Thursday, March 29, 2012

Oh thank goodness

Spring is here--the lady ferns arrived! I was so worried they would never show up. I have no idea how this lady fern took up residence with a sword fern. I have tried to extricate them from each other but they seem to be in love. So I let them cohabitate.


In the summer the lady fern really takes over, just like a woman (ba dum shish!).

I moved a bunch of lady ferns in the side entrance last fall and they have yet to pop up again. I don't know if they're dead, pouting, or just traumatized. My wild ginger, which every book and website promised would take over this area, has sat like a bump on a log for two years, neither dividing nor conquering. But if you get very close you can see that it's flowering.

Asaraum caudatum

Of course, all the ginger I planted will have to be moved, since I had the cedar tree underlimbed and this area is no longer shady. I have to rethink this whole area and plant things that like dry, sunny spots (can you hear Loree's pulse quickening?).

The first tulips arrived! I honestly can't remember what these are, only that Greg wanted orange bulbs so I planted orange bulbs. What baby wants, baby gets (as long as it's tulips).

The tufted-hair grass (Deschamsia cespitosa) is growing by leaps. The common rush (Juncus effusus) sits and waits.


My climbing hydrangea (Schizophragma hydrangeoides 'Moonlight') is leafing out but I hear it can take four years for this vine to really get going. So I have to be patient. Perhaps I'll make myself a cocktail to pass the time.

The leaves of this tiny trillium are not much bigger than my nail and I'm so pleased that the house painters didn't destroy them. I actively fretted about my stupid trilliums.

I moved a potted flowering currant here and I think the hot pink blooms are looking nice against the new paint job. So I guess it was worth all the worrying.

I cannot bring myself to trim my sedum 'Autumn Joy' of its summer seedheads. They are too pretty.

But you know what I should be doing, instead of taking pictures? Getting all of these in the ground.

My shipments from Annie's Annuals and High Country Gardens came this weekend while I was in California, helping my niece turn 8. I love my niece but do you know what torture that was? To know all of this was waiting for me?

Happy spring! For reals this time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Oh boy.

I've been doing things in the garden, mostly a lot of getting tired and staring slack-jawed into the distance. Do you do this? I do it in full view of my neighbors, who already think I'm crazy because I'm removing parts of my lawn. I just stare and stare, usually at a spot in the yard where there are no plants. I think of it as "imagining the possibilities." Others might call it "gawping."

I also rigged up this little nightmare landscape.

Cryptomeria japonica 'Elegans'

Way back when it snowed so hard, my poor cryptomeria got all bent up top where it wasn't staked. I thought, "I'll just remove the nursery stake and put a longer one on!" I did that and the tree promptly fell over. And then it started pouring rain and I decided to half-ass staking it and instead use the recycling bin to prop it up. It looked super classy. And it didn't work. All of which is to say, this is a vast improvement! Really.

I've also been moving this euphorbia, which already gets moved twice a year. I can't seem to find a place where it looks quite right and it's starting to suffer for my indecisiveness. It's leggy and prone to falling over but I think the colors are so pretty right now.

Euphorbia 'Blackbird'

This weekend I spent the most money I have ever spent at one time on plants. I put in huge orders to Annie's Annuals and High Country Gardens (I had coupons!), then picked up the plants I ordered from the Audubon Society native plant party people for the rain garden out front. Then, for good measure, I took a trip out to Cistus and bought a fern and a vine but no agaves, which was stupid, stupid, stupid. Agaves were 40% off and I forgot to claim my Hardy Plant Society discount, to boot.

This time of year makes me feel panicky--must fill dead spaces! Everything is still below ground and I'm already worrying about how much blank space is in the garden. I am like a teenager who can't wait to be older so I can drink and smoke and vote and rent a car. My garden is young and it wants to be older. I've been so preoccupied with blank spaces (that probably won't be blank in two months) that I failed to notice that my pieris is really pretty right now.

Pieris japonica

I started clearing sod near the roses so I can plant my perennial lab. I hate clearing sod, even when it means getting rid of these crazy curves.


I really wish I had used a hose to mark out some gentle curves here. Now this is too straight.

I haven't finished because I got tired and I needed to stare into the distance. Maybe I'm just struck dumb because I caught a whiff of my daphne.

Daphne odora 'Goddamn it, why didn't I document the tag?'

Anybody have a sod cutter I can borrow?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Foster Botanical Garden

When we went to the big island of Hawaii we visited the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden in Onomea Bay. It was absolutely spectacular and it focused on understory plants. The place, a former dump site, was chockablock with gorgeous tropical plants.

The Foster Botanical Garden on Oahu is mainly focused on giant old trees, some dating to 1853. They were awesome.

Cavanillesia platanifolia

This quipo tree was planted in 1930 and its trunk was more than 10 feet in diameter. It was gorgeous.

Spanish cedar Cedrela odorata

This baobab tree was planted in 1940 and it has night-blooming flowers from which bats feed.

Baobab tree Adansonia digitata
Baobab tree Adansonia digitata

The fallen pod of an Encephalartos gratus fit right in, as this part of the garden is called the "prehistoric glen."

Encephalartos gratus

Ferrrrrrrrrns. I'm drawn to them. Except that I'm pretty sure this was a cycad, sometimes called "living fossils."

They are HUGE!

This is the be-still tree. It looks pretty normal . . .

Thevetia peruviana

. . . until you look up. So very beautiful.

Thevetia peruviana

So many of the trees had roots like this. They looked like shark fins.

Silk-cotton tree Bombax ceiba

This tree has a Latin name but I don't care what it was because, hello, that's the Sweetums tree.

Sweetums was always my favorite muppet. 

Corypha sp.

Kalanchoe Pumla

Queen Emma lily Crinum agustum

Flapjack plant Kalanchoe thyrsiflora

I thought this was a rose bush but it's a euphorbia!

Crown-of-thorns Euphorbia milii

They also had a greenhouse where they had all sorts of plants I loved that would never be hardy here.

Finger palm Rhaphis multifida

Anyone know what this is? It didn't have a sign and I WANT ONE.

Air plant Tillandsia funckiana

And three big boulders set just so. I really want to do this in my yard.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My diamond shoes are too tight! Also, they are full of insects.

At the risk of sounding like an asshole, I'm going to tell you that we just spent a week in Oahu and it was not the greatest trip. I've been to Hawaii once before, to the big island, and it was the most magical week of my life. I might have sobbed at the airport when we had to leave. But this week can mostly be summed up like this:

Oh my god, HUMONGOUS insects
Oh my god, HUMONGOUS insects
Swimming in the ocean. So nice.

Oh my god, HUMONGOUS insects
Swimming in the ocean. So nice.

Oh my god, what is up with the HUMONGOUS insects?


no sleep
no sleep
no sleep
Swimming in the ocean. So nice.
Oh my god, HUMONGOUS insects
Finally one day of gorgeous weather, at a resort no less.
Flight home.

It feels terrible to complain about getting to go on vacation when so many people are unemployed, underemployed, or taking paycuts to keep their jobs, but Greg has been working 60+ hours a week and we were so looking forward to relaxing in the sun.

Pretty but rainy.

We still had a good time but Oahu got hit by hundred year flooding just as we arrived, including a tornado to part of the island, and evacuations in the north. It was still warm out but the water was choppy and our stay on the windward side of the island, in Kailua, was kind of a bust since the weather was extra crappy there. As a bonus, all the critters tend to end up inside when it rains that heavily. So one night I awoke to find what I think was a giant cockroach crawling across my chest.

You guys, my biggest fear crawled across my chest while I slept. The only way it could have been worse is if it whispered, You'll always be alone and your mother's cancer is back! while it skittered over my pillow.

That was the last night I got any semblance of sleep in Oahu. We'd been having problems with ants in the kitchen, despite the fact that there was no food or dirty dishes to be had. I discovered they were camping out in the crumb catch of the toaster. So Greg and I were shaking the toaster, forcing the ants out, when a cockroach popped out!

I called the host and said, "Your toaster is in the yard. Please take it far away." Then Greg turned white, looked panicked, and said, "Baby, please don't look over there." Of course, I looked over there and saw a spider the size of my fist. That artwork on the wall? It's an 8 1/2 x 11.

Heteropoda venatoria

Cane spiders are harmless and they are great predators of roaches and silverfish and all the things that were terrifying me on this trip but shitballs, they are SCARY. Our host kindly took both the toaster and the cane spider down the street for us.

We did have fun. I swam in the ocean (rain be damned) almost every day, which is one of my very favorite activities. We had intended to avoid Honolulu and Waikiki beach because of TRAFFIC, OH MY GOD TRAFFIC, but it had the only decent weather on the island. So we ended up there quite a but. I know I'm supposed to hate Waikiki (tourists! beefcakes! men with trampstamps! crowds!) but I didn't mind it at all. We drank $5 maitais at Lulu's and went swimming in the warm water. On our last day we drove to the driest part of the island and spent the day at Ko Olina, which features four man-made lagoons and a bunch of resorts and I loved it. There were no bugs there. We snorkeled, swam, and felt hot sun on our skin for the first time. It was magnificent.

Then we flew home to spectacularly wet and chilly weather. As we were unpacking Greg looked panicked, then said, "Baby, don't look in my suitcase." He had smuggled home a centipede. UNIVERSE, WHY?

I love Greg. He is a wonderful man but bitch. can't. hustle. He sauntered to find a paper towel while I screamed, "You know what happens if you get stung by a centipede, right?" The island remedy is three days of drunkenness to combat the pain! HURRY UP." He took his sweet time removing it and flushing it down the toilet, telling me that I was being silly. Then he looked it up on the Internet and, sure enough, the sting of a Hawaiian centipede is awful. Go google image that shit if you don't believe me.

We attempted to go to Pearl Harbor but it was closed due to lightning strikes. Instead we hit up the Foster Botanical Garden, what our guidebook called, "The only botanical garden on the island worth seeing." I'll post pictures of that soon, once I quit worrying about what else we might have smuggled home.

On the upside, I slept ten hours last night in my own bed (heaven!) and I dreamed that This Old House showed up at our place and fixed everything that needs fixing in the house. Aside from the fact that Roger Cook wasn't there, it was pretty sweet.

Do you ever lie in bed and debate which TOH contractor you'd want on your project if they filmed at your house? Or is that just me? I can never choose.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Is it spring yet?

For me, winter is over when the lady ferns start to pop out of the ground. I've been very anxious for that to happen, feeling like everything will be okay if those lady ferns just return. They usually start to peek up by now and I honestly expected them to come early with this mild winter we've had. At least the bleeding hearts are starting to show.

This area is no longer shady which means these guys won't thrive.

Erythronium oregonum emerges from the ground like synchronized swimmers.

White fawn lily

Did I really intentionally plant these with this distribution? Why not a clump of bulbs, maybe in an odd number, Heather? Sigh.

My flowering currants should be blooming any second.

Ribes sanguineum

The rhubarb is going nuts. I told Greg he has to stick with me until we can harvest some, since I planted it for him. We might be able to harvest some stalks this year but it probably won't be much.

We've had so many birds in the yard, attacking the feeder and frolicking in the baths. They are going to eat me out of house and home. The birdbaths have been freezing over at night, maybe that's why the lady ferns are staying put?

Sadly, the neighborhood cats have been visiting the bird feeder as well.

I can't wait to hook up the hoses so I can spray these predators when they come hunting on my property.

But mostly I would like them to stop using my raised beds as a toilet. I have peas to grow, damn it.