Saturday, June 25, 2016

The State of the Vegetable Garden

The rufus hummingbirds arrived a little late this year and as did my vegetable garden. I have always had my vegetable garden planted before Memorial Day weekend in late May. Growing up here in NW Oregon, as a kid, my immigrant-Dutch grandparents always had a lush and diverse vegetable garden and it was generally Memorial Day weekend, back in the day, before it was truly warm enough to plant tomatoes.

The past few springs have been quite warm and have found me getting the vegetable garden in before Mother's Day weekend here in the US. Not this year. Truth be told, I can't blame it on the weather..just life and too many other responsibilities. But, with the help of the husband this year, we cleaned out the raised beds and got a few things planted the second weekend of June.

2016 Veggie Garden
The vegetable gardens are in the far back of our long, city lot. Neighbors to the back have a massive overgrown mound of invasive himalayan blackberries which makes it challenging to keep the area weed and berry cane free. We would like to put up a nice fence, but until the neighbor's to the back clean up, it's rather useless.

This year we planted a very small crop. Three roma tomatoes, three basil and two sugar pumpkins. I have a few onions and a box full of potatoes as well. Tomato sauce, pesto and pumpkin pies are on this year's list of yummy food to create.

The early season work I did perform this year was to clean out and seed two boxes of wildflower seeds to add to the one box I experimented with last season.

Wildflower box, just for the bee's
Last year's wildflower box reseeded itself and has provided a nice haven for the bee's. While I have been sad about scaling back my vegetable garden, I have been delighted by the wildflowers.

I firmly believe there will be a chapter in my life again, where life slows down and I can really enjoy growing a diverse vegetable garden, but that is not the current chapter of life I find myself in. Giving these otherwise unused veg boxes to the bee's...has been good for both my sanity and the pollinators.

I used Botanical Interests seed mix called 'Bring home the Butterflies'  I noticed in my original box that I used the mix on last year, that the borage, calendula, parsley and sweet william have come back, but not any cosmos or bachelor buttons. I had hoped the later would reseed itself but it didn't. I think I will change up my seed mix next year and add more variety for next year. I do have a nice, fat, purple coneflower growing in the box and I am looking forward to it's blooms.

Sweet william, borage, clover and parsley
Now, instead of coming home after soccer or tumbling practice and dreading the nightly watering regime, I come home with a need to water less (and it's been much cooler this June too) and can go back and enjoy my flowers. I simply plop down in an old chair and watch the bee's buzz around.

bee watching
I've seen a variety of dragonflies too. It's my new 'zen' space.

So, the point vegetable garden is now a wildflower garden. It's perfect.

Cheers, Jenni

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wednesday Vignette 6.22.16

Verbena Bonariensis
I like how this stem of verbena bonariensis looks like a cheerleader of summer....purple pom poms waving with gusto to announce the summer season has arrived.

With our neighbors to the southwest scorching in the heat, NW Oregon weather feels...perfect.

Welcome summer. Visit Anna at Flutter and Hum to see more fun Wednesday Vignette posts.

Cheers, Jenni

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

June Bloom Day 2016

The blooms between May and June are quiet in my gardens. However, it's probably the busiest time of year in my gardens as far as physical labor goes. Cleaning out the spring blooms and old foliage in the flower beds and then, getting the veggie gardens cleaned out and planted with summer crops. I complete all of this work only to turn around again and feel as if I have weeds knee high....again. But, back to the blooms.

Wildflower in the veggie boxes
I planted a wild flower mix in a few of my raised vegetable beds. I really can't manage 8 raised beds while I work full time, so I've converted half of the boxes to blooms. The wildflowers have been a source of wonder. I love to see what will come up and they attract all the bee's and butterflies. I can literally waste away an hour or more just sitting under my maple tree watching all of the activity surrounding my wildflower boxes.

Parsley and borage in the wildflower box
In the perennial beds, one of my all time favorite spring blooms is that of astrantia major. Delicate, long lived, sturdy blooms. Love them.

Astrantia major 'Hadspen's Blood'

Astrantia major 'Alba'

Astrantia blooms dry really well. I think I need more.

My sambucus nigra 'Black Lace' is finally blooming. I've had the darn thing potted up, cramped and waiting for a home for two years. Then, in a moment of brilliance, I found a place for it last fall. It has rewarded me with large, delicate blooms that really do look like lace. I am using it as a privacy screen so I am willing it to grow, grow, grow!

Physocarpus Opulifolius 'Center Glow'
The ninebarks have been pretty this spring. The past two springs were so dry that I hardly had any blooms on my different ninebarks. This year, the weather has been a nice blend of warmth and rain, thus I have pretty blooms atop the brilliant foliage.

In June, the lilies bloom. 

I look forward to the asiatic lilies every year. They are just so brazen.

mums and panicum 'Shenandoah'
The weather has turned cool again in mid-June. We haven't had a wet June in quite some time. It's welcome.

Late spring is a beautiful time in the garden.

Join Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see what is blooming around the world on the 15th of every month.

Cheers, Jenni

Sunday, May 15, 2016

May Bloom Day 2016

It's the 15th of the month and time to take a tour of the garden to see what is blooming in May. We've had spots of unseasonably warm temperatures this past month, which for 'cottage' style gardeners like myself...isn't the best. It pushes those sweet spring plants into a quick bloom and singes the tips of petals. However, I have enjoyed quite a few evenings outdoors, enjoying the warm temps with a good book in hand.

Here is a view of seating area in the back garden. The snowball tree is finishing it's blooms. This is my favorite place to be after a day at work.

Meanwhile, in the front gardens, the side strip of early spring blooms finds the hellebores begging for a trim.

My absolute favorite bloom in May, is my heirloom peony. It reminds me of the peony my Oma (Dutch grandmother) used to grow. It has the sweetest scent and is so 'unfussy' for a peony. Usually I have delphinium blooming behind it..but sadly this year, the plant was attacked by slugs before I could come to the rescue.

Aquilegia are the main players of the May garden. My personal favorites are the yellow ones, but I love them all. Their dainty blooms dance in the spring breezes. I love yellow columbines so much that I have two new plants to cram - err, find a spot for - in the gardens.

NOID Yellow Aquilega
But there are a few more blooming about:

NOID white aquilegia
Aquilegia 'Red Clementine'

Aquilegia 'Leprechaun Gold'
Spanish lavender is brightening up the back gardens. It does not provide scent, but it has great form and color.

Lavandula stoechas
May is an interesting month in the garden as it's becoming a transition month from spring to summer blooms. Hardy fuchsia's, geraniums. lupines are staples in my cottage gardens.

Phygelius Funfare Wine
Geranium 'Max Frei'
Hop on over to Carol's at May Dreams Garden and see what is blooming around the world. 
Cheers, Jenni

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

5.4.16 Wednesday Vignette

I'm in-between coaching soccer seasons, so I was able to wander the gardens tonight in hopes of finding a picture perfect vignette to share. The lupines I started from seed are just beginning to bloom. They look like tapered candles reaching high up to illuminate the garden. I love the color combination this lupine has sitting in front of the euphorbia.

Lupinus Russell Hybrids with Rainboow Ascot Euphorbia
A pretty little look at my cottage gardens. Join Anna at Flutter & Hum for more Wednesday Vignette posts.

Cheers, Jenni

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Fairies, Foliage and Furr

With a blog post title like could I not deliver..but necessarily in that order. Foliage first.

Rodgersia podophylla 'Rotlaub
Above is a little vignette of Rodgersia podophylla 'Rotlaub', mixed with dicentra spectabilis, aquilega and heucherella 'Sweet Tea'. A pretty combination. (yea yea...I know dicentra has some new name but I like dicentra.)

Acer palmatum 'Mikazuki'
Japanese maples have the most wonderful array of foliage in the spring. Above is Acer palmatum 'Mikazuki', with new foliage. Can you believe that color? It also has a brilliant autumn display. That's a keeper.

Here is a look at the new foliage from Acer circinatum 'Sunglow'. The leaves are like fans unfolding.

Aquilega vularis 'Icy Blue'
These dainty blooms look like fairies dancing in my shade garden. The delicate white blooms are on sturdy, tall stocks with bright, chartreuse foliage. The blooms slowly turn a slight, light blue..just the tint of it. Hence the name...Icy Blue.

Geum 'Totally Tangerine'
Bee's Jubliee Clematis
While it's only late April, it feels like late May. We had a heat wave with temps recorded in the 90's. It pushed the plants a bit and now it feels like the the time between seasons is upon us. My Spanish bluebells are blooming out and now there is a need to cut them back. It's time to prepare for the summer garden.

All the while, I have fine company in the garden. My furry friends are always near when I'm planting or weeding. Here's a picture of my dear boy 'Silver Cat'.

And of course, Demon Cat.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Blue, Pink and White in the April Garden

Fothergilla 'Mt. Airy'
The colors in the April gardens are vivid and bold. Chartreuse, pinks and blues dominate the scene.

Pink Dogwood - probably 70+ years old - variety unknown
The old dogwood tree that my husband's great-grandfather planted likely back in the 1940's is blooming with perfect pink petals that smartly contrast with the emerging yellow green leaves.

Hyacinthoides hispanica
Another gift from the great grandparents, who built the house we now call home, are Spanish bluebells. I could do without this spring thug, but as they are all blooming right's a brilliant show of blue garden carpet.

I am absolutely smitten with dicentra. The heart shaped blooms beg to be photographed.

Dicentra formosa
I might have bought a few more last weekend. I can't get enough. The bold chartreuse foliage of dicentra spectabilis is amazing in the spring garden.

Dicentra formosa
Not sure that Demon Cat approves of the pretty pastels. He's so awful.

Soon the columbines will be delighting my eyes. I see the buds are emerging for future blooms. But, for now, the bluebells reign.

Hyacinthoides hispanica
And a random tulip...blooming in neglected pots..

I do love this moment in the spring when the grass is growing faster than you can keep it mowed and the scourge of bluebells blanket the ground. Tulips, new foliage on the trees and the sweet scent of lilacs and cherry blossoms down the street, make this time of year outdoors amazing.

Want more April blooms..head over to May Dreams Garden and see what is blooming in April around the world. Cheers, Jenni