Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - January 2019

This has been one of the mildest winters of recent years. Rain, of course, a little frost, no snow. I'm always wishing for snow, even when sprouting bulbs and buds on trees hint that spring is around the corner. It's certainly a time of mixed feelings! Perhaps by saying that this has been a mild winter, I will jinx us and bring some snow.

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting the monthly roundup of blooms, even when her garden is buried under six inches of snow.

First snowdrop
Wintersweet - chimonanthus
The slugs like primroses
Camellia 'Winter's Snowman'
Camellia 'Yuletide', seems oddly late this year
Hamamelis x 'Birgit' - hard to see in photos, but a brighter red than 'Diane'
Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane'
Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane'
Sarcococca scents up the whole corner of the front yard
Cyclamen coum, also a favorite of the slugs
Fuchsia 'Genii' may bloom year round
Helleborus 'Cinnamon Snow'
Helleborus, unknown
Lewisia continues to bloom

Inside, my kitchen counter is crowded with bulbs. Paperwhites that I picked up on sale after Christmas are blooming. Hyacinths that were forced in the fridge and then the garage are coming soon. And I've just finished repotting my amaryllises, the four big ones spent some time in the garage so hopefully they will bloom; the others are babies.

Friday, January 11, 2019

New retaining wall update

I haven't mentioned the new retaining wall since this post in May, so I have some catching up to do. The first batch of planting was done in May, which was the start of the dry months, but the area was watered by the sprinkler that I had set up to water the lawn above and below the wall. I think that helped over the dry summer, although almost everything I'm planting here is drought tolerant.

Some type of bees moved into the rocks on the south end early in the summer so then I couldn't do any weeding or planting on that side until they died in December. They were living in the rocks or ground between them, but I'm certain they were the same black and yellow striped bees that were all over my flowers. I can't find any info online about bees that are pollinators that live in the ground, so that's a mystery.

Looking north, March, April, May and December

Planted on top of the rock wall:
  • Arctostaphylos x media 'Port Angeles'
  • Hebe pimeleoides 'Quick Silver'
  • Sedum divergens
  • Sedum rupestre 'Angelina'
  • Helianthemum 'Wisley Pink'
  • Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow'
  • Hebe odora 'Patty's Purple'

These will all stay short and spread, except the arctostaphylos could grow to 3 feet tall.

Looking south

There is a larger planting area on the south end, which I have filled with:
  • Ceanothus thyrsifolia 'Victoria'
  • Gladiolus purple bulbs
  • Liatris spicata 'Floristan Violet' bulbs
  • Achillea millefolium 'Desert Eve Red'
  • Pinus contorta var. latifolia 'Chief Joseph'
  • Hibiscus syriacus 'Helene'
  • Artichoke, Purple of Romanga - grown from seed
  • Lewisia - transplanted from below, may not survive

The liatris was lovely this summer, I don't know why I've never grown it before. And the Chief Joseph shore pine glows in the winter gloom. It remains to be seen if the Hibiscus will thrive, it may need more water than I'm willing to give it. 

Chief Joseph shore pine, artichokes, ceanothus and hebe

In between the walls, I wanted plants that will creep over the concrete wall but also some that will be visible from above. 
I planted rosemary in the early summer and then the rest late in the fall (after the bees died!):
  • Prostrate rosemary
  • Yarrow - a volunteer
  • Linaria purpurea 'Purple Toadflax'
  • Vernonia lettermannii 'Iron Butterfly'
  • Xerophyllum tenax, Bear Grass - grown from seed
  • Crocosmia - various bulbs transplanted from below
  • Helianthum 'Henfield Brilliant' and 'Wisley Primrose' - transplanted from below

The crocosmia and helianthum are on the north end, for a red/orange/yellow theme, and I'm looking at kniphofia and zauschneria to add in the spring. The south end is more purple/pink and I've been eyeing a pink blooming zauschneria and phlomis tuberosa or phlomis cashmeriana. Then perhaps some white blooming groundcover cistus in between the rosemary, if there is any room left. 

Looking north
Rosemary is creeping over the wall already
Looking south, March, April, May and December

Below the ramp on the north end:
  • Ceanothus gloriosus 'Point Reyes' 
  • Lewisia - transplanted from below, may not survive
  • Salvia microphylla 'Hot Lips' 
  • Lessingia filaginifolia 'Silver Carpet'
  • Allium azureum bulbs
  • Iris reticulata 'Pixie' bulbs
  • Muscari neglectum bulbs
  • Humilis 'Alba Coerulea Oculata' - tulip bulbs

The bulbs were just planted in October and I've already forgotten exactly where I put them. I think the irises are starting to come up now though. I have a cistus bush ready to plant above the rocks in the spring, and ordered some west coast native flower seeds (more California than Washington) to plant below the rocks.

North end, below the ramp
Looking south from above, March, April, May and December

The lawn on the top was seeded with PT 770 Water Less Eco-Lawn Mix from ProTime Lawn Seed in Portland. The yarrow was most abundant over the summer, now the clover and grasses are filling in more. I think it'll be a good mix, now have to do a little more overseeding on the ends where we didn't dig up all of the existing grass.

June 8
June 23

I've mentioned a few more plants for spring, but mostly I'll just be waiting for everything to grow in! I'll end with a couple more comparison shots, I really like how the back yard is so much more open now.

Looking east from the north end, March and December

A much different feel for the back yard!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy new year - 2019!

Wintersweet, unknown variety of chimonanthus

As usual, I have no idea where last year went! At the end of every year, I think about how to have less stress and more enjoyment in my life, and spending time outside is a big part of that. I took my first walk of the year around the yard this morning, with gloves on to pull a few weeds and clippers in hand for some light cleanup. Starting the year off right!

Winter is all about witch hazel, hellebores and camellias, and so much more:

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane' is just getting started
Dawn viburnum is starting to fade
Helleborus 'Cinnamon Snow' will bloom for months
Other hellebores are just starting, if they survive the slugs...
Helleborus 'Pink Frost'
Camellia 'Winter's Snowman'
Camellia 'Yuletide' is later this year
Cyclamen coum
Sarcococca almost but not quite blooming
Snow drops are coming up

And a few fall flowers hanging on!

Fuchsia 'Delta's Sara' - a few buds froze but new ones are out

Is spring just around the corner?! Some of these plants may regret their enthusiasm, although it has certainly been a mild winter so far.

Hydrangea buds
One peony is sprouting
I think these are an early tulip
Foxglove seedlings, and weeds