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

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I May Be Jumping the Gun

Well, I may be jumping the gun, but we are halfway through winter officially! So I direct-sowed a bunch of vegetables today in my raised beds. It was so nice to be out in the cool clean air. There wasn't a lot of sun, but it wasn't raining, and the temp was in the low 50s. The showers return tomorrow, so I figured I'd do what I could. If they don't sprout, I'll try again.

Leeks -- Large American Flag
Cauliflower -- Early Snowball
Broad  Bean -- Windsor
Peas -- Oregon Sugar Pod II
Peas -- Telephone
Snap Peas -- Super Sugar Snap
Lettuce -- Flashy Trout's Back, Mottistone, Speckles, and Drunken Woman

Next week I'll start sowing seeds in my little portable greenhouses, but in the meantime I am also experimenting with starting some seeds a few other ways. I really want more Arum italicum, so I direct sowed the seeds into the bed where I want them, and then covered them with a makeshift cloche, to protect them from the wind and from critters. I made these from plastic recyclable clamshells, that once held a piece of cake from the grocery store. I cut holes in the top and sides to let rain in, and to allow for transpiration. This method worked very well last year for starting poppies, so I'm hoping it will work for Arum.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday -- Swelling Buds and Emerging Foliage

For those who haven't been reading my blog for long, I was inspired last summer by a trip to Mt. Rainier with my son and daughter-in-law to create a native wildflower area in one bed of my garden. You can read about that visit here. I planted lots of Fall bulbs (for flowers in Spring) that are natives here in the Pacific Northwest.

We've actually had a few random good weather days in the past week or so, and I've been out in the garden on my hands and knees, weeding and cutting back. I think I pulled the weight of a six-year old child in shot weed/Cardamine hirsuta. It's best to pull this weed as early as possible, because it grows and flowers very quickly, and then produces a seed pod full of hundreds of seeds, that explodes, showering seeds everywhere. While down on my hands and knees, I couldn't help noticing lots of emerging foliage, from the native bulbs and seedlings that I planted last Fall.

Sorry, no picture flowers, but I am so excited by signs of life, that I had to share.

(By the way, yes, I know the little white tags stuck in the ground make the bed look a little silly.  But these are all plants completely unfamiliar to me, whose location I really needed to mark. I'm sure once I get more familiar with my new garden, and more knowledgeable about Pacific Northwest plants, I won't need the tags any more. But for now, they stay and look silly.)

So far, there is no sign of flowers on any of my native shrubs, but lots of emerging leaves.

Hope you didn't mind that there were no flowers. There will be plenty later in the Spring, and you can bet I will post more pictures then!

To see more posts about wildflowers, check out clay and limestone, a blog about native gardening in Tennessee.

An Unexpected Gift!

I received the most wonderful gift in the mail yesterday from my daughter-in-law! This cute plaque, which is sitting on my back porch on a shelf with a bird's nest that fell from a tree (and its resident fake bird).

I just love it, and I love that she thought of me when she saw it in a shop! It looks cute sitting on the shelf, but it's not a very prominent spot, so I may move it. It has a little slot in the back for hanging it on a nail, so I might hang it somewhere out in the garden.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fertilizer Friday -- The Garden I Left Behind

I know I'm a day late with this, but I needed the time to sift through old pictures of my previous garden where I lived in Massachusetts. I've been feeling a bit winter-weary with nothing out there but soggy grass and bare beds. When we moved to Washington from Massachusetts about 2 years ago, I left behind a mature garden that I had been working on for over 20 years. That's a lot of plants and hard work to just say good-bye to. Some day the bare soil here will be covered in lovely blooming plants. Hopefully it won't take another 20 years.

Anyway, for FF, I decided to post summer photos of my old garden. Please bear with me on the photography, I took these before I discovered the macro setting on my camera.

I had quite a few daylilies in that garden, one of my all-time favorite perennials. I don't remember all their names, sorry.

I do know this next one is Strawberry Candy.

And this is Barbara Mitchell.

El Desperado

I had lots of coneflowers. This is White Swan.

The butterflies loved them.

I think this Geranium was called 'Tiny Monster.'

A Russell Lupine grown from seed.

Sarah Bernhardt peony

New Dawn rose.

Clematis jackmanii

We had a pond which we dug and installed ourselves. It was a wonderful place to sit and contemplate the garden (although I seldom did, I was too busy pulling weeds).

The froggies loved it!

I have to remind myself not to miss that garden. The climate here is so different. Here right now I have soggy bare soil. But back there right now, the garden looks like this, a view that won't change for the next three months.

Don't forget to check out all the other Fertilizer Friday posts at Tootsie Time!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Macros in a Mason Jar

I don't think I've ever entered something like this before -- Gardening Gone Wild's January 2011 Picture This Photo Contest. I read about it and thought I'd give it a shot.

I brought my Meyer Lemon tree indoors for the winter, and it is thriving in a south facing window. It is absolutely covered in blooms, and is perfuming the room where I use my laptop. Smells just wonderful.

Anyway, I thought I would use a couple of blossoms from the tree for the picture, which was actually taken at the bottom of a glass, not a mason jar, but I hope that's ok. I unwrapped some lemon drops (truthfully, they're lemon-flavored cough drops, a winter staple in our house), and then I mounded the rest of the unwrapped ones around the outside of the glass. I experimented with using a yellow cutting board to make the light more yellow, but didn't like the result. So I bounced some light into it using a white sheet of paper instead.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Garden Bloggers' Fling 2011 in Seattle

I've added another widget at the left -- a badge that contains a link that will take you to a webpage with information about the Garden Bloggers' Annual Fling -- basically a four-day get-together for gardeners across the world that will take place right here in Seattle this year, from July 22-25.

I don't know yet what specifically will be on the agenda, but I read about the one in Buffalo last year on a lot of blogs, and it sounded like everyone had a blast. According  to the webpage,  "we'll tour glorious gardens, savor delicious farm-to-table dining, and immerse ourselves in one of the most garden-friendly climates Mother Nature has ever bestowed."

To get a feel for what happened at last year's Fling in Buffalo, you can go here.

I live about 30 miles from Seattle, and I plan to be there! I'm looking forward to meeting some great gardeners (and garden writers), eating some great food, and seeing some beautiful gardens. July is dream time in Seattle, the skies should be blue, the weather should be warm, but probably not unbearable.

Be there or be square!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Spring Garden Sales in the Seattle/Tacoma Area

I've added a gadget to the left, a list with live links of Spring Garden Sales in the Seattle/Tacoma area that I plan to attend (and probably spend more money than I should). I thought this would be useful for any readers who also live in this area, as well as for me to keep track. Unfortunately I didn't realize when I was entering the list that they would appear in reverse chronological order, and there is no way to sort them (other than re-entering all of them). And the Northwest Flower and Garden Show is out of order completely, appearing right at the top of the list.

I've ordered some evergreen huckleberry and orange honeysuckle from the Pierce County Conservation District sale, and I think I may order from the King County one as well. King County is selling sword ferns, which Pierce County is not. I've found that Conservation District sales are very inexpensive, although you have to order in groups of five or ten (but the extras are useful for plant swaps). I ordered lots of bare root native shrubs from Pierce County last year, and they grew quite well. We'll see in a few weeks if they have survived this unusual winter.

I also bought lots of native plants last spring from the Native Plant Society sale, and was very impressed with the amount and variety of plants they had for sale.

If you're in either the Portland area or British Columbia, there is a list here that lists plant sales in your area, as well as the ones I've put in my list to the left.