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

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Grace Suggested Sword Ferns

Has anyone ever suggested a solution to a problem that made you practically smack yourself in the head because it was just so perfect and so right that you can't believe it never occurred to you?

A few days ago on my post about my stream, Grace from Gardening With Grace suggested that I plant native sword ferns around the top of my stream, and I seized on that solution like it would save my life. I was so enthusiastic about it I implemented it today. Good thing I had all those sword ferns from the recent swap I went to. And I have a bunch of Fringecups/Tellima to interplant with them, and I have some native ginger (Asarum caudatum) that looks really lush right now, so I'm going to either divide one and plant it there, or buy another couple (they're pretty easy to find at local nurseries).

It doesn't look like much right now, because they are all kind of smallish ferns, but in a couple of years it will be lush and full, especially with the other natives interplanted with them. I dug out the hakone grass and the black mondo grass and moved them into my dry shade bed near the house.

It was such a perfect gardening day today, with temps near 70 for the first time in ages. I actually sweated while I was out there digging, instead of shivering in my sweatshirt, and flexing my fingers every few minutes because they ache from the cold.

I planted the climbing hydrangea by the little gap in the fence.

A couple of stems broke off, so I'm going to try rooting them in water.

While I was moving some of the mondo grass I noticed this combination. I just thought the blue with the rich red foliage behind it from the Magic Carpet Spirea looks great. I need to add some blue to the orange/red in the bed beside the stream.

The other chore which I accomplished today with a little help from my husband was getting the plastic up on this hoophouse, which I am going to use for my tomatoes. Our summers here are so cool that tomatoes need all the help they can get.

It's not really pulled quite tight enough, but when it's tight, the two hoops on each end bow inward. I'm a little concerned about what will happen when it rains. We'll see. It's an experiment. I've never had a hoophouse before. I've never used red plastic mulch before either (it's supposed to help the maters ripen faster. Or something good like that.) I made the hoops out of ten-foot long pieces of electrical conduit, stuck over rebar which was pushed halfway into the ground. In a week or so I'll plant my tomatoes in it.

Well, that was my day. We are back to rainy and cool tomorrow. Waah.


  1. I am so happy for you! 70 wow. Everything looks great. I bet it felt good to get out and plant. I enjoyed the photos.

  2. Oh Alison! I so feel the 'waah'..cause it just sucks that we can't have more!! Today was beautiful though, I filled in my raised beds and had adventures falling in love w/too many plants on a trip to Freddy's..was just suppose to be looking at Easter stuff for the kiddos..hmm, sounds like a good blog post for tomorrow ;) I'll be intrigued to see how your mater hoop house works out for you, it looks cool!

  3. Ferns and water are always a match made in heaven. The sword ferns will look super once they establish themselves.

    Your hoop-house is looking good. You're such an adventurous gardener, Alison and I'm sure you'll have great success with your tomatoes with all the thought, love, care and attention you seem to put into everything you do!

  4. Your hoop house looks like an incubator for aliens! Interesting experiment!

    Happy Easter.


  5. Yay! The ferns look great. How nice that you already had them. I remember reading that you bought them at a sale but had forgotten it when I suggested them. Mine are starting to unfurl right about now. There is something about ferns and water that is so PNW, don't you think? I love the blue/spiraea combo and the raised bed hoop house looks fabulous. Remember though that the tomato blossoms need to be pollinated. It would be good to open up the plastic when the flowers form to allow the flying bugs and the wind to do their thing. Maybe you already were planning this... if so sorry for my "bossiness." LOL

  6. Looks like a great hoop house!
    And the color combo is stunning. All I can say is 'wow!'.

  7. Alison, the ferns are a wonderful idea! I can't wait to see them flourishing in your garden.

    I planted a climbing hydrangea up against our willow tree last summer and I see it's coming back this year--I have no clue if the plant will get enough light under the massive tree, but we'll see what happens.

    The hoophouse is a great idea too, is that a raised planter? The only problem I see is what you already mentioned, how to keep the plastic tight when it rains. It is amazing how much water weighs when it pools in the dips between the hoops. We have a 'ridge pole' down the middle of our homemade thing, and that keeps the 'ribs' from moving side to side. I hope this works for you, having a hoophouse/greenhouse is such a benefit to those of us who have a mere three months to garden!

  8. Oh that will look lovely. they can be a bit weedy but i am sure if you are on top of them they wont take over. I often use a weedy type of plant to fill in an area quickly as you can remove most of them as the other plants fill in. ferns and water go so well together.

  9. Hi Alison! I was working with my climbing hydrangeas today. They used to be at the garage wall, but I moved them to the trees (after reading what damage they can cause to the house). Well, I didn't do a good job: I broke a branch which was already attached to the tree. Other branches are not eager to climb. I hope they will change their mind. I see that you planted your climber much closer to the tree. I think this is right. Mine are not so close.

  10. The ferns will look wonderful above the waterfall, lush and full. The cool weather and rain will help them along. Happy gardening:)

  11. Yes, it was wonderful to be able to work outside this weekend. I see you got lots done, too. I have never used a hoop house. I don't have room at home, but would across the street. I would like to put some kind of netting over it to keep insects off of my green beans and cucumbers. I wonder if they need pollinators, too, though.

    When I was looking back at your photos, the word, "promising" came to mind. It will be fun to see the growth and progress of your plants and how your hoop house works.

  12. Wow, you've been busy. Remind me in a few days to dig some Van Sion.

  13. I love ferns, they really give it their all.

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