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

Monday, December 25, 2017

Get the Poin?

Since well before Christmas this year, Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) began appearing in a fabulous array of colors and varieties. I've never been particularly taken with Poinsettias (when I was younger I thought it was spelled Pointsettia). Rumored to be poisonous like other members of the Euphorbia plant family and supposedly notoriously difficult to keep alive and hard to get to flower again, I've never before been tempted to buy one. But man-o-man, this year I was really tempted by the lusciousness of some of these plants. My current cat Ronin has chewed on just about every plant I've brought into the house, including, amazingly, a prickly Pachypodum, so I fear what he would do to a Poinsettia.

So, this year I just took lots and lots of pictures of them.

From a pre-Thanksgiving trip to Molbak's with Peter (The Outlaw Gardener).

These cream and pink bracts reminded me of candy canes

From Windmill Gardens Nursery in Sumner:

Some of these varieties even appeared in my local Fred Meyer, but I never hauled my camera out while I was shopping for groceries. What do you think of Poinsettias? I really should have given in to my temptation to buy one or two this year, right? There's always next year.

Anyway, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays this year to all my readers and blogging friends.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Celebrating a Lifetime's Growth of a 60+-Year Old Seedling

During a now infamous interview, the great actress Katharine Hepburn once told Barbara Walters that in her old age she felt very much like a strong tree, and when pressed, said she hoped she was an oak, rather than an elm, which would have suffered from Dutch elm disease.

Yesterday I celebrated my 62nd birthday, and I figure I'm a sugar maple (Acer saccharum) -- a New England native, full of sweet sap and occasionally rather colorful.

I came downstairs and discovered this birthday card waiting on the kitchen island for me. The night before, Nigel had waited till after I went to bed and then snuck downstairs to put it there for me to find, along with a bar of dark chocolate from Theo's.

I'll get him for that, when he least expects it.

I had a very quiet, pleasant birthday, that included lunch out at my favorite local restaurant Mama Stortini's. I had one of my favorite meals, salmon -- an old reliable. I used to be driven to try new foods, new restaurants, etc., especially for a celebration such as this, but nowadays, I prefer a small, quiet, local place where I've eaten many, many times, where I know what I'm going to get before I even go through the door.

My parmesan-crusted salmon with rice pilaf and zucchini

Nigel's Ziti Bolognese with meatballs

Dessert -- Fried Oreos with ice cream

Alison saccharum as a sapling

When I returned from lunch, the mail had arrived, and in it were lots and lots of seeds that I had ordered recently! From Johnny's Selected Seeds, Swallowtail Garden Seeds, and Chiltern Seeds (in England).
This year's seeds

Many of these are meant for my new cutting garden. Here's a long, boring list of what I ordered.

From Swallowtail:

Salvia 'Rose Queen'
Salvia 'Blue Queen'
Salvia 'Merleau Blue'
Agastache 'Globetrotter'
Agastache 'Bolero'
Celosia 'Dragon's Breath'
Shasta Crazy Daisy
Calendula 'Solar Flashback'
Giant Imperial Carmine King Larkspur
The Seven Dwarfs Larkspur
Dahlia 'Black Beauty'
Ornamental Millet 'Copper Prince'
Ornamental Millet 'Purple Majesty'
Sunflower 'Red Wave'
Bronze Fennel
Seeker mix Statice
Giant Double Black Peony Poppy
Seriously Scarlet Peony Poppy

From Johnny's:

Benary's Giant Deep Red Zinnia
Queen Red Lime Zinnia
Senora Zinnia
Red Spike Amaranthus
Cramer's Burgundy Celosia
Midnight Blue Statice
Ruby Red Orach
Dara Ammi
Double Click Cosmos
Double Click Cranberries Cosmos

From Chiltern's:

Stipa capillata Lace Veil
Lupinus polyphyllus 'Band of Nobles'
Arisaema consanguineum
Arisaema sikkokianum
Arisaema triphyllum
Verbascum olympicum
Agastache 'Astello Indigo'
Centranthus ruber
Eryngium maritimum
Benary's Giant Wine Zinnia
Lysimachia atropurpurea 'Beaujolais'
Salvia lyrata 'Purple Volcano'
Tropaeolum majus 'Black Velvet'
Salpiglossis sinuata 'Black Trumpets'
Knautia macedonica 'Mars Midget'
Linum grandiflorum var. rubrum
Amaranthus 'Hopi Red Dye'
Angelica sylvestris purpurea 'Vicar's Mead'
Erysimum cheiri 'Sunset Red'
Erysimum cheiri 'Blood Red Covent garden'
Coreopsis tinctoria 'Mahogany Midget'
Scabiosa atropurpurea 'Black Knight'
Delphinium consolida 'Blue Spire'
Lathyrus odoratus 'Windsor'
Lathyrus odoratus 'Matucana'
Zinnia 'Jazzy mixture'
Zinnia 'Queen Red Lime'
Ammi majus 'Graceland'

You may notice there's a lot of red, purple and black. I've got plans for a new "Ruby Bed" next year. That's a lot of seeds, too. Many of them will get sowed into the soil of the cutting garden, right after Christmas, under cloches.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Happy Winter Solstice

Happy Winter Solstice!

No, that's not the winter solstice sun rising over my garden this morning. It's frost on my orange bowling ball, which cost me all of about $1.99 at my local thrift store. It decorates my garden, along with a blue one and a bright pink one.

This morning at 8:28 Pacific time the winter solstice occurred in the Northern Hemisphere. It's the shortest day of the year, and here in our Washington latitude the sun rose at 7:53 and will set tonight at 4:22 p.m., for 8 hours, 29 minutes and 3 seconds of daylight. It will not actually be our earliest sunset, that happened back on December 5, at 4:19. The temperature overnight got down into the mid-20s, which I think is cold.

I haven't been doing much gardening lately. It's been too cold, and when it hasn't been cold, it's been wet.

I've been baking cookies -- a specific type of cookie called a Jammie Dodger. The term Jammie Dodger is probably unfamiliar to most Americans, it's a British thing. They were a Christmas request from my husband Nigel, who, as many of you know, is English (and a Doctor Who fan, of course).

Jammie Dodgers in the making

Doctor Who Saves the World with a Jammie Dodger

I doubt if my Jammie Dodgers will save the world, but they are quite yummy. Cookies (biscuits if you're British) will probably save my sanity, in the absence of gardening.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day -- December 2017

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day managed to sneak up on me this month. I usually have my post all ready to go first thing in the morning, but today I had to run around in the misty rain taking pictures of the few things that are blooming, with a short break to warm up inside the greenhouse. Today is our first day of rain after an unusual (for the PNW) 11-day stretch of dry, sunny, but cold weather with overnight frost. Call me nuts, but I prefer the rain and frost-free nights. During that stretch of dry weather I had been hoping to get all my bulbs planted. I did get some hardy Gladiolus communis ssp. byzantinus and Anemone blanda in the ground, but I still have a handful of Alliums sitting on the dining room table.

Anyway, I do have a few things flowering out in the garden.

What would I and our resident hummingbirds do without Mahonia flowers in the winter? This Mahonia x media 'Charity,' one of three in my garden, flowers right outside our TV room window, and the hummers that flock to it in the winter are not only a distraction from the TV watching that I do, but honestly, sometimes a lot more interesting and fun to watch.

The flowers are notoriously difficult to capture in closeup.

This one is always a bit behind in flowering than the other two, which is probably fine with the hummers, since it means the food lasts longer.

Still in bud

A few Cyclamen coum are still flowering, but most have gone past and the focus now is on their fabulous foliage

The same with Cyclamen hederifolium

Despite our week-and-a-half of frosty nights, this tall Acanthus spear is still stiff and trying to continue flowering

More buds waiting at the top

Fatsia japonica 'Variegata' aka Camouflage has lots of buds with just a couple of tiny open florets

Most of the flowers on Arbutus unedo 'Compacta' have faded to this sickly beige, although a few white ones are hanging on

Most of the "strawberries" have fallen off as well. Besides the leaf litter, you can see how the faded flowers are littering the ground under the shrub too.

There's not a lot of flowering going on inside the greenhouse either.

'Old Lady' Cactus often has flowers in her "hair" off and on all winter long

Begonias also continue to flower

Pregnant onion has produced one tall flower spike that has hit the ceiling of the greenhouse

My Adenium obesum aka desert rose dropped all her leaves once I moved her into the greenhouse, very much like my Pachypodiums do. They've produced new leaves by now, whereas she hasn't yet. She does have this one flower bud, though, which seems to be in a state of suspended animation. Is she waiting to see if she survives my winter care before she rewards me with an open flower?

Poor nekkid desert rose
That's all my blooms for this December Bloom Day. Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on the fifteenth of every month. Check out her post here.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wednesday Vignette -- Frost

We finally got our first real killing frost on Monday night, so I went out into the garden with my camera on Tuesday morning and took some photos, before the sun had a chance to touch some of the frosty spots, and burn it off.

Eryngium 'Blue Glitter'

Purple Coneflower that has been devoured down to the nub by birds

Sedum 'Angelina' and Black Mondo grass

Sedum 'Angelina' and oak leaf

Mahonia gracilipes

I am looking forward to the temps warming up later this week, into the 50s during the day. I still have bulbs to get in the ground -- a handful of Alliums, some Gladiolus communis ssp. byzantinus and some Fritillaria meleagris. I was out there on Monday when it was in the high 30s and planted 50 Anemone blanda, the tiny little wind flowers that pop up early in the spring. It's late to be planting bulbs, but November went by so quickly.

Anna at Flutter & Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette. Check out her post here.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Brave Nursery Dares to Put Christmas Ornaments Front and Center

No mealy-mouthed "Happy Holidays" for Molbak's during a recent visit. Their "Merry Christmas" wishes were everywhere.

There's that forbidden word. Don't they know there's a war on Christmas?

There it is again. Scandalous.

Nothing says Christmas like greed and commercialism.

Bah. Humbug.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day -- November 2017

It's already the middle of November, which means it's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, when garden  bloggers around the world show off the flowers in their gardens. There's truly very little still flowering in my garden, but there are a couple of things, which I ran around like a mad thing photographing last night around dusk, braving a cold wind.

One of the fancy leaf Begonias in my greenhouse is flowering. They're pretty unremarkable flowers.

The last tuberous Begonia flower -- single rather than double, which I think from my reading means it's a female flower

Cyclamen hederifolium

Mahonia 'Soft Caress' in the pot ghetto

Arbutus unedo 'Compacta' -- this is the most heavily laden with flowers I've ever seen it. The hummingbirds have been all over it recently

And it sports both flowers and berries at the same time
And that's it!

Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Check out her post here.