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

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fertilizer Friday -- Taking Inspiration for the Garden from Mt. Rainier's Wildflowers

For my Fertilizer Friday post, I'm going to be flaunting flowers that aren't mine. They belong to Mother Nature -- specifically, the big patch of Mother Nature that is Mount Rainier.

At 14,411 feet, Mt. Rainier is the highest mountain in the state of Washington, and in the Cascade Range, and is home to some wonderful wildflower walks. Last weekend, while my son and his wife were visiting from Philadelphia, we took the almost two-hour trip from our home to Paradise, on the mountain's south slope.

As young, fit marathon runners, they could have easily seen a lot more of the mountain than we did, but they were very nice to go slow so their old, pleasingly plump mum could keep up.

The Nisqually Vista Trail, which we followed, is a 1.2 mile loop that winds it way up and down through some very lovely wildflower meadows.

Blue Lupines and Fleabane.

Lupines and Indian Paintbrush

Indian Paintbrush close-up

Rosey Spirea

Fluffy Western Anemone seed-heads

Sickletop Lousewort

Pink Mountain Heather

While huffing and puffing to keep up with the young-uns, I found myself inspired by the beauty. There is an area of my garden, in the northeast corner behind the water feature, that I've been at a loss what perennials to plant.

Currently it has lots of native shrubs, but at the front there are some colorful Heucheras that will have to be relocated. The area directly underneath the Douglas firs is unrelieved shade, but there is a swath at the front that gets sun for several hours. I realize that many, if not most, of the pretty wildflowers that I saw on the mountain will probably not thrive in my suburban, lower-elevation garden. But at least I have a better idea now of the look I want to achieve.

It's going to take lots of planning and research and thought. It won't happen overnight. But it will be fun to get started.

I hope you enjoyed this look at flowers that aren't mine. You can find lots of other people flaunting their flowers for Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie Time. Check it out.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Foliage Follow-up

One of the advantages of starting over with my garden has been that I can put together a garden that shows what stage of development I am at as a gardener. When I first started gardening, I was highly enamored of big flowers -- daylilies, lilies, rhodies, glads, etc. I slowly added other types of flowers, frothy ones, daisies, etc., working slowly on mixing and matching colors (and I never really mastered that).  It's only recently that I started noticing that foliage matters. Different shapes against one another, different colors, variegation, etc.

So I've been able to start out with foliage on my mind, rather than trying to shoehorn it into place in a garden that was already overgrown with too many plants (and weeds).

Anyway, with that said, here are some of my favorite foliage photos taken recently.

Water droplets on Lupine foliage.

And on Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla mollis)

When trying to add interesting foliage, Heucheras are hard to resist.

Heuchera 'Pistache'

Heuchera 'Miracle'

A favorite combo, Persicaria 'Red Dragon' with Geranium phaeum 'Samobor'

I love black mondo grass, although why it's still so expensive, when it's EVERYWHERE is beyond me. I had a hard time figuring out how to make it stand out. It's the same color as the soil, and was hard to see. So I planted it closely with some Sempervivums and Sedums, which I think works well.

Sempervivum 'Black" (A full frontal shot)

And from the side

Gold and purple/burgundy foliage are must-haves. Not exactly cutting edge, but new to me.

Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold'

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Little Honey'

Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple'

Finally, Matteucia struthiopteris (ostrich fern) sterile fronds unfurling

I hope you enjoyed this look at some of the interesting foliage in my garden. Thanks for visiting!

Check out Pam's blog Digging for more Foliage posts.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day -- August 2010 -- In the Pink (and a couple of other colors)

I joined this meme, hosted by Carol at May Dreams Garden for the first time a couple of months ago, but then skipped July. Anyway, I thought I'd join again. Click the link to see the posts by other gardener/bloggers.

Flowering today in my garden:

Bright Pink Monarda

Larkspur 'Kingsize Scarlet', which is neither king-size (only 2 feet tall) nor scarlet (looks pink to me!) But it is pretty.

Flower close-up

Lupine 'Morello Cherry' (winter sown back in February)

Fuschia magellanica

 One of my Pia Hydrangeas has its first tiny bloom!

Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby Spice' smells wonderful!

Aquilegia 'Tequila Sunrise' is showing off a little bit of rebloom.

And my Meyer lemon tree is loving the hot weather we're having, it has put on quite a bit of leafy growth and is flowering.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fertilizer Friday -- Reblooming Daylilies and Some Other Stuff

Daylilies are one of my all-time favorite perennials. I was at Lowe's a couple of weeks ago, and they had them on their half-price rack - only about $4.50. How could I pass that up, especially since my garden had so few? The great thing is that although they had bloomed out scapes on them, since then they have produced more, and are now reblooming!

Daylily 'Entrapment'

These next two I bought at Bluestone Perennials. The fans are small, but they still flowered.

'Pardon Me'

'Barbara Mitchell' (Bluestone said it's 'Barbara Mitchell' but it doesn't quite match the one I had at my previous garden, still pretty)

Agastache 'Tutti Frutti' has been blooming for a while, but I think this is the first time I've posted a pic of it.

Dahlia 'Dracula' -- love the dark leaves and bright red flower, but not sure it looks right in the bed where it is, we'll see.

Dahlia 'Mystic Dreams' also has dark foliage, not seen in the pic. This one is growing in a pot. Hmm...maybe that's the best way to show these off?

Centaurea montana 'Amethyst Dream'

Coreopsis grandiflora, another half-price purchase at Lowe's (about $1.50). This one was near death, I cut it back and nursed it back to health. What a lovely reward!

Rudbeckia 'Prairie Sun' might be an annual, might come back next year, we'll see!

My first eggplant blossom. I think it might be too late for it to ripen into fruit, but who knows? I have tiny tomatoes too, the result of the cold, wet spring and not enough hot weather. I'll do a few things differently next year. I need to do a post on lessons learned from the vegetable garden. Some things were a great success, and some -- not so much.

That's it for today! Head on over to Tootsie's to see who else is flaunting their flowers!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Death, ReBirth and That Equally Mysterious State in Between

I have a confession to make, and it's one that makes me feel guilty. We have a lawn service. Hey, I have more than enough to do just planting and caring for this garden. Cutting the grass and blowing leaves out of the beds is just not my idea of fun. You need to know this in order to understand the Death part of this post.

I've posted recently complaining about the ravages of animals in my garden -- cats eating the Nepeta, raccoons tearing apart the plantings along stream. I forgot about the most dangerous critter of all -- the two-legged one.

I have this shady area at the back of the garden, near the shed. It's planted with native bleeding hearts, Tiarella, Pulmonaria, various ferns, Jack in the Pulpit, and several clumps of Columbine that I winter sowed.

Well, I had this brilliant idea a couple of months ago to direct sow all the remaining Columbine seeds that I had into the open spaces. I had a lot, and my stash was getting old, so I didn't want to try winter sowing them this coming winter, figuring I might not have the greatest success rate. Well, lo and behold, quite a few of them sprouted! I was thrilled,  I could see this area just swimming with Columbine next year.

I didn't realize the lawn service guys would think they were weeds. See, occasionally, the lawn service guys haul out grub hoes, and do a cursory once-round patrol of the beds. I weed pretty faithfully, because I just hate that overwhelming feeling that the weeds are getting away form you. They've never grubbed out anything except grass. Until last week. I was away when they came, and when I did my round of the garden when I got back, I was dismayed to discover that they had grubbed out my little sprouts!

You can see them all dried up in the upper left area of the picture. A couple that escaped the hoe are in the upper right.

I was bummed! I thought about writing a note to the lawn service asking them not to weed the beds any more. But I wasn't sure I could keep the right tone of voice. I racked my brains for a couple of days trying to come up with a solution to prevent them from grubbing out any more sprouts, because I am going to try again with seeds there.

My solution is to sprinkle the seeds, and then cover them with a tent of hardware cloth, held to the soil with ground staples.  That should be enough of an obstacle.

ReBirth -- One of the first shrubs I planted in my new garden was a tiny little Annabella hydrangea that I bought from Bluestone Perennials.

If you've ever ordered from them, you probably know how small most of their plants are. Small but healthy. Well, the Annabelle hydrangea got trampled soon after planting when we had our Douglas firs windsailed. I didn't hold out much hope for it, the branches all got torn off right at the base. However, I dug it up anyway, and potted the roots, and stuck it away in a corner of the patio, with some empty pots and a couple of other plants that I haven't planted out yet. The other day I noticed growth! Despite being neglected and ignored, it had resprouted! Sweet!

I'm going to give it the rest of the summer in the pot, and then replant it, maybe in September.

It gave me hope that I might be able to save my Corylopsis. It was the very first shrub I planted here back in March. I didn't site it correctly, because it has declined steadily ever since. I put it in a spot that seldom dries out. The leaves have been drying up and falling off,  but the branches are still green, and it does still have a few green leaves holding on.

This past weekend I dug it up, severely pruned the roots and branches, and put it in a spot that is well-drained. Keep your fingers crossed that it lives!