The Seasonal Page:






The following is a "pictorial" tour of "early" spring (March to Early May... which is actually late spring) in our yard. The above photo is from 1998. This is a Hosta 'Gold Standard.' It's not a color that first grabbed my attention when I started using hosta, but I really love that bright green with blue as an accent. The Forget-Me-Not is a faithful member of the spring team in this perennial bed (got its name for good reason) and compliments this hosta nicely. Now if I can get the deer to leave it alone. I think that color shows up really well in the dawn and twilight!

I dropped this in for fun. Robert is doing an internship at a graphic design corporation in Seattle for his art school requirements. During preparation for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show he became involved with working on a backdrop for Plants a la Carte. He is on the right in the plaid shirt. You can get an idea of what goes into getting ready for a show such as this by just looking at the bustling people, carts full of blooming plants and the chaos! The finished effect is always stunning, however.

We call this "Michael's tree" because it was a gift from my Aunt Mary Z. when my first child was born. It is a 'Thundercloud' flowering plum (Prunus cerasifera 'Thundercloud') and if the birds don't get all of them, we sometimes get little edible plums off it in the summer. We first planted it closer to the house and then thought it would be better along the perimeter of the property. That ugly Douglas Fir that is partially blocking your view of the plum needs to be cut down. It has been damaged by snow and is no longer an attractive part of the yard. We will miss it, but everything else will be more in scale after its removal. That's what happens when gardens get some maturity. You are removing more than planting! This picture was taken from the porch looking toward the front yard.



These are the modest but startling flowers of Iris unguicularis (syn. Iris stylosa), the winter blooming iris. It is supposed to like hot sun and poor soil, so I will eventually need to move it to a more exposed location. It is here so that I don't miss it when it blooms (by the sidewalk). Even then, it always surprises me because the buds are not very noticeable and then suddenly there are beautiful flowers in late winter to early spring! It has a sweet smell, and judging from the nibbles taken from the flower on the left, it must taste good also.



Maybe not March 20th, but the official day of spring around here is when I finally pitch out the Christmas poinsettia. By that time, it has dropped all its leaves, but I hate to completely throw it into the garbage because it still has color. This is the solution...put it in a compost pile! It was even kind of pretty until the frost finished it off. The cherries are in bud and preparing to open in this photo...they are "blushing" in anticipation of what will soon be spectacular.

[Prunus yedoensis 'Akebono' along driveway]


The same shot of the flowering cherries that was shown on the late winter page. As of today (March 30th), they are beginning to drop their petals along the driveway. They are so beautiful and SO fleeting, but the dropped petals have a beauty all their own.



[Pulsatilla in bloom]

The Pulsatilla vulgaris babies (from this original plant) are now blooming in the oak bed area. I have two others that were purchased as 4" plants and one of them is white. If there are enough of these flowers en masse they are charming, but not as pretty as the seedheads that will follow. It pleases me that this little treasure has chosen to volunteer for me. It has a southern and free draining location.

This is something you are more likely to see in our yard in the spring...young people helping with yard work! I don't trust them to do weeding without supervision since they don't recognize tiny perennials that I might want to save, but for edging and spreading bark, they have been a lifesaver since I developed the shoulder problem. This was taken last year at this time and they were edging the bed along the driveway underneath the cherry tree. Three of them are mine, and one is a friend of Karen's. With so many young people getting glued to the TV or Nintendo these days, it's good to have them do something that gets them out of doors. I think they really enjoy it once they make the transition (being outside...not the yard work)!




[Reworking Rose Frontal Bed]

This is the rose frontal getting its facelift. You can see along the house where the weeding stopped! Since this photo was taken, the girls have spread bark on the finished areas and it has been edged. Hopefully, in a few weeks, there will be color here and it will have been restored to a state of beauty......We can dream, can't we?!


A small bush of Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star' which is blooming in the back perennial bed. There is an interesting story behind this plant. I bought it at a local Fred Meyer's or some such place and spent considerable time picking out the nicest looking plant. It was a good buy and a nice cultivar. The pot sat near the front porch where I could keep an eye on it for watering purposes and one day, to my horror, the whole top had been snapped off...not totally, but like some child had bent it over and left it there gasping. It took some interrogation, but finally my youngest suggested that I could just tape it like "so-and-so had done at the birthday party." She had attended a party for a friend and one of the guests had broken something in the woman's yard. To make the child feel better, she had "taped it." It was tempting to just pitch the plant, but I trimmed it up as best I could and it actually grew back just fine! In gardening, as in raising children, patience goes a long way.


I just love this for bold foliage contrast. It's a relative of the artichoke called Cardoon. It could use some weeding around its crown and some bark, but later that will be done. On a good year when we have enough heat, it will produce huge prickly flower heads of a nice violet-purple that the bumblebees go wild for. It's fun to watch them crawl around on those large many as a half dozen bees on one bloom. I had to guard this a bit the year after it was planted. My brother-in-law (since deceased) was visiting from California and thought they looked so much like artichokes, that the buds would probably be good to eat! He never got a chance to try, since I was more interested in the ornamental value of the flowers as opposed to their culinary possibilities.




This has to be my favorite Pulmonaria. It's a cultivar called 'Roy Davidson' and it has such a display of beautiful blue flowers, attractive foliage and a nice clumping habit. It will mildew a bit later in the season as pulmonarias are wont to do (especially when they are in a dryer setting such as this) but it holds out longer than the others I have in the garden. Hummingbirds go after pulmonaria in the early spring, since it is one of the few things blooming when they first return from their winter migration.



The larger bush blooming above and behind the white bench is Osmanthus delavayi. It is the most fragrant thing in the back at present. It resents harsh winters and its evergreen leaves will easily blacken with too much harsh exposure. With all the rain we had last summer and the mild winter, it is really blooming heavily this season.

This is a Tulip kaufmanniana hybrid (don't
remember the name) that blooms across
the path from the bench. I love the centers of these flowers!


These are the flowers of Euphorbia martinii, which is probably my favorite euphorbia. The color is a bit unusual and there's a tinge of rusty-rose in the dull green leaves. The flowers last for a long time and on this plant have a bit of burgundy inside that is echoed nicely by the Heuchera 'Chocolate Ruffles' planted nearby. Heuchera seem to be loved by our deer so I have to spritz them during the growing season in order to see any leaves. They will usually still browse them once or twice, but not as severely if I use the spray (Ropel). This euphorbia will grow in zones 7-10 and the deer will not eat it!


I'm repeating this picture from the late winter page because these are still blooming. They are just a hybrid royal blue primrose (like you see everywhere around Mother's Day or sooner) and the bright chartreuse grass is Bowle's Golden Grass...Milium effusum 'Aureum'. It spreads by runners and seed, but ever so slowly.


Near the white bed on the northwest corner of the house, you can find this grouping in April. The hosta is 'Albo-marginata'...fairly common but very attractive and dependable. The blue and white flowers are just old-fashioned bluebells (probably English) like the ones we had around my childhood home. They are free seeders and I don't mind them coming up where they please. I think most of these I dug up from along the ditch bank near the north boundary of our property. They had naturalized from the neighbor's yard across the street. Years ago, a nice Scottish lady and her husband lived and gardened there. They are long gone, but many of their old-fashioned plants remain.


A strange spring floral offering (Helleborus lividus corsicus flowers always look a bit strange!). Those are the green ones at the bottom. I think the tulips are 'Purissima,' a nice early variety that comes back well. The green and white variegated leaves belong to Euonymous 'Emerald Gaiety.' There is also a sprig of Osmanthus sticking out on the top left and a few pulmonaria blossoms thrown in for some blue.


These are pretty much finished up by the first week of April. They are Narcissus 'Tete a Tete' and are reliable and always cheery. You can see some early Primula vulgaris in the background to the lower right and some blooms of the Helleborus lividus corsicus...albeit a bit blurred!


Here's a closer view of Primula vulgaris. I purchased the seed from Thompson and Morgan and got three little seedlings successfully launched in this area (not very good numbers!). With the extra rain we had last summer, I am noticing a lot more volunteers that look like they are going to reach maturity...time to transplant some to the other side of the path. These have a very nice fragrance, by the way.



Just under the deck railing is this little grouping that I found rather appealing. The grass to the right is Red New Zealand Sedge...Uncinia unciniata (I finally looked it up). It likes moisture and sun and seems to do well here because it gets runoff from the deck planters being regularly watered. Also, when I set up the oscillating sprinkler for this bed, it is positioned so that it deflects off the underside of the deck just enough to rain down on these plants. (See below) During the winter, this grass turns a brilliant orangey-red. The green "needles" to the left belong to an upright rosemary rescued from the trash at the nursery where I worked and the tulips are 'Purissima.'





This isn't the best shot , but it had the Magnolia in the background. It was beautiful for about a week and a half before it started dropping its petals. Looks like the stepping rounds were actually swept before this picture was taken!



I've shown too many photos of this spot, but this one features a burgundy hellebore in its full glory. Someday there will be more flowering stalks. There would have been another one near it of a white and blush color, but I accidentally cut it off when I was trimming back the Bowles' Golden Grass in late winter (I HATE it when I do things like that!). I tried to blur the background, but you'll notice there's quite a mess back there!

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