Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Crabby About Crabapples October 7, 2008

The previous gardener at my place got a couple of free crabapple trees from the city and planted them in the parking strip. These ones don’t have very showy flowers, their fruits are tiny and useless (the birds even seem to shun them), and their habit is spindly to say the least. They are really unimpressive trees and I am working up the energy to get an official permit to take them out and put in something better.

My weird crabapple trees

Would you agree that they need to go? I know some people love crabapples, particularly their flowers. At the UW Arboretum the other weekend, I did see a nice, old Malus sargentii specimen covered with deep-red fall fruit, and I imagine its spring blossoms are spectacular. Although it’s a beauty, this tree has a low, spreading habit, so it’s not very practical for an urban gardener like me.

Crabapple fruit at UW Arboretum

Any votes for what trees to plant once the sad, spindly crabs are gone? It can’t be anything that gets too big, as we have a sliver of a mountain view from our front windows that we’d like to preserve. I’m also concerned about root issues, since I want to continue to plant drought-tolerant perennials and some annuals/veggies in that area.


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?


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