Sunday, May 11, 2014

Photographic Garden Walk

We have had some spectacular, warm and sunny days here in Western Washington-- unseasonably nice for the first half of May. As a result, things have all of a sudden "jumped into bloom" very quickly.

Sarah and I went for a slow meander around the garden, each carrying our cameras... here are a few of the things spotted along the way:

The peonies are now in full bloom, and they are quite spectacular. It's hard to get a true sense of scale from a photograph, but these blooms are probably a full ten inches across!

Since we just have the single plant, we also just got a total of six flowers, and they will be gone soon, for another year.

Really looking forward to adding more peonies to our "collection," though.

Keeping the weeds out-- or "under control"-- seems to be a never-ending saga around here. Things are so lush here in the Pacific Northwest, and plants... of all sorts... grow super fast. I was always battling weeds back when I lived in Texas, but they seemed a lot smaller and slower growing, albeit generally "spiky" or poisonous. Don't miss the latter so much!

Speaking of "weeds out," the labyrinth is starting to look increasingly "established," especially since Sarah and Tori completely cleaned up the lavender border. Last year we had to replace a few dead plants that just didn't make it through the winter-- this year they all look like they are going to make it.

The plants are all quite big and healthy, and are showing lots of fresh new growth. In a few weeks they should start to set blooms, and I expect they will have turned into something close to a small "hedge" by the end of the season.

Considering that we have about 90+ plants around the Labyrinth, this actually represents quite a "crop" of lavender. And once it's well-established? Well, it's something to look forward to every year.

So on the "menu" for later this year will be the task of learning more about "things to do with lavender." I'm sure Sarah already knows a lot about it.

On a more personal level, I am hoping that having what almost amounts to a "field" of lavender here will help attract butterflies. One of my favorite things about sitting on the back terrace at "Tofte" was always watching the myriad butterflies that would come to the ancient lavender bushes there. Of course, there are just not as many butterflies this close to salt water and the salt fogs of summer... but one can but hope! Photographing butterflies in their natural habitat is another of my favorite (pre)occupations.

The bed by my office window always seems to be a bit of a jumble. We have planted various things there, and some seem to have perished, a few have made it OK.

"Fred, the Upside-Down Goldfish" found his final resting place here, and maybe the spirit of Fred will help... although... he was pretty confused.

At the moment, the bed is dominated by an ocean of purplish pink flowers. I'm not even sure whether they are a "weed" or something deliberate. Either way, they seem very invasive and aggressive, and I think we'll have to somewhat "control" them if we hope to ever have anything else grow there.

Their foliage has a very distinct smell, strong enough that Daisy has trouble finding her ball if it strays into them. All in all, they are quite pretty. They are also extremely popular with the bees around here... whenever you go close to the bed, there's an ongoing buzzing of bees, most of them bumble bees, laden down with pollen.

Anyway, the "butterfly bush" (which actually doesn't seem to attract that many butterflies) is starting to grow from below. There are a couple of salvias we planted last year that seem to be coming back, and a couple of calla lilies are close to blooming on the spot where Sarah put Upside-down Fred.

The irises-- which were pretty spectacular the first summer we were here-- seem to be struggling a bit. Maybe they need to be given more room and less competition. There's always something to learn about.

Seems to me it is somewhat limited what you can actually grow in these very "raised" beds. Even with a layer of mulch, they have no real way to hold water/moisture... which means they end up bone dry in the middle of the summer (unless we water a lot), and a lot of plants don't like that.

The previous owners planted a lot of "exotic" conifers around the place, and this bed is home to yet another which seems to be all but dead. I'll probably be pulling it out of there, come fall. I guess the lesson learned there is to stick with "native" plants, as they tend to be a lot hardier.

Out towards the street, the various rhododendrons and azaleas are in full bloom. One of the things we still need to learn more about is "the care and feeding" of rhodys. Seems a lot of effort was put into having a wide variety, but I have not the slightest idea whether they require any kind of seasonal special attention. I know Sarah had ambitions of entering flowers at the Rhody Festival competitions... but I guess there's a fair bit to understand before that becomes a reality.

Meanwhile, this creature suddenly came bouncing out of nowhere and disappeared under the bushes across the street. Not sure we have to be too worried about them eating anything, until we get some veggies going. At that time? Who knows.

With all the rain we've had-- and now the warmth and sun-- the grass is growing like crazy... it already needs to be mowed again.

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