Archive for November, 2013

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

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I am very grateful to announce that I have been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by the Belmont Rooster – Lonnie Miller. His blog is fascinating to a gardener like myself. He’s been at it for years and you can tell. He’s collected hundreds of plants that he talks about and shows us in his posts on two different gardens he’s done. He also sprinkles in some good old fashioned wisdom now and then about the human condition, and that all makes him a Very Inspiring Blogger himself, as well as his other awards and many great posts. He’s a bit of an activist blogger and does a lot of work for his Awards and posts. I think that’s great! You can see his work at: http://thebelmontrooster.wordpress.com/ and I strongly encourage you to do so. Thanks a bunch for this Award, Lonnie!

I’m a bit overwhelmed by all this I have to say – simply receiving it is an honor to me and I really appreciate it. It’s my first award and maybe will be the last I don’t know so I’ll enjoy it while I can. I have to do several things I learned from Lonnie in order to accept this Award and one of them is simply to list them. So I’ll list the rules now:

Rules of the Very Inspiring Blogger Award

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and supply a link to their blog.

  1. Display the Award on your post.

  2. List the Award rules so your nominees will know what to do.

  3. State 7 things about yourself

  4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the Award.

  5. Contact your nominees to let them know you have nominated them and provide a link to this post about it.

  6. Proudly display the award logo (or button) on your Blog, whether on the About page, your sidebar, or on a special awards page.

Even Lonnie says you don’t have to follow these rules exactly as he’s written them. Just do your best. The intent is to enjoy the honor and to connect people to other bloggers you think are important to share with the WordPress Community. That’s my opinion anyway…

I’ve done numbers 1,2,3 & 7 already so I’ll try now for number 4. It’s a hard one for me, and for others too I’ll bet. Here we go:

7 things about myself:

  1. I love steamed greens with balsamic vinegar and a touch of butter.

  2. I just read a series of books about a moral wizard.

  3. I like the Afro-Celt Sound System a lot.

  4. I adore chocolate, duh… ( I know – too easy.. 😉 )

  5. I don’t exercise enough and it’s killing me.

  6. I am Not the typical Seattle geek, but a geek nevertheless, I guess…

  7. I wear glasses to see this computer but not to see Life, yet.

OK, that’s done. Whew! So, on to the next, and most important piece of the things I have to do – Nominate my nominees. I have to say a couple of things here to explain myself to some people. I got the notion from Lonnie that I had to contact the people I wanted to nominate First and get their approval Before I nominated them. I have since learned that it’s far easier and more common to simply post your favorites and let the cards fall where they may as far as people accepting them. So I’m doing a bit of both. I’d already contacted several people when I learned this advice so to those I contacted I say Thank You for letting me nominate you whether you’ve responded to me yet or not. The important thing is to honor You and say you deserve this Award for your Excellent blog. If you want it I applaud you for being willing to carry it on and follow the rules. If you don’t want to I understand and still think you Rock!

So here are my favorite inspiring blogs as of right now this moment because it could change in a minute when I read something new I like. I’m not fickle but I do like a lot of different things… I could have listed more frankly. Some I’ve followed for a year, some for a couple of weeks, but I like them all and they’ve all meant something good to me. Here are my Nominees, in no particular order. You all have Wonderful blogs that have definitely inspired me and I thank you all for them!

My 15 nominees

  1. White Rabbit’s Gallery http://hakescafe.com/

  2. This Time – This Space http://thistimethisspace.com/

  3. The Bipolar Codex http://bipolarcodex.wordpress.com/

  4. The Novice Gardener http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/

  5. My Botanical Garden http://mybotanicalgarden.wordpress.com/

  6. Chris Condello http://chriscondello.wordpress.com/

  7. Cancer Killing Recipe http://cancerkillingrecipe.wordpress.com/

  8. She Brings Me Water http://shebringsmewater.wordpress.com/

  9. To Be Aware http://idolanuel.com/

  10. Horticultural Hobbit http://horticulturalhobbit.com/

  11. Acair Fearann http://acairfearann.com/

  12. The Jiggly Bits http://thejigglybits.com/

  13. Kendall F. Person – The Public Blogger http://thepublicblogger.com/

  14. Earthing Rocks http://earthingrocks.wordpress.com/

  15. The Apothecary’s Garden http://apothecarysgarden.com/?wref=bif

I really hope you’ll take the time to visit these extraordinary bloggers and their wonderful blogs. To the nominees: To make it a bit easier here are a couple of links that tell you more about the Award and how to put it up on your site. I used this and it was pretty easy to do. The hard part is linking all your nominees to your post. That took some time and energy, but it’s just copy and paste so it’s not really that bad. It’s a lot of work to receive these Awards I’m finding and I wonder about the necessity of all the rules. But I see that they are necessary if the Awards system is to continue and I hope it does. I’m doing my best to follow them and I hope you will too if you accept the Award. It’s meant as a compliment to you and not as extra work, tho I know it is.

Posting the Award to your Blog

Here are a couple of links from Lonnie… This is to his post about receiving the VIB Award and he shows you a bunch of possible logos you can use so I’m posting the link to them here instead of trying to redo them all on my site because I don’t know how. Check this out: http://thebelmontrooster.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/my-very-inspiring-blogger-award/. You can also go to a site that he recommends there to get the story on putting the logo on your site itself in the sidebar. It’s from the site by Lorraine Reguly and has a neat video that explains it well. Here it is: http://lorrainemariereguly.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/how-to-add-images-to-your-sidebar/.

So I guess I’ve covered everything I can think of. I’m really happy that we have these Awards. I notice a lot on some sites and none on others and I wonder why? Now I have a better idea. First you have to be nominated for an Award and then you have to do some work to make it continue. I think it’s a great way to introduce your community to new blogs they might not have heard of or read. It’s a good thing and I’m totally glad I got this Award. But I’ll think twice the next time, if there is one, before accepting I think. I’ll see what this does for me in terms of getting more likes and follows and especially comments. I don’t get many of them and I treasure them all. Please do talk to me if you like my own work. Feedback is essential if we’re going to be good at this and I’ve gotten enough to make me feel like it’s worthwhile to continue but I could use more. I wish that for everyone on here – that you have people like your posts and follow and comment on your blogs. It’s a good system and there are a Lot of us on here so what you say can have far reaching effects. That’s a good thing I think. I always try to speak directly to my readers with what I have to say, and I know that my words will echo out into the blogoshpere for years potentially. Nothing ever goes away on the net…. So blog well and conscientiously and have fun doing it. Thank You all again for Inspiring me with your blogs.

All the best to you all,

Steve

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Fences, Gates and Walkways

One of the reasons I didn’t post much on here over the summer was that I was just too darn busy doing things with garden work to be able to write much. One of the big projects we took on starting in March was putting up a fence on the north side of the property where we only had a chicken wire enclosure that kept the dogs in and out but gave us no privacy. So we changed that.

We found some great 4′ tall 1″ thick 8′ long lengths of Bamboo fencing at a hardware store near us and got a bunch of packs of them. We also got a lot of wire, some 2″ x 8″ x 8′ treated planks and some re-bar and off we went. We started by placing the planks along the ground and fastened them to the fence with the galvanized wire. It’s strong and will hold the bamboo against the posts and keep it steady and provide a footing for the fencing. We held the planks in place with the re-bar as well, pounding it into the ground a couple feet to secure them from moving.

Next we started to unroll the fencing and place it along the existing fence. We did 8 feet at a time and fastened the bamboo on the chicken wire with the galvanized wire and set it on the planks. After we’d done that we ran a long cable in and out of the bamboo to provide a final layer of protection from the winds and elements.

In the first picture here you can see the whole of the fence as it snakes along the property line. The chicken wire fence is anything but straight but we think the curve of the bamboo just makes it more attractive so we don’t worry about it. We put the “clean” side towards the neighbors side so they like it and we could work the wire fasteners from our side of the fence. It worked well.

There are several pictures of the fence along the north side next. I tried to capture as many different positions on it as I could but it’s hard to see it all at once. As you can see from how clean the fence is in the early picture the whole fence has started to degrade already in that the bamboo is starting to age, which is a big surprise for us. We thought it’d be OK with clean white bamboo for years but already it’s turning brown with mold and age. Weird, but still attractive. We’ll learn to live with it.

We finally finished up the fence on the north side and set about doing the chores we still had to do. We lifted and rebuilt the back deck and the front porch and painted them and then painted the entire outside of the house by hand. It took a couple of months and was it  ever hard work! But it looks so good now it was worth it as we won’t have to do it again for years, we hope.

After we did all that we decided to go back and finish up the fencing. We had a gate at the bottom of the garden you can see next which we added the bamboo to and painted it brown to match the house trim. We also put in a new gate on the north side of the house and painted it to match as well as you can see. We gained a new small planting bed there too which has some nice plants in it. Yay for more room I didn’t think we had!

Next we decided to put in a whole fence between our garage and the house. So that’s the next few shots of it. It’s a little off the same angle as the walkway but that’s OK because we put a line of red brick in between the  walkways and that provides a transition zone that makes it work well for us. You can see shots of the fence from both sides of it in the next pictures.

Finally we put in a couple of walkways. First we did the one inside the fence and took the old walkway out, which was a ton of work, and reused the stones after we pressure washed them. We bought new stones to match and made a new walk from the house to the garage and made the whole inner space into a bit of a small patio. It provided us with another new planting area in with the Fagus and now we have even more plants. Yay again!

The last few shots are of the walkway in and out side the fence. We also ran a new underground drain line from the roof drain pipe to run under the lawn and into the area between the garage and the neighbors place. We wanted to drain the water as far away from the house as well as we could and this does it without an ugly gutter on the lawn like we’ve had for years. It’s all finished off by now as you can see even tho the lawn has to grow back in the spring.

Putting in these gates, fences and walkways was a lot of work. It was also very rewarding to do. They provide an added structural element to the whole garden and give a wonderful backdrop to the plants along the fence and from farther out too. It is easy to see over still so we can stay good friends with our neighbors.

We don’t expect total privacy, just some of it, and we got what we expected so we’re happy. In time the plants will fill in more and provide us with more privacy, but the fences give us it instantly and continue the whole garden in a way that encompasses it in a holistic pattern now that was lacking before.

We’re looking forward to next summer when we have cookouts and can show off the new work. We got to do a bit of that before the fall came and made it to cold to eat outdoors anymore but we’ll still show it off to visitors and we enjoy walking on the walks and seeing the gates and fences.

We like to admire our work after we’ve done it and spend time just looking at things. Do you do that after a job? Just admire your handiwork? It’s a good thing to do. Makes it feel real and like you’ve done something cool. That’s how we feel about this work.

It’s great to live in a neighborhood like Greenwood where people still are friendly and interact when they see you over the fence. They say good fences make good neighbors, but it’s nice to have short ones too that just give the illusion of privacy but still retain easy relations. It’s nice to see over it and say Hi…

Happy Fall to you all!

Steve

Big Dwarf Conifers

When people think of dwarf conifers they usually think of small plants that may only get a few feet tall or wide. Here I’d like to show off some of the ones that get a bit bigger. I already showed the Cryptomeria Elegans and the Black Dragon. The Elegans will get to some 30 feet, and the Black Dragon to 10-12′, compared to the species at over 100 plus so they’re still dwarfs even if the Elegans gets big. But I’m not posting them again. They’re on a past page with the other Sugis.

Here are a variety of conifers that only get a fraction of the size of their parents and I’m not showing them in any particular order. As they come up, the first one is a small hybrid Yew, a Taxus media “Beanpole”, that only gets 10 feet tall and a foot wide if you believe the websites that list it. So far it’s doing what they say and growing a foot a year so it’s all happy I’d say and it’s in a perfect spot by the corner of the garden to mark the edge of it.

Next is one of the deciduous conifers called a Swamp Cypress, or Taxodium distichum “Peve Minaret”. It’s just starting to lose its leaves now in November and will hold them till December. It’s a lovely, soft “pettable” tree that only gets to 10 feet they say compared to its parent that fills the swamps of the South and gets to over 100 feet tall at least.

Then there is a Japanese Plum Yew, or Cephalotaxus harringtonia “Fastigiata” that only gets to 8-10 feet at most and about 4′ wide. I have just enough room for it to grow where I planted it and it’s doing well. It’s been in a pot on the deck for a couple of years and growing well there, but I finally developed a place to plant it and it’s happy I did. The species gets much bigger and isn’t used as often as this one is for tight spots and the like.

The Oregon Green Pine was discovered in Oregon from a cultivar of the Austrian Black Pine which is its parent and a forest tree in much of Europe. It’s growing in a bowl shape now but is supposed to get to 20 feet tall or so in time. It’s growing a foot or more a year so it’ll take it some time to get there but someday it’ll provide us with a nice piney smell when we enter the front garden. I’m very fond of the magnificent white candles this one puts on for spring before they leaf out. Stunning!

This  Sequoiadendron giganteum cultivar is called Pendula and is supposed to get to 35 or 40 feet but I’ve never seen one that big, tho I’ve seen some large ones. This is still a dwarf compared to the 360 foot tall species that grows in the Central Sierras of California. It still looks and feels like a Redwood and it’s a joy to have it gracing the entrance to the garden. It’s grown 8 or 9 feet since we planted it. Wow.

This one is a cultivar of the Alaska Weeping Cypress called Green Arrow that is native to our northern Pacific Coast of North America. It’s a forest tree but this cultivar only gets to 35 feet and an astounding 2 feet across. I don’t quite believe that but I’ll watch it and see how it does. It can’t get too big where it is but I can train it some to allow its arms to branch out like the species does and looks so cool…

I particularly like this next tree. It’s a variety of the Scotch Pine which has many cultivars. This one is called “Inverleith” after the Inverleith Castle in Scotland where it was found. They say it only gets to 10 0r 12 feet tall, but other sources say it gets to 40 or more so I’m in a bit of a quandry about it. I guess I just have to let it grow and see how it does. I think it’ll be alright…

Next are the dwarf Alberta Spruce, a smaller version of the native that grows in the Rockies and up into Canada. You’ve doubtless seen them before as they’re pretty common. These were salvaged by my partner when the neighbor was going to toss them and he saved them. They’ve grown much taller than I am now, at least one of them has. They give a nice NW feel to the back corner of the yard.

Finally is an Incense Cedar variety, Calocedrus decurrens, called “Maupin Glow”. It’s supposed to only get to 15ft by 5 wide but the species is another forest tree in the Sierras and grows much taller, over 150 feet or more. This has golden tips on the new growth that fades to dark as they age. I was just able to plant it in a new bed we created when we did the walkway. I’ll talk about it in another post…

So there we are with some of the larger dwarf conifers I have in this tiny garden of ours. Someday I’ll try to do a post on the few actual Big Trees that grow here. I don’t have too many but I’m fond of the ones I do have and look forward to the time they grow into themselves as these smaller ones are doing so well. I’m happy to report that some of these dwarfs are at least as tall as I am now (I’m 5’6″), so it feels like I’m in a small forest when I’m in amongst them. It’s a cool feeling and I recommend these large forms for anyone who has the space.

Conifer Joy to you!

Steve

In a Flash

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Generally I don’t much like photos of plants taken with a flash. They add a shine to things that can distort them. But this picture is so unique to me I just had to post it. I was out shooting photos the other day and the light was waning and sometimes the flash worked and sometimes it didn’t. This time it did and I got something I didn’t expect. I wanted to capture the Chamaecyparis pisifera Baby Blue in the center but I ended up with a color palette that so intrigued me I just had to post it.

The Baby Blue just shines with its silver blue foliage. But there are many other plants here that draw my attention strongly. At the far left going clockwise is the Metasequoia Miss Grace with its amazing orange brown fall color. Next to it in the back is a large existing Sweet Olive – Osmanthus fragrans I believe. In the middle center is a Ginkgo Jade Butterflies that is just starting to change color to a brilliant yellow. Next to that in the back and dark is the Cryptomeria Elegans just visible with its purple fall colors. At the right is a a Pieris japonica Little Heath with its winter buds so bright in red. And across the whole middle are the Scotch Heathers that I leave the dead flowers on all winter because I love the look of them.

So, I guess sometimes a flash can provide me with something I can’t get an other way. It’s amazing. Click on the photo to get a larger print to see why I like it so much.

Steve

Sugi, Hinoki, and …

Sugi is the Japanese name for Cryptomeria japonica, the national tree of Japan. It’s also known mistakenly as Japanese Cedar or even Japanese Redwood for its similarity to our native Sequoias and Sequoiadendrons. They used to be related by family but things change in Taxonomy and now they’re in the Taxodiaceae and the redwoods are in the Cupressaceae – different families, but still retaining their similar looks. Sugi is used extensively in Japan for building and has been used for constructing Temples for centuries as has the Hinoki. There is a grand avenue of Sugi planted hundreds of years ago by a vassal to his lord that is 40 kilometers long and a true treasure of Japan.

There are over 200 different varieties of Sugi and as many Hinoki. I only have a few of each but there is such  diversity in just my few plants that I thought it might be nice to show them off. I arranged the Sugi more or less by height. The smallest ones first going up to the largest growing ones. The Tansu and Pygmaea only get a foot or so large while the Radicans can get to 45 feet in time according to my research. Frankly I’ve never seen a large one of this variety except online so when I planted it I took a chance that it would work out well. So far it’s great and has grown a foot and 1/2 just since June this year when I planted it… Wow.

The Vilmoriana is sorta in between some of the small ones. It gets around 3 ft overall and I’ve put it in a pot on the front porch to show off because it’s so beautiful and perfect in its growth habit. We got a nice pot that matches the house and trim and it looks like it belongs there when you come up the steps.

The Elegans is the next largest one and gets to 30 feet or more. It’s grown from a 14″ plant in 2009 to a 9ft tall beauty in just 4 years. I’ve had to stake the top as it wants to flop over a bit, which is apparently common with them on occasion. I hope mine stays straight this time tho. I can’t see training it upright 20 years from now, assuming I live that long…. I suspect I will since I just turned 63 on Monday… 😉

The Black Dragon gets to somewhere around 10-12 feet they say and I look forward to when it reaches that size and provides some more screening from the neighbors. And the Elegans Nana gets some 4-5 ft wide and not as tall and I’ll have to work just to keep it in its space as I don’t have quite as much room as I’d like in the heather bed where it’s located. But I have faith that the plants will all get along well with each other so I think it’ll be OK.

The Hinoki shows a full range of sizes and a bit of variation as well. The Nana is supposed to be the smallest one of them, growing to only a foot tall in many many years. After that is the Chrimen which may grow to 6 ft and 4ft wide in 10 or more years. It’s a unique looking plant that doesn’t even look much like a hinoki unless you look close. Very interesting I think. Next is the Nana Gracilis which grows to some 6-8 or more feet in time but it takes awhile.

The Nana Lutea is long gone but I wanted to show what it looked like at the time it was growing well. It just died for some unknown reason last year and I was sad to see it go. It has a golden cast to it in the sun and looked lovely. I miss it but at least I have my photos to keep it in  mind.

The full size species is at the end. It grows to 40 feet or more in gardens but much taller in the forests of Japan. This one I’m training up to be a specimen at the front of the house so it will provide a bit of enclosure when you enter the porch. It’s grown a lot in the last 4 years and is now above the porch rails whereas it started at only 3 ft tall.

The last row has a few different Chamecyparis. The first is Snow, a pisifera variety that the Royal Conifer Society says will only get to 16″ but other sites say it’ll get to 6 feet!! I hope not… I don’t have room for that. It’s so hard to get sizes from the web sometimes. You get all sorts of possibilities. I always average them out to get a sense of what I’m dealing with.

Next is a lawsoniana hybrid called Rimpelaar discovered recently. It’s a a cute little thing that will only grow to about a foot around and be a small ball with very interesting foliage. And finally there are a couple more lawson hybrids called Wissel’s Saguaro which are supposed to grow 8-15ft tall and 4 ft wide and will look like a Saguaro cactus with arms sticking out from it. It’s a new variety also and they really don’t know how big it’ll get so I’ll see how it goes over the years. They can get as big as they want to where they are so it’ll be OK.

So that’s a bit of a tour of some favorite conifer groups of mine. I’ll do one on bigger growing ones one of these days too. I have a bunch of them so I have a beautiful evergreen backdrop to my garden all year round even in the winter when the others lose their leaves. Conifers and evergreens are essential to a good landscape and we’re lucky to have them to provide us with winter cheer and enjoyment.

Hope you liked this tour!

Steve

Fall Colors

There are many plants that turn fall colors even in a small garden like this one. We have a number of dwarf plants that turn lovely colors in the fall and winter and some of the evergreens also turn colors, either with their leaves or flowers, or their flower buds waiting for bloom in the spring.

I’ve included a variety of plants here that turn great colors and make the time of beauty in the garden last a bit longer for us. Some others will continue to change as time goes along. The Taxodium dwarf I have is a long time changer and won’t really turn till December when it turns a rich golden brown.

I haven’t included the conifers that are in color all year long, only the ones that change like the Cryptomeria elegans. There are many blue colored plants in the garden and they add a lot of color for us all the time. On second thought I’ll add in a few of the blue ones too, just for the heck of it, eh?

I even included a shot of the neighbors Liquidamber, as it’s a  huge one and quite striking. I wish we could grow big trees like this one in our yard but there’s a lot to be said from “Borrowing” the scenery of the neighbors, you know? ; ) It adds to the size of the garden and lets us see other types of plants on the skyline.

Lots of color everywhere here  tho it’s slowly fading. I read that the PNW is luckily getting just the right mix of weather to have spectacular fall colors, which we don’t usually have in such abundance. So it’s a great year for color here and I’m really enjoying it. I hope you are too.

Lovin’ the Colors!

Steve

1400 Days and Counting…

That’s about how long it’s been since we planted the first plants in our Garden Sanctuary here. There were several existing foundation plantings around here and there but we added the whole inner garden and the front yard enclosure to it all and made it the garden it is today. I’d like to show you some pictures of how it’s developed.

I’m posting some pictures from then and now. Things have really grown in the 3-4 years since we started the bones of this garden. We’ve added lots of new plants over the years. Some of them here are quite new but most of the others are well established by now. Even many of the dwarfs are bigger than I am now so it feels like you’re in a real miniature forest in the garden, instead of all these little plants waiting to be big ones.

Here are some of  the ones that excite me the most, tho there are many others I couldn’t fit in this large show as it is… Sorry for so many pictures but I wanted to give a broad view of things. I  hope you enjoy them.

Happy Gardening,

Steve

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