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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wednesday Vignette

This past weekend Nigel and I spent a night on the Kitsap Peninsula at the Clearwater Casino, celebrating Nigel's birthday. While he was playing blackjack, I went to Valley Nursery in Poulsbo to have a look around. I had just been there the weekend before with Peter The Outlaw Gardener, but I still found a couple of plants that I needed. Many nurseries have live-in cats, and Valley is no exception. I don't know this one's name, but I've seen him there before. He's a cutie. I caught him napping in the pumpkin display.

Anna at Flutter and Hum hosts the Wednesday Vignette meme. You can read her current post here, and be sure and check out the links to other blogs that are also participating.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Getting Back Into The Swing

I don't know if any readers have noticed, but for most of August and September, I haven't really been posting all that much, except for participation in a few memes like Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, Foliage Followup, and Anna's Wednesday Vignette. I haven't been doing much gardening to write about. I was so discouraged that the heat and drought did such a number on the brand new Hydrangeas that I planted this spring in the bed along the back fence. Also, at the beginning of August I injured my neck and left shoulder, and that definitely put a crimp in gardening.

But I was still planning and scheming for changes I had decided to make to that Hydrangea bed. I started stockpiling drought-tolerant plants, haunting all the fall sales, where I managed to find many great plants for 40% or even 50% off.  Once my arm started feeling better, I slowly began digging up the Hydrangeas and many of the other plants in that bed, along with the Pernettya that I had planted and killed, deader than a dead thing. I pulled out one of my two red elderberry bushes, because I wanted to plant a chocolate Mimosa, and really I didn't need two elderberries. Even though it's a PNW native and probably used to our dry summers, the heat and drought this year had it looking like death warmed over. The Hydrangeas went into pots, where I can have more control over how much sun and water they receive.

So, a couple of weekends ago, I drafted Nigel into service, and he helped me add some sand to the bed for better drainage, and roto-tilled it in. Then, last week I started laying out the plants, and finally, this Sunday and Monday, I dug holes and planted everything.

Former Hydrangea bed with shrubs and many perennials pulled out

Nigel and I added sand and he tilled it in, to lighten the soil and help with drainage.

Plants being stockpiled over the course of two months, waiting in the Folly to be planted

Besides wanting to make this a drought-tolerant bed, I also wanted to try to deter the nasty rambunctious raccoons from digging and playing in the bed. I posted here about the damage they've done. Therefore, many of the plants I've used are poky and prickly, like Dasylirion texanum, Berkeya purpurea, and Acanthus sennii, as well as somewhat caustic, like Euphorbia, or smelly, like Lemon Thyme. I've also added four-foot tall rebar stakes with decorative, colorful bottles on top, to try to create obstacles that might keep them from running wild through the plants. And I bought a water 'scarecrow' type device, that senses motion and will shoot water at them.

The bed planted up anew, with several different ornamental grasses and other drought-tolerant perennials

I'm looking forward to some of the plants self-sowing and creating swaths, such as Stipa tenuissima and Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'

I created mini-swaths with trios of the same Echinacea (this one is either 'Cheyenne Spirit' or 'Solar Flare')

Acanthus sennii, Miscanthus 'Morning Light' and Geranium 'Ann Folkard'

Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition'

Sesleria autumnalis

Kniphofia 'Fire Glow'

Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate'

Concrete orb, aka raccoon toilet, has been planted up with a prickly Eryngium agavifolium, with the hope that no raccoon is going to want to stick its butt in those spines.

I really needed those two months to regroup and plan and heal. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what this bed looks like next summer.

Stop reading right here unless you're really interested in reading a long list of plants. I just want to document what I've planted.

Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate'
Nolina 'La Siberica'
Dasylirion texanum
Echinops 'Blue Glow'
Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow'
Euphorbia 'Ruby Glow'
Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit'
Echinacea 'Solar Flare'
Echinacea 'Dixie Belle'
Kniphofia 'Fire Glow'
Oreganum 'Kent Beauty'
Eucomis 'Aloha Lily Tiki'
Crocosmia 'Gold Rush'
Eryngium 'Neptune's Gold'
Astrantia major 'Star of Beauty'
Thymus x citriodorus (Lemon Thyme)
Thymus pseudolanuginosus (Woolly Thyme)
Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'
Amsonia hubrichtii
Berkeya purpurea
Geranium 'Ann Folkard'
Allium christophii
Allium 'Gladiator'
Tradescantia 'Bilberry Ice'

Panicum virgatum 'Rotstrahlbusch'
Miscanthus 'Morning Light'
Sesleria autumnalis
Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition'
Carex comans 'Bronze'
Calamagrostis brachytricha
Schizachyrium 'Standing Ovation'
Stipa tenuissima

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wednesday Vignette - Goodbye, Godzilla Summer!

I hear there is a Godzilla El Nino building up in the Pacific Ocean, slated to give us a mild winter like the last one, with little snow and less rain (but more rain for California, apparently). Bad news for the ski industry and for the PNW's snow-pack. It also means saying good-bye to our Godzilla summer, which was long, hot and dry, and left me and my garden feeling a lot like Japan being stomped by a fire-breathing monster (or perhaps by Treat Williams doing an impression of Godzilla in the movie "Things To Do in Denver When You're Dead'). I wonder if next summer will be similar?

Anyway, I thought for today, our first day of autumn, I would bid good-bye to summer with a couple of pictures, which I'll also include in Anna's Wednesday Vignette meme. Here are just a few flowers that I left out of last week's Bloom Day post.

Canna 'Tropicanna'


Centaurea dealbata (Persian cornflower), looking a lot like a pinwheel (or perhaps a spinning winter storm?)

"I am Godzilla, You are Japan!"

Anna at Flutter and Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette. You can read her current post with her musings about light in the garden here, and don't forget to check out the links in the comments to other bloggers' posts.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Foliage Followup -- September 2015

It's hard to believe that Fall is nearly here. But my garden knows.

The leaves on the pin oak are starting to turn.

Some are bright red

Others are orange

The oakleaf Hydrangea is turning as well

And the 'Red Wing' Viburnum trilobum

Although technically it's not Fall quite yet, the plants are getting ready.

Pam at Digging hosts Foliage Followup every month on the day after Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Check out her post here, and don't forget to check out links in the comments from other garden bloggers who are also celebrating the role of foliage in the garden.

I thought I would edit this to make it part of Anna's Wednesday Vignette. Once a week, bloggers share a picture. You can see Anna's Wednesday Vignette post here, and be sure to check out the links in the comments.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day -- September 2015

I often complain that I don't have enough flowers, but when I go out into the garden to take photographs for Bloom Day, I always find something. It's a big garden, so the flowers are spread out.

It's always nice to see the Cyclamen reappear.

It's the season for lots of Rudbeckia too

And I've got several pots of Echinacea waiting in the pot ghetto

As well as a Berkheya purpurea

Clematis tangutica 'Helios'

This Primrose is reblooming

I've still got plenty of Calendula going strong, such as this one which self-sowed itself in exactly the right color-coordinated spot.

I love that the reverse on the petals is mahogany red

Nicotiana sylvestris self-sowed next to, and taller than, Mopsy the bigleaf Magnolia

Dahlia with fly and waiting predator

The Asters are starting to flower

Verbascum bombyciferum has been flowering all summer

The fall-blooming tall Sedums are starting to flower now too

As well as the Japanese Anemones

The recent rains have brought the species Echinaceas back into bloom

Fuchsia magellanica 'Aurea' is another one that flowers all summer

One of my favorite shrubs, golden Leycesteria formosa, is covered in blooms

Hard to believe, but this large shrub was just a rooted cutting last year when I planted it

And that's pretty much it for September.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens is our host for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, on the 15th of every month. Check out her September blooms, and those of other garden bloggers around the world, here.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Naked Ladies and Fun Guys

After a long, hot, dry summer in other parts of the country -- the American Southeast for example -- fall rains usher in an interesting plethora of pretty flowering plants -- rain lilies, oxblood lilies and so-called "naked ladies."

What arises here in the PNW after our first fall rains?


After our recent storm, two of these warty-looking clusters have appeared in one of my beds.

And a handful of these.

Here's an interesting-looking one. There's a couple of clusters of this as well.

And these little puffballs in the lawn, looking very much like what you might find on a real naked lady.

I tried planting oxblood lilies here my first year. I put the bulbs in the ground, and they disappeared without a trace -- no spring foliage, no early fall flowers, nada.

I guess I'll just have to be content with fungi. They can keep Nigel company -- he's a fun guy too.