Planting Weekend


Traditionally, the last week in May, culminating with the 3-day Memorial weekend, is my prime planting time.  I usually take the entire week off from work and there is a huge push to get all new perennials, seedlings sown indoors, dahlia tubers, and all directly seeded veggies and annuals, such as zinnia, nasturtiums, and cosmos in the ground, as well as all annuals into containers.  Until recently, our last frost date hovered between May 22-24, so the last week in May was generally safe (over the last couple of years, it’s been closer to May 17-18).

The edging, weeding, and mulching of the numerous flower beds waits until after the mass planting event.  It drives me batty to walk around and see weeds and grass poking up through all the perennials, but it can’t be helped.  With limited gardening time, triage is a necessity.

I couldn’t take the full week off this year due to our trip in April, but I had a rather successful planting weekend nonetheless (thank you Nora).  Thankfully the rain held off until today.

We managed to get the 80′ hot border edged, weeded, planted and mulched.  I planted 5 crates — yes, crates — of dahlia tubers (various red varieties) that had over-wintered in the basement, 7 ‘David Howard’ dahlias (last year’s tubers potted inside about 10 weeks ago), cut back the dead tulips, and planted a line of marigolds along the front edge.


The border put on quite a display last fall with all of the dahlias and rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’.


To extend the blooming season, I’ve added some early to mid-summer bloomers last season, including Papaver ‘Goliath’, Baptisia ‘Solar Flare’, Bearded Iris ‘Raptor Red’, Hemerocallis ‘Ruby Spider’, several varieties of red and dazzling yellow lilies (that I have since forgotten the name of), and peony ‘Paul Wild’.

I also finished weeding and mulching the shade garden.  This border is tucked into the northeastern corner of the house and is planted largely with astilbe, columbine, ferns, and hosta.  I have some bearded iris and day lilies for splash of color tossed in as well.


Yesterday was spent in the vegetable garden.  The onions, shallots, beets, carrots, sweet peas, dill, borage, chamomile, cauliflower, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, marigolds, scarlet runner beans, and snap peas were already in the ground.  Yesterday we cleaned out another 7 beds (each 3′ x 20′) and direct seeded sunflowers (‘American Giant’ and ‘Santa Fe’), cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, edamame, green beans (bush variety), pole beans, zinnia, morning glories, swiss chard, kale, and two types of lettuce.  I still need to plant the acorn squash, and I want to get some bee balm, basil, and nasturtium seeds planted as well, but that will have to wait until next weekend.

I’ve decided (I think – I could change my mind by next weekend) to let the pumpkin patch rest this season and plant a green manure crop of field peas, oats and hairy vetch (an organic mix from Johnny’s Selected Seeds) in the patch to be tilled-in in late fall.  I still have 3 unplanted rows in the vegetable garden since I wasn’t in the mood to plant potatoes this year, and I may use a couple of those for a few pumpkins.  Much smaller scale than my roughly 30′ x 50′ pumpkin patch, but I was trying to “scale back” in the veg area this year to allow more time for the mixed borders.  As you can probably surmise from the list above, I wasn’t terribly successful.  I just can’t seem to help myself.

To wrap up yesterday, before I collapsed from exhaustion, I also replaced a dead lilac with a new one, planted two yucca grasses in the rock garden, and a 2nd Daphne near the gazebo.


Rock garden with a variety of dwarf evergreens, including Gold Thread Cypress, yucca, various other ornamental grasses (that are barely noticeable at this time of year), creeping phlox, and white potentilla.  This area was a mass of nettles and wild parsnip three years ago.  I buried it under a mass of landscape fabric, cardboard and mulch for a couple of seasons and really started planting last year.  More to do, but a vast improvement over what it looked like before!


As I was digging holes for the yuccas, our friend, Tim, arrived to hang the barn quilt — a wonderful Christmas gift from Lorna and Tim (designed and painted by Lorna, and constructed by Tim).  I had my brother build and hang a couple of window boxes a week ago to set off the quilt.  I think it looks fabulous!



More Flowers

The crescendo is beginning to build.  The peonies are loaded with buds, the camassia just started to unfurl yesterday, many of the clematis are already 3-4′ tall…in another couple of weeks, the June flowering will begin.  It’s my favorite time in the garden.


Lots of work to get done between now and then, if we can catch a break between rain showers.  I’ve done very little direct seeding in the vegetable garden and I’ve only managed to edge, weed and plant some seedlings into a couple of the borders with another 12+ borders remaining.  I still have salvia and dianthus seedlings, dahlia plants and 4 crates of dahlia tubers to get into the ground.


Crab apple blossoms


Memorial weekend is usually my first big gardening weekend, but as of now, we’re looking at a dry Saturday, but rain on Friday, Sunday and Monday.


But the rain has spurred quick growth in the garden.  Some photos of blooms above and below.


Ok, not a bloom, this is Oreo



Walking around the garden

The rain had stopped by the time I arrived home after work.  I was happy to have the rain after a weekend of planting dahlias, containers, and seedlings in the vegetable garden (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and sweet peas).  It was a gentle, constant rain much of the day and the garden always benefits.


Which of these things is not like the others?


But… there’s always the “but” with gardeners…but the rain also benefits the weeds, dandelions, and grass that are running rampant through my borders right now.  I know I’m not really “behind” since we’ve barely passed the last frost date, but I feel very behind.

So, as I was bemoaning how much work there was to do in the garden and how I couldn’t get to it with all the rain in the forecast for this week, Nora swooped in to the rescue – as she so often does – and grabbed the camera, and me, and forced a garden walk-about.


The tulips have gone over for the most part and are quickly passing into the spent, ugly phase.  I will have to get to them this weekend to cut back the stems.  But I allow the foliage to remain until yellowed to put some energy back into the bulbs for next year’s performance.


However, the perennials have really shot up.  The alliums are half open and the camassia lilies are on the cusp.


Pearl Bush with allium ‘Purple Sensation’


But we did manage to find a few others in full bloom (see below).


Weeping Siberian Pea Shrub
Pink Forget-Me-Nots?  Self-seeded from last year



Japanese Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ – incredibly invasive – mine are in a bottomless pot in the border to keep them somewhat contained – but I love them


Weekend Wildlife


As spring continues to warm, breathing life into the foliage and blossoms, the birds and other wildlife are becoming more active around the house.


We spotted two types of birds that we’ve never before seen on the property, the Eastern Kingbird and the Eastern Phoebe, and even saw a coyote trotting down the side of the road early yesterday morning before it ducked into the trees surrounding our “logging” road.


The Eastern Phoebe has taken up residence in the sheep barn, building her nest atop one of the lights in the rafters.  When she first moved in, she would fly out of the barn every morning and evening when I would approach to take care of the sheep.


Now she just sits in her nest, like a little queen on her throne, and glares down at me as I move about mucking out the barn and cleaning water troughs.


Nora also spotted the first hummingbird on Saturday (above), flitting between the partially opened alliums.  She also spent a half hour stalking our pair of tree swallows and captured some good shots (see below).




Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – May 2017


Quite a few changes in the garden between the time I left on vacation the 3rd week in April and yesterday.  We had torrential rains while I was away, leaving many of the borders and much of the lawn under inches of water.  We had a fairly rainy weekend as well, but softer showers which were able to seep into the ground as quickly as it arrived leaving everything green and sparkling with rain drops.


Despite the rather wet weekend, I was able to get a little planting done in the vegetable garden.  Another 50 or so walla walla sets went in, as did the first planting of carrots and beets, into the raised beds.  The regular beds are still too soaked to plant.  The week is looking dry and warm however, so hope to get the lettuces, kale, chard and a few other types of seeds planted.  I’m feeling a couple of weeks behind due to the trip.


I was able to get a little spot weeding done in some of the flower borders.  I also bought and planted 3 Japanese Willows (Salix integra ‘Hakaro Nishiki’), two in the front yard and one in the back next to the gazebo, and a Gold Thread Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea’) in the rock garden.  Picked the first rhubarb of the season on Saturday, and we’ve been cutting asparagus since we returned; looks like a banner crop this year.


The majority of yesterday, however, was spent planting out 20+ containers.  I still have another 7 to fill, but ran out of annuals.  I feel another trip to the nursery coming on!  Sadly it will have to wait until after work today.  Alas, Monday has arrived…


Here are a few other photos, taken yesterday, of what’s blooming in the garden.


One of the late blooming varieties of daffs in the borders
One of the pear trees now loaded with blossoms
Okay, this isn’t blooming yet, but the black currants are loaded with buds
Pear blossoms
There are few things as delicious as freshly cut asparagus


What’s Blooming


As mentioned in my last post, I’ve been away for a couple of weeks.  The garden started to awaken in my absence (weeds included, of course, and I won’t even discuss what the edges look like).


Unfortunately, many of the borders are also under water thanks to the endless rain, but better rain than drought!


Looking ahead in this week’s forecast, it appears we should have 4-5 dry days, so hopefully that will give the water time to seep into the ground.


We’re also anticipating 3 overnights at or below 32 degrees, so no rush to get things in the ground yet. I just hope the freeze doesn’t damage the fruit blossoms and certain perennials, such as the hosta and peonies, that have already shot up a fair amount of growth.


The orchard: daffs all blooming, as well as one of the plum trees.  I’ve planted 300 or so bulbs in the area over the last 2 years.  Plan on adding another 400 this fall.  I want the orchard awash in daffs by next spring. 



Bleeding Heart in bloom already!



A small portion of the peony border.  Rarely have I seen this much growth on the peonies this early in May.  I hope they’re not damaged by the freezing temps over the next couple of nights.