Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Well that's cool

Every so often I give up the camera to the spousal unit and he turns outs some pretty cool shots like this leaf.

Or this palm. You see them, right? The eyes staring back at you, waiting and watchful. Definitely cool.

No idea, but also cool.

Love the smooth gray texture of this palm tree. I often found myself doing a double take of plants that looked almost fake. Not that plastic, tacky fake but the so perfect it can't be real kind of fake.

These blooms hovered over the wide blades like wispy clouds. They were especially lovely as nightfall crept in and they lit up the dark.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Heavenly Hibiscus

Oh the many wonders of this beautiful plant. I've seen it around the Seattle area, but I had no idea there were more than 200 varieties. And I swear every single one is represented in Hawaii. I surely could have filled a day just scouting out these lovely blooms but it was a family vacation you know. Many I came across didn't have names so I'm no help there. I wonder if any dear readers could identify the handful I just had to have a photo of to remind me of my visit?

Likely my favorite because of the pumpkin orange coloring. This plant was growing at Smith's Tropical Paradise, where we enjoyed the beautiful 30-acre cultural and botanical garden and a lovely luau. Later I'll have another post just from that visit alone.

Another variety at Smith's Garden. I'm not sure I really like this color but it was so funky I wanted to share.

These were flowering on the grounds where we stayed near Lihue. Note the droplets from the day's rain. I guess you wouldn't earn the nickname Garden State without quite a bit of moisture. I read that the center of Kauai is the wettest place in the world. Take that Seattle.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tropical Treasures

The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind of upheaval. I first must thank everyone for the many kind words following the loss the of our big boy tabby Milo. This was followed closely by a long-awaited and perfectly timed vacation to Kauai. We returned early this morning and my brain still isn't quite firing correctly from the three-hour time change. I'll just quietly share some of the beautiful treasures that greeted us in the first few hours of arrival on the island.

There's plenty more I'll share in coming days. I must apologize for the lack of identification. I have names on some, but most of the time it was point, shoot and chase down the little guy.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rest easy sweet boy

A long absence due to a heavy heart. We had him for 10 of his 19 years, but it was time to let him go. We decided not to put our sweet boy, Milo, through medical procedures that could not guarantee success at the end. Now he rests in his favorite sunny spot, to forever watch over his family.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Something old, but lots of new

Work, the actual paid kind, has kept me busy this week. But today I sneaked outside for a bit more planting and weeding. I also took a peek around the yard to find that the recent bouts of sun really gave things a boost. Tulipa 'Flair' is finally showing itself in the catwalk garden. These have taken a beating from both weather and the dogs, so I'm especially glad to see even just one fat bloom.

Tiny leaves are opening all over the Coral Bark Maple in the pot by our backdoor. They really snap against the stems that have cheered me on through many a long winter. I believe it's coming back again after a third move ... definitely a hardy little tree.

Red twig dogwood has its own chartreuse leaves brightening up the gaps between the Arborvitae border.  I also just read that they have a widely spreading root system that makes them quite handy for erosion control. 

The daffodils are coming up in the catwalk border. They make me think of cobras slinking out of the earth.

And finally, the now identified anemone that I first thought was a weed. It has one lone bloom at the moment, and that is facing away from the yard, so often difficult to capture as it slowly spreads open. Still, I'm glad I plunked this back in the ground. Close call! However, notes on this said it wouldn't bloom until June/July. Could it be thrown off? No wonder the others I planted haven't even shown up yet.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dig, plant, enjoy

I'm feeling the welcome ache of hours spent working in the garden. Despite a forecast of possible rain, today was a lovely mix of sun and cool temperatures ... perfect for planting and enjoying some of what's appearing around the yard.

Buds are showing up all over the apple tree. I'm armed with a few more recipes this year just in case we again hit the mother load in fruit production.

One of my acquisitions from my recent trip to Flower World. Forsythia is pretty ubiquitous in the Seattle area, but I still love it's bright yellow blooms that really stand out during our gray winter days.

Spirea is filling out, although still a bit skimpy. I've decided all of mine will definitely get a hard prune after flowering. Consensus is that really shocks them into a standout performance the following season.

Catching the weeping flowering  cherry as it begins to burst open. I've spotted a couple around the neighborhood that are well into their bloom, but mine is taking its time. It's a bit behind where it was last year, but it sounds like that's the norm for everyone.

Editing is a must when you find a plant that works better. That was the case with the Contorted Filbert, which I decided should be up by the front of the house to capture the afternoon shade and provide a focal point near the window. There's also plans inside the home for a master bedroom and that window will provide a nice morning view of the filberts gnarly branches.

And just because I so love their vibrant color, I'm ending with a shot of the 'Apricot' Wallflower. I decided I liked them around the Filbert, but I've also spread a few around the yard to draw the eye through the garden spaces.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Take a stroll with me

I thought I'd share some of the sights of Flower World, one of my favorite plant nurseries outside of Seattle. It started on just four acres in 1968, doing business mostly with wholesalers. Retail began in the 1980s as more people stopped by its greenhouses for plant information. Today, nearly 90 percent of its inventory is grown in-house and many of the plants are featured in wonderfully displayed gardens spread throughout the space.

Bloodtwig Dogwood line a gravel path luring visitors to a large pond featuring a water fountain. It's been about a year since I've been here and I don't remember this being quite so brilliant. I'm pretty sure at one point in the past five or six years these weren't here at all. Wish I'd been into taking pictures when I first came upon this place.

Farther up the path, resident chickens enjoy some range free pecking. I believe I spotted a few Buff Orpingtons, a Polish or two and perhaps an Araucana. They were all happily clucking, some crowing, as they waddled along.  I imagine some of these lovelies will be producing the fresh eggs Flower World is set to begin selling later this year. Makes me want one or two even more.

Plants aren't the only draw to this little piece of gardening glory. The grounds are open to anyone wanting a pleasant stroll or even a visit with little ones to spy the geese and ducks that also are free to roam the grounds during the day.

I've been frequenting Flower World for several years. The water wheel has been in place since I first visited, but many plants were just babies and are starting to fill out nicely. I especially love the conifer garden with its golden and blue-green shrubs and trees. They really popped under the cloudy sky that hung overhead during my recent stop.

Monday, April 6, 2009

They just appeared!

Today was absolutely beautiful, and I'm happy to say I spent all but maybe four hours outside. It wasn't all gardening, but I was outside and that's what matters. I did get about three hours of good, hard gardening time while the little guy took his nap. I also did another check of the vegetables I have inside and was a bit surprised to find beans! I put the plant tray in our bay window a couple days ago, and with the exception of a quick water, I hadn't really inspected them. So to find beans today was a pretty cool treat. I decided to move the plants outside under the cloche. They've been cooped up long enough.

The cucumbers even have flower buds on them, another surprise. For some reason I had it in my head that none of this would happen until I moved the plants outside. Now, let's hope that we get a decent crop out of these babies!
Meanwhile, I planted some of the stockpile I've been gathering over the last couple weeks. The Forsythia and cypress went in at the front garden, and I finally planted the redtwig dogwood I brought home from my day helping with the Native Plant Salvage program.  Most of my planting decisions today were to replace the many Hebes I lost over the winter. I decided I just couldn't stand looking at their dead, brown foliage and withering stems in the hope that they would snap out of it.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Boo-yah! Blooms!

Never doubt a gardener's determination. Nor her ability to resist a chance to add more plants to the garden. I found myself at Lowe's the other day after Catherine from A Gardener in Progress mentioned variegated wallflower on sale at Home Depot. Yes, I know not the same store but Lowe's had a carpet I needed so I figured I'd take a chance. No variegated, but I did come home with Apricot Twist Wallflower. It's cheery orange, one of my favorite colors, and just what this bloom-deprived gardener was needing.

And because we can never buy just one, I came across the sale section where I spotted a little something I've wanted since the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. Remember the oh so funky Contorted Filbert? Yep, that made its way into the cart as well.

I also couldn't resist Gaura 'Pink Fountain' and its wonderfully cascading stems flush with delicate blushing blooms. This is a draw for hummingbirds, as well, which will be nice come summer. I had Gaura in my garden a few years ago but it stopped returning after awhile, perhaps deterred by my layers of mulch.

Bees! I couldn't forget them, so I scooped up a few Lavender 'Blueberry Ruffles. I should have bought several more to add to the parking strip. These are drought tolerant once established, just the ticket for the area between the sidewalk and street.

Already in the garden, however, the bright pink hyacinth are likely at their height of performance. They'll soon be replace by the tulips and anemone I planted last year.

Euphorbia is heavy with its chartreuse flowers. Spurge is a pretty quick spreader, and I've already been plucking it out of areas where it may take over. Right now it's mingling with an unidentified rose by the front path.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The naked truth

Closeups tend to be the norm on this site, so I thought I'd branch out a bit and explore the garden from afar. As we've already discussed, it's pretty sparse, but this will give some perspective. This is looking east, toward the back of the house at the corner bed. It's my attempt to create a tropical garden space, including yucca and palm. The spouse likes these plants so we try to make him feel included.

Still on the upper deck my lovely husband built, you also look down at the bed in front of the fountain. Here you can see the weeping willow, skimmia, pachysandra and some of the yucca offshoots I divided last year. Not sure if they're going to make it. I think the dogs have been sitting on them, too.

Still looking east, but along the fence line running the length of the south side of the yard. The grass looks deceptively lush but is still quite soggy. Note the dead mass of Hebe in the foreground. I'm pretty sure that's a goner, despite suggestions to give it a year. Who has that kind of patience?

Step back a bit more, looking south, and you really see how this garden strip lacks filling. The arborvitae drop quite a few needles and the dogs charge over to the fence to "greet" the neighbor's dogs. All this makes it challenging for planting. Right now the space includes dead or dying Hebe, white flowering currant, redtwig dogwoods, spirea, azalea, climbing camellia and Mexican orange.

On the deck and looking northwest at the woodland garden. It's really bare now but I've started placing some ferns and salal. I'm leaving them in their pots until I decide whether I like them there. However, it's already clear they're lost against the mulch so this area will definitely need plants to brighten it up.

Finally, on the deck looking west at the catwalk border and the upper deck. If you recall, this is where the great bulb bonanza took place. They're filling in a bit but the bed needs a lot more work. The fountain also is screaming for more plants, maybe some canna or crocosmia for pops of color.
Well, there's the naked truth on our little backyard. Pretty bare right now but it will fill in. I also like to think I have plenty of space to buy more plants. So do you have a few areas that need filling? Care to share some of your naked truths?