Gardening where the sidewalk ends

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?


GBBD – May 15, 2009 May 14, 2009

Filed under: flora — greenwalks @ 8:06 pm
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I confess, I took these on May 13-14, since I knew I wouldn’t have time on the 15th (preparing to have a bunch of Kindergartners over for my daughter’s birthday party on Saturday, shouldn’t even be doing this right now, should be frosting cupcakes and picking up piles of toys and other messes, bad bad mommy etc etc). But I swear, all are still flowering today!

So, here’s a pictorial tour of what’s out there at the moment. As I looked around, I realized that most of what’s blooming right now is very small in terms of actual flower size, and I was glad to have the excuse to stop and look a little more closely at them all. This is not by design, just haphazard planting, my usual style.

Beginning in the parking strip garden, I have held off ripping out bolting veggies and salad greens, instead just enjoying their flowers and letting the bees have a little something to snack on. This weekend, it will all go in the worm bin and I’ll plant (belatedly) the rest of my small veggie patch there.

Bolting arugula (flowers are edible, a little peppery and a nice addition to salads):

Arugula blossoms

Spanish lavender, the first variety to bloom here, a volunteer that wandered across the sidewalk from the neighbor’s clump:

Spanish lavender

I thought this was Salad Burnet until Molly at Life on Tiger Mountain steered me in the right direction – its anise-y taste should have clued me in that it’s actually chervil. I’m letting it go to seed and hoping to see it return, as the taste is heavenly.

Bolted chervil flowering

I waited too long to harvest the Russian kale I planted last fall, and it went from baby leaves to huge tough inedible ones in a heartbeat. Oh well, I love the tall spikes of lemon-yellow flowers.

Kale flowers

My camera couldn’t quite capture the color of this English thyme, the first one to bloom and covered in a profusion of tiny pink blossoms.

Thyme in bloom

Culinary sage, next door to the thmye, is just about there too. I love how its closed flowers are green, then pink, then the flowers open purple:

Culinary sage about to flower

Moving away from the veggie patch to the wild rest of the strip, many of the self-sowers I rely upon to garden cheaply in this area have returned happily despite the awful winter. California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) have begun to bloom, along with Cerinthe major purpurascens (aka Honeywort or Blue Shrimp plant) and a few early calendulas.

First California poppies

Volunteer cerinthe

First calendula

Invasive weeds I mean violets are still hanging in there, a few anyway, plus my favorite friendly faces, pansy ‘Ultima Morpho.’

Violets still in bloom

Friendly faces of 'Ultima Morpho' pansies

The strawberries, including Alpine, Tri-Star everbearing and Pink Panda ornamental, all are flowering nicely at the moment, but I won’t bore you with pictures, you know what they look like.

Bulb season is pretty much over, since I don’t really have much in the way of late-spring/early-summer bulbs (c’mon allium, bloom this year, please, please??). A few stragglers in the way of tulips remain.

Fleshy pink tulips

Striped flame tulips

Moving up to house level, one last set of tulips, in various stages of decay. I think these are ‘Palestrina,’ unless they’re ‘Angelique.” Both are pale pink, and I know I’ve planted both in relatively the same area. Hm.

Palestrina tulips on the wane

I pruned the red twig dogwood back a bit this winter, and now I realize I should have pollarded it to make the twigs show up better, since only the new growth is red. Maybe next year!

Red twig dogwood in bloom

There’s a big dogwood of unknown variety behind my daughter’s room. Its bright white flowers show up later in the spring, but right now it’s getting ready. I’d never noticed its early-stage blooms before, they’re well-camoflaged in the leaves.

Dogwood fruit & flower in early stage

Plain spiky orange poppies are everywhere in this garden, I usually just leave them unless they’re not in the way. Here they are against the leafed-out dwarf Japanese maple, with some scilla in there too (also everywhere but easy enough to pull out where it’s not wanted.)

Poppies and scilla against Japanese maple

More scilla. I always laugh when I see these for sale in nurseries! Please, come to my house and dig up some bulbs, don’t pay good money – it’s the weed of the bulb family for sure!

Scilla forest

Another blue “weed” – I keep hoping for more Forget-me-nots to stray across from the neighbor’s yard. I guess I’ll just have to plant some one of these days.


The neighbors on the other side have a purple lilac, and we have a white one. I like when they bloom together and have a conversation over the fence.

Purple & white lilacs conversing over the fence

Almost done here, thanks for reading this far if you are still with me! This iris was here when we arrived, but had never bloomed before. I hacked the butterfly bush way back this winter and maybe that gave it enough sun to finally flower. No idea what it’s called, but my great-aunts were big iris fanciers so seeing these always makes me think of those great ladies.

Yellow iris, finally blooming

This poor bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis) is marooned back in a hidden corner next to the compost bins. I need to move it. Any idea when is the best time?

Dicentra spectabilis (bleeding heart)

OK, last one! The blueberries I ordered and planted this winter are still blooming, but when I looked yesterday, the blossoms are starting to fall off and the little fruits are beginning to form. I don’t even really like blueberries all that much but this was probably the most exciting thing I found in the garden this week. I need to figure out how to protect them from the hungry birds and other critters.

Blueberry blossoms becoming blueberries!

To see what else is flowering madly during these heady days of mid-May, visit Carol of May Dreams Gardens, monthly host of Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. This is, after all, her favorite month!


Buddies March 21, 2009

Filed under: flora,my garden — greenwalks @ 10:33 pm
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Oh, finally, Spring has arrived and not a moment too soon! Yes, I know the Equinox was on Friday, but I’m chronically behind schedule here.

Much is about to happen in the garden, as the plants finally feel like our horrid winter has left for good (did I just jinx us into a freak spring snowstorm? I hope not!) and they get down to business.

Flower and leaf buds soon to unfurl, if all goes well:

Clematis armandii flower buds

Clematis armandii, with awful-looking frost-burned foliage – if the flowers don’t bloom well and redeem the plant this year, I think it’s going to get the boot.

Peony sprouting

A transplanted peony pushing its freaky shiny red leaves up through the untidy back garden bed. When I divided this last fall, I might have made the chunks too small (I just read that they need at least a few eyes per division or they won’t bloom – can’t remember but I probably only left one).

Mystery bulbs

Mystery bulb, I probably planted it last fall but it wasn’t on the part of the list that turned up. Maybe bellevalia? Should look like grape hyacinth, if so.

Daphne odora blossoms finally starting to open

Daphne odora finally, finally opening its blossoms after what seems like months in the bud stage. Foliage looks a little sad, but I think it’s going to be okay.

Rosemary battling back after a hard winter

The giant rosemary is blooming despite having lost a good percentage of its branches to frost and snow. This one took a licking but kept on ticking. Can I say that without getting sued by Timex?

Which of your buddies are getting ready to bust out?


GBBD for February, 2009 February 15, 2009

Filed under: flora,my garden — greenwalks @ 11:48 am
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Carol of May Dreams Gardens started the lovely tradition, three years ago today, of hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on her site. She invites gardeners worldwide to participate, showing what we have blooming on the 15th of each month. Indoors counts too, so those in colder climates can still join in during the winter months. I participated for the first time last month, and really enjoyed seeing what everyone else had going on while all I had was witch hazel.

This month, the witch hazel is still going strong and there is sadly not much else out there to show. Just a few crocus, one of which had been nibbled on by someone (the one at top right, with its orange pollen showing):

February crocus

Mostly things are so dull and dead-looking out there, I fell for the almost eye-stinging brights of some grocery store primroses. Then they have languished in their pots, since I have yet to unwrap the hose bibs from their winter protection so planting has not yet begun at my house.

Primroses unplanted

I thought my giant rosemary bush was going to be toast after being flattened numerous times by the snows. But here it is, hale and hearty and blooming once again, just in case the hummingbirds decide to stop by for a snack.

Rosemary blossoms

These don’t really count, since I didn’t grow them myself, but my dear sweet mother-in-law sent us a totally un-red/pink Valentine’s Day bouquet that is currently spiffing up the sideboard in our dining room. The lilies smell incredible!

Valentine's Bouquet

I know people’s opinions on garden tchotchkes run the gamut from love to detest, but I have allowed more of these in since I had a kid, and have tried to put them near plants that she might not notice otherwise. Hence, Mr. Frog here offers companionship to his little crocus friends, so we don’t forget to see them as we dash by on our busy ways.

Yellow crocus and faux frog

Happy GBBD to all!


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.