Gardening where the sidewalk ends

GBBD – June 15, 2009 June 14, 2009

Filed under: flora — greenwalks @ 10:46 pm
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June in the garden is kind of a crazy time for me. Just trying to keep up with everything and not quite managing it, still too many plants in their sad dry pots, school about to let out and gardening time will shrink to almost nil, so every spare second (up until dark and sometimes afterward) is spent out there at a rather frantic pace. Not a lot of time for blogging, but I wanted to keep with my posts on the 15th of the month for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day so here is a somewhat random selection of what’s out there at the moment. Click here to see other Bloom Day posts, hosted as always by the lovely and talented Carol of May Dreams Gardens.

First up, a few roses. Yes, I threatened to yank them all this year, it will probably still happen to some of them but in this long span of unusually warm and dry weather, they are trying hard to win my over by blooming insanely well and (mostly) keeping the black spot at bay. Here are a few, ‘Brandy’ is the orange one and the other is unknown but I love how it is creamy with just a tinge of pink. Both were planted by the previous owner and lovingly maintained with sprays and fertilizers, both of which I eschew (except for a bit of alfalfa meal in the early spring if I remember). Another mark on the plus side – they have a citrus-y fragrance that I find irresistible.

'Brandy' rose

Blowsy rosies

Staking plants is not for me – my floppy poppies will show that here. They’re at the end of their run but it’s been a notable one this year. They can lean on their friend the cutleaf Japanese maple for support if they want to, fine with me although the color combo is a bit extreme.

Floppy poppies

I planted two Cistus laurifolius (Rock rose) from very small starts (3 inch pots, maybe?) a few years ago, and this year they are finally really getting going with blooms. Of course I attempted to transplant one from a bad spot during a hot spell and may have killed it, oops. This one stayed put and is putting on a show. Hungry for fried eggs, anyone?

CIstus laurifolius

Culinary sage bloomed like a maniac and is now finishing up, but I like how its purple flowers hang on for a bit and dry out.

Sage finishing flowering

Lavender is big here – the previous owner obviously didn’t want to invest in improving the soil, so mostly planted things that would be okay in the crummy stuff. Many, many, many lavender plants, all the same type (French?), all budding up and starting to flower. The spittle bugs love them, you can see their white blobby “spit” houses if you look closely at some of the stems.

Lavender hill beginning to bloom

Calendulae self-seed in my daughter’s garden, they must like it there.

Calendulae (one open, one spent)

While those of you who planted their peas indoors are now enjoying the first tastes of summer, I was late getting mine into the ground so they only started to flower this week. I hope the bees notice them and we still get a decent harvest! These are Cascadia snap peas from Seeds of Change, they are growing vigorously so far.

Snap peas finally flowering

Lamb’s ear (stachys) can be a bit of a wanderer but it’s easy enough to pull out where it’s not wanted. Fun to feel its fuzzy leaves and its flower spikes are pretty cool too. This one showed up across a path from where it generally lives, but I’m letting it stay (the lemon balm behind it is a pest, though – I’d keep that one in a pot if you decide you need it!).

Lamb's Ear in bloom

I have removed most of the bolting over-wintered veggies and annual herbs, finally, but have let this parsley stay because a) it’s fun to have a parsley “tree” and b) I want to try to figure out seed-saving and this would be one I’d like to have.

Bolting curly parsley

Foxglove (digitalis) also self-sows around the garden, although it seems like there might be fewer this year than usual. At least it’s been dry so the slugs haven’t attacked them like they usually do. This one is about 6 ft. tall, growing under the witch hazel tree.

Towering Foxglove

This is getting long, so I will end with one final shot, of the nicest arrival in my garden today. Nope, it’s not a flower – it’s Susan Tomlinson of The Bicycle Garden :¬† long-distance blog buddy, writer, naturalist, birder, gardener, woodworker, paddle-maker, triathlete, professor and all-around great gal. She and her husband Walt graciously allowed me to monopolize the majority of their one day in Seattle, and we worked a brief tour of my garden into the mix. Thanks for posing in my parking strip, Susan, and I will write more about our fun visit soon!

Susan T. in my garden


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!


Garden Bloggers’ Tax, Er, Bloom Day April 14, 2009

Our taxes are already done and the refund is in the bank (although much of it has gone back out the door already with a big round of bills, alas), so today is an attempt at worry-free, economy-be-danged floral abundance. Or at least what passes for that in still-early-days spring in my garden.

One of the hidden benefits of our harsh winter seems to have been that certain shrubs, bulbs and trees actually are blooming better and more bountifully now that spring has finally arrived. I also feel like my wacky attempts to protect last fall’s bulb plantings from the silly squirrels actually succeeded and I was rewarded with a higher than usual percentage of blooms come spring. I’m going to have to try my witches’ brew and paprika deal again next year and see if it really works or this was just a fluke.

Yak yak yak, what, you want to see the flowers already? Okay, nothing too unique or spectacular here, but I’m just grateful for color and as always anything that survives or volunteers in my garden (with the exception of popping weed, of which I have pulled 7 million thus far, and bindweed, whose evil little heads began popping out of the ground last week) is pretty much always welcome.

Here they are, as they say on my guiltiest of pleasures, ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ “in no particular order”:

Starting in the parking strip: Narcissus ‘Scarlet Royal’ – these are looking very bold out there, but next year I’ll have to remember to plant at least some across the sidewalk, since these ones all face the street to get the sun!

Narcissus 'Scarlet Royal'

Early tulips whose variety did not make it to the computer list, alas, with my favorite little common bulb, Muscari americanum (grape hyacinth):

Pinky-red tulips

Volunteer pansies with I-know-it’s-a-weed-but-so-far-I-don’t-care violets:

Weedy violets and volunteer pansies

Narcissus ‘Sir Winston Churchill’ – delicate and fragrant, just like its namesake. Um, wait, never mind.

Narcissus 'Sir Winston Churchill'

‘Ultima Morpho’ pansy, which has been coming up from seed two times a year since my mom gave me some plants a few years ago. It is welcome to sow itself anywhere, any time. I picked one for a neighbor toddler today, and she gave it to her daddy. I love having pick-able plants on the street to share and talk about with visitors.

Volunter 'Ultima Morpho' Pansy

Moving up to the house level, the neglected and poorly sited erisimum (wallflower) in the front bed (a future post may be a please-help-me-redesign-this-sad-mess feature in this area) – still, it blooms from April to frost, with zero attention from yours truly.

Erisimum (Wallflower)

Viburnum x bonantense ‘Dawn’ is still going here three or so months from its bloom onset. The original flush of blooms succumbed to frost, but a few more broke forth as its leaves are finally coming in (it usually blooms while ‘naked’):

Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn' in mid-April

Pulmonaria ‘Roy Davidson’ (Longleaf lungwort) – my borrowed el cheapo camera strongly disagrees with me on the color of this one’s flowers. My eyes say sky blue, the camera insists on a washed out blah instead. Trust me, this one looks great in the shade:

Pulmonaria 'Roy Davidson' (Longleaf lungwort)

It’s hyacinth time! Their spicy perfume is everywhere. These are such reliable repeaters for me. I just toss a few in the ground in various spots, so that I can smell that amazing scent wherever I walk in early spring. Some of them do get a little tipsy.

Pink hyacinths in grass debris

This shrub was here when we moved in. It has been horribly abused, as it grows near a path and also had to be whacked almost to the ground when our house was repainted. I don’t think I recall it ever blooming before. Could it be another type of viburnum? It is lightly fragrant.

Unknown pink-blooming fragrant shrub

Here’s another unknown for all you good guessers out there. It has these very strongly perfumed small white blossoms in the springtime but then gets awful aphid damage the rest of the year. I think I spied this at the Portland Classical Chinese Garden, I meant to ask what it was but couldn’t find anyone who knew.

There is more but this is getting a bit long. I thought about doing a slideshow but the free WordPress doesn’t allow them, grrr. Maybe something to justify an upgrade someday.

Visit Carol’s May Dreams Gardens to see what else is popping up in plots all over the world on April 15!


GBBD, March 2009 March 14, 2009

Filed under: flora,my garden — greenwalks @ 8:47 pm
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Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens, gardeners the world over can share what they’ve got blooming on the 15th of each¬† month. Since I actually remembered to participate last time, I thought I’d keep it rolling and do one this month too, even though things aren’t all that spectacular out there.

First up, signs of life are finally beginning to show in the parking strip garden. I did a crummy job of providing winter interest this year (and the snows didn’t help) – next year, it must not be the same!

Chinese broccoli I grew from fall starts – it didn’t grow, didn’t grow, didn’t grow, then bolted. Guess I won’t try that one again! At least its yellow flowers are bright and cheery.

Bolted Chinese broccoli flowers

Tulipa greigii are still going gangbusters. I will be really happy if these bloom in following years, since their intense early-season color is actually causing people to stop in their tracks, as I have observed more than once.

Tulipa greigii

None of my other daffodils have begun to bloom yet, although many are showing flower buds, but this clump, which randomly shows up in the alley where our garbage cans sit, is reliably the first every year. We just have to remember not to squish it with the giganto recycling bin!
First daffodils

Crazy catkins on the Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (contorted filbert) tree:

Contorted filbert catkins

Screamin’-orange crocus (I usually prefer more subtle hues, so I think these were maybe a mis-marked batch):

Orange crocus

These are more my usual style. I like their pointy petals too.

Pale purple crocus

The only surviving reticulated iris from a bunch I planted a few years ago. Not sure what happened, maybe I’ll try them again in another spot, as I do love this deep purple color. Oh dear, lots of baby popping weeds visible too – I’d better get on those!

Reticulated iris

That’s pretty much it. Witch hazel ‘Jelena’ has finished its spectacular winter show, the viburnum’s pink poms burned in our most recent late frost, and nothing else has got going yet. I’m excited to see what others’ gardens are doing on GBBD, and to cheer on the almost-there blossoms to come.

(BTW, we got a new, super huge flat-screen monitor for almost free this weekend, which is both fun and a little overwhelming since I’m now totally confused about which size of photos work best for this format. I was sizing them to fit with my older, smaller monitor but on this one they look too small. Now I wonder if these are too big, especially since they expose bad photo quality even more, ahem. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!)


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.