Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016

I stepped outside to capture this last light of 2016. There is always a mix of feelings for me at the New Year. It's bittersweet to see the past year ending but I am also excited for a clean slate and the promise of what lies ahead in the New Year. Goodbye 2016.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Hellebore Maintenance

Today I worked outside for a bit. I decided to begin the task of cutting off last year's leaves on all of the Hellebore plants. I finished up two plants which completely filled up a trug. As you can see, this year's new growth is already pushing up and out. There are even a few buds fully visible. I worry about them, with all of the cold weather predicted for next week.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all the joy, wonder and peace of the Holiday Season.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

First Frost Finally!

After waiting and waiting, we finally had our first frost last night. It hit 27 degrees and we were greeted by a white, icy wonderland this morning. We missed tying the record for the latest first frost, December 9th, by just two days. I am still wondering what kind of Winter we are going to have. The forecasters are calling for more of a "true" Winter this year. But with such a late first first I am wondering if we are doomed, for a third year in a row, to another mild, warm Winter.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Music Garlic is Up!

After a late start, it was great to see some of my "Music" garlic push through the soil in the last week. It is interesting to note, that although the "Music" and "Red Chesnook" garlic were planted at the same time, it has taken the "Music" garlic almost a week longer to sprout. I wonder if this is just a one-off this year, or a typical difference between the two varieties.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Acer Palmatum "Shidava Gold"

Our new Acer in the front flowerbed is almost at peak Fall color. As its name indicates, it has turned a lovely golden color. We have been watching it and watching it all Fall. It was among the last of our trees to begin changing color. We started joking that it had decided to just stay green. But finally, as Thanksgiving approached, the transformation began. Considering that it is still a young tree, and thus not very full, it is still putting on a really nice display.

Thursday, November 24, 2016


Happy Thanksgiving!

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown, 
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on

Emily Dickinson

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The First Garlic is Up

Walking past the kitchen garden today, a bit of green caught my eye. I walked over to my garlic raised bed and discovered small green shoots poking through the soil. Since I had just planted the garlic back on November 6th, I wasn't expecting to see anything quite yet. But I found 6 of the "Chesnook Red" cloves had sprouted. Interestingly enough, none of the "Music" are yet visible. I am hoping that they are just a touch slower and I will see some green in their section soon. The 2017 garlic season is officially off and growing!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Zinnias - A Few Holding On

As we near mid-November, the days are getting noticeably shorter and colder. The Kitchen Garden has been put to bed for the year and I only have one more week's worth of digging dahlia tubers before the same can be said down in the Big Garden. But I haven't yet had time to clean up the "over-flow" Kitchen Garden Bed. The cantaloupe are long finished, the vines brown and mushy. The "Bright Lights" cosmos have finally given up. Hopefully a few will spill their ripened seeds and  produce next years volunteer plants. But there is still one bit of color and life left growing right now- a few plants of the "Country Fair Blend" zinnias. This last splash of hot pink and reminder of Summer is as enjoyable to the humans as it is to the hummingbirds and pollinators still seeking a good source nutrition.  

Monday, November 7, 2016

November Mushrooms

As I was busy washing off dahlia clumps outside, next to the shop, a patch of orange caught my eye. I discovered this nice group of mushrooms happily growing among the daisies and dandelion leaves. It looks like someone, perhaps a chipmunk, has been nibbling on a few of the mushroom caps. Lets hope these aren't poisonous!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Planting the Garlic

After some rain showers moved through the area yesterday, today's cloudy but dry weather sent me outside to get the garlic planted. I had promised myself I would find the time, somehow, to get the garlic planted on time this year. I am still a couple weeks later than I would have liked but so much earlier than last year's January 10th planting. I pulled out of storage the largest two bulbs of each variety. 

As the name implies, the "Chesnook Red" cloves are covered in such pretty layers of red papery skin.

The "Music" cloves were larger and covered in a soft purple skin. You can only imagine how pungent and "garlicky" my hands smelled after dividing the bulbs into individual cloves!

In the Kitchen Garden, I first built up a 20'+ long raised bed. Then I laid out the individual cloves on top of the bed, trying to fit in as many as I could while still allowing enough room for each new bulb to reach maximum size. Then it was time to get planting. After I dug each hole, I dropped in a tablespoon of bone meal and mixed it into the soil at the bottom. Then I set in each clove and covered it well. I ended up planting 17 "Music" cloves and 15 "Chesnook Red" cloves. I am hoping, since I was able to plant this year's garlic crop over 3 months earlier than last year, that the garlic plants will be happier and the bulbs will reach a larger final size than they did this year.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Paper Bark Maple

I decided I had better head down today and take some pictures of the  Paperbark Maple. Its leaves are notoriously slow to turn color each fall. And just when I think it will be in peak crimson glory within a few days, it suddenly drops 80% of its leaves one night! And then I have missed another year to capture is beauty.

While there are still a few green leaves on the tree that haven't yet turned red, I knew I didn't dare wait any longer. So this morning I snapped a series of photos. They can never completely convey  how fiery red and brilliant this tree is, for just a few days each November. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Welcome November

And just like that, November has arrived. In our part of the world, November signals peak autumnal color. Thanks to our record October rainfall, we are enjoying more color this year, as the trees aren't quite as stressed from months of endless drought. Right now the Sweet Gum trees are finishing up for the season, but there are still a few crimson leaves hanging on until the next wind storm.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Spiderweb with Morning Dew

Late October in Oregon means Fall color, low, golden-yellow light, acorns scattered on the ground, and spiderwebs everywhere. We have had record rainfall this month, and everything is dewy and wet. As I went on a walk down to the Big Garden, I passed a mowed meadow. With the morning sunlight hitting it at just the right angle, I could see dozens of small, detailed spiderwebs covered in the morning's dew. Each one was no larger than a few inches but they were everywhere in the grass. Such tiny, perfect pieces of art, woven between the blades of grass.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Apples In the Forest

One of the signs of Fall here in my part of the world, is ripening apples in the trees. While my two domesticated apple trees are years away from producing any fruit, our forest is home to many, many wild apple trees. There are two large trees in the hedgerow that surrounds the Big Garden. One of them produces solid green apples. The other produces classic red apples, as pictured here. There's nothing as pretty as a ripened red apple caught in a shaft of Fall sunshine.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Record Rainfall

It should come as no surprise to see mushrooms sprouting up all around. We have had so much rain the last 5 days! It began with Thursday's record breaking 1.45". That was quickly followed up by Sunday's record breaking 1.25" and then Monday's record breaking 1.38"! So far, month to date, we have received 6.4" of rain. It is actually a wonderful thing, as we have been below our average rainfall month after month for years now. While it is pretty much putting a temporary stop to my mowing projects, the sweet earth is drinking it all up and the  mushroom are returning in droves.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Rose Hips in the Hedgerow

As I was walking up and down our long drive this past weekend, flecks of color caught my eye. It was a nice patch of rose hips in the hedgerow along the road. In a year where drought has once again  limited the fall color in our trees, it was so nice to see this splash of autumnal beauty.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Harvest Monday - The Beans are In

Not a large harvest this past week, but still one that I am very excited about. The beans are in! Well not all of the beans, but the majority of them. We received out first significant rain on Sunday morning. It was predicted so I harvested most of the pods from my bush "Titus" cannellini beans earlier in the week. I would say 4/5 of the pods had fully ripened. They were brown and dry, but did not spit open and shatter- just as the catalog promised. My total harvest to this point is 9.1 oz, or 1 1/3 cups. Not a huge amount but I think a descent harvest from just 20 plants. Now I get to play around with these in a few recipes and see how they taste. If they make the cut I would like to double or triple my grow out of them next year.

I also enjoyed a good "second flush" harvest on the "Lemon" cucumber plants. I know that I was complaining earlier in the season that they weren't a very prolific producer but I need to rescind that remark a bit. I harvested another 9 cukes this week, weighing in at 2 lbs. 3.4 oz. So that puts my total year to date harvest at 21 cukes from the 5 plants. Not a huge amount, but not too bad either from plants growing in a location that received only half-day sun.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bouquet Before the Rains Return

The rains arrived, as predicted around 2:00 AM this morning and continued until sometime around 8:00 AM. Since this was to be our first significant rain this Fall, I headed down to the big garden yesterday to tidy up and prepare the dahlias. Before I left, I cut 5 big blooms on my "Lexa" plants. Up at the house I stuck them in a simple glass vase and voila - a lovely arrangement. This is only the second flush on the "Lexa" plants, so the blooms are still a good size and the color is great with the diminished Fall sunshine. There probably isn't enough growing season left for a third flush, so I am enjoying these blooms even more knowing these are the last I will see until next year's garden.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

October Arrives

And suddenly, October arrives. The days are cooler now and the nights have a chill to them. Across the road from the Big Garden, is this wonderful old building, covered in trailing vines. For most of the year it doesn't draw your attention. But come October, the vines turn scarlet and the whole scene is picture perfect.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Late Season Dahlias

As we reach the end of September, a few of my dahlia are really just getting going. Some dahlia varieties do take their time growing and blooming each year while others are a bit of a mystery. For instance, my "Pam Howden" waterlily dahlia was just plain slow to grow this year. In past years it has been among my first varieties to bloom, so I am stumped. I am wondering if maybe my stock has weakened and if I should invest in some new tubers for next year.

Another late bloomer for me this year is another waterlily; "Wildwood Marie". Again, this is normally not a late bloomer for me, so I don't know what to think. It bloomed so late and sparingly that I wasn't  able to enter a bloom in any of the shows.

This is only my second year growing "Clearview Debby" so I don't know all of its habits yet. It appears to be a more difficult variety to "eye-up" in the Spring which then delays its planting. My 4 plants sprouted weeks apart, so I ended up with a nice long first and second flush coinciding with the shows in September.


"Lexa" is another variety which took a while to eye-up and then grew at a slower pace. But happily the first or second flush blooms - depending on the plant - timed out with the late September shows.

And another mystery for me; "Alden Snowlodge". I haven't grown this variety for the past couple of years, but I don't remember it being such a late bloomer. I wasn't able to enter a bloom in a show until the final show of the year in Roseburg. The two plants are only now bursting into a second large flush.

Here are two beautiful "Chimicum Les C.", pictured above. My two plants are only now finishing up their second flush. I seem to remember from past years that this is a slow-to-grow variety. I need to get these potted up in early May next year so I might have some to enter in the shows.

My mignon singles are just now branching out and bursting into a nice full display. But I can't blame the variety or the form. But I can blame the rabbits! They got in the fence and mowed down all of my Mignons in July. They have finally recovered and are putting on a really pretty show.

"Stillwater Plum"

This is my first bloom of the year of "AC Kira". Last year the poor plant never even bloomed. While I do love its rich, deep purple color - it didn't photograph very well - it doesn't make a lot of sense to grow a plant that starts to bloom in October! I think I will give it one more year to behave and speed things up. If it is just as late next year I will carry on my search for a laciniated dahlia that blooms on time and has great form.

My last, late dahlia this year has been my "Lakeview Glow" . This variety has always been one of my first to bloom each year and then goes on kicking out blooms all the way until frost. Maybe it was just this tuber, or perhaps it wasn't happy in the location where it was planted. Next year I will make sure to plant it in a different spot and see if it reverts back to its old early ways.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Second Wind

As we near the end of September, my dahlia garden is getting a second wind. After a warm, dry Summer, I think the plants are really responding to the cooler days. The dahlias are pumping out more blooms right now and the blooms have really good form and color. One example, the "Fancy Pants" pictured above. The form is near perfect and the colors are strong and crisp.

A wet, but lovely "Kelsie Kristie" bloom.

I am so pleased to see so many pollinators enjoying the open centered flowers.

Another amazing "Clearview Audrey" bloom. This plant was one of the first plants to bloom this Summer and it is still producing perfect blooms.

Another early bloomer for me, still at it! During the heat of Summer, the center petals on "Sandia Sunbonnet" were browning on the tips. Now that the weather has cooled, the blooms are solid yellow and close to perfect. 

Oh, these "Haley's Dream" plants look great! They are loaded with blooms. I could create a lovely bouquet with nothing but "Haley's Dream" blooms.

If "Haley's Dream" has a fault, it is that the color fades badly in the heat of Summer. But now in late September, the hot pink color is crisp and the white tips uniform.

The pretty single "Eclipse".

All of the collarettes are really floriferous right now. Pictured above, "Parkland Moonmist" and below, "Pooh". Now that the show season has passed, it will be fun to cut all of these great blooms to enjoy in the house and at work.