Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

New Plants, And What I Plan to Do With (Some of) Them

It's been a few years since I did a post where I showed off new plant purchases. Last year I bought few, if any, new plants, since my health problems kept me from doing much gardening, although I did manage to redo a couple of small areas this past fall. I have big plans for this spring, if only the rain would stop, and it would warm up just a tad.

I've been to Watson's a couple of times, and once to Windmill Nursery, and a couple of weekends ago I went down to Portland and visited both Cistus and Xera, as well as participated in a blogger outing to the wholesale nursery/growing operation Little Prince of Oregon, where we were allowed to buy some of the plants that were growing there.

So, get ready for the beauty pageant and the list of tongue-twisting Latin names.

From Cistus, the two shrubs in the back are Arctostaphylos 'Pinnacle Ridge' and Philadelphus 'Belle Etoile,' in front are Metapanax delavayi, Grevillea 'Canberra Gem,' and Astelia 'Red Devil'

New growth on Metapanax delavayi
See that hole in the middle of the bed, to the right of the cardoon? Grevillea 'Canberra Gem' is going there

This messy thicket of branches is Lonicera involucrata, aka twinberry honeysuckle. It's coming out, and that new Arctostaphylos is going in.

This semi-shady corner needs something -- maybe Philadelphus 'Belle Etoile'
From Xera, in back: Aralia californica, Callistemon subulatus 'Dark Red,' Grevillea 'Neil Bell'; in front: Primula 'Spice Shades,' Arctostaphylos 'Harmony,' and Arctostaphylos 'Howard McMinn'

Primula flowers

New growth on Callistemon 'Dark Red'

These lilacs are two of the few shrubs still left from the original landscaping. They suffered from the 9 inches of snow we got in early March, and will finally be replaced by a pair of Arctostaphylos and possibly the 'Neil Bell' Grevillea

From Little Prince, in back; Thalictrum ichangense (four of them) and one Podophyllum 'Spotty Dotty,' then Grevillea 'Poorinda Leane', Feijoa sellowiana, Sedum oreganum (four of them), Red Anigozanthos aka Kangaroo paw, two each of Sedum ochroleucum 'Red Wiggle', and Sedum tetractinum

Closeup of 'Spotty Dotty'

Closeup of Sedum ochroleucum 'Red Wiggle' -- I needed some interesting Sedums to compete with and contrast with Sedum 'Angelina' in my sunny west-facing front beds
Feijoa sellowiana (Pineapple guava) is going into that open space between the bare Tetrapanax sticks on the right and the black pussy willow on the left (normally filled with a sea of California poppies and Nigella)

In back: Onoclea sensibilis, Hellebore 'Picotee Lady,' in front: Tricyrtis formosana 'Gilty Pleasure,' Hosta 'Fire Island'

In back: Hosta 'Guacamole,' in front: Hosta 'Cracker Crumbs,', Hosta 'Justine', Hosta 'Fire Island'

Golden baby tears, golden Scotch moss, golden creeping Jenny and chocolate creeping Jenny

Closeup of red freckles on stems of Hosta 'Fire Island'

I redid this area last fall, but already at least one plant is failing.

This is the only healthy patch of golden Selaginella left

The rest have all melted into sticks, like these three sad specimens

The Selaginella was originally supposed to provide a contrast to the dark leaves of the nearby Ajuga. At the recent Northwest Flower and Garden Show, I lamented this fact to my fellow bloggers while we were all at lunch together. Loree of Danger Garden suggested golden creeping jenny and Evan of The Practical Plant Geek suggested Scotch moss. I'm going to try both, along with the gold-leafed and small variegated Hostas, and we'll see who wins the final beauty contest. I don't know where Hosta 'Guacamole' is going, but it was hard to resist those big, bright green leaves.

Carex 'Feather Falls,' variegated Hydrophyllum tenuipes, Artemisia 'Seafoam' (bought online from High Country Gardens)

Carex 'Feather Falls' and variegated Hydrophyllum are going to be companions for my variegated Solomon's Seal, in my own half-assed attempt to recreate a plant combo I saw on Nan Ondra's blog Hayefield, in the very first photo in this post. It's not the same Carex and not 'White Nancy' spotted deadnettle, and I'm planning to use the sensitive fern instead of ostrich fern, but I hope it will have a similar effect.

In front: Hellebore 'Pippin's Purple,' Cyclamen hederifolium, Cyclamen coum, Dodecatheon hendersonii

Closeup of Hellebore 'Pippin's Purple'

What's going in this bed on the far side of the stream (posted about here)? Hellebores, Cyclamen, Thalictrum ichangense, and something feathery -- probably western bleeding heart

I'd like to visit Sky Nursery and Swanson's Nursery in a couple of weeks, so I'm sure I'll be buying a few more plants. Plus, in early May there's a Garden Bloggers Plant Exchange, which I'll be attending in Portland, and I know my fellow bloggers always share fun and interesting plants! I have an intriguing lineup of my own that I'll be hauling down there to give away.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wednesday Vignette

Here in the PNW, moss and lichen grows on trees like my paperbark maple (Acer griseum), especially during a wet spring like the one we're having, just as abundantly as it does on soil. It doesn't need to be removed and it doesn't imply that the tree is unhealthy. It won't hurt the tree.

In fact, it's quite beautiful, don't you think?

Moss and lichen on paperbark maple
Anna at Flutter & Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette. Check out her post here.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Stream of Un-Consciousness

Long-time readers may remember that I have a stream and waterfall in my garden.

View of the stream, through the gate, back in 2012

But I haven't written about it or posted photos of it in close to two years. About a year and a half ago, in the fall of 2015, we started having problems with it. It has an auto-fill valve, that we discovered was stuck in the "on" position. In the summer, with constant evaporation, that wasn't a problem. When the fall rains returned, the stream overflowed its banks across the patio and into the lawn.

We turned off the valve, and removed a lot of water. Then I decided to give it a good cleaning. Since it's situated underneath Douglas firs, a lot of fir debris drops into it, so I used a shop-vac to vacuum up the needles. When I turned it back on, it seemed to be losing water, and I thought it had a leak somewhere, so I pulled a lot of rocks away from the edges to try to find whether it was leaking along the edges. Over the years, it has been a powerful attractant for raccoons, and they have disturbed the edges every time they play in the water, so I wondered if maybe they had done some damage.

So we turned it off. Eventually, winter came, I started to ignore it and all the piles of rocks strewn on the patio near it and on the other bank. And that winter I had my gall bladder taken out and got an ulcer, and then came last year, the year of my discontent (migraines, anxiety, digestive and other health issues).

Now, the stream is getting sorted out. We've turned it back on, and it seems to be running fine, with no leaks. We still haven't turned the auto-fill valve back on. I've started putting the rocks back.

A closer, more current view of the messy stream

The opposite bank near the fence, with weeds, piles of rocks and neglected plants

Stream liner showing

More stream liner showing

One thing I noticed for the year and a half that the stream was turned off -- the raccoons began to ignore our garden. They weren't as attracted to the entire area, and came less and less often to wreak destruction, running through my garden beds, playing, trampling plants, using certain areas of the garden as a toilet. I still find evidence that they've been searching for grubs in the lawn, but they don't dig in the soft soil of the beds, and they don't stick around to play.

So, because they come mostly at night, I wondered if maybe there was a way to set the stream up on a timer to turn it off at night and on again in the morning? Nigel found a wireless, weather-proof outlet on Amazon that we can use to operate the stream from our cellphones at the press of a button. Right now we're doing it every night and every morning, but there also is apparently a way to set it up to turn on and off automatically at sunrise and sunset.

The solution to our raccoon problem?

 I have plans for new plants, both in and around the stream. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wednesday Vignette

Sometimes color coordination really is a happy coincidence. After seeing these flamingos featured on my blogging buddy Peter The Outlaw Gardener's blog, I popped down to Watson's to buy one. When I got home, I took it out of the car right away and plopped it into this front foundation bed before this 'Magic Carpet' Spirea had even started to leaf out. Perhaps somewhere in the back of my dust-filled mind I knew this would create a sweet color match...

Nah. But it sure turned out great!

Anna at Flutter & Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette. Check out her post here, and all the links to other participating blogs.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Foliage Followup

I searched high and low in my garden for foliage to focus on for Foliage Followup.

First, the high:

My Tetrapanax 'Steroidal Giant' has finally started to leaf out. The few warmer, drier days we've had must have made it decide it was ok to come out of hiding.

And the low:

Emerging peony foliage always makes me think of sea creatures.

The purple at the base of Iris 'Gerald Darby' always looks best at this time of year, before it produces flowers and the purple coloring fades. This is right at peak time of my swath of orange tulips that I featured in my Bloom Day post. Perhaps I should spread both around more and pair them up. The tulip is a species tulip called 'Praestans Shogun' which should increase like the Iris has.

Podophyllum foliage seldom looks as good later in the year as it does in the spring when it first emerges from the ground. Despite not getting watered as often as it should have last year, it does seem to have increased in size. It tends to easily wilt and turn crisp during our dry summer, which leads me to wonder if I should dig it up and grow it in a pot, like my blogging friend Peter The Outlaw Gardener does with his Podophyllums.


Pam at the blog Digging hosts Foliage Followup every month on the day after Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, to celebrate the role of foliage in the garden. Check out her link here, and the links left by other bloggers in the comments of her post.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day -- April 2017

It can't possibly be the middle of April already. It's still too cold and wet, for one thing. Time is just going impossibly fast.  I have too much to do in the garden, and not enough time and good weather to accomplish anything. I feel like the proverbial one-armed paper hanger. I'm doing plenty of weed-pulling and cleaning up, but I have no before pictures to share. It just feels like taking the time to take pictures is a waste.

I can't let Garden Bloggers Bloom Day fly past unmarked, however.

Trillium and Erythronium in bud
 I have a few different kinds of Primulas flowering, but I've lost track of what they are.

Primula veris(?)



Dicentra 'Gold Heart'

Dicentra 'Valentine'

Ribes sanguineum


Fritillaria meleagris

Lunaria annua


Ribes speciosum

Daffodil 'British Gamble' and Muscari


And in the greenhouse...

'Red-Headed Irishman' Cactus has a crown of pink flowers

I guess there's plenty of flowering going on out there.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Check out her post here.