A Few Little Things

 

I often write about all the small plants I have in this garden. Mostly that means dwarf and naturally small growing plants. But today I’m  going to feature a few of the really little plants I have here – the ground-covers. Some of these have been growing for years and others only a few months but all of them are special to me and provide a really unique aspect to the garden in places. I love seeing them as they spread out and fill the spaces around them and provide a green swath of color and beauty to their spots.

I’m starting off in the front yard with the Elfin Thyme. I just love that name and it sure does fit it well. I planted it about 5 years ago from a 4″ pot, and it’s grown slowly but consistently to fill this spot among the stones that lead to the bird feeder in front. It’s in bloom now and I hope you can see the little purple flowers on it here and there. I haven’t seen it bloom before this year so it’s a treat to see. A very lovely plant that does a fine job of softening the stones and making the spot seem gentle and smooth.

Next to it in both the tour and in the garden is an Irish moss. I only planted this last fall but it’s growing well since then and is in bloom as well as the Thyme. It’s got little white flowers that cover areas of the plant and it looks so lush and bright green like an Irish Moss should. It’ll fill in more and smooth the area between more of the steps to the feeder. A favorite of mine for many years.

And next to them in the garden is a patch of Ajuga “Black Scallop” so named for its dark leaves. It’s not quite in bloom yet but it has spikes of lovely purple flowers about 5 inches high that coves the plant. It grows really fast and I only planted these starts from another spot last fall when I did this whole bed. It’s grown really fast and is covering up the area well. It looks so neat and tidy now and does so for most of the year. I love the dark color of the leaves.

I move into the back yard now and show you the Bunchberry. It’s actually a dogwood if you can believe it! Just a small dwarf plant it only grows to several inches tall and has creamy white dogwood flowers in the spring and covers this area between the mugho pine and the bluestar juniper well. I’ve been fond of this plant for a long time and am happy to have it thriving here in my garden.

The Corsican Mint is probably well known as it’s a staple in many gardens that can’t handle the cold for baby tears which it looks a lot like but is more cold hardy. It smells so strong that if you step on a corner of it the whole area is inundated with aroma and you can touch it and carry the smell on your fingers for hours. Truly one of my favorites. It seems to die off regularly and then comes back again each spring and I dunno why but I like it even so.

The Bearberry, or Kinnickinnick as the Indians called it, is a wonderful ground cover Manzanita in the heath family. It grows pretty wide but so far I’ve kept it from growing onto the path near it. It’s a special plant in the mythology of many native people as they use it in their smoking blend they use in the Sacred Pipe Ceremony. I’ve also used it in a smoking mixture I used to make in my Wildcrafting business I did while I lived in the Okanogan I profiled a couple of posts ago. This is a variety called Vancouver Jade that seems to be more compact than the species and is full and lush here in this back spot in the garden.

The Redwood Sorrel has been a mixed bag for me. I love the plant so I had to plant it, but little did I realize what a pest it can become. It spreads way too well and has covered up much of the space around it and even killed a couple of plants by smothering them. It also broke a branch on my Red Dragon Japanese maple by pulling it down and snapping it. I guess I wasn’t paying as good attention as I should have been but I try now to keep this lovely plant somewhat controlled so it can’t do that anymore. It’s a drag to have to pull it all the time but I keep it off the paths and in a smaller area than it wants to be. In one place I’ve given up and just let it grow. So far so good and it seems the plants there can handle it. It has lovely white flowers on it in spring. I just love it despite its problems. It gets about 8 inches tall and is very full as you can see. It reminds me of the Redwood forests in California where it covers miles of ground.

A friend gave me this Viola and I’m not entirely sure which one it is but she warned me that it was very invasive so I planted it the fern bed so it can’t escape too far and cover too much space. But it does a good job of that in the bed anyway. It fills the whole area around many of the ferns but they can handle it it seems and I pull it back some to keep it from the lawnmower and the different plants in there with it. It not only spreads by roots but by seeds too very easily so it’s truly an invasive and and it’s beautifully full but I’d recommend it be planted like I did in some place where it can’t take over the whole darn garden…

This last one isn’t exactly a ground cover but it’s close to one. It’s a Black Mondo Grass that I’ve loved for ages. I’ve grown it before and they always seem to do well. This one has spread for years to cover this small area near the garage entrance so it’s close up to see it whenever we go to the garage. It’s got little purple flowers on it now and is quite lovely. It only gets about 6-8 inches tall so I included it here as it does cover the ground and spreads slowly so it’s a ground cover to me.

So that’s the tour. It’s a short one but I don’t have that many of these tiny tiny plants. Someday I’ll cover the miniature conifers I have that are one step up from these ground covers. But this time I wanted to stay small and give you a few pictures of what is under the other plants and fills so many areas with color and green.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour of little things. Some time it’s nice to honor the smallest things among us and reflect on how much joy they can bring even tho they are so small and tiny. I’m fond of all of these plants and they all occupy a unique place in my heart. I hope you like them and that even if you’ve seen them before they still please you to see them again….

For the little ones,

Steve

Taxodium distichum “Peve Minaret”

 

I wrote a profile of this plant a year and 1/2 ago, but it’s grown so much since then and all I posted then was a single shot, so I thought I’d do a pictorial journey thru this plant’s life here in our garden. We planted it in early April 2011 so it’s only been growing for 3 years and a bit. It grows pretty fast for a dwarf. This is a cultivar from Holland of the Swamp Cypress that grows all over the Southeast of the US and is endemic to the swamps and wet places of the region.

As a tree it gets quite big, but this little dwarf will only get to some 10 feet by 3-4 feet , or so they say. It’s already that wide or wider but only about 6-7 feet tall so far, tho it’ll be taller in a couple of months as the top grows. I’ve noticed an interesting thing about this tree, and several other conifers, that intrigues me. It starts to put on growth at the bottom of the tree first and then works its way up to the top after several weeks of growth. It’s in that stage now where it’ll put on a new top, and it should put on a foot of growth there if it does what it did last year, which is no definite indication but hopefully it will do so. It also tends to put on several tops and then reduce them to just one. I’d heard that you had to prune the extra ones out, but that’s not true. The trees know what to do I’ve noticed so I just let them do it. Sometimes it’s best Not to prune…

I did a lot of research on this tree, as I outlined in my previous post I did on it here: http://gardeningingreenwood.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/the-persistence-of-greenery/. I’ll try not to repeat too much of that post but I want to talk about it a bit. It’s a unique plant in that it’s one of only a few conifers that lose their leaves in the fall and renew them in spring. The others are the Larix, or Larch, the Metasequoia, or Dawn Redwood, and the Ginkgo, or Maidenhair tree. There’s some debate about whether or not the Ginkgo is really a conifer right now but I like i that way so I’ll include it anyway. I have a Metasequoia and the Ginkgo in the garden as dwarfs but no Larix, yet… I haven’t found a dwarf of it and I wouldn’t have space to put it anyway so it may not be in my agenda. But we’ll see.

This plant loves wet places to grow as I mentioned and that’s the primary reason I planted it here. This is a really wet spot in this peat bog we garden in, and we lost a few other nice plants here before I did the research to find this one that loves having its feet wet. It’s thriving where it is so I think I made the right choice. I also planted a creek dogwood and a choke cherry along this fence line as they also love the wet soil, as do the dwarf Cryptomerias along the edge of the bed. The only original plant I put in here that survived is the Inverleith Scotch Pine and I’ve read that Scotch pine like it a bit wet too so that makes sense. It’s doing great too and it is now over 10 feet tall, it’s supposed height, tho some say it gets much bigger. I assume it will.

This plant is one of my “pettable” trees because it has such gloriously soft foliage and is so nice to touch and stroke. The others are the Metasequoia and the Cryptomeria elegans that both have very soft foliage and don’t feel like most conifers at all. I’m fond of touching the plants I grow just to get a”feel” of them and so I notice little things like soft foliage on conifers. It’s a treat to feel them. I have a few really prickly plants too, like the Oregon grape and Mahonia charity and even the Osmanthus goshiki, so it’s nice to have others that you can actually touch, tho the others are so soft when they put on their new growth it’s hard to imagine how tough they will become.

I’ve arranged these pictures in chronological order so you can get a sense of how fast this tree really does grow. I’m really amazed by this and it’s good for me as I’m pretty impatient at times and it’s hard to wait to watch plants grow slowly when you want them to get big fast. It’s a trap of course and it’s a joy to watch the Chamaecyparis obtusa Nana only putting on about a 1/16″ of growth a year. You can just see it on the tips of the branches. The same is true of many other dwarf confers, like the Cryptomerias Tansu, Pygmaea and Vilmoriana. They all just barely let you know they’re growing and it’s so cool to know they are and yet don’t show it much. Slow has it’s place just as fast does.

So I hope you found this enjoyable to see how this lovely tree grows so nicely and fills out so well as time goes on. If it does grow this much in only 3 years it’ll become a larger tree in time I think, despite the things they tell you on various websites when you look them up. I’d love it if it did get bigger than its supposed 10 feet but if it doesn’t do that I’ll be happy too of course. I just have to keep the creek dogwood next to it away from its top so it can get there. I have to do a bit of pruning to keep all the plants in their spaces and be cool with one another in their growth habits. It’s a nice challenge to grow this garden and I’m so glad you stopped by to see some of it.

Good growing to you!

Steve

WolfDance Sanctuary

 

I’m a lucky guy to have 2 gardens to be involved with. These pictures are of my 40 acre Homestead that I purchased with my friend Cedar 30 years ago this year. We lived there for several years, building cabins and trying to make a home on a piece of land where no one had ever lived before. It’s completely off the grid, with no electricity, running water, or phone, and we have a great outhouse too. It’s 1.75 miles just to drive up the driveway from the main county road and the last 1/2 mile is 4 wheel drive only because it’s so steep.

It’s a huge amount of land and I had great visions of creating my botanical garden there when we moved there in 1984. Unfortunately the pond we thought would give us water for years went down to a mud puddle by September and the work I did was so hard on me that my back eventually went into a bad spasm and I had to move back to the city in the fall of 1989. That 5 1/2 year period living there was quite wonderful and so exciting, but also so very hard on my body and spirit as I realized that I could never create the homestead and garden I’d envisioned there and had to give up those dreams in favor of just keeping the land as a retreat for ourselves and our friends.

I feel very grateful to “own” this land, tho our plan all along has been to entrust it to a Land Conservation Trust at some point when we can no longer manage to make it there and take care of the place. It’s a 7 hour drive from Seattle so we don’t go often but when we do we try to do the maintenance work that has to occur to keep it from being overtaken by the wild nature of the land. We have black bear, cougar, coyote, mule deer, pheasant, grouse, bobcat, lynx, eagles and hawks, and so many birds you can’t even keep track. The forest covers 1/2 of the land with a mix of Douglas Fir and Ponderosa Pine with some Quaking Aspen thrown in here and there for their beauty. The rest is Sagebrush and Bitterbrush Chaparral, or High Desert Plateau.

We tried planting some things there but only a few survived due to lack of regular water. One is the Bristlecone Pine in one picture we planted as part of a ceremony in 1987. It’s grown some with no water, but the native trees on the land have grown immensely in the 30 years we’ve had the land and it’s a Sanctuary for the plants and animals that live there. We plan to put restrictions in the Conservation Easement when we sell it so that it can never be logged or mined so this small 40 acre parcel will always be that Sanctuary in a very real sense. The land is wild and surrounded by other wild land, so it’s isolated at the end of the road and no one ever comes there but us.

It’s a safe haven for the animals except during deer season when hunters cross our No Trespassing signs and come to shoot our deer. Not much we can do but when we’re there we discourage it and I’ve had some run ins with hunters that were pretty scary to me, who doesn’t own a gun and never has and I confronted guys with rifles on occasion to get rid of them and not let them hunt there. It’s a challenge at times, but it’s been a hunting ground for some of the locals for years and they consider it their right to hunt there. It’s an attitude that we can’t change but can try to discourage, and we do.

The pictures are somewhat self explanatory with the labels I put on them, I hope. When I say we’re looking down into the Bowl, that’s the part in the center of the land that is surrounded on all sides by larger hills and is where the pond and all our cabins are located. It’s a 5 acre area that is about all the area we’ve done work on , and we’ve kept that to a minimum. We cleared out lots of the old wood that had been left by the loggers who cut some trees in 1980 before we got there and we used the timber to build our first cabin, mostly out of poles and scavenged wood and windows from friends and neighbors.

The whole first cabin only cost us around $200 in nails and roofing and it’s still standing and we use it for storage now because the rats have taken over there. It’s awful but we hate to kill them so we’re trying to remove all the places they can nest and get rid of them that way if we can. We were just there last week and did a bunch of work to clean up the old cabin and make it safer for humans again, tho we’ll never use it for sleeping or food prep. again. It’s just too gross. Sad but true. Rats are awful!

We started building our first cabin in the Fall of 1984, after living in a tent for awhile and then a Tipi for a few more months. It was really cool to live in the Tipi and we had our woodstove in it to keep it warm but it was all pretty intense. It was a good experience in living close to the earth and being in tune with the land as much as we could be. We finished the cabin on December 15th and moved in for the winter, only to discover the road was too steep and snowy to drive in and so we had to rent a small house in town to work each year, except for when I lived on the land one winter all alone. It was a real challenge since my back was hurt badly and my partner Cedar could only come up now and then on weekends. It was a rough winter for me.

By then I was living in my own cabin which I show in some of the pictures. You can see how small it is at only 12 x 10 feet with an addition I put on a few years ago of 8 x 8 for a bedroom area. All this was done on a shoestring budget so it’s pretty rustic to say the least. My cabin is made from Slab Wood from a Chain saw mill our neighbor gave us after he logged some of the land he bought nearby. Cedar’s cabin is made of dimensional wood and framed correctly and will stand for years and years. I dunno about the main cabin or mine but the shed is also very strong and will stand for a long time. As I said there were no buildings on the land when we got there so we built all of them ourselves and it was a Lot of work. Just living in that environment was hard work, having to haul our water, except for when we had a water system from the pond for a couple of years until it was too hard to maintain so we had to give it up.

I tried to include views of many parts of the land itself as well as views of what it looks like when you look out from the land. It’s at 3300′ elevation and at the top of a range of hills that means we have about a 330 degree view  from the top where I took some of these pictures. You can see down into the main part of the land to where the pond is located and also the area where we have all the cabins and the shed. We try to keep the road mowed each year but this year our mower died so it’s still all grassy and hard to navigate thru. Hopefully  we’ll fix our old mower here in town and take it back there to mow some later in the year or else next year. It doesn’t require much maintenance anymore except for cleaning out the old cabin, but it’s still work to mow the road and we only do it once a year.

I ended the tour with a few shot of the animal presences we have at the land. You can see both bear and cougar scat as well as a small ants nest (yes I said Small – they get twice this size!) just to prove there are such creatures living there I guess. It’s hard to get pictures of the animals themselves and we didn’t see any deer this trip but did see signs of them as well as the others.

We really try to keep this land safe and are intent on putting it into a Trust someday to keep it safe forever. I hope we can do that as we love the place and it’s a treasure to have it. We adapted to the legal fiction that we own it, tho our attitude  is the land owns US and we have to adapt to its needs and the way it is there and not do too much to change its natural state. We manged to not impact most of the land for which I’m grateful. It’s a beautiful place. I’m sorry I can’t live there anymore but I’m just too banged up these days to pull it off. But I still enjoy going over there and spending time with it.

It’s peaceful and you can see a million stars since it’s so isolated. It’s located in the Okanogan Highlands and is in North Central Washington State, just about 20 miles as the crow flies from Canada which I show in one picture at least. It’s wild and natural and we hope we can still go to it until other folks live there some day, which I hope can happen. It’s a hard land to live on tho and hard to homestead there because of all the rock and lack of water, but it can be done, as we showed. I could write books about our experiences living there and trying to make it work. It eventually beat us up too much to live there but just being able to visit is truly wonderful and we’re so grateful to be the caretakers of this land for now at least. We hope it stays safe as a Sanctuary for a long time after we’re gone….

Now it’s back to the City…

Steve

Shades of Red

 

 

And Pink, and Purple, and some in between colors too, but they all fit in the spectrum of Red. I’m amazed by all the plants I have that have red tones to them. It’s obviously a pretty popular color. I’ve tried to add them to the garden because they add so much interest and I love the varied hues they represent. Some of them are in the leaf and others are in the blooms, but all are in the reddish range and provide some intense color to the garden at most any time of the year. These pictures cover the last few months since things started to bloom and leaf out well, tho they’re not in any particular chronological order.

First up is a Yarrow that just keeps getting better each year. It’s called Paprika and has intense red blooms with yellow flecks in the centers. Then are 3 different red Japanese maples that are even named red, like the Red Dragon and Red Pygmy, and the Bloodgood is considered the most excellent red cultivar of Japanese maples you can find. It’s been in circulation since the 1800′s sometime as I recall.

The weeping beech I planted as a memorial for my brother and it has his ashes underneath it. It’ll get taller eventually but since I stopped staking it up it’s stopped getting taller for now. I’m hoping it’ll mound up on itself as time goes on but it may just get wider I’m not sure. The Red Fox Katsura is hard to see I know but it has deep purple blue green leaves that are even more red at first growth. It hasn’t grown this year at all which concerns me but patience is called for here and I’m trying my best to just allow it to grow on its own pace. It’ll be a lovely tree in time.

The Physocarpus, or Ninebark as they’re called, is a small shrub with deep maroon leaves and light pink flowers that didn’t bloom much this year but it grew well. While the Blue Peter Rhodie has been here for years and always puts on a fine display of flowers. The lavender and the sage are in the Herb bed and I’ve gotten a lot of good food from this bed. I harvested my savory and oregano awhile ago while it was in fresh growth and some rosemary too. I’ll have a good stash for cooking this year.

The Mountain Fire Pieris, or Lily of the Valley shrub, has such fine red tones when it first leafs out that turn to a light mahogany and then to  green as time goes on. Buds will set on it from this fall and it’ll bloom in winter with white blooms. I’m rooting for this one to get bigger so it screens us from the neighbors on the deck. It takes time tho so I have to be patient again. It’s required when you a start a garden mostly from scratch and use smaller plants like we did. It takes time and waiting is hard for me but I do it because what else can one do?

I know the Columbine I showed is more blue than red but it’s so beautiful I had to show it. It’s a self sown seedling that just came up in a bed of them I let happen. I love them so much I just let them grow since they aren’t in the way at all. The Heuchera is in the front yard and adds some nice color to that area there with its delicate blossoms and fine maroon leaves. The Anna Rose Whitney Rhodie is in the back of the whole garden and will be a foundation of the corner of the yard as it gets bigger which is doing well now.

The Barberry is a small shrub that has to compete with the Spruce next to it on one side and the Giant Sequoia on the other. It seems  to be holding its own tho so I’m not worried. A little bit of pruning on the spruce and it looks fine. The next azalea is one Louie planted years ago so I don’t know its name but it’s sure lovely isn’t it? Bright and lush it always makes me smile. So does the Ward’s Ruby, one of my favorite azaleas. It’s a kurume so it doesn’t get too big but has loads of blooms when it does so. The Bow Bells and Ken Janeck Rhodies both come on light pink and then one changes to deep pink and the other to white as they age. Both are lovely. The Ken Janeck is a Yak rhodie, a small form with huge leaves that I love. Very cool.

Clearly the Tulips have been here for awhile and it’s amazing that they still come up thru the soil we put there and the plants grow thru them now. They add some bright color to the winter garden when they bloom. The Elephant Ears or Saxifrage, are in the front of the whole garden and provide a soft haven of their flowers with their lush foliage. I love the deep color they have.

The Thrift, the Daphne and the Bleeding Heart are all in the same area and are quite wonderful when they all bloom together. The Daphne is so fragrant too, it’s possible to smell it standing up next to it but if you really want to smell it you have to get down on your knees. It’s wonderful. The Blue Diamond Rhodie has grown a lot this year but only bloomed a bit. It’s so healthy tho I’m happy with it. The currant is blooming well in this picture but hasn’t grown much yet this year, as have so many plants. It seems to be the year of patience for me this year as I’ve said before. Ah well, as long as they keep growing I have faith that they’ll do well in time.

The Racemosum Rhodie is a species Rhodie that has wonderful light pink blooms at an early stage in the season. They come when you’re just tired of winter and need a bit of color in the garden. They provide some wonderful  blooms. The Winter Daphne has wonderfully fragrant flowers in pink and the Ural False Spirea has such cool pinkish tips to its growth I’ve included both which live next to each other in the front yard. You can smell the daphne all over he yard when it blooms.

The Goshiki Kotohime maple means “variegated old harp” in Japanese. It supposedly reminds one of the Koto, a stringed instrument that is endemic to Japan. A lovely plant and a wonderful instrument. This is the new growth that is so very bright and then fades to green as the year progresses. Very lovely. The Heath  is in the Heather garden and adds some blossoms in winter when the heathers are dormant.

The next shot it is of under the starting bed in the greenhouse and has a Persian cyclamen and a Tradescantia which both are doing well this year. They get a bit of water from the bed but we still give them extra to keep them going well. Last is a Moyers Red Nandina in full color with both leaves and berries red as can be. It’s a nice one to finish off this tour of red shades I think.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of Red. I’ve done blue before but never red and it seemed like it was time to do so. With all the maples in particular and the other plants now in such fine colors I just had to share them. They brighten up the garden like nothing else and are so varied as you can see that they provide much interest even beside the color. The forms and the textures too add dimensions to the whole interplay of color and style in this garden as they do in so many others.

Red Rules!

Steve

Yellowstone – Land of Boiling Waters

 

Louie and I recently took a trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons National Parks. We came back filled with wonder and about a zillion pictures of our visit. This time I’m focusing on scenes of steam and water and the amazing mud they create in wondrous colors and forms. The whole land is just bubbling and gurgling with underground steam yet to be released. As one fellow traveler remarked, we were taking pictures of a Lot of steam! It’s truly an awesome place and we had a wonderful time there.

Yellowstone is the first National Park in the whole world and the biggest in the contiguous United States. It’s absolutely huge and contains a 30 x 45 mile wide caldera from a giant volcano that is still active and spewing forth steam daily in its many geysers, more geysers than anywhere else in the world. There are so many it’s impossible to see them all but we tried to see a good cross section of them, tho we stayed on the main roads and paths rather than going into any back country areas.

I’ve included a few of the trail signs that tell some of the story of the park and the geysers and the constant smell of sulphorous steam that permeates the landscape as you wander around the various hot spots. Some places are so dangerous that you have to stay on the boardwalks the Park Service has constructed because otherwise you’d fry your feet off if you tried to walk onto the ground. It’s a little terrifying to say the least.

I’m not going to talk much and just let the pictures tell their own stories here today. I wasn’t able to keep track of just which geyser I was shooting at any given time so it’s a jumble of places  that we happened to visit in no particular order, tho of course the first geyser shown is of Old Faithful at its highest point when we we there. It was pretty cool alright. Lots of visitors for so early in the year too.

I’ve always loved National Parks because of the natural beauty of course, but also because of the great diversity of people who travel in them and the many languages you overhear on your walks. They are truly places that welcome the World in and it’s so cool to be among so many different types of people, all inspired and in awe of the natural sights that the different parks have to offer.

I hope you enjoy these pictures. I’ll post more of other things over the next bit of time. I haven’t been posting much lately due to some serious depression, but I’m doing much better now. As some of you know, I live with Bipolar Disorder and sometimes it takes me over and I can’t function very well, and writing is impossible. I’m still a bit shaky so I’m starting off slow. I’m glad to be back…. :)

peace,

Steve

 

This Year’s Flowers to Date

 

I went back thru my archives to see how many plants I could find that have bloomed so far this year. They all started with the two Pieris, which were blooming in March when I took the first pictures. As we move thru time and space with the rest of these shots you’ll see them in a chronological order as they come into bloom, or as I get the chance to photograph them. I took the last few shots this morning before I wrote this post so it’s pretty current, tho I didn’t really include everything I could have because the list was getting so big. So here they are as they came into bloom. As you can see there have been flowers here for months and months.

After the Pieris, which really started to show themselves with their buds way back in winter, the next things to bloom were the heaths. My Furzy heaths didn’t look so good this year so I didn’t include them but this Kramer’s Rote is lovely and adds flowers to the Heather Garden at a much different time than the heathers, which bloom in summer.  The Little Heath is in there too so the bed is nice at an early date.

The Winter Daphne filled the whole yard with its fragrance for many weeks as it was simply covered with blooms this year. I was amazed and thrilled to see and smell it. Later on I’ll show two more Daphnes -a Summer Ice and a Lawrence Crocker. The first gets to about 4 feet but the other is a dwarf and only gets to about a foot or so but still has an incredible smell to it, if you get down on your knees!, as does the Summer Ice. All 3 Daphnes are wonderful to have here both for their blooms and for their fragrance.

I imagine most folks know the Lenten Rose and the Elephant Ears. Both bloom early and then put on lovely foliage to show us later on so they stay nice for the year. Next is a species Rhodie called Rock Rose Rhododendron that bloomed wonderfully then froze so it’s not looking so nice right now but it’s coming back slowly. This was a hard winter and I lost several plants altogether as well as a lot of burning on others. I’m lucky that so many survived as well as they did I suppose but I always feel bad when things die on me. Oh well, such is life, eh?

I’ve shown the Dutchman’s Pipe and the Wild Ginger before so I won’t go into them again but I wanted to include them as they were in bloom at this time. The next two are natives. One is a Trillium I collected near the road when we were in the mountains, ( I did it right so don’t worry about mal-harvesting… ) and the Red Flowering currant grows in the Cascades and in other woods. It’ll get to about 6-8 feet tall in time and have currants on it at some point, I hope….

The next two are Rhodies that bloom mid season. The Blue Diamond gets about 4 feet tall and the Patty Bee is a clear yellow, unusual in Rhodies and bred in Ireland so the name fits it well. Next is another Heath family member called a Bog Rosemary or Andromeda. I have another form of it too but it didn’t flower too well this year so I didn’t include it but it is quite nice as well, with larger flowers.

Next is one of the Daphnes I talked about earlier, the dwarf form. Next to it is a small Thrift which has such lovely pink flowers and is small at the foot of the fountain where it gets plenty of over splash of water and grows very well. Following them are two Rhoodies. One is the white-with-a-splotch Dora Amateis which is a 3 foot dwarf and the next is an even smaller dwarf with a clear yellow color called Curlew, another species Rhodie. Both are early and lovely.

The Candytuft surrounds our mailbox out front and is visible to all who drive by and see it. It blooms for a long time. I only have one of the David’s Viburnum so I don’t get berries but I love the plant and the flowers it puts on. Later on I’ll show another Viburnum, the Rhytidophyllum, or Leatherleaf Viburnum, that gets 12 feet tall and will require some work to keep it in place as it grows I’m afraid. It’s doing well now tho it went thru some hard times last year before it came out of it.

The Pt Reyes Ceanothus, or California Lilac, has a nice smell to it and attracts lots of bees when it’s blooming tho it’s still early when it does so. The Ken Janeck Rhodie starts out pink and then turns a clear white as it opens fully. The flowers stay on the plant for a long time.

The Aronia is the new super food I’ve found out. It’s super high in those purple/red Phyto Nutrients that help our bodies heal and grow and I intend to make juice out of them this year as it put on tons of flowers and will have lots of berries. They are a bit tart so the juice is good mixed with a sweeter type or some sugar or honey I’ve heard. I’m excited to see how the juice turns out this year. A lucky coincidence, as I didn’t know its attributes when I planted it. I did it because it likes wet soils and it’s very wet where it is…

The Ward’s Ruby is a Kurume Azalea and is covered with small blossoms when it blooms. I love the deep red of it and you can see it from many vantage points it the garden it stands out so well. The Bow Bells is at the foot of the fountain and seems to like it there a lot. It’ll get up to the edge of the fountain someday but it’ll take awhile to do so. Next is the Viburnum I talked about a bit ago that gets so large. It bloomed well this year.

The Azalea is one Louie planted years ago and I don’t know the name of it but it sure is a stand out in the front yard. Very nice. Next is the Daphne Summer Ice I mentioned above and following that are shots of two forms of Columbine that grow in the garden. I love these airy plants that add such an element of grace to the garden. The one set came up all by itself from plants I planted years ago. Amazing!

Next are 3 Rhodies – the Anna Rose Whitney in the back  corner of the garden, the Western Azalea, the native that grows in the western mountains and is a parent of the Exbury and Mollis hybrids from England that all smell so sweet. They get that smell from this plant. The last is a Sappho that Louie planted a long time ago. It’s so incredible in the front yard and is dominant there now.

The last row starts out with a Common Sage that has amazing purple flowers that the bees love now. As they do the French Lavender flowers that are coming on strong now. The last is a large purple rhodie, a Blue Peter, that Louie planted and has become a big part of the back drop to the whole back garden. I love the purple flowers with their darker splotches of purple in their centers. It’s probably the largest rhodie we have but some get Much bigger. Some are even trees! I wish I could plant one of them but we just don’t have the room.

Still I’m very content with this amazing garden we have here now. There are almost always things blooming somewhere all year long and if not flowers then the foliage gives us many colors to view and textures and structures that make the whole thing work well. I hope this hasn’t been too long a tour. I kinda got carried away when I started to put out all the things that have bloomed so far this year. I found that it’s quite a lot when I did it. I hope you still enjoyed it all. :)

Flowers Rule! (sometimes…)

Steve

Scenes From a Rainy Day

 

It’s not a great day out to be gardening, but it’s a wonderful one to be out, with a good hat and coat on, just to wander around and see what’s happening while it’s all wet and feels so fecund and fertile. I love being in the garden when it’s raining. It just feels so intensely alive and filled with water, that blood of life that gives our plants their existence, and ours as well of course. Maybe it’s because I’m a Scorpio, a Water Sign, that I feel this so much, but water has always been amazing to me and I treasure it when I hear it on the greenhouse roof or on the leaves around me as I walk thru the plants. So here’s a few pictures from a walk around on a rainy day.

I started out on the front porch and this is what it looks like when we come outside here. It’s immediate and right in your face. I love it that way. You can see over so much of it from here. Next I wandered down into the garden and through it til I came to the end and looked back for a second. Lots of color in these shots. The Ural False Spirea (Sorbaria sorbifolia “Sem”) is lovely with its light pinkish green new growth. And the Waterfall Japanese Maple is just intense with its bright green new leaves. You can just get a touch of the blue spruce in the back corner but it’s just starting to bud out now and will grow a foot and more if we’re lucky .

Next I walked back along the north side of the house and came into the back yard. You can see the north side fence line here as it goes on back to join the garden. I stopped to take a shot of the colors near the entrance. The Globe Blue Spruce and the bright green Bird’s Nest Spruces are lovely next to the dwarf Barberry in between them. The dark green of the Pendula Sequoia is a nice contrast for them all. Looking along the next shot you can see to the back corner of the garden and the Cryptomeria Radicans that is on the left which is just starting to grow, as are the other slower conifers.

The next path takes us into the garden proper and towards the deck. I stopped and shot a few pictures on the way. First I just looked back at those lovely conifers from the opposite direction from before. Then I took a shot of the 3 red Japanese Maples we have in the garden. On the left is a Bloodgood, in the center is a small Red Dragon and on the right is a larger Red Pygmy, all doing well I’m glad to say. The Bloodgood put on over a foot a half this year which amazed me no end. The fern is a Polystichum setiferum, sometimes called an Alaska fern or a Soft Shield fern.

I next looked across the deck towards the back walla and got a nice far shot of the Wards Ruby kurume azalea and the Ukigumo Japanese maple with the Podocarpus macrophyllus in the middle of them. The next shot is a closer view of them. In it you can see how light the Ukigumo maple is now. It’s not grown much for me but it keeps going on so I have faith it’ll take off someday like the Bloodgood just did after a couple 0f years of sitting there. Plants are funny that way aren’t they? Sometimes they just sit there for a long time and other times they take right off. It’s so interesting to me….

I planted some columbine here a few years ago and since then it seems they decided they liked it here a lot. This year I have yellow, blue, pink and red ones and I only planted the blue ones, I think… Maybe I did some of the yellow too, I can’t recall. I love the heck out of them and they look pretty there so I’m leaving them until I see a reason to cut them back. They’re so airy and light I just find them beautiful. I turned to the left for then next shot and got to see back into the corner of the garden to where the Anna Rose Whitney Rhodie is about to begin to bloom. Behind it the Fatsia is putting new leaves on now and you can just see their lighter color if you look hard. This is a wildish area with the redwood sorrel covering the ground in front of the plants and the the Mountain Hemlock to the left a bit. It feels very cool back here I think…

Next I wandered over to the south side of things and took a couple of shots from there to finish off things. The first is actually from the lawn to the east looking west across the yard. Then I looked back to the north and got a nice shot of the fountain with the Bloodgood and the Leucothoe at its base with the native Bleeding Heart in front of them all. I like this view a lot. Next I looked west and could see to the wall again and across the Howard McMinn manzanita, which froze badly this year so I had to cut it back a lot and leave a spare form but I love the red-brown bark so I get to see it more so now. Finally I stand at the front of the Heather garden and look all the way across the garden to the north side. You can see the Ginkgo Jade Butterflies just leafing out in the midst of the heathers and the new growth on the heathers as well.

I suppose I could have taken a few more shots of this but I was starting to get really wet so in spite of my hat and coat I decided it was time to call it a day and start to write this post. So many things are coming out to show us their beauty now it’s hard to pick a lane, so to speak, as far as which plants to feature an show you. They all excite me but then I’m a geek at this so that’s to be expected. I can’t expect everyone to share my extreme love of this artform of gardens that nurtures both our bodies and our spirits as we wander thru them in the rain. I hope you get the chance to be wandering in your special place soon too. It’s time to really get into working at it again, as soon as it quits raining… :)

Wet but Happy,

Steve

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