Saturday, September 20, 2014

Not A Child's Muddy Handprints

The raccoons that dog my attempts to grow plants in my stream have discovered the Folly in the front garden, with its fountain.

And its formerly clean off-white chaise.

Maybe, like children and Santa, I should leave them cookies and milk, or coffee and a book, to keep them entertained at night.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Foliage Followup

It's Foliage Followup!

Acaena 'Blue Haze' and Sedum 'Angelina' in the recycled concrete wall

Check out the comments here on Pam's blog Digging for more Foliage Followup posts.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, September, 2014

Happy GBBD!

Pink California poppy

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Go here for more posts.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pixie in the Shadows

The other morning while pulling weeds in the front garden I was struck by how beautiful the sun looked shining through the petals of one of my seed-grown Dahlias. I grabbed my camera and started taking pictures.

I didn't realize till I looked at them on the computer, that it looks like a wee pixie is hiding behind the flower. Doesn't that look like a pixie to you?

But of course, by the time I ran back outside to see, the pixie had flown.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Monday, September 8, 2014

Five Years of Blogging

As of last Friday, September 5, I have been blogging about my garden for 5 years. Because I started the blog when we first moved into our new house here in Washington state, after having lived in Massachusetts for all of my 50+ years, this blog has also served as a record of all the changes I've made in my garden here.

The Back Garden

When we came for the home inspection, I took photos of the back yard as it appeared when the former owners lived here. I also put this set of photos in my very first blog post, which you can read here. The pictures proceed from right to left across the back yard. Sorry about the very contrasty sun and shadows in the Now photos.

Before, taken from the back porch:

Here is that view now:









Finally, Before:


And one more, the view taken from the gate in the photo above now, down on ground level:

Here's a panorama view of the back garden taken with my iPhone (click on it to embiggen).

The Gravel Garden

The second major overhaul we made to this garden was installing the gravel garden. When we bought it, the house had one entire side of the yard devoted to a gravel parking pad for trailers and boats, neither of which we have. I decided to put in a low berm bordered by boulders, mulched with gravel, and filled with drought-tolerant plants.

Below is a shot of the "Scorched Earth" parking area before we started working on it:

Here's a scan of the crude drawing I made showing my hardscape plans for the space:

Although work didn't start until March, 2012, I took that photo above back in August, 2011, not long after seeing Shelagh Tucker's gravel garden during the Garden Bloggers Fling in Seattle. Hers was the inspiration for mine. Also, while visiting Lorene Edwards Forkner's garden during the Fling, I saw tall gabions like I planned to use in the gravel garden. And I saw the culverts and stock tanks used as planters at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.

Equal Opportunity Theft here all round.

Here are some photos from today showing the gravel garden, now 2 years old.

Here below is a closer view of that first set of gabions and culvert.

Here is an iPhone panorama, distorted as if taken with a fisheye lens, of the gravel garden.

The Front Garden

For four of the five years that I've been blogging, we made very few changes to the front yard, which was primarily a large expanse of grass. In January of this year, just before we started working on it, the front looked like this:

And now, it looks like this:

From another angle:

And in the front, this is the view from the front door:

The house has one foundation bed that wraps around the southwest corner of the house. Early on in our occupation of the house, it looked like this:

And here it is today:

Here are some other views of the front. I don't have matching Before shots for these, because...well...basically just imagine grass.

And below is the front, taken with the iPhone.

That's the end of big transformative projects around here. From now on it's just tweaking.

Happy Blogaversary to me!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Soos Creek Botanical Garden

My friend Annette volunteers three hours a week, working at the Soos Creek Botanical Garden in Auburn, WA, and on Wednesday this week she emailed me at the last minute to suggest that I meet her at the garden after her work ended so that she could show me around. Because she works in their propagation department, sticking cuttings and potting starts, she seldom gets to actually walk the garden. So I met her and she showed me around.

Soos Creek Botanical Garden is the work of two men, Maurice Skagen and his partner James Daly. The 22-acre garden was originally part of 200 acres that Maurice Skagen's Norwegian immigrant ancestors purchased between 1891 and 1905. In 1968, when Maurice's parents deeded 5 acres to him, there was nothing here other than native trees and plant life such as Douglas firs, western red cedars, hemlocks, vine maples, big leaf maples, and native perennials, ranging from trilliums to skunk cabbage along the creek. Eventually Maurice was inspired by trips to England and Japan to create strolling gardens on the property. The garden has been open to the public since July, 2011.

A hops vine covers the welcome sign

There is a plant sale area next to the entrance, with borders full of sunflowers and Dahlias blooming nearby. The garden is open for plant sales the first Friday and Saturday in June and again on the first Saturday in October, as well as Saturdays from June to September.

Maurice working in the plant sales area

The garden is divided into several different rooms or areas, starting with the Heritage Flower Garden just inside the fence. I passed it on my way to the parking area, which is near the plant sales area, and walked back up to check it out.

Passages in quotes come from the Soos Creek Botanical Garden website.

The Heritage Flower Garden

"The Heritage Flower Garden was inspired by Aunt Nettie's flower garden which was full of shared plants from friends and neighbors. Roses are in abundance, many are heritage climbing varieties. Among the roses are peonies, heathers, irises and various perennials. The backdrop to this garden includes many fruit and ornamental trees. Look for Magnolia 'Elizabeth' with yellow blossoms, blooming in the spring. An old growth Douglas fir tree stands like a citadel over this garden."

That leaf on the right was the size of an easy chair. I could have wrapped myself up in it like a big burrito -- a big, very prickly burrito.

The Elizabeth Fenzl Garden Room

"As you move along the path to the Elizabeth Fenzl Garden Room, notice the tree peonies, umbrella pine (Sciadopitys verticillata), Eucriphia and the mature Catalpa. This garden room has a feeling of enclosure, a quiet retreat for relaxed sitting. Many hardy Fuchsias as well as some unusual shrubs and trees including Parrotia persica, eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), and Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii), make up the walls of this garden. Wonderful old 'Nelly Moser' clematis scrambles up a Rainier Cherry. Surrounding the house are many established plantings such as rhododendron 'Cynthia', climbing hydrangea, Aucuba japonica, magnolias, azaleas, and many more flowering trees."

Look at the colors in this mophead Hydrangea!

So fabulous!

There was a large variety of roses flaunting their hips throughout the gardens.

Fuchsias galore too.

Vegetable Demonstration Garden

"A large vegetable demonstration garden has been developed. The garden incorporates raised vegetable beds with paths 6-foot wide. Fig, apple, and Italian plum trees have been planted, and along the perimeter beds are blueberries, raspberries, aronia berry, rhubarb, corn, beans, squash, and more."

The garden donates most of its produce to help the local food bank. I did manage to blag one of its enormous Ailsa Craig onions, which was so large Nigel threatened to carve it up like a Jack O'Lantern.

Scarlet runner beans

Huge patch of squash and pumpkins

Schaefer Pond Garden

"The Pond Garden showcases many moisture loving plants, including water lilies, gunnera and umbrella plant (Darmera peltata) which blooms on bare stalks in spring. Look for the lions head maple at the south end of the pond. Along with ducks one can always find a reflection or two floating on the pond."

The building in these pictures is the Soos Creek Heritage Center, where early photos, historical maps, and newspaper articles about the farming life of the early settlers on the Soos Creek plateau are displayed.

Carlmas Long Borders

"Continuing down the incline are two opposing mixed borders which extend down the slope approximately 500 feet. The focus here is one of color and flows from cool to bright, sunny tones. The use of opposite borders was inspired by garden designer Gertrude Jekyll. A favorite specimen of visitors is the banana tree located near the top of the north border, which can reach 15-feet high each year before frost. Each fall it is carefully wrapped for winter securing it for the promise of spring. As you proceed down the kaleidoscope of color along the south path be watching for the spectacular snake bark maple, another favorite of guests. Other interesting plantings include deciduous azaleas, wingthorn rose (Rosa sericea), tamarisk tree, golden ninebark (Physocarpus), and Moroccan broom (Cytisus battandieri)."

More bright red rose hips

Oie Native Woodland

"Just as you would expect, this area is truly woodland, devoted to native plants, such as bleeding heart, trillium, twin flower, fringe cup, licorice fern, sword fern, and more."

The color on these oakleaf Hydranges was so pretty! Mine never get this pink.

Another gorgeous mophead Hydrangea

These colors just might steal my heart

The garden is currently open to the public from Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The garden is closed from mid-November to mid-March. There is no entrance fee although donations are appreciated. Docent-led tours are available, take about 90 minutes, must be scheduled ahead of time, and cost $3 per person, with a minimum of $25.

For more background on the Soos Creek Botanical Garden, here are some interesting articles.

A Life's Masterpiece at Soos Creek Botanical Garden 

Soos Creek Botanical Garden welcomes you

Grand garden for all: Partnership's hard work yields botanical paradise in Auburn