Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Antidote April 14, 2010

Filed under: spring — greenwalks @ 6:30 pm
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I was in a venomous mood the other day, blacker than black. Mostly it was just tiredness, but the cloudy skies and life challenges were combining to send me to Grumptown. I managed to pick my kid up from school, got her to do her homework in the car, and then took her to her one and only after-school activity. Usually I hang out there, but was not in the frame of mind to tolerate cell-phone-yakking parents and screaming siblings. I noticed the sun starting to peek out and opted for a walk instead. I started out feeling like this (loon-y):


(I had neglected to bring my camera, so this is another attempt at a post with phone photos.)

The sunny, plant-filled stroll cleared my head and elevated my mood so much that it made the grouchy day seem like a remote dream. Spring, it’s better than an Rx!

Japanese maples leafing out and almost meeting over the sidewalk:

Meeting of the maples

Golden hops and grape hyacinth look great together, why didn’t I think of that?!

Hops & muscari

Incredible huge fuzzy leaves in a parking strip planting (could this be Verbascum?)

Fuzzy foliage

Easter remnant:

Tree egg

Slightly flawed dogwood blossom:

Dogwood blossoms

Didn’t the Dutch pay fortunes for “broken” tulips like this one, back in the day?

Stripy tulip

I want to go back to some of these blocks again because I missed a lot, including some super fab parking strip planter boxes filled with fresh black-gold compost and veggie seeds/starts. Thanks to all of the creative gardeners whose efforts helped to banish the blues!


One Tough Daffodil March 29, 2010

Filed under: bulbs,flora — greenwalks @ 9:20 am
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For anyone who has had trouble getting daffodil bulbs to flourish, I have one to suggest for next spring – Narcissus poeticus.

Poeticus daffodil

I have had bulbs of it in my current and previous garden that continued to bloom for years with zero assistance, where many $ of other, showier daffodils perished after a single bloom (or not even one).

As an example of how it can thrive in non-ideal conditions, I dug out a bunch of bulbs, mostly scilla, last summer when we changed some things around in the back garden, and many got tossed into a garbage can lid for future re-planting or give-aways. Guess what happened… nothing. Until spring:

Tough daffodils

There wasn’t even any soil in the lid. Now THAT is one tough daffodil! I think the variety is ‘Pheasant’s Eye.’ It also has a lovely scent and the bloom time is super long.

Do you have plants that seem to do fine no matter how poorly you treat them?


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


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.


New Friends April 11, 2009

I’ve been slowly adding some new plants to the garden in the past week or so. Many still to go, from my spring plantĀ  hauls at various garden centers. I am always slow to get stuff into the ground but this year has been particularly bad for some reason. No weather excuses, it’s been nice lately!

Molly at Life on Tiger Mountain dug out a clump of softneck garlic to share with attendees at the last SAGBUTT meeting. Fall is the usual time for planting garlic from cloves, but she said to just toss these in and it will probably be fine. I have never devoted a garden spot to garlic before, since I have such limited space, but figured it would be fun to try and we’ll see what happens!

Molly's garlic - finally planted

I got this small deer fern (Blechnum spicant) at a plant sale recently. I had one in my previous garden along with a lot of other ferns – it was a shady space, unlike most of the current garden. There is a small strip of mostly-bare earth on the north side of our house that doesn’t get a lot of sun. I’ve been putting mom-donated impatiens and begonias there in the summer but decided to start filling it up with shade-loving perennials, at least in part.

Deer fern

The same spot also received two wintergreen plants (Gaultheria procumbens). As one of the few berries that grows in deep shade (another is evergreen huckleberry, of which I planted two in another spot last fall), I wanted to try this one again, after killing a few in my old garden. I used to be put off by plants I had failed with in the past, but I’m trying to get over that and just try, try again.

Newly planted wintergreen

Never tried sedums before, except for one very poorly sited one that I think finally gave up the ghost this winter. I picked up a few and planted them in their own little area of the parking strip, where I hope they will enjoy the blasting sun and lack of regular water.

Sedum ‘Angelina’ – I hope it keeps its gold color year-round.

Sedum 'Angelina'

Sedum ‘Blaze of Fulda’
Sedum 'Blaze of Fulda'

This one came from the Arboretum sale, tag is long gone.

Unknown sedum

Good old standby, ‘Autumn Joy’ – it’s the variety I killed in the bad site, so I’m doing another try-again.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

I also planted Sedum oreganum, a tiny round-leaved green variety that looks like a miniature jade plant. (My photo was too atrocious to post, even compared to these other bad ones I’ve put up here. Apologies! Still sorting out my need-a-new-camera issues, no progress yet but thanks for all the comments and recommendations from previous commenters!)

All of the spring posts about people’s hellebores coming up and flowering so beautifully must have gotten to me – I succumbed at the nursery and bought two of this one, Helleborus ‘WalHelIvory’ Ivory Prince. Not quite as dramatic as some of the Corsican hellebores or the purple beauties, but I liked its subtle coloration.

Helleborus "WalHelIvory' Ivory Prince

Spontaneous purchase, after having seen these in others’ garden shots – Cyclamen hederifolium, at the bottom of this next photo. Yes, that’s Gnomus gnomus in the background, I’ve already copped to having him so don’t give me grief.

Cyclamen hederifolium and hellebore

I also planted a longleaf lungwort, Pulmonaria ‘Roy Davidson,’ in the vicinity, so I guess this is becoming my little woodland garden. Then tossed in an Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) for native interest and wildlife support, despite grave warnings from my mom that the roots will go everywhere and I’ll never get rid of it. Photos are again too awful to include. I need to add more groundcover that can take the shallow cedar roots in that area. I could do salal but don’t want it to take over. Any suggestions?


Wordless Wednesday – Garden Visitor April 8, 2009

Filed under: fauna — greenwalks @ 6:18 am
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Pond visitor - white cat

Who needs garden art/sculptures when we have a defunct mini-pond that attracts neighborhood cats to sip from its dank, probably mosquito-egg-filled depths? This is one of two brother kitties from across the street. They have no fear of cars, crows, or, obviously, me.


Blossom Time March 30, 2009

Spring in Seattle means many things – rain of course, more cyclists on the city’s bike paths, a plethora of flower bulbs adding color to the landscape and, my favorite of all, blossom time for the city’s multitude of flowering trees.

It seems like the first to bloom are normally the ornamental plums, but due to the longer and colder than usual winter, this year everything’s getting going at the same time. Plums, cherries and apples all seem to be bursting into bloom at once, so maybe the usually-later ones are playing catch-up with the slowpokes.

I pass this particular tree many times a week, and had always marveled at its odd shape. It’s a small flowering cherry currently covered with ginormous blossoms. I don’t think it’s been well cared for in a while, since it has a lot of suckers (all flowering!) near the base. But even the strangest pruning can almost be redeemed by masses of fragrant blooms. I wish I could post these in Smell-O-Vision!

Flowering cherry

The Prius has become the car of Seattle (replacing the Volvo 240 – what can I say, I’m behind the times, I still have one of those but no hybrid yet), so I left it in the shot to epitomize this part of the world in spring – a parking strip flowering tree and a PC vehicle. What could be more Seattle? I guess I could have posed someone there with an REI fleece vest on, holding a latte. That might have been a bit too much, though.

Cherry tree & black Prius, how Seattle

What most signifies spring to you?


Spring on My Street March 25, 2009

Ah, spring! Out in my parking strip garden, I can see the lovely sights of bulbs blooming, birdsĀ flitting around, perennials awakening from their long winter nap, and to top it all off… a port-a-potty for the construction crew that’s been jack-hammering up a storm down the street.

Tulips and Honey Bucket

Don’t you just love that name, Honey Bucket? Luckily, they moved it later in the day.

I like this view a lot better, sans sanican. The tulips are starting to get a little frowsy, but they’ve been the only think blooming out there for weeks so they’ve done their job. Now spring really feels like it’s on they way, they can bid their farewell.

Tulipa greigii in parking strip

Looks like I’m not the only one interested in blogging about strip gardens. For related posts, you can visit Raingardener at Gardening by Trial and Error and Susan at The Bicycle Garden (in Texas they call ’em hell strips – Susan also recently wrote most eloquently on the public spaces at the university where she teaches), and VP of Veg Plotting in the UK also has a meme going about public plantings.


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?


Eh, What’s That You Say? March 19, 2009

Filed under: garden art — greenwalks @ 10:30 am
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What, you think gnomes are tacky? They should all be gathered up and smashed to bits and the pieces used to make slug traps? Well, I’m kind of with you on that, but my daughter had other ideas. At least he’s in a spot that nobody but us can see. Oh oops, I just blew our cover.

Hard-of-hearing gnome

Busy times for me the next few days, so I may not be too present here or on others’ sites. Hope everyone has a good weekend, when it gets here!