Sunday, March 23, 2008

Quick Garden Update

The lily and Clintonia seedlings seemed to be doing just fine, but I have noticed that some of the leaf tips have been nibbled. Oh, and the Lilium washingtonianum spp. purpuratum have germinated. Mimulus lewisii, Mimulus cardinalis, Mimulus guttatus, Mimulus dentatus, and the shrubby Mimulus aurantiacus are all beginning active growth mode. The mature Lilium pardilinum bulbs have sent up their star-like leaf rosettes. I've transplanted Lupinus polyphyllus seedlings into the coastal prairie. The Aquilegia formosa have new bushy growth and some of last years Clarkias, despite being annuals, seem ready for another season.

Fork in the road: there is the possiblity of me moving to Philadelphia for three years to study landscape architecture. I've never been to the East coast and have never lived in a big city. But it's a possibility.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

March Bloom Day

The sky is clear, but the earth's cold and wet. A walk through the Bayside forest reveals:

Clusters of Trillium ovatum

Carpets of tiny Viola sempervirens

the robust Petasites frigidus var. palmatus

and the lone Ribes roezlii(?)

Closer to the house, we have Heuchera micrantha

And a spring mix of Euphorbia "red wings" and tulips.

Other flowers not pictured: Ribes sanguineum, Lysichiton americanus, Claytonia sibirica, Vaccinium ovatum, Armeria maritima, one tiny little Madia sp., rosemary (year-round bloomer apparently), and Narcissus.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Lily Germination

Remember the Lily Lady? Well, both gallon-containers of L. rubescens are sprouting! (The bunny ears above are two of many seedling.) Nothing's happening with the L. washintonianum spp. purpuratum (yet). Both gallon-containers of L. pardilinum have also sprouted. The Clintonia andrewsiana seed from the forest (mentioned in the Lily Lady post) sprouted a couple of weeks ago. Exciting!

I'm glad I filled the pots to the brim last fall (not worrying about a reservoir), as the Lily Lady suggested, because the soil has settled down almost an inch in the pots and they wouldn't be getting enough sunlight if they were much lower. The pots were outside in partial shade (behind the fountain) all winter long, except for the Clintonia (pictured below), which was in a flat in our forest (which has now been moved by the fountain) . I never watered the seeds. There was no pretreatment (except for the Clintonia, whose seeds were washed and soaked in warm water for 24 hours before sowing). There was no greenhouse or growlight involved. I used a seed starting mix.

Now if I can just keep them all alive--which really means protecting them from slugs (how do I do that?), not fussing over them too much, and letting them go dormant, and transplanting them at the right times-- for four or so years, I may have some flowering plants. Advice is always welcome.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Signs of Spring

(Wild Prunus blossoms and Lysichiton americanus.)

The Winter of Unemployment is over. I am leaving my island of Big Lagoon and moving to Eureka, where I've accepted a job helping the Director/Curator of an art museum. I'm pretty excited. I have to see how much time I can spare, but since I'll be in Eureka, I hope to volunteer at the Humboldt Botanical Gardens. I also hope to find an affordable apartment with at least a sunny balcony for experimenting with seed propagation. Grad schools are still in the mix and I should be hearing from them starting at the end of this month. Time to wake up.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Container Planted

You know, this may be the first container planting I've designed (well except for some mostly-failed attempts at bonsai landscapes), and I like it. It's green and silvery and hosts an unusual mix of plants: cultivars, natives, herbs. (Sorry, it's difficult to see, it's getting late.)

The Astelia 'Silver Spear' is in the middle while silver veriegated lemon thyme and Lotus 'Amazon Sunset' covers the front. I remembered the miscellaneous succulents that needed a new home, so I stuck them in ( they compliment the "terra cotta" nicely). There's a little green culinary sage stuck in the side too.

Here's a view of the back from the living room. It's a bit sparser, because I needed room for the dozen (?) Triteleia 'Queen Fabiola' bulbs and room for the Epilobium canum to spread.

We'll see how it goes this season.

Monday, March 3, 2008


A few days ago I went to a local nursery with my mother: Bad idea!

When something manages to catch my eye, I decide either it’s too expensive, I need to know more about it, there must be a native that has a similar effect, or that I simply need to think about it. She, on the other hand, likes anything with color, especially what matches her "house colors." And unlike me, she hardly blinks at the thought of spending. Our missions were supposed to be separate: I'm planting the fountain, she's planting the window boxes.

After an hour and half of debating ceramic pots and primroses, I find a plant that takes me off guard. It’s bold and all silver and green. Astelia chathamica“Silver spear.” Mm hmm, the name conjures up endangered Hawaiian silverswords and dark forest myths.

I make sure it can live where it’s going to be planted: in a dry fountain with full sun. Here on the coast, it can do just that. Eventually it may out grow it’s space, but this is a plant I would be happy to divide into two, one for my garden some day…

My mom wasn’t going to let me leave without getting flowers to put in the fountain. I’d already planned on putting Epilobium canum (which I already have) in there for some fall color (and to keep it contained). I was willing to try a crimson lotus cultivar 'Amazon Sunset' because they were unusual to me and my mom liked them. I also broke down and bought some Triteleia “Queen Fabiola” bulbs, even though they’re cultivars (of native T. laxa). See, I can compromise.

So that's what's going in the fountain: Astelia in the middle; triteleia, lotus, epilobium on the edges--with variegated lemon thyme as a green filler. But they're not going to be evenly distributed along the rim. It's going to have a clunky jungle look. Eventually I'd like some big silver dudleys here and there.

Risky color combo for sure. I think red, silver, and purple look good together, but they have to be the right shades, you know? Will the Triteleia be dark enough? Will the lotus be too orange? And then there's the outside paint color and the plants in the bed behind it. I'm getting nauseous thinking of the possibilities.

Since the container will be draining into the bottom pool, I also need to make sure to keep the soil on the lean side, so we don't get lethal algal blooms below. Last year there were many many tadpoles.

In the pool we’re going to put (in pots) pygmy white (?) water lilies in the front (need to order), cattails in the back (already have), and hopefully, someday, some native Sagittaria or Alisma on the sides.

With enough green in the mix any colors can look good together, right?