Thursday, March 31, 2011

Out Like A Lamb.......

Well, after a month of cold, overcast, damp days, we finally got a small taste of Spring today! There were still clouds in the sky, but at least you could see some blue. And by 5:00 PM the temperature read 65 degrees. After work I was able to come home and take a small walk around the house without a coat on. This is progress! And the most exciting part of today..the return of the Swallows! There were 4 or 5 flying high in the sky when I left for work this morning. By tonight we must have had over 20 circling. They have already been checking out the houses, taking notes. I love hearing their familiar "chirping". It is finally feeling like Spring, at least for a day.

My companion for tonight's walk was thrilled with the change in the weather too. Tom-Cat quickly ran to his favorite bench and flopped.

Fortunately, he was so busy enjoying some bench time that he didn't spy this sweet little guy who was munching on the fresh, green grass. I hope that you got to enjoy this first bit of Spring weather today too!

* edited note: The newspaper reported the next day that we received at least a trace of rain everyday in March! No wonder it felt so miserable. The total rainfall was 6.24 inches, the most since March of 1997.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Busy, Rainy Sunday

I woke-up to the sound of rain, and it kept it up, off and on again, for the whole day. I checked the rain gauge at 5:00 PM and it had 1/2" in it. I just have to keep reminding myself..I would much rather have a soggy March & April and then have it start to dry out in May, rather than the reverse of that like last year.

I spent a good part of today beginning the slow process of unpacking and unwrapping my dahlia tubers. This is the time of year when I need to decide how many of each variety I wish to keep for myself and then I donate the rest to my local Dahlia Society.

Since it has been so cold this month, I ended up pulling my boxes of tubers out of the cold garden storage room and putting them in the heated shop. When I checked on them a week later..Voila! The eyes on almost all of the tubers had "awakened" and begun to sprout. Now I can be sure that I am keeping and donating tubers that have at least one eye that, when the tuber is planted, will push up through the earth and turn into a dahlia plant. You can see from these two pictures that these "Hillcrest Kismet" tubers stored well over the Winter and are ready to go!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Daffodils Keep Marching Along!

During a break in the rain today, I took a walk around the property. First off, I stopped to admire the clump of "Jet Fire" daffodils. They had begun to open last weekend and are now in full bloom. They are a really nice addition to the flowerbed. Their bi-colored blooms are small enough that the rain doesn't weigh them down and the group stays standing straight up, looking good.

This interesting daffodil is planted up on the bank by the house. It is now hidden behind one of the Sweet Gums and gets lost a bit. It has such a unique bloom. The trumpet has been split open and folds back to meet the petal. It almost reminds me of a hibiscus blossom. Really fun!

Down by the head of the secret path, I have a nice little clump of "Ice Follies". I really love this variety, with its white petals and soft yellow, shallow trumpet. In really sunny Springs, the yellow trumpet quickly fades to white. So I guess there is something to be said for endless, overcast days!

This daffodil will never be lost in the crowd ! "Impi Tombi" has lemon yellow petals it pairs with a screaming orange trumpet. They are planted up on a bank and you can't help but look at them every time you drive by.

This is another favorite of mine. We planted these right after we purchased the property, before the house was even built. They have very big blooms that do get weighted down by the rain. But I still think they are worth growing. I love the big, billowing, white petals and huge yellow trumpet.

And I found this sweet little grass blooming in the meadow. Its soft, lavender bloom caught my eye and I went over for a closer look. There were quite a few blooming when I looked around.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The First Day of Spring!

Today is the official first day of Spring! The weather is grey and overcast - a lot like Winter! But I did manage to take a walk down to the big garden and check out what's new.....

Since my last trip down the secret path, the Lamb's Tongues have burst out of the ground. Their beautiful, speckled leaves were easy to spot amongst the moss and leaf liter once I started looking. And this one already had a bud starting to push up from between its set of leaves.

And the Rice Lilies have also come flying up out of no where.

Not to be outdone, the Trillium have also appeared.

 A close-up of the speckled leaves and immature bud.

The white violets have started blooming in the lawn around the big garden. They are much more abundant than the purple violets .

Even on a soggy day, they still have sweet faces. I love the way they look to be tucked into the moss. They are so small that I can safely mow the lawn in early Spring and the violets don't get harmed. And below, the "wild" cherry trees have begun to bloom too! Happy first day of Spring !

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Almost Spring

When I went outside this morning, we had mostly blue skies. As long as the clouds didn't blow by and cover the sun, it was quite pleasant out. But every now and then, the sky would momentarily darken and the wind would whip up. A gentle reminder that today is the last day of Winter. It was nice enough to take a walk, so off I went. Right outside the front door, we have two Daphne plants - one on each side of the steps. Their blooms have finally opened and each time the wind blew it was filled with that unmistakable scent.

The leaves on the Crab Apple have begun to unfurl. They are blood red at this time of the year and really contrast with the greens and browns of the landscape.

March is really daffodil time in Oregon and ours are starting to peak. Above, one of three very happy clumps of "tete-a-tete" that we have growing in flower beds by the house.

This is a new variety that we planted last fall , "Jet Fire". It has nice orange trumpets.

Little "Segovia" planted at the edge of the bank. These are only 6" tall, but reliably come back year after year.

Our two "February Gold" that survived getting chomped by the deer!

And the good old "King Alfred" daffs are just starting to open.

A close-up of crocus planted in a pot on the front porch.

The bright, cheerful face of a pansy, also growing in a pot. And below, after escorting me on my walkabout his morning, Tom-Cat settled on the porch to do some bird watching in a block of sunshine.

Monday, March 14, 2011

They're Back!

On Saturday, I looked out the kitchen nook windows to the two bird feeders, and guess who I saw? A pair of Band-tailed Pigeons. These large birds, up to 14" tall, spend most of the year at our place. But they disappear around November. This is just a pair, but by mid Summer they will be part of a flock that ranges from 30-50 birds. Needless to say, when they are at the feeders, all the other birds leave. They also eat a lot. When the full flock is back, we go through twice as much bird seed per week as when they are gone! They are large and pushy. But I do like the pretty white ring around their necks and their almost day-glow orange beaks and feet. Welcome back guys!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Springing forward..and the storm!

This morning we sprung ahead one hour! While I LOVE the extra hour of daylight in the evening, it will be extra hard to get out of bed for the next few mornings. Today dawned sunny and unseasonably warm. The temperature was in the low 60's and it felt like late Spring. But as the morning progressed,  it became increasingly dark and windy. By noontime the wind was really gusting. Around 2 PM I was in town and noticed that the western sky was ink black. Within a half hour, winds gusting up to 60 mph hit with a torrential downpour. I made it home safely and listened to it howl outside. We later learned that many, many trees fell over during the storm and hundreds of homes are without power tonight. Thankfully, we survived without any damage on the property and still have a lit, warm home.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Packages in the Mailbox

Friday & today's mail has brought me brown envelops filled with my seed orders! So far I have received my orders from Renee's Garden, Baker Creek & The Cook's Garden. I was pleased to find in my Baker Creek order a free "thank-you" packet of "Parisienne" Carrots. I wasn't familiar with this variety so I checked out the description in the catalog. It says "small, round carrots that are so popular in France.Tender, orange globes are superb lightly steamed. Easy to grow even in heavy soils." That sounds perfect for me to try. Goodness knows that I have some heavy, clay soil!

Around dinnertime, we went to The Home & Garden Show at the Fairgrounds. As always there was a lot so see but we were most interested in the "garden" part of the Show. One of the vendor booths that I stopped at was Nichols Garden Nursery out of Albany Oregon.They had 4 spinning display racks filled with vegetable & flower seeds. Even though I absolutely do not need anymore seeds for this years garden, I still ended up buying one more! "Small Wonder Spaghetti" Squash is a small, 1-2 person serving size variety, otherwise similar to the traditional, larger Spaghetti Squash. I first learned of this variety last year from Villager at Our Happy Acres. He grew it last year and really liked the smaller size for he & his wife. I made a mental note of it and when I saw it today..well what was I to do!?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's Time to get Serious

Last Saturday, after visiting the Farmer's Market, we made a stop at Down to Earth. Since the calendar had changed earlier in the week, I was faced with the reality that Spring was coming! It was clearly time to get organized. I went through my old seed packets first and determined what varieties I still had left over from last year that I could use again this year. Then I made my "wish" list. I was able to get a good start on my list at Down to Earth as they carry seed from many of my favorite seed companies; Territorial, Renee's Garden, Seed Saver's Exchange, and Seeds of Change. Here is what I picked-up:
  • Winter Squash "Marina Di Chioggia" - Seed Savers Exchange
  • Winter Squash "Butternut" - Seeds of Change
  • Radish "Pink Punch" - Renee's Garden
  • Zinnia "Persian Carpet" (2) - Renee's Garden
  • Zinnia "Blue Point Bouquet" (2) - Renee's Garden

Then, Monday & Tuesday night, I hit the Internet to finish off my shopping. I tried to stay focused and tried to "keep to the list"..but I am afraid that a extra packet or two still managed to jump into the cart. I am not sure where the heck I will plant everything..but that's a worry for another day! Here's the rest of my purchases:
  • Zinnia "Bling Bling" - Renee's Garden
  • Morning Glory "Glacier Star" - Renee's Garden
  • Lettuce "Winter Density" - Johnny's Selected Seeds
  • Lettuce "Australe" - Johnny's Selected Seeds
  • Radish "Rudolf" - Johnny's Selected Seeds
  • Marigold "Durango Outback Mix" - Johnny's Selected Seeds
  • Marigold "Queen Sophia" - Johnny's Selected Seeds
  • Marigold "Red Gem" - Johnny's Selected Seeds
  • Marigold "Lemon Gem" - Johnny's Selected Seeds
  • Marigold "Tangerine Gem" - Johnny's Selected Seeds
  • Zinnia "Zahara Double Cherry" - Johnny's Selected Seeds
  • Winter Squash "Speckled Hound" - The Cook's Garden
  • Winter Squash "Delicata" - Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
  • Morning Glory "Dacapo Light Blue" - Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
  • Morning Glory "Red Picotee" - Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
  • Dry Bean "Hutterite Soup" (3) - Seed Savers Exchange
  • Radish "Purple Plum" - Seed Savers Exchange

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Late Winter Walk-about

Last night it began just pouring rain around 5:30 PM and continued raining hard until at least 10:00 PM. The storm had cleared when I woke-up and in the afternoon I took a walk around the property. I hadn't been up to visit the Crab Apple Tree for awhile and was really pleased to see that it had broken dormancy and the buds have begun to swell. Its branches were just covered in beautiful, deep red tips. This will be its second Spring at our house after being planted Mother's Day of 2009. I can't wait to see the show it puts on this year!

I also found hiding in the grass this sweet little snowdrop. When we moved to this property, we moved six large clumps of snowdrops from the other house. Well, we obviously aren't gifted at moving snowdrops! This year we have a whopping 2 blooms to show for our work! Well, maybe this little guy will set seed and start to naturalize. We can only hope!

Because of all the heavy rains that we have had the last week or so, the creek is really running strong right now.The water is muddy brown and it is making a lovely roaring sound.

The "February Gold" daffodils are just about to open. The sad reality is the deer, who aren't suppose to eat daffodils, have munched off the top of every bloom but two! So, ta-da. here is this years display. I am starting to see a trend here.. two "February Gold".. two Snowdrops....

The Hellebore on the secret path are also blooming. They are a pleasant shock of color in an otherwise shady spot.

And the Shooting stars on the secret path continue to grow too. I love their chubby, fat leaves.

And I had to post a picture taken down at the big garden. Here is one corner of my garden, the day after a heavy rain. Only about 2" of standing water. Can you tell that I garden in a wetlands area..Yikes!