Sunday, May 31, 2009

'Round and 'round the garden ...

Iris blooms are just as appealing on the inside as out. I'm sorry but I don't know the identity of these flowers, which are a rich, wine color. They came with the house and have grown on me.

Over at the vegetable bed things are taking off. The peas, as expected, are crawling all over the trellis. Oh, but wait. We have actual pods on the vines now. They were hidden in back and I almost missed them. Delicious!
A few hours of pulling crabgrass and you can once again see the stones and all the coral bells in the front garden. I'm very pleased how well these have grown after I divided several of the plants. 
An emerging poppy bud looking more like the compound eyes of an insect.

Lupine is allowed to reseed freely in the front garden. These seem to get bigger each year. I'd like to get some of these in the back garden this season and spread the wealth.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Taking a step back

Just wandering around the garden, pondering blooms and considering plant combinations. These poppies are joining forces with the lupine to take over the front garden.

Wallflower Erysimum 'Apricot Twist' plays nice with the cool shade of Catmint Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant.' The wallflower I added to the parking strip garden because I know it will tolerate the intolerable conditions out there. It's also spread around other areas out front for a bit of cohesion. The Catmint has self seeded all over the place so I selectively remove some and leave others like this one.

Iris transplanted a couple years ago are loving their new home under the shade of the apple tree. I had considered digging up some of these earlier in the spring and now glad I didn't. They make a nice little "wall" and if you look closely you see the honeysuckle creeping into the mix.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Fun

The Parrot Tulips are about to take off apparently. Is the name due to the ruffles or the blur of "feathers" this lovely blooms turn into as they open. I decided I do like this colors after they warmed to a brilliant red and yellow rather than that magenta looking shade they had before opening.

Off to the rain barrel to fill his watering can and give the vegetables a little drink. Notice the "stumps" in the background? Those were salvaged from a friend's yard and have been under a giant mulch pile for more than a year. Never one to toss anything, I decided to repurpose them in the woodland garden for the little guy to climb on, drive trucks over or just a place to sit. It's also a way to finally get something in this space!

Almost 2 and he's really quite handy in the garden. He's also my little test subject for children's gardening projects for Little Sprouts Gardening. At this point, if it's something he can dig in, drowned or get dirty with he loves it.

Another garden "helper" who mostly just serves as company. He's pretty good at keeping our resident rodent (rat) away. Ugh!

My first flower from the little guy: chives pulled from the barbecue planter. He is daddy's little boy.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gift that keeps on giving

College friends visited over the holiday weekend and brought several gifts for the family. But of course a gardener's favorite would be a big ol' pot of flowers, most of which can be transplanted into the garden for enjoyment years to come.

The little guy enjoyed playing with their adorable daughter, who so kindly agreed to sit by the parrot tulips for a photo.

Stealth nighttime photos of columbine just starting to bloom.

The red snapdragons take on an interesting color under the flash of a bulb. These are in full bloom and doing a fine job of attracting bees around the blueberry bushes and the vegetable garden.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It came from the shadows

New Hosta 'Halcyon,' a blue cultivar I'm adding along the path beneath the Azara on the north side of the house. It will also serve as a transition into the woodland garden. My research showed this is slow to reach its full potential of a 3 foot spread, but once there it's great at crowding out weeds!

Fat buds on the oriental poppies are ready to burst. These are vibrant orange flowers that each year fill the front border more and more as I let them take over, along with the lupine. This year the plants are at least 24 inches tall.

Trillium sessile finally planted after the poor thing started sprouting in the bag it came home in. Not sure if I'll get a flower this season but the mottled leaves are enough to keep me happy. I'm a bit disturbed to learn that this plant, also known as toadshade, is listed as endangered in New York and threatened in Michigan, according to the USDA. Does this mean it was a no-no to sell/buy it? Can anyone please enlighten me?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mellow Yellow

When you live in a place where there are gray skies nine months out of the year, yellow is just the color to perk thinks up. It's a cheerful accent that combines with any color. I enjoy it so much our house is a (now faded) shade of happy. And all throughout the garden you'll find yellow tones ranging from the riches hues of gold to mellower buttery yellows. This Iris 'White Wedgewood' is a good example of how yellow can add a bit of pizazz. The only flaw is that out of 10 bulbs I planted only two have emerged. Harrumph!

Marigolds are a staple in my garden. I believe these are 'Safari Red,' another fun little spin on yellow to brighten up the garden as we transition from spring to summer.  Marigolds are great little annuals for the long lasting blooms and ability to repel many pests. I especially plant them around the veggie beds, but this year have spread them around the back garden to draw the little guy away from my more delicate plants. Marigolds can take quite a beating!

A few greenish-gold hues are now growing happily in the Arborvitae border. I think I may rename this the native border as it features many plants native to Washington, including Snowberry, Red Osier Dogwood, Bunchberry and flowering currant. It seems I'm forever taking photos midday, when the little guy naps but unfortunately when sun tends to wash colors out. I'll need to add some bolder colors to this area as they work better in such lighting. Paler hues really pop in shade or the evening. So, what color is a mainstay in your garden?

Even our visitors are sporting a bit of yellow these days. This may be the culprit I've spotted streaking around the backyard. Still just a yellow blur but at least it's on camera. I'm leaning toward Yellow Warbler but would also consider Western Tanager. I'll need a better shot but perhaps trained eyes can identify our little friend.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Taking flight

Our little hummingbird has been returning daily. I even had the privilege of watching him shoot up toward the sky and dive straight down, whirring and thwirping along the way. I'm definitely thinking this is an Anna's Hummingbird as many of you have suggested. Thank you so much.

Another winged visitor I'm not as thrilled about but realize this is nature.

A bumbler enjoying the rhododendron blooms.

An unknown variety of caterpillar hanging out.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pucker up

Certain plants have so much character you can't help but smile ... or laugh in this case. Red snapdragon flowers look like big ol' lips that just scream "Kiss Me." I've spread these around the yard for their whimsy. They're fun makeshift puppets to entertain the little guy and they attract bees to the garden.

Sweet little blooms on the Sugar Snap peas. I can't wait until these start giving up some tasty pods.

Roses along the front path are putting on plenty of buds. I'm really not that fond of roses but have kept a couple of the taller variety in the garden for a bit of height. Mostly these just attract aphids that I'm forever blasting with the hose.

One man's weed ... I believe this is buttercup, with its oh so sweet buttery flower. It's too bad this plant doesn't play nice with anything else in the garden. Instead it likes to honey up to other plants I actually want in hopes that I won't rip it out.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Rise up

The garden is really starting to put on a show thanks to some spectacular weather in the last couple days. Blooms have sprung up and and foliage is starting to fill out.  Heuchera or Coral Bells have definitely benefitted from division earlier this year. Several have doubled in size and all are sending up their dainty flower heads.

I don't always catch when the Iris send up their stiff flower stalk, but it's always impressive. The blooms are quite lovely on these plants, but there's sculptural appeal in the bud itself.

Buds! Real buds on my peony. Now some of you may recall that this poor peony has had quite a time making it past 5 inches because it had been a resting place for my dog Winston. Now that we've gated off the south side of the yard though it's almost 2 feet and buds are icing on the cake!

I spotted a volunteer maple growing in a little pot on the deck. Strangely, its leaves are narrower than the parent plant. I'm happy to have a free maple though!

Columbine basks in the sunlight, its delicate lines captured mid-performance like lithe dancers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Whitewashed Wednesday

I've been adding white or lighter colored plants to better enjoy our outdoor space in the early evening. Some recent additions include low-growing Bunchberry, or Creeping Dogwood. I didn't have much luck with this a couple years ago when I tucked it in the front garden. I think it was getting too much sun. I'm tucking this shade lover in a deeper corner this time.
Mystery plant has these sweet six-petaled blooms, a pale gray-green color trimmed in white. I planted these bulbs two years ago and don't recall them showing up last season. I hope they spread readily throughout the garden around the upper deck.
Redtwig dogwood is covered in these tiny white flowers. Not the showiest of blooms, but these plants are usually sought for their fiery twigs. Nonetheless, they are a welcome sight when the sun dips below the horizon.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Backyard blooms

The skies opened up today, giving freshly planted shrubs and flowers a much needed drink. Astilbe is a recent addition to the backyard garden. These shade lovers  put on billowy plumes of color that light up the garden.

Heart-shaped pods of columbine flowers are plumping up, ready to burst forth with their blushing petticoats. These were allowed to reseed freely last season and filled out the backyard garden quite nicely. I'm hoping they were their magic again this year.

Spirea, perhaps 'Gold Flame,' has perked up, despite my worry that its foliage may be a be spotty this year. The flower pods are just starting to show, but when done blooming I'll likely cut it back to encourage hearty growth next year.
Azalea blooms have managed to survive, despite almost daily trampling by the dogs. I couldn't be more pleased they made it. They're a beautiful shade of red. I think I need to add more of it throughout the back garden.