Thursday, March 31, 2016

First 70 Degree Day of the Year

Well, this March certainly came in like a Lion and is going out like a Lamb. We hit a high of 72 today; our first 70+ degree day of the year. Last year we hit this milestone on  March 9th, so this year is a bit more "normal" than the last 2 years have been. Everyone - plants and people alike - are loving this warm, dry spell. A quick walk down the secret path lead to a thick patch of Lamb's Tongues beginning to bloom.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Unwrapping the Dahlia Tubers

Four short months ago, I finished up the huge project of digging/dividing/washing/and storing my dahlia tubers for the year. And now, on Easter Sunday, it's time to begin the task of unwrapping my tubers and sorting them. It's a time consuming job, but also a little fun too. As I check each variety for tuber health and a live eye, I also need to look ahead to this year's garden. I must decided now how many plants of each variety I wish to grow this year, so I can donate the rest of my tubers to friends and my local dahlia society. Some tubers "wake up" earlier than others. The waterlily form is always on the the first to sprout each Spring and this year is no different. Pictured below, 2 healthy tubers of "Carmen Bunky" a dark pink waterlily. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Magnolia Tour

We took advantage of a break in the rain today and drove out to Gossler Farms Nursery in East Springfield. They had a spur-of-the-moment open house to celebrate their magnificent magnolia collection which is currently at peak bloom.

The magnolia trees aren't labeled, so I can't identify them by name in each picture. But I can say that many of the trees have huge trunks and must be decades old.

This gorgeous one was covered in deep violet blooms.

A close-up.

This tree almost looked like it had billowy rose blossoms.

Each bloom was a rounded mass of pink and white.

I don't think this magnolia could fit any more blooms on its branches!


This magnolia had the most interestingly shaped buds and blooms. They were so pointed and cone-shaped and were a striking deep purple. When the bloom opened each petal was long and narrow. It gave the blooms an open, airy look.

Here's a pretty white bloom that had a under pink blush to the lower petal region.

I always forget that there are yellow magnolias but I really like them. The soft butter color really stands out in the trees.

And you can't forget the white blooms. Most of them were discolored from the rains but I found this perfect bloom on the end of this branch.

This grand tree is near the homes on the property. It is an un-named variety given tot he Gosslers by a magnolia hybridizer many years ago. He gave them the young un-named tree to grow and then passed away before naming it.

I loved the open center of each bloom.

Besides magnolias, the Gossler Farm property is s showroom for the many other shrubs, trees and perennials that they sell. This shrub was covered in these beautiful yellow cascading blooms. The air was sweet with its fragrance and the blooms were buzzing with happy pollinators.

This pine caught my eye. I fell in love with its cones, in all three stages. Here are some clusters of newly formed cones.

In middle-age the cones separate, turn a shocking lime-green and stand up straight down the branches.

In maturity the cones turn into these sweet, fat, brown sentinels that are dripping with sap.

Around every bend in the gardens there is something beautiful to see. We loved this old, moss covered bench getting slowly consumed by a rhododendron. And down by the creek we found a mass of lilac erythonium in bloom.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

More Seed Purchases

So, this past weekend I made a few more seed purchases. I enjoy receiving seed catalogs in the mail each Winter and there are so many quality seed companies that I want to support. For this reason I try to move my purchases around each year, buying from a few different sources each Spring. This year it was time to show some love to High Mowing Seed. They are a wonderful company based in Wolcott, Vermont. All of the seed that they offer is organic and non-GMO project verified.Plus, they ship all orders free with no minimum. How to you beat all of that! Here's what I ordered:

  • Winter Squash "Waltham Butternut" - 105 day; "Bell-shaped squash with smooth, easy-to-peel, buff colored skin and finely textured dark orange flesh. Know for its mild sweet flavor. Will keep well into the Winter if properly cured. This strain has been selected for uniformity of size, shape, and yields. "
  • Winter Squash "Delicata" - 95 days; "The only Winter Squash that can be eaten with the skin on, after baking or boiling. Our stain has been selected since 2001 for uniformity in color, shape and size as well as yield of sweet, soft-shelled fruit. Small oblong fruits are 1-1.5 lbs. each".
  • Winter Squash - "Crown Pumpkin" -100 days; "A delicious eating pumpkin with hard blue-grey skin and rich orange flesh. Superb sweet and nutty flavor. Once part of the Koanga Gardens collection of heritage seeds of New Zealand, Crown was nearly lost before we brought it back into production, improving the strain to better reflect its original characteristics. excellent Keeper".
  • Zinnia - "Country Fair Blend" - 75-90 days; 24-36" plants; "Warm-toned mix of pink, orange, purple, gold, cream, and scarlet blooms. An excellent cut flower that blooms until frost; the more you cut the more they grow.2-5" blooms ideal for boards and bouquets. Heat and disease tolerant. Attracts butterflies."

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The First Muscari

The first Muscari of the year is in full-bloom in the mudroom flowerbed. We have lost the name of this variety but it really doesn't matter. It is such a happy blue, adding another pop of color to Spring.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Greens After 5 Weeks

We have hit the five week mark for many of the greens I planted as an experiment in February. It took it a week longer to germinate than the other lettuce blends but the "Heirloom Cutting Mix" is starting to take off now.

Next to it, the "Charger" spinach I just planted a couple of weeks ago is starting to germinate. It will be interesting to watch and see if it catches up wit the "Catalina" spinach which was planted weeks earlier in cooler weather conditions.

Here a group of "Sweet Greens and Reds" Lettuce blend. in the next raised bed over.

It shares the bed with this interesting mistake. The "Catalina" spinach which I accidentally under-planted with "Wasabi" arugula. We shall see if they are good companion plantings!

In the next bed over the "Mild Mustard Mix" is doing great. I read it does well in cold weather and it is proving that to be true.

I love the spiky new leaves it is setting.

Sharing the same bed are these rows of "Renee's Baby Leaf Blend" . They too seem to be doing just fine in the wet and cold weather. I think as soon as we see a few sunny days in the 60's they are really going to take off.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Welcome Spring

Happy first day of Spring! It's a typical Oregon Spring day here today. Periods of bright sunshine interrupted by storm cells bringing torrential rain. But the days are now as long as the nights and the temperature continues to rise, bit by bit. Blessed Ostara!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

And Some More Bulb Planting

We were blessed with yet another dry Saturday, so it was time for some more bulb planting. I really want to get this done and get it off my mental "to-do" list. We started up on the bank by the Sweet Gum trees. There we planted 10 "Angel Eyes" daffodils.

As we were working in that area I noticed that the Hound's Tongue have already come up and are beginning to bloom. They have such pretty blue flowers. 

We then moved down to the island and planted 25 "Barrett Browning" daffodils. Then we stopped near the bottom of the road and planted 20 "King Alfred". While we still have one more variety left to plant,my back was telling me that was enough bulb planting for today. So then I moved back up to the house and finish weeding the "overflow" kitchen garden area. It was growing a dandy batch of grass and weeds and was at the point that it needed to be weeded or it was going to get out of control. It feels really nice to have this project completed. Now all I need to do is add some fresh Natures Best to the soil and this area is all ready to plant. At this point I am planning to plant Zinnias and Melons here after our last frost date.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Royal Raindrops Crab Apple

The last time that I looked at the Crab Apple tree, its branches were covered with only small little black buds; the promise of the year to come. Fast forward to today. Suddenly those buds have burst and the tree is covered with pretty little deep red leaves. And in the center of each leaf cluster, a small spray of flower buds. After loosing our first Crab Apple tree last winter, it will be so nice to have a beautiful tree in bloom this Spring once again.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Salad Beds - Week #4

The rain finally let up for a bit right after dinner and I was able to take a quick peek underneath one of my raised beds in the kitchen garden. I was pleased to see, that even with all of the cooler temperatures and heavy rainfall of the past week, the different greens seem to be slowly plugging along. As you can see in the above picture, the "Mild Mustard Mix" is starting to get its first set of true leaves. That's exciting! And pictured below, a row of ""Renee's Baby Leaf Blend" lettuce. I hope to have some dryer weather next weekend so I can do some much needed thinning in the beds.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Plums in the Forest

Each March, the forests in the surrounding hills are filled with small pockets of white. Birds have long ago dropped plum seeds that have germinated and thrived. While these "wild" plum trees aren't native to our woods, their lovely displays each Spring are eagerly anticipated and welcome. A burst of white in a mostly brown and green world.