Monday, April 29, 2013

What do you think?

I was buying more rock this weekend so I could finally finish off the shade bed in the backyard. They've started giving me a discount at Oregon Decorative Rock, I'm there so often.

Greg thinks I should add a third layer of rock to make the retaining wall look more substantial.

That makes things a little tricky, since the soil level should rise to meet the top of the wall. You want the soil to meet the house at least four, but ideally six inches, from where the wood starts so you don't get termites. So I'd have to create a slope and grade the soil back toward the house. It's not impossible but it might look funny.

What say you? Add another level?

Leave it be?

I can't decide.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How to fill a really large pot

Do you have pots of soil lying around? Every time I move a plant around (which is a lot) I end up with extra soil. I don't know how it happens. I mean, I know why it happens but it's seems like there's way too much leftover soil. So I have random pots of it stashed all over the yard.

I've wanted a second galvanized tank for the area to the right of the bamboo and to the left of the Pieris for a while now. The long term goal is to have a pathway running in front of them, so it works to keep everything narrow and contained. This area was a weedy mess, covered in popweed and uneven with holes from where we pulled the clump of bamboo out of the ground.

My friend Carrie told me that Bamboo Craftsman was getting a shipment of stock tanks in this weekend, and while they were more expensive than Burns Feed, they were five minutes away. Burns Feed is forty minutes each way. And they were borrowing Greg's truck, so they could pick one up for me and bring it to me, in the lazy princess fashion I deserve.

I got a six foot tank, which is huuuuuge. I weeded and dumped a whole bunch of gravel to level the area, then started to wonder how I was going to fill this.

I started by grabbing all the concrete chunks and broken bricks I've recently unearthed from the yard. My yard has a seemingly endless supply of rubble. This ensures that when I realize that the container is crooked or off-center, I'll be SOL because the thing weighs a million pounds.

Then I added gravel because I put gravel in, on, and over everything now.

Then I grabbed all that sod I had removed from the new bed on the back of the house and installed it grass-side down.

This means I don't have to try and sneak it into the yard debris bin, which means I can remove more sod from somewhere else in the yard and sneak that in the bin.

For now it got six inches of mulch on top, which should hopefully put the final nail in the coffin for the sod. In a few weeks I'll take all the random pots full of soil I have lying around and amend it with compost and plant up this container.

I have my heart set on a colocasia I read about in Fine Gardening last summer, Colocasia esculenta 'Coffee Cups'.

Image source

When it rains the leaves fill with water until they hit a certain point (presumably when they get all steamed up), then they tip over and pour it out. I don't even care if this plant doesn't fit in with my garden theme; it's kinetic and beautiful. Remind me of this when I complain next fall about how this tank "just doesn't go" with my yard.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Snap to grid

I'm at that point in the gardening season where I want to do something, but if I want to do that, I have do this thing first, which means that I might as well do this other thing while I'm at it . . . and so now I have a bunch of projects going all at once and nothing's finished and everything looks like hell.

It started with this area on the back of the house, which faces north. I had the two shrubs back here ground out so I could start fresh.

This is the first time I'll have an area in shade that isn't dry. Hooray! So I started removing sod. But first I felt like I needed to address the area under our little deck, which is weedy and pitted and not sloped correctly.

I took some of the gravel that had been languishing on a tarp in the front yard and dumped it under here until everything was level.

You'll never guess where the tarp used to be.

I had to stop to take photos because the light was so good that night. Also, I was starving.

The back rain garden

I put down rock and I started planting, grabbing ferns and hostas from the side entrance, and the shrub mint and oakleaf hydrangea from under the cedar. And damn it if I didn't plant everything in two perfectly straight rows. What is wrong with me?

Every time I'd dig something up to move it so it wouldn't be in a line I'd somehow have a brain fart and the thing would end up back in line with everything else. And I ran out of rock, so this bed still isn't finished. How do you like that reveal?

As a palate cleanser, let's admire my new Darmera peltata. I bought it at the HPSO sale and the cashier proclaimed it "so ugly only a mother could love it."

This Oregon native is a relative of rhubarb and its leaves will grow to as much as two feet in width. And they also have flowers, which aren't very exciting.

I told the cashier that, come summer, she'd be jealous of my ugly plant. She just may not be jealous of the rest of my garden, which is a swampy half-finished mess.

Friday, April 19, 2013

So say we all

Columbines always look like cylons to me.

Aquilegia caerulea 'Krystal'

Pretty cylons, though.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Garden bloggers' bloom day April 2013

I didn't think I had that much blooming but then I started walking through the yard . . . we have a TON blooming right now. My dogwood is a beautiful shocking pink right now.

Cornus florida

Camassia leichtlinii 'Blue Danube'

NOID Lewisia 

Pieris japonica

Hooker's fairybells (Disporum hookeri var. oreganum)

Ribes sanguineum

'Oregon Sunshine' blueberries


Fringeflower 'Sizzling Pink' (Loropetalum chinense)

Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata'

Stream violet (Viola glabella)

Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) and Tulipa 'Rosalie'

Tidytips (Layia platyglossa)
Coastal strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis)

Cerinthe retorta

Trillium ovatum

Oxalis oregana

Happy bloom day! Be sure to head over to our host Carol's site to see what else is blooming.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

One of these things is not like the other

One of my tulips mutated or reverted and is now yellow. And it had the audacity to produce an offshoot bulb! Part of me doesn't care, as I already have a mess of orange, pale pink, peach, black, and red bulbs. What's the harm in adding yellow to the mix? (For the record, the pale pink in the very back offends me the most in this scheme.)

In other strange surprises, I've found English ivy popping up in the backyard. One spot was in the rain garden, which made me emit this terrible gargling yodel-scream as I ripped it out. This is the part they don't tell you about when creating a bird-friendly yard: sometimes they spread your neighbors' invasive plants to your garden. It's a good thing they're so cute when they splash around in the birdbath.

Monday, April 8, 2013


I just need to admit something right up front: this is all my fault. I have badly abused a tree and whatever the equivalent of the DHS is for trees should be called on me.

In the NE corner of my yard, the one I want to be the focal point of the garden, I planted a Cryptomeria japonica 'Elegans.' It was beautiful. 

But then we took off its braces and lines and it started slouching. It got much worse than this.

I finally yanked it in November and put it the only place I had room: the vegetable bed. And it immediately flopped over and I did nothing. I just left it like this all winter because I am a terrible person.

I needed to plant up the vegetable garden but I didn't have a big enough pot for the tree. I was hoping to pawn the tree off on Jane, who I was confident could teach it to stand up straight again.

So I plopped it here, just to the right of where it used to be. I was hopeful that it standing up straight-ish. I thought, "Maybe if it's a little more protected, with some shrubs to lean up on, it will be okay."

I even thought that maybe I could move it over to the left and plant the Korean fir to the left of that, and it would look something like this:

But then I realized that the Cryptomeria will always be bigger than the Korean fir. And while I was in the shower I thought, maybe I'll just plant a deciduous tree like a Japanese maple and be done with it. Yes, they're ubiquitous (and not evergreen) but they are pretty.

And then the Cryptomeria did this and I'm back to thinking it can't be saved.

Can this tree be rehabbed? And what would you plant in this corner? I feel like it needs to be anchored with something tall, preferably evergreen.

The view in winter

I currently have a bunch of grasses and Joe Pye weed planted in the back, so we'll have winter interest next year. I still feel like it needs an exclamation point, though. Maybe I should just move the potted weeping blue spruce here and call it good? If you have ideas or opinions, my ears are open.