Saturday, January 30, 2016

Early Sensation Daffodils

I haven't been down by the big bird feeder in quite some time. Looking at the calendar today, I realized that we are running out of January. I also realized that the end of January normally means that the "Early Sensation" daffodils are in full bloom. 

This isn't the prettiest stand of daffodils. They were planted next to a bunch of small fir trees which have grown immensely over the last 10 years. The "Early Sensations" now grow in dense shade and thus are leggy and bloom sparingly. But still they try their best each year. And who can not appreciate a burst of bright yellow at the end of January?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Garlic is Up!

Above, a new "Chesnook Red" garlic plant.

As I walked by the kitchen garden today, a bit of green caught my eye. Upon a closer review I discovered that much of my garlic has sprouted! I did a count; in the kitchen garden all 15 of my "Chesnook Red" are up and 2 of the 18 "Music" have sprouted. Across the patio, in the overflow garden, 3 of the 6 "Russian Red" garlic are up. Since I planted so very late this year, I am quite pleased to see anything coming up at all. I am also not too worried at this point with the low number of "Music" plants. The bulbs were quite dehydrated when I separated them into cloves for planting, so I expected it would take them some extra time to re-hydrate before growing. Fingers crossed in a week or two the rest of the "Music" will be pushing through the soil.

Below, a row of "Chesnook Red".

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Current Buds

As I was doing a touch of Winter clean-up in the sunset flowerbed this past weekend, I discovered that our Current bush is nicely covered with fat, red buds. It looks like we are going to have a very strong display of cascading pink blooms this Spring. That will please both the humans and the hummingbirds!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Rain, Rain, and More Rain!

Sometime during the night it began to rain once again. And when it started, it started with enthusiasm! I woke up to the sound of heavy rain, and it continued all morning. It finally began to let up around 3:00 PM and by 4:00 PM it had quit. I had emptied the rain gauge yesterday, so I got a good measurement of this latest storm - 1 3/10 "! With camera in hand I eagerly headed down to see what the two creeks looked like. I could hear Dorthy's creek long before I got there. It is currently a brown, raging, rushing torrent. It is double its normal width; I can't imagine any animals will be crossing it here in the next week. I then walked down to the main creek. It too was impressive, very full and  roaring along at a fast clip. I do love the site and sound of our creeks when they are swollen with water and rushing near full speed. It's a good reminder of the power nature can unleash.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Yellow Witchhazel

The rain finally let up this late afternoon and I spent a little time outside with the cats. While I had high hope of getting some more gardening done this weekend, the only thing I checked off my mental to-do list was "cleaning up" the witch-hazel in the sunset flowerbed. While I really enjoy witch-hazels, especially in the Fall and Winter, I don't appreciate their habit of hanging on to their old leaves. It seems each year that only around half of the leaves fall off the plant and the rest just hand on to the plant, brown and soggy. So this afternoon I gently pinched off all of last year's leaves. Now we have a very pretty plant covered in sunny, yellow blooms. Such a welcome bit of color on these grey, rainy days.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Tree Planting

We took advantage of the dry weather today to replace our Maple Tree in the front flowerbed. The old maple, which I had "accidentally" grown from a volunteer seedling pulled from my Aunt's flowerbed years ago, had died over the past twelve months. It initially was stressed when we pulled it from its long-term bucket and planted it - finally - in the ground. Then it suffered through two cold spells. The bark on it split up the trunk and then the tree slowly died. Fast forward to late Fall. A local nursery specializing in maples was going out of business. Mom came home with this lovely Acer Palmatum "Shidava Gold". Today we pulled out the old Maple and planted out our new treasure. Right now, in the dead of Winter, it has lovely yellow bark on much of its canopy. In the Spring it is suppose to be covered in pea-green leaves that change to light green in the Summer and clear yellow in the Fall. It is considered to be a dwarf Maple and will top out around 6' in height which will be just perfect for this front flowerbed.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Garlic Planting - Finally!

Well, I finally found the time today, and the weather cooperated, so that I could plant my garlic. It seems like for the last two months, I either haven't had the time to plant, or if I had a free moment, it was either below freezing or pouring rain. I was a bit nervous about the state in which I would find my stored bulbs. But I was really pleased to discover that they were still fairly firm and heavy. The "Music" were the most dried out but it was completely my fault. Since I brought them back from Maine this Fall, they have lived in a sack on my dresser. Not exactly a cool, dark place. On the other hand, the "Russian Red" not only had good substance but they were actually sprouting.

A group of divided "Chesnook Red" cloves.

And 6 fat "Russian Red" cloves.

As you can see, this clove has started to sprout! It is more than ready to be planted. So, after dividing the bulbs into individual cloves, I went to work building a long raised bed in the Kitchen Garden. Then I laid out the cloves. I planted 18 "Music" and 15 "Chesnook Red" in this bed. I also planted 6 "Russian Red" cloves over in the overflow garden by the kitchen. It's almost 3 months later than I would liked to have planted these cloves and a full month later than I planted last year. But better late than never. It will be an interesting experiment to compare the final weights of this year's January planted garlic bulbs to previous year's October-December planted weights. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Signs of Spring

"Tete-a-tete" in the mudroom bed

The cold spell that had a firm grip on us through much of early January has finally ended. I took a short walk this afternoon and it felt both strange and wonderful to be out and about in such mild weather. I took a quick inventory of our daffodils and narcissus. It always surprises me to see so many of them up in January, although it shouldn't. Almost all of our bulbs that are planted in the flowerbeds routinely are up by now.  

The "Early Sensation" daffodils down by the big birdfeeder are 6-8" tall now. The buds are visible and I imagine that they will be blooming in a matter of weeks.

A clump of "Early Sensation"

We have a number of different specialty bulbs planted in the sunset flowerbed. The "Kokopelli", pictured above, appear to be coming back well. Last year the tips on all of the leaves turned brown as a result of early freezes that we experienced. I am glad to see that so far, our cold spells don't seem to have had any effect on them.

My clump of Ipheion "Rolf Fiedler" is also looking good. This sweet little bulb produces the prettiest star shaped flowers in an amazing shade of blue.

Here is my little clump of narcissus "Sabrosa". It has such fine, delicate leaves. Pictured below is part of my large group of "Topolino" narcissus. Its name means little mouse in Italian and this 4-6" beauty is a reliable, fragrant bloomer.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

A Touch of White

When I woke this morning, the outside world was dusted in a covering of white ice pellets. The sky is slate grey and it's cold once again. There is now a Winter Weather Advisory through Monday at 10:00 AM which includes a forecast for freezing rain later in the day. We are keeping our fingers crossed that it doesn't happen. After a cold but pleasant walk down to the big garden to fill the bird feeder, I have retreated back into the warm house to spend this last day of my holiday weekend resting and reading.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

It's Cold Outside!

 It was 19 degrees at dawn this morning and the whole world is cloaked in white frost. It has been a very cold 2016 so far and the extended forecast is calling for a mix of snow and freezing rain tomorrow. While the experts are still predicting a Winter influenced by El Nino, at this point, they have been wrong. And I for one have enjoyed this return of  windy storms, heavy rain, and cold, cold nights. This is how Winter in Oregon is suppose to look and feel.

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Walk

We started off the New Year by heading out into a very chilly, but sunny morning to take a hike around the Delta Ponds. The parking lot was pretty empty and we ran into only a few other hardy birders out enjoying the crisp, clear weather. During our 1 1/2 hour walk, we were fortunate to view a lot of different birds, especially waterfowl. But my favorite are always the Great Blue Herons and I was excited that we found four during our hike. The one pictured sitting above looked at cold as we felt! But the heron in the second picture, below, was intent on catching something for breakfast. He was so focused on the water, just waiting for a fish or frog to swim by. While I was glad to get back into the warm car by the end of our walk, our outing was a really nice way to ring in the New Year.