Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Strawberries-to-be July 13, 2010

Filed under: berries,flora — greenwalks @ 1:13 pm
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The berry crops in the Pacific Northwest have suffered a lot from the cool, wet spring. What is merely annoying for the home gardener has been devastating for farmers. Every week, at the Farmers’ Market we frequent, we keep hearing sadder and sorrier tales. Cherry crops have been hit hard too, as well as many grains.

I’m not much good at growing fruit, but have always enjoyed having a few alpine strawberry plants scattered around the garden. I usually let my daughter harvest and eat the tiny berries as she finds the ripe ones – they never even make it into the house.

The haul was pretty pitiful this year, but there are more on the way now that the sun is (sometimes) out. I love seeing those bright white blossoms, knowing that they will be transformed in a short while into a treat for my girl. The birds have mostly left them alone, even though some are planted near our birdbath.

This shot is semi-blurry since it was evening when I took it, but you can see the flowers actually morphing into berries.

Alpine strawberries starting to grow

Do you grow berries? Are you getting to eat any this year?


Mystery Bulb June 4, 2009

Filed under: bulbs,my garden — greenwalks @ 7:32 am
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Earlier in the spring, my daughter helped me divide some overgrown clumps of what I thought were no-longer-blooming crocus that were probably here before we moved in. I spread them around the backyard and figured I’d just see what color they turned out to be next spring.

Imagine my surprise when a bunch of cute little white flowers began blooming in those spots last week. Late May, hey wait, that’s way too late for crocus. What gives?

Sleepydick (no joke, that's the plant's name)

(Yes, my camera decided to focus on the chickweed and mulch instead of the actual flowers – it has an aversion to white flowers, unlike some people I know…)

I probably would have done one of my typical “hey, do any of you know what the heck this is?” posts except for the fact that I just stumbled upon a new-ish blog by a fellow Seattle-ite, Seattle Plant Exchange. Guess what? She was wondering what this was too, had a better photo of it, did her research, came up with an answer, and emailed me her findings. Can’t beat that! She says it is Ornithogallum umbellatum, common name Sleepydick, but I think it’s also known as Star of Bethlehem, which is more something you could say to your mother without snickering if you were giving her some divisions. Click here to see the zone requirements and hardiness info if you’re curious. Not sure how it got to me, but I have a feeling it’s going to stay – it seems like it could be a bit of a spreader, which is fine by me.

(Heading up to Kindergarten Camp today!?! Still can’t believe my kid is old enough to go to camp, even for two days. I hope we all survive! I plan to catch up with everyone when I return – I’ve been swamped with packing and other prep so blogland has taken a back seat recently.)


Longing for a Tree Peony May 27, 2009

Filed under: flora,neighborhood gardens — greenwalks @ 4:54 pm
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Somehow, I went my entire life up until this winter without ever knowing about tree peonies. Then, suddenly, they were everywhere – Portland Classical Chinese Garden, blog buddies’ photos, nurseries, and on the street. I’m not sure I have the just-right space, but my longing for one is severe and I might have to make a good spot if one doesn’t already exist.

I saw this one hanging over a retaining wall the other day, not sure if I am IDing it correctly but regular peonies are just starting to get buds here so I wonder if this could be a short tree peony. What do you think? It’s a bit past its prime, but still pretty glorious. Sorry, full sun, hard to capture the beauty of the white blooms.

A little past their prime, still fancy

Tree peonies have such a following, apparently, that there is an entire nursery called Tree Peony Garden in Pennsylvania devoted to them. Click here to see photos of their numerous varieties or if you just want to learn more about this astonishing plant, native to China and cultivated there for perhaps as long as three millenia!?! According to this article, it pays to find a reputable grower and spend the big bucks for a good plant, otherwise you won’t have much success. Site preparation and proper conditions are important too. In other words, this isn’t my typical cheap/free/whomp-it-in garden addition, so if I get one, it’s going to be a major decision.

I had to put my hand on one of the flowers to show the scale. These really are immense! Please ignore the dirt under the fingernails, occupational hazard for many of us at this time of year.

Big big flower (tree peony?) on way out

Plants are litterbugs too! But nice ones.

Plants are litterbugs too

What new-to-you plant has captivated you this spring?


On the Ephemeral Nature of Poppies May 21, 2009

Filed under: flora,my garden — greenwalks @ 9:12 am
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Now you see me…

Delicate papery orange poppies

now you don’t!

Poppy stem without petals

(Papaver atlanticum, I believe – kind of a weed in my garden but I let it stay until it’s done blooming, then rip most of it out. It’s always back the next year, and I love its long skinny stems and delicate, papery petals. Plus, up close, the left-behind seed pods are so cute, with their little fuzzy red starfish pattern clinging to the top.)


Borrowed View – First Camellia March 14, 2009

Filed under: flora,shrubs — greenwalks @ 1:15 pm
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The first camellia of spring bloomed yesterday, about six inches from my side porch. I don’t have space to put in a tree of my own, so I just “borrow” this view.

First camellia

I refrain from taking any blossoms to float in a bowl, which is very tempting, especially since I have to pick up a lot of debris when the flowers drop later on!

At our previous place, we had a fairly un-spectacular single-form camellia that had rather gaudy yellow flower centers. I far prefer this one, which is double. Or is it ‘formal double’? Honestly, I need to take a botany class. Camellias come in single, semi-double, anemone-form, peony-form, rose-form double and formal double. If you can remember and apply all of that to any that you happen upon, I applaud you!

To learn more about camellias, click here to visit the American Camellia Society’s site.

Do you have any borrowed garden views you enjoy (or detest)?


Faux Fireworks December 31, 2008

Filed under: flora — greenwalks @ 6:50 pm
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I’m not big on pyromania myself (fraidy cat), so I will offer you a different sort of fireworks, and send you my good wishes and hopes for a Happy New Year.


(Image courtesy of féileacán – that’s Irish for butterfly – via Flickr Creative Commons. To view more photos by this artist, click here.)


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!