Greenwalks

Gardening where the sidewalk ends

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!

 

Metamorphosis June 8, 2010

Filed under: flora,perennials — greenwalks @ 7:48 pm
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I feel like I should rename this endeavor Failblog. Oh wait, already taken! This is probably the longest stretch I have gone without posting since starting Greenwalks in 8/09. Sorry to those who came here daily, at least for a while, in search of something new! And also sorry that I have not been around to visit folks and see what everyone’s gardens have been doing. I’m sure it all looks splendid!

While I have been rushing off to end-of-school functions, music rehearsals, and other non-gardening-related pursuits, perennials and self-seeding annuals have been keeping the garden moving despite my neglect. We had the rainiest first few weeks of June in history, which was a bummer for planned outdoor events and Seattle’s general mood, but good for the gardener with no time to water!

The Oriental poppies (Papaver orientale) that were already planted in a tough spot here when we arrived five years ago (next to a cedar tree with challenging surface roots – nothing else will grow there) continue to flourish. The orangey-red ones always seem to open first, followed by the pale pink, and then the coral ones, which are still to come.

I’m sure I’m not the first to compare their journey from fat pupa-like buds to fluttery-winged butterfly-like glory…

Oriental poppy flower bud

Oriental poppy starting to unfurl

Oriental poppy opening up

Opened poppy

Poppy center

They keep their fiery glow going well into the evening:

Evening poppy

Butterflies don’t live very long. Neither do poppies.

Lacy poppy decay

But while they last, what magnificence!

 

Parsley Peculiarity May 18, 2010

Filed under: bugs,herbs — greenwalks @ 8:23 pm
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Please pardon my absence, May is my crazy month. Three family birthdays, Mother’s Day, the school auction, and a few more biggies tossed in there for good measure, all in the first 15 days of the month alone! I am still recovering.

Of course, all of this means that I usually start the gardening season way behind. I finally got around to weeding and readying the small veggie patches and while I was furiously ripping stuff out, I accidentally knocked the central stem out of my biggest overwintered parsley plant. So, I brought it in for a lazy-gal’s bouquet.

Parsley "bouquet"

It was in the house for a day or so before I noticed this:

Spittlebug foam on parsley

Spittlebug! Ew. Well, not ew exactly, since I don’t think I’ve ever seen what’s inside all that foam. There are quite a few of these guys out there at the moment – they mostly seem to hang out on the lavender stems, but apparently parsley is good too.

Spittlebugs lay their eggs in the fall, the eggs overwinter on stems and leaves, then the nymphs hatch out in the spring and produce their characteristic protective foam as they feed on plant stems. In the home garden, they are apparently more unsightly than truly problematic, but they can cause serious damage to agricultural crops if infestation is heavy. If you don’t like yours, just give them a blast with the hose and it should at least knock the foam off, if not the bugs. And when they are done eating and transform into leafhopper-looking bugs, the foam dries up and we can forget about them again until next spring.

What is the weirdest critter that ever came into your house with something from the garden?

 

Lilac Time (Almost Over) May 6, 2010

Filed under: flora,lilac syringia scented flowering shrub,scent,shrubs — greenwalks @ 2:54 pm

Spring is advancing so quickly, I find myself wanting to press the pause button and just slow it down a little. Cherry blossom season has already wound down, the tulips are pretty much gone, and the scent of lilacs in the air is about to be a thing of the past until next year. I have a poorly-pruned (by me) white lilac in my back garden, its bloom time is very short and then the brown of the rotting blossoms is so unsightly. I think I prefer the regular old, uh, lilac-colored variety.

Since I can’t send you the miraculous perfume over the interwebs, I hope you have a chance to inhale it in person at some point this year or in future ones. There’s nothing quite like it!

Lilac time

(Lilac flower near sidewalk in the Wedgwood neighborhood of Seattle – just steps away from the historic Scarlet Oak I wrote about earlier.)

 

A Visit to Jordan’s Garden (Part I) May 3, 2010

One of the best things about our little garden bloggers’ group, SAGBUTT, is when new people stumble upon our meeting notices and decide to come and join us. Such was the case back in late March when a few of us ventured out in the rain to the Bellevue Botanical Gardens near Seattle for some time to chat and amble around between showers.

Jordan Jackson, owner of the Metropolitan Gardens garden design business, has been blogging about his garden and design services for a few years at Gardening in Cascadia and recently discovered some new ways of connecting with fellow gardeners and plant enthusiasts, such as Blotanical and SAGBUTT. His vast knowledge of botanical names alone is a great reason to check out his site, but his photos and showcasing of the variety of native and exotic ornamentals, especially perennials, are also well worth the clicks.

At our BBG visit, Jordan mentioned that he would be having an open garden in the near future, and invited us to come on out. His home garden, on a hillside overlooking Lake Washington in Seatle’s historic Mt. Baker neighborhood, issued a siren call that I could not resist.

Usually, I do not attempt to drag my 6 yr. old along on garden visits, especially those where I’d like to ask questions and not have to be on the alert for the potential trampling of precious plants. But since the other blogger in the family was out of town, it was bring her along or not go at all, so I chose to go for it.

As we pulled up to the curb, a small sign on the steep slope’s retaining wall announced the open garden hours, but first I had to check out the sidewalk garden. This parking strip is much narrower than mine, but is planted with one of the more unusual selections of tough but attractive plants I’ve seen in a long while.

Jordan's parking strip garden

Yes, that’s Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’ out there for all to enjoy – here’s a close-up of the delicate flowers:

Ribes sanguineum 'White Icicle'

Another flowering currant, Ribes X gordonianum, keeps coming up lately – I think it’s going on my wish list as of right now:

Ribes x gordonianum

Not every day do you just see one of these on the street (Cupressus arizonica ‘Blue Ice’):

Cupressus arizonica 'Blue Ice'  in parking strip

Did you know that many species of Bottlebrush (Callestemon) are cold hardy in the Pacific Northwest? I didn’t! Thanks to Jordan, I now do. Here is a seedhead from last year’s blooming of Callistemon rigidus:

Callistemon rigidus  seedhead

Across from the parking strip is a semi-casual, partly shaded narrow strip of charming low-growers. Lamium and Primula kisoana:

Lamium and primula kisoana combo

My new favorite spring ephemeral, Erythronium oreganum, whose name I did not know until Jordan provided it and helped me stick it in my brain by repeating it patiently until I got it:

Erythronium oregonum

There was probably a lot more down there of note, but I knew the clock was ticking on my daughter’s willingness to participate so we needed to head up the stairs. Maybe I can convince Jordan to do a post on his street garden one of these days, hint hint.

Our virtual tour of the upper garden will have to wait for another day, but I will tell you that the visit was enjoyable, revelatory, educational, and one that I hope to repeat in following seasons to see what else is growing there. Thank you to Jordan for the invitation, kind hosting, and plant name help!

 

See It, Want It, Get It April 27, 2010

Sometimes the road is long from falling in love with a plant to actually getting it into your own garden. This spring, though, I was lucky to see, ID, and successfully nab a few new favorites.

Being at the Center for Urban Horticulture every week is a revelation, literally – I get to experience these amazing gardens as they unfold, week by week, with something new in flower or an interesting leaf I hadn’t noticed before, a fragrance, a composition coming to the fore, and more.

Just a few weeks ago, the Sea thrift shot up its flower spikes and burst into pinky-purple bloom:

Sea thrift in bloom at CUH

I love the way it forms spreading clumps that hang over and soften the hard line of the path:

Sea thrift drifts at CUH

Armeria maratima is hardy in Zones 3-9 and is ideal for a dry, sunny site or rock garden.

Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’ has become increasingly popular here in Seattle. I imagine it self-seeds pretty fiercely but I prefer its form to the giganto euphorbias, and the flower color is just gorgeous, so tropical-looking in this cold-hardy variety. Since it is kind of a skinny plant, it seems to look best in multiples or coming up through other plants, as it is here through masses of daffodils:

Euphorbia grifitthii 'Fireglow' blooming at CUH

And the red-etched, veiny leaves are almost as nice, especially after a rain…

Euphorbia griffithii 'Fireglow' leaves

These two were definitely on my (too long) shopping list when I went to the annual Florabundance plant sale this past weekend, benefiting the Washington Park Arboretum. And what do you know? I found them right away and they weren’t even expensive!

Sea thrift:

Sea thrift from plant sale

Another one, with a pale pink, almost white flower, ‘Snowball’:

Sea thrift 'Snowball' from plant sale

‘Fireglow’, not blooming yet but I bet it will soon:

Euphorbia griffithii 'Fireglow' from plant sale

If that was where I’d stopped, I would have been really proud of my restraint! Are you curious what else I got that blew my plant budget for the spring??

 

Sweet Cylindrical Planters April 21, 2010

Not everyone would think to put a galvanized planter in their parking strip. It might be too easy for someone to dump the dirt out and walk off with, right?

Not these ones!

Super sunny stock tank site

See how they are cleverly bolted to 2 X 4s that are sunk into the ground? These babies aren’t going anywhere!

I have been thinking about adding stock tank planters and these seem like a good size, not going to cost an arm and a leg or require too much soil to fill. Perfect for a few veggies, herbs, and edible flowers, like in this one:

Round stock tank herb garden

And an inexpensive trellis makes the vertical space usable. Wonder what will be on this one come summer?

Stock tank garden bolted down in parking strip

(After seeing Loree’s comment, below, I am not sure these are stock tanks after all. I will try to find out what they could be. Dang, they seemed like exactly the size I wanted, too…)