Archive for April, 2014

Afternoon Sunshine

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I just happened to look out the back window yesterday afternoon and saw this scene, so I went and grabbed my camera and took this picture. I love the way the sun in lighting up the Red Pygmy Japanese maple as well as the smaller Red Dragon on the left and the Bloodgood on the right. The fountain drops add an extra element of delight to me. The Native Bleeding Heart can be seen blooming on the middle left under the Leucothoe, which is just about to start to bloom. This is a shot of the heart of the Sanctuary and these maples are really growing fast now. I’m so excited by all of this… Wow… 🙂

Happy Spring!

Steve

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A Spring Walk-Around

 

So much has been happening in the garden lately I don’t really know where to begin. So I thought I’d do a little tour of the whole place to show what’s happening in a general way. I started out in the front yard and worked my way around the side to the back and then did some shots there touring the garden. I tried to put the most significant plant names in the pictures so you’d know them.

I began at the front entrance to the garden where the Oregon Green Pine shares the space with the Globe Arborvitae which still has its lovely bronze winter color. The next shot shows the Sango-Kaku Japanese maple starting to leaf out. It’s a bit slower than some of the others but it’s starting t0 look like a real tree again now. Lovely new leaves shine against the red stems.

This is a shot of the main front yard looking towards a couple of new trees since last year. In the center is a maple called a Korean Butterfly maple from North Korea, also known as Acer tschnoskii ssp. Koreanum. Very rare I understand and quite lovely. Across on the right is a purple leaved form of Katsura called the Red Fox, or Rot Fuchs in Germany where it was found. It’s a smaller form of the larger growing species. On the left is a Sorbaria sorbifolia “Sem” or Ural False Sprirea. It’s the one with the pinkish leaves.

Looking out from the back you can see the center of the yard from a different perspective. We like to sit on the bench that sits here to just relax and look at the garden in the evenings or whenever we have some spare time. It’s cool to see it from this way where it’s so very private in the yard and we hear the street but can’t really see it. Nice….

Here’s a look down the north side of the house to the back, showing off the Vine maple I just planted a few weeks ago. I’ve had it in a pot for years and it’s good to get it in the ground finally. I had to find a place for it first but I did eventually. It’ll grow to shield us from the neighbors a bit and give an arching entryway to the back yard from the front. As well as turning lovely fall colors it’s a beautiful tree all year and a native too.

Next is a shot of the whole garden from the deck. You can see how it all fits together here, more or less. Next I moved to the south side of the garden and shot a picture of the path that walks into it towards the Yew Pine or Podocarpus macrophyllus. It’s grown all over in the Central Valley of CA where I grew up but is rare here. It gets 20-30 feet tall eventually but it’ll take awhile, like so many others I’ve planted. I must think I’m gonna live a Long time, eh? 🙂

The Metasequoia Miss Grace holds the edge of the path to the back of the garden and you can see the Cryptomeria elegans a bit in back of it too, tho its winter color is fading to green now it’s still beautiful and about to start growing now. Most of the other Cryptomerias are growing now so I’m excited about that.

The Heather Garden has as a centerpiece a Ginkgo called Jade Butterflies that gets about 10 feet tall and will provide a unique aspect to this area. It’s very unique and a living fossil. In the next row is a side path view of the deck of another Cryptomeria called Radicans, that put on a full foot and 1/2 of growth last year after I planted it in June. Amazing! I think it might put on 2-3 feet or more this year. I sure hope so! You can also see the Viburnum rhitidophyllum next to it on the left. I thought it was going to die a year ago but I pruned it back and eventually it came out great and now grows fully and is about to bloom. Wow, the resilience of these plants amazes me.

Next you see the Metaseaquoia again as we look to the north along the back path. And then we look at the same path from the north looking south. You can see the Mountain Hemlock on the right side and perhaps the Wissel’s Saguaro Lawson Cypress on the left down low. They’re very interesting with their arms like a Saguaro cactus. I’m waiting patiently for them to grow their 6 inches a year…

The Red Pygmy Japanese maple is leafing out and putting on some 6-10 inches of growth. I didn’t really realize these maples would put on so much growth in such a short time. These had leaves come on in about a week or so. Incredible and beautiful. Also from the deck you can see the Sequoiadendron giganteum “Pendula” on the left here along the edge of the walk from the deck to the lawn as we look at it. It’s growing more than anything I’ve got so far I think, tho the Radcans might just surpass it.

Here’s one of the north side of the yard with the Inverleith pine starting to put on its candles, and the Choke Cherry “Nero’ covered in bloom buds. The Black Dragon Sugi is putting on new growth too and the Baileys Creek Dogwood is putting on leaves and about to start to grow. When it does I’ll have to be ready to prune it cause it grows Fast and Full. I’ll have to keep training it up to be a tree for me.

This is a common Bloodgood Japanese maple that has just sat here for the last two years but this year it’s putting on that 6-10 inches of growth the Red Pygmy is doing. I’m amazed and thrilled to see this finally. I’d wondered if something was wrong but it takes time for things to establish themselves at times and that’s what happened here. You can perhaps see that the new growth is flimsy and flows down to the ground but it comes back up in time. I’m very happy about this plant now.

This one is of the fountain in full flow. It’s sound is just so soothing to listen to when we’re out in the yard working or just sitting and relaxing, tho we don’t really do that enough. It’s been a treat tho we had to replace part of it that froze this winter cause we didn’t drain it. Ooops! Oh well it’s OK and working fine now that we replaced the broken piece. It should be cool now, for awhile, till the next bad freeze anyway. Maybe we’ll drain it this year….

The back corner has the Alberta Spruce putting on lot of new growth and looking lovely. The Mountain Hemlock is much later so won’t put on growth for another month probably. It’s a high elevation plant usually so that makes sense it’d grow later. This corner is one of the parts of the garden that has a real NW flavor to it when you sit there. It just feels like it belongs here so well. And the hemlock has grown a lot in the few years it’s been there too.

Here’s a lone shot of our poor veggie garden. I was very late getting my seeds started this year so will have to see what happens with my tomatoes in particular. The onions are growing well and the radishes and even the lettuce as well as the India mustard that overwintered along with the Swiss Chard in the back beds. We’ve planted greens but they haven’t come up yet or the carrots either. But they will soon as well as the corn we have starting in the greenhouse to plant out soon. We’re still eating the onions we grew last year so we get good return from this garden and it’s so much fun to do. It isn’t really cost effective but it soothes our souls and make us happy to do so it’s totally worth it.

This is a shot of the garden from the deck outside the back door of the house. In the middle is a new addition – a Sciadopitys verticilatta or Japanese Umbrella Pine. They say of it that it’s a pine but it’s not a pine… In other words it looks like one, sort of, but not really. It looks like it’s made of wax or plastic almost but it’s so slow growing that it’ll stay in its pot for years. I’m thrilled to have this new plant in the garden, even on the deck.

The last shot is another view of the overall back garden. The Plum is almost done blooming now and we did some pruning of it recently to lighten the load but we have more to do still. The cherry in back is in full bloom still but will be finished soon. It’s been pruned a bit to to get off the dead wood.

Overall this garden is very small but it’s got a lot of components to it that make it feel much bigger. Especially once you get into it you feel the size of it more and I’ve tried to give you a sense of what it’s like to walk around in it while it’s a bit sunny out today. I hope you’ve enjoyed this bit of a tour. I’ll do more on specific plants later on.

Hoping Spring is Springing for you now!

Steve

Wild Ginger and CA Dutchman’s Pipe

The Aristolochiaceae is a very interesting family. To me the two most well known members of this family are both growing in my back yard right now. Both of them have extremely fascinating flowers. I’ve tried to give you a glimpse of what they look like here. Both are very unique and unusual. I like that a lot about them. And they’re also useful.

The first is the Wild Ginger, or Asarum caudatum. It grows wild in the wet forests of the Pacific Northwest and there’s also a related species called Asarum canadensis that grows in the middle of the country and north into Canada, as the name implies. Dan Riegler at Apothecary’s Garden has some great recipes on how to make wild ginger candy. You can see his recipe for his candied Ginger here: http://apothecarysgarden.com/recipes-2/candied-wild-ginger-a-recipe-from-fresh/.

My patch doesn’t look that great right now at the end of winter and is just starting to put on new growth. The flowers can barely be seen in a couple of these shots and you can see how very weird they look. I love the deep burgundy color and the “wings” it has on the sides of the flowers. I’m not sure what they’re called but they look cool to me.

The other notable plant in this family is the California Dutchman’s Pipe. I showed it earlier when it was just starting to bud out and promised I’d show it in bloom, so here it is. I’ve tried to get shots of the whole vine in one picture with others of a closeup of the flowers themselves. They’re quite interesting and unique aren’t they? They really do look like a pipe don’t they?

They call it insectivorous even tho they don’t actually eat insects. They do entice them to crawl down into the flowers tho and pollinate them and then they release the bugs to go on their way. A very civilized system of pollination I’d say. These grow as tremendous vines in wetlands in California. I’ve seen them there and their swamps are very cool and weird too. They can cover large areas and I saw a particular place in their range where the Forest Service had built a walkway over the water so we could walk among them. Very cool.

So that’s it. A simple post for a change. Just wanted to show these extraordinary plants while they were in bloom and looking good. I don’t have enough ginger to really try Dan’s recipe yet but some day I hope to be able to. It sounds too good to miss out on and having unusual foods in my own garden is really wonderful. I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini tour of some unusual plants.

Happy gardening!

Steve

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