Wednesday, December 15, 2010

RAIN rain RAIN ... and more rain. Then Clearing!

It has rained so much here lately. Television news has reported on little else besides landslides and flood warnings. As a result, I have not done much gardening besides throw coffee grounds out on any patches of exposed soil (to hopefully to keep nutrients from running down into the storm drains and to help nourish the Earth).

This morning, we had a clear patch of sky with just overcast (thank the Cosmos, no more rain) and the weather is pleasurably warm for this time of year. So I went out and pulled grass out from between the bricks where I've made a footpath. That's also where I have attempted to encourage moss and other steppable plants to grow (see photos).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Busy As A Hibernating Rabbit

I just decided, instead of merely being a blogging, published, author, I'm now a self proclaimed Harvard Creativity Specialist. Oops. Did I say Harvard? I meant Hard-Yard. (The ground is frozen solid. What's a gardener to do?)

I'm currently cutting back all the extra growth on the apple trees, tying up raspberry vines and this next week I will be wrapping the climbing roses with evergreen tree branches so they'll survive the winter. It's also a good time to buy heirloom seeds, on-line, for planting in spring.

I am still mourning all the bulbs I lost this last spring, thanks to them rotting in the ground with all that rain we had last March, April and May. I especially miss my dahlias (bulbs that I dig up each winter and replant in spring). There's just something very sad about losing plants that I put so much energy into nourishing; year after year.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

All Of Western Washington: Covered In Snow

It snowed much earlier this year than any year I can remember. From childhood, I recall the first flakes of snow for the year would often fall while my family celebrated thanksgiving at Grandma's house but it seldom stuck to the roads and we wouldn't have any heavy snow until January or February. 

Last Sunday (4 days ago) snow fell in an unusually heavy manner. The temperature also dropped rapidly. It's been 15 degrees C here at night pretty much since. 

To care for the outdoor animals, I've been hauling hot water out to the chicken coup. I also lock the hens up at night, out of the wind inside their roosting area, where there's a heat lamp. The grateful rabbit was moved into a smaller cage with them, when he usually lives on the south side of our house. 

For the wild birds, I've been setting out a warm pan of water but it freezes over in a few hours time. I imagine it's very hard for the finches to find drinking water that's not frozen. The birds continue to visit the feeders that I've moved up onto the back porch, to keep the seed dry.

Sitting by my own heater, I'm reminiscing of the day I took this photo, last April: (double click to enlarge it).

It's difficult to imagine that tulip and daffodil bulbs (below ground) could survive the harsh cold but season after season we know they do come back; they are alive under all that snow. The pond now is mostly iced over. I can still see the koi swimming slowly below the thin sheet. I feel so thankful that spring will come again (in five more months)!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fall Garden Tips (Planting Bulbs & Fall Craft Project)

It's been raining a great deal here lately, in Western Washington, but today we had clear skies. So I pulled on my garden boots and went out to plant more tulip and crocus bulbs.

I absolutely feel as though it is impossible to plant too many crocuses. Every February, they are the first flower to bloom after a harsh winter (sometimes while snow is still on the ground). When I see these dainty little flowers pop out through the frozen Earth, my heart just swells with glee. Crocuses feel like a promise to me.

They remind me that spring and warmer weather are coming. Tulips bloom a little bit later in spring, so planting their bulbs side-by-side with crocus bulbs works really well for keeping a particular garden spot in bloom longer.

Pictured right, is just a fun fall-time craft project that I made and it serves as a wonderful reminder of a very fun day I enjoyed when my sister Kelly and I drove to Leavenworth (over the mountain) to celebrate my birthday. This rock was painted to commemorate the fun.

To make it, I collected a fallen gold-colored leaf in Leavenworth. I had purchased a book so I flattened the leaf inside its pages and when I got home I slathered paint on that leaf and pressed it to this rock. The result is a lasting reminder of a most wonderful day.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Having discussed this topic with friends on Facebook, my friend Diane Froehlich Heidt suggested a tip that I felt I just HAD to pass on to my garden blog  readers. 

Diane states (to carve a pumpkin early in the Halloween season and NOT have that nasty rotten pumpkin issue before Samhain) you merely slather the carved pumpkin with Vaseline. (Reportedly it seals the pumpkin and works like some sort of air seal.) 


Thursday, September 23, 2010

What Other Parent Gets To Have Onision Praise Their Garden?

My adorable son (aka "Onision", the YouTube sensation) completely honored my garden by making this comedic film. He's posing as an extremely awkward young man who seems to suffer from stage fright; which makes viewing this flick rather funny. Enjoy.  LOVE YOU ONISION! I'm so lucky, and blessed as a parent. It feels just overwhelmingly incredible.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Need Help Identifying This Plant

Thanks to a highly intelligent friend, Simon Butler, who viewed this posting from a link provided on Facebook, this plant has been identified as "Jewelweed" (Impatiens capensis). According to Simon, it's also referred to as "Touch-me-not."

Here are the two hyperlinks he sent with more information:


Faeries must have planted this orange-flowering herbacious bush in my yard. (Sure I understand that plants get distributed by many different means, by birds, insects, the wind, dogs that collect seed in their fur). It's just I've just never seen this variety of plant before -- not anywhere in my neighborhood, or from foraging through the woods -- never even saw it from the past and I spent most of my childhood playing in the woods where I grew up four miles from here. I've also never seen this plant inside any nursery.

This is the SECOND year it's appeared in my yard -- suggesting it's perriannual. It died back last winter and now just sprouted up again (late summer).

Any idea what this plant might be called? (Click any photo to enlarge it.)

Beyond asking that you pay close attention to the interesting nodules that formed where the branches connect to the herbacious stem, see next photo, I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No Apples Or Pears This Year

Isn't it amazing how rain can act like a prism and distort the edges of a fragrant rose (making it appear more magical).

We have had such atypical weather all summer this year. More than having week after week of cloudy skies, the nights have been so cold, I've had to wear a sweatshirt and jeans all except for maybe 7 days this summer. Our apple, pear, cherry and peach trees are all barren with no fruit. Compare photos from last year's apple tree to this year's ... (click photos to enlarge them).

apple tree Sept. 2010
same apple tree Sept. 2009
We did not pick one single apple this year (there just weren't any)! Our raspberry bushes also have not produced much fruit. We did pick berries in June, but last year we had so many raspberries we were picking fruit long into October 2009.

Fortunately ... our flowers are still blooming.

Plants reaching up to collect the rain.

I've been creating special features and marked the four corners in our yard.

This is a patio plant that I keep in a pot. When it blooms, the most beautiful rust colored multi-petaled flowers appear.

More potted flowers.

Doug's garden gnomes.

Today was the first time I noticed the Hawthorn berries have appeared.

Only place I can grow carnations is in pots (thank to resident slugs who favor them).

Back yard roses have done remarkably well in spite of the rain. (That is if we can ignore the rust spots on their leaves.)

Shy little gnome playing peak-a-boo.

This is why I love pansies. Look at how they just spill over the edge of my very large flower pots.

The chickens are staying indoors on this rain-filled day.

None of our tomatoes have ripened this year either.

I planted these tomatoes up next to the house where they would get more radiating heat from the house. The tomato plants themselves looked incredibly healthy ... but the tomatoes never matured. I realize I could have cut the branches way back so the plant could send more energy to the fruit. (Learned I was allergic to tomatoes this year so I let the plant do what it wanted.)

Very few blueberries fully ripened at our house this year either.

Here's our pet Oscar, one week after he suffered a stroke. He's still pitching a little to his left but he's so much better now than he was last week when I called the vet and they said it would be most "humane" to put him down. While Oscar was barely moving for a few days, laying on his side, he was willing to eat clover that I carried to him and he still enjoyed being petted so I just watched and observed; made sure he was still drinking water. So now he's back on his feet, hopping to his food, eating the bok choi that I feed him. I didn't want to take a picture of him when he was all gnarled-looking (didn't want to remember him that way if he was going to die) but now that he's nearly recovered I wish I had those "before" photos.

Oscar. Brave stroke survivor.
May he live with us for many more years (he's about four years old now).

After Weeks Of Rain: Evil Demons Come Out!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Crocosmia, Vintage Barrel, Missing Chicken


Front yard: Crocosmia. My mom gave me the bulbs for this beautiful flower; the plant had spread in her yard so now I get to enjoy it.

Crocosmia up close

We're enjoying incredibly hot weather here in Western Washington this week (90+ temps). I've been making sure to water early in the morning, or late at night, to give our gardens a healthy experience on these hot summer days.

Inside our back yard aviary: "Hercules" (my Russian Fantail Dove - female.) She puffs out her chest quite often so I named her after the mythical power-monger.

Bought this vintage wheelbarrel, pictured below, at an antique sale in Puyallup this past weekend. My sister, who shopped with me, said she wanted me to send her a picture when I "did something" with it. So here it is, Jennifer! That awesome old wheelbarrel with new plantings!

Here's a more panaoramic view of that same wheelbarrel.

Late yesterday afternoon, when I went to put the chickens up for the night (we allow them to roam our fenced yard -- where every fence is 6 feet tall) one of my hens was missing. It was only six p.m. and all the other hens were waiting for me on the back porch. I thought the hen might have hid herself for the night and hunkered down in the bushes somewhere but she hasn't reappeared this morning. I hope desperately that she returns (would hate to think an owl or eagle took her.) There's no sign of predation. I don't think coyotes can even get inside our yard. This is what the missing hen looks like (below).

My little sister knows I collect frogs for my gardens. She gave me these three leaping frogs on Sunday (look closely if you want to see them).

this garden blog:
awesome vampire blog:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

No Law Says You Must Have A Lawn (Colorful Ground Covers)

This is Oscar, our 5-year-old rabbit who lives in a dog kennel with a condo-style hutch. He's been inspiring our concerted effort to shrink our lawn by eating all the grasses and clover we pull for him. There are MANY reasons why we don't want to mow grass anymore. (Color/aesthetics, time, I'm allergic to grass AND lawns are not environmentally friendly.) 

Wanting to design our yard with steppable plants that our two small dogs can run upon -- I now present a VARIETY of ground covers that have been growing healthfully these past few years. Most images are of mature plants (we've lived here five years now). 

This native moss, below, just showed up spontaneously one day. Most people here in Western Washington kill moss in favor of grass but, as I alluded to earlier, I've been pulling grass like its the weed. Just look at the photo and notice the many fascinating colors and textures that native moss presents for our external home.

Here next is a blooming steppable plant. (With a bit of clover growing for Oscar to eat later.)

Purple Clover

Commercialized/Spanish Moss
Beauty bark offers a great contrasting color to green plants and provides a wonderful service as a weed barrier.
This next steppable fern (brown) grew so prolific the first year I planted it -- I decided to purchased the same variety in green that next spring (I really like the way this ground cover hugs the Earth tightly!)
Strawberry plants LOVE Western Washington and grow so readily I never worry about the dogs running through it. (The Pug often stops to snack when berries are ripe.)

Hard to believe it but you can walk on either of these two gorgeous flowering plants (below) and they will survive.
Kinnikinik, below, grows in the woods around here so I knew it would do extra well in our yard where it gets watered during the dry summer months.

I grow both golden (below) and purple sage in our gardens.
This is NOT the invasive English Ivy that environmentalists warn folks about. So I've been guilt-free while training it to climb objects, such as the chicken coup exterior. 

Here's another (much brighter) non-invasive ivy; below.

One cautionary word for planting VARIETY in your yard: sometimes the plants grow together. Depending on the look you desire for your gardens, you may like the variety of many plants mingling in unison. Or you might want to thin plants out as they mature (beauty is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to gardens and what you want to let grow there).

Here's what I mean (where plants grew so well they practically hug one another)

And ... saving the BEST images for last ... while taking the above pictures this afternoon I noticed this magical-looking spider web (two images below) under a low-lying bush. I had just watered, so the web was wet. Looking at the prisms, it seemed as though the spider was capturing each droplet like a valuable treasure.

(Thank you for stopping by!)