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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Back Porch Redo

Remember this mess?

And this?

I managed to sort through all this, and reorganize it on my new potting bench. I gave the old wooden table away on craigslist. I used a 20% off coupon at Bed, Bath and Beyond and bought some new pieces for the porch, to make a cozy spot to sit and read with a cup of coffee.

What do you think?
It has kind of a zen simplicity to it. I thought maybe it was too plain. Too much brown and....brown. There's a little color in the pictures on the wall.

Some terra cotta and lavender in this one.

And red -- my favorite color -- in this one.

So I thought I would add some red. I switched out the tarnished silver tray with stones.

Substituted a china plate with red flowers and other red accents.

I also added a basket with a red plush throw, for those mornings or evenings when I might want to sit out there but it's a bit cold.


Does the red work? Would you add something else? Can you tell I'm just dreadful (not to mention self-conscious) at this "artful arranging of home furnishings?"

Across from the two chairs is an arrangement of pots, still empty. Later in the Spring, I'll put some shade annuals in them. It's too cold for that right now.

And in another corner of the porch I set up the table and chairs that we used last Summer for simple meals in the evening.

So...that's my back porch, redone. It's simple, because I can handle simple. Honestly, I don't have a very good sense of style. I really love the shabby chic look. But I'm soooooo bad at putting it together.

What would you do if it were your porch?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fertilizer Friday -- Forsythia, Siberian Squill, and Others

The flowers on my Forsythia 'Fiesta' are opening! Such a cheerful sight on an unusually sunny morning, after a night of crazy-mad rain.

Pink Frost Hellebore is still going strong.

Although a bit mud-spattered.

The two Primulas bought last weekend have been planted and seem to be settling in.

Siberian Squill and Snowdrops, although the snowdrops are pretty much finished.

The leaves on my pear tree start out squiggly. (At least I think it's a pear tree, it flowers but never fruits, probably because of a lack of pollinators.)

And one more gratuitous shot of my pink Erythronium, which I posted about earlier this week. It is still flowering, but seems to only open up when the sun is out.
Fertilizer Friday is a weekly blogging meme hosted by Tootsie Time. Go and check out all the great flower posts from around the world.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March 2011 -- Wildflower Wednesday -- Trilliums, Trout Lilies, Columbine and Bleeding Heart

Crikey, it's cold out there this morning.
 Yes, to my eternal shame, I have grass!

Despite the cold, the natives are restless.

Me too. I'm out there every day, even in the rain showers, checking on their growth. The dog's tooth violets (Erythronium dens-canis), a wildflower native to Europe, are close to full flower, but not quite. By next month's Wildflower Wednesday, they'll be past. (Don't worry, I'll post pictures).

 She hides shyly behind a leaf

There, that's better!

"I'm ready for my close-up."
(Edit:) By 4 p.m. on the day I posted, my shy dog's tooth violet had opened

Her little sister waits nearby for her moment of glory

Ah! The sun turns the frost to dew

Fawn lily (Erythronium tuolomnense), a California native, is also close to flower. Two bulbs were bought and planted last Fall, but only one shows signs of life. The leaves are a bit chewed up, but thankfully so far the flower buds are safe.

 I don't think I posted about my Flower and Garden Show purchases. I bought several bare-root Trilliums, rather dry and dusty in their little plastic bags of moss. Looks like they were indeed alive.

Trillium recurvatum and Trillium sessile, pictured here, are not actually Pacific Northwest natives.  Last Spring I bought a couple of native Trillium ovatum, but I haven't seen any sign of them returning. (I'm not an authority on Trilliums and trout lilies, I just try to grow them.  For information, follow the live links by clicking on their names. And don't forget to click on my pictures to make them larger.)

Several patches of western bleeding hearts (Dicentra formosa), planted last Fall, are showing themselves. No sign of flowers yet, but hopefully by next month...

Western columbine (Aquilegia formosa), also planted last Fall, have shown up.

In other news, another wildflower, Oregon fleabane (Erigeron speciosus), sown inside a milk bottle cloche, is sprouting.

And (Trumpets Please!) at least one of my red flowering currants has flower buds!

Wildflower Wednesday is a blogging meme hosted by Gail Eichelberger's blog Clay and Limestone. It is "about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if they are in bloom or not; and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. It's all about celebrating wildflowers."

Follow the link to her blog to see more posts about wildflowers.

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Sunday Adventure in Which I Met a Blogging Buddy and Bought Some Plants

About a year and a half ago, when I first started blogging, I went searching for other blogs, and one of the first ones I found (actually, maybe the very first) was Catherine's A Gardener in Progress. I was delighted to find a blog written by another gardener who lived in my area of the country. I read a lot of other great blogs, from all over the country, not to mention some absolutely delightful ones from other parts of the world. But I appreciated Catherine's because she was facing the same weather and climate challenges that I was, and she was growing lots of plants and shrubs unknown to me (Oh, lovely Sweetbox!). I was in a new environment that I had never gardened in before, and I knew it would help to be able to connect with other gardeners in this area. In addition, I found other blogs to follow, and even more gardeners to connect with, through the network of commenters who left their thoughts in the Comments section of A Gardener in Progress.

So, when Catherine sent me a message through FaceBook, asking if I wanted to meet her at the Northwest Perennial Alliance's March Mania plant sale on Sunday, I jumped at the chance.

Gardening (and writing about my garden) is such a solitary pursuit, I find. Yes, in the garden there are lots of plants that need tending, and bugs and birds and other critters to interact with. But nothing beats another human. Truthfully, I'm really a rather shy person, who often prefers the company of plants to people. Days go by where I interact with no one other than my husband (Oh, OK, the cashier at the grocery store can usually drag a few words out of me). He's a great companion, the love of my life (oh, how dramatic that sounds). But sometimes talking gardens and plants with someone else who shares this great obsession is a wonderful tonic!

Meeting Catherine was a perfect start to Spring!
Primula moupiensis (bought at the Plant Sale)

After an initial missed cell phone call, we found each other, and I was so happy to discover that Catherine is a sweet, friendly young woman, with two great, and remarkably well-behaved and patient, kids. The Littlest Gardener was shy (Oh, how I know how she feels!), and SweetPea was sick, but unlike many teens, not the least bit sullen or whiny about being dragged to a plant sale (and I'm afraid I embarrassed her by remarking on how hoarse her voice was -- Sorry, SweetPea).

Cyclamen hederifolium (been looking for a good specimen of this!)

We talked about all kinds of things, while we walked around looking at the plants at the sale (By the way, excellent plant sale!) Hmm....what did we talk about? Our common tendency to plant one of this and one of that, what a great perennial Epimedium is, that her husband is a good cook, what a marvelous garden Grace has, and what a good eye she has for garden ornaments, that there was an interesting collection of unusual primroses at the sale, how I ended up in the Pacific Northwest. I was a strange combination of both tired and wired (after a no-so-good night's sleep, and stoked to be talking to someone about gardening!), so my mind jumped all over. My husband said later that he was getting a contact high off my energy.

After Catherine left, I wandered around the plant sale and bought lots of wonderful plants (there was lots to choose from). I know Catherine and all my other readers are curious to see what plants I bought, so here are some pictures of a few of them (there are others above).

Primula elatior

I think Catherine might have bought this one, too. It looks like a dainty little cowslip (Primula veris).

Anemone nemorosa 'Stammer Berg'

I didn't realize till I brought it home, that the underside of the leaves are purplish.

The tag says this is a great shade ground cover. Introduced by Heronswood and also a Great Plant Pick, it's in the same genus as shotweed (a scary thought!). At the talk I attended last week by Dan Hinkley, he recommended it, so I'm giving it a shot (sorry).
Cardamine trifolia

You can see by the following picture -- my weakness for big leaves strikes again! They're small now, but they will get big and luscious and shiny. This plant's common name is Chinese mayapple.
Podophyllum pleianthum (not the variegated one)

I also bought three pink-flowered Dodecatheon hendersonii, and one pot each of Uncinia uncinata, and Epimedium 'Pink Elf.' There are no pictures of mine, but if you want to see the cute little flowers, go to Catherine's blog, she bought one too.

I was tempted to buy this Fatshedera lizei 'variegata,' a hybrid of Fatsia and Hedera for sun or part shade. But although the tag says it is hardy, there was no actual zone information on the tag. It was hard to pass up, but I did.
Such big, interesting variegated leaves!

Of course, later in the day I remembered all the things I had wanted to ask Catherine and never did. I'm pretty sure she plans to attend the Garden Blogger's Fling this summer here in Seattle, so I'll get a chance then. I'm looking forward to attending that, but also feeling a little trepidation over the undoubtedly overwhelming number of new people I'll meet. I'll have to come out of my shell, and wash the dirt out from under my fingernails, and (gasp!) actually speak to people.

By summer I'm sure I will have psyched myself up for the challenge.