Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday

We had another lovely day today. The high once again reached 72 degrees. I don't remember such a nice Easter Sunday in a long, long time. With all of the sunshine and warmth, it was time to go on a walk. The trilliums down in the big garden are starting to bloom. With all of our sunny weather, the plants and blooms are in perfect condition.

Directly across the road from the big garden, our neighbors' old forsythia are also in full bloom now. Another happy, yellow display in Spring.

As I headed back to the house, this flash of purple caught my eye. Up on the bank by the "Impi Tombi" daffodils, the first two wild iris of the year are open. It will be weeks before the bulk of the iris plants are in full bloom.

Up near the house the Grand Hound's Tongue is blooming. Its pretty blue blooms are reminiscent of forget-me-nots.

On either side of the front steps, we have a Daphne plant. They are also in full bloom today. With the warm weather this weekend, the scent of Daphne is almost overpowering! You can literally taste it as you approach the front of the house.

In the west flowerbed, the Currant bush is blooming. I haven't yet spied a hummingbird here, but they do love these blooms as much as the people do.

This week's warm weather has also opened the "Kokopelli" jonquil. I really like this little narcissus. Each stem holds 2-3 small blooms that cascade down the stem. The stems area also nice and strong. Even when the rains come, the plants stay upright. They are also very fragrant. This is their second year and they have come back well. I have 37 stems with blooms this year from the original 6 bulbs that I planted.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The First 70 Degree Day of the Year!

Today was the day that you wait for all Winter long. The sky was blue, the birds were singing and it felt warm outside! Our official high today was 72 degrees, reached at 4:05 PM. By early afternoon I had switch from jeans & shoes to shorts & sandals. The cats were seeking some shade in which to sleep and everyone was happy.The only downside was I had so spend a great deal of my time inside the shop. Next Thursday is the first dahlia sale of the year and I really needed to spend today going through my stored tubers. As I slowly dug through my four boxes, I was pleased to find 99% of the tubers were in good shape. While some of the varieties have yet to "awaken", many, like the "Golden Star" pictured above, have broken their dormancy. The eyes have swollen and the initial shoot is starting to grow. So begins another dahlia year!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Plant Nerd Night

Tonight we went to Plant Nerd Night, presented by the Eugene Garden Club. The club invites local specialty plant vendors to come and sell a selection of what they are carrying this year. Often they bring their "latest and greatest". A percent of the proceeds form the sale fund a scholarship program for the Garden Club. Beth and I went to Plant Nerd Night for the first time last year and had a fun time. This year Mom was able to join us. We got there right when the doors opened at 6:00 PM. I was disappointed to find that Log House Plants didn't come this year. I do love to see what Alice Doyle brings to sell. However there was still lots to see and enjoy. I ended up bringing home two plants:

Iochromoa "Royal Queen" purple tubeflower. This plant grows from 36-60 " in height. It covers itself with blooms that are sprays of deep purple tubes. Hummingbirds love this striking plant. Cool nighttime temperatures are needed for flowering all summer. Annual

Rudbeckia "Prairie Sun" An All-America Selection and Fleuroselect winner. Very large 6" distinctive flowers with light yellow tips on golden petals that encircle a green center. Branching 28-32" plants have strong stems. East to grow and maintain. Perennial

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Sunday Walkabout

Sunday I took a walk around the property. This was my first walk around in a while and there were many, many signs of Spring. Down in the big garden, the trillium are getting larger. My favorites are the ones with the spotted leaves.

We also seem to have a number of solid leaf trillium.

The Osoberry, or Indian Plum, are the first "trees" to leaf out each year. As soon as the buds have broken, and the first bright green leaves appear, the plant sends out this lovely cascade of white flowers.

Right in the middle of the secret path, the large patch of shooting stars has returned. This is the only place on the property that we have shooting stars. The deer march up and down this path but fortunately shooting star plants appear to be pretty tough. I wonder if we will get any blooms this year?

Further down the path, the Veratrum, or Corn Lilies, grow thickly. This area is quite near the creek and is very wet and bog-like. This plant is extremely poisonous, but has such beautiful textured leaves as it emerges.

Across the creek, the Lamb's Tongues have suddenly appeared. I was just looking for them a week or two ago and couldn't find any. Now the pretty sets of leaves are up and the blossom stalk is forming. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Wild Violets

In the "lawn" surrounding the big garden, I have a variety of violets that bloom each Spring. The first to bloom each year are the deep purple/violet ones. They are quickly followed by the pink violets. The last, and most abundant, are the white violets. I thought that I has missed most of the purple & pinks this year but I did find this lovely little purple one blooming just outside the garden gate.

Inside the garden, the white violets are just beginning their show.

I would guess that only half of them are open at this point. The rest are just appearing above their bed of grass and moss.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Grape Hyacinth

A few years ago, my Mom planted a dozen or so Grape Hyacinth bulbs near the Sweet Gum trees. The bulbs came up well but we then discovered that they are a delicacy to the deer. We soon gave up on the project. The trees slowly grew and Grape Hyacinth became less obvious to the hungry deer.

With no attention or support on our part, the Grape Hyacinth have been busy growing and multiplying. We now have a lovely little patch tucked between the trees. A cheery pop of purple in a sea of green. Just don't tell the deer!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Swallows have Returned!

Today we once again heard a familiar sound up in the sky. The distinctive call of our Violet-green Swallows. They have returned! In most years, I hear them at work first, circling in groups as they swoop around. But this year they have returned back at our house before I have spied them down in the city. Soon they will be checking out all of the swallow houses and begin building nests for the Summer.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring Fever

Today I decided to stop by Down to Earth. It had been quite a while since my last visit and I was in the mood to surround myself with plants and seeds. As always, they had lovely signage throughout the nursery and store. I liked the simplicity and truth on this sign....Plant, Grow, Eat. That's what gardening is all about.

I began by visiting the greenhouse. It was full of early Spring vegetable starts. Nothing says Spring in Oregon like tender young pea plants. Now is the perfect time to plant them.

How pretty are these packs of "Red Romaine" Lettuce.

Another early season crop is Swiss Chard. The multi-colored stalks on "Bright Lights" are garden art in their own right.

After I explored the nursery I went inside the store. The Seeds are Here! Isn't the bean seed boarder on this sign stunning! So cool. I desperately need to get my act together and make a garden plan so that I can put together my seed buying list. I spent quite a bit of time roaming the seed display racks.

Seeds of Change is one of my favorite companies from which to buy.

I also love Renee's Garden. Here is small selection of the vegetable seed that she sells. The beautiful artwork on each packet makes you want to buy it! They are as pretty as the old packets from the early 1900's.

As I was leaving, I found this lovely magnolia blooming out in the nursery. Just beautiful.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Who's that is the Daffodils?

I received this wonderful metal goat for Christmas this year.He has been living out on the covered front porch all Winter, protected from the elements. He has "moved" around a bit over the months and it now appears that he has his eye on a lunch of daffodils!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The First Day of Spring

Happy first day of Spring! I am glad to report that we didn't have a snowmaggedon today like we had last year. Instead, we had a quintessential Spring day - a little sun, a little hail, and a lot of downpours! Best of all, we were treated to a rainbow around dinnertime. Welcome Spring.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Garlic Reveal

Yesterday I decided it was time to remove the remay cover from the garlic row inside the kitchen garden. I had noticed last week, when the sun was hitting the tunnel, that it appeared that some of the garlic inside was as tall as the tunnel.

When I pulled back the remay cover I discovered that this was true! The "Russian Red" garlic is already over 12" tall ! I would be really shocked at this growth except that I clearly remember how huge the 15 individual garlic cloves were that I planted November 3rd. Those big cloves are turning into really big plants.

Some of the stalks are thicker than my thumb already. They kind of remind me more of leaks with their size right now than garlic plants. But I am really please at how strong and healthy they are. I am excited to watch and see how large these plants will get to be by July.

Next to the "Red Russian" are 10 "Chesnook Red" plants. While they are much smaller that the "Russian Red" garlic plants, I am not worried. I grew this variety last year for the first time so I know that it is right where it should be in terms of height and overall growth. 

Again I am super pleased that all of these plants have a really healthy deep green color. It looks like I should have another good crop of "Chesnook Red" this year.

Things are a little different on the West side of the house. My raised bed of "Tzan" garlic is struggling a bit. Many of the plants are still quite small and have a light green/yellow ting of color to their leaves. I think it was a mistake putting this extra raised bed in this location. I think that it just doesn't receive enough hours of direct sunlight to meet the garlic's needs. I do have 2-3 plants that seem to be doing fairly well, so maybe I will have just enough healthy bulbs to harvest a few to eat and one to save for next year's seed crop.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Kale

I had two "Tuscano" kale plants left in the kitchen garden. I pulled up one and tossed it on the compost heap. But I have decided let the other one continue to grow. As you can see, the plant is now beginning to bolt. Small clusters of buds have formed at all of the growing tips. Each bud should open to a small flower. If pollinated, the flower will then close and set seed. I am curious what a flowering kale will look like, so this plant gets to keep growing for a little while longer. Besides adding some potential beauty to the kitchen garden, the flowers should also act as a good, early source of food for the pollinators. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

New Daffodil's Update

The daffodils that I planted in January 6th are continuing to pop up out of the ground. I now think that I have all 17 of the "Topolino" up and growing which is great. And today I spied the very first "Jamestown" leaves!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Late Winter Sunshine & More Spring Promises

Now that March has arrived, the flower beds are really starting to come alive with color. It might still be Winter on the calendar but it looks like Spring outside.

We have a couple of different clumps of crocus. They haven't completely opened up since we haven't had any full sun but they are still beautiful closed up tight. I love the purple veining against the white petals.

The Iris Reticulata are always the first iris to bloom each year. They are small in stature but have wonderful, vivid colors.

This group of snowdrops are fighting their way out from underneath a grass clump.

A perfect clump of "tete-a-tete" daffodils.

We also have lots of bulbs growing in pots. Another pretty variety of iris reticulata.

Bright red cyclamen and sunny, yellow pansies.