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

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Plants in the House

No, not the greenhouse. The house house.

I spent the last couple of days pottering in the greenhouse, trying to make enough room to start seeds. I came to the conclusion that the only recourse was to just move some of the plants into the house.  I brought a couple of Begonias upstairs to the guest bathroom, which has a skylight and is quite bright even on cloudy days.


Begonia 'Midnight Twist'

The leaves on 'Midnight Twist' have a gorgeous rich red underside

And a lovely, shiny rich green on top


I bought 'Midnight Twist' over a year ago from Logee's, and I'm so pleased that it is still alive. In photos and in the description on their website, they claim the leaves are charcoal gray. Maybe it's been in too much bright light out in the greenhouse.

I think I also bought this second Begonia from Logee's, but I don't have a tag for it. It looks a lot like one called 'Northern Lights' on their website.


Begonia possibly 'Northern Lights'


I love the tiny hairs on the edges of the leaves.

There's a selection of plants sitting in my dining room now, in the only south-facing window. Still, it's a heck of a lot less cluttered than it used to be in my pre-greenhouse days, when plants covered this area, as well as the dining room table (unseen just to the left).

Begonias, Pelargonium sidoides, Chlorophytum, and Faucaria

Another tagless Begonia that has died back, except for this one tiny leaf that it has put out.

Pelargonium sidoides

I have room now for four flats, so I can start seeds.

I managed to move some of the larger pots around, and now I have room to stand in front of the wire table, and even a small space on the wire table to work. (I'll have to move that Agave 'Blue Glow,' it's only there temporarily.)


I hope four flats is enough. If not, I do have other options. I still have a handful of small portable greenhouses, as well as a makeshift hoophouse that covers part of a raised bed in the back garden. But I prefer to start my seeds in the greenhouse.

Do you overwinter any plants inside? Do you have a space for seed-starting?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Don't Be Jealous...

I got to see Peter's greenhouse on Saturday!

I started out by meeting him at the Tacoma Dome so that we could make the rounds of the Tacoma Home and Garden Show (which was disappointing, due to the meager number and variety of gardening vendors and displays). After the show we went to lunch at a Tacoma restaurant called Gateway to India (mmmm yummy curry). During lunch I twisted his arm and managed to talk him into letting me come back to his place to check out the new greenhouse. I'm so glad he said yes!

This is the gasp-inducing sight that greets you when you step through the door.

This quirky, smirky lady stands beside the stained glass door


Hmmm...perhaps I should start putting a blue rinse in my white hair and wearing orange lipstick and eye shadow. That's quite a look.



The greenhouse is just packed with fabulous plants and marvelous art.


One garden pest captured! Quick, spray that thing with Neem oil.


And then...my camera battery died! So that's all I've got to share with you. But what a great day! Not only did I get to see Peter and his greenhouse, but I also scored the remainder of the Spanish moss that Peter got on ebay, and a packet of seeds for Lychnis x arkwrightii, saved by his niece (also called Alison). You can see photos of this Lychnis in Peter's blog post here.

Thank you so much Peter, and I hope I didn't break your arm twisting it.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Close Look at the January Garden

I was really rather amazed to discover that there is quite a lot of life and beauty out there in the garden this month. You just have to look closely and ignore the dead stuff.

Three Sarcococca in the back garden are starting to size up and smell delicious!

If you grow it, you know, but if you don't, I wish I could send you some of this lovely scent


They're covered in new flowers and last year's berries, both at the same time.

My 'Jelena' witch hazel is also covered in blooms

They remind me of spiders



Honeysuckle is already starting to leaf out

Flowers on my 'Red Majestic' Corylus

The wild filbert to which it is related has similar flowers

Cyclamen coum has started flowering

Not everything is brown and dead, this little corner is still green, although soon I am going to have to cut back the Hellebore and Epimedium foliage

Spiny Epimedium and maidenhair fern make great companions


Mahonia x media 'Charity'

Edible rhubarb is popping up

One somewhat chewed Hellebore, past its prime

Looks like I'll have plenty of garlic to cook with next year

Old Monarda seedheads are starting to fall apart -- or maybe have been torn apart by birds


A funky fungus popped up in this bed in the fall and is starting to look a bit like petrified wood


The neighbor's demented cat Lucy has found a warm spot beside the greenhouse in the brief afternoon sun

She looks like such a sweetie, doesn't she?

Don't you believe that "I'm adorable" act for a second -- Lucy is short for Lucifer

She'll let you pat her for a bit, but when she's had enough, she'll turn on you in a nanosecond and try to rip your hand off. In fact, the whole time I was taking her picture, she was growling like a stray who thinks you're going to steal her food. She's probably also left me a few stinky treasures buried in the soil somewhere. You may have noticed the bamboo skewers mixed with the garlic in the photo above, that's to deter the neighborhood cats.

We've been getting just a touch of frost the last few nights, as the temp goes down to just freezing, 32 degrees F., and then barely reaching into the high 40s by mid afternoon, which is just a little too cold for me to be out there working for long. I'm making slow progress cutting back the dead,  brown foliage and seedheads, but then, some of them -- like the Monarda above -- are actually rather pretty.

Are you getting out in your garden?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Enthusiastic Snowdrop

One teeny-weeny Galanthus has poked its head above the soil, and is already blooming. I have to admire its enthusiasm, but it's a bit braver than I. We're still getting night-time temps at or just below freezing, and I'm sure we'll have more cold (if not snowy) weather before winter ends. I'm doing winter clean-up in short, cold, damp, one- or two-hour stretches, which is all I can take.

Snowdrop, surrounded by self-sown California poppy seedlings and slug bait

Friday, January 16, 2015

Paperbark Maple for Foliage Followup

While at Valley Nursery, I noticed this paperbark maple for the very first time. Normally, I'm there during growing season, and have never noticed this lovely tree growing just outside the annual house. It's probably always been covered by leaves and didn't stand out, given my attention was probably on all the cool plants for sale.

Now that it's winter, I couldn't help but notice its gnarly, muscular limbs and lichen- and moss-covered twiggy bits.







I know my photos don't do it justice, but Acer griseum is such a fabulous tree. I thought I'd share it with all of you for Foliage Followup, even though...there's no foliage!

Foliage Followup is hosted by Pam at the blog Digging. Find her post here.