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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Touch of Snow and a Northern Flicker on the Birdfeeder

We woke this morning to an inch or two of snow. A snow squall had just blown through the area, reminding me why I left the East Coast. I live up on a plateau south of Seattle, about 600 feet above sea level, and every morning I drive my husband down the ridge so he can take the Sounder train into Seattle for work. It wasn't the most enjoyable drive this morning.

Of course, once the sun was up completely, I had to get out and take some pictures.

I've noticed when it snows, the birds mob the birdfeeders. This morning it was visited by a Northern Flicker, a kind of woodpecker. I often see them on the ground pecking at bugs/ants.

He had to be a bit of a contortionist in order to get to the seed! The other birds gave him a wide berth.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Townsend's Warblers at the Suet Feeder

There have been new-to-me birds at the bird feeder lately. They are so quick I have had a hard time getting a photo. But today, finally, Success! I looked them up in my Birds of Washington State book, and it looks like they are Townsend's warblers. They love the suet feeder.

According to my book, although this bird nests throughout most of Washington, it is seldom seen until the suet feeders come out.

It's very windy here today, with temps in the mid-40s. No sign of snow, and just a touch of occasional showers. I hear the East Coast and the South are getting hammered. I hope everyone stays safe and warm and travel plans don't get too messed up.

We had a wonderful Christmas meal, and are still full.

Christmas presents included a couple of books about gardening in the Pacific Northwest, a gift certificate from Annie's Annuals and a rain gauge. What more do I need?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Tree 2010

I don't do a lot of Christmas decorating. Usually just the tree and a couple of little things on shelves around the house.

This year I tried to stay with a certain color scheme -- pink, red, white, green, and a little silver, gold and a tiny touch of black. Quite a few of my ornaments have a garden theme.

What would a tree be without a birdhouse?

Or two?

And we must have birds to live in them....

And sip nectar from the flowers.

What would a garden be without a gazebo?

I used to be a frequent contributor to the Garden Junk forum at GardenWeb, and one year some of us exchanged handmade ornaments. The folks on that forum are very crafty. I made Victorian boots for everyone.

The following ornaments all came from that exchange.

A few years ago I decided to try my hand at beading, and I made a bunch of these red and green stars as ornaments for the tree.

At a local craft shop I found some garden fairies to hang as ornaments. I'm using one as a tree topper. Or are they angels?

Well, they're very festive.

They really put me in a Christmas mood.

I like looking at them in the tree, smiling at me.....

And saying "Merry Christmas!"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's Not Easy Being Green.......Especially in December

We are having a short respite today from the wind and rain that have been wreaking havoc around here for the last few days. A little touch of off-and-on sun today, temps in the mid-40s. It sounds like it is the calm before the storm, the weather folks are warning us about torrential rains on the way, with lots of flooding of local rivers and streams. So I thought I would take a turn around my squishy, fit-for-nothing-but-frogs garden, and see what is currently still green.

The herbs and a few vegetables are doing well, although that French tarragon right in front is looking rather bedraggled.

I need to figure out what to do with my leeks. I did take a few a while ago for leek and potato soup, but I wasn't really happy with the way it turned out.

I am surprised my celeriac (celery grown for its big, bulbous root)  survived the recent snow, given what usually happens in the fridge to celery that freezes. Have you ever grown this veggie before? This is my first time. They have been in the ground since June or July, but so far no sign of a bulb. Well, I don't need the space for anything else right now, so I figure I will leave them in the ground over the winter and see what happens.

Many of the natives are doing well. This is Tolmiea menziesii, aka Piggyback plant.

The native ginger, Asarum caudatum, is still healthy and green.

I love this native, Tellima grandilforum, aka Fringe cups. Some of mine have plain green leaves, but there are several that have this lovely red veining.

This is Mahonia x meadia 'Charity.' I'm a bit bummed that there is no sign of flowers yet. I think it should be showing the beginning of a tall spike of yellow flowers from the center at the top, but so far nothing.

And this Camellia is called 'Yuletide' so it really should be showing signs of flowers by now too, I should think. I've never grown a Camellia before, so I don't really know where on the shrub I should be looking for flower buds. By now, I figure, they should be obvious. Ah well, maybe next year.

My Brunnera 'Jack Frost' made it with just a bit of black on the leaves.
And the Hellebore 'Ivory Prince' looks great! I'm hoping those buds at the base will become flowers soon!

This cute little fern, Cheilanthes argentea, is new, picked up at a Fall sale a couple of months ago.  The reverse side of the fronds is silvery.

I was surprised to see the Epimedium stay so green. I grew this back in Massachusetts, where it died back to ground every winter.

My one and only Arum italicum is doing well. I just have to get more of this!

Oops! My mini greenhouses blew over in the recent storm!

I did put some pots of soil on the bottom shelf to anchor them, but it must have dried out. Maybe I should use some pots full of rocks. I better fix them up, or take them apart and put them away. Otherwise, in this next storm that's coming, I might see them flying around the neighborhood like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mush -- And an Early Christmas Present

Well, last week's snow and cold turned a lot of my perennials to mush, pretty quickly. At the time that we got the snow, we hadn't even had a frost yet, so lots of things were still quite green and growing and flowering, even. Most of my shrubs hadn't even lost their leaves yet, in fact, most of them still had green leaves. Well, technically, I guess they're still green, but it's a strange drab olive green, you know the color lettuce goes when it freezes?

The snow is gone now, the weather turned a bit warmer on Thanksgiving day, and then the next day almost all of it had washed away in the rain. It got up to about 40 degrees out there today, so I spent a couple of hours in my squishy garden cutting back all the mushy foliage.

Anyway, here is a warning -- you risk looking at pictures of garden ugliness if you continue to read on and scroll down!

I knew my Dahlias would turn. I need to figure out if I need to do anything special to them to try to ensure their survival over the winter. They risk getting water-logged if I do nothing. I'm trying to figure out if mulching them will help. Will it keep water in, or will it repel any future water? I think I will try a few experiments.

Mushy Dahlia foliage

Eupatorium 'Little Joe'


Cardinal Flower

Chocolate Eupatorium


Agastache 'Tutti-Frutti'

Persicaria 'Red Dragon'

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Alice'

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Litte Honey'

I've never grown Hydrangeas before, so I don't know if this is normal Fall behavior for them or not. I guess I'll find out come Spring.

Did you survive all those ugly pictures? Are you still with me? If you are, then you get to see my early Christmas present.

It's a NatureMill automatic compost bin! It actually came a couple of weeks ago, a surprise early Christmas present from my husband.
It runs on electric power, and has a motor to turn the stuff inside, as well as a heater to heat it up. It turns this --
Into this!

The compost inside does get a bit stinky, but I have it outside on my sheltered back porch, where I have an outdoor electric outlet. I have to sprinkle sawdust pellets in it to balance the greens and browns. They are the same pellets that I use as cat litter, so my plan is to use used cat litter. The instructions say you can put solid cat waste in it too, cause it cooks it to get rid of pathogens, but I don't think I will chance that. I have always used the used cat litter in my compost, with the solids removed.

I have always been bad about dragging veggie peelings and food waste down to the compost bin way in the back. I'll still compost with that set of bins, but I'll do garden trimmings there.

So far, it's working great, and I love it!