Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Boundless gardening

bound·less (bound'l's) adj. Being without boundaries or limits; infinite.

I'm not really sure if my lawn is invading the garden blooms or if my garden is spreading amongst the grass? Either way my perennial garden beds have been without boarders for quite sometime. Call it the lazy gardener in me, but I love the look of a free moving, cottage garden. Everything is intermingling and living happily together taking a path all of its own. I love watching the growing plants decide where the garden edge shall be. I love that my garden is taking an organic form spilling out into the lawn however and where-ever it feels.
My back fence garden, the plants are loving the room to grow. By allowing the plants to roam, I am also decreasing my lawn space by up to a foot every year. Gone are the straight lines, replaced with curves decided by the plants.

When we first purchased this house, (I wish I had some before photos of the garden) the garden beds were meticulous, all trimmed and perfect, straight lines everywhere and spacing you could measure by. Most of the plants were shaped and constrained to take an un-natural shape. Don't get me wrong, I love manicured gardens, but honestly that is too much work for me...lol! And as I soon found out, this garden wasn't digging the formal look, it had a life of its own. It wanted to grow and explore, who was I to stifle a growing garden from its own freedom of movement.
So with loving pruning and nurturing soil, I let it do its thing....

 Here I have English ivy, candy tufts and box hedge all living harmoniously together, spilling out over the sidewalk in an a natural flow.

Here in Seattle, we really haven't seen much sun yet this year. But there is no doubt about all the rain, it sure makes everything grow! The grass grew so long in a week we had to set the mower to 4 so not to cut off over a 3rd. This was also a great time to get out there and pull the weeds from the sodden ground, makes for easy weed pulling. It was also an eye opener to see just how much my garden had spread out into my lawn, at least a foot maybe more since last year, lots of grass was pulled from the beds. I am excited to see how much everything has grown and that my lawn footprint is reducing every year.

I love seeing the different foliage's intertwine like this. On the left I have the prickles of a heather against the variegated leaf (Anyone know what its called?) mixed with the maple shape of this gorgeous perennial that graces the garden with its big broad leaves and sweet long-stemmed blooms.
On the right, growing at the base of my cherry tree a hydrangea and a peony enjoying close quarters. Can't wait to see the blooms and I love how the Hydrangea is helping support the Peony.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wisteria & lazy days

There is nothing I enjoy more in Spring than blooming Wisteria. Now that I am back from a wonderfully relaxing ocean break with some girlfriends, I feel refreshed and delighted to get back to blogging and also to be welcomed home to this....

 I apologize now for the Iphone pics ;)

This is the first week of Wisteria blooms and it is definitely making for one lazy gardener. The tools are down, the gloves are tossed and the galoshes kicked off. Its now time for Lounging out on my well loved stone patio under a canopy of bursting, deliciously fragrant blooms. Surrounded by the lushness of the garden beyond in my own perfect little retreat. Now all I need is a tall glass of iced-tea (ok wine) and a few new gardening magazines (and maybe a clean house to ease the lazy-day guilt!)...Ahhh total springtime bliss! Its days like this I really do live for, that make you stop with the rushing of responsibility and enjoy the simple things.

Looking up from my lazy spot on the patio...ahhh bliss!
About my wisteria....
I have 3 different types of Wisteria, 5 plants in total. Chinese wisteria vines (Wisteria sinensis) slowest growing out of the three, Japanese wisteria vines (Wisteria floribunda) the one I have on back trellis is by far the largest of the lot and lastly the American wisteria vines (Wisteria frutescens).
All nearly ten years old and very well established. Four are trained to climb and snake through my large trellis that covers the back patio. I also have another one out the front that covers the small trellis above the garage door. It has taken to both shade and sun locations, I find the sunnier the spot the earlier the blooms.

Japanese wisteria vines (Wisteria floribunda) always the first to bloom

One thing I have learnt though, is that Wisteria roots love to spread and are rather invasive. They have grown under the stone patio which has now formed huge cracks. (I like to call this shabby chic character as to stay positive about one of my fave plants) They have a pretty aggressive root system, so move away from foundations, even concrete is not safe!

I like to give my wisteria a good cut back every few years, it actually loves it and is all the more thicker the next year. It is an extremely fast grower and puts out tentacle like branches, that will literally start climbing up anything it reaches. We had one start to climb our drain pipe last year, it was easiest to remove while still green and limber, but once it reaches about 1/2 in in diameter it becomes woody and not supple, making its wrapping and weaving branches hard to pull out of where ever it has started to twist around. The vines will also over time, mesh together to create one thick super vine. So really train it where you want it and cut back what you don't. I am constantly cutting it back through summer.

Here is a mesh of 5 different vines slowly becoming one, its huge!

Wisteria have to be one of the easiest plants to grow from cuttings, just cut of a new shoot that it sends up from the ground near the main trunk and poke it in a pot of soil, sprout the roots and voila a baby Wisteria plant. I cut these shoots back as soon as I see them, if not they will grow to be upwards of 10ft and will start growing around anything. We went on vacation last year and in two weeks it had twisted shooters all around my patio furniture...crazy!

They truly are the lazy day plant, when the sun is shinning and when the warm breeze blows the perfume your way, all I want to do is lay down and enjoy a Nana nap. One of my favorite simple joys of spring!

I am giggling, as this went from a Wordless Wednesday post to a short little study on the plant. Guess I had more to say than I realized...lol!

Some other great posts on growing Wisteria
http://ewainthegarden.blogspot.com - Beautiful Wisteria eye-candy
http://tinaramsey.blogspot.com - In the Garden blog, Building a Wisteria Arbor
http://www.michigangardener.com  - Great info on Wisteria basics

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lessons learned...Persistent birds!

Oops! I have to be one of the more distracted gardeners, I start one thing and finish doing something completely different. 

Yesterday was no exception. I was finally out in my sun filled yard to re-fill the empty bird feeders. For days now my sweet little chickadees would come visit only to find empty feeders (well feeders they couldn't feed from, its funny how there is always 2in at the bottom they can never get down to...sorry friends) Anyway, with seed in hand, heading to my bird feeder tree, I notice how my hydrangea had a huge fallen branch in it from my plumb tree. Better fix that!
My hydrangeas are all now looking gorgeous, fed and watered. I also trimmed the shoots from my cherry tree and spread some mulch. I pulled some huge dandelions out of the lawn and...hmmm, I'm sure there was something I was forgetting to do?...Oh well!
The next morning I woke to what sounded like a thousand birds fluttering about right out side my window. Loving the happy tweets, I lazed in bed soaking it all in.

There was good reason for all the birdie joy.....

I guess they hit the jackpot of bird seed! Serves me right for being scattered I guess. But my birds were happy with full bellies, hope you feel the love little birdies. Now just come back and clean it up...hehe!

Lesson learned for today...Even though it is a brand-new bag of seed that had not even been opened, don't leave it outside to come back to the next day, birds are persistent and will stop at nothing to get to that seed!
Oh and to finish one thing before moving on to the next...oops. Although not sure if I'll ever learn that one!

Here is a list of blogs I have read this week about birds and distractions...enjoy!!
http://bumblelush.blogspot.com/ - The elusive Mr Cardinal
http://gardenseyeview.com/ - Distraction
http://craftygardener.blogspot.com/ - Rainy day visitors

PS friends, I will be away for a few days and blog free! Yikes, hope I survive! Will see you when I get back from a fun-filled girls week away.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...Foliage follies

The under-rated, the given, the backdrop to the scene stealing blooms. Color, beauty, whimsy, pattern, shape are just some of the stunning attributes foliage can bring to a garden! I say steal the spotlight back foliage, you are striking all on your own....


Monday, May 16, 2011

Springs report card.....

Spring time Blooms are without a doubt one of the best treats of the year. The visuals, the fragrance, the feel...really a treat for all the senses! Sure the yard is an always evolving process and there's mostly always something growing, challenging and wowing us! But as a gardener (a nothing to fancy, type of gardener) Spring is when the truth is revealed with my gardening work from the previous garden season....in a big bold bursting kind of way! 
I was out enjoying my yard the other day when i thought, what if my garden could write a report card on me, what would it say? I kind of see this time of year, when the garden is in full bloom, like a progress-report on my efforts and skill as a gardener. Am I doing this gardening thing right? Did I tend to those plants correctly? what lived over winter, what is healthy? Its a time of reward, for the fruits of my labor! A time of discovery, elation and sometimes even sadness! But all in all, its the time of year when a lot of hard work pays off, with a beautiful garden to soak in and enjoy!

So while working with mother nature, (yes I am throwing her under the bus this year, as she is guilty as charged for a number of deaths. Thanks frosts and bitter cold!) This is what we were able to work on together, to keep alive and enjoy in all its beauty this Spring. Here's my report card......

Love my pear tree! It is still yet to produce fruit though and as it was planted by the previous owner I have no idea what type of pear tree it is, oh the mystery! These blossoms are one of my favorites to see as well as one of the first to bud for the season. I really could spend all day photographing its blooms, just beautiful!

My Bing-cherry tree, easily the most bloom filled plant I have. With a huge wind it scatters a spring snow fall across my yard. This year it's full of blooms, I am crossing my fingers it was pollinated by its boyfriend next door and will be full of fruit come summer! I am realizing with this tree though, it's getting huge and I may need to trim it up come January.

Agh, the name of this plant above has just escaped my mind! Anyway, I cut this plant back hard in Jan when it lays dormant. It was starting to thin out and thought a trim may produce a thicker growth...voila! Its now gorgeous and bushy, It must of loved the hard cut back, its thriving and budding. This has been a wonderful plant for attracting hummers and butterflies to the yard too. The small pink trumpet shaped flowers will last well in to summer...how rewarding! I'll try and remember the name by the time I'm finished typing...hopefully!

Here are more of my blooms that have helped me feel fulfilled as a gardener, bringing with them great reward! Beautiful blooms I didn't kill and have managed to keep alive!

So all in all I don't think I am doing to badly on my report card if I am to be scored by my happy blooms! I think I get an A for effort and an A for attendance!

However here are some of my report cards F's for this year.... 3 Confederate Jasmine, a Coastal Rosemary, 2 mop-head Hydrangeas, a few boxus hedges, 2 Italian cypresses and a laurel...so sad!! But happy too, as now I am off to find new blooms to put in their places...woo hoo!!! 
Hope you enjoyed my report card and seeing what is blooming in my garden this spring

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...Beautiful invasions

This year is about letting go of what is perceived as a perfect yard. 
I am learning to embrace what is just meant to be!  
Don't you just love nature in all its pure and unplanned beauty!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Everythings coming up Fuchsias

Don't you just love, when you go to clean out last years hanging baskets (yes, the ones I neglected to clear out last fall...oops) only to discover a wonderful surprise! See it was a good thing I let them be...whoo hoo Procrastination pays off!

Last year I had two beautiful hanging baskets planted out with stunning Fuchsia "Dark Eyes" starts. A deep red and purple double bloom that was "meant to be" very full and heavy with cascades of hanging flowers. They did just ok over the summer and then died pretty early in the fall...good bye Fuchsias! I don't think they liked the spot I had them in, west afternoon sun and I'm sure the vacation away in which they didn't get watered didn't help either...oops again!
So I thought, to my surprise, these once dead(?) plants, could they really be returning for another go? But wait, look! What are those little green shoots I see, trying to push through the dead debris? Oh my heart skipped a beat. Look what I found....

A little tidy up and voila! I uncovered 5 healthy little starts. Now I have a Fuchsia basket ready for hanging and second chance of blooms! This year I promise to find a nice shady spot for you with a constant supply of water which you love.

Also, on Fuchsia train of thought....Being Mothers day weekend, I had the fortunate blessing of being able to drag my loving family around a nursery with me. Today we explored "Flower World" up in Woodenville WA. Amazing! Amazing! The place is huge and the grounds are stunning. I had fun with my camera too, but will save most of my pics for another post. However, here are some beautiful Fuchsias I am adding to my "plant's most wanted" file...

Fuchsia 'Dimples', a bushy trailer with an abundance of small double flowers.

 Fuchsia "Pinks Gallore" or "Powder puff" either way another double bloom beauty

 Fuchsia "Heidi Ann" double bloom, although it was really full and juicy, I'd say a triple bloom...beautiful!

Fuchsia 'Voodoo', a bushy, very-heavy-blooming hybrid with large, fully double flowers. These looked hand dipped in purple paint...stunning!

I love my Fuchsias and can't wait to see how my "second chance basket" goes...will keep you posted!

Friday, May 6, 2011

May hope grows day

So I braved the wet and the cold to take these pics today...
Spring where are you hiding?

The seeds I scattered and posted about on April's Hope Grows day are slowly creeping up, although I am not 100% sure as to what they are? I know the one on the right is a stock, but that cute little one in the middle I am still guessing....

From an older post, the jasmine that I thought had died still has life...barely! I think I have decided to replace two with something else, agh I don't know? I really hate digging out plants with the HOPE that there may be some life left in it. But I guess as it did so badly this winter, maybe its not the plant for my garden...oh I don't know!! Help!
My lilac is starting to bloom...love them! And boy have they been attracting the hummers. Although I think two of them may be butterfly bush? They are sending up shooters like crazy, seriously taking over the garden!! I have to find out.

And here is the progress on my veggie gardens...WOW, look at that progress...lol! Yeah not a lot has happened so here is a pick of where it HOPEFULLY will be going this month. Thanks to a little change of my budget for the month, I get to enjoy my neglected part of the yard a little longer. Crossing my fingers that this month will be the month!!

I am looking forward to seeing my Peonies burst with big juicy blooms. And yes that was taken today at 3pm...notice the flash due to total lack of spring time sun. The lighting did not make it easy to take pics *note to self, take photography lessons!

I am also looking forward to my wisteria canopy coming to life. There are hundreds and hundreds of tiny fury buds this year, gosh I am looking forward to their beautiful, sweet fragrant blooms...

And then last and my most desperate hope is....
I am HOPING for....SPRING!!!

Thanks http://sweetbeangardening.blogspot.com/ for a wonderful meme!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Seattle Tilth's...edible plant sales!

Enjoy life's simple pleasures - grow food!
Come to Seattle Tilth's Edible Plant Sale and take advantage of the largest selection of organically, sustainably and locally grown vegetable plants in the Puget Sound region. 
Click here to find out more....http://seattletilth.org/special_events/edibleplantsale2011

  • Sat./Sun., May 7 & 8, 9 a.m-3 p.m.
    Meridian Park
    Don't miss our annual food growers extravaganza for the largest selection of summer garden plants in the region.
  • Sat., May 14, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
    Pickering Barn
    Eastsiders, this one's for you! Find us at the Issaquah Farmer's Market.
 Whoo hoo I am so excited for this!!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...May cheers

....With joyful bursts of cheery color!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tips on attracting birds to your garden

Lately I have witnessed some beautiful flutterings and some uncommon twitterings...oh how I love my bird sightings. Which led me on a quick little bird learning venture.What was that small yellow chirper that visited my maple tree today? It turns out it was a Golden Finch...First sightings are always so exciting!
 Image thanks to www.fineartamerica.com
I sure do love my cheery little visitors and the joy they bring. My garden is their home just as much as mine and I feel grateful to have their sweet company. It made me start to think, what is it that keeps these gorgeous little creatures returning to my yard rain or shine? Where do they go when it is absolutely freezing? What attracts the different species and do they all have different needs? What are their likes and dislikes? Am I providing what they need? Agh, so many questions! So rather than get overwhelmed with all the "should do's" I decided to pick my top tips for attracting birds....

Food Food Food! Really, it couldnt be any more obvious. If there is food, they will come! Even if it is just to visit at first, if they know it is always there, they will come back time and time again. And that is the start of a beautiful friendship! Most birds love, sunflower seeds or any seed for that matter. Place in feeders around the yard or scatter on the ground as that is also entertaining for them. They will find it and totally love you for it!
Next to food the most visited stop is the bird bath. Whether just to bathe or to drink, there is always a bird splashing about. They will also be attracted to the sound of running water, so if you have a fountain (even if not meant for birds) that sound is a huge draw card, not to mention hummers love drinking from these. Bird baths will need to be cleaned regularly and if you are prone to frost, a heated bird bath is always appreciated, quickly making you the favorite bird lover on the block!

Shelter! So if you are anything like my neighbors, who don't mind birds nesting in their laundry air-vents every year. You can skip this tip. (Although Ive got to say, I'm not a huge fan of the bird poop splatter down the side of the house that goes with that, thanks for that view neighbor!) Birdhouses are a must have in the yard if trying to attract birds. If you have a particular specie you are trying to attract, mount a house that has the right size opening. If you are not choosy and wish to attract a variety, then place birdhouses with various size openings around your property. They want a safe spot to raise their family, so keep away from predators. Pole mounting is best for this reason.

Due to the way we keep our gardens these days, so manicured and yard waste free, birds will go else where to find the twigs, sticks, leaves..etc that is needed to make a soft cozy nest. Nesting material are a must, so make sure you have loose yard litter around your garden so they stay. In my yard, pfff, no problem! We could probably supply nests for all the neighborhood birds. You can even make a nesting feeder to encourage the nesting bird in to your yard all the more. Some things they love, yarn, string, shredded newspaper, cotton, twine etc. I've even heard of lint from the dryer (organic wash-soap)

Plan a space where the birds can enjoy. I have a kids play structure in my yard, its most definitely the elephant in the yard. I have tried to provide the birds with their needs away from the movement and the noise of two rowdy boys. Also a space where I can view them from inside, so on those wet rainy Seattle days I can still enjoy them from the comfort of my family room. Safe from predators ie, not the fence I see my neighbors cat on every day.

The last tip and in no way the least, would have to be the plants! Provide native plants that the local birds love. Plants alone provide so much, from the bugs they attract and which the birds then feast on, to the branch system that is perfect for a little nest. They offer protection from the weather, a safe place to rest and even an escape from those pesky neighbor cats.

But I have done so much typing and its now past my bed time, I think I will leave "Plants for attracting birds" for a later post....stay tuned!

Some great websites I have come across on this venture...
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