Friday, April 27, 2007

It's the Most. Wonderful. Time. of the Year

I returned late last night from another week-long trip, hopefully the last of those for couple of months. The one thing that makes these business trips bearable is that they are to the state where I was born, 1400 miles east of here, and where two of my siblings still live. I returned home with an extra suitcase filled with daylilies and hostas, from what's becoming an annual tradition--raiding my sister's garden. Which reminds me--the garden blogger's book club selection for this month is Passalong Plants, which looks like a fun read.

Of course I had to make the rounds of the greenhouse, the flower beds, the vegetable gardens, and the windowsills first thing this morning. All the hostas that were just tiny nubs poking out of the ground a week ago are tall cones of furled leaves now. Lilacs and azaleas are starting to bloom. Beets, chard, parsnips, potatoes, and radish are coming up, peas are ready for staking, and the broccoli and brussel sprout seedlings I set out before leaving town are leafless stubs. harumph. I knew I should have put down floating row covers before I left.

But! What makes this the most wonderful time of the year is my favorite plant sale tomorrow. Imagine being able to visit over 75 specialty nurseries in a single day. That's FlorAbundance. Unlike my behavior in previous years this year I intend to exercise some restraint. (I can already hear a certain gardening friend choking in disbelief.) I shall buy only what I can carry. Really, I only "need" some new dahlia tubers to replace the ones that froze winter-before-last, and perhaps a broadleaf evergreen shrub or two.

Next weekend is my second most favorite plant sale, Seattle Tilth's edible plant sale, which I had planned to skip this year, but it looks like I need to pick up some broccoli plants to replace my leafless stubs. grumble. I notice they will also be selling a new dwarf variety of eggplant, Fairy Tale, which they say produces harvest 50 days from transplanting.

Another sure sign of spring: This morning I had to stop the car on the road while a mother duck led her 8 just-hatched ducklings out into the world for the first time. There was a brief moment of panic (on my part;Mrs. Mallard never even blinked) when a truck came around the corner in the opposite direction and stopped just in time to avoid making pressed duckling. The other driver and I exchanged smiles and "awwww"s through our closed windows as the duck family headed for the lake on the other side of the road.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Late to the party, again

Update: How could I have forgotten Baby's Breath Spirea (spirea thunbergii), camellia japonica (a single pink form and a red and white striped double). And, in the woods, red elderberry. I'll have to post a photo of the elderberry trees. Unfortunately it's not an edible, or cordial-making species of elderberry, but this time of year they are covered with white cone-shaped flower clusters, making them look almost .like white lilacs. Fairly quickly the flowers turn to clusters of brilliant red berries, which don't last long either because the birds love them. Also, I spotted the first flowers of the Pacific Dogwood yesterday afternoon.

I've been away from both the Internet and my garden for several days so I'm late in posting a list of what's in bloom yesterday for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day . Here's a quick list of what I found this afternoon when I returned home (why yes, I did head straight for the garden before unpacking. Doesn't everyone?)
In the garden:


bleeding heart, myosotis, sweet woodruff, scilla, alpine primrose, primula kisoana, primula 'Kingston twilight', lungworts, hellebores (still! Get the hook!), sweet cicely, lamium, sweet violet, checkered lily (fritillaria lanceolata) rhododendron 'rosemundi', and a dwarf rhody whose name I can't quite recall but that has lovely single blossoms the color of unsalted butter.

In the orchard: montmorency cherry, sweet cherry, italian plum, and a pear which I may never know the variety because its pollinating partner died in saplinghood, so while it blooms heartily it never sets fruit. Also blueberry and lingonberry shrubs.

In the woods: salmonberry, indian plum, wild bleeding heart,


more trillium (I'm excited because I've never seen this one before),

Few-flowered shooting star (dodecatheon pulchellum),

camas lily (Camassia quamash) and

big leaf maple.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Anemone. And another nemone.

When my daughters were very young they had certain words that they really liked rolling their tongues around. One such word was "anemone" although both of them, at a certain age, thought it was two words, either "a nemone" or "an enome". "I'm gonna' tickle that 'nemone!"
They were referring to sea anemones, and a favorite pastime when exploring tidepools our favorite beach--lightly touching the center of the anemone and letting its tentacles curl in around your finger.
The woodland anemones on Tiger Mountain--anemone nemerosa--don't get tickled by budding marine scientists. The greatest threat to their existence is my forgetting where they are after they go dormant, and accidentally digging them up to plant something else. The workaround for that has been to plant them beneath a shrub, or interplant with hostas, which are just barely poking their shoots up from the ground when the anemones are at their peak. With any luck this strategy will eventually provide me with clumps large enough to plant out in my woods.

Worthy of protection:

anemone nemerosa 'allenii', growing under the protection of a badly winter-killed hydrangea

anemone nemerosa 'Robinsoniana'.

Back in the saddle again

Remember this? My sister, also an avid gardener, said to me, "what on earth were you thinking, having foot surgery in March?"

On Friday the doctor told me I could stop using the crutches, at least for brief periods. So, on Saturday. . .

I wrapped the walking cast so the dressing would stay clean and dry.

decided to give disposable vinyl gloves a try because with regular garden gloves I get irritated and fling them off the first time I can't pick up a tiny seed or get a grip on a weed,

and I was off to plant up some of my new 4' x 10' raised beds!

By Sunday night (my definition of "brief" being anything less than 48 hours) I was aching all over but I'd planted 3 kinds of potatoes (Carola, All Blue, and Chieftain), a row each of carrots (Mokum), swiss chard (Bright Lights), parsnips (Cobham), beets (dutch ball), radish, and the way too many onion and shallot plants that I started from seed back in January. In the greenhouse I pulled out all the sprouting broccoli that the mice have been eating the sprouts from as soon as they emerge and gave the plants to the chickens.

(You'll notice there's no rooster in that picture. Mr. Darcy fell victim to testosterone poisoning last week. By which I mean that he was so full of himself for surviving the coq au vin incident that he took to crowing about it from the top of the gate. All. Day. Long. If you were a coyote in the neighborhood, it was impossible not to notice. Still, he would have been fine if he hadn't decided to test his invincibility by clearing the 7 foot high coyote-proof fence and strutting around in the pasture. Idiot. Without a "Mr. Darcy" in the picture, what am I going to name this year's pullets, due to arrive any day now?)

Planted up the bed where the 24-hour mouse buffet once stood with lettuce seedlings, which the mice don't seem to care for. Baited for slugs. Took a bunch of pictures to remind me what's in bloom right now.

I just barely had time to pocket the camera and cover the planted seed beds with poly row cover before it started pouring rain. The gloves stayed on all day, but even with layering two pairs, I wore through a couple of the fingertips at some point, so kiss that manicure goodbye. It was worth it. The worst day gardening is still better than the best day at work.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

What a difference a week makes

Join Green Thumb Sunday

A week that included a few days of unseasonably warm weather here on Tiger Mountain sent buds and shoots a-popping. For my Green Thumb Sunday post I thought I'd post pictures of the same plants I posted last week.

peony: last week just shoots, now there are leaves and buds

Lady Doneraile in full bloom

Likewise Rosemundi

And even the azalea is opening. You'll notice I don't qualify the azalea with a varietal name. In truth, it's just one of those little potted plants they sell at Trader Joe's. The kind that gardening experts tell you to enjoy while it's in bloom and then throw it out because it will never amount to anything. This one was a hostess gift from a good friend and I didn't have the heart to toss it. Besides, there was this gap between two big rocks in the garden that was crying for a bit of green. So I stuffed it into the gap and it has thrived there, hot afternoon sun and all, for about 4 years. It blooms early in spring, long before any of my fancy named azaleas, holds its flowers for weeks, and usually blooms again in the fall. Not bad for a grocery store plant.

Gardeners, Plant and Nature lovers can join in every Sunday. Visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Future Tense

Join Green Thumb Sunday

For today's Green Thumb Sunday I decided to take pictures of buds and shoots. Enjoy.

Peony shoots

anemone nemerosa 'Lady Doneraile'

rhododendron 'Rosemundi'


Gardeners, Plant and Nature lovers can join in every Sunday. Visit As the Garden Grows for more information.