Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Solstice!

Last week, while preparing a Foliage Followup blog post, I took photos of some of the foliage in my greenhouse. I wasn't sure I'd find enough of interest out in the garden, so I hedged my bets by also focusing my lens on greenhouse plants. But I did get enough good foliage shots outside, so I used those for my FF post here.

I thought as a Winter Solstice celebration, I'd show off the pictures I took in the greenhouse, where it is perpetually growing season (or at least staying-alive season).

Pelargonium sidoides

Agave attenuata 'Kara Stripe'

Echevaria 'Black Prince'



Echium/Star of Madeira


Like many other gardeners who pay close attention to seasonal changes, I am celebrating the Winter Solstice today, the day of the year with the shortest amount of daylight. Yes, it means tomorrow is the first full day of winter, but it also means the amount of daylight again begins to lengthen.

Happy Solstice!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Foliage Followup -- December 2014

There's plenty of interesting foliage in my garden, despite our recent freezing weather interspersed with rain and powerful wind. For this month's Foliage Followup post, I went out hunting for winter interest, even though it isn't technically winter yet. When I lived in Massachusetts, where the garden is buried for most of the winter under a blanket of snow, I never understood the concept. Now I do.

The top of Tetrapanax papyrifera 'Steroidal Giant' has one leaf covered in orange powder.

My Eucalyptus has put on quite a lot of growth in its first year, and was unfazed by the recent cold. I wish I could remember which one it is. I bought it this past spring at Xera on one of my trips to Portland. It might be E. subcrenulata.

I love its red stems and leaves that clasp the stem.

Pinus sylvestris 'Nisbet's Gold' is starting to put on its winter-time yellow glow.

Sedum 'Angelina' and Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' aka black mondo grass are great companions.

Sedum 'Angelina' planted in the shelter of the concrete wall has much more of a rosy glow.

Carex testacea is looking mighty orange.

As is Libertia peregrinans

Euphorbia covered in dew

Soon this year's well worn Epimedium foliage will get cut back to the ground.

I didn't realize till I looked through my lens that the growth tips on Hydrangea quercifolia have a powdery orange coating, similar to that of Tetrapanax or certain Rhodies.

Some of the leaves have finally started to turn, although most usually just dry up and wither.

Cyclamen hederifolium is another great foliage plant for winter.

Chaemacyparis nootkatensis was one of the first trees I planted here 5 years ago. I love its pendulous branches.

Although technically not foliage, the spent flowers of Eutrochium/Joe Pye Weed will persist till I cut them down.

This large Douglas fir limb came down in our recent windstorm. Last weekend Nigel helped me move it from here onto our patio, where it's now waiting to be chopped up and put in our yard waste bin.

Here is the detritus of last week's wind and rain. Picture this a million times over, everywhere in my garden.

Pam at the blog Digging hosts Foliage Followup every month on the day after Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, for the purpose of glorifying foliage, the workhorse of the garden all the time, but especially in winter. Check out her FF post here, where other bloggers leave links to their posts in the comments.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day -- December, 2014

I was all set to claim that I had nothing flowering out in the garden this month, until I actually went out and took a look. There's not much, but there's not nothing.

Mahonia x media 'Charity' still has plenty of long flower clusters.

And the Sheffield Pink mums have one lone semi-flower, trying probably in vain to open.

There are precious few in the greenhouse as well.

My Aloe glauca is still flowering.

The pregnant onion (Ornithogalum longibractatum) that I got from Linda at Linda Letters has produced a tall willowy flower stalk.

And in a mixed pot that I got during a late season sale at Windmill Nursery, there is a Hellebore blooming. It's inside the greenhouse because of the other occupants in the pot.

Unfortunately, that's it!

I'll have plenty of foliage shots tomorrow though, for Foliage Followup.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens is the host for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. You can see her post here, and don't forget to check out all the links from bloggers around the world.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Encounter With a Hummingbird

The other day while out taking photos of the first snow in my garden, I discovered a hummingbird feasting on the Mahonia 'Charity' that is growing in the back northeast corner of the garden, underneath a cluster of Douglas firs. I managed to creep up on it, although I'm pretty sure it knew I was there, and leaned around the trunk of one of the Douglas firs with my camera to take some photos. I had also recently figured out that if I hold the shutter down on the camera, it will take photos in quick succession, which I did, hoping at least one would result in a good photo. This is the closest I've ever been to a hummer with my camera. It was actually moving rather slowly for a hummingbird, stopping often to alight on a branch where it could feed without expending energy. Picasa turned that series of photos into a little movie, which allowed me to share that magical moment with you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Back in the Freezer Again

No, not this freezer.

This one.


Icicles on the glass flower fountain from Glass Gardens Northwest. Even the bee ball floating in the top has a skirt of ice, making it look a bit like Saturn.

Our temperature outside this morning at 9:03 was 25 degrees F.

A couple of weeks ago, during our first freeze of the fall/winter season, I learned that when the temperature outside goes down into the 20s, my sole electrical heater can't keep the temperature in the greenhouse much above 40 at night. I bought a second electric heater, but discovered that I couldn't run both on the same electrical circuit without tripping the circuit breaker. My solution was to buy a propane heater, which I turn on only at night, after about 10:00-10:30. It runs on two one-lb. propane canisters, which it uses up overnight, running out just as the sun comes up. With the propane heater and the electrical heater, the temperature overnight goes up into the mid-50s. I don't know how much the electricity costs that the electrical heater runs on, but the canisters cost $12.99 for a package of four, which means to run the propane heater on below-freezing nights costs $6.50. I'm betting that's quite a bit more than the electricity costs, otherwise our electric bill would be astronomical.

Propane heater

Electric heater

The temperature in the greenhouse last night at 10:30 was 43.1 (Ignore the non-DST time on the clock).

Half an hour later, after turning on the propane heater, the temperature has risen to 50. It will rise to the mid-50s and stay there all night.

Once the sun rises, the temperature out in the greenhouse rises naturally into the 50s, and sometimes 60s and 70s. I disabled the vents on the windows, so that they no longer open when the temperature hits the 60s. I figure the hotter it gets in there during the day, the longer it will retain that heat at night.

In other news, my Datura that I rescued from the garden to over-winter inside the greenhouse have bugs. I don't know what kind, but they leave sticky stuff on the leaves, so I think they might be woolly aphids. Does anyone know for sure? Time to start applying some kind of insecticide.

Here's the underside of that same leaf.

They're also on one of my Brugs, and I'm sure if I do nothing, they'll eventually overtake all of them.

And now some good news: I dug up one of my Digiplexis 'Illumination Flame' to over-winter inside the greenhouse. Basically I just cut it back to the ground, dug the rootball and stuck it into a big nursery pot. It's producing new shoots, so I guess that means it's still alive. Keep your fingers crossed that it survives to be planted again outside in the spring. I really love this plant and don't want to be without it.

And my Aloe glauca is still flowering too.

I hope wherever you are, Dear Reader, that you are staying warm.