Emerging

23 Feb

Oh my god, my last update was in August! Sorry I haven’t written anything for a few months, but I hadn’t quite settled in at home until recently. I returned from my year abroad in November and now I have a new job at the University of Washington Botany Greenhouse. (During my undergrad I regularly volunteered at the greenhouse, but I wouldn’t have thought I would return as an employee in the future!) I’ve been caring for the research and collection plants, and since the the greenhouse will be demolished by the next year, I have been also helping with fundraising and preparing the collection plants for their big move. Dr. John Grimshaw has written a wonderful post about the greenhouse and the collection on his blog: johngrimshawsgardendiary.blogspot.com. Besides the greenhouse post, the blog is full of plant musings and wonderful pictures – it deserves a follow!

This will be the final year this plum tree blooms, and it will be removed the next few weeks. I will miss it.

This will be the final year this plum tree blooms, and it will be removed the next few weeks. I will miss it.

Now that I’m settled, of course I took a busman’s holiday and spent my entire weekend in the garden doing damage control. Nothing has been done to it for over a year and it’s been interesting seeing what has survived and what has bit the dust. Most of the garden has survived, but there were a few plants that had disappeared while some had begun to take over the beds.

Magnolia ashei is still alive, which I am excited about.

Magnolia ashei is still alive, which I am excited about.

I’ve decided that anything that hasn’t been preforming well in the garden will be lifted and given away to a new home or tossed if it is beyond saving. The first on my list were the Siberian Irises. Though beautiful in spring, the flowers and shoots are a favorite among slugs, and without full sun the leaves flop onto neighboring plants and look quite messy. Yesterday morning they all came out. (But not without a fight!) Once they were all dug up it was a wonderful feeling knowing that I will not have to fight them next year. Now that the irises are gone, I shuffled in some plants that would appreciate the room and extra sunlight.

These are all going to a new home where they will be able to spread and bask in full sun.

These are all going to a new home where they will be able to spread and bask in full sun.

Aside from two cold snaps, this year El Niño has graced Seattle with a mild winter and as a result many plants are blooming ahead of schedule. Almost everything is a month ahead, but since my garden is about 600 feet above sea level the effect is slightly less dramatic. (I am high up enough that when there is a threat of frost in Seattle my garden will freeze, so compared to sea level my flowers have been kept back.) While the snowdrops and hellebores have been blooming for a couple of weeks now, the daffodils and ranunculus have just started to bloom this week.

The snowdrops have bulked up a little, but I just wish the sweet flowers weren't so appealing to slugs.

The snowdrops have bulked up a little, but I just wish the sweet flowers weren’t so appealing to slugs.

Looking towards the hellebore bed, the ever cheerful tête-à-tête daffodils have started to bloom.

Looking towards the hellebore bed, the ever cheerful tête-à-tête daffodils have started to bloom.

Here the ranunculus have started to bloom and even the Primula veris.

Here the ranunculus have started to bloom and even the Primula veris.

When the hellebores first started to bloom a couple of weeks ago, I noticed there were many white ones blooming. I found it strange since I only had one white flowered plant. It turns out all the extra white ones were self-sown seedlings that have finally reached blooming size! (Without feeding they took a while to reach flowering maturity.)

The hellebores are looking  presentable after their leaves were clipped and the their bed raked of excessive pine needles.

The hellebores are looking presentable after their leaves were clipped and the their bed raked of excessive pine needles.

Here's a bowl of the hellebore varieties I have in the garden. The white flower in the 3 o'clock position is the original plant, and other two at 10 and 2 o'clock are its children.

Here’s a bowl of the hellebore varieties I have in the garden. The white flower in the 3 o’clock position is the original plant, and other two at 10 and 2 o’clock are its children.

After some more clearing the other beds around the garden are starting to look better as well. The Long Plot is beginning to look a bit more defined than its early stages and it is exciting to see most of the plants are taking well to the clay soil.

Here's the Long Plot now after a thorough clearing.

Here’s the Long Plot now after a thorough clearing.

Though the front garden is starting to come to life, the Rosa ‘Mutabilis’ practically hasn’t stopped growing all winter (it didn’t even drop a single leaf).  Even though I just pruned it, it is still twice the size of when I left it and there isn’t any signs of slowing. I can’t complain since a bigger plant means many more flowers this summer!

I love the burgundy tint of the new foliage of Rosa 'Mutabilis' against the acid green flowers of Euphorbia wulfenii.

I love the burgundy tint of the new foliage of Rosa ‘Mutabilis’ against the acid green flowers of Euphorbia wulfenii.

By the front door the potted plant collection is starting to grow as well. Many of the them will be planted in the grown once they are done or given away, but the plan is to eventually have just annuals in pots. That way I can easily moved them into the garden when color is needed and when the growing season is over I can compost them without any guilt. Knowing me, it probably won’t go to according to plan, especially if I attend any plant sales…

I love potted plants, but I am trying to keep them to a minimum this year, or it will be a busy summer of watering.

I love potted plants, but I am trying to keep them to a minimum this year, or it will be a busy summer of watering.

Just a short update for now, but now that I am home and settled I will be writing more often. See you later!

 

 

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