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

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday -- Trillium, Shooting star, Vanilla Leaf, and Vine Maple

I realized a couple of days ago that the Vanilla Leaf (Achlys triphylla) that I planted last Fall has survived the winter and returned.

The leaves right now are quite small and delicate, but as the plant matures, it will start to produce much bigger leaves. They have such an interesting three-part leaf. This wonderful shade plant is a Pacific Northwest native, and will eventually produce a white flower spike.

My white shooting star (Dodecatheon hendersonii), bought at one of the many plant sales that I've gone to this Spring, has started flowering.

Henderson's shooting star is another native shade perennial, that grows about 12 to 18 inches high. I love the extreme recurved petals.
I didn't realize when I bought Trillium ovatum, a Pacific Northwest native Trillium, that the flowers age from white to magenta pink.

There aren't any flowers yet on my vine maples (I have several), but the emerging leaves have such interesting pleating.

Technically not a wildflower, vine maple (Acer circinatum) is one of my favorite Pacific Northwest natives. This small tree, which grows up to 25 feet high, does well in the shade. I have it planted beneath the Douglas firs that tower over my back garden, where it gets shade for most of the day, and then late afternoon sun.  It is also wildlife-friendly, providing nesting and cover for birds, and seeds for birds and small mammals. And it has great Fall color.

I got mine last year from the Pierce County Conservation sale. It is only quite recently that nurseries have started to carry varieties of vine maple. Most of mine are the species, but I do have one named variety, called Pacific Fire, which has red stems and bright yellow foliage.

Check out the blog clay and limestone, for more posts about wildflowers. Rather than just one post on Wednesday, Gail is posting about wildflowers all week.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Garden Art and Garden Junk

I have several pieces of art in my garden, but most of them are not really well integrated, because there's not enough plants for them to be integrated into. So they kind of stick out. They all came from my old garden.

My Green Man looks nice on my new fence, I think.
He looks a bit weary, do you think he's sick of the cold, wet Spring too?

In the mostly native area, where I have two bird houses that I hope will attract a nice bird family, I have a bird lady. Her face is made of feathers.
I think of her as the birdie guardian angel (although I also think she's just a little creepy)

My toad house looks good too, tucked into some plants near one of the big rocks. I've never seen any toads in it, though.

My Gardener Minnie Mouse needs some plants to hide in.

This leaf casting that I bought last year is surrounded by Lady's Mantle which will eventually grow up around it and soften the edges.

These hangings look OK on the side of my windowless shed, I think they give it a little character.

This Face on a Stick was a gift from my son many years ago.

But I need to find a better spot for him.

My Welcome sign keeps getting blown off the fence, even though it's heavy slate, and sits beside the gate amongst the shards that break off each time it falls.

I bought this crow at the NWFGS. He's taken up residence on the porch.
My husband says his name is Ciscrow -- named after Ciscoe Morris.

This metal duck, a gift from a friend, sits in the stream.

I recently made a handful of these little bottle vases to hang on the fence, using the off-cuts from when the fence was built. I plan to fill them with water and little bouquets from the garden.

Everything is fairly tasteful and low-key.

In my previous garden, for a while I had some very colorful art, mostly stuff that I made myself from items bought at the thrift store.

A few candle-holders with a teacup glued to the top.

I made a birdbath by turning a glass vase upside down and gluing a crystal bowl to it. Scattered some red half-marbles in it. I never saw any birds at it. I had outdoor cats then, and they used to drink from it.
For a while I was active at the Garden Junk forum at GardenWeb, and totems were all the rage, made from various thrift store bits and pieces glued together.

These two sat beside my pond.

 I also made plant stands using an old lamp, with a hanging basket (sans chain) attached to the top.

Not much of my Garden Junk came with me when we moved here to Washington. I gave most of it away on craigslist, including these two lamp plant stands, which was probably a smart move, since the only thing that the movers broke when we moved here was a lamp! In the Massachusetts climate, everything needed to be dragged back inside in the winter, and it got to the point where I practically needed a second house to hold all the junk in the off-season.

I did like these plant stands, though. Maybe I'll make a new one for my patio.

But first I have to make a bottle tree. I've been saving bottles for a bottle tree since before we moved. In fact, when my son came to help me get ready for the move, he noticed that the movers had packed two big boxes in his room, and on the side it said just "empty wine bottles." He was amused by that.

Nekkid bottle tree (my summer project)

 I have quite a few things that I'm storing in my shed that I need to find a spot for in the garden.


Birdhouse -- do you think any birds would actually nest here?

Fairy wall/fence hanging -- definitely needs some vines around it

I bought these arches several years ago, thinking I would incorporate them into an arbor I was going to build. I was a heck of a lot more ambitious (and younger) back then.
Hmmm...what can I do with these?

Any thoughts?

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.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fertilizer Friday -- Epimedium, Corydalis, Fritillaria and Others

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Good Friday as well!

I have a few new flowers blooming today.

Epimedium x peralchium 'Frohnleiten' (planted last Fall)

Epimedium rubrum (bought last week)

Fritillaria meleagris (in the mostly native bed)

Yellow Corydalis

Pulmonaria 'Roy Davidson' finally flowering

Dicentra 'Gold Heart'

Several clumps of Brunnera 'Jack Frost' are blooming.
Trillium ovatum is aging (flowers start out white and age to pink)

It was dirty, so I spritzed it with water, and managed to take my shot just as the drip was falling!

The following, while not actually flowers, are just waking up for Spring!

Ostrich fern unfurling

Darmera peltiphyllum (I was worried that this wasn't going to return)

Clematis 'Pink Champagne' (still short, but that looks like a flower bud!)

I hope you enjoyed this look at what's blooming in my garden. Please head on over to Tootsie Time to see all the other bloggers who are flaunting their flowers!