22 May 1998 - Just had to put in an entry, although I didn't get much done inside or out today! It was still a fun day, however, because I went nursery hopping with a former coworker from the nursery where I used to work. We went to a sale at Heronswood Nursery in Kingston, WA (mainly mail order). They have a ton of interesting stuff there and I came home with 5 plants. What hurt me the most was seeing things selling at $6.00 a crack that I'm throwing on the compost pile at home...such as Knautia macedonica and Euphorbia dulcis 'Chameleon.' I'm just not a business person, or I'd pot up a ton of stuff and sell them. I've probably given away hundreds of dollars worth of plants over the years...but don't think I'd change anything. If I really get bored and ambitious, I might pot some up some year and have a plant sale.
Two of the plants will go into the ash bed that I've been working on. It might mean removing a Buddleia and possibly the Euphorbia polychroma...but it will still have the same look with a bit of improvement. One of the plants is a deciduous Hypericum androsaemum. It has a similar texture to the Euphorbia, but will be larger and have pretty berries in shades of red and black in the fall. The flowers in spring are little puffs of bright yellow...like very scaled down St. John's Wort (a relative). Another plant bought at Heronswood to put in that bed is a bronze sedge...Carex buchananii. It will provide a nice color and vertical accent. It looks good next to the Hypericum already and they aren't even in the ground yet!
After we went to Heronswood, we made a stop at Valley Nursery in Poulsbo (a beautiful retail nursery). Our old boss from Furney's works there now and also one of the gals who used to do the herbs, etc. It was great to see them and as it turned out, a fifth former coworker was there visiting so we all got to catch up a bit (not for too long...since they were still working! :-). When you work in a small business, you start feeling like a little family. Marianne and I are no longer working in a nursery setting, but are still passionate about plants and share that love with our former associates who still work full-time in the nursery world. I couldn't help talking up a couple of perennials to a customer who was browsing alongside me and apologized (it was kind of fun though...I kind of miss it sometimes).
When we returned, I dug up some plants for Marianne to take home...she left with a boxful. Since she wouldn't take any money for gas, I was glad there were some plants she could use. On our way around the back to the deck bed, I was SHOCKED to see a beautiful iris blooming in the awful West Perennial jungle! WOW! It was a variety of bearded iris called 'Lady Madonna' and it is a white and cream blend with a bit of ruffly crimping on the edges. I tried to take a picture and will do another tomorrow to hopefully add to the iris page. It's amazing that anything could survive in that grassy mess, but maybe when I finally weed, I'll find a few other survivors that can be brought back.
19 May 1998 - Wow! What a week it's been! The Bremerton Symphony Chorale performed Mozart's Requiem on Saturday night and prior to that, we had about 11 hours of rehearsing. It made for a grueling week, but the concert went well and I'm sure all who participated are glad they got to be a part of it. Not a lot of gardening happened here. I slipped out a little early in the week, but there are just enough pollens outside that it wasn't worth clogging up the throat right before a concert.
I've made some more progress on the ash bed the past couple of days and think about 5 more hours will finish it off. Then the girls can help spread bark there. It sure looks better where I've removed the weeds and volunteer Knautia! I've forgotten how much nicer a bed looks when there is a little breathing room around the occupants. The Iris sibirica 'Caesar's Brother' is opening in that bed, as well as other places in the yard and it is especially pretty there with the Achillea 'Coronation Gold' behind. The yarrow isn't open yet, but the whole thing is rather soft and woolly looking and makes a nice foil for the dark iris. I took some pictures and hope that at least one of them turns out! That reminds me that I need to finish up the new page for the website and take one of the old ones off. I will probably remove the first page on the early spring pages and eventually take it all off. I don't want too much on the server at once to get them upset with me! While working in the ash bed, I was delighted to see that a Kniphofia galpinii that I was sure had bit the dust was hiding in some tall grass and I managed to salvage enough little pieces of Chrysanthemum x rubellum 'Mary Stoker' to get it going again and reset it later (I put them in pot with some nice soil). I really love that plant next to the Ruta graveolens 'Blue Mound' and hope to have that combination again this fall. I missed it last year because of the weedy mess! While working in the evening for about three hours, I was treated to the songs of goldfinches and the interesting noises of woodpeckers. Also a WONDERFUL sunset that really caught me by surprise when I turned around to prepare to go pot up some of the uprooted survivors. Wow! It was a perfect evening (...except for the many mosquitoes and the discovery that once again deer have eaten off the top of the Geranium psilostemon! They must have remembered it from years past because they had to wade through a lot of grass and weeds to get to it. Don't know why they like that one so much, but I have to do better with getting some repellent around that spot after I finish the weeding.).
More bearded iris are opening, as well as some of the smaller species, like Iris tenax, Iris setosa and Iris douglasii. Near some of the bearded iris in the oak bed are a grouping of gaily colored Ixia (a corm that is planted just 4 inches deep in a free draining sunny exposure). I just love those guys and they are putting on a wonderful show this year after being treated to a topdressing of steer manure last season. I still need to divide some of the clumps and spread them around a bit more. I especially like the tallest one that is a wonderful deep pink. The others are softer shades of pink, primrose yellow and white, some with dark eyes. I will hopefully have a picture for you soon on the new page.
12 May 1998 - It's rather gray and drizzly right now and I haven't set foot outside yet today. Might be an opportunity to do some cleaning on the inside! Yesterday my sister brought a couple of friends to look at the rhododendrons in bloom (and they saw more than a few weeds at the same time) and before they left we'd spent about 3 hours outside, first looking, and then digging up some plants for one of the gals who is putting in a garden at her new home. The Hosta "geyser" from the spring page is now gone, and I will be looking for a smaller blue leaved variety of hosta for that spot. I also dug out a goodly hunk from each of the hostas on each side of the bench in the alley. For the time being, you can see the path a bit better that leads to the back yard!
I'm still working at the ash bed and am now feeling more encouraged about getting it done before it all comes into bloom. There are a lot of volunteers that are coming out and I don't have homes for them all so they are landing on the compost pile. There are a TON of Knautia macedonica plants that are full sized and ready to make flowers, but most of them are going. They are just crowding out too many things. If you live close enough and want some in the next few days, send me an email and I'll save a few for you! I also still have lots of small Echinops ritro plants in the oak bed that will need to be removed soon. In the ash bed there have also been Lady's Mantle (the first time I've had them seed) and Euphorbia polychroma seedlings that have come out. I potted a few of them up and gave them to Alice (my sister's gardening friend) so they may have a bright future in her yard.
The bearded iris are starting to open and when the weather clears a bit I'll try to get some current photos to add to the next page I'll be posting soon. The other day I very carefully approached the oak bed to take a photo of a barn swallow perched on the top of an iris stem. I got one picture and then thought I could risk moving closer for a better look. It looked so cute up there. As I walked closer, I realized that the "barn swallow" was actually the bud on a red colored bearded iris! Silly me! It looked just like a swallow at rest with its wings folded (from a distance, at least!).
8 May 1998 - At this moment, there is a shoebox sitting on the scanner next to the computer that houses three little baby birds. My eighteen-year-old daughter and a friend brought them home from another person's house, where the nest was accidentally disturbed and ruined. Her friend is the primary caretaker, but needed "bird sitters" this evening, so we've had them here. They are probably sparrows but we'll know better when they get more feathers. One can purchase baby bird food at PetSmart and that is what they are using to feed them until they get bigger and can start to pick away at foods left for them in their future cage. They will certainly imprint on humans and I don't think they would be good candidates for survival in the wild. We once raised a Starling and I know you can do it, but it's a real commitment! If I get a good picture, I might drop it in here later.
I've been adding pictures to the current seasonal pages and think it's about time I start a new one to be put up later. They are just getting too long! The number of visitors has really dropped now that spring weather is here and I assume it's because you are all out in your gardens! Because of this, I will plan to "rerun" most of this season's pages during the winter months when more people are spending time on the Net and looking for a garden "fix."
We spent a nice day in Vancouver, B.C. on Wednesday. It was a short one also, since we took a day trip on the Amtrak from Seattle and actually only had about 5 hours in Vancouver before we had to head back to the terminal. The Canadian people are wonderful and were so gracious and helpful to us. I'm impressed with the overall attitude of the citizens there. I'm sure they have their problems, but one doesn't see the "in your face" rudeness that you can observe in this country (like in traffic, etc.). There is a higher level of trust and honesty in commerce, but I guess shoplifting is starting to be a problem there also. Anyway...if some of the pictures I took in Stanley Park turn out, I'll post a page dedicated to our neighbors to the north. We had very little time there before having to catch a bus back and only saw a small portion of the park, but there were some pretty gardens. The lighting was bright afternoon sun, so I'm not sure how well pictures will come out. We can't always choose our lighting conditions. Oh...the high point of the day for our three youngest daughters who went, was getting to meet the host of Evening Magazine (airs from Seattle every night) and his cameraman. They were in the car next to ours and we saw them walk through twice but said nothing. When they were right in front of us after we got off the train, I decided to be brave and speak to them so that the girls could meet John Curley. They watch that program religiously, and our cockatiel is even a great fan of the theme music, complete with the call of a Bald Eagle! He was very nice about it all and let me take a picture of the girls with him. Hopefully, the camera was in working order...or I'll have some VERY disappointed young women around here!
As far as the yard goes...I'm presently picking away at the Ash Bed in the back yard and hope that I can get that done in another week or so. I have to pace myself, but the therapy is really helping and it's no longer a painful process. I'm actually feeling pretty optimistic about getting more done this year and catching up by next spring! Yay!
2 May 1998 - I wish I could report how much I've been getting accomplished outside, but that's not to be this week. I had a tooth extracted on Wednesday and am on light duty until some healing has occurred. It's been a good time to take some pictures outside and catch up on projects for the computer (including some changes to a couple of the pages on the web site). Our weather during the last few days has been unseasonably hot and the plants have all jumped into overdrive. If one doesn't look each day, something pretty could be missed! At this stage of the season, I'm going to have trouble listing things that are blooming now, but I'll mention what I can:
Most of what was listed last entry, plus I'm seeing buds on some of the bearded iris. I will be putting up a page devoted to them in the next few weeks (but many of the pictures will be from a couple of years ago...not sure how much bloom I'll have this season). The lilac 'Ludwig Spaeth' (but is it really?) is out full and it's the most bloom I've had off it since it was purchased from Costco about 5 years ago. I was hoping the color would be darker, but that wonderful scent is there. I just cut about five blooms and put them in a mason jar on the piano (along with some flowers from the Clematis montana rubens ... a wonderful pastel combination). Some of the hardy geraniums are blooming...notably G. macrorrhizum, G. phaeum, G. endressii 'Claridge Druce,' G. sanguineum lancastriense, G. sanguineum 'Shepherd's Warning' (iridescent hot pink!), G. sanguineum 'New Hampshire' and G. renardii (which has great leaves and modest flowers). There are buds on some of the larger blue-violet varieties but it will probably take another week for color to show. The two daphnes, D. 'Somerset' and D. cneorum are in full bloom and I should really cut some tiny pieces to bring inside (might fight with the lilacs, however!). I will have pictures of those on the next seasonal page. In the front yard blooming near the Rhododendron decorum is a Viburnum plicatum 'Mariesii' (Doublefile Viburnum). The deer usually nibble many of the flower buds off but seemed to pass it by this season. This is really a specimen plant, by my way of thinking, but I've noticed them planted en masse along freeways in our area. It seems like a case of misplacement and overkill. If you are going to crowd the poor dears, at least give them a contrast of other species like in my flowerbed! (That plant really could use more room to spread and I'll pay by having to trim the plants to allow them to share their space in relative harmony.)
A few columbines have colored in the alley bed. These were probably seeds scattered from a nearby Aquilegia 'Hensol Harebell.' They will add a nice blue-violet contrast to the pink that is currently dominating that spot (rhodies, bleeding hearts and clematis). Right above them is the pink flowering dogwood and it is also showing lots of color, but the flowers are not fully developed. Each season I have to trim the lower branches in a bit to allow for traffic flow around the bottom of the tree. Since watering that area more often for the neighboring perennials, that tree has really GROWN! Amazing what a little more water will do! (Contrary to public opinion, we don't have much rain at all during the summers and actually usually experience a drought for 2-3 months where it might be overcast but nothing of consequence hits the ground.)
After the tooth-pulling caper, I did do a tiny job outside. I was able to sit down and tediously pull many little seedlings from the Styrax bed near the deck. There were hundreds of baby Styrax japonica trees. They must prefer darkness to germinate because mulching or something increased the percentage of new seedlings this spring! Their shiny new cotyledons are very promising, but there are just so many trees a person can use or give away. Each flower on the snowbell produces a single seed that looks like a coffee bean. I wish they weren't so viable here, but that's the price you pay for the beauty of the tree. Also in that bed were many seedlings of Geranium maderense. I have a bumper crop of these this season. The original plants (maybe 2 or 3) were "begged" from the staff at Western Hills Nursery in Occidentale, CA. A few years back I visited there while at my sister's house (before she moved back up here!) and I spied those plants growing all around as volunteers! Wow! Having seen it featured in some gardening books, I thought it a tender prize and when I asked if they sold those, they just laughed at me and told me they were "a weed." (One should almost always take note when someone refers to a plant that way.) This is the first year I've had enough of them reseed to consider it such and suspect it is from our mild winter. I will leave a few where they will be attractive, but the rest must go before I have to weed them from ALL OVER the yard!
Today my husband tilled the vegetable garden again and is getting ready to shop for seeds. This project will be his and the younger girls' since I'm still involved with trying to reclaim the rest of the yard. When it comes time to harvest and do summer watering, I'll be there. Whatever I haven't done in the yard by then will probably wait until the early fall when the weather gets nice for gardening again. I'll see how long I can keep plugging away...weather and shoulder permitting. The problem I'm having is common for people in their 40's, like myself, who develop weakness in their upper back muscles. Ultrasound treatments have really helped promote healing and calming of the grouchy muscles and exercises (if done consistently!) will help isolate and strengthen the weak spots so that they can do more of their share of the work when there are upper body chores to be done. The lack of balance of front to back muscles causes too much strain in certain places and a misalignment of the shoulder which starts putting pressure on nerves who then give you lots of pain or numbness. I'm only sharing this for those of you out there who might have a similar experience or get twinges of it and not know what is going on. A half hour a day of exercise can do a lot over the long haul to prevent the problem from raising its ugly head each spring. I'll let you know how it goes next year. I'm starting to feel optimistic that things will be better (after three years...it OUGHT to be!).
(Later) - I wandered outside for awhile this evening and had a couple of surprises! First of all, there is one rose opening behind the house! It is 'Electron' and is open enough that it could be cut and brought in by tomorrow! That's a southern exposure and it's been hot lately, but this seems awfully early for the roses to be starting. There's also a bud on the Climbing 'Handel' which is opening its sepals to expose the white and pink petals folded underneath. They'd better knock it off because I'm not ready for roses yet!
The delightful surprise I found was a hardy geranium seedling that I've been watching for the past season. It was a volunteer that I replanted near the path leading from the alley to the back yard. The leaves had a distinctive resemblance to those of Geranium renardii, which is growing just a few feet away. The foliage on that geranium is so wonderful that you don't mind the insipid quality of its flowers. They are a dull white with some soft violet veining. (I'll try to provide a photo later). The leaves are soft and downy, scalloped and a soft sagey green color. The surface of the leaf has a finely dimpled surface, a bit like reptile skin...but nicer. The edges of each leaf appear to be edged with silver when the light catches them...probably because of the soft hairs. When I saw this little volunteer, my hope was that it had crossed with the G. platypetalum across the path and would have violet veined flowers instead of the whitish ones. When I walked to the back today and spied an open flower on this plant, I eagerly crouched to look at its front and YESSS! The flowers are violet but the foliage looks much like G. renardii. I'll have to take good care of this plant because I'll probably want to divide it eventually. There's another volunteer I replanted at the same time near the Buddleia 'Petite Indigo' but I haven't seen flower buds on it yet.
Another addition to the back which startled me was a volunteer Euphorbia polychroma, complete with two flowering stalks (the only way I noticed it). This is one of the few rewards of getting behind on your weeding!
Here's a photo of the little geranium cross I just described. You can get an idea of the foliage texture, etc. I think it's kind of cute!
I threw this in for fun. At the end of January, our youngest daughter, Lynda, brought home from school two tiny walking sticks (insects). One of them was so fragile looking, I didn't think there was any way we would be able to raise them to maturity. I don't know if you can make it out, but it's doing its little "camouflage" act on her hand. During the first week of May, I had her turn them loose in a big fencerow of wild blackberries and multiflora rose, where I hope they can joyfully eat themselves to death this season before the winter gets them. We waited until after the chance of frost had passed. Every few days during late winter and spring, Lynda would have to replace their food supply and mostly fed them blackberry leaves ...taken, unfortunately, from the wild part of the West Perennial Bed!