Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wednesday Vignette

Here in the PNW, moss and lichen grows on trees like my paperbark maple (Acer griseum), especially during a wet spring like the one we're having, just as abundantly as it does on soil. It doesn't need to be removed and it doesn't imply that the tree is unhealthy. It won't hurt the tree.

In fact, it's quite beautiful, don't you think?

Moss and lichen on paperbark maple
Anna at Flutter & Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette. Check out her post here.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Stream of Un-Consciousness

Long-time readers may remember that I have a stream and waterfall in my garden.

View of the stream, through the gate, back in 2012

But I haven't written about it or posted photos of it in close to two years. About a year and a half ago, in the fall of 2015, we started having problems with it. It has an auto-fill valve, that we discovered was stuck in the "on" position. In the summer, with constant evaporation, that wasn't a problem. When the fall rains returned, the stream overflowed its banks across the patio and into the lawn.

We turned off the valve, and removed a lot of water. Then I decided to give it a good cleaning. Since it's situated underneath Douglas firs, a lot of fir debris drops into it, so I used a shop-vac to vacuum up the needles. When I turned it back on, it seemed to be losing water, and I thought it had a leak somewhere, so I pulled a lot of rocks away from the edges to try to find whether it was leaking along the edges. Over the years, it has been a powerful attractant for raccoons, and they have disturbed the edges every time they play in the water, so I wondered if maybe they had done some damage.

So we turned it off. Eventually, winter came, I started to ignore it and all the piles of rocks strewn on the patio near it and on the other bank. And that winter I had my gall bladder taken out and got an ulcer, and then came last year, the year of my discontent (migraines, anxiety, digestive and other health issues).

Now, the stream is getting sorted out. We've turned it back on, and it seems to be running fine, with no leaks. We still haven't turned the auto-fill valve back on. I've started putting the rocks back.

A closer, more current view of the messy stream

The opposite bank near the fence, with weeds, piles of rocks and neglected plants

Stream liner showing

More stream liner showing

One thing I noticed for the year and a half that the stream was turned off -- the raccoons began to ignore our garden. They weren't as attracted to the entire area, and came less and less often to wreak destruction, running through my garden beds, playing, trampling plants, using certain areas of the garden as a toilet. I still find evidence that they've been searching for grubs in the lawn, but they don't dig in the soft soil of the beds, and they don't stick around to play.

So, because they come mostly at night, I wondered if maybe there was a way to set the stream up on a timer to turn it off at night and on again in the morning? Nigel found a wireless, weather-proof outlet on Amazon that we can use to operate the stream from our cellphones at the press of a button. Right now we're doing it every night and every morning, but there also is apparently a way to set it up to turn on and off automatically at sunrise and sunset.

The solution to our raccoon problem?

 I have plans for new plants, both in and around the stream. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wednesday Vignette

Sometimes color coordination really is a happy coincidence. After seeing these flamingos featured on my blogging buddy Peter The Outlaw Gardener's blog, I popped down to Watson's to buy one. When I got home, I took it out of the car right away and plopped it into this front foundation bed before this 'Magic Carpet' Spirea had even started to leaf out. Perhaps somewhere in the back of my dust-filled mind I knew this would create a sweet color match...

Nah. But it sure turned out great!

Anna at Flutter & Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette. Check out her post here, and all the links to other participating blogs.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Foliage Followup

I searched high and low in my garden for foliage to focus on for Foliage Followup.

First, the high:

My Tetrapanax 'Steroidal Giant' has finally started to leaf out. The few warmer, drier days we've had must have made it decide it was ok to come out of hiding.

And the low:

Emerging peony foliage always makes me think of sea creatures.

The purple at the base of Iris 'Gerald Darby' always looks best at this time of year, before it produces flowers and the purple coloring fades. This is right at peak time of my swath of orange tulips that I featured in my Bloom Day post. Perhaps I should spread both around more and pair them up. The tulip is a species tulip called 'Praestans Shogun' which should increase like the Iris has.

Podophyllum foliage seldom looks as good later in the year as it does in the spring when it first emerges from the ground. Despite not getting watered as often as it should have last year, it does seem to have increased in size. It tends to easily wilt and turn crisp during our dry summer, which leads me to wonder if I should dig it up and grow it in a pot, like my blogging friend Peter The Outlaw Gardener does with his Podophyllums.


Pam at the blog Digging hosts Foliage Followup every month on the day after Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, to celebrate the role of foliage in the garden. Check out her link here, and the links left by other bloggers in the comments of her post.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day -- April 2017

It can't possibly be the middle of April already. It's still too cold and wet, for one thing. Time is just going impossibly fast.  I have too much to do in the garden, and not enough time and good weather to accomplish anything. I feel like the proverbial one-armed paper hanger. I'm doing plenty of weed-pulling and cleaning up, but I have no before pictures to share. It just feels like taking the time to take pictures is a waste.

I can't let Garden Bloggers Bloom Day fly past unmarked, however.

Trillium and Erythronium in bud
 I have a few different kinds of Primulas flowering, but I've lost track of what they are.

Primula veris(?)



Dicentra 'Gold Heart'

Dicentra 'Valentine'

Ribes sanguineum


Fritillaria meleagris

Lunaria annua


Ribes speciosum

Daffodil 'British Gamble' and Muscari


And in the greenhouse...

'Red-Headed Irishman' Cactus has a crown of pink flowers

I guess there's plenty of flowering going on out there.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Check out her post here.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Fat Bottomed Girls

Queen -- Fat-Bottomed Girls

There are certain features of plants that make them a sure hit for me.

Dangly bits.

Garrya elliptica's dangly flowers

Dicentra's dangly flowers

Peely or colorful bark.

Eucalyptus bark

Paperbark maple



Big flowers.




You're probably starting to wonder what fat-bottomed girls have to do with anything...

Caudexes (Is that the proper plural?)

I love my caudiciform plants. I love their big fat bottoms.

I have four plants, all houseplants, that have a caudex. A caudex is a thick, fat stem or trunk used for water or food storage, allowing the plant to go for long periods without water or other nutrition.

Two are Pachypodiums. The largest, who I named Maude, was given to me by Matthew, a Portland blogger at The Lents Farmer, at a plant swap a couple of years ago. 


I bought my second, smaller Pachypodium from Rare Plant Research a couple of years ago. I named her Flora, although she has yet to flower.


My third is a ponytail palm, Beaucarnea recurvata, which is not actually a palm tree, but a perennial native to Mexico. I named this fat-bottomed girl Jean.


You can see from the caudex why this plant is also called elephant foot palm

My fourth fat-bottomed girl is a recent acquisition. Her name is Ruby, and she's an Adenium obesum. I bought her for myself as a Christmas present from the online nursery Logee's. When she arrrived, she was about to flower, but the change in her circumstances caused her to drop those buds almost immediately, before any of them opened. Fortunately, since then she seems to have settled in and decided she likes life in the greenhouse, because she has budded up again. She's a named variety -- 'Immortality' -- described on the Logee's website as having "maroon-black inner petals and red outer petals. The flowers have a slight frill at the edge of each petal and the colors become darker as the flowers age."


With any luck, Ruby may flower soon

How did my fat-bottomed girls get their names? They're all named after great-aunts, sisters of my paternal grandmother.

So, just in case you're wondering -- no, there won't be one named Alison.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wednesday Vignette

For today's Wednesday Vignette I'm sharing a photo I took just a couple of days ago of the inside of a blooming Fritillaria meleagris. I've never turned up one of these elegant, nodding, checkered flowers before to look inside, but I was intrigued to see what they looked like.

Inside a Fritillaria bloom

The usual view

I need to plant more of these lovely flowers.

Anna at Flutter & Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette, and she always has interesting commentary to go along with the photos she posts. Check out her post today, and all the posts from other participating bloggers in the comments.