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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sunny Perennial Bed -- Back Garden "Sleep Year"

I think I am finally finished planting in this bed. Most of what's in there is seedlings started this spring, and one-year old plants bought online from Bluestone and Santa Rosa Nursery. So they are all still really small plants that are still in their "sleep year." You know that old saying about perennials? "The first year they sleep, the second year they creep, and the third year they leap." I thought it would be interesting to take a picture of what's growing in this bed now, and compare it to the same time next year, and then the year after.

Here is a picture of the bed, taken facing East.

And the same bed, facing West.

The centerpiece of this bed is an Indian Plum tree (Oemleria cerasiformis), one of the earliest native trees to flower in the PNW.  It is still pretty short, and I don't know yet if it's a female or a male, but I'm very much looking forward to it flowering next year, in late winter/ very early spring.

I tried to balance the plantings in this bed, by putting some of the same plants on each side of the tree, but not in the same numbers or configuration. But I did try to keep tallest plants in back, shortest in front, and then everything else in between, and in a variety of flower colors.

For example, there is a Penstemon 'Husker's Red' on each side, but on one side it is flanked by two large clumps of red Oriental poppies, started from seed under cloches. In front of it is Nepeta 'Walker's Low' and behind are a few clumps of red Lupine.

On the other side the red Lupine is growing beside another clump of red Oriental poppies, but the Penstemon 'Husker's Red' is further away, and there are three Rudbeckia 'Prairie Sun' in front.

The Penstemon 'Husker's Red' further along in the bed is flanked by a white perennial Oriental poppy called 'Royal Wedding,' with some clumps of Rudbeckia 'Cherokee Sunset' nearby.

It will be interesting to see how my careful plan works out next year when everything is bigger and starts flowering.

Just for the record, here is a list of what I've planted in this bed.

Iberis sempervirens
Rudbeckia 'Cherokee Sunset'
Rudbeckia 'Prairie Sun'
Dahlia 'Black Beauty'
Dahlia 'Harlequin'
Shasta 'Alaska'
Veronica spicata 'Blue Carpet'
Dianthus barbatus 'Sooty'
Gaillardia 'Burgundy'
Shasta 'Crazy Daisy'
Shasta 'White Knight'
Salvia farinacea
Chasmanthium latifolium
Centaurea dealbata
Lupin regalis 'Morello Cherry'
Lupin regalis 'Le Chatelaine'
Eupatorium 'Little Joe'
Papaver orientale 'Red'
Papaver orientale 'Royal Wedding'
Geum triflorum
Nepeta 'Walker's Low'
Helictotrichon sempervirens
Hemerocallis 'Barbara Mitchell'
Coreopsis 'Sunray'
Panicum virgatum 'Rotstrahlbusch'
Centaurea 'Amethyst Dream'
Monarda 'Colrain Red'
Lupin 'Sundown'
Geranium cantabrigiense 'Biokovo' and 'Biokovo Pink'
Fuschia magellanica 'Aurea'
Scabiosa columbaria 'Butterfly Blue'
Dianthus 'Fire Star'

There are a few clumps of annuals as well:
Cosmos 'Sonata'
Pineapple Sage

I wonder what else I can shoehorn in here?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Got Lots Done This Weekend!

I got a lot done in the garden this weekend, the weather was so nice. Bright blue sky on Saturday (Mt. Rainier was stunning!), a mix of clouds and sun today (mostly clouds, but at least it wasn't cold and raining). I keep thinking I must be almost done with my planting, but then I remember more.

I still haven't put my Gunnera in the ground. I want to make sure it is in a moist spot, so I plan to dig a hole and line it with black plastic. Not looking forward to that, the soil in the back yard is so rocky! The soil in the front is so much easier to dig in, I actually changed my mind about some of the plants I was going to put in the back, and planted them in the front this weekend.

I bought this Scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue' at Lowe's a couple of weeks ago, on sale for less than $2. I bought four, and planted three of them in the back last week,  but I had one more, so it went in the front.

I tried growing Scabiosa a couple of times when we lived in Massachusetts, but it never came back for me after the harsh winter. I'm hoping it will return here, since the winters are milder.

I also bought some Dianthus 'Fire Star' at Lowe's for the same price, and planted three of them in the front bed (after picking several slugs off the base of them). Note to self: Throw out more SLUGGO!

The big chore for the weekend was cutting down and digging out that sun rose that I decided I didn't like.  It left a big hole, I guess I just need to get down to the nursery and buy something to fill in. I like the idea of a Daphne (Catherine's suggestion, thanks!), although they do scare me a bit, I've heard they are finicky. I'm thinking of putting in some Heaths and/or Heathers, which are nice and low-growing, and evergreen too. And I just might do hardy Geraniums too, I have a bunch of tiny seedlings that I sowed this Spring that I am growing on in pots. Why just one plant when many more will do!? Maybe I'll just plant them all and let them figure out for themselves who likes this spot the most.

I did lots of other little odds and ends around the garden this weekend too. Pruned and planted the Forsythia 'Fiesta' in that front foundation bed. Planted some Agastache, Hostas, and columbines that I got online from a sale at Santa Rosa Nursery. Weeded, weeded, weeded and then watered (stuff is already dry, how can that be?) Potted up some pepper plants, since I have no more room in the raised veggie beds (I have 14 tomato plants growing there, don't ask me why two people need 14 tomato plants). Planted some herbs -- French Tarragon, Lemon Thyme and English Thyme. I bet that Lemon Thyme will taste yummy on some fish.

I still have more to do. I really should put more finished compost mixed with peat moss on the potato plants. One of them is starting to flower.

Trim last year's old blossoms off the Vitex.

Fertilize the trees and shrubs I planted (I should have done this over a month ago when I first planted them).

Mix and water the compost in the bin.

Either pot up or plant out the Dahlia seedlings I have.

Plant out the last few little cups of seedlings, or pot them up and grow them on till Fall. So many still have no true leaves, like the Campanula rotundifolia and the Mimulus cardinalis.

Oh, chives, basil and lavender seedlings have to go out in the herb area of the raised beds.

It's never done, is it?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I'm in a Quandary!

I don't like this sun rose, and I want to replace it. But with what?

It's one of those plants that I decided to leave for a year after moving in, to see if I liked it. But I don't. It's just too bedraggled looking. It never has more than a few flowers open at once. And the buds, before they flower, look sickly and brown.

Close up, the flowers are pretty, but small, and the rest of the buds around it aren't pretty at all.

It also has several dead spots in it, like this, as well as weedy grass growing up through the branches, that is hard to pull.

Basically it's just not what I want to anchor that corner of the foundation bed. But from a design standpoint, I'd like to replace it with something that will balance the Escallonia at the other end of the bed, but low-growing like the sun rose. So....something of more or less equal mass, maybe evergreen like the Escallonia, and with pink or red flowers. It doesn't necessarily have to be another shrub. In fact, the first thing that comes to mind is a mass of hardy Geraniums. They're not evergreen, but I like their palmate leaves.

The shrub to the right still in its pot is a Forsythia 'Fiesta' with variegated leaves. Between the sun rose  and the Escallonia is a purple barberry ('Helmond Pillar').

It's time to put my thinking cap on, I guess.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day -- Lots of Annuals in Containers and Other Stuff

I decided to join another popular whatever it's called -- blogging meme? Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, which is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Garden on the 15th of every month. You can go to her blog and find links to all the wonderful blooms that others have posted.

I don't know why I don't post on my blog every day. Well, I don't always have something to show, even though I work in the garden just about every day, even when it's showery and cold. Sometimes it's something as small as making the rounds of the beds, noticing which ones will need weeding soon, or just making a to do list. But garden memes give me a reason to post pictures, so here are some of the things that are blooming in my garden.

Last Friday it was showery, but still, I put these annual containers together while standing on my front porch, somewhat out of the wet.

They contain lots of different Coleus -- wow, they come in so much variety nowadays! Also some pineapple sage, Dianthus, a few little pieces of creeping jenny, Alyssum, Petunias, ornamental grass.

Here's a closeup of one of them.

When I first started putting them together last week, I realized that I had an overabundance of pink, red and green/yellow leaves in red pots (well, those are my favorite colors!), and no blue or purple with yellow. It was too monotonous, so I trotted back to Lowe's and picked up some green pots, and then to the nursery to get more annuals. That blue petunia was so big and vibrant, it practically jumped off the rack and into my cart! And the plant in the pot next to it, with the unusual flowers, is a Cape Daisy. I may go back and get more.

Here's a closeup of the flower and the Coleus next to it.

 I decided to use the chair and bench for pots because they have a wooden frame that has rotted and won't hold the weight of people any more. The pots are not as heavy as they look, because I filled the bottom half with styrofoam peanuts.

I do have a few plants blooming in the beds this week too! This is the flower on Penstemon 'Husker's Red', which has red leaves.

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

And Armeria maritima (sea thrift)

Hope you enjoyed seeing my blooms! I'm making a resolution to start posting more often. It might just be text, which is pretty boring, but it will keep me on track with the details of how the garden is progressing.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Flower Flaunting -- Pacific Coast Iris, Ceanothus, Peony, and Others

I'm participating again in Tootsie's "Fertilizer Friday." I hope you like the flowers that I have in my garden this week, which have put in an appearance despite the horrible rainy cold weather.

I got this Pacific Coast Iris at a trade last month, with a bunch of people from GardenWeb. I have other colors too, but this one is the only one blooming.

My Ceanothus is going gangbusters, it smells so heavenly! The bees love it. It was the only shrub that I kept when I had the back garden redone. I don't know the variety.

I was disappointed in the Itoh peony I bought a couple of months ago, so I bought a few regular  peonies a few days ago. I love this bloom, it's called 'Top Brass.'

I'm so thrilled, my peas have flowers, which means in a few weeks I should  have my first fresh-from-the-garden peas! It's my first time growing them.

My Escallonia is in full bloom now too, the bees and hummingbirds love this shrub!

My elderberry 'Black Beauty' is blooming, I just love the dark foliage with the deep pink flowers.
I managed to catch a picture of my blue-eyed grass on a rare sunny day earlier this week, the flowers stay closed when it's not in direct sun.

Well, I hope you liked my flowers. You can see lots more at Tootsie's blog Tootsie-Time.