Autumn gardening

I took an afternoon trip over to Molbak’s (the enormous nursery and garden center in Woodinville) since all of their bulbs were 25% off. They have a café, so I got H to sleep in the Moby wrap while I walked around, then I had a Salmon Pesto Goat Cheese Pizza (yum), and then I did a second pass to actually collect my purchases.

I’d been vaguely hoping to do some winter vegetable container gardening, but it seems like most of the things I’d be most interested in eating should have been planted in the summer. Oops. I’ll do some onions and garlic, and I got some pretty ornamental cabbages to fill the remainder of the space.

I am so, so excited about the bulbs. There are more daffodils to add to the patch outside the kitchen window, since those were so cheery and happy last year. I‘m going to put the pink and yellow Blushing Beauty tulips in a container along with the Pink Frosting tulip/daffodil mix. They‘ll go on the patio. The purple crocuses will go with the purple tulips and white mini daffodils in small groups around the patio and possibly in our rock wall. And then the bright Early Spring bulbs can go in groups under the pines outside our bedroom window. I‘m not sure how they‘ll like the acidic soil, but it‘s worth a shot.

I’m always better at buying bulbs than actually getting them into the ground, but my goal is to have them in sometime in the next two weekends. The daffodils are supposed to be relatively squirrel proof, and then I just have my fingers crossed on the tulips and crocuses — if they ever make it, it will be a gorgeous welcome to spring next year.

More bursts of summer

It’s quickly starting to feel like fall, but our rose bushes are continuing to bloom, undaunted. The pink ones set forth a whole cascade of blooms two weeks ago.

They’re hard to see from the house, since they’re at a hidden spot between windows, so I was so happy that we caught them as the blooms all burst.

And then the yellow rose budded and bloomed again.

I’m so glad I didn’t tear out these bushes last summer – they are zero work and such a happy surprise whenever the flowers appear.

Meanwhile, the hydrangeas are still going. The two in the front yard are slowly fading (they started blooming in late June and early July!), but the lace hydrangea in our sideyard is beautifully blooming still. I’ve been cutting flowers from the back face of it to bring into the house – in a bowl they look so pretty, and they last for weeks.

This one’s been on the coffee table in the family room since Kevin’s family visited, and we have another that’s been going strong in the kitchen for over a week. I keep checking, sure that they must be moldering in the water, only to find that they’re still beautiful.

PS: Kevin took all of these photos, plus one of his two-flash photo set up. Neat!

Earning a spot

More awesome flower photography from Kevin!

We have rose bushes on the back side of the house. They’re in a slightly odd position because you can’t really see them from indoors – it’s only when you’re doing yard work at the back corner that you notice they’re there. Last year, I’d debated pulling them out and replacing them with something a little bit more productive. But several people pled for sparing them after seeing photos, so I left them in. With all the hot weather this year, they seem so much happier and they just exploded in flowers last week.

It seems that near-total neglect suits them. This bush had grown to about 10 feet tall last year in two spindly branches, so I cut it back to about 5’ at the beginning of the fall, and cut back again to the highest buds of new growth in the early spring. Otherwise, I haven’t touch them (including watering).

The flowers are the prettiest salmon color, with accents of yellow and pale pink when the sun shines through them. They’re completely spectacular, and I’m so glad I didn’t tear them out.


The plants on the patio are actually producing! The first bit of a crop, picked while Sharon was here:

The strawberries are doing great in their pot. Last year they didn’t really produce, but there are a lot more berries and flowers in the wings, and I’m feeling very pleased with them.

The beans are a bit confusing to me. I feel like the plants should be spending their energy growing and they can produce later, but I don’t know how to convey this to them. Each plant (I have two) put out a few beans when it was so hot a few weeks ago. The plants are still mid-to-small in size, and now they each have several more baby beans. Any ideas on whether to cut off the baby beans now, or just let them grow?

The pea vines are the most pathetic. They’re each about a foot tall, and they also produced 1-2 peas each during our hot streak. So you have these sad little vines (with half dead leaves from our hot week) with a big plump peapod on the upper end.

They seem happy (green, firm) in a stunted kind of way, but if anyone has thoughts on magical pea growing tricks, I’m all ears.

Flower help?

10 points to anyone who can tell me the name of this flower:

They’re big (a good 8-10 inches across), and the name has been on the tip of my tongue for weeks now. Whatever they are, they’re beautiful. The blooms are far too heavy for the stalks, so they tend to drape themselves languorously over the nearby azaleas, and in some cases just rest their heads directly on the driveway.

Sensational, showy things, and such a pretty color.

A Work In Progress

I was only trying to get a photo of all of the new flowers we chose for the patio containers, but the pictures turned out to also be a pretty good before/after comparison of the weeding of the rock wall. In this one, you can see the total chaos that is the rock wall plantings, plus copious forget-me-nots, pansies (with runners), vinca, dandelions, mint, and assorted weeds.

Meanwhile, in this view, you can see the lovely lack of weeds in the rock wall, plus the attractively pruned japanese maple. 🙂

The “after” photo constituted a good four hour’s worth of work, and unfortunately my back doesn’t tolerate a moment more than that these days. The hopeful news is that we are in the middle of June sunlight hours (well past 9 pm!), so I could conceivably divide the remaining wall into chunks and buzz through it after work.

I’m mostly happy with the way the containers turned out. I think they need a little bit more orange and pink – between the creeper (left over from last year, and I can’t find the tag) and the snapdragons, it’s a little bit too much of that lime yellow. Pretty from the top, though!


I have more of Kevin’s macro-lens photos of our yard – the first of the irises bloomed!!

A coworker gave me these when she was thinning hers out three years ago. We had one summer of blooms, and then they sulked all last year. I’d forgotten how beautiful they are.

I love the amazing closeups that are possible with the macro lens – the colors are great.

Container garden progress

All of the seedlings on the kitchen counter have been merrily growing away. I’ve been debating what to do about transitioning them to outdoor weather, and when to replant them, but we’re heading out of town for a ten-day east coast trip and I procrastinated long enough that the answer ended up being throwing them into containers the day before we left and hoping they’d survive my absence. Benign neglect has worked surprisingly well in the past, so hopefully a similar strategy will work this time as well.

For the first time ever, I not only have everything in appropriately sized pots, but I actually amended potting soil with compost the way you’re supposed to.

I’m very pleased with myself, especially after such a half-hearted and late attempt last summer.

I have two containers of peas, two beans, one oregon star tomato, one brandywine tomato, a large bowl planter of leeks, and a strawberry pot. The tomato pots still contain multiple seedlings – I’ll thin them a final time once the plants are bigger. I divided up the lavender, but otherwise left the flowers in their seedling trays until I get back. I’ll wait for them to get larger and sturdier and then just transfer them into the ground directly. I bought supplies (aka a lidded bucket and some flexible tubing) to make a drip irrigation system for later in the summer so that I’m not tied to the daily watering, but I didn’t have enough time to get it up and running before we left. Instead, the containers are all in a huddle in the part of the patio that I guessed was most likely to get any rain and sunlight while we were gone.

Grow well, little plants!

Green and Growing

We had unusual weather on Sunday – dark clouds to the east and west, and steady sunshine overhead. Kevin took advantage of the light to take some photos.

Our pink tree is still blooming, even though more leaves grow in by the day. I love the angle of this photo, since the yard looks so green (you can’t see the spots where the buttercups and moss are dying, which I need to reseed) and you somehow can’t see the thick layer of pollen coating the table. To the right, just above the rock line, you can see all of my irises. They look so much happier this year – I’m hoping this means they might bloom. One of my coworkers said that they’re petulant flowers, and usually sulk for a good year after being transplanted. I only got one lone flower from about 15 plants last year, so fingers crossed that they’ve worked whatever pique out of their systems and will be extravagant once again this summer.

In the side yard, outside our kitchen window, the azalea’s buds are getting fuller by the day.