Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Confused crabapple August 14, 2010

Filed under: flora,oddities,trees — greenwalks @ 8:44 pm
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What the huh?

Confused crabapple

(Photo taken on August 13, 2010)

My spindly parking strip ornamental crabapple trees, which I keep threatening to remove but somehow never do, just did the strangest thing. Perhaps distracted by the recent and unusual-for-August spate of cool, wet weather, they put out a new bunch of leaves and, even odder, some more blossoms.

As far as I know, they have never done this before, and both trees are at it.

Has anyone else experienced this? Am I wrong to find it bizarre?? I’m not complaining – they look a little less terrible this way. Just puzzled.


A Few More Late Winter Bloomers January 22, 2010

Filed under: my garden,winter — greenwalks @ 8:16 pm
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Laid low by a horrendous cold, I have been unable to enjoy the warm temperatures and great gardening weather that nature offered Seattle this week. Even with the unseasonable rise in the mercury (on target to be the warmest January on record here, apparently), the plants seem to be pretty much on schedule.

Many of us want spring to come earlier than is does, but now that it seems to have, I am finding myself having missed winter a bit. Yes, I said I could deal with no snow at all after last year’s giant endless heaps of it, but not one flake? One pretty, quick-melting dusting would have been nice.

I was going to entitle this post “Signs of Spring” but really, these flowers reliably bloom in late winter. They allow us to look ahead to warmer, sunnier times even if, in a typical year (is there such a thing anymore??), that is still a ways off.

This Hellebore was a new addition last spring, I got two of them and now wish I’d sprung for more. Maybe I’ll go look for some purple ones next week as a present to myself for getting over this annoying cold.

Helleborus ‘Walhelivor’ Ivory Prince

Helleborus 'Walhelivor' Ivory Prince

First crocus! Not the most exciting variety, but I always love to see the first and this one won the race this year. I noticed some little purple species crocus the other day but didn’t have my camera handy and haven’t been outdoors in a few days! Hope to remedy that tomorrow.

First crocus of 2010

I never seem to succeed much with snowdrops, no idea why. Do they require something special? I’m pretty sure I put a bunch of them in this spot, and only two came up so far. Hm. Thoughts? I’m horrible about keeping track of bulb names despite good intentions, but I think these are Galanthus elwesii (Giant Snowdrop). I love that little upside-down heart.

Galanthus elwesii (Giant Snowdrop)

Sweet-smelling pink blooms of Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ are a winter stalwart. This plant has a rather ungainly habit but can take pruning and I think it’s worth having for the unusual combo of pink flowers and delightful scent in the dead of winter.

Viburnum X bodnantense 'Dawn'

Are you ready for spring now, whatever the calendar says?


Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day January 2009 January 15, 2009

This is my first time participating in GBBD, hosted by Carol of the wonderful May Dreams Gardens blog. I am a bit late to the party, but hope I can still join in.

January is not the finest month for showing off flowers in many climates, but most of us are lucky enough to have at least something nice to look at despite the winter blahs.

For me, January is always brightened by the arrival of my witch hazel’s flowers. I didn’t plant this tree (or is it a shrub? does anyone know how to tell the difference??), but it is the best thing I inherited from the previous gardener here. It is situated right outside our dining room window and gives me so much joy throughout the year with its multi-season interest.

Many witch hazels have cheery yellow flower tendrils, but mine are a deep orange, which I think I am very lucky to have. I couldn’t decide which photo to use, so I am including a few.






I look forward to seeing what others have found peeking out from under or floating above the dead leaves and snow today! And it’s always fun to see what the warmer-climate folks have going on too – it gives me a little hit of much-needed mid-winter warmth.


Summer in Winter December 8, 2008

Our comparatively mild fall and early winter here in Seattle has produced what seems like an especially long blooming season for many of our flowering plants. I should keep better records so that it’s not just speculation, but to me it seems strange to have certain things still putting out flowers here in the second week of December.

Even though I’ve added a few evergreen perennials to the parking strip, it still ought to be a comparative moonscape by now. But lo and behold, look what I found out there yesterday:

The ‘Pink Panda’ strawberries are still putting out flowers.

Pink Panda strawberries in December

Pineapple sage is a late-season bloomer, but I don’t recall it hanging in there quite so long. I’m sure the hummingbirds don’t mind!

Pineapple sage in December

The golden variety is still chugging along too.

Golden pineapple sage in December

This one really shocked me:

December Nasturtium?!!

I didn’t think it was possible to have nasturtiums here in December! And they’re even putting out babies!?! (At the right of theĀ  photo below, next to my slowly-growing mesclun seedlings.)

Mesclun and volunteer nasturtiums in December?!

There’s exactly one heroic cosmos and aster left each, a little worse for wear but still going.

December Cosmos!?!

Late-season asters

And, from the upper level garden, just like Raquel over at Perennial Garden Lover, I have one very last rose. My plants were inherited and are not disease-resistant, so they may get dug up next year since I am never going to spray. But I do appreciate the last vestige of summer that this rose provided, and I have made sure to look at it every day in appreciation.

Last Rose

What about you, got anything blooming unseasonably late this year?


Fall Flowers October 8, 2008

There’s a tradition among some of the Blotanical garden bloggers to post pictures of what’s blooming in their gardens on Tuesdays. I never seem to get around to it, although sometimes I at least take the pictures. So, one day late, here are some things that are still going strong, or at least surviving, as of October 7.

My mom grew these marigolds from seed and gave me them in early summer. I plunked them in at the corner of the parking strip, right on the street, forgot to water them, probably stepped on them a few times getting out of the car, but still they survived. I like to give them to friends who celebrate Dia de los Muertos at the end of the month, as there are usually a few left by then.

Street marigolds

I’ve posted about these guys before, cute and prolific alyssum with its honey scent, and the steadily creeping and adorably named ‘Pink Panda’ ornamental strawberry. These ones live happily at the very edge of the parking strip, where it meets the sidewalk. No adverse affects from the occasional dog footprint, apparently.

Strawberry 'Pink Panda'

The previous gardener put in a million trailing rosemary plants to grow over and cover the boring cement retaining wall on the street. I’m so glad he did – the tiny, delicate leaves are gently fragrant, and it flowers twice per year, including in the late fall, providing nearly endless food for the bees. I’ve never watered it once in three years, so I think it’s pretty safe to say that it’s a water-wise plant once established.

Trailing rosemary

I planted blanket flower for the first time this year and didn’t take very good care of it, but it made it through the summer and is still blooming. I like how the seed heads look like little yellow pincushions.

Blanket flower

This pink windflower (Japanese anemone) took a year or so to get established and finally bloom. It’s not in the greatest site, but I see it every time I come and go from the front porch, and I’ve seen them massed in parking strips so I know they can take the extra punishment of a street garden.

Pink Japanese Anemones

Hey, who put my variegated nasturtium in jail? That’s right on the street too, and I think a few car doors have hit the wire fence that encloses the veggie/herb patch, so it’s a little askew. The feathery fennel and deep purple shiso leaves are visible as well.

Nasturtiums in jail

Finally, the California fuschia that is somehow managing to grow amidst the densely-packed cedar roots is still putting out a few last blooms for the hummingbirds to enjoy. This would be a great plant for the parking strip, as it’s fairly tough and drought-tolerant. I love the silvery quality of its leaves.

California fuchsia

What about you, anything interesting still going on, flower-wise, in your garden?


Variegated Nasturtium September 20, 2008

I seem to be one of the few folks who can’t figure out how to reliably grow nasturtiums. Every year, I either sprout the seeds or direct sow them, and nearly every year most of the plants fail. This year, some did okay, but others stayed miniscule, like this one.

Teeny variegated nasturtium

I should have put something in to show the scale, but it’s barely 3 inches across, as opposed to others from the same seed packet that grew to span nearly a foot with many showy orange or yellow blooms. The tiny blossoms of the fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus) visible in the photo give at least some idea – they are probably no more than 1/2 inch wide themselves. I have no problems growing that plant, it wants to take over the entire garden!

I’ve heard that nasturtiums don’t like too much water and don’t care if the soil is fair to poor, but that doesn’t explain my troubles – several were planted in the exact same bed but the results were completely different.

I liked the variegation concept initially but then, on the plants that looked less healthy, it was hard to tell from a distance which parts were light by design and which were just sickliness showing.

I love this cheerful plant with its bright, edible flowers and rambling habit, but can’t seem to get it right. Does anyone have any hints?


Great Smells of Summer August 30, 2008

Late in the Seattle summer, as the garden is entering its final showy period before winding down, there are some flowers blooming out there that you just have to stop and sniff. The roses are doing their second bloom thing, a bit later than usual this year due to the cool/wet weather, the phlox is heady enough to practically knock you over, and in the parking strip, a few heliotrope are casting their sensual spell. This one looks like it’s getting a hug (friendly, I hope!) from its unidentified neighbor.

Lemon Gem Marigold & Heliotrope

The ‘Lemon Gem’ marigold planted nearby smells pretty strong too, but more tangy and, well, lemony. Heliotrope is one of those old-fashioned annuals that I would probably never plant on my own, but my mom gives me some every year and they smell so amazing.

Here is an article about how to grow this scent-erific plant.

How about you, what’s smelling (in a good way) up your garden at this time of year?


The First Aster Bloom August 21, 2008

Filed under: gardening,my garden — greenwalks @ 4:29 pm
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We came back from Whidbey to rain and the very first flower from the tall, gangly asters that have been biding their time all spring and summer before finally coming into bloom. Next year I’m going to be more ruthless about ripping most of them out, since they tend to take over, but they do provide some contrast to all the low-growing stuff and they bloom fairly late into the fall. Great easy-care parking strip plant!

The First Aster