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

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mush -- And an Early Christmas Present

Well, last week's snow and cold turned a lot of my perennials to mush, pretty quickly. At the time that we got the snow, we hadn't even had a frost yet, so lots of things were still quite green and growing and flowering, even. Most of my shrubs hadn't even lost their leaves yet, in fact, most of them still had green leaves. Well, technically, I guess they're still green, but it's a strange drab olive green, you know the color lettuce goes when it freezes?

The snow is gone now, the weather turned a bit warmer on Thanksgiving day, and then the next day almost all of it had washed away in the rain. It got up to about 40 degrees out there today, so I spent a couple of hours in my squishy garden cutting back all the mushy foliage.

Anyway, here is a warning -- you risk looking at pictures of garden ugliness if you continue to read on and scroll down!

I knew my Dahlias would turn. I need to figure out if I need to do anything special to them to try to ensure their survival over the winter. They risk getting water-logged if I do nothing. I'm trying to figure out if mulching them will help. Will it keep water in, or will it repel any future water? I think I will try a few experiments.

Mushy Dahlia foliage

Eupatorium 'Little Joe'


Cardinal Flower

Chocolate Eupatorium


Agastache 'Tutti-Frutti'

Persicaria 'Red Dragon'

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Alice'

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Litte Honey'

I've never grown Hydrangeas before, so I don't know if this is normal Fall behavior for them or not. I guess I'll find out come Spring.

Did you survive all those ugly pictures? Are you still with me? If you are, then you get to see my early Christmas present.

It's a NatureMill automatic compost bin! It actually came a couple of weeks ago, a surprise early Christmas present from my husband.
It runs on electric power, and has a motor to turn the stuff inside, as well as a heater to heat it up. It turns this --
Into this!

The compost inside does get a bit stinky, but I have it outside on my sheltered back porch, where I have an outdoor electric outlet. I have to sprinkle sawdust pellets in it to balance the greens and browns. They are the same pellets that I use as cat litter, so my plan is to use used cat litter. The instructions say you can put solid cat waste in it too, cause it cooks it to get rid of pathogens, but I don't think I will chance that. I have always used the used cat litter in my compost, with the solids removed.

I have always been bad about dragging veggie peelings and food waste down to the compost bin way in the back. I'll still compost with that set of bins, but I'll do garden trimmings there.

So far, it's working great, and I love it!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Birdie Tracks in the Snow

Junco on the porch feeder

Waiting for a turn.

Snow on my beak.

He was there a second ago....Ah well, not fast enough with the camera.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Snowy Pictures

We've had our first snowfall, in fact, it's still coming down. Judging by what I can see on the fence, it's about 3 or 4 inches. Enough to make driving a horror show, considering that it doesn't get plowed or even sanded here on the side streets. I am not a fan of snow. I lived for over 50 years in Massachusetts, where this would be considered little more than a dusting. Driving on it scares the bejesus out of me!

But it is pretty when it first falls on the garden.

I'm sure the Douglas firs have seen it all before.

I'm wondering how long it will take for ice to form on the stream and waterfall.

The shed looks pretty.

The oak tree still has nearly all its leaves.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fertilizer Friday -- Some Seed-Grown Dahlias and a Couple of Others

Will this be my last Fertilizer Friday? We haven't had a frost here yet. I figure it should come any day (or night actually). A couple of nights ago it got down to 34. Many of my fall-blooming perennials are still going strong. My last FF post was Oct. 22, and my Dahlias were blooming then. My first FF post to feature them was Sept. 2, so they have been blooming for a long time!

I'm not going to dig them up. I'm hoping they will survive in the ground here in Zone 7. I will probably start more from seed, just in case. I winter sow, so if they don't appear in the spring, I know I'll have something else I can pop into their spots.

Here are more of them.

Pennisetum 'Karley Rose' is also still producing lots of her pretty pink seedheads, although they are  not all standing upright after some major wind and rain. Here a Dahlia has one draped over her shoulders like a pink boa.

Dahlias aren't the only blooms in my garden.

Agastache grows by the stream. It gets tall and floppy, but I love the color. And they have a nice smell. I've heard they smell like bubble gum, but that's not quite what comes to mind.

And a hardy Geranium that I got from a swap, without a name. I think it might be Rozanne, because it has scrambled over the other plants around it, which is very "Rozanne-like" behavior.  Geraniums are supposed to provide good fall leaf color, but as you can see from the leaves behind it, mine are still green.

Fuschia magellanica is still producing flowers, although the leaves are yellowing. I've never grown this before. Does it drop its leaves? I'll have to Google it.

Many months ago I bought some Scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue' on sale at Lowe's. It has been blooming ever since. I hope it survives our winter, which all the weather pundits claim will be much harsher than usual. (I was going to say "than we are used to," but coming from Massachusetts, I am used to pretty harsh winter weather.)

Well, that's it for this week. There are still quite a few people posting at Tootsie Time! Thanks for looking at my flowers!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

New Plants and Plans in the Native Bed

I promised photos of the native area behind the waterfall, so here they are.

When I first started putting shrubs into this bed, I didn't have any vision of what I wanted it to look like other than to provide cover and food for birds. I realized after plunking shrubs and a couple of perennials here and there, that it needed some structure, as well as organized access. It was such a deep bed, and I couldn't just keep planting it and stepping all over the soil. So I decided to add a stone path that goes into the bed and around one of the Douglas firs. Right now I'm just trying to find larger (fist-size to head-size) rocks to run along the edges.

I have a lot of river rock under the dark compost in all the beds. The previous owners had used it as mulch in a lot of areas, and when we had the back garden redone, all that river rock got incorporated into the beds. So I dig it up, every time I plant. I've been saving it, figuring I might find a use for it, and I have.

I'm probably just going to dig out the top layer of compost from the pathway, and then scatter the rocks, but every once in a while I entertain the idea of embedding them in the soil, like a mosaic, with maybe a nice cushiony ground cover between the rocks. That will be a lot of work, but so will digging out the compost. I've been working on this since about the middle of September.

In the bed I've planted a bunch of native perennials. On the left side of the path, I planted Cornus canadensis, yellow-eyed grass, Sedum spathifolium, Heuchera, Lilium pardelinum, Tolmiea menziesii (also called piggyback plant) and many of the bulbs that I posted about yesterday. This spot gets more sun than the area farther in, right under the trees, so I tried to use plants that would take part sun here.

 On the right side of the path, I planted a variety of ferns, Asarum caudatum, Heuchera, Lewisia, Armeria maritima, Vancouveria hexandra (also called inside-out flower), more Cornus canadensis, a couple of heathers (Oops, not natives), a Sitka burnet, Lilium columbianum, and in the blank spaces, many of the bulbs mentioned yesterday.

Some closeups. Leatherleaf fern

Asarum caudatum

Lewisia and Sedum

Sitka burnet (Sanguisorba canadensis)

Far in the back, directly under the trees near the fence, are the plants that take pretty much unrelieved shade. They might get an hour of dappled shade in the morning, but the rest of the time it is deep shade. Planted here are Dicentra formosa, Aquilegia formosa, sword ferns, deer ferns, goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus), Veronicastrum, Tellima grandiflorum (also called Fringecups), and the two kinds of Erythronium that I mentioned yesterday. The Dicentra and Aquilegia are so fragile, I have them planted under hardware cloth, to keep the lawn crew from raking them to pieces.

Dicentra formosa

A tiny goatsbeard

Deer fern

A row of large healthy sword ferns, and some Fringecups

I had several sources for all of the plant material that I've put into this bed. For bulbs, I used Brent and Becky's Bulbs and John Scheepers. For the perennials, I got some of the plants from a GardenWeb swap. Others came from Fall sales at Watson's Greenhouse and Nursery, Windmill Gardens, Northwest Perennial Alliance, and MetroParks Tacoma Nature Center. I also bought some of the plants online from Bluestone Perennials and Santa Rosa Gardens.

There's more new plants in other beds in my garden. I'll be posting about that soon.