbox post: divine!

Mailboxes and daisies

(Thanks to Grace for pointing out my inept plant ID, which I have since changed! Grace knows all!)

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Passalongiflora July 15, 2010

Filed under: community,flora — greenwalks @ 8:58 pm
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Do your neighbors garden? If so, do you share plants with them? I have found that I often have plants to spare, nothing too special, but if someone asks about it and I have extras, I try to pot up a few and bring them over. Since I have so many self-sowers in my wild and currently quite unkempt garden, folks are actually doing me a favor by taking some of the spreaders off my hands. Recent donations have included Erigeron and lavender, as well as some leftover tomatoes from my mom’s seed-grown stash.

Sometimes it works the other way, too. My next-door neighbor is a shy fellow – we haven’t exchanged more than a few sentences in the years we’ve lived a stone’s throw away. But he is a gardener, and sometimes when he’s dividing plants, he’ll put some out in the alley with a “Free” sign. Last spring, he tossed a big pile of tall daylilies out there and they stayed for months until I finally rescued a few. I didn’t have a great spot for them but I felt sorry for the poor plants (You do that too, don’t you? Feel sorry for plants like they were sentient beings?). I didn’t know what color they’d be, but decided to just be surprised. One is that medium rusty-brown that I’ve admired in other people’s gardens, and the other is a glowing lemon yellow, not fancy but nice in the somewhat overgrown and partly shaded spot where I planted it:

Yellow daylily

Trading plants with other gardeners is one of the things I most enjoy about gardening, even though I have probably received far more than I have given! I’ll just have to keep trying to catch up.

 

Strawberries-to-be July 13, 2010

Filed under: berries,flora — greenwalks @ 1:13 pm
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The berry crops in the Pacific Northwest have suffered a lot from the cool, wet spring. What is merely annoying for the home gardener has been devastating for farmers. Every week, at the Farmers’ Market we frequent, we keep hearing sadder and sorrier tales. Cherry crops have been hit hard too, as well as many grains.

I’m not much good at growing fruit, but have always enjoyed having a few alpine strawberry plants scattered around the garden. I usually let my daughter harvest and eat the tiny berries as she finds the ripe ones – they never even make it into the house.

The haul was pretty pitiful this year, but there are more on the way now that the sun is (sometimes) out. I love seeing those bright white blossoms, knowing that they will be transformed in a short while into a treat for my girl. The birds have mostly left them alone, even though some are planted near our birdbath.

This shot is semi-blurry since it was evening when I took it, but you can see the flowers actually morphing into berries.

Alpine strawberries starting to grow

Do you grow berries? Are you getting to eat any this year?

 

Molasses July 10, 2010

Filed under: bugs,flora,summer — greenwalks @ 10:19 am
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That’s the speed of my blogging, blog reading, and gardening this summer. Or slower. More like a wet bee, one of which I found on some lavender I cut and brought inside in the rain last week. Luckily, I have not been stung too frequently in my life, so it wasn’t a big deal to let the bee crawl on my finger so I could take it outside to transfer it to a flower (Campanula persificolia) for some drying-out time.

Soggy bee

It didn’t sting me, and when I went back later to check, it had gone, so I hope it was able to fly away.

The rains have gone, the sun is here, the garden is taking care of itself by necessity and if I can water every couple of days, usually as the sun is setting after 9:30pm, that’s life in the big city.

How is your garden growing so far? Do you have time to actually enjoy it? I hope you do!