Monday, January 30, 2012

My first Blogger Award...beyond thrilled!!!

I could handle starting my week like this more often! 

With yummy "hubby brewed espresso" in hand (complete with coffee art rosette, yeah he's a keeper!) my snuggly jammies still on and in no rush to go anywhere or do anything this chilly Monday morning. Oh did I mention the kids are off to school and the house is blissfully quiet once again. I flick my laptop on and catch up with the same old stuff, monotony that Facebook has become...funny photos and everyone complaining about Monday again! My Fitness Pal to log my diet for the day, only to already be craving chocolate and wondering if I have any peanut M&M's left. Then over to my blog, always save the best for last ;) Hmmm...What to post today? I was planning on posting about a cold frame that I am starting to build from salvaged materials, very excited about this project! But hang on, a new comment, got to read that...woot! 

Beth from PlantPostings had left a comment saying she has awarded me with the - Versatile Blogger Award! Oh my, thank you! thank you!! What a wonderful feeling a) to be selected and be amongst other amazing blogs on the list. And, b) to know that others are even reading my blog. I am honored indeed and greatly appreciative of your kindness Beth, thank you! What a wonderful way to start the week!

Here are the rules of the award:
  • Post the Versatile Blogger Award to your post/blog.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you with a link back to their blog. 
  • In the same post, share seven completely random pieces of information about yourself. 
  • In the same post, include this set of rules. Check.
  • Forward this award to 15 fellow bloggers, and inform them with a comment on each of their blogs. 
Completely random info about me....
  • I love falling asleep to the sound of rain, so much that even on the coldest of nights I will crack the window just so I can hear it better. I also have a Rain app on my IPad. Seattle is a pretty perfect place for me!
  • Ever day I have the "next great idea" just wish I acted on them!
  • I have a phobia of clowns!!
  • I am a huge believer that Monsanto, GMO's and processed foods are the root of all evil! And are way scarier than clowns!
  • I collect Christmas ornaments from all around the world, its my fave holiday and would leave my house decorated all year if I could!
  • I am a procrastinator and my house is one big unfinished project! Maybe the Chrissy tree will stay up all year after-all!
  • This year I hope to go back to work after 10yrs of staying home with my kids...again up there with clowns!

A wonderful list of  bloggers who inspire me and whom I'd love to award....

Hope this brightens your day as much as your blogs brighten mine! 
Thanks friends for all the wonderful posts over the years, both your blogging and gardening are so inspirational and a pure joy to explore. And thanks again Beth for the opportunity to stop and show appreciation to some truly beautiful fellow bloggers...Cheers Julia

ps. there are so many wonderful blogs that I love and it was hard to limit this to just 15. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Time to get out and de-ice the garden!

After spending a bit of time in the garden yesterday, being wowed by the ice coverage, then later that night being mesmerized by its icy-sparkling beauty.

 Ice in all its beauty!

I thought it time to get my gardening gear on aka, snow gear and head out to asses the state of my plants. Up until now I had only really been out the back, so today I ventured out-front..."shock and awe" was what I found!

The power of mother nature was seen in my yard that day...tree limbs were down across the street, shrubs that once stood 15ft tall I was now able to look over and I'm only just over 5ft! My 25ft Italian Cypress which used to stand proud was now something out of a Dr. Seuss book and the amount of ice weighing down the plants was totally unbelievable.

 Even after ice removal the Italian Cypress is still to stand upright, I may need to get up there and tie it.

While the boys went of sledding, I had no choice but to stay and get busy and remove some of this weight in hopes to save my strained plants. It almost felt like I was saving a child! (not that I'm dramatic or anything!) At first I could lift off the huge 2-3in layers of ice, like shields that had been placed to protect my plants from the cold. I was removing 1 to 5 pound chunks, my poor plants! After the easy stuff was removed, it was time to start breaking up the huge chunks that encased the leaves, this was a lot harder to remove and required more muscle and creative techniques. I found a quick karate chop action was the most successful, it would pass the ice between the branches doing less damage. But ouuuie after an hour of this, my poor hands! I also used the broom handle and other tools. I eventually just took my gloves off and started to hitting the plants with them.

Before and after, wish I could've captured this better. The boxus above was crushed under ice and was barely 1ft high (usually 4.5ft ) I thought it was gone for sure.

I was shocked by the sight of my flattened garden but in awe of how resilient my plants truly are!

My tips for removing ice from plants...
  • Remove the biggest chunks of lose ice first.
  • Then start removing the attached ice by largest working from the ground up. (I found if I started this from the top, the top ice would fall on the lower branches which are still covered in ice, placing even more strain on the lower ones) Its a little more work but totally worth it! Trying to come from the underside of the branch and going with the direction of the branches.
  • Once I could remove as much as I could, I would firmly grab a main limb and give it a gentle shake, dislodging most of the snow and broken ice.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Frozen in time....Seattle ice-storm 2012

We have all heard the story of the boy who cried wolf...You know the one where the weatherman cries..."the snow storm of the century is coming" only to then get 2inches of snow 3yrs in a row. Needless to say, we all have grow tired of his false predictions and our trust in the wild claims is non-existent!
On Tuesday with barely any snow sticking to the roads, we were told of a wild and crazy snow storm to hit Seattle that night. This year dubbed "Snow-mageddon" with tongues planted firmly in cheeks we all said...ah ha sure! The schools were closed in advance and we all laughed at the overreaction...yet again!

Then to our surprise, Wednesday morning we awoke to find 6inches of soft fluffy snow! Wow, weatherman finally got it right! Off to sled and enjoy the gorgeous winter weather. Gulp! Now if that wasn't bad enough, we were then told to "brace" for the biggest ice-storm Seattle has seen in over 30yrs. What do we do? The weatherman actually was right last time, could he be two for two? No, surely not! So we return to our old-ways of disbelief and believe its another Seattle overreaction!

This time we woke to another inch of snow, so we thought. It was actually an inch and a half of ice! Weatherman was right yet again, I will never doubt again!! (well until next time) The trees were weighed down with the freezing weight that clung to every branch. My poor plants, my poor plum tree, a tree I have no problem walking under, now its limbs hang only a few inches from the ground. It is quite a site out there, I only wish I could capture the coating of ice that is over everything. So with camera in and hand and wrapped inside a plastic bag (ie, fancy waterproof technology) I was able to snap some pics. It feels like you are seeing everything with double vision.

My little helper showing just how close to the ground the plum tree branches are...yikes!

As I type this the snow is now falling once again, gone is the fun winter wonderland of snowball fights and sledding. Now its an icy freeze that has frozen my garden in time and they are predicting more...

My Jasmine seen here covered in a solid layer of ice, wishing I had of covered them in burlap!

Hedges of Dwarf Boxus and Hebees protected mainly by snow. 
The unprotected parts entombed in ice-cubes or dripping with icicles. 

The branches and new tiny shoots of the plum tree, as if dipped in glass!

 I thought my eyes were going funny with this picture, its like seeing double vision due to the layer of ice.

 Ahh sweet sweet Magnolia, frozen in time as if a curse has been placed on you!
Stay safe and warm my treasured tree! Maybe I should've brought it inside...hehe

Cascading branches of the Pussy-willow. You can see the thin branch with the added weight of the ice.
Very tentacle like.

Hydrangea in bud, crossing my fingers for this years bloom and safe longevity.

With more snow and ice in tonight's for forecast, it is now really scaring me in regards to the safety of my plants. What do I do? Is there anything I can do? What do you do when ice/snow threaten your plants with sheer weight? Do you try and shake it off? leave it alone to protect from the freeze? I am really at a loss and am "bracing" myself for the worst still to come...losing plants!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Northwest Flower & Garden show is almost here!

It may be snowing outside and I could be updating you with the latest Seattle "Snow-Armageddon" updates (those will come), but for now I am so excited about the the upcoming show...I am counting down the weeks now, its nearly Northwest Flower & Garden show time!

To some its just another information day, or an obligation to volunteer or man a both, maybe some are even dragged to it by their crazed gardening wives (hey honey)...But to me its like Disney-world! A few days of magic for garden geeks, at every-turn there is something thrilling to amaze you. OK, maybe I'm building it up a little. But last year as I entered the convention center and rode the extremely slow escalator (which by the way only added to the anticipation) I finally reached the Garden show level, , my heart was racing and I was giddy with excitement. On entering the hall, my mouth literally fell open and I'm sure drool was seen. The place was one huge "wow" factor, not knowing where to look first, it was visual candy for the eyes, the smells were intoxicating  and an overwhelming joyful feeling for the gardening soul.
And to think, that this was just the!

My favorite container garden from last year...great job on first place Rivenna Nursery
Link to last years post on the 2011 Garden show...Garden shows & mischeivious paths

Anyway, as you can tell I am a little excited! I have been following the shows blog, so many wonderful gardens this year and all inspired by music...hence the theme "A floral Symphony", I have a link bellow so you can read about them and get a bit of a sneak-peek! It really is mind-blowing what they are able to achieve in the space they are given, under hot lights and warm inspirational! I am really looking forward to the "April in Paris" garden and "Tales of wonder" two of my loves combined right there...gardening and Paris!!
Another one for which I can't wait to see, is for the true Seattle goers... "Grunge garden" a tribute to Seattle music! Oh I do love Pearl Jam!!

Also this year they are offering over 160 free seminars that are included with admission. I am excited to attend a photography class presented by David. E Perry, as well as various sustainable to get ideas on having chooks and a successful veg patch! See link bellow for seminar listings.
One of my favorite things to do at these shows is the treasure hunt, where you receive a card filled with tickets for particular booths that offer free goodies, sure its a lure to get you to their booth, but the loot you end up with is totally worth the hunt. Last year I scored, free tools, gloves, seeds, hand lotions, jewelry, even fresh flowers! And all free...score!!

 Another one of my fave's from last year, and the over all winner..Check out last years post for more!

If you haven't made it to this show yet, I hope you make this your year! Also, if you purchase tickets online you receive a discounted rate, love that! Or do as I did and get lucky!! I entered in a competition on the shows facebook page for free tickets and won! They do these almost daily leading up to the show...take advantage of it!!

General Northwest Flower & Garden Show 2012 information....
Dates: 8-12 Feb (Thu-Sun)
Location: Seattle convention center
For more general info Click here

More links...
About the gardens
Seminar schedule
Ticket info

Hope to see you there!! It would be so fun to bump into other Garden Bloggers there, I'll be wearing a Polka Dot Galoshes pin, being snap happy with my camera, drooling over the gardens and probably doing a happy dance...yeah hard to miss! lol! Check back in mid-Feb for a garden show post!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Snow Apocalypse 2012 is here.....

For the true meaning of this please refer to my earlier post!

The snow is here! The snow is here!! For all my friends out there (who I know are so worried for my well-being) I am safe...but only just! For my East-coast/Alaskan/Minnesotan (or anywhere that regularly gets snow) friends, yes Seattle is pathetic! We have 3in and I am hunkering down in my house till this ghastly storm blows over. I thought I should post a blog, just in-case I am found buried alive or worse yet, stranded in my car in my last attempt to out-drive this crazy weather and these freak blizzard conditions.
Thank goodness they have closed down schools (Ok it is Martin Luther King Holiday, but that is besides the point) as well as a number of local businesses, its close down mode for Seattle, with 15min snow storm updates on the news. With 2 more inches predicted tonight and a whooping 5in for Wed I don't know how Seattle will ever survive!

My garden is taking the brunt of this snow blast, with trees barley clinging on to life, suffocated by mounds of snow. The hessian bags which were donated to the cause, never made it on in time to protect the Jasmine, but will come in handy if I need to make huge sand snow bags to keep the floods that may follow, out! For now they are doing a wonderful job of protecting my front porch....

 Doing a lot of good! If only all my good-intentions came to fruition!

Here are some of my brave plants, taking the freeze head on. Praying for my Jasmine (which is growing around the base of the column) hoping it survives! It took a beating last year and after many months of TLC, I was able to nurse it back to health. It is not a fan of freezing weather, it lost most of its shinny evergreen leaves and outer limbs to the frost. This year I covered the roots well with mulch, fingers crossed. Not sure if it will take another apocalyptic storm though?

  Jasmine...stay strong!!

Winter hits my wisteria vines, but these suckers would survive a nuclear explosion, seriously!!

My Magnolia tree...look at all those gorgeous juicy buds! (it helps if you squint)
Think warm thoughts, my most favorite of trees!! Last year the buds were burnt by the frost which resulted in withered and brown poxed flowers, there really is nothing I can do to prevent this.
(sorry for blurriness, taken on cell phone)

So after braving some photos, a quick inspection of my garden, some shaking of limbs, a snow-ball fight and some daredevil sledding. I am now safely recovering back in the warmth of my living room enjoying hot-cocoa and Harry Potter movies, but man its hairy out there....

It's deceptively beautiful!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How to protect your garden from winter snow

Sending out an S.O.S....Save Our Shoots!

Snow is coming and I'm slightly going into over protective parent mode with my plants!!
This winter the weather in Seattle has been mild to say the least. By this time last year we had already had a number of days in the negatives plus measurable snow fall, maybe even a few snow days at school...but here we get an inch on the ground and its called the "Snow-apocalypse" (*snowpocalypse please refer to #2) Seattle is good at freaking out and over reacting to snow!! Oh my god its sticking, what do we do???

Which leads me to I just over-reacting? There is snow in the forecast for this weekend and my garden is already starting to shoot! Yesterday we had a high of 51 with blue sunny skies, gorgeous! I woke to a frost this morning with temps of ever will my plants cope from such extremes?

Last year I lost a number of plants including two of my gorgeous white Hydrangeas, which I am playing favorite child to at the moment as I don't want to lose any more! My other favorite that is susceptible to frost damage is my Magnolia which is covered in hundreds of tiny buds, I would be devastated if something happened to it! Also my Confederate Star Jasmine is finally recovering from snow-apocalypse 2011...sigh!

 RIP Hydrangea, the Apocalypse of 2011's first casualty

What am I to do? The gardens are for the most part winterized with a large amount of mulch over the garden beds protecting the roots, about 2inches deep keeping away from the trunks. For mulch I used what my garden provided for free, just by raking the fallen leaves straight on to the beds it provided enough...thanks mother nature! I have to check the soil from time to time as it has been a dry winter, to make sure the moisture is penetrating the soil under the mulch. I have noticed that under certain trees I have had to water the shrubs as the soil had dried so much...Crazy to water a garden in winter, in Seattle!!
But what about the tender, helpless, vulnerable new born shoots? Do I protect them with a covering? Wrap them? Just let the snow do its thing?

 My technique last year....The crazy gardening neighbor

 Rose shoots from last year, they really didn't seem to mind!

The more I read about what to do, the more I want to scream at my computer...I can not bring them inside over the winter months!! No they can not be a house plant till the warmer weather returns!! Really is that the only option? OK 20ft Magnolia looks like your sharing the house with us, not likely! I am not about to dig my huge hydrangea out of the garden to relocate to a pot to bring in my house. I think I'll try the burlap route this year, swaddle them until the snow passes?

Covering: This is one of the most effective ways of protecting the foliage of evergreen shrubs. Like Rhododendrons, camellias, azaleas and early flowering plants will often benefit from being covered with some type of cloth material during extremely cold weather..It is also effective for plants with new shoots! (yay)
Start by placing three or four stakes around the plant being protected. I have some bamboo stakes I will use for this. Next drape the cloth material over the stakes, being careful that the cloth does not come in contact with the leaves as it can cause freeze. Do not use plastics for this job, as it not only cuts off air to the plant, it also acts much like a greenhouse which can cause leaf rot to form, taking plants from nightly lows to high daily temperature in a relatively short time period. This rapid temperature change can cause serious freeze damage or may be fatal to plants.
Any type of covering should only be left in place during the cold spell. As soon as the weather moderates or it begins to rain, remove the covering completely. However, leave the stakes in case it gets cold again.
Burlap (which my friend showed me you can get for free from local feed stores, thanks Jill), old moving blankets, sheets or similar cloth or fabric materials are the best types to use as a cover over plants. Attaching with clothes pins is useful to keep them secure and sturdy for the weight of the snow.

This will work well for my shrubs but in regards to my Magnolia I have no clue?

Fellow garden bloggers....What are your experiences with mild winters and late frost/snow? Would love to hear your survival techniques!! Any other over protective Magnolia parents out there?

Some other useful sites...
Winter protection for Hydrangeas
Shrub protection from the snow

Monday, January 9, 2012

Christmas gardens...Disney World style!

Firstly a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to my wonderful friends!! 
Hope you all had a wonderful time celebrating with loved ones while bringing in the New Year!! We have been on a huge family reunion vacation to Florida and New York...wonderful times!! Now, back to blogging....

Ok so this is obviously not my garden! Unless you believe, I have a castle in my yard not to mention I can topiary a Mickey out of boxus and flowers, I have a hard enough time shaping my boxus into a hedge!
But this is what I had the pleasure of enjoying this Christmas with extended family from Aus. What a treat to have a hot 80+ Christmas with blue skies and sunshine, yes Seattle I am rubbing that in a little!

While Disney is full of wonder and excitement with all things Disney, the characters, child-like fantasy and thrilling rides (which by the way I am terrified of, its Dumbo and Tea-cups for this wimp) I was totally surprised by the beautiful settings in which these enchanted worlds are set. The gardens were just amazing! Who knew that right outside of Tomorrow World there was an impressive rose garden? OK so you might of known, but that was new and exciting to me! The smell was divine and how even more amazing to see a rose bloom in December...crazy!

Magic Kingdom rose garden

If you are ever down Disney way, make sure to stop and smell the roses...hehe couldn't help that!
EPCOT has stunning grounds as well, they pride themselves on having the most impressive displays in Disney. If you ever find yourself down that way in March-May be sure to visit the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival...Amazing!!

EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival

Another gorgeous botanical discovery is the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Tree, which is over one hundred years old and is decorated with thirteen hanging lamps which represent the original thirteen American colonies. I LOVE old growth trees, I think mainly because the oldest growth I have in my yard is 9yrs so over 100yrs just blows my mind! 
I have been to Disney many times before but never with the appreciation from a gardeners perspective. The attention to detail and the creativeness is awe-inspiring. Now if only I had some of that Disney magic for my own yard!

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