Friday, April 29, 2011

OOPS - I was wrong

Ever since we move to this house I've been waiting anxiously to see the rhododendrons bloom in the back to see what color they would be. When they finally popped out this spring I was delighted with their lovely lilac/pink flowers. I have savored them day after day. When I pulled out some Heavenly Bamboo that were not doing at all well in that same area I decided I would get a few more Rhodie's to go as companions to the great big ones I have there now.

Once I got to the plant store I realized my mistake. What I have are not rhododendrons at all. They are azaeleas.

I had NO idea that azaeleas even got this big! So now I'm buying some baby rhododendrons to scatter around in some spots where I hope they will thrive

A Little Night Life...

I wish I had a camera that would do justice to my garden at night. The previous property owners here had installed landscaped lights throughout the back yard. These are not the stick in the ground where ever you want solar lights you see in department stores. These are hard wired electric lights that go along the stone pathway. They spread a soft glow with just enough light to allow me to walk safely through the darkest corners and add a magical feel to the gardens. Then there are also five or six ground spotlights that shine up onto the tree trunks. I've got one pointed at the fountain we put in. I love my garden lights. They truly extend the amount of time I can be out there. During the day I'm usually weeding, trimming, transplanting, or scheming what I will design out there next. But in the dark of night you'll often find me quietly walking the pathways, or sitting in of the chairs out under the trees to just reflect on the peacefulness I feel out there. I'm thinking once it warms up I need to have an evening garden party out there. Now that the trees are leafing out and so very many flowers are coming back to life it really is a special spot.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sharing gardens

This evening Victoria from "Our Life in Idaho" came by to visit my garden and get some starts of a few things I had to share. I'm pretty sure the hellebore and the delphinium she took should thrive well under her care. I hold out less hope for the Nandina/Heavenly Bamboo I gave her. It was looking VERY puny in my yard as it was planted in a spot where it was almost completely shaded and didn't have much water. If she can save it, GREAT. IF not, oh well, we tried.

The nice thing about making new friends through the blogosphere is we had a chance to "get to know" each other before we ever met through reading one another's postings. Because of that I had no sense at all of meeting a "new" person or a the awkwardness of entertaining a stranger. I was meeting Victoria, who shares her life with Kim and some chickens known affectionately as "the girls". I knew some of her challenges and interests. I knew who her favorite authors are. From our email contact I knew what sort of work she does. So inviting her over to dig up some plants that needed a new home and take a walk through my garden paths just seemed perfectly natural.

I will look forward to pictures of those plants if they take hold, and no hard feelings if they don't. Either way, I look forward to sharing more garden visits in the future. By the way - give my best regards to Jelly Bean, and good luck with the squirrels.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Back Yard Inventory

This Post will be a work in progress because I'm still identifying a lot of what I have growing in the back, but I figured I might as well get started and add to it as I discover more. So this is what I know I have so far:

Maple, Japanese
Maple, Ginnala (photo)
Maple, ??
Pine, Austrian
Quaking Aspen
Russian Olive Tree
Ornamental Plum
Ornamental Cherry

Dogwood Bush
Golden Current
Heavenly Bamboo
Lilly of the Valley Bush/ Pieris japonica
Lilac (I almost think these should be under trees - they are HUGE)
Oregon Grape
Snowball Bush

Ajuga (Bugle)
Allysum - Easter basket mix
"Bachelor Button" / Centaurea (Amethest Dream) (photo)
Basket of Gold
Belladonna / Deadly Nightshade
Bergenia / Pig's Squeak
Bleeding Heart
Dianthis (Pinks)
Eryngium - Sea Holly
Grapes - Concord
Goldenrod - Fireworks
Grape Hyacinth
Helenium - Mardi Gras (Sneezeweed)
Heuchera / Coral Bells
Hostas (photos)
Lady's Mantle (photo)
Lamb's Ear
Lamium (photo)
(several different varieties)
Lemon Balm (photo)
Liatris / Blazing Star
Ligularia (photos)
Lungwort/ Pulmonaria
(Little Blue)
Maltese Cross
Money Plant
Mrs. Brandshaw Geum / Avens
Rock Cress
Sedum / Stonecrop
Siberian Bugloss
Virginia Creeper
Yarrow (yellow)

Blue Fescue
Black Grass

FRONT YARD INVENTORY (Updated spring 2012)

Japanese Maple (photo)
Tri-Color Beech (photo)
Weeping Pussy Willow (photo)
Serpentine Weeping Cherry

Burning Bush (photo)
Corkscrew Hazelnut - Red Majectic
Forsythia (photo)
Redtwig Dogwood

Double Delight (photo)
Hot Cocoa

Crocus (photo)
Dahlia - Lambada
Echinacea (Purple corn flower)( photo)
Iris (photo)
Red Hot Poker / Torch Lilies
Shasta Daisies
Stargazer Lilies (photo)
Tulip - "Claudia" (photo)
Violas / Johnny Jump-Up

Blue Oat Grass (photos)
Feather Reed Grass - "Karl Foerster"
Sweet Woodruff (photos)
Lawn - Kentucky Blue Grass (photo)

In the Garden
Tomatoes (6 different heritage varieties)
snow peas, Garlic, Walla Walla Sweet onions, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Cucumbers, Egyptian walking onion, zucchini, yellow squash, acorn squash, butternut squash

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Name That Plant - continued

Well, I'm excited to finally begin to be able to identify more of the things I have growing in my yard.

THIS plant is called Pieris japonica, also known as "Lilly of the Valley Bush" and I'm excited to learn that those buds it is showing now will develop into lovely long white chains of flowers that are supposed to be quite fragrant and the new growth will start out a pretty bright red before transition to these evergreen leaves. We have these all along the back of the house so they should put on quite a show.

This one is Bergenia cordifolia 'Eroica', more commonly known as "Pig Squeak". I have a bunch of them scattered in flower beds all over the back yard. They keep sending off new babies so I plan to share some with other gardeners I know.

Of course I was already familiar with hellebore (also known as "Lenten rose"), but did not realize how many different varieties there are. (There are 15 different kinds.) I have three or four different colors. They are so pretty it is a shame they keep the faces of their flowers hanging down to the ground, but I think of them as bowing in prayer, expressing humility rather than showing off their fancy faces which is appropriate for the season of Lent. These too have created lots of babies where I don't want them, so I'll be passing on starts of those as well. Any takers among my Boise garden friends?

Here we have one of the many variety of sedum

There are of course still several others I have yet to learn about. But I'm getting there. We moved in last June so I missed the spring here entirely last year. It really is exciting to see the many different things emerging from the ground and watch them take shape, unfold, become the lovely specimen plants I was introduced to all at once last summer. Each season has its own special surprises.

I have friends who tell me they can't imagine having to do all the weeding and dead heading that I welcome with such a passion. To each their own. As for me, I am seldom happier than when I am digging in the dirt in my garden.

Boise in the spring time

I happened to have the day off today (a RARE occasion during the week) so my beloved and I took Morgan the wonder dog for a nice long walk along the green belt. I already knew I loved being in Boise, but today was an absolute stunning day.

Boise is known as the "City of Trees" with good reason. There are so many gorgeous trees, and this time of year when the naked sticks are clothing themselves in new leaves is pretty amazing.

The Boise River is running really high between the spring rains and the snow melt off which reminds me all over again why I will NEVER live by a river...

This is no where near flood stage, but it is high enough to show that rivers are living creatures that can jump their banks and go where they please.

I feel really blessed to live in a place that has so many great places to go hiking, many of which are within just a few minutes of where I live. What I like about Boise is that it is big enough to have some terrific resources, yet close enough to mountains, waters, and wilderness to offer the quality of life factors that I value. So this time of year I split my discretionary time between working out in my back yard tending to the flowers or heading out to some spot along the 22 miles of tree lined pathways and parks near me to walk the dog. Either way it feels good to be surrounded by beauty. So if I'm sporadic about adding new blog posts, you'll know why. I'm not spending a lot of time at home in front of the computer. Morgan and I are out on the trail.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

BLOOMS & Mysteries

My yard continues to come alive with spring flowers. The two rhododendrons in back of the house have been simply glorious.

And we've got lots of other things blooming, violets, vinca, lamina, hellebore, bugloss to name just a few.

However, we've also got things in flower that I have NO IDEA what are.

Mystery Tree # 1 - Remember that bushy tree I didn't know what was? I still have no clue what to call it, but it sure has turned pretty with these lovely yellow blooms all over it.

Mystery Tree 2. This one hangs over our fence into the neighbor's yard quite a ways so I was going to trim it back. But it blooms so pretty they begged me not to.

And there's plenty of other stuff just beginning to come up that I have yet to identify. It's going to be an interesting summer learning more about what we have growing here!


I just got home from a trip to Sun Valley. I went up for work. The seminar I was helping to facillitate went well. Also got to see some phenomenal country on the drive. It was rainy and dreary most of the way up, but on the way back we had blue skies and could see for miles. Idaho sure has some gorgeous country. I wish I had a camera with a wide angle sense to be be able to capture the scope of the grandeur. Even though these pictures don't do justice to it, they give a little taste of where I was. For more pictures of Sun Valley from the web click HERE.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Be Careful What You Ask For

Well, I did ask for it to stop raining. So maybe I should be grateful. But what I THINK I need to be is more specific in my weather requests. It is no longer raining. Now it is alternating between hail, sleet and snow. SHEEH. Will someone please tell the sky that it is spring?

A Work in Progress...

If it ever stops raining long enough to dry out we may actually make some serious progress on our front yard project. At least we've gotten started.

In the front corner by our mailbox we had several rose bushes. I took out the biggest one and made room for some iris and lilies.

We also got brave and cut out much of our lawn. We rented a sod cutter which helped, but the rolling, lifting and hauling away the strips of cut sod was a lot more work than we had anticipated, particularly since the ground was still wet so the pieces we had to move were REALLY heavy. However, I'm pretty happy with how the "bikini lawn" came out.

I took out one of the boxwoods under the bedroom window and planted a forsythia in its place. Eventually the other two boxwoods will go as well, probably to be replaced by burning bush, but for now it's just nice having that spot of color in the middle.

The main project so far has been reworking the irrigation and putting in the flowerbed around the light pole. First of course came LOTS of discussion of what we wanted to put there, how to border it, what shape and size, etc, with lots of mind changing along the way. We started out with this:

After cutting out the grass, digging out LOTS of rock, roto-tilling the irrigation lines, um, yeah...and a few other adventures we are getting there.

Next will come the raised beds for our veggies. We sort of have a plan...

but exactly how it will turn out when it's really done remains to be seen. We debated whether we wanted to put rock or bark around the boxes where we have taken the grass out. However, we dug so many blasted roots out of the ground from where the big trees were we cut down (3 huge pines and one locust) that after we put them through the shredder/chipper we now have two big garbage cans full of shredded roots. I'm tempted to just put that down instead of buying bark. Am I nuts? DON'T ANSWER THAT!

After we get the raised bed in we will decide where to place the two new trees we got

and then we will put in our water feature...

There is still A LOT of work to be done. But we are getting there. My hands are chapped and my back is sore. The laundry is piling up. This project has really taken over nearly all of our time. However, it should look nice when we get it all done. Let's hope so anyway!

Sunday, April 03, 2011


FINALLY it is officially Spring. I've been getting out in the yard to dig in the dirt every chance I can get. It does my heart good to see things coming back to life.

Of course, there are the obvious and expected things like Crocus Booming

Giant alliums coming up

Tulips Coming up

Lamium blooming

and the Rhododendron's showing a bit of color, buds just getting ready to pop.

(I'm especially excited about them since we moved in here in June, after they were all finished so this will be my first season to see them bloom.)

However, there are still plenty of plants in the yard I have yet to identify. So, friends, neighbors, it's time once again to play NAME THAT PLANT.

Do you know any of these?

MYSTERY PLANT 1 - low ground plant with small white flowers

MYSTERY PLANT 2 - I don't kn0w whether to call this a tall bush or a bushy tree - it's over 6 foot clue what it is.

MYSTERY PLANT #3 - this is and evergreen shrub of some sort planted behind my rhododendron. I was hoping it also bloomed but the little bud things don't look too promising.


I have several of these and think they are pretty, but I have no idea what it is.

There's lots of other things coming up...I will catalog a few each week, some I know and some I don't. Also - coming soon, photos of our complete remodel of the front yard. GASP. Yep, we have begun. Chopped down the giant locust tree much to our neighbor's horror. Then we started tearing out lawn. Not ALL of it...we have a nice curving strip in the front which I affectionately refer to as my "bikini lawn". Behind that, however will soon be 3 4' x 8' raised beds surrounded by bark and off to the side a fountain that I will plant geraniums and marigolds around. Then, in front around the ugly light pole that our housing development requires for every yard (ugh!) we have taken out a big section of grass where we plan to put in 3 rose bushes, some tall ornamental grass, lilies and maybe move the delphiniums from the back yard that never get enough sun to bloom.

We also bought a serpentine weeping cherry and a weeping pussy willow tree to plant in front.

It's all a torn up mess right now, but we're diligently working on it and hoping that it will be beautiful when we get it all done.

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