Sunday, January 29, 2017

Flowerbed Clean-up

I spent a good deal of this weekend working in the Mudroom Flowerbed. It was time to give it the annual spring cleaning. I unloaded tote after tote of dead branches and old foliage. Slowly but surely I worked through the whole bed, leaving the enormous "La Trinidad Pink" salvia until last.

Our two patches of "Tete-a-tete"  narcissus are off to a good start. I was happy to observe that this past December's cold weather hasn't excessively browned the leaf tips. Before we know it, this clump will be a sea of blinding yellow trumpets.

As usual, I was pleasantly surprised by how many perennials are already showing signs of new growth. Here is Black-eyed Susan "Henry Eilers". I guess if you are going to reach 5 feet in height, you had better start growing early in the new year.

A healthy clump of agastache "Acapulco Orange", already sending up lots of new growth.

I also spend a few hours today completely cleaning up the Sunset Flowerbed. While this bed is much larger than the Mudroom Bed, it is less densely planted. While it still involved a lot of careful work, it was a much easier weeding job than the Mudroom Bed was.

Here is the lobelia "Fan Scarlet", just beginning this year's new growth. This poor plant got absolutely smothered under a Penstemon last year and never stood a chance at reaching full size, let alone blooming. We are going to move it once Spring weather arrives, so it has its own space and the right conditions to perform.

Here is my sweet little clump of "Sabrosa" narcissus. I dumped some extra soil over the clump before our freezing weather hit. I think that really helped to protect the young green shoots.

I am also excited to see some of the "Toto" narcissus that we planted last year coming back. They were among the group of bulbs that didn't get planted until mid-Winter 2016. They seem to be coming up in good numbers this year and I am anxious to finally see them in bloom.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Yellow Witch Hazel

The Witch Hazel in the Sunset Flowerbed is in full bloom this weekend. I am afraid I hadn't noticed it, until I started weeding the bed. Then the yellow caught my eye. We did discover that this plant has sent up quite a few suckers over the years, growth from its root stock These branches were covered in small, red blooms. I took some clippers and cut off at ground level all of those branches. Hopefully that will direct the plant's energy to the yellow blooming cultivar.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The First Seed Packets of the Year

Each year, I try to order from a few different seed companies. I love receiving all of the different catalogs in the mail each Winter, but I certainly don't need enough new seed each year to justify placing an order with every company from which I receive a catalog. This year I was excited to buy a few seeds from a "new-to-me" company out of New York called The Hudson Valley Seed Company. I was especially taken with their selection of seeds that come in an Art Pack. After many happy evenings spent reading through their catalog, I finally chose to order the following three seeds;

"Abundant Bloomsdale" Spinach - 55 days, Certified Organic. "An improved savoy-leaf spinach developed by the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) in partnership with organic farmers. OSA continues the long tradition of on-farm seed stewardship by working with farmers that breed new varieties and improve older ones. Bloomsdale boasts cold tolerance, high yields, and deeply savoyed, attractive leaves."

"Toyko Market" Turnip - 35 days, Certified Organic. "Fast Growing, sweet, crunchy all-white roots will have you second guessing about what you thought a turnip could be! A great variety that can be sown all season long. Direct sow outdoors, and cover with a row cover if flea beetles are an issue in your garden. Harvest when roots are two inches in diameter. Use fresh in salads or for dipping, or stir fry with their sweet and tender tops."

"Gift" Zinnia - 80 days. Certified Organic. "In its native Mexico, the original zinnia was considered an unattractive weed called "mal de ojos". In the mid-1700s, the German Ambassador to Mexico sent seeds to Johann Gottfried Zinn, a professor of botany for whom the plants - and part of the eye - became named. The cut flowers of this variety are spectacular on their own; a mix of single and double medium blooms. Plants are also medium in height, reaching up to 4 inches by the end of the season."

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Garlic Patch In January

We had quite a rain storm roll through Tuesday night and with it came some high wind gusts. My one layer remay tunnel, which sits over the raised garlic bed, was torn loose from the earth staples that secured it to the ground. This morning, with blue skies overhead and sunshine on my back, I set about to re-secure the tunnel over the garlic bed once again. This project did allow me the chance to easily check on the garlic plants and see how their growth was progressing. Both varieties are doing well. All 15 "Chesnook Red', pictured above, and all 17 "Music" pictured below, are up. The "Chesnook Red" are a bit taller but this isn't surprising considering that they sprouted a week before the first "Music" bulb did. All in all, the garlic season is off to a good start!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Early Sensation Daffodils

In a normal year, I try to make it down to the big bird feeder and check on the "Early Sensation" daffodils sometime between Christmas and New Years. But this year, with all of the ice and snow storms, the daffodils were the last thing on my mind. Now that the snow has melted, and life has returned to normal once again, I suddenly remembered I hadn't yet checked on this early season daffodil. Not surprisingly, when I walked down to the area where they grow, I found that they were not only up, but were a good 6" high! I was please to find only one small branch lying on this group, as well as a bunch of small fir tree tips. I quickly cleaned up the storm debris and straightened up the few bent leaves. Depending on the weather we see in the next few weeks, I expect this group will be in full bloom by mid-February at the latest. Spring is on the way!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Signs of Life

After 8 days, the snow and ice are finally receding from the South and West facing flowerbeds. About 1/2 of the Sunset flowerbed has bare soil once again. The rest is still coasted in varying thickness of icy snow. I did discover that some of my "Kokopelli" narcissus have broken free from the icy grip. Resilient shoot of green speak to a promise of warmer days.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Iras, one Week Later

It has been a week since our surprising 4"+ of snow and freezing rain. While the snow has melted or fallen from the trees, it is still very present on much of the surrounding ground; especially in the front of the house. For the last 2 days, the temperature hasn't made it above freezing all day and today is expected to be the same. Our driveway is still only passible with 4-wheel drive so I haven't been able to drive my car. But today the sun came out for the first time in a week and it seemed possible that this latest episode of Winter weather might finally disappear for once and all! We are all ready!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Iras, Day #2

We awoke to rainfall this morning but unfortunately it was more freezing rain. The Winter Storm Warning had changed to a Freezing Rain Warning and was extended until 4 PM today. That time frame was just about right. I bundled up around 4 PM and went for a walk around the property. The temperature had finally gotten above freezing and I could heard dripping water everywhere. Once in a while a tree would dramatically dump part of its load of ice and snow with a crash.

Thankfully we didn't get as much ice accumulation as we did in Mid-December but it still coated everything. The last of the crab apples looked especially pretty encapsulated in ice.

The red branches of a young maple tree. 

The Douglas Fir trees were all coated in a mix of snow and ice.

I ran into two does during my hike. I feel for them. It must be difficult to find much to eat when the world is all covered in snow and ice.

Above, a stand of hazelnut brush and below the wreath on our front gate. The snow on the ground  was definitely getting slushier during my walk. Here's hoping the temperature continues to rise as predicted and this all disappears tomorrow.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Winter Storm Iras

As predicted, Winter Storm Iras rolled into town early this morning. This storm started down in Douglas County and moved northward, bringing both freezing rain and snow. We started the day with freezing rain but thankfully not too much. Then around 10 AM, the snow moved in. The weather service reports we received 4.5" and then it turned back into freezing rain.

By this evening, all of the snow is now covered in a light crust of ice. The low is suppose to be 25 tonight and the Winter Storm Warning has now been extended until 6 AM Sunday. Sigh. I am really getting tired of freezing rain and ice, and it's only January 7th! At least it made for a lovely view tonight on my walk around at dusk. All of the Christmas lights glowed against the backdrop of whites and grays.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Freezing Weather

As promised, extremely cold weather has set in. Yesterday's snowfall hasn't gone anywhere and the temperatures are bitterly cold. This morning's low of 13 set a record for December 5th. The old record was 15 degrees, set back in 1924 and today's high only reached 31! Tonight we are expecting another cold one, around 18 for the low. At least I can look at this picture of the snow covered Big Garden and be very thankful that all of my dahlias are dug and safely stored away from the freezing temperatures. It makes all of my hard work in late October and November worth every minute.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

It's Snowing

When we awoke this morning, there was a bit of snow on the ground and it was snowing. It continued to snow on and off until around 2 PM this afternoon. The airport reported 4.5" which set a record for snowfall on January 4th. The old record was just 2", set back in 1901. Now our concern is the temperature. It doesn't look like it is expected to get above freezing for the next two days! That means all of this snow isn't going anywhere and driving could be very tricky.