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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Tale of Two (New) Trees!

Remember the two trees I took out? And the bomb crater that they left behind, in which I've been toiling for weeks now, digging out rocks and roots, and moving perennials?

I finally got the bed ready, took out all the big roots, and lots of smaller ones as well. A couple of weeks ago Nigel and I traveled up to Big Trees in Snohomish and picked out two new ones.

So what did I choose?

A Paperbark Maple.

And a 'Forest Pansy' Redbud.

This past weekend Nigel dragged out our little electric tiller, and we worked 33 bags of compost into the soil, making it all fluffy. The compost basically disappeared immediately into the sandy soil. I'm hoping it will maybe attract a few earthworms, because one thing I noticed while digging and crawling around on my hands and knees in that bed -- there are no earthworms there. None.

All tilled and ready for trees
My crop of rocks

More small rocks

Amazingly, this pile of rocks also came out of that bed.

And these as well.

And when they planted the trees, they dug up even more rocks!

We went back to Lowe's the next day and bought three more bags of compost, which I'll be working into the soil whenever I plant my shrubs and perennials there. I will undoubtedly need more.

On Monday, with the bed all prepped, a work crew from Big Trees arrived to plant my trees.

We sorted out where they should go, and the crew started digging.

When they had gone as far as they could by hand, they used the forklift to dig even more.
They hauled the redbud off the truck with the forklift

After they set it on the grass, they had to get up into the branches to cut out all the rope that was wrapped around the canopy.

He stood on the forklift tines and was lifted up into the canopy.

Then they stood it upright, and I walked around it deciding which way I wanted it oriented in the bed.

They picked it up again and moved it into the hole.

Then they placed the paperbark maple

They cut away all the ropes and cloth holding the rootball together, and then backfilled the hole halfway with some well-rotted horse manure which they had brought with them, then watered it well, and filled it the rest of the way.
They attached guy wires (actually ropes) and pounded them into the ground. In a year, after it is well-established, I'll remove them. They also added some mycorrhizae to the soil (in the white bucket) to encourage root growth.

The supervisor helped me set up the soaker hoses, including tightening all the faucet and hose connections so there were no leaks (except the ones that should be leaking), and programming it to come on automatically.

Now I just need to get out there and start planting the empty spaces with shrubs and perennials. Good thing Fall is here, with its cooler weather and promised rain. That should help both the trees and all the new plants get well-established.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cross Spider -- Araneus diadematus

Araneus diadematus is pretty much omnipresent in my garden right now -- if not in empty, abandoned webs, then lying in wait for prey in their elaborately constructed, securely anchored orb-shaped webs. A very common garden spider in the Pacific Northwest, they are originally from Europe, and are present in gardens throughout the United States, from east to west coast and everywhere in between. I've never seen one inside the house.

Cross spider hanging upside down in my tomato bed.

Its common name, Cross spider, comes from the cross-shaped markings on its abdomen. You may have heard about a NASA experiment that was designed to see how zero gravity would affect the  ability of spiders to spin orb-shaped webs. That experiment used two Cross spiders, named Anita and Arabella (sorry, no Charlotte). Cross spiders have also been used to study the effects of psychotropic drugs on orb-spinning. See the blog entry here from Bug Eric.

Only females spin webs. The one in my garden will live only one year. Sometime in late September, she will probably leave the web and hide somewhere protected, where she will lay her eggs for next year's generation.

Sorry the photo is not better-focused, but here you can see her abdomen markings.

This spider's bite is completely harmless to humans and only a little bit painful (not that I have any experience.) See the Wikipedia article here. The one in my pictures was startled when I came close enough with my camera to get pictures of her abdomen markings. She ran across the web and tried to hide under a tomato leaf, where her web was anchored.

She has actually tried to hide from me before, when I go out to gather tomatoes. I think she's getting a little too big for that leaf. 

The Wiki article says that they eat their webs every night and reconstruct them, but she was been lying here in the same spot in my tomato bed for several days.

Abandoned web. Perhaps the occupant has already gone on to the big orb in the sky, and left behind her future progeny in a tiny egg sac somewhere in my garden.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Foliage Followup -- September 2012

I don't have as many foliage pictures as I did flowers yesterday, but I do have a few. But -- watch out! The flowers weren't satisfied with showing off yesterday, they want to get in on the act today.

Cimicifuga foliage (with flower)

There are two different ferns at the feet of the Cimicifuga

There's a gargoyle peaking out from under there too!

The following two foliage combos used to be in the waterfall weir, but it started overflowing because it was too full, so I had to take them out and put them in the stream.
Canna, Acorus gramineus and golden creeping jenny (those darn raccoons have been chewing on it, it's a bit tattered)

Canna, Lysimachia and Acorus at the foot of the waterfall

Rumex sanguineus, Acorus and a sword fern with sori on the back, in the weir

Canna in the bed beside the stream. I was so surprised to see the tiny spiders hanging out here. Normally, they hatch in the spring.

One of my favorite foliage beds. Yes, there are a few flowers, but it's not overpowered by them. This bed is full of distinct and interesting shapes, and was mostly put together by chance.

Rubus lineatus in the gravel garden

Aren't these the coolest pleated leaves? I'm so glad this survived the summer drought. I bought it earlier this year on my trip to Jungle Fever in Tacoma.
Black mondo grass really stands out now that the gravel garden has gravel

It sets off the 'Sparkling Burgundy' Eucomis better too. Try to ignore that attention-seeking Nepeta there, photo-bombing my foliage picture.

And waiting in the wings in the ever-growing To Be Planted pile is a Panicum called 'Blood Brothers.' All that red was hard to resist. It's slated for the front bed under my two new trees. The 40% off price at Watson's was hard to resist too.

Foliage Followup is the brainchild of Pam Penick at Digging. She always hosts Foliage Followup the day after Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Lots of bloggers from all over will be posting about their interesting and unusual foliage. Once the flowers fade, it's foliage that carries a lot of the burden for creating interest in the garden. It's worth celebrating!