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

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What Am I Planting in All That Empty Space?

I'm not a native Nazi, but it seemed to me that it would make sense to plant a lot of native shrubs and perennials in the back bed, along the fence, and near the waterfall. So this past February I picked up some native shrubs at the local Pierce Conservation District sale. They're not much more than sticks with leaves, but I've been slowly planting them in the beds, trying to leave at least 6 feet between them (ok, sometimes I fudge and plant them 5 feet apart -- maybe four...... no I'm not copping to four). It still looks really bare, but I'm hoping it won't be too long before the area fills in.

Last week I visited a nursery in Gig Harbor that specializes in natives (Woodbrook Nursery), where I picked up one shrub and some perennials.

So, here's what's going in the beds.

Red Elderberry


Pacific Ninebark

Vine Maple

Red Twig Dogwood

I have five native Viburnums that I potted up till I figure out where to fit them in. And I have five Red Flowering Currants that have barely leafed out yet. Everyone else's are flowering already, so I hope mine make it. I'm sure everything was set back somewhat by having been dug up and replanted for the sale.

Oh, I also have a Corylopsis that I bought at a nursery. I first read about this shrub on Catherine's blog, A Gardener in Progress. (I don't know how to turn that into a live link, but you can find her blog with its delightful photos here:

In another bed I have an oakleaf Hydrangea called 'Snow Queen'

And a tiny Annabelle Hydrangea.

A vine maple called 'Pacific Fire'

And a Western Azalea (sorry the picture is out of focus)

I am planning to also plant Pacific Rhododendron, Oceanspray, some Alaska/yellow cedar, and possibly a California Wax Myrtle.

Well, I think I'll cover the native perennials in another post.

Oh, here's a long shot of that bed at the back with all the native shrubs. Some day it's going to look wonderful.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Water Feature -- Before and After

When we bought the house 6 months ago (wow! that long?) there was a fenced swingset area that didn't serve any purpose for us, since we have one grown child living on the East Coast. At my old garden I had a pond that my son and I dug ourselves one summer, with shovel and pickaxe. I had goldfish, which I miss, but it was a lot of work. We had raccoons, and birds that would try to eat them, not to mention the snakes in my previous post. I  once ran out into the garden in my nightgown to take a fish out of the jaws of a snake and toss it back in the pond!

Plus, it always seemed to have a leak somewhere that was hard to track down. So, at this garden I decided I wanted a disappearing stream, also called a pondless waterfall. It started with taking out the swingset and fence. The swingset was taken apart, and sat on my driveway for a while, till someone from the contractor's church came to take it away and reinstall it where it would be appreciated. I'm glad it didn't go into a landfill, or even to a scrap metal place.

Then they brought in lots of boulders.

Arranged some in a semi-circle and installed the waterfall.

Dug a big hole for the pump. Even though it doesn't have a pond, it still needs a big reservoir for the water. It gets covered by stones.

Then they placed the liner.

And very carefully placed the boulders along the sides. Our contractor was very good, he used the backhoe like a delicate instrument. You don't want to make a wrong move and tear the liner!

Then they cut the liner back a bit and filled the streambed with small stones.

They turned the water on for a test run! A very dirty test run...

It needed to be filled and pumped out several times before the water started to run clearer.

Now, this is the view through my garden gate....
Sparkling water!

The stream decorated with a gift from a friend...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"How Can You Call Yourself a Gardener..."

"How can you call yourself a gardener when you didn't do any of this work yourself?"

That's what a neighbor said when she came over to check out the new back yard. She looked around for a few minutes and then turned to me to ask.

I didn't realize that knowing how to run a backhoe was a prerequisite.

Am I a gardener? I gardened for over 20 years in Massachusetts, where I grew daylilies....

And malva...

And lupine.

And Trillium.

I winter sowed.

I wonder if the wildlife that visited thought I was a gardener?

The wild turkeys even came back the next year.

I grew herbs in a bed I made using the lasagna method.

Which I enlarged the next year so I could grow tomatoes.

Which had to be put under cloches made out of soda pop bottles, because I put them out too early.

Am I a gardener because I compost?

With leaves stolen in the dead of night from the neighbors?

Or because when I run out of room in the trunk, I put bags of topsoil on the back seat?

Maybe I'm a gardener because I passed my love of gardening on to my son.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

More Pictures

There aren't that many before pictures, so these are all during and after.

Building the new raised beds for veggies:


The weather the last two days has been so lovely, I've been out there for about 5 hours both days, sowing peas and carrots. I read that carrots like very fine soil, with no rocks or big pieces of compost, so I spent most of that time sifting the soil and adding sifted compost and peat moss. I have done just enough for four square feet of carrots!

On someone's blog -- I don't remember whose, darn it! -- I read about using cheap paper napkins to make your own seed mats, so that's what I did with the carrots. Can't wait to see how they do.

All that sifting was very hard work, so those carrots better taste spectacular!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Before and After Photos

I've tried keeping journals, diaries, etc. in the past and I'm very bad at it. I never keep it up. Even I'm bored by what I have to say. So...maybe I'll just post some pictures of before, during and afters of my new back garden.

Click to embiggen: