Thank you, commentor Dan B *:
Seattle is a great place for gardening. It’s 400 miles north of where I was raised near Akron, Ohio. We’re a few hundred miles north of Minneapolis, although we are south of Vancouver, another great gardening city on the same latitude as Paris, which is south of the great gardens and gardeners of the British Isles.
On a nice day in early February I went out in the garden to take pictures just before the middle of the US was plunged into bitter cold. Late winter is a myopic time for garden photography. The garden, overall, looks a bit funky. Well maybe a lot funky.. There are little treasures hoping to lure a few bugs, mostly gnats, to their pollen. I’ve spent years acquiring special plants through my landscape design business and through crazy mad collectors in local garden societies.
Here are some favorites.
Top photo: An unnamed Hellebore with a multitude of flowers, followed by grayish green foliage. These blooms turn creamy yellow with a chartreuse glow as they age. This is Hellebore ‘Home Depot’. It’s some breeder’s prize that Home Depot sold without the name bestowed by the breeder. So much for my fancy plant societies.
(2) My partner found this cutie, Camellia ‘Buttermint’, at a tiny local garden center. Its one of the complex hybrids of small and small leaved Camellias that produce fragrant flowers in late winter. Unlike the big Japonica Camellias, whose flowers turn brown in our drizzly springs, these drop their blooms before discoloring.
(3) Daphne odora must be one of the most fragrant shrubs in the universe. Their sweet perfume will fill the garden and seep into the house in early March. Wonder why we have four different kinds?
(4) Snowdrops grow anywhere there is a cold winter. This clump is from a single tiny bulb I planted eleven years ago. Twenty bulbs are now twenty clumps that effectively distract from the funky garden. Once they are in bloom Winter will be yielding to Spring. In England there are people who collect, breed, and show off their Snowdrops. It’s a passion for those who love the tiniest details.
(5) Rosemary has decided to become a hardy landscape plant here. Thirty-nine years ago in Seattle, they succumbed to freezes every two or three years. This robust, upright, seven-foot monster hides the chain link fence on the driveway. It’s got terrific blue flowers to boot.
(6) This double Hellebore (more than one row of petals) is a seedling from a long term client. I pick them and float them in a bowl of water since the stems are too soft to support them inside. The interior is the best part of a flower like this.
(7) Pasque Flower, Anemone blanda, is great, opening wide on sunny days. (Do not tell anyone there are sunny days in February in Seattle!) I like the blue forms. And the white forms, and…
(8) This rosy Hellebore is hiding its name tag. It’s a knockout on overcast days as well as sunny ones. There’s plenty of white in the petals to look bright, no matter. I’d try digging up the tag but there are an amazing number of gorgeous Lenten Roses available in the US. Some made their way from the great breeders of the UK. Others are coming from breeders in Oregon and Washington.
*Also, thank you WaterGirl, for generously passing this over to me from your ‘On the Road’ collection
Gardening prep question: Anybody got brand recommendations for a good, not-too-expensive water and/or light meter? I’ve been using a cheapo water meter in my tomato rootpouches for the last few summers, but I’d like to find something a little more accurate, if I can get one for, say, $25 – $50.
Haven’t seen a light meter that isn’t heinously expensive or extremely complicated, and in any case, there’s nowhere else on our 75×80 square-foot property for the tomatoes, so LOL UR F*KKED hardly seemed worth paying to ascertain. But I’m mildly curious about some of the other garden beds, if there’s an easy way of measuring light levels, and since some of the more popular water meters on Amazon are ‘also’ light meters…
What’s going on in your garden (planning), this week?
Beautiful flowers to start the day!
Good Morning,Everyone ???
Very beautiful flowers?
@rikyrah: Good morning.
Nice pics, thanx Dan.
My gardening is frustrated right now with all the things I am prevented from doing because shit happens and takes priority whether I like it or not.
Not garden related, but too cool not to pass on: One-take drone video of Minnesota bowling alley goes viral – video
A couple of Big Lebowski salutes in it too.
Well, hells bells! I just finished an email about his shipment to Dan B and mentioned how I looked forward to him one Sunday sharing garden pics and here they are. Beautiful ones too!
My AeroGarden wasn’t germinating the tomato seeds. I put a heat mat under it and sunny warm weather brought the room temperature up to 70° in my dining room with the south facing windows, so now I have three seedlings. I’m giving it another week, then I’ll move the seedlings into small peat pots and start the petunias. But I think the AeroGarden works better for cold crop germination (like lettuces) or in a hotter temperature than I’m willing to heat the house to.
This cartoon is appropriate for a Garden Chat thread, I believe:
The older I get, the more sense it makes to me.
@germy: Hahaha, it’s always easier to just mow!
@germy: Love that!
@rikyrah: Belated good morning to you, Baud, eclare, OH, AL and germy… and all who join later.
How lucky to have all this color in the middle of winter! So beautiful!
@satby: Good morning!
Now, I want every plant you showed, Dan B. Do have Rosemary. In a big pot that comes inside for the Winter.
Going to be 14 tonight. Hope all you DST lovers enjoy the misery you put the rest of us through as you start your tee times and BBQs in the 25 degree weather.
Why can’t we at least confine the madness to just the 3 months of Summer?
Good morning All. I am a bit salty regarding my stolen sleep hour. ?
Great images, Dan!
I was out in the yard this week doing the mildest amount of tree trimming on my Japanese maples. Two I got as seedlings from my Uncle’s house when we burried his ashes in his garden. They have green bark on the extremeties and dark red and green leaves. The other one I bought because it is so beautiful — it has coral colored bark and light green chartreuse leaves in the Spring. But they all needed a light pruning.
Now it’s cold again.
beautiful! Wonderful spring weather this week here in Atlanta. I planted lettuce, kale, and spinach in my little veggie plot. I planted onions last fall, a first for me, and pulled up a few scallions from the onion patch yesterday. I made a crispy scallion bread (Chinese) last night that was fabulous. I love eating food that I grew myself.
@MazeDancer: @Immanentize: I hadn’t even noticed my “lost” hour of sleep last night, probably because it wasn’t the only hour of sleep I lost last night.
@evap: Huh, we’ve had kale, collards and mustard greens growing for 2 months here in Athens.
@evap: If I could pick a climate to live in, it would be Atlanta’s. The winters are mild, and summer temperatures are scarcely hotter than 400 miles north in Virginia. Atlanta is 1000 feet above sea level, and I think that makes the difference.
But I can tell it’s Spring in Virginia. The chickweed is blooming! Honeybees are out and about too.
@OzarkHillbilly: i was actually thinking that you (and others) ended up with a proportionately better night’s sleep given the minus one hour.
@raven: We’ve eaten all the kale and spinach I planted in November :) I like to do a second round in spring. I’m a little late this year.
Also, Happy Pi Day!
Anyone waiting to hear from MIT?
@Geminid: The altitude makes a big difference. I moved to Memphis from Atlanta. At least in Atlanta if it got hot during the day, it would cool off at night. Not here, 10 pm, 11 pm, still air you can scoop with your hand. Oh, Memphis is around 330 feet above sea level.
I have a friend who packed up his family in LA and moved back to his farm here in Georgia about a year ago. He’s an organic farmer and sells to high end joints in the area and had such a great reputation that he’s doing pretty well. It’s been really fun to see how his LA wife and kids have taken to life way out in the boonies. They have a pony, donkey and 3 dogs and the videos she takes are wonderful.
@eclare: “if” it got hot during the day! Say what???I’ve lived here for 35 years and it’s hotter than shit. Not any worse than up north but it’s still Hot Lanta!
@raven: I lived in ATL for fourteen years, I’ve lived in Memphis for seventeen. Both cities are hot, of course, but Memphis is hotter. Nothing like an entire weekend of a heat index of 120!
L.A. proved too much for the man
@Immanentize: Perfect song!
Central Ohio is the same. We don’t get the kind of breezes it takes to clear out the humidity. Hot, humid, and windless. Just kill me now.
Memphis Midnight/Memphis Morning
Now Memphis ain’t bad in the morning
Good coffee well it’s just hard to find
But let me suggest that you never leave Memphis
With anything on your mind
@debbie: I know the feeling! Every year I just try to survive from the 4th of July to mid September.
@raven: Ooh I like that! Much better than Walkin’ in Memphis, which you can’t get away from here.
@eclare: Lyle has a way on those slow songs.
@Immanentize: In honor of Pi Day, I’m going to make a pie with the rest of the apples from our garden.
I haven’t been asleep yet and it’s 6am now, so maybe I need to try now.
@raven: Lyle has a way. I saw him once when he was first getting noticed and opened for Leo Kottke. He did one hell of a show.
That’s how I got to Memphis – Johnny & Rosanne Cash
If you love somebody enough
You’ll go where your heart wants to go
That’s how I got to Memphis
@OzarkHillbilly: Was Francine and the Large Band with him?
@raven: I saw him in ATL at Chastain Park.
@eclare: that’s what live oaks are for. I dense tree canopy keeps the heat away. Not too much concrete helps too. The difference between Gainesville (tree ordinances and big trees everywhere) and Orlando (hot concrete and glass) is huge.
Nah. I never had the grades to even make the attempt.
@eclare: Boo hoo, my last show there was Steely! And Santana before that!
@Gvg: Agree, my place is surrounded by trees, mainly pecan. Oaks scare me, the roots don’t go down very deep. We got a bad windstorm here in 2017 and huge oaks were down all over my neighborhood. At least that is true for the oaks here.
@raven: Nope, just him and his piano on a rotating stage. He showed up Leo, something Leo was never afraid of. He always had good openers.
@eclare: species matter. Someone did surveys after our 2004 hurricane year of what trees got put in the landfills. Live oaks stood up. Laurel oaks and water oaks came down, and damaged houses. In south Florida it was ficus trees. So now I pay attention. Live and laurel look very similar but have very different lifespans and hardness.
Anne Laurie, I bought (too many) tomatoes from your heirloom tomato lady, and she sold me on the idea of getting the moisture meter along with my tomatoes. So maybe check with her?
So old can remember when Jim Hendrix was the opening act for The Monkees.
Hendrix also performed a solo gig at my high school.
@Gvg: Interesting. I’m just glad pecans have very deep roots, although I hate the whiskers.
I know one couple in my neighborhood proactively took down a huge oak. If it fell a certain way it would have destroyed their house. I can’t imagine how much that cost.
@raven: I love his phrasing and he always has top musicians.
Mike S (Now with a Democratic Congressperson!)
Nice Pics and wow a Fragrant Camelia! Gardenwise we’re in the same time frame here in PA. I’ll be at least a month and a half ’til the yard has hidden all the winter browness.
@eclare: The water oaks in our neighborhood are at their lifespan and quite a few are falling. We had a giant Bradford pear taken down and “Billies Tree Service “ only charged $1000 but Billie said he didn’t realize how “limby” it was and he undercharged us!
@Raven: I lost one big branch from my silver maple, and it was $700 to be removed. Guy had to get up in a bucket truck to completely sever the limb. Narrowly missed my car
Limby, that’s a new one!
@germy: I’m wondering if there’s another layer to the joke. I’m imagining the guy in the middle telling his wife every Saturday, “I’m off to work on our community garden plot,” then stopping by the produce store for tomatoes on the way home.
Around here it’s the birches. They are a pioneer species with a short life, but on the other hand, don’t get that big
It’s the pines which are dangerous. They get big, don’t shed leaves so the wind catches them, and shallow roots.
I grew up with two large birches in the front yard. There was an ice storm that bent them over until the tops touched the ground. One of my idiot brothers was found running in, out, and through the arches.
@debbie: I understand. I, too, have idiot brothers.
@WereBear: Instead of single specimens, try planting the pines in larger groupings to mimic the wild and shelter one another from wind. (Googles.) Um, do you have a few million acres to put in a taiga?
@Raven: Bradford Pears were popular ornamental trees in the 1970’s and 80’s. The city of Staunton, Virginia planted a half mile of them in the median of Lou Dewitt Boulevard. These trees fell out of favor, though, when people found out how fragile their limbs were, especially with a snow load. But for awhile, they were so common I called them “Barflett Pears.”
@Geminid: we’ve noticed some interesting things since we moved from NoVA to central VA about two years ago. Down here, occasional micro-showers happen (usually in the early morning), which is kind of neat. Also, you can sometimes feel noticeably warmer or cooler air currents coming through in a matter of minutes.
And the wildlife here is just nuts (mostly in a good way!) I saw my first black widow the week we moved in. 0_0
OT but it has to be said: Jennifer Rubin MUST be reading Balloon Juice regularly. Check this out!
J-Rubs, you’re the bomb! ;)
@Geminid: I had some hardware to pick up at Lowe’s this morning, and I grabbed a pack of Calendula seeds. These are easy to grow, and make nice short cutflowers. Some people garnish the tops of fancy muffins with calendula petals, then serve them with herbal tea featuring borage flower ice cubes. Their friends just roll their eyes.
Calendula seeds resemble small dried caterpillars.
Don’t I wish!
Gin & Tonic
Way OT, but in local-man news, Marvelous Marvin Hagler has died at 66. One of the best boxers that ever entered the ring. If you’re into that sort of thing (yeah, I know about boxing) watch Round 1 of the Hagler-Hearns fight, arguably the most intense three minutes of boxing anywhere, any time.
Also, anyone who asked a question on my cat post:
WereBear Guest Post: Welcome Rhiannon and a Sad Goodbye
I crashed at sundown but stupidly early this morning, I caught up.
@Jeffro: Are you going kayaking this summer? I traveled to Elkton some last year, and checked out the boat landing there on the South Fork of the Shenandoah. Quite a nice place. There are takeouts up and down the river, the nearest being 4-5 miles out.
One of the best parts about Charlottesville is it’s proximity to the Shenandoah Valley. I used to live near Stuarts Draft, and even though my present home in Greene County is a great spot, I miss the Valley.
I was doing exactly that with a pine in our most recent ice storm. Even tho my sisters might well call me their “idiot brother”, I’m not sure that would have anything to do with it.
@Geminid: Bradford Pears are considered an invasive species these days.
Dorothy A. Winsor
@Jeffro: She’s right and I don’t see how this ends.
@Geminid: am I going kayaking this summer? Oh heck yeah!
I have done that Elkton-Shenandoah run many times – lots of fun!
I’m going to work my way down the Shenandoah and the James this year, 5-10 miles at a time, as well as keeping Mrs. Fro company on jaunts to SNP and the AT. There’s Covid pounds that definitely need shedding, after all. ;)
I was late about it, but this week I planted gladiolus and “milk and wine” lily bulbs I dug up last fall. I still have a few trees (Washington Hawthorn, crabapple and cherry) I need to transplant to better spots. My spring-flowering magnolia is almost ready to bloom. The quince bush has been blooming for the part two weeks now and the daffodils for longer.
@WereBear: Oh, we all have gardening dreams, but when you realize how much raking a million-acre taigi requires, you scale back.
@Dorothy A. Winsor: I think the growing perception of GQP politicians as performance artists…and not much else…may cause some of their voters to demand better.
I’m not betting on it, I’m just saying that’s one way it might begin to happen. But if it never does, that’s okay too. The center-center party can keep right on governing without them.
@Ken: That’s true. The Tsars didn’t have that problem, but I freed all my serfs.
Dan B: so lovely! I’m going to look up camelias to see if any hybrid like that will grow in a container on my balcony. I’m also curious about the daphne odera.
Thank you for sharing, I look forward to a Seattle meetup this summer!
@Jeffro: Shenandoah N.P. overlooks Greene County on one side, Elkton on the other. But I always liked the Blue Ridge Parkway more. It’s free, and somewhat less curvy. There are good hiking trails there, including the AT until it jumps east into Nelson County. And there is good access to the flatlands and Rt. 151 in the Rockfish valley, so you can make a loop back to Charlottesville.
But beware: there are so many breweries and distilleries along 151 that the locals call it “Alcohol Alley.”
Gin & Tonic
@Jeffro: What do you know about the James? A youth group that some friends and I help out with is looking at a multi-day trip on the upper James next summer (2022.) Like approximately Iron Gate to Glasgow. I may scout it this summer, but wondering if you have any advance knowledge.
I started the “remove all the ugly concrete garden edging” project yesterday. The prior owner used those curved ones to build mounds that are now failing and full of invading grass, so it’s hard work but at least I can get basalt blocks to replace some of it free for the hauling here. It’s such slow work that I’m having doubts I’ll be able to do any planting at all this year and I’ve decided to do no veggies at all until I see what a season is like here.
I’m thinking I will hire someone with a sod cutter to get rid of all the grass, then plant a water saving blue gramma developed for turf applications under the needle drop perimeter of the big Ponderosa pine in the front yard. They drop so many needles constantly that any flowers, shrubs or rock gardens will be too much maintenance, especially as we get older. Outside that perimeter is where I’m going to create my rock garden masterpiece though, and the backyard will be natives and wildlife habitat to give the resident CA quail a nice area with cover and safe places to feed.
@Beautifulplumage: Daphne! They do very well in a container. My late mother always had one that she could move to the front porch in winter. I do the same in her memory – and mine just finished its bloom. It’s a small miracle to have such a sweet scent in the depth of winter.
@Gin & Tonic: A really good resource for a trip in Virginia is the Virginia DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer. It features a map of the whole state on the back, overlaid with a grid. Inside are pages covering individual blocks that go from west to east, starting at the North Carolina border. Details include every little town, stream, and hills and mountains with topo lines. Rivers show rapids and boat landings. Additional pages give details on points of interest, including public and private campgrounds, but there is no advertising. This can be “mail ordered.” There also may be guides for canoeing, etc. that cover this stretch of river.
I have driven over and past the upper James. All I know is that there probably is good small-mouth bass fishing, and catfish can be caught at night. In summer, there likely is good fly fishing.
@Geminid: by “mail order,” I meant ordered online. From the usual suspect.
I am very late to the thread, but your flowers are beautiful. I’m in the phase of “how can I grow some flowers to go with my succulents?” I miss my cosmos and zinnias and dahlias once in a while. Your mention of specialized garden clubs reminds me of some fun times when I lived in South Pasadena. I bought a bag of gladiolus bulbs that had lost their ID for cheap and had glorious blossoms for days.
@StringOnAStick: You might be able to maintain some good plantings where those needles drop. Battery powered leaf blowers are not loud and would probably move those needles. These blowers are lightweight, too. I worked for a 90 year old lady who loved hers. Lowe’s has good ones for $160 and less.
And pine needles might not be so problematic. People in Virginia pay for bags of pine needle mulch, and they cost more than the standard shredded hardwood mulch. The needles might make for an acid soil, but lime is cheap, and plants need calcium anyway.
Good luck with your project! It sounds like a lot of work, but landscape construction can be fun, as long as you don’t do too much at once.
@satby: I just e-mailed Satby that we spent yesterday afternoon potting up and planting a shipment of perennials. Potting soil and soil soil are tough on skin and Satby’s soaps made my skin feel great. I wish I’d had them for the previous 35 years of my career.
@eclare: As we were potting up plants our neighbor fired up the edger and the mower. Noisy monstrosities! (The machines, not the big garrulous neighbor.)
@MazeDancer: We take the hedge shears – electric- to the Rosemary and to a form of culinary Sage that has grown to eight feet in width. I’m now aware of how little Sage I use per year.
I have at times envied California gardeners but we can grow the same number of plants in Seattle as the entire state of CA because we can grow plants that require a cold spell.
@Immanentize: Sounds like Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku- Coral Bark Maple. I planted one outside the west facing breakfast room at our old house. It was wonderful to look through the branches and fine light green leaves. It got to 30 feet and 15 feet across. Fall foliage was clear soft yellow. It looked like sunshine even on cloudy days.
@eclare: We lived in NE Arkansas about 60 miles west of Memphis. HOT! But the hottest was at my grandfather’s house in Clarksville, NW Arkansas on the river. One morning it was 90 with so heavy a dew we thought it had rained. By noon it was 104. We lay on the soaked sheets with the fan on high and hallucinated. Ten years later most people had AC.
My Great Aunts called it “Winter, Spring, and the season of burning up.”
@Mike S (Now with a Democratic Congressperson!): There are lots of fragrant Camellias. They are small, 3″-4″, flowered. Most smell like clover or sweet honey.
@Beautifulplumage: Most of the Camellias that I love are winter blooming. There are some small versions that are fairly tough. They, along with Daphne odora need shelter from wind. There are some super-dwarf Daphne with tiny leaves that are wind resistant and one variety has bluish flowers, fragrant if your nose is within a few inches – or less
Daphne ‘Wilhelm Schact'(sp?), supposedly “very fragrant”.