Friday, November 11, 2011
Thursday, January 28, 2010
I think most people would be more likely to say they have the “January Blues”, but for me it’s blooms. I put several Hellebores in last spring, at the end of their bloom cycle, and they have grown like crazy since then. They’ve just started flowering, and I am so excited. They will continue to put out their delicately drooping blooms until May. Each flower lasts so long because it’s “petals” are actually sepals, modified leaves. The true flowers are the little white fuzzy things in the middle, which turn into big seedpods as the flower ages. They bring me joy on a bleak winter day.
I love this time of year in my garden because it changes every day. I was gone for a week visiting my sister in Indiana, and I came home to a changed landscape. I have so many crocus, daffodil, hyacinth, and iris shoots coming up—I know the effort I put in last fall will definitely pay off in a few short months. The daffodil and hyacinth shoots below have grown so much in just a short week! You can’t even see the tulips yet, but they’ll be up in a month or so, and flowering their pretty heads off in late April and May.
More favorite winter bloomers here in Portland are pansies. The one in the upper left of the above picture isn’t blooming currently, but taking a break in between months of throwing up ruffly flowers. The pansy below peeks out of a pot on my deck, overlooking the yard next to a butterfly garden ornament handmade here in Oregon.
Also soon to bloom in my garden is my Pieris Japonica. This one is a miniature, and has only put on enough growth over the past 2 1/2 years to shoot it up another 5 inches or so. It’s loaded with little bead-like strands of flower buds, which open into pretty white bells in mid to late February, about the time the crocuses will bloom.
I hope you’re enjoying your winter garden too! Whether it’s snowy or dry, it can bring joy once you realize it’s holding all those blooms and life dormant, right under your feet. The winter garden is a beautiful unspoken promise.
Friday, March 13, 2009
My sunny border is my largest bed, and the one with the fewest permanent occupants, so it's pretty bare right now. I started it just last year, and learned a lot from watching everything grow together (and die together) over the seasons. I'm still planting it with a lot of annuals this year, but that is mostly because I want lots of fresh veggies - and all of the veggies I want are annuals.
This year I am growing the following veggies/herbs/flowers from seed:
In the sunny bed:
"Roma Paste" - a compact sauce variety.
"Oregon Spring" - an early producing variety developed at Oregon State University.
- Cucumber "Spacemaster Bush" - a small compact variety developed for small lots or containers, produces normal sized 7-8 inch fruit.
- Bush Beans "Jade" - a small 18-22 inch bush instead of green beans from a vine, which need trellising and a lot more room. Can't wait to taste these fresh in the summer.
- Clarkia Elegans "Mountain Garland Clarkia mix" - a Pacific native, looks like a smaller bushier double hollyhock that blooms in late spring with repeated blooms through fall.
- Oriental Lily "Muscadet" - white with reddish pink raised midribs and crimson dots splattered vividly around the center. Technically a bulb, not a seedling I am growing, but they are going in this year too for the first time! I can't wait - reportedly is about 3 or 4 feet tall, so these are going towards the back of my border with the Dahlias. Has 8-9 inch thick blooms with intoxicating strong lily fragrance.
On the deck:
- Jalapeno I grew this last year with a lot of success in a big container on the deck. We harvested around 35 jalapenos and it was a strong sturdy plant with no serious disease or bug problems.
- Parsley Dark Green Italian Plain - for couscous, tabouleh, salads, falafel . . . all our Mediterranean/middle eastern food addictions. Is listed as a perennial, so hopefully it will overwinter and I can have more next year.
- Tagetes Tenuifolia "Lemon Gem and Tangerine Gem Marigolds" - a big fancy Latin name for a small lacy charming plant. So easy to grow from seed, and makes clumps of fernlike good-smelling foliage covered with tiny daisy-like single yellow or tangerine-orange blooms. Also repels insects, so it's going in pots on the deck and out in the yard with the veggies.
- Salpiglossis Sinuata "Painted Tongue" - I grew this beauty last year from seed with success. It blooms over a long summer season with strikingly detailed velvety trumpets. I enjoy it up close to view the patterns and colors, and will be planting it in my containers on the deck along with the other plants listed.
In addition to all of these, I will be purchasing and planting calibrachoa (million bells, super bells), basil (lots of plants for the containers on the deck), annual flowers for my hanging baskets, plus thyme, sage, oregano, and rosemary if they end up not surviving the rest of winter. And this is all just for the deck and sunny border, I'll not get into the brand new shade border going in this year, or the front patio or front entrance gardens. I'm addicted!
Some of the other new additions to the sunny border are bulbs, which have just broken the ground and should bloom in 2-4 weeks at a guess. Yellow, orange, salmon and white daffodil mixes, and blue, lavender and violet hyacinths will soon break the bleariness of winter in my front and back yards with a riot of color. Visits to the back or trips in and out from the front will be greeted with the intoxicating floral perfume of the hyacinths. Just one lovely star picked off the main stalk of flowers will give off a strong pleasant aroma.
I spent a good deal of time a few days back pruning back most of the shrubs, ornamental grasses and floppy old perennials. The snow did more damage to my garden than last year's winter, but everything should grow back just fine, and probably even look better for it's shearing. I'll be sure to post more pictures as more blooms come out. And maybe I'll share some produce and flowers with you this summer.
Monday, January 12, 2009
One of the things I love most about Portland is that we actually get all four seasons here. While growing up in Sacramento, CA, I always thought of Winter as something you drove to. We would go up highway 50 to Tahoe and play in the snow, but Winter in Sacramento was similar to what fall is here. Temperatures were usually in the 60's, and it would rain occasionally.
I later moved to Klamath Falls for two years, and experienced the opposite of the mild seasons of the Sacramento Valley. Winters were cold, snowy, severe, with enormous plowed piles of snow often lasting in parking lots until late spring. Summers could be blisteringly hot, as hot as those of California. The extremes of Winter and Summer somehow eclipsed the three months that should properly belong to Spring and Fall, however. I began to think of them as in between seasons, a month or so of slightly different weather and plant colors before you got to the "real" seasons of the year.
Upon moving to Portland, I made the wonderful discovery that each season should properly take up its allotted three month span. Spring and Fall were not pass-through seasons, but proper seasons on their own, each distinctly different from the season before and after it. The edges are blurred a bit as the transition is made, as late Winter looks quite similar to early Spring, and many people think of late Fall as Winter anyway.
Another observation of seasons in Portland is that each month within the three month seasonal span is different as well. Fall is not just orange-leafed tree time for three whole months. The end of September still feels like Summer, October is the epitome of one's imaginations of Fall, November follows along the lines of October, although with less bright trees, and early December is quite hard to distinguish from one's ideal of Winter.
We had a record snowfall in Portland this December, and most of it fell before the actual start of Winter (December 21st). To illustrate the beauty of Portland's changing seasons, I will take you from mid September through the first days of Winter in my garden.
The lushness of early Fall- still smells like Summer.
Mid-Fall, the fading annuals have been removed and spring bulbs tucked under the soil, but the foliage of the trees are blazing, and the dahlias have reached new impossible heights (they were supposed to be 4 feet tall!)
And finally, late Fall blends into early Winter. The annuals and dahlias have all been cut back, the beds have been put to sleep, and Winter lays her gentle blanket to transform the world into a glittering white wonder.
Monday, August 25, 2008
The winter gives me more time for thought about my garden. I've realized it is my contemplative planning time. I research, absorb, learn, obsess over the long cold grey months, dreaming of warm sunlit days when my garden will be at its peak.
But the summer is too full of chores and pleasures to be indoors with my nose in a book and my thoughts in the clouds. There are weeds to pull, flowers to cut, cuttings to take, mulching to do, composting, digging, and planting. When I'm not working my gardening muscles I can be found either sitting back and observing the whole thing, or knealt down over something up close, probably a bee taking nectar from my jasmine shrub, or a spider crawling its way over the rocks under the japanese maple, or a butterfly visiting my striped tongue (salpiglossis) flowers.
I love the daylight and warmth I have to enjoy my garden. I love how my garden looked in the late winter and spring, as in the below pictures, but my garden in early summer and now, late summer, is lush and green and full. Wonderful. Enjoy the pictures, they progress from early spring, to late may/early june through now, late august.