Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Delights!

Wild Trillium ( Trilllium grandiflorum),also known as wake-robin or birthroot.  I am fortunate enough to have these beautiful native wild flowers growing on my property in the shady wooded areas. It is illegal in a few states (Washington being one of them) to pick or transplant trillium as it is a protected wildflower.  Once the flower is picked it can take many years to recover. The plants have a perennial rootstock that was used medicinally by both Native Americans and early colonists.  It is always such a delight to see them pop up here and there.  Over the years we have had more show up each spring.  This is my largest grouping so far.  I am a little fearful for it's safety as the Hellebores seem to be creeping in.  I will have to take care of that this fall when the Trillium are dormant.

Time To Tidy Up!

The joy of spring brings with it the need to see to the tedious details of the garden.  I find this to be a little on the overwhelming side and wondering "why on earth am I doing this, who cares" as I crawl along the flagstone and pick out all of the hundreds of maple seed pods and tiny pieces of rose trimmings that are lodged in the gravel between my flagstones causing me to have very sore fingers plagued with miniscule slivers and a very sore neck.  I find myself also thinking, "why didn't we just lay this flagstone in concrete?"  The answers to these questions are simple;  first, I feel absolutely compelled to "get out there" and see to the cleaning up and I care (that's who!) Second, the reason we didn't lay the flagstone in concrete is twofold, it is expensive and not does not lend itself to a natural atmosphere.  Thus, my current chore.  One of the other many things that needs to be done at this time of year is the dividing of perennials that have overgrown their boundaries.  I love it when I get multiple plants out of one and re-distribute them in my beds.  Today, I managed to get eighteen new Loosestrife just by dividing them.  Two days ago I was able to get 31 individual phlox out of two overgrown bunches.  Yeah!!  I love free plants!  My poor body is feeling the effects of all of this early spring cleaning, but I would much rather garden like a maniac than sweat away in a stuffy gym.  Happy Spring Cleaning!!

DIY Garden Design

As a gardener who is always looking for ideas and am always wondering "how did they get from one point to the other?" I thought it might be fun to share with you my personal perennial beds progress.  I have never used a professional landscaper other than hiring someone to excavate a portion of our property so that we could have a semi smooth lawn surface with an actual sprinkling system. (I felt spoiled as I watched someone else do the hard work.)  It is impossible for me to have 5 acres filled with perennial beds and thus some of it has been relegated to lawn.  Also, I will be bringing my "boys" (horses) home sometime this summer and they do best if they have a decent surface on which to stand.  So, here are a few pics with some quick explanations.  This spring will be my beds 3rd year in existence, some of the photos are from the first year, some the second.  The first year they were completely bare as I spent time amending the soil with composted horse manure and doing a tremendous amount of double digging.  The second year shows young plants.  I will post the 3rd year photos this summer.
View from the northwest end of the perennial beds that are behind our house.  We first placed the flagstone in 3/4 minus gravel (backbreaking work).  My husband did most of the heavy lifting and laying, he did a very nice job, being an artist everything had to be "just so".  I planted 100 5 gallon boxwoods myself (kill me now!) and then amended the soil, and planted some of the larger plants.  The one on the far right is a wonderful bourbon rose named Charles Lawson.  It becomes monstrous in size.  My hollyhocks grow like weeds and pop up everywhere, they typically get taller than 10ft.!  The dog is our old girl Greta, she and our other dog "B" like to keep me company.
View towards the new "east lawn".  The metal arbors were custom designed by my husband.  In this section on the left are two young dappled willows and on the right is a young Wigelia, Hollyhocks, Lavender, Gaura, Woodland Aster and a Hybrid tea rose, which you can't see because of the Gaura.  No underplantings with the exception of the lambs ear under the dappled willow.  I am waiting to see growth patterns.
View of Southeast corner before we seeded the east lawn (by  hand, very challenging).  In the corner is a young Birch Bark Flowering Cherry tree (very pretty bark, red and peels like a white birch) the Woodland Aster, vintage hybrid tea rose, young Gaura and young Wigelia.  The large ornamental rocks in my beds came from a pile one of our previous neighbors left behind on one of the front corners of our property so we snagged them and they sat in a pile for several years before I knew what to do with them. On the far right barely peeking out is a lovely vintage climber Rev d'Or, on the other side of the picket fence is the amazing Mutablis China rose, a small pink climber that has been moved since this photo was taken and a very young Lacecap Hydrangea (barely visible).
View from the deck facing out to the northeast corner.  As you can see we have what we call our "pavillion" which will have a wisteria climbing on it to soften up the edges and this will eventually house our outdoor kitchen, so it is still a bit unfinished.  A young flowering pear tree is in the far corner with an antique birdbath underneath it.  Our small firepit is in the middle with an ornamental rock for variation (husbands idea), the center bed is comprised of a Ceanothus victoria "California Lilac" which the bees adore and at this point is joined by Shasta Daisies on either side.  Looks like I left a broom on the flastone, not very tidy!!
This is a view of the northwest corner with the birdbath/fountain and the Charles Lawson rose behind it.  I have Speedwell planted at the base.  It will fill in nicely.