Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday Vignette -- A Gaudy Good-Bye to Summer

I went to the Heronswood Fall sale this past weekend, meeting my buddy Peter The Outlaw Gardener there. We shopped and then toured the garden together. In the potager garden we found this garish combo of flowers. I love it, but some might not.

It was a lovely sunny day, but since then, Fall has come in with a roar -- the roar of falling water. It's been raining heavily off and on for the past 3 days.

Pink Aster/Bright Yellow/Orange Ligularia Daisy

Anna at Flutter & Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette. Check out her post here.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day -- September 2017

Wow, it's the middle of September already. Fall is coming in fast. It seems like the days suddenly have gotten so much shorter. We have our stream set up to go on and off every day in time with sunset and sunrise, so it is an every day reminder of how short the days are becoming. Earlier this week I realized that it was no longer already on when I woke up in the morning to drive Nigel to the train station. While I welcome cooler weather and the return of some good soaking rain that is supposed to arrive soon, I do wish we could still have summer's long days.

Ah well, you can't have everything. If you did, where would you put it?

Here's what's still flowering in my garden this September. It's not much.

Starting with plants in pots:

Pachypodium

Rat-tail cactus

Tuberous Begonias

One fluffy tuberous Begonia flower that had broken off

Unidentified flower that hitch-hiked with a Bromeliad that I got at the spring swap -- Do you know what it is?

Of course the Sedums and the grasses are doing their thing at this time of year.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Panicum 'Rothstrahlbusch'

Calamagrostis brachytricha in front and Calmagrostis 'Karl Foerster'  behind with Verbena bonariensis

Verbena closeup

Tithonia 'Torch' and friend

Heliopsis

Tall large-flowered purple Aster -- I don't recall which one, but the clump is huge and needs to be divided and spread around the garden
 
Rudbeckia

Overgrown Fuchsia magellanica

Corydalis lutea, which sows itself all over

Water hyacinth

One last pink oakleaf Hydrangea flower -- all the rest are brown

Cyclamen are starting to pop up

That's it! We actually have rain in the forecast, and I've started moving plants around and have even planted some of the plants in the pot ghetto.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on the fifteenth of every month. Check out her post here, where bloggers from around the world share their flowers.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wednesday Vignette

My Wednesday Vignette this week is a shot of water hyacinths finally flowering in the stream. I bought ten of them earlier this spring, around the time I started the stream up again, in hopes that they would help keep it clear of string algae. And it worked. Although normally water hyacinths are floaters, I don't have a pond where they can float, so I embedded the roots in the rocks that line the bed of the stream, so they remain stationary. They have multiplied like mad, but didn't start to bloom until just a couple of weeks ago.

Water hyacinth
I'll have to remove them before we get our first frost, as they aren't perennial and will turn to mush if they freeze. They've done such a great job keeping the stream free of algae, I don't mind that I'll need to buy them every year. I wish I had realized years ago that they would work so well at consuming whatever nutrients were feeding the algae and causing it to thrive.

Anna at Flutter & Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette. Check out her post here.


Friday, September 8, 2017

Shit

Heh. I bet that blog title got your attention.

Yes, indeed, I am writing about poop. As if heat and smoke weren't enough, I am having a plague of poop.

Cat poop, dog poop, raccoon poop. A lovely trifecta.



CAT

This dusty dry area where I cleared annuals that had gone to seed and then fried in the heat and drought has now become the local cat box for every cat within a ten-mile radius of my house. I have plans to plant this area up pretty thickly with perennials, which I hope will eventually deter them. I've resigned myself to finding cat poop in the garden, I don't know if there's much more I can do about it.

Also, look at my little pineapple guava, there on the left. So far it has survived our summer from hell. Yippee! Now if it can just make it through winter.
 


DOG

There is a dog in the neighborhood that is allowed to run free, and although I've never seen it happen, I think it might be pooping at the end of my driveway.  Although I have to wonder, it's always in the same spot, in the river rock parking area along the street, which makes me wonder if it's just someone walking their dog who can't be bothered to pick it up. Because, wouldn't a dog running around leave it everywhere?


It's always in that area on the left, which is over-run right now with weeds, but actually contains river rock, and at the moment, although you can't see it in the picture, at least 5 mounds of dog poop.

If the river rock were cleared of weeds it would look more like this, which I was weeding until our recent heat and smoke wave. You can probably see where I stopped.


So, what do I do about the dog? Put up a sign? "My garden is not your dog's toilet. Please pick up after it." Nigel says I should fill the gravel up with Opuntia and Agaves.


RACCOON
Before our recent heat and smoke wave hit, I was also working on redoing the area pictured below. I took out a twinberry honeysuckle that had become hopelessly overgrown, and in the process got a brainwave.


The area is right at the end of the raised beds that are going to become my cutting garden next year, so wouldn't it be a perfect spot for a bench? Underneath the Douglas firs, right by the colorful bottle tree. I could put some gravel down there and line it right up with the raised bed. Picture perfect.



Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, it looks like the raccoons have been using that area right under the trunk of the Douglas firs as their toilet alllllll summer long. It is full of raccoon poop.

Yes, I took photos of it, just in case you ever need to know what raccoon scat (technical term) looks like, or want to show off your skill, tracking one through the forest.

Don't want to see it? Get ready to scroll fast.

Poop

Poop

Poop

Shit


You know, raccoons carry dangerous diseases in their poop, right? So, I need to put on a haz-mat suit and clean it up. And once I've cleaned it up, I need to figure out how to keep them from continuing to do it. I'm thinking of laying chicken wire over the soil, all around the Douglas fir.

Have you got any other ideas?

**************

Oh. My. God. I wrote a post about poop. And you read it. All the way to the end. Here, to reward you for getting through it, are some pictures of pretty Begonias.




Also, please pray to the god of poop that my toilets keep working.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Wednesday Vignette -- Hold onto your ash, it's snowing!

It wasn't really snowing, but it sure looked like it yesterday. The ash from the wildfires was so heavy, it was actually swirling in the air like snow, and settling on the plants in the garden. It was way too hot for snow, though, with temperatures in the 90s.

It made for a few moments of cognitive dissonance.

My Wednesday Vignette this morning is actually a series of vignettes -- of leaves in my garden sprinkled with ash.

Monstera deliciosa

Tuberous Begonia

Tetrapanax 'Steroidal Giant'

Catalpa bignoniodes 'Aurea'

Hydrangea quercifolia

Geranium phaeum 'Samobor'

Even though I gave my post today a humorous title, this has been a disturbing summer -- so much hotter than normal and smoky from so many wildfires. Not near enough to threaten my life or home, but close enough to fill the air off and on for days and sometimes weeks, aggravating my asthma. There has been a wildfire ongoing for a few weeks now on Norse Peak, which is only about 50 miles from me according to the roads on Google Maps. They've evacuated Crystal Mountain resort, which is west of that, but the north flank of Mt. Rainier is between us and that fire, so I'm not too worried. I still don't think I have it as bad as my friends down in Portland, who are dealing with even more ash, not to mention fires raging in the Columbia Gorge that are much closer to home, and that might, by the time this post is published, have engulfed the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge. See this link.

The entire West Coast of North America has been plagued by wildfires all summer, from California, through Oregon to Washington and on into British Columbia. See a U.S. Wildfire Activity Public Information Map here.

Wildfires don't just destroy homes and wildlife habitat, they also release carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere, while destroying huge swathes of the very plants -- trees -- that are ideally suited to clearing the carbon dioxide.

The phrase "Save the Planet" of course is a misnomer.  The planet doesn't need saving. Earth will continue for a long time, perhaps as a twin to the toxic planet Venus. Once that happens, the planet will finally succeed at ridding itself of its most destructive parasite.

Us.

Anna at Flutter & Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette. Check out her post here.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Eight Years Old

My blog is 8 years old today. I wrote my first blog post on September 5, 2009. I actually started blogging a few weeks before we moved into the house. My original purpose was to record the development and changes in my new garden, and that hasn't changed, although I do post about other gardens and nursery visits and outings. This garden has undergone big changes, and in looking over these photos, my inner critic is not always convinced they've been for the better.

We had already been living here in the Pacific Northwest for about a year, having moved from Massachusetts in 2008, where I had lived for my entire life, where Nigel and I had lived in the same small ranch house for 25+ years, and had raised our son. We rented a small house in North Seattle for a year while we looked around and decided where we wanted to live.

Here's a series of photos that I took of the yard on the day we came for our home inspection, juxtaposed next to a shot from more or less the same spot taken recently.

The front yard in 2009

The front garden, looking in the same direction now -- less grass, more perennials, and one greenhouse

Lots of grass in the front yard in 2009

That little area with the clear plastic over it is being solarized in preparation for a new herb garden -- the old one had been taken over by oregano

The house from the road




Here's a series of photos of the back garden taken from the back porch from right to left. The back garden is basically a big square, enclosed by a fence.


That area full of weeds along the fence became the site of our raised vegetable beds



Our stream replaced the swingset
 
That roof is what Nigel calls a Wendy House, a child's play house, which we gave away on craigslist soon after moving in, along with the doghouse

The winter after we moved in, the garden was reduced to a blank slate and we started over.



Here is that same series of views now. Sorry about the difference in lighting, the originals were taken on a cloudy day, and these were taken on a recent hot sunny day.

You can see a small portion of my pot ghetto in the foreground -- yes, more changes are in the offing. That bed under the Douglas firs is in the process of getting a makeover.

Beyond that overgrown weedy bed (also in line for a makeover this fall) are the raised veggie beds, soon to become a cutting garden





Here's another old shot from 2009, taken from a spot in the center of the back yard, showing the Wendy House and the old fence and gate
And now:



Here's that bed that replaced the Wendy House, a little closer:

No more Wendy House, it's now a mix of dry shade-tolerant perennials, with an enormous oakleaf Hydrangea and a Mahonia x media 'Charity'

Here's that oakleaf Hydrangea, when first planted in March 2010.



The area beside the shed was overgrown with blackberries; a neighbor has since told us that our house was the last one built in this neighborhood, and that for years the entire lot was nothing but blackberries.

Here's a shot of that area now. There are no more blackberries there, but it has become a bit of a catch-all space for junk. I also need to finish the bottle border.

This bed gets terribly neglected, being one of the farthest from the faucet and awkward to reach and water, so I've tried to plant it with drought-tolerant plants. I'm pretty sure the Grevillea in this bed has met its maker.

Here are the raised beds when they were brand new.

Those flagstones are proof there really is a path there.
Here are the raised beds now, from a different angle. I've used them the last few years for growing mostly garlic, onions, green beans, and zucchini, so the last few days I've been working on clearing out weeds and any leftover garlic bulbs, so that I can transplant my Dahlias into them, and sow seeds for a cutting garden next year.



One of the beds has become infested with Canada thistle. That's going to have to come out before I can plant anything else into it.

One good thing about repurposing the raised beds for a cutting garden -- I can get rid of the wooden skewers that I've used for several years as a cat deterrent. Since I won't be using them to grow food I don't really need to worry about cat poop.

What plants still exist from that old yard? The Douglas firs, of course. One very large English laurel. An oak tree. A filbert along the back fence. A Ceanothus. That's it. Everything else is new, even the grass has been replaced.

I sometimes think about my blog and wonder what possessed me to name it "Bonney Lassie" when it  was going to focus on gardening. I wish I had named it something else. But it seemed like all the clever names had either been taken or were just too kitschy. It seemed to make a sort of sense at the time. I was a bonnie lassie, right? (Not really, I'm an old, grumpy, dumpy, white-haired lady). My mom was Scottish, so the name kind of worked, and I chose the strange spelling because of the town I live in.

When my son Iain was about eight, he hated his name. He told us he wished we'd named him Mike. It's probably too late for me to rebrand my blog, but if I could, I'd call it "The Green Fuse," after a Dylan Thomas poem that Nigel likes. It's wonderfully morbid and has a lot of layers of meaning, but one basic idea is that the force that propels us through life is at the same time forcing us toward our deaths. Birth, death and rebirth, which is the life cycle of a garden. And I like the image of the green stem of a flower as a fuse, fueling an explosion.

The Force That Through The Green Fuse
Dylan Thomas

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman's line.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.