Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My lens was dirty.

It looks like I just needed to clean my camera lens. Again. Is it normal to have to do that every 2-3 days?

Looks better, ya?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Real yards have curves

We got our first real summer weather this weekend! It was sunny and 85 and perfect. Greg and I hit up the "Naturescaping for backyard habitats" garden tour through EMSWCD. They showcased six homes where people had achieved the gold or platinum status from the Audubon Society. There were some really beautiful gardens . . . and there were some really sloppy ones. It turns out I like my gardens a little tidier than some folks. I was sort of bummed about that at first, especially since I'm always telling people, "I like it wild!"

I like it wild but only in a controlled manner, apparently. This comes as a surprise to absolutely no one.

I did come away with an overwhelming need to obtain some meadow rue. It's the airy, lacy, beautiful stuff on the top of this photo and it makes me DROOL.

Thalictrum occidentale. Crappy photo courtesy of my phone.
Then I spent all of Sunday taking the leftover stones from the dogbone and using them to define the hillocks in the backyard. The grass has a way of trying to creep up into the beds.


And after:

As I'm sure you've noticed, my camera can't take a sharp picture to save its life. I keep cleaning the lens to varied effect. I think it's the universe telling me to buy a nicer one?

I packed the spaces between the retaining stones with mulch to try and stave off the encroaching grass. It won't work but it should slow it down.

It was tricky under the hemlock (Is it a hemlock? Shit if I know.) because you don't want to bury the roots of the tree or you'll suffocate it. And then it will fall on your house. I had already stupidly dumped soil and mulch on top of the area beneath the tree last summer. We wanted the stones to look like were actually retaining something, which meant scootching some of that soil and mulch down toward the stones, hopefully giving the root system more air. Or not. Anybody know how to remedy this?

The blurry photos, they make me so sad. The lack of varied color in this area makes me sad as well.

I'm liking the formality of the retaining stones so much that I'm tempted to continue some sort of boundary in the new raised bed area. It would really tie the whole yard together.

I also brought the center curve out a bit, making it easier to mow around it and giving us a spot for the old birdbath.

My freakshow bulb is awesome.

Allium schubertii

I'm having a love affair with fringecups. The cups start out green, fade to white, then turn pink. They are gorgeous.

Tellima grandiflora

My dianthus bloomed again, making it totally worth the $2.99 I spent at Home Depot last summer.

And my Farewell to Springs bloomed this weekend! Oregon, LISTEN TO THE WILDFLOWER. No more rain, please. It's time for summer.

Clarkia sp.

Also: I figured out the secret behind Colony Collapse Disorder. All the bees are in my yard. Sorry about that!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

And suddenly we have a garden!

One single month ago the stump area looked like this.

The peonies and lupine are growing like gangbusters. I want to divide this lupine next year because the lime green foliage makes me tingly. I want it everywhere. It doesn't hurt that lupine is a nitrogen-fixer, so other plants benefit from its proximity.

Alas, I think I need to declare the DIY birdbath a failure. The wood is discolored and I suspect it's going to rot, despite being coated in something protective. I'm hoping to possibly use it as a form to create a new birdbath out of cement.

I've set my phasers to "lush."

I've set my phasers to "stunning?" Man, I'm bad at the puns.

Pretty pretty, shiny shiny! That's more my speed. Things are growing and I love it.

Oregon iris Iris tenax

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

More experiments in yard trash

This old cement block has been floating around my yard, looking terrible and growing moss, so I'm going to try it as a lavender pot.

This is Grosso lavender, which is especially straight and spiky and it smells AMAZING.

It's probably too small a container, but we'll see how it does. Besides, a dying plant emerging from yard debris never looks bad, right?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I need this.

I found this at Portland Nursery and I need it.

 It's a birdbath. And it's a tiki dude.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The view as of today

We still need to work at making this look less like a giant square of cedar chips but for right now we needed to suppress the hoards of weeds that were sure to colonize the area.

Next up: evergreen plants, rain garden, new tree, deck. Go!

Edited to add: here's a reminder of the before:

Monday, May 23, 2011

I am so traumatized.

Remember this?

We had a guy from craigslist come and do this. Listen for when I tell him to "watch the peonies, brother."

Everything looked so good at first. He was removing big chunks of concrete without disturbing the plants around the slab. I mean, check this out:

Unfortunately, the lawn looked like this. And he dropped a piece of concrete on one of the bloodgood maples on the parking strip.

Our front yard looks BUSTED. I don't even want to post photos. It was incredibly stressful watching him barely skim past the side of my house, over and over. He started dropping pieces and I started worrying he would take out my chimney. Remember your mantra when hiring people: "Are you licensed and bonded?"

I have no idea if he was licensed and bonded because I FORGOT TO ASK.

But now my yard, my beautiful yard, looked like this. It was traumatizing. I felt like someone had raped and pillaged my happy place.

Greg and I got up the next morning to start moving the raised beds (I swear I'll post The Plan soon) and Greg discovered that my Oregon Iris is about to bloom for the first time since I planted it 18 months ago.

And I swooned and I was happy again. Luckily, nature is good at recovering. We are both trying to remember that. I was shocked at how viscerally I reacted to seeing my yard torn up; I was even more shocked that Greg was upset too. So last night after dinner with his family he thatched and reseeded the lawn in the dwindling light. I took photos of parts of the yard that are still pretty.

The good news is that I can see the plan coming together now. We dismantled the dog bone and reassembled it where the cement slab used to be. Our shape inspiration was two wine glasses (the stemless kind).

It the corner behind the wine glasses we're going to put in a Colorado spruce. This will give us some height in that corner and something green to look at in the winter. We're gaining more planting space in front of that and I'll need to really work on getting stuff that's evergreen. And of course I'll need to finally yank the weird mystery willow

So yeah, short evergreen plant suggestions . . . GO!

Cedar bark is being delivered so we can lay down pathways before everything turns to weeds. Then the boy and I can get down to the sweet business of arm wrestling over who gets to choose what kind of hippie lawn to plant on the old dogbone space. I want something flowering and low water; he wants something that looks like a traditional lawn.

Of course, he rescued me from a LOT of garden spiders this weekend (new and interesting ones that were SO scary!) and he removed the biggest slug I have ever seen, so I'll probably let him have his way.

He's all curled up here--he was HUGE