Greenwalks

Gardening where the sidewalk ends

On the Proper Use of Daisies July 19, 2010

Filed under: flora,summer — greenwalks @ 9:52 am
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A parking strip garden in the Meadowbrook neighborhood of Seattle showed off some great possibilities for that somewhat prosaic and often weedy member of the plant kingdom, the daisy.

I have these in my own garden, in clumps and singles, mostly I think as a self-sower that came over from the neighbors’ to the north. (After having mis-named them twice, I now think they are the Shasta daisy hybridized by Luther Burbank – see what you think, more info here.) I like them okay but they would probably be better if I paired them intelligently with other plants, as this gardener has.

Picking up the daisy center with the bright lemon flowers and bronze foliage of Lysimachia ciliata ‘Firecracker’? Brilliant.

Daisies and Lysimachia ciliata 'Firecracker' (?)

(I am guessing on that plant ID – it is a form of loosestrife so I would need to do more research before planting it myself, as that name sends chills down my spine, invasive-weed-wise. Anyone know if this one is safe?)

Letting them snake in a line through iris foliage and hot pink lychnis? Genius.

English daisy 'snake'

But my favorite – achieving the ultimate country-in-the-city look of a tall meadow while simultaneously covering up the mailbox post: divine!

Mailboxes and daisies

(Thanks to Grace for pointing out my inept plant ID, which I have since changed! Grace knows all!)

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A Visit to Jordan’s Garden (Part I) May 3, 2010

One of the best things about our little garden bloggers’ group, SAGBUTT, is when new people stumble upon our meeting notices and decide to come and join us. Such was the case back in late March when a few of us ventured out in the rain to the Bellevue Botanical Gardens near Seattle for some time to chat and amble around between showers.

Jordan Jackson, owner of the Metropolitan Gardens garden design business, has been blogging about his garden and design services for a few years at Gardening in Cascadia and recently discovered some new ways of connecting with fellow gardeners and plant enthusiasts, such as Blotanical and SAGBUTT. His vast knowledge of botanical names alone is a great reason to check out his site, but his photos and showcasing of the variety of native and exotic ornamentals, especially perennials, are also well worth the clicks.

At our BBG visit, Jordan mentioned that he would be having an open garden in the near future, and invited us to come on out. His home garden, on a hillside overlooking Lake Washington in Seatle’s historic Mt. Baker neighborhood, issued a siren call that I could not resist.

Usually, I do not attempt to drag my 6 yr. old along on garden visits, especially those where I’d like to ask questions and not have to be on the alert for the potential trampling of precious plants. But since the other blogger in the family was out of town, it was bring her along or not go at all, so I chose to go for it.

As we pulled up to the curb, a small sign on the steep slope’s retaining wall announced the open garden hours, but first I had to check out the sidewalk garden. This parking strip is much narrower than mine, but is planted with one of the more unusual selections of tough but attractive plants I’ve seen in a long while.

Jordan's parking strip garden

Yes, that’s Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’ out there for all to enjoy – here’s a close-up of the delicate flowers:

Ribes sanguineum 'White Icicle'

Another flowering currant, Ribes X gordonianum, keeps coming up lately – I think it’s going on my wish list as of right now:

Ribes x gordonianum

Not every day do you just see one of these on the street (Cupressus arizonica ‘Blue Ice’):

Cupressus arizonica 'Blue Ice'  in parking strip

Did you know that many species of Bottlebrush (Callestemon) are cold hardy in the Pacific Northwest? I didn’t! Thanks to Jordan, I now do. Here is a seedhead from last year’s blooming of Callistemon rigidus:

Callistemon rigidus  seedhead

Across from the parking strip is a semi-casual, partly shaded narrow strip of charming low-growers. Lamium and Primula kisoana:

Lamium and primula kisoana combo

My new favorite spring ephemeral, Erythronium oreganum, whose name I did not know until Jordan provided it and helped me stick it in my brain by repeating it patiently until I got it:

Erythronium oregonum

There was probably a lot more down there of note, but I knew the clock was ticking on my daughter’s willingness to participate so we needed to head up the stairs. Maybe I can convince Jordan to do a post on his street garden one of these days, hint hint.

Our virtual tour of the upper garden will have to wait for another day, but I will tell you that the visit was enjoyable, revelatory, educational, and one that I hope to repeat in following seasons to see what else is growing there. Thank you to Jordan for the invitation, kind hosting, and plant name help!

 

Sweet Cylindrical Planters April 21, 2010

Not everyone would think to put a galvanized planter in their parking strip. It might be too easy for someone to dump the dirt out and walk off with, right?

Not these ones!

Super sunny stock tank site

See how they are cleverly bolted to 2 X 4s that are sunk into the ground? These babies aren’t going anywhere!

I have been thinking about adding stock tank planters and these seem like a good size, not going to cost an arm and a leg or require too much soil to fill. Perfect for a few veggies, herbs, and edible flowers, like in this one:

Round stock tank herb garden

And an inexpensive trellis makes the vertical space usable. Wonder what will be on this one come summer?

Stock tank garden bolted down in parking strip

(After seeing Loree’s comment, below, I am not sure these are stock tanks after all. I will try to find out what they could be. Dang, they seemed like exactly the size I wanted, too…)

 

Pink Petals in Parking Strips March 4, 2010

Filed under: flora,trees — greenwalks @ 9:03 pm
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Does such a profusion of plums become prosaic? Or does it produce perfection? Peruse at your pleasure!

(This post is dedicated to Grace, who perennially pines for pink.)

Okay, enough with the alliteration. Seattle in early spring (yeah, I know it’s technically winter still, but it hasn’t felt like it in a long time so I’m going to go ahead and just call it spring. The plants and animals sure think it is!) offers an almost overwhelming spectacle – entire streets lined with wildly blooming ornamental plum trees. Apricots, cherries, magnolias, cornelian cherries, and many others abound as well, but the plums are ubiquitous and seemingly the earliest, so when they arrive it feels like spring is really here. The pinkness is impossible to ignore and hard not to be cheered by.

My neighborhood has gone nuts for these trees. Many have deep purple leaves so a long line of them can be a little blah in the summer. But oh, for these few weeks, they shine. I have been crossing my fingers for no lashing storms to hasten the petals to an early demise, and so far we’ve been lucky. Standing under some of these, neighbors have stopped to comment and enjoy the spectacle together.

So, without further ado, the reigning queens of the blossom ball, all from parking strips!

Plum trees abloom

Ephermeral plum blossoms

Venerable plum tree

Pink plum blossoms on pavers

Plum tree bloom explosion

Parking strip pinkness

Mini plum branch

Blue skies and pink plum flowers

Pink confetti in the grass

Pale pink plum blossoms with purple leaves beginning to emerge

 

February Gold February 24, 2010

No question about it, this has been the weirdest winter I can remember. Yes, I’m counting last year’s Snowpocalypse; this one is even odder. Spring came months earlier than usual this year – I’m confused, the trees are confused, the birds are confused. I just hope we get back to some semblance of normal next year or it’s going to start seeming like a pattern instead of a few anomalies strung together.

Anyone reading this from under a pile of snow on the roof is probably wondering what’s to complain about. Sunny days and 60 degrees in February? Well, it’s not typical, so it’s getting everything started sooner (including garden pests like aphids and popping weed, not to mention allergies!), which just seems wrong. I wonder things like, if the migratory hummingbirds come back and the flowers they are used to have all bloomed already, will they have enough to eat following their exhausting trip? If my roses leafed out too early and I didn’t cut them back until this week, will they still bloom? If the bumblebees are already out but it gets colder later, can they go back to sleep?

The upside of all of this, of course, is sun. Lovely, warming, spirit-lifting, unusually present sun. I can’t remember eating lunch outside at a cafe at this time of year before. Essential Baking was on my way home from an errand the other week and I couldn’t resist stopping in.

Essential Baking sign on sunny Seattle day

Their special soup was beet something, I can’t remember the other ingredients but it was heavenly, along with a salad of spring greens and some tasty flatbread. The sun made the soup look like was sparkling.

Sunny cafe lunch - outdoors in February!?!

The cafe has a nice little parking strip garden, with euphorbias and a cute, small witch hazel which was just glowing on this day.

Glowing witch hazel blossoms and euphorbia

Sunlit streetside euphorbia at Essential Baking

Some kind of eucalyptus (?) is planted in brick planters on the cafe side of the street. I liked the way the red-rimmed leaves softened the severity of the iron railing.

Eucalyptus leaves and iron railing

Outdoor dining in the dead of winter. What is this, California??

 

Foggy Garden February 9, 2010

Filed under: my garden,spring,weather — greenwalks @ 9:02 pm
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On first look today, our world was enrobed in a down-to-the-ground cloud. It was the thickest fog I can remember in ages. School looked super spooky:

Spooky schoolyard

Back at home, I thought how blah and sad the street garden looked, as it has since the deep December freeze killed off so many things that often overwinter and I didn’t plant enough winter interest to keep it looking good all year.

Haunted hell strip

Then I decided to take a closer look to see if I could see something beautiful, something interesting, something worth noticing, signs of spring to come or summer past. In just a few minutes of slowing down and looking closely, here is some of what I found in my seemingly nondescript landscape.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ seedheads

Sedum seedheads in winter

Purple sprouting broccoli sticking out its wet “tongue”

Purple sprouting broccoli

Lemon balm seeds (need to get rid of those pronto!) against Mexican feather grass tendrils

Lemon balm seedheads against Mexican feather grass

Crocus awaiting the sun’s kiss to open up shop for the day

Closed-up crocus

One giant dewdrop and a million little ones on a lupine leaf

Dewdrops on lupine

Gossamer strands, evidence of a spider’s presence on iris seedpods

Iris seedpods and dewy spider strand

and coneflower too

Coneflower seedhead covered in dewy spiderweb

Then this, which would have been enough on its own to banish the gloom of the day

The first tulip! Don’t scream, yours aren’t behind. This tulipa greigii came up first here last year, before the snowdrops and crocus had stopped blooming, so it must be in its nature to be the earliest bird.

Even in the less spectacular garden seasons, there’s probably always something to notice – even if it’s “just” spiderwebs on a dead flower or, in another climate, bird tracks in the snow. We just have to slow down enough to find it.

 

Parking Strip Report – The ‘Nothing Much’ Edition January 25, 2010

Filed under: my garden,winter — greenwalks @ 11:44 am
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Late January is usually a really un-spectacular time for my parking strip garden. So much so that I am too ashamed to include a full shot of it here! I will stick to the few details that have provided a second glance amid the brownish wasteland that otherwise is sadly characteristic of this time of year. When will I learn? ****Must plant more evergreens!***

I didn’t plant a lot of winter veggies this year. They never do much anyway except sit around looking sad all winter and then bolt as soon as it gets warm, so it was interesting to see that some of the open space is being colonized by volunteer chervil from the mesclun mix that was in the same spot last summer. I do love chervil, but hope I won’t be chasing down seedlings all over the garden forever more.

Chervil

(By the way, I got a new camera for Christmas – Thanks, Mom and Dad! – but haven’t really figured out how to use it yet. I somehow pressed something that made the settings take these strange wide-screen photos, which I guess are kind of arty but not particularly useful for the web. I got it reset eventually, but by then the sun was gone.)

I never covered up my broccoli starts, so whatever survived is tough enough to stay below freezing for over a week! We’ll see if it ends up producing anything edible.

Semi-surviving broccoli

Eek, popping weed is on the march already, thanks to the warm days! Can you see its cute little white flower all set to come up, bloom for a bit, and then release its evil batch of 100% germination seeds?

Eek, weeds are about to bloom!

This senecio should do well in hot, dry conditions, but I think I didn’t water it enough in its first growing season so it is still struggling a bit (you can see yellow/brown patches on some of the leaves, but there has been new growth so I am hoping it will hang in there).

Senecio

For lack of much else to look at, I have left my dead coneflowers to provide a bit of sculptural height. They would probably look a lot nicer with a little dusting of snow underneath, but the senecio is a next-best backdrop.

Coneflower seedhead in late winter

This euphorbia wandered over from the neighbor’s and I transplanted it rather rudely a few years ago, down to the parking strip. Further proof of how tough these plants are – it looked a little sad for about two minutes, and then made a full recovery and is now thriving and putting out its pendant flowers. I was afraid of this plant family for so long, due to its toxic sap, but I am just careful around and also have it in a spot where my kid would never get too close. I just noticed that it has produced its own “baby” a few feet away, which I may move or give away before it gets too big.

Euphorbia flowers

And, after getting the camera switched back to regular old photo size mode, I noticed what I truly hope is the return of my favorite tulips ever. Looking back at that earlier post, I can see that I had them in three spots, and here I only saw one clump coming up. I will just have to be patient, maybe they will all return for another show-offy time in the early spring garden.

First tulips on the rise

Which plant’s return to glory are you most anticipating this spring?