Saturday, June 30, 2007

Thyme in the Garden

Thyme, an aromatic and herbaceous evergreen, is a welcome versatile addition to our garden as it ranges from low mat-forming ground covers to spreading mounds and small shrub-like plants 6-12" in height.

Thymus serpyllum, Creeping thyme or Mother of Thyme, varies in color from white to shades of pink and rose to deep purple. Currently this beauty is in bloom throughout our landscape as it sweeps across the pathways and puts on quite the kaleido- show!

Another favorite, Woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus), will soon yield pale pink flowers atop its exceptionally soft gray-green foliage. Keep in mind that they require sun for the best blooming.

Next to a small sedum, Lemon Thyme ( Thymus citriodorous 'variegata'), with its yellow variegated leaves, is snipped on occasion to add a lemon-thyme flavor to a poultry, fish, or vegetable dish.

Sun loving, mat-forming, drought tolerant, walkable, fragrant and colorful, it is a honey plant for bees, and it can be used in soups, stews, poultry, fish, sauces...

Hmm... walk on it or cook with it! Now I ask you, who wants a lawn when you can have all of this?

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Dogwood

Outside my studio window and 30' beyond, the top third of our flowering Dogwood (Cornus Kousa) arches above the sloping hillside in a cloud of creamy white blossoms. Remarkably it has been a field of flowers for over a month and its steadfast color transitions only slightly from a buttery icing to a soft white as it withstands the many changes in weather. Currently at about 15' in height, its potential is to double in size.

Other varieties in this family include Cornus stolonifera, a deciduous shrub which grows to about 5' in height, can be used in the the perennial bed or by itself out in the landscape, is practically maintenance free and offers year-round interest and beauty: white blossoms in the spring, green foliage, berries in the fall... only to shed its clothing in the winter and reveal the stunning branching of either the yellow twig or red twig.

The red twig below just happened here, seeded, decided this is where it wanted to be among the iris. Who am I to question?

Others are naturalizing on the hillside, and we do nothing to them, not even water. What we most enjoy is seeing the two planted
within close proximity of one another. Stripped of all its foliage, the bright yellow gold against the blood red stems in the winter landscape is a sight to behold, especially if it snows. Stay tuned to see that one.

No, not much to worry about with this specimen, but if you cut back some of the branches in the spring, it will yield new growth and richer and brighter color.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Anise Swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon)

We are in awe at what chooses to occupy this space in which we live and enjoy.

While walking around the garden and assessing what needed to be done, this charming creature was enjoying the yellow 6' high Cephalaria gigantea (giant scabiosa).

Exquisite! It is difficult for me to comprehend the beauty, the intricate design and color and the intensity of the iridescent blue on the lower side of the black and yellow wings. There are bright orange spots on the tail end which give the appearance of eyes. Should a predator go after this end, the butterfly escapes with only part of the wing missing. This Anise Swallowtail
flits about from place to place as I stand captivated.

Do you think it is attracted to this delicate fennel (anise)? You bet...its main source for food. And it is also fond of our elevation.

The following website illustrates the fascinating stages from caterpillar to adult.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Clematis in the Garden

Clematis come in all shapes and sizes and most prefer at least six hours of sun each day, but with their "feet" well mulched, cool, and in the shade. Our climbing vines are many, such as this deep purple C. 'The President' which weaves its way throughout the pale pink climbing rose outside the kitchen window, while this periwinkle colored C. 'HF Young' wraps itself

around the supporting post of the pergola while offering a wonderful contrast against the yellow foliage of the Caryopteris clandonensis 'Worcester Gold'.

C. 'Nellie Moser'
and her multi-stripes of pink finds home above the delicate yellow foliage of Lonicera nitida 'Baggesens Gold'.

And a few non-climbing varieties have been introduced into the garden as they are quite unusual. C. fremontii with its bell shaped blossoms and recurved tips, grows only to about 12 inches in height and runs along the edge of one of the borders.

C. recta 'Purpurea', a 4 foot upright clump-forming specimen, has that wonderful burgundy foliage which turns to green with age. Its delicate white fragrant umbels make this specimen most appealing within the perennial beds. It requires staking; otherwise, the first watering will find it sprawled along the ground... which can also be appealing, and once the blossoms fade, cut back the plant for an additonal flush of growth.

Here it simply leans against and among the blue delphiniums, the 8-10 foot giant grass, Miscanthus floridulus, and lends its gentleness as it peeks through the floating pink clouds of the seeding Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Overdam'.

Step a little further back and take one more glimpse.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Four Months Later, Transition

One of the many things that is exciting about the garden is not simply the anticipation, but the actual transformation from month to month, season to season and year over year. The garden appeared to be rather dormant four months ago, but today it is full of color, fragrance, movement and sounds.

In many ways the garden is reflective of our lives: what it was; the growth occurring beneath the soil, which may or may not be visible; forms yet to emerge; the transition and stages over time.

Yes, we think about and are mindful of yesterday and what will or may occur, but it seems to defeat the purpose of life if time is wasted by wishing it were something else... bigger, better, more beautiful or colorful, warmer, colder... Rather, we welcome the change and accept what is, here and now, and enjoy those moments as they occur. We find the beauty in all of it.

The garden is in constant flux: there are periods of calmness and rest; the underlying growth emerges; there is surprise in finding a flower we had not planted; each plant is extraordinarily distinct; life in the form of butterflies and hummingbirds returns; the blossom's bright coral color may fade to a pale pink. We welcome all those changes.

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all.

My husband and I drove to the coast on Friday and spent several days at Depoe Bay with our daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. It was a time to be together and enjoy one another, watch the grey whales as they would spout and surface, and with the grandchildren it was a continued period for exploration of the "treasures" which the sandy beaches hold as we strolled barefoot along the shoreline, trousers rolled up, buckets in hand, and with heads attentively bent downward so as to grasp each special shell and stone.

One of the more beautiful Oregon coastline drives is along highway 101 from Florence to Depoe Bay. The gently bobbing winding road offers spectacular sites of alternating sandy beaches and the volcanic rugged coastline. This resort itself rests atop a lava bed with a view of calm and beauty, that which is inhaled and can seldom be expressed.

Today is Father's Day and it reminds us to honor those men in our lives: our wonderful husbands; the fathers and grandfathers who guided and sacrificed; our brothers and uncles and those teachers who influenced; our sons who will now guide our grandchildren. It is a time to be reflective, thankful, and celebrate all the men in our lives.

Happy Father's Day to all the men in our life.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Wisteria Sinensis and Maaaa

Wisteria sinensis, native to China, is a fragrant and beautiful but robust climber. As these blossoms have now faded, it is time for us to cut it back severely for it attempts to strangle Maaaa, who lopes atop this bed of green lush foliage above the pergola.

Maaaa happens to be our flying pig weathervane, given to us by one of our sons and was so named due to my love for the wonderful little film Babe.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Early June Garden

Although the earliest blooming Iris sibirica (Siberian iris) have faded from the garden, a few of the Iris germanica (Bearded iris) yet linger.

Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove), a poisonous plant and the source for producing Digitonin, a drug used for heart ailments, can be seen everywhere in the Pacific Northwest. As it requires very little soil to survive, one can find it naturalizing on rocky hillsides, along railroad tracks, sidewalk crevices and even in our gardens. I caution you however, to cut back the faded blossom prior to its seeding as it may overtake the areas the following year.

Caryopterus, delphiniums, foxglove, geraniums, marjorum, ornamental grasses... so much color, so much beauty in this early June garden.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Weigela, Viburnum, and Cotinus

The first of June and temperatures in the high 80's find color popping everywhere.

Weigela florida 'Java Red' (left) and Weigela florida 'variegata' (right) have already blossomed while the common weigela still hangs on.

A favorite combination now in full bloom is the red Rhododendron, Viburnum, Juniper, and Cotinus.

Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’ and its spectacularly clustered white flowers gracefully adorn the top of the horizontal branching. Having started several of these and planted them around the garden, one was placed on the hillside just below our front courtyard so as to provide a top down view.

Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ is a favorite due to its rich dark purple-red foliage. As this multi-stemmed small tree matures, the flowers appear as clusters of airy "smoke".