Gardening where the sidewalk ends

The Race to Spring is ON! January 31, 2010

Filed under: bulbs,my garden — greenwalks @ 10:54 pm
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Crocus thinking about blooming


Crocus tommasinianus starting to open


Crocus tommasinianus all the way open

Crocus tommasinianus over the course of about a week. I don’t remember having planted this many, so maybe they are naturalizing. That would be nice, especially if I would remember to divide and move them around a bit for even greater enjoyment next spring.


Alien Seed Pods June 23, 2009

Yet another reason to love the species tulips that came up first and lasted longest in the parking strip this spring:

Species tulip seed pods

I just read recently that the trick to getting tulips to repeat is to plant them in an area where they receive little or no water during their dormant season. If they’re where it will get wet, it’s better to dig them up and store them until fall, so they don’t rot. I might have to go to the trouble, which I never have before, for these ones. They’re just too cool to treat as an annual like I usually do with tulips.

It’s weird to be thinking about bulbs now that the Summer Solstice has passed, but I’m trying to be good about letting my bulb foliage hang around as long as it needs to, so I’m grateful this bunch is at least not too ugly to look at amid all the surrounding greenery.

Do summer’s beauties make you forget about your little spring friends who are done for the year? Or do you miss them and think of them, even a little bit, sometimes? (I do.)


Underwhelmed by Allium moly June 11, 2009

Filed under: bulbs — greenwalks @ 12:24 pm
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I should know by now that my impulse bulb purchases often turn out to be busts. I’ve had a few lucky finds (especially these species tulips, the hands-down winners of Best Bulb in my garden this spring) but the rest are usually either kind of boring or just too weird to be useful.

My hand inexplicably reached for a bag of Allium moly, despite the lack of an accompanying picture (should have been a tip-off) at the Arboretum bulb sale last fall. I thought, what the hey, never heard of these before, Allium are super trendy, maybe these will be fun.

Well, they might have their proponents (please speak forth if you are one!) or could be nice when massed among other colors or against a background of silvery foliage plants, but dotted in twos and threes in my parking strip, their primary yellow is just not that welcome in mid-June. I can barely stand plain bright shades of this color in the earliest of spring blooms (tiny narcissi are exempted, they’re so cute), and by this time of year I’m just aching for richer and more subtle hues. I do kind of like the semi-fan shape, different from the typical Allium globes, more like something you might find growing in a meadow somewhere.

Allium moly

Maybe they come in other colors? I could handle purple or reddish-orange or white, or even pink. I don’t generally have that much success with alliums, so maybe these will disappear after this season, never to be seen again. Next year, I’m just going to put a. ‘Globemaster’ on my list and stick with it! Did you have any disappointing bulbs this year?


Signs of Spring January 25, 2009

Filed under: flora,winter — greenwalks @ 3:38 pm
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Signs of spring abound here in Seattle, despite continued colder-than-usual (I think) weather and even some more snow (!?!) here today. It’s dipping into the 20s every night at our house, but you just can’t keep certain plants from enjoying themselves in winter.


Sarcococca blossoms are perfuming the backyard, so it’s a good thing when I can get myself out into the cold to enjoy them for more than the second it takes to pass by on the way to the compost bin. David Perry had a nice post on his blog about actually stopping to lie down his yard and inhale this particular scent, in case you didn’t see it last week.


A few of the early-side bulbs are poking their foliage up. I believe these are crocus, no idea what color they’ll be. The haphazard gardener in me just puts stuff in the ground and forgets what it was. Hm, maybe I have more in common with my squirrel foes than I wish to admit…


This viburnum is adding to the perfume party in the backyard. I believe it is Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ but could be wrong there. It has a kind of ugly habit, at least as it has been pruned, and is naked now but for the saucy pink blossoms, but the sweet scent makes it worth keeping around.

Is anyone else seeing signs of renewal in their gardens at the moment, or is it still a ways away?


Found the Bulb List! December 10, 2008

Filed under: flora,my garden — greenwalks @ 11:08 pm
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A few weeks ago, I posted about the bulbs I got at the UW Arboretum’s annual Fall Bulb Sale. Typically for me, I wrote all the varieties down on a piece of paper as I was planting them and then promptly lost it. But while picking up the house for guests last weekend, guess what turned up?!

So, just in case anyone was truly interested, and for my own edification and permanent records, here it is,

General categories and numbers:

45 tulipa

30 narcissi

20 muscari

13 allium (lucky number?)

10 chionodoxa

10 bellevalia parodoxa

3 hemerocallis (aka daylily, sadly 2 never got planted)

1 peony

It’s a pretty random and somewhat goofy selection, I admit. The ones that made it into the parking strip on October 29, with a so-far-successful covering of plum or witch hazel leaves, a spritz of witches’ brew and a sprinkling of paprika on top (hope I’m not jinxing by saying it but, here on December 10, nary a bulb has been nabbed by the squirrels!) included these:

– tulipa Kaufmanii ‘Early Harvest’ (orange feathered scarlet)

– chionodoxa ferberii ‘Blue Giant’

– allium moly ‘Golden ??’ (scribbled/smudged paper, can’t read it, ack! Just looked it up – maybe Golden Garlic?)

I know there was another paper with more information about the tulip and daffodil varieties, but it probably went in the recycling and is long gone. Dang. Guess I will just have to wait until spring and be surprised.

Just a couple of days after I found the bulb list, I was walking through the backyard and spied a scrap of brown paper with a white label on the ground. Amazingly, it was the name label from the peony I planted weeks ago. I’d carefully excised the tag so that I could remember the variety and then somehow left it out there. Good thing we haven’t had a lot of rain, or it would have morphed into a pulp.  So, now it will not be a complete mystery until next spring –  it’s paeonia lactiflora ‘Detroit,’ a dark red-purple May-blooming beauty that I think my mom might have in her garden.  According to the A & D Nursery site it was devloped in 1948,  is a “very large double dark red bomb that blooms in the earliest part of the midseason; medium height plant” and they want $20 for it. I got mine for $9, but who knows if it will actually come up. The image below is also from the A & D site:


Well, I think it’s clear that I am one of the more disorganized gardeners out here in the blogosphere. I hope you are all feeling very good about your own record-keeping right now, compared to mine!


Is It Too Late to Talk About Bulbs? November 12, 2008

Every year, I attend the University of Washington Arboretum’s annual bulb and plant sale madness. I usually try to go at the beginning of the first day, which is a total insane crush, elbows flying everywhere to get to that almost-black tulip or unusual fritillary variety.

This year, they added an extra day, Monday, after the weekend rush. I figured the selection would be a little less but that it would be made up for by the lack of patrons. I’m just not up for crowds this year. I was right on both counts – fewer choices, but almost no people! I could actually see the descriptions for a change and didn’t have to say “excuse me” even once!

Bulb sale

I usually go in armed with a list of my hoped-for finds, but this time I just scanned their PDF and figured I’d get what struck me at the sale. That’s always a recipe for over-buying, at least for me, but oh well. Since I hadn’t been to any of the big fall plant sales, I hoped to do some perennial and groundcover shopping too, since they usually have a great selection at this event. Alas, they had neglected to post on their web site that the plant vendors were Saturday/Sunday only. Here’s what I had to choose from:

Plant sale slim pickings

Uh, yeah. Not exactly the selection I was hoping for. But then I saw some happy-looking gals walking past with flats full of plants. I shamelessly pounced on them and asked where they had gotten their finds. They pointed me toward a part of the arboretum that I had forgotten about:

UW Arboretum donated plants sign

Oh, yeah! Probably not too much that’s really unusual here, but lots to choose from, raised with love and care, and donated to the organization by local gardeners. I thought about Megan over at nestmaker when I saw this baby Katsura tree, which she has been jonesing for. I think it was 11 bucks.

Mini katsura tree

I ended up with a couple of cute little drought-tolerant plants for the parking strip – sedums (oreganum, the small one at bottom right in the photo below, and multiceps at top right), sempervivum (‘Stansfieldii’), and a variegated semi-evergreen carex I’d admired in others’ gardens, Carex morowii ‘Ice Dance.’

Bulb sale bonus plants

Oh, but this post was supposed to be about bulbs, right? Here was my haul:

2008 bulb haul

Somewhere, there is a piece of paper with all of the varieties listed. Can I find it at the moment? Of course not! But suffice to say that I did spend over $100 and I didn’t get them in the ground right away. Same old story.

In the next week, I hope to put up another post about planting the bulbs, and about my attempt to protect them from Dr. Destructo, the nefarious squirrel who likes to mess with things I love in the garden.

Are your spring-flowering bulbs all tucked in safely for their winter naps? If not, it’s okay to admit it here – I will not judge!