Walked around the yard to make a mental inventory of what's stirring and also to survey the damage from our winter storm this past month (temperature in the teens). I was surprised how well things looked on the south side in front of the rose bed.
Here are what are showing growth:
Will check West Perennial bed soon.
Looked around in the W. Perennial bed. Found one bulb (tulip or scilla) pushing up on east side of pathway. New leaves are evident on columbine and Campanula carpatica. Some of the candytuft are trying to bloom slightly but were arrested by our extreme cold snap. There are basal rosettes on the Sedum 'Autumn Joy' that have been there for a couple of months, waiting. Small forget-me-not seedlings are everywhere and will need thinning. Also see germinating Lychnis coronaria and some scattered Iceland Poppies.
Should have written much sooner to chronicle the early bulbs and shrubs. Have purchased too many plants and books this spring. Made the mistake of writing it all down so now I'm painfully aware of how bad it's gotten.
Iris season is upon us. It's been rather cold for the most part this spring, although we've had a week or two here and there where it's been quite warm (almost hot!).
The iris are always wonderful while they last. 'Chinese Treasure' looks like the perfect solution to tie together the 'Blue Aimable' tulips and the orange shrubby potentilla.
There are only a few tulips hanging on - 'Spring Pink' and 'Blue Aimable'. The 'Spring Green' tulips still look nice, especially next to the variegated hosta they are by. Want to plant a soft pink next to them this fall to enhance the Clematis montana rubens behind.
Ron just finished putting in a patio block sidewalk that really looks nice. I planted a small bed in the middle with a Chamaecyparis obtusa nana 'Kosteri' and 'Ken Janek' rhody. Also herbacious perennials (a few).
We rented a sod cutter to remove the grass from entry area - also extended back flower beds to allow for a continuous curve around lawn. Added a small crescent-shaped bed around the ash tree in the back. Don't know how the new bed will look. Planted with pink, mauve, violet-blue and some yellows (Achillea 'Coronation Gold', Limnanthes douglasii, some yellow or cream daylilies I'm expecting soon.
The pyrethrum are about to pop open and columbines are just full now. The Siberian irises are beginning to open. The Shirley poppies will probably begin in another week. They should be beautiful with the bearded iris in the same bed. Lilies are up and loaded with promising looking buds.
Rhododendrons are at midseason and Exbury azaleas are now opening.
Planted a new area west of deck. Right now there are two clumps of lavender phlox and a piece of Monarda 'Croftway Pink' that will need to be moved. Planted a Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple' next to the 3 Choisya ternata. Bought a Phygelius aequalis 'Moonraker' and planted it nearby. Also 3 kniphofia, Munstead lavender and two types of Cistus. (I hope this stuff winters over.) Also in front of choisya, a callicarpa.
It's Sunday - power was out last night from winds gusting to 60 mph. Not too many leaves left on trees. Wanted to compost some...when it dries out, I hope I can find some! Read the last entry and should note that I've moved some of those items already (in W. of deck bed.).
The Phygelius aequalis has been moved in the alley bed in front of the Clematis 'Lady Betty Balfour'. The phygelius has grown a lot but bloomed little after being moved. Maybe next season. The leaves still look very nice after a couple of frosts which have totally decimated the hostas in that area.
I have been fine-tuning some areas by moving plants around this past month. The bed beside the deck needs attention tomorrow. I am shuffling a Heuchera 'Palace Purple' and a Munstead lavender and adding 2 clumps of Ballota pseudodictamnus. The Helichrysum petiolare looks nice there but doubt if it will winter over. The ballota will go there but I will leave the helichrysum to give it a chance. One of the kniphofias bloomed twice with a paler version of a typical red hot poker. Hope the other two are solid - maybe primrose or cream colored.
I've planted about 400 bulbs this fall. (Have a sore shoulder to prove it!) I'm looking forward to next spring when they begin to come up. Put in a "white" bed just north of the above area. The main thing in it is a Magnolia loebneri 'Merrill'. Looks like it has a few buds for next spring. Made a bed around it to eliminate mowing next to the tree. Mostly white stuff, green foliage, with a few color contrasts such as Siberian iris, Geranium macrorrhizum, blue alliums, lavender crocus and the flowers of lungwort. I hope it looks nice. It may turn out to be a battle between the sweet woodruff and Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy'. The lamb's ears may need checking also. Planted almost 40 white tulips in the curve of that bed and 41 crocus under the clump birch near there. Need to put vinca around the birch and move some Japanese anemones and Cimicifuga simplex in the back of the white bed. Hope the rest fills in.
I've been obsessed with planning a new area in the back yard across the W. end from in front of the London Plane tree over to the rose frontal. Want it to surround a patio block pad where one can seek solitude, surrounded by flowers and foliage and gaze at the Olympic mountains. I'm leaning toward grays and blue foliage - mauves, violet, cerise, and a touch of apricot, cream or pale yellow (flowers). Hope it works out.
As far as what still looks nice, we've had a couple of frosts that have really destroyed the hosta, dahlias and more tender plants of summer. There are a few violets blooming by the front porch. The grouping there of Calluna vulgaris 'E.H. Beale', Ajuga 'Pink Silver', Geranium 'Ballerina' and curly sedge ('Frosty Curls') is very pleasing. The ajuga has colored up with the cool weather and has a few short blue spikes on it. In the ajuga I planted some Crocus zonatus which is blooming now, but expect it earlier next season.It's a washy color but pretty with the beet-juice background of the bugle.
The Cyclamen hederifolium is almost done blooming. The new pink one I planted last winter has 1 bloom but I'm pleased they are all still alive.
Really enjoyed the grouping in the oak bed consisting of Artemisia 'Lambrook Silver', Japanese Blood Grass, Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and Cosmos atrosanguineus. Also have a Buddleia 'Petite Indigo' on that corner. It should be really nice next year. Planted a schizostylis 'Oregon Sunset' next to the artemisia and blood grass where the Crocosmia 'Lucifer' back it. It has only a couple of flowers but will look nice there. Want to introduce more Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant' into that bed to tone down some and enhance others. Hope I can get divisions from my others in the spring.
The back bed came into its own in early fall with the Boltonia 'Snowbank'. I need to mask their bare legs with something next season. Maybe some earlier white plant such as Malva moschatus. Just planted a small callicarpa in that bed that was given to me by John and Mary R. It will look pretty there in the fall until I have to do something because of the growing hemlock behind it. They also gave me 6 seedlings of a white cistus. I put them out front in the orchard bed. Hope the cats leave the area alone and allow them to grow. Have some botanical tulips to put in that bed. ('Guiseppe Verdi' and T. tarda)
Spring of 1997
This is to be the beginning of a garden diary, which I hope to update every so often. I came across some old handwritten pages in my garden notebook which were quite interesting to read after the fact. I'm surprised how old some areas in the yard actually are. No wonder they need reworking!
We have gotten to the point after living here for 22 years that it is necessary to cut some things down and thin some large stuff out of the landscape. It's a little difficult to do after having a mind set for so long of wanting more privacy and shelter, but the time that I've read about has finally come (as well as old age and flab!). In the past week, Ron cut down a few trees that we had planted a few years back. The pine tree behind the carport is gone now...it was getting out of scale and was leaning to reach for light because the oak tree was blocking it. I'll miss the nice dark green color and textural contrast of its foliage since the rest of the bed is deciduous, but decided it must go. I'm hoping to take out the kinnikinnik that was planted under the oak and put some shade loving perennials there such as hellebore and hosta. I have noticed small hellebore seedlings under the Styrax japonica and it would be a perfect place to move them since it has shade but bright indirect light and little root competition from the oak tree. That bed would also receive more irrigation in the summer. I'm hoping that although they are small, the hellebores will provide some evergreen interest in the winter and that they'll also be less threatened by the heavy leaf fall in the autumn.
The bed I've written quite a bit about in my past entries was the one west of the deck. It was a problem spot because of the intense afternoon heat, combined with fairly heavy soil for our yard. I really like that area now. It has a pleasing grouping of kniphofias, bronze fennel, blue oat grass, daylilies, lilies, purple smoke bush and euphorbia. There are still a couple of small callicarpas there (the Korean kind) that have never really thrived, but the berries are still nice in the autumn. Mildred Smith (who died this past year) gave me some colchicum and I'd planted some of those in front of the Choisya ternata. They never really showed up very well against the beauty bark so I've planted some rosemaries as an underplanting. I sure hope it's "under"...they seem to be getting taller than I'd anticipated. I might have to trim some of the higher branches to allow the colchicums to get their heads through it.
Next to the deck on the other side of the path, I've allowed some volunteers to stay. I've gotten seedlings of erigeron, Lychnis coronaria and lyre-leaf sage. There are also nigella seedlings and an occasional opium poppy. A wonderful surprise was a small red-leafed grass that happened to seed there somehow from a clump that had been planted by the water feature in the back yard. I'm not sure how it got there (could I actually have transplanted the remains of it at one time and forgotten?...seems like I may have), but it is really looking nice. It's a New Zealand native and I've forgotten the name at the moment...its bright burnt orange color is almost startling. There are a few sulking convex-leaved hollies past that spot and I tucked in some bronze sedge grass seedlings (from Marianne ) and a few rosemaries that were rescued from the trash at Furney's. Cayenne was told to deep-six what was left of the herbs and I thought I could use those rosemaries. They are small, but still alive.
In the Spring and Fall I especially like this bed...although I like it when the lilies and euphorbia cross paths as well. I guess I just enjoy it most of the time. There are a few chrysanthemums that valiantly make an appearance, despite my neglect and really spice it up in Autumn. They are 'Grenadine', which is one of my favorites for blending in different areas between cool and hot colors. The Choisya has gotten out of hand and I really hacked on it last year and now have runners everywhere! I've pulled a lot of them up but will have to attack it some more this spring. It's still very pretty as a backdrop for the other plants there and it will stay. I almost had Ron cut down the white birch we'd planted as a seedling (from the tree in the front) but I thought I'd mourn its loss too much. It really frames the mountains and sunsets from the deck vantage point and I think I'll just have to tolerate its greedy root system and rework the area underneath a bit to take out things that insist on more moisture in summer. There are a few things doing pretty well there and I'll probably just extend them a bit. I got an Aster divaricatus at Furney's the last year I worked there and it seems that it will do a good job of cheering the area in late summer to fall. It doesn't need a lot of water. Out in the front yard I have a similar situation with a birch there and Euphorbia robbiae seems to be the solution. Most plants cannot tolerate the dry shade created by the birches and it can romp without threatening anything smaller. (Since nothing smaller is growing there!)
Thought I'd write a bit more. Besides cutting down some trees and limbing up others (birch out front and oak) I've finally pruned the informal "hedge" of barberries by the carport and did the rose bushes. I usually don't get to the roses so soon, but pruning my cousin's (Jerry...he had a handful of bushes) got me going, I guess. Since there are a few gaps in the rose bed, I weakened and bought a couple of cheap, non-patented roses at HomeBase the other night. They were about $2 apiece. I got an old friend... 'Command Performance' (this is an offspring of 'Tropicana' and is very fragrant) and 'Betty Prior'. Aunt Mary had a 'Betty Prior' at her place and I'd always admired it. I'm fond of singles. I hope these get a chance. I'll need to amend the soil where they go and be sure to water that bed with the soaker more faithfully than I've done for awhile. Around those new bushes I should be sure to remove the vinca even though I'll probably not get it all taken out like I'd like from the whole area. It really needs to go! I planted it shortly after Aunt Mary's stroke (which was about 10 years ago) and it really took off. I'd like to save a little in her memory, but that shouldn't be too hard since I'll probably not succeed in eradicating it all anyway!
There's still a test rose I was given when I worked the last year at Furney's (1995) and it's been growing in a pot. It looks a lot like a rose in their catalog ('Love Potion'), but is probably not exactly the same one, although it's in the purple family (pinkish purple) and has a really nice fragrance. The foliage is attractive also. I think I'll try to plant it in a gap somewhere or take something out that is in death throes.
There are so many areas that need major weeding/mulching it is pretty discouraging. They were glorious a few years ago and now are getting choked with their own congestion as well as weedy interlopers. As far as what's happening right now...the witch hazel has been out for a couple of weeks and is always a joy this time of year. I haven't checked the "pink" pussywillows by the road but the black one (I got it by mistake when ordering an alpine variety) in the back yard is out in full. We have snowdrops up, hardy cyclamen coum, a few violets, and the first few crocuses. The Helleborus foetidus is blooming and also the hybrid I have...a Helleborus niger cross. The Corsican hellebore is getting ready to bloom in the next month and it won't be long until the H. orientalis plants send something up. I'd like to rescue some of their babies pretty soon and get them going under the oak tree. I'm bound to lose a few. Maybe I should just pot them up in four inch pots and set them out after they get better root systems and I've babied them for a bit...?
Some of the plants I wrote of in 1991 have not been with us for awhile. I no longer have any ceanothus in the yard (too ratty after hard winter cold) and many of the bulbs I put in no longer bloom. I've found that Narcissus don't do well for me here and tend to be infested with Narcissus bulb fly. It might be because of the sandy soil. I do have better luck with tulips but they won't bloom forever when the area around them gets weedy! Maybe I'll restore some flowers in a couple of years if I feed and take care of those areas. The "crescent" bed in the back has evolved into a paisley shaped one and the color scheme runs to violets, golds and yellows, with some apricot, orange and white thrown in. It is actually rather pleasing at times but is one of the areas that has gotten a bit weedy. Once I get going on it it probably won't take so long as I think, especially if I do it early while the soil is soft and use the fork to really loosen things up. Then the weeds lift out easily. There's a buddleia there that has never amounted to much and I should move it somewhere and put a phormium or some sort of bronze grass in its place. Maybe this year?
I mentioned the bearded iris and there are still some valiant bloomers, but they would also benefit from more light and room restored to them. I really need to make sure to take care of 'Wabash' as I don't know where I'd go to replace it. I'd bought it from the gal who sold iris in Belfair and she's gone out of business. It's a really old variety that you see alot in books around old homesteads, but I've not seen it for sale. It's a beautiful bitone with violet falls and white standards. The falls have a bit of a white edge around them. It's quite striking, even though the flowers are smaller than the newer hybrids.
The oak bed still brings me a lot of pleasure. It has a lot of red stuff in it...flowers or foliage. The reds are not particularly hot, except for the Crocosmia 'Lucifer'. The crocosmia has taken over a bit and will probably need to be thinned out a little. There was a schizostylis near it that I didn't even notice this year from all that crocosmia foliage hanging over it. I seem to have lost most of the schizostylis in the yard. I hope there are few babies here and there that can be used as replacements. In the oak bed there is still the Buddleia 'Petite Indigo' which I've always loved and around it are some plants with purple foliage as well as flowering plants with some hot pink and violet-pinky colors in them...dianthus especially. The whole effect is rather vibrant like a tapestry. There are foliage colors of soft green, gray green and jade which soften it. Around the buddleia grow some sedums and erigeron which renews itself very nicely each year. There are also a lot of lilies and daylilies in the oak bed and they range from gold to burgundy-red to pink. After the earlier show of bearded iris and geraniums (hardy) the daylilies carry things through until later summer. After that the sedums take over, along with a chrysanthemum which was just listed as 'Daisy Red'. It's been very faithful, despite my neglect, but I should really divide it and give it some goodies to feed on. The Japanese blood grass, Imperata cylindrica rubra, in that bed wasn't as apparent last season and I don't know if it's getting covered up by taller things or whether it had to do with lower lighting or the cooler wetter summer we had. Limbing up the oak should bring in more light and some of the things under that tree should make a better showing this season.
I think I'll stop for now. There are other areas to write of and I'll do that as I work on them or prepare to do so. I bought some bulbs at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show that need to be planted soon. One of the varieties is an oriental lily called 'Egypt' and it's beautiful! It is white flushed with pink and has NO spots to ruin its pristine beauty. I also got the 'Black Dragon' clone of trumpet lily. I've always wanted that. I hope its as good in person as it is in the photos! There are a couple of other lilies that I need to find homes for in the next couple of weeks. They are in bags on the porch and it's pretty cool, but they won't hold forever.
Got myself outside yesterday afternoon (fighting the urge to take a nap) and potted up some hellebore seedlings from under the Styrax japonica and three from around the Helleborus hybridus plant by the carport. It's in bloom right now and is white. It doesn't seed very much and these three are the first seedlings I've noticed. I hope they grow on okay. I mixed some of that cheap potting mix from Costco (not as nice as Uncle Malcom's) with some mushroom compost and a sprinkling of bone meal. I potted up 20 of the Helleborus orientalis seedlings and immediately gave away three.That leaves me with 17 orientalis seedlings that I'll need to plant later on and three of the white ones. They will go under the oak tree after I remove the groundcover there (Kinnikinnik). I hope I get a good representation of color. There are two plants near where the seedlings were taken and they are a dark pewtery burgundy and the other is lighter with pink in the flower (and larger). One of the seedlings was closer to the third hellebore planted under that tree and that one is a brighter reddish/burgundy. That was the largest of the seedlings I potted up. I had to put it in a gallon container. Today I'll either start that or try to plant the three rose bushes I have. Two are in little bags with wood chips so they should come first. I hope they take off. I don't always do well with new ones, but hopefully I'll water that bed more this season if I can get rid of the vinca and find the ends of the soaker hose hookup!
Good news and bad news. I planted some of the bulbs today that I'd gotten at the garden show (only had four left) but we went to Costco and I couldn't resist buying a bag of Asiatic lilies called 'Lollipop'. There are twelve in the bag and it cost (with tax) $9.18 (That's only 77¢ apiece!)...a really good buy. They are in good shape. Now I just have to figure out where to put them! There are a couple of places where they'd be harmonious...if there's room there and not competition from other bulbs I'd planted before.
What I did accomplish mostly today wasn't what I'd set out to do. When I went out to look for a couple of plants to see if there was still life in them, I noticed a clash that I've observed for two years now but haven't addressed. There were three clumps of bright gold crocus that had opened in the past day under the pink dogwood tree. They clash terribly with a Cyclamen coum ('Pewter Leaf') that I have nearby and I don't want to move the cyclamen anywhere else. I lifted the clumps of crocus in full bloom and put them down the path a ways toward the back yard and near the cement white bench. They look nice grouped on either side of the path (there was already a lonely clump in that area) and it gets them far enough from the pink of the cyclamen that they don't fight. The other crocus that are coming up under the dogwood are in shades of purple and they look nicer in harmony with their companions.
I had stumbled over a surprise on the north of the house a day or two ago and moved it into the bed west of the deck. It is either a seedling (volunteer) of Salvia argentea (I had them planted in the deck planters a couple of years ago) or some sort of mullein that is really woolly. It was in too much shade so I put it close to where the steps come down off the deck (Ron put them in last year but doesn't have them totally finished yet). I also moved one of three upright rosemaries near the stairs and planted a couple of trumpet lilies behind in the corner created by the stairway joining the deck. The lilies are 'Midnight' and the 'Black Dragon' clone I bought. A little in front of those I put the 'America' Asiatic lily that might end up clashing there. It is somewhere between red and purple. I'm hoping that it's finished by the time the trumpets hit their stride. I'll probably have to stake them to protect their bases from cats and because they will tend to lean toward the sun from the deck side. I also moved a small volunteer lavender from under the Styrax japonica near there. It will have a rosemary and a volunteer Euphorbia characias wulfenii behind. Except for the Ilex convexa, 3 rosemaries rescued from Furney's (2" pots), bronze sedge (curly) from Marianne, and the New Zealand grass (I thought it volunteered, but I vaguely remember putting it there not knowing if there was any life in it or not)... everything on the side of the path under the deck railing is volunteer. There are erigeron, Lychnis coronaria, Linaria 'Canon Went', nigella, euphorbia, pulmonaria (which is getting ready to bloom), and lyre-leaf sage. I had also planted a bit of orange mint in that area and it is still there, but I pull some out periodically so that it doesn't totally take over. It sounds like a real mish-mash, but it is starting to be pleasing. Last year I especially enjoyed the cerise colored lychnis blooming above a mist of erigeron daisies in their soft shades of pink to white. I should make sure there is a lychnis close to that spot again...I may have pulled that one up after flowering.
I'm hoping Monday to get the three roses planted and the other bulbs I'd bought at the NW Flower and Garden show. As far as the new lily bulbs, I'll probably stick some of the in the back bed in a couple of different places. I just hope I don't dig into something else in the process.
It was a beautiful day today and the temperature just about got up to 60 degrees. It was sunny much of the time and I noticed just before quitting that there were MOSQUITOES! That's a sure sign of spring. They are usually really large at the beginning of the year and easier to kill.
I just walked outside to look at things since it's gotten a bit sunny and very mild. I noticed there are a few baby cyclamen seedlings (coum) that I ought to move or pot up for awhile. If I had a market for them, I could sell some of the surplus plants from the yard. There are seedlings of Euphorbia that could be potted and lots of curly sedge ('Frosty Curls'). There are many more Helleborus orientalis babies as well but I don't know how many I should pot on. If I could successfully carry them over it would be okay, but they could freeze just sitting outside. I'll have to give it some thought. The cyclamen could just be transplanted, but if you grow them in pots for awhile first, they have a better chance of not being smothered before they really get started.
The parts of the West Perennial bed that I never got weeded out are really awful. They are filled with coarse grasses and the grade actually is noticeably higher than the parts of the bed I've weeded (they are covered with green weedy things that grew during the winter. I HAVE to get some bark soon and cover things as I go. That's the only way. I think I'll try to order some bark by March and have the pile on hand. I was listening to Cisco Morris on the radio while I took my bath (has a gardening program on KIRO) and he kept recommending using alfalfa meal or pellets as fertilizer. I might look into how much that stuff costs also and have a bag on hand. I wonder if you can buy broken bags cheaper at the feed store.
Well...I finally got into the yard to work around 2:30 or so and didn't come in until about 5:00. Ron was out there shredding some stuff with Jerry's chipper/shredder and burned the rest of the huge pile of trimmings I'd put on the burn pile (rose canes, evergreen branches, etc.). He still hasn't cut down the last few trees and will hopefully get to that later this week. He's probably putting it off a bit because he'll need to remove some of the boards on the fence before he cuts the pine tree in the back bed. I'll miss its nice dark green color, but it will be nice to open it up in that bed. The hemlocks can be trimmed to keep them in check at the bottom but the pine won't work so well. I wish the Canadian Hemlocks had that darker green color like the Western Hemlock, but they seem to be lighter.
I was going to work on planting rose bushes but never got to that. Typical. I noticed that there were a lot of crocuses blooming in the ash bed ('Cream Beauty' and some light blue ones...also a few Iris danfordiae) that you could hardly see because of the debris and old plants tops so I trimmed them off and pulled some of the junk out of the way. I need to go through the whole thing with a fork and lift all that stupid smart weed out of there. It's run EVERYWHERE! Anyway...I also cut some old foliage off some of the perennials in the back bed...particularly the Siberian iris. That stuff is so tough that you can't really pull it off very well without pulling some of it up and it's hard to cut off with the pruners as well. I'm sure I should sharpen them...but it's still a bit hard to cut. After doing that, I weeded an area where I wanted to plant the pretty lilies I'd gotten at the garden show (the white, flushed pink Oriental ones). I loosened the soil up with the fork and the stuff just came right off the top. I really need to spend more time doing that and get some bark here ASAP to mulch with. Also, some alfalfa pellets would be in order or something to dig in that would build the soil a bit. Just about time for a little chemical boost as well. Anyway...I was going to wait a bit longer, but might order some bark this next week after we get paid.
I want to plant the stock that is still out on the porch...the roses and lilies, but soon I should also move some of the lemon lilies from the back bed out to the orchard bed. It also needs weeding with the fork. That area could look a lot better if I put more color there. Yarrow would probably tolerate the dryness and might look nice with a little larkspur. I'll see how it goes. Also...some columbine would do okay without babying.
I had commitments today that took most of the morning and afternoon, but there was a gift of sunshine and no rain when I got home around 2:00 so I went outside after getting a snack and worked out there for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. It was a good feeling. I lifted and divided a bit of the ixia in the oak bed. I don't know what colors I had. Each clump started out as one corm when I first put them in. I hope one of the clumps I broke up was the really pretty pink one. They have made all kinds of little cormels like a gladiola and I could spread them out a lot more than I did. I figured it would give them a little more nourishment (I added mushroom compost and bone meal to the spots where I put them). I planted the 'Rosepoint Lace' lily bulb from B & D in the area of the back bed where I have Iris 'Victoria Falls' and 'Vanity'. I hope it does okay. That is so pretty in the catalog. The other lilies I planted were 'Lollipop'. I put three in the barrel planter on the north end of the deck and the other nine went in the back bed close to the Daphne burkwoodii 'Somerset' and the baby's breath near it. There are some Liatris growing there and I have a feeling that they'll echo nicely the lavender pinkish color on the lily's outer petals. I hit another bulb while planting in one spot and it might have been one of the pink ones I already had there. I hope I didn't injure it too much.
I also cut back some more stuff in the back bed...mainly the ornamental grass and some of the stuff around it. It's Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus' and the clump is getting really large. I'd thought about trying to burn it and save my hands, but I was afraid if I lit it off I might end up burning down the archway that Ron built out there. I have to keep picking away and keep the faith that I can get caught up eventually. I'm going to try to order beauty bark tomorrow if I can.
I took the plunge today and ordered 10 yards of beauty bark from Asbury Topsoil. I went to gradeschool with the current owner. It was weird to see him now when I haven't seen him since he was about 10 years old or so. He used to chase us around on the playground and I was the only girl he couldn't catch. He was really fast. Anyway...I need to start spreading that around where I've done some weeding. In between, the vinca needs to be removed from the rose bed and the path in front. I lifted a little today to make way for planting a rose but it was harder to do than I thought. It would probably be easier to start lifting it from the back where it is kind of thin and work toward the path. What a relief it would be to not have it crawling into everything and taking up so much water! If I want some companions at the feet of the roses, geraniums or catmint would be nice and easier to manage.
We went into town and I finally bought a 'Gertrude Jekyll' rose and also got another bag of lilies from Costco. These are assorted orientals and I think I'll put them at the back of the back bed after Ron cuts down the pine tree.
Today was really beautiful and it almost got up toward 60 degrees. I think we broke a record for all time high that had stood since about 1958 or so. I went out this afternoon and weeded a bit in the Orchard bed. I put bark on the bit that I'd done and then spread bark on part of the bed west of the deck where I'd planted a few things last week. Tonight we went to Homebase and I bought pavers to set into the pathway leading to the basement and then I want to fill in with bark there. The bird bath was restored to its pedestal after I put down a paver to rest it on. It's still not level, but I hope it will be more stable and won't fall over so easily. I'll probably need to put some more dirt or some rocks under the back edge of the paver to make it a bit more level than it is. I made a delightful discovery while setting the paver. There is a small Helleborus orientalis growing behind there that seeded from across the path. I'll have to open it up a bit more there so that it might be able to bloom eventually...either that or move it but I hate to move it. I think it might like where it chose to grow better than where I might put it.
I'm not sure where the 'Gertrude Jekyll' rose will go, so I put it into a nice big pot to grow for awhile. I might even set it on the deck this season and enjoy its fragrance there. It may get rather large, and I'm not sure yet if it will blend in with the hybrid teas. If I ripped something out from the west side where I have those dying roses, I might be able to put it there, but those haven't done as well. Probably from my neglecting to water enough this past year and the fact that it's sandy and needs feeding.
There are more things coming out or starting to make an appearance. The Pulmonaria is starting to bloom and I noticed some tulip tops coming through the soil in some places while doing the weeding and grooming. The crocuses are coming out more fully and the larger purple ones are beginning to come out along the driveway and under the pink flowering dogwood. I haven't noticed the white ones yet that are planted under the clump birch in the front yard. Yesterday while cutting stuff back in the back bed, I noticed a few blooms coming out on the winter blooming honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima). They are really neat when the air warms more. I love getting wafts of that while I'm out there working. I had to cut some of the errant lower limbs off and brought a few branches in the house to open inside and release their perfume. I hope the kids don't complain. Sometimes their olfactories don't appreciate what they perceive as foreign smells in the house!
It's glorious outside again (has been all weekend) but I'm not sure if I'll get out there today. If I do, it will be to do something simple like weed a little or pot up some lewisia from cuttings. I worked out there on Saturday and was totally sore that night and in great pain yesterday and today. My neck and right shoulder are particularly tight and stiff and it feels a little too much like last year for my tastes. I hope this settles down and that I'll be able to continue in the yard if I pace myself better. Bark spreading has always been a bad guy for me. I did a few wheelbarrow loads on Saturday, but I didn't think that would be so bad. It was the combination of the two days probably.
I moved a couple of things in the tiny bed in the center of the front sidewalk. I dug up the Geranium himalayense 'Plenum' and put it by the stairs leading to the deck on the West side of the house. I hope it won't be too hot there but it should get a little shelter from the railing of the stairway. In its place were planted the two lewisias that had gotten pretty much covered by the Rhody 'Ken Janek', which seems to have a spreading habit. I hope the lewisias will bloom better with more light and exposure. I intend to take a couple of cuttings from them and see if they'll root. Eventually, the Iris unguicularis will have to come out of there or be moved where it will get more light. That rhody is going to continue to spread.
The other plant I lifted was the Armeria alliacea (under A. plantaginea in Graham Stuart Thomas' Perennial Garden Plants)that I'd bought at Furney's the first year I worked there. It was gallon-size then. It has spread out and become rather ugly in the center over the past three years and I'm going to hopefully root a bunch of it. I planted up 9 four-inch pots and four gallons with cuttings from the mother plant. The rest I gave to friends. It has more of a lavender cast to the pink flowers and is really a pretty color. I hope to have some open space in which to plant the cuttings after they root...probably in the back.
I'm back...tired muscles and all. I hope my shoulders aren't worse tomorrow. I went outside this afternoon and got more involved than I'd intended or should. I planted up about four pieces of the Lewisia cotyledon from the front walk area and also rescued (I hope) the Euphorbia amygdaloides rubra that was dying off in the back bed close to the barrel. I potted it up and hope it will build itself back up so I can plant it in the oak bed or somewhere where it will receive more water.
I decided that I'd get that weeder thing I'd bought years ago (like a rake with long metal tines that have some spring in them so they won't damage tender shoots) and used it to pull the leaves out of the oak bed. After getting them out (and there were quite a few)Ron consented to driving over them with the garden tractor. They were shredded and caught in the bags and will provide some nice compost later on when I need to spread some. After doing that I started pulling out the Kinnikinnik and got all those out. I needed Ron to pull on the healthiest one. It left the soil in the back of that bed really fluffy and open. I'm looking forward to planting some new stuff back there.
The Pulsatilla that I've had growing close to the path near the oak bed hadn't done much yet and usually it is getting fuzzy little leaves on it by now. When I dragged the rake thing over that area to pick up leaves and dead plant tops, the top of that plant pulled away to expose a gaping hole, probably about 5-6 inches across and at least as deep! It would appear that there was a mole run there and maybe mice got in during the cold weather this winter and ate all the roots of the plant. I've had this problem in years past and noticed also a lot of roots missing on one of the Oriental poppies in the back bed. A couple of years ago, the Crocosmia 'Solfatare' disappeared. It's really annoying. I guess that's what you put up with in gardening. The good news is that I had quite a few babies from that anemone (pulsatilla) and can move one of them in that spot if I'd like. I'll have to make sure they are all still alive first!
I've discovered a snowdrop blooming in the oak bed right underneath a gray-leaved cotoneaster. I think the foliage on a couple of mystery plants might be snowdrop also. I almost wonder if they used to grow back there a long time ago because one just popped up from nowhere one year and maybe it has seeded itself a bit. They are certainly charming.
Despite sore muscles and a sore neck and right arm, I (maybe foolishly) went outside today to plant a few things. I ended up cutting back the ornamental grass and heather to the right of the front porch. I should dig out some of that grass...maybe pitch out the oldest one and save one of the juveniles and move it in the original spot. There are seedlings everywhere of that carex...I love it but it's become rather prolific!
I wanted to get the oriental lily bulbs planted that I'd purchased at Costco last week and finally put them in back between the pink buddleia and the two red rhodies. The lilies should be in front of the Aster 'Climax' but I don't know if they'll overlap in their blooming or not. After that I planted a bunch of daylilies in the oak bed around where the pine tree was cut down. I put five of my crosses ('Prairie Moonlight' x 'Wally Nance III'), H. 'Prester John' and H. 'Archangel'. It was one I'd gotten for my mom years ago and it hasn't multiplied very well. I've had it in a pot here for over a year and I'm sure it will be glad to get into the ground at last. I just hope some mole or mouse doesn't eat the roots. They seem to pick on the more choice plants for feasting! I lifted and divided the Chrysanthemum, 'Daisy Red', and improved the soil around it. It's always been really pretty there but might not be as striking without the backdrop of the pine tree. I cut half a hosta off, lifted it and planted it behind the oak tree in the center portion of the bed for foliage contrast. I hope it looks nice there. I think that variety was H. 'Hyacintha', but not positive. It was getting too large where it was. It has a nice blue color and I think it will be good in that bed with all the hot colors in front.
I'm feeling some urgency to get the two roses planted that are in bags with wood shavings. I'd bought 'Betty Prior' and 'Command Performance'. They are still sitting on the bench on our porch. I hope I can get them in tomorrow. There's also the one in a pot that I'd gotten at Furney's. It's amazing how much nicer the plants look where we put down some new beauty bark. I'm speaking particularly of the deck side of the house where I have Helleborus lividus corsicus and H. orientalis blooming. There is also 'Bowles Golden Grass' under the Styrax and some blue primroses. I noticed a little color on the grape hyacinths that are there as well. The dark brown carpeting just makes it all sparkle. My hellebores are still pretty small (the orientalis ones...I'd bought in four-inch pots) but one of them has three flowering stems on it this year. I should build up the soil in that area but I already put bark down. There are leaves that break down there from the tree. I suppose I could put more leaf mold on or maybe some mushroom compost and then put a little more bark after that?
Rain is supposed to come in by tomorrow afternoon, so I hope I can dig out some more vinca and get at least those two roses put in the ground. Then I can take a break and not worry about stock that is needing imminent planting. I sure have a bunch of things on the porch for rooting. If it rains and gets overcast I might put them out in the open. I put them on the porch right after potting them up. I'm speaking of the armeria, hellebores, and lewisia.
My right arm is really hurting right now so this will be short. I'm not positive if it's my neck problem or the tennis elbow problem! It's probably from the neck. I'm feeling most of the discomfort today down into my forearm and toward the top of my hand above the ring finger. I felt I should take a break, but wanted to plant those roses. [Ed. Note: FOOLISH GIRL!] I went outside about 10:30 and was out there for about two hours. I planted the two new roses and also got in the one that had been in the 5-gallon container for the past couple of seasons. 'Gertrude Jekyll' was moved onto the deck. I dug out more vinca from the bed and have about a third of the bed done (the rose bed proper...not the path). I left a bit that I really wanted to take out to connect two places that were clean, but decided to stop when I got the plants in. I'm asking for big trouble if I don't take it easy.
I was quite surprised when I pulled a bunch of old vinca stems out from around a rose and the drainpipe on the back side of the house. There were a bunch of ladybugs clustered under that foliage. They fell to the ground and regrouped after I disturbed them. It couldn't be helped. Also uncovered a yellow jacket and killed him.
I'd better get going. Cross your fingers that I can get better from this and not worse.
The weather has gotten a bit cool and icy so I haven't been outside as much lately. I did go out yesterday and transplanted a couple of things into the front bed near the Cedrus deodora. I put a few clumps of Iris foetidissima along the edge and took a few runners from the Euphorbia amygdaloides robbiae that is already established there and set them over a few feet from the "mother" plant. That euphorbia is undaunted by the dry shade under the birch tree so I'm going to use a bit more of it. There's not a lot out there for it to overrun.
I weakened and bought another box of perennials at Costco a couple of days ago. It's a siberian iris they called 'Sparkling Rose'. I don't know if the color will thrill me or not, but it looks similar to the color of Centaurea dealbata, only paler. I'm not sure where I'll plant them, but potted up the five divisions into three gallons. Right now they look pretty silly since they sprouted in the box in the warm environment of the store. The shoots are not only blanched from having no light, but some of them are growing in the wrong direction (would have been buried if potted in their original orientation)! I'm hoping that as they green up, they'll also right themselves.
It got milder during the night and the sun was actually out for much of the day. I had other things to attend to early on (like vacuuming and doing some business calls for Shelley) but I finally got outside a little after 2:00 and worked until about 4:30. I had intended to pick away at more of the rose bed, but did some other stuff and then thought it best to quit (in view of my aching arm...still have numbness in the fingers, etc.)
I potted up a small volunteer from the oak bed. I think it's a Euphorbia martinii seedling and I'd like to put it somewhere else where it can thrive, but thought it best to leave it in the pot for now. It didn't have much of a root system for the size of the top. I hope it makes it...I just love that plant. It's not terribly tall and has a wonderful mahogany color on the stems and undersides of the leaves. The flowers have a bit of purplish-mahogany in them as well, along with a fairly bright green. It is probably my favorite of the euphorbia clan. I like E. amygdaloides rubra (one of its parents) but it's much fussier and looks pretty bad when its need for moisture is not met.
After doing that little chore, I threw alfalfa pellets on the part of the rose bed I'd already weeded. They sure smelled good. Reminds me of when we had livestock and a barn full of hay in the winter. That's a wonderful sweet/earthy smell. I used some of the pellets as soil amendments wherever I worked today. They look like fat grubs laying on top of the soil, but the rain will break them down in short order. I switched a couple of double English primroses under the Japanese maple in the front. It bugged me how the one ('Lillian Harvey') fought with the Viola labradorica around it and thought how much nicer the lighter pink one ('April Rose') would be there. Now the job is done. I took a few divisions when I lifted them and spread them out a little more. Primula 'Lilian Harvey' is now close to the Heuchera ('Rosy Veil'?). Hopefully, they'll be better companions. While I was in the front, I threw some steer manure and more pellets around some of the heavier feeders in the north bed, like the Kirengeshoma palmata. It certainly rewarded me last time I gave it some organic amendments.
From the front, I went to the bed west of the deck. I had thought last week how nice it would be to have a few Primula vulgaris and grape hyacinths to the right of the deck stairs in that shady spot close to the faucet. It would echo the planting on the other side of an insinuated "path" to the faucet. I took a couple of pieces off one of the primulas and moved two seedlings. I started those from seed a few years ago and they've survived fairly well, although not always getting as much moisture or humus as they'd prefer. It only took one trowel-full of grape hyacinths to make three nice little clumps amongst the other plants. They'll seed themselves eventually. I love their color contrast against the yellow-green foliage of the variegated symphytum and the Bowles Golden Sedge.
After finishing those, I moved onto the deck where I added some soil amendments to the containers and planted some 'Blue Ensign' convolvulus and sweet peas. I noticed some shoots coming through the soil from the Tuberose I'd planted in one pot. I hope it doesn't get frozen out...looks like it could be a really nice deck plant. The one they displayed at the Northwest Flower and Garden show was quite attractive. The tuberose flowers are supposed to be white but they are actually a rather off-white infused with creamy coral overtones. It reminds me a bit of the color of Gaura lindheimeri. Anyway...if it actually blooms, it looks like something that would be nice skirted by the pansy strain 'Imperial Antique Shades', the only problem being that the pansies would be their best in the spring and early part of the summer and the Tuberose probably won't bloom until midsummer. Oh, well.
The purple crocuses are really at their peak now and I couldn't resist taking a few pictures of the ones near the sidewalk in front. They were luminous with the sidelighting from the sun. I hope I didn't shake too much and blur them. Diane pointed out another crocus volunteer I'd missed. It's growing under one of the blueberry bushes. There are probably almost twenty this year that have finally gotten to blooming size from seeds. I'd not noticed them before. That's one of the joys of gardening. Surprises like that are always welcome.
This will be short. I went outside yesterday and lifted about 2/3 of the gladiola corms from the garden spot. They looked pretty bad but there were some good ones despite the fact that we didn't give the garden any care after the tractor broke down last year. A lot of them were rotten...maybe from the freezing and wet weather we had this winter. I'll probably supplement them with some new corms. It's nice to have glads for cutting in the summer.
I did a little pruning in Dave and Linda's yard to touch up on the rose bushes, plus I butchered a plant myself...one of the mugho pines! Now you can see over what's left of it. It might need to be removed if no new growth breaks from below the cuts. I noticed that by the patio they had some hardy cyclamen and it had naturalized a bit. I lifted four little tiny corms and brought them home (they had LOTS). The leaves were a little bit different than mine. I potted them up for now and will put them under the flowering dogwood pretty soon. They sure are cute when you pull them out of the soil and see those leaves suspended on such wiry stems attached to a little "ball". Not too many roots on there.
Since I last wrote, so much has happened. The day after the last entry, Dave suddenly died (he was recovering from a fractured pelvis). I'm so glad I worked in their yard two days before. I thought that it would probably be smarter to wait another week for my shoulder and arm to feel a bit better, but I really WANTED to go that day and do something over there. Dave came out and talked to me for a bit while I worked over the mugho pine by their front door. He was so looking forward to enjoying that beautiful yard and working on it. Now it will be up to Linda to fix it up. This is the first time she's had an interest in gardening and she still wants to get out in that yard and have me help her while she learns what she needs to know. I think it will be good therapy for her.
It's been raining buckets during the past week. Another tragedy struck our family on the eighteenth when Karen found Max (our favorite cat of the kittens we kept) dead alongside the road on her way to the bus stop. Ron buried him on the South side of the hemlock in the back bed (the one closest to the playhouse). Our black kitty is buried under the Mount Atlas Cedar. Max will surely be missed. He had such a personality.
It was finally nice yesterday and passable today. I got outside and did some weeding on the north of the house and today did some more weeding and edging there. I got the girls out to help haul bark to those beds and we spread and threw it around to touch up what was already there. Jared (neighbor boy) was here playing Nintendo and helped for awhile. Next time I get them out there, it will be to do the oak bed and the alley bed. After that, we could do the back part of the back perennial bed where there was bark before. If I can keep mulch on things as I go along, there's hope that it will get finished this year. It looks impossible now, but I just have to keep picking away at it. I bought about $50 worth of soil amendments at Cenex this past week and intend to sprinkle that stuff around before putting down the bark.
The Anemone blanda is starting to bloom out front and Michael's tree ('Thundercloud' flowering plum given to us by Aunt Mary when he was born) is in full bloom. The cherries (Prunus yedoensis 'Akebono') along the drive are budding up and showing some bud color. They will probably start blooming in early April. They don't last long enough, but are so wonderful that they are forgiven.
Ron mowed the lawn today and finally cut down the pine tree in the back. Michael took the boards off the fence so that the tree could come down in the field. That will sure let in more light in that bed in the afternoons. Eventually the two trees on either side will fill in, but it will take some time for that to occur. I hope I can get this stuff done so that this year can be glorious.
Today was gorgeous and of course, I had to go to the dentist and then I stopped by Linda's for about three hours on the way home. I didn't get here until after 6:30 but there was just enough light to plant a hellebore I got from their place. It's to remind me of Dave. I dug up a small piece (one leaf and one flower stalk) from the grouping by their sidewalk. It's a rose pink with maroon dots. I put it under the oak tree in the area where my little seedlings are going to be planted. I will probably scatter some more seed from theirs around my babies to add some white and freckled varieties. It will take about three years before I see much in the way of bloom. It will be neat to have all those little plants start blooming at the same time.
Yesterday I planted the mini-glad corms in that bed. They are grouped toward the west end in two "tiers". I tossed a few of each color in the bag with the other ones so they are a little mixed up but not evenly. I hope they don't clash with the colors around them when they bloom. I also hope they successfully winter over. I had some of those before and lost them, but the white ones have faithfully returned in two places where I put them. They are really graceful and nice for cutting.
The sunset last night was really interesting. Linda saw it also and said it looked like a sand painting. I took a few photos but didn't get out there with the camera until about one or two minutes after the peak of color. I hope they turn out. We are having a view of a comet in the evenings and there was a lunar eclipse on Sunday night.
I'm tired. I'll write more later. Oh...I walked back by the water feature in back and the Viola vilmoriniana are in full bloom. They've seeded themselves around quite a bit and are charming. It's too bad there are so many weeds there. I sure hope we get that far this year and put bark down. It will look so beautiful next spring.
I'm tired today but when the weather improved slightly after dinner, I went outside and planted all the hellebore seedlings I'd potted up about six weeks ago. If they don't all take off I can replace some of them with more from under the Styrax japonica. There are really a lot of them and they can't all stay in such a crowded condition. I suppose I should find another spot to plant some under a tree somewhere. I should offer some to Alice...Linda's friend who likes to garden so much.
My feelings are mixed when I get outside. Things are starting to take off. The Osmanthus is starting to bloom and smells wonderful. Violets are blooming, as well as some of the early tulips. I know that in the next four weeks things will completely take off and whatever I haven't done by then will be harder to accomplish. I think I should just keep plugging away at the front areas first and then move into the back yard. Once the alley and oak bed are mulched, I'll probably do something in the orchard bed and the one by the driveway. After that, the rose frontal and the ash bed will be next. The back half of the back bed could be mulched because there aren't too many weeds there, but the rest will have to be done in sections. When the days lengthen, maybe I'll get more done than I think, as long as my shoulder, arm and neck behave themselves.
It's a beautiful warm spring day. It's probably in the low sixties outside and the flowering cherries along the driveway are at their fullest...just before the petals start to drop all over. I think they are actually prettier when they are partially in the bud stage since there is more pink coloring then, but the ethereal pale pink color (almost white) they have when fully open is really breathtaking.
Since I last wrote, I've gotten the girls outside (and also a little help from Alicia, Jared and Bobby...teenage friends..bribing with M&M's didn't hurt!) and we have bark spread on the alley bed and oak bed. Yesterday we worked a bit on the driveway bed (lifted some edges, and weeded some of it) and I did another small section on the orchard bed. I haven't weeded the back of it, but want to get the parts done first that show from the driveway! Eventually, the back will need to be done. Might get the kids to help. Things pull up rather easily because the dirt is fluffy there.
The Daphne odora is open now and I'm starting to detect its sweetness from the porch. The Clematis montana rubens is budding but it will be a couple of weeks before we see flowers on it. The early tulips are starting to color and the foliage of the daylilies has really taken off. I wish the whole yard was weeded and barked so that I could just sit back and enjoy, pulling a weed here and there, but that's far off at this point! Talking about the yard makes me want to go out and look around. Think I'll do that...