Monday, May 31, 2010

At Last! I Have Crafted!

The in-laws are here, so yesterday I had a day of enforced inactivity indoors. That did give me the opportunity to trim a hat that I’ve had sitting around for awhile now.

The straw form came from a yard sale and had truly horrid flowers on it. I pulled them off, sewed this ribbon on, and then sewed a couple of old fabric roses on it. The roses came from some other project I’d taken apart, so the only thing new was the ribbon.

A remark was made that I’d gone overboard for a hat meant for working in the garden, but what the heck. At a total cost of under $3, I can have some thing that is nice to wear for work!

Great Gardening Book!

American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Perennials, ed. Graham Rice. Dorling Kindersley, 2006

This is a marvelous compendium of plants. Almost 500 pages of plant descriptions and beautiful color photographs make it a book that the curious gardener will dip into again and again. Plants are listed by genus and species, and a good number of cultivars are listed. Each genus is given a general description, followed by how it is best grown, how it’s propagated, and what pests it has. Then follows the various species within the genus, descriptions including origin, size, bloom time, color and size, scent and occasional tidbits about medicinal use or the like. One thing I love about this book as opposed to many other plant encyclopedias: it gives the American zone hardiness of the species.

But this is not just a straight encyclopedia; interspersed with the plants are sidebars and boxes with information on combining the plants to make beautiful vignettes that put plants with the same needs together, the structures of various types of flowers, plant history, diseases and pests of plants, and detailed propagation instructions for certain plants.

This book is great for looking up information, but it’s also wonderful for just leafing through it, stopping at reading at random spots- did you know that the Barlow type aquilegias make seed that’s true to type, while all other aquilegia’s promiscuously cross breed? And here I thought those Barlow girls were just as bad as their cousins! Drooling over this book has given me a lot of new ideas for the garden, and left me with serious zone envy.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

First Clematis of the Year

Madame Julia Correvon, if I recall correctly:
Edit: Whoops, it's Pink Champagne!

Big Bird is Big

We're working on a gardening job that's on the top of the Sunnyside peninsula right now. The view is amazing (and I keep forgetting to take pictures while we're there). On the way home yesterday, we caught this bald eagle in an old snag, viewing his domain.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Jewel Box Garden, by Thomas Hobbs. Timber Press, 2004

‘The Jewel Box Garden’ is not your average gardening book. You’ll find no advice on composting or dealing with insects; this book is strictly about the aesthetics of gardening. Far more picture than text, it’s a book of inspiration, not instruction. The book is filled with vignettes of plants that are jewels on their own, and are supported by being used in combo with other plants and with planters, statues and other hardscaping. His theme is that you want to create beauty in the garden, and not copy what everyone else is doing. I can’t argue with that.

Hobbs lives, designs and gardens in Vancouver, B.C., so his palette of plants is much more extensive than what most of us have, and he’s pushed the it even further by using hot weather plants that he takes inside every winter. That’s more work than most of us want to do, but we can achieve the same effect with hardier plants. Hardy sedums and sempervivums can stand in for tender echevarias; there *are* hardy bamboos (and they are less apt to spread aggressively than the tropical varieties), hardy ferns, hardy variegated plants and hardy plants with dark, almost black foliage.

The photos are beautiful, but the text may be off-putting to some readers. Hobbs is snarky about the people whose gardens he doesn’t like, and if you have that sort of garden you’re apt to be insulted. Ignore those bits, though, and allow yourself to get caught up in his enthusiasm for what he’s doing.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Great Outdoors

The second round of chicks and the ducklings have been in the chicken house, rather than in our house, for several days now, and are acclimating nicely. Of course, the day after we put them out the temperatures plunged and we’ve had freezes for several nights in a row, but with the help of four light bulbs, they are doing well. The chicks do go out in the run much, but the ducklings love it outside, ran or shine.

Friday, May 21, 2010

They Have a Name!

I have just discovered that the violas that I got, years ago, from an old, old garden, are Bowle’s Black. These little darlings aren’t quite as black as the modern black pansies, but they are dark, rich purple except for a very small eye. I like them much, much better than the regular Johnny-Jump-Ups. They suit my dark sensibilities better. But they are every bit as prolific as the JJUs- the entire garden is a carpet of their cotyledons. I wish full size pansies would spread like this!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Baby Bird Update

Time for pictures of baby birds!

First up, the older chicks have been moved out to the hen house, where they have a light to go under when they get cold, which doesn't really seem to be that often, even though it's in the 30s at night:

You can see they are almost fully feathered. And, no, I didn't do any fancy photoshopping- I have no idea why it looks like a painting of birds instead of a photo.

Next, the 2 week old peeps:

And now, the gigantic ducklings, who eat, drink and shit continually, and have at least quadrupled in size in two weeks- they were the same size as the chick when they arrived and they now tower over them like Godzilla over Tokyo.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

In Which I Manage to Kill Heucheras

I honestly didn’t know it was possible to kill heucheras. They seem to survive cold, heat, not much water, too much water and cats laying on them. So I was quite surprised to find that it looks like two of mine aren’t coming back this year.

One, a Tiramisu I bought late last summer, was probably put into the ground too late for our early freezes. And then we had an open winter, with low temperatures and no snow to protect the plants. So that one isn’t a huge mystery. But the other, a Peach Melba that went into the ground in 2008, has me wondering. It was there last year. True, it didn’t grow a great deal and certainly didn’t seem as happy as the other varieties around it (Amber Waves, Lime Rickey, Plum Pudding), but it didn’t look like there was anything really wrong. I have no idea why this one died; it’s still firm in the ground so it wasn’t our usual culprits, the pocket gophers.

Given that I refuse to give up completely on a plant until it completely composts, I’ll be leaving these corpses in the ground, hoping that some spark of life remains. It’s happened before, having a dead looking plant come back to life midsummer, zombie-like. If these beauties do make it back, I’ll be happy to feed them braaaaiiinnnssss. (It’s Zombie Awareness Month, what can I say)