Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bloom day April 2012

Man, I love this time of year. The daphne is still scenting the yard, the tulips are all opening, and we still have all the summer and fall foliage and blooms to look forward to.

Dicentra spectabilis 'Alba'

Tulipa 'Orange Princess'

Erythronium oregonum

Lonicera involucrata

Pieris japonica

Tulipa 'Flair'

This flower hasn't opened but I had no idea that oxalis even made flowers, so . . .

Oxalis oregana

Helleborus x ballardiae 'HGC Cinnamon Snow'

Tulipa 'Merry Christmas'

Daphne odora variegata 


Ribes sanguineum

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Check out all the gardeners' blooms at May Dreams Gardens.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I think I've become a flower floosie

Annie of Annie's Annuals calls herself a "flower floosie." I'd probably lean toward calling myself a shrub whore but now I'm starting to wonder.

While you're hanging out, would you mind voting for Meryl and Chris of Picardy Project? They're up for an award and voting closes this Friday the 13th. Go vote here!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hortlandia: The Hardy Plant Society of Oregon's plant show

I was so good, you guys. There were so many plants at the HPSO sale and I stuck to my list (mostly). I wanted ferns and I wanted crocosmia, preferably one of the crazier varieties from Far Reaches Farm. I am a newbie at this so I didn't know that you could call them ahead of time and ask them to bring plants down. It's too bad because crocosmia is completely unremarkable right now, so they didn't bring any.

There were, however, a lot of ferns. I was on the lookout for Woodwardia fimbrata, the giant chain fern. It's a NW native and it gets six feet tall and up to eight feet wide. What's not to love about a prehistoric hunk like that? We stopped at one table with a lot of ferns and asked. The woman was COMPLETELY BONKERS. She started laughing hysterically, talking about how she doesn't take them the Oregon, no wait, Eastern Oregon, no wait Washington, ha ha ha ha ha HAAAAAaaaaaa.

Greg looked at me like I'd dragged him into an insane asylum and he wanted out NOW. We backed slowly away from the table and hit Cistus where they had plenty of Woodwardia. I told him about the other wackadoo and how she said they're too hard to grow away from the coast. He sanely replied, "No, they grow just fine here."

Any tips?
Nope. Just put them in the ground and water them. You'll be fine.

No hysterical laughter, no word salad. Greg exhaled. He already liked Cistus, claiming it's the only fun nursery for him, but now I think he loves them. I installed it in the rain garden where it will get ample water. Grow, baby, grow!

I planted a Salal behind the rain garden but it could take many years for it get up to size. I decided to fill in this area with ferns in the meantime.

Click to embiggen

Ferns and fringecups (Tellima grandiflora)should hopefully obscure the gutter after some time. I got an evergreen Mexican male fern, a really cool looking golden-scaled male fern, a cinnamon fern, and a Japanese painted fern. I also put in three fringecups from another plant sale, and a lady fern from another part of the yard. Hopefully they won't look too silly with the non-woodland looking bamboo and Japanese aralia (Fatsia japonica) to the right. I love that plant too much to move it. It wards off bad spirits!

I also had a brainfart and confused broad-leaved shooting star (Dodecatheon hendersonii) with broad-leaf starflower (Trientalis borealis). I already have shooting stars in my yard and find them so uninteresting (even though they look crazy!) that I didn't take a single picture of them last summer. What I wanted was the painfully pretty starflower, a groundcover that likes shade. I've had a hard time finding it in nurseries here and I fell in love with it at a naturescaping tour. It was interspersed with meadow rue and it was the prettiest woodland scene I've ever seen. I mean, come on:

Image from here:

So pretty. Shooting star is neat-looking but not the look I wanted.

Image borrowed from here.

(In my head, at least) the leaves of the starflower would mimic the tropical-looking leaves of the Japanese aralia and it would fit in better with this scene. I'll just have to keep looking.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Why I love Yard Rents and craigslist

You guys! It was sunny this weekend! I'm so full of love and Vitamin D right now.

I had been holding off on reserving a sod cutter for the weekend to see if the weather was actually going to be dry, so I got the 2-4pm delivery spot from Yard Rents. This left me a small window to get all the sod removed, sign out with the delivery guy, shower, and make it to the Portland Timbers game at 7. I was really hoping Yard Rents would show up closer to 2 so everything wouldn't be so tight.

At 3:45 they called and said they were running behind and I was a total bitch about it (I feel really bad about that still). When the guy showed up he made some calls, then informed me that he'd rather not drop off the machine, drive to the shop 30 minutes away, then turn around immediately to come back and get it. So he was just going to stay and help me with my project, and they were also knocking 50% off my cost for the day.

So with just 45 minutes (and a sprinkling of mulch) we went from this:

To this:

My total cost was $30. I highly recommend Yard Rents. I don't know if they regularly run late, but maybe don't wait until the last minute like I did and get an early spot instead. They were super nice. They deliver the machinery to you, show you how to use it, then pick it up and take it away when you're done. Apparently this was an unusually busy weekend for them, so I don't think it's normal for them to run late.

We still had a ton of sod to deal with. I was going to try and sneak small bits into the yard waste bin for the next four years, but Greg preferred taking four trips to the dump and calling it good. I decided to put it on craigslist, just to see what would happen. There's always SOMEONE who wants your free stuff on craigslist, right? So I listed it, explaining that it's not the nicest lawn, it has weeds (though the roots are still in my yard), but it's free.

And I got two responses. By the next afternoon all of these were gone. We went to brunch and came back to an empty walkway. It was amazing. Weird people of craigslist, NEVER CHANGE.

I borrowed my sister-in-law's lady-tiller so I can break up things a little, work in some mulch, and regrade everything away from the house. Worms, consider yourself warned! I hate it when I cut you in half. Then I'll dig the rain garden, create a small hillock for an agave, and start landscaping. I'm so excited!

Friday, April 6, 2012

A trip down memory lane

I didn't realize you weren't supposed to let your rhubarb flower, even though vegetables flowering generally = vegetables giving up the ghost.

Good thing I have my Sunset vegetable gardening book from 1987 to remind me to pull that sucker. The information is timeless even if other things look dated.

Every man features a mustache . . .

He's not even being ironic!

. . . outdated terms abound.

Arugula is called "roquette" and it's "a salad green of Europe seldom discovered here." It tastes like socialized medicine and reasonably-priced wine. If you want to try it, you'll have to grow your own.

Anybody have an idea what they're talking about here? Celtuce? What?

Does anyone grow peanuts anymore? Fun fact: my parents spelled my sister's name "Ami" because they didn't want her likened to Amy Carter. She spent her life unable to find a personalized license plate for her Huffy or a pencil with her name on it, but NO ONE compared her to Ms. Carter.

And everyone looks like this.

But really, should I reapply compost to my rhubarb? I know they are heavy feeders but it got three inches of the good stuff in the fall.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Just some updates on the rain garden

One thing I never knew before I dug my rain garden was how nerve-wracking the first winter would be. Did I make it big enough? (Yes.) Will it overflow? (Not yet.) What if my basement floods because my work has inadvertently directed water toward the house instead of away from it? (Not yet, thankfully.)

I also never knew I'd like my rain garden as much as I do. I love seeing how high it's getting and what's responding well. When I installed it I planted some dormant stream lillies and really felt like they weren't going to thrive. Truthfully, I thought they were dead and I'd been hoodwinked by the Audubon Society. I mulched over them and forgot they were there. It was a wonderful surprise to see them pop up, no worse for the wear.

It never ceases to amaze me how much water the soil can accept. This was all gone within an hour.

Or that these Cascade penstemon (Penstemon serrulatus) can hang out under water for so long and be so happy.

I'm trying to figure out when I can do the work to install the rain garden in the front yard. If it would stop raining I could rent the sod cutter and dig the hole and plant the plants and take the pretty pictures. But still, it pours. 

It was actually sunny on Monday and all the tulips had stretched their petals wide open to sun themselves. By the time I finished weeding the perennial lab they had all closed up again.

They are forecasting sun for Saturday but that could change by the time the weekend rolls around. Everyone keep everything crossed! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The lab is open for business

As Loree reported, March was a wet month. We got 7.75 inches of precipitation in 31 days. We had snow, hail, and so much rain. I panicked that I hadn't gotten my big orders from Annie's and High Country Gardens in the ground and worked feverishly after work over two nights, digging in the pouring rain by porch light. In a perfect world I would have weeded, then worked compost evenly through this area, then carefully planned the layout of the plants based on color and size.

Instead it was dark, I was soaked (to my underoos, guys), and I just kind of threw plants down wherever felt good at the time. Nothing had been weeded. Even though I've been planning this stupid strip for a while, there was a still a lot of impulse buying and random last-minute adds. I was struggling to read the tags in the dark, wondering why I bought an eryngium and where had I planned to put it?

For better or worse it's done, aside from mulch.

Here's the breakdown of the plants:

And how they should play together:

One of these things in not like the other!

And the other half:

I'll probably have to move things around a little, still. I've realized that my approach was more madness than method and there are some shorter plants that should be swapped with taller ones. Good thing I like to move plants. And yeah, it can stop raining at any time and I will be a happy camper.