Archive | January, 2014

Midwinter Blooms

24 Jan

Today is one of those rare sunny, midwinter days here in Seattle, a brief break in our usual winter gloom. So, I took advantage and snapped some quick pics of things blooming in the garden, and a few other winter treats!


Several of the hardier primroses are starting to flower again, and with enough abandon to even out grow the slug damage. Where did I out that slug bait, anyway? Lol


Clematis cirrhosa has been blooming off and on all winter. This year we made garlands of cranberries for wreaths, I draped the extra over the clematis, and rather like the effect.


Licorice fern is one of my all time favorite natives, and probably my very favorite fern. I love how it come up in fall, looks great all winter, then goes dormant for the summer’s heat. These will be producing spores soon.


The early bulbs are starting to wake up too, I think these are wood hyacinths. The grape hyacinths are already budding out. Unfortunately, it looks like my crocus pot died out. Camas and daffodils are also starting to poke their heads above ground, just barely.



Winter honeysuckle blooms mostly late in winter, it’s just getting into its full stride. The perfume of this one, as the specific name Lonicera fragrantissima suggests, is strong, and a lovely reason to get out into the garden this time of year.


I’m not sure which species of Sarcacocca this is, but it also has a nice sweet fragrance. Maybe that’s why it is sometimes called “sweet boxwood”. This one was in a pot for a number of years, languishing in way too much shade. I wasn’t really expecting it to flower yet this year, it’s been abused so badly, but this is a tough plant. No sign yet if the hummers are using this, but I wouldn’t be awfully surprised. They do use the honeysuckle some…


These Mahona x media cultivars, and the Grevillea are the main humflowers this time of year. I think this one is ‘King’s ransom’, and it’s gotten really big. This is the biggest and nicest if my Mahonias, but they all attract the hummers to some extent.


This one got buried under the blackberries, but did all right. It’s got a really cool shape from being squashed, lol, and unlike most of these, the flower spikes arch rather than stick straight up. The hummers seem to be fine either way, but I like the more informal look of this better I think. But I love them all anyway.


Grevillea victoriae, the other mainstay of the hummers all winter. I think there is at least one male that does nothing but guard this one plant! Though it’s big enough when he is going to he flowers on one side, one of the females tends to sneak around the back. Doesn’t seem to be flowering as much this year as it has in the past though.


The hellebores are all starting to bud out too. I got this one, an un-named seedling at the Green Elephant Plant Swap last year. I really should double check the identification of it, with its green cups marked with a maroon red rim. The orientalis types are still tightly in bud though.

And one final pic-


I noticed the other day an odd pink in the bush, and wondered if something had gotten thrown into it by the wind or something. On close inspection, it’s a single, way early flower on the quince bush. This is one of the oldest plants in the garden, a house warming gift to my parents when they moved into the place. Reliable and wonderful, especially since it blooms so early. The hummers use the bush as a perch quite a bit, but the flowers are often lightly or rarely used by them. Bumbles on the other hand seem to like it just fine.

Hand painted birdbath

7 Jan

Ok, so just had to brag a bit…

Beth and I and the various nieces and nephews have for a few years now, made a tradition of going to the ceramic place so the kids can paint their own tiles. Each year I do a bowl or something too. This year we decided to splurge, and I did a bigger bowl that we can use as a birdbath in summer. This is low fire ceramics, so I don’t trust it outside in any winter weather, but in summer it will go outside in the back, I have just the spot in mind when I made it.

Anyway, I thought this year’s effort turned out really well!


And a close up of the frog-


My first attempt was awful, so I cheats this year and googled it on my phone! I am so glad I did, he turned out much better than the blobby thing I did from memory, lol. I guess my memory of what these look like isn’t so hot.

And the dragonflies-


A matched pair, just like the ones we get flying around in summer, except I think they have clouded wing bases… Oh well, close enough.

The rocks in the bottom are deliberate. This is a deep, slippery glazed bowl, and will likely get real rocks placed in the bottom so the birds have some traction. The rocks both act as a place saver when it’s inside for the winter, and I won’t mind covering them with real rocks.


The back is done with some oxalis on one side, and a nice little June but beetle (also googled!), and little seedling maple tree, which ended up all washed out.

I can’t wait to put this out in the garden!

UW Arboretum Winter Garden, January 7th, 2014

7 Jan

This is kind of a What’s in Bloom road trip, lol… I had some time to kill coming home from North Seattle this morning (traffic was rediculous… I really don’t know how people can stand driving in rush hour every day. I truly don’t, lol…) so I stopped to see what was going on in the Arboretum’s Winter Garden, and see if there were hummers around there still.

Of course there were, I could hear them in the bushes around me, but on this drizzly morning they stayed out of sight. Maybe my presence kept them hidden in the shrubbery, hard to say.

Anyway, this is a really nicely landscaped part of the Arboretum, with lots of winter interest, both in terms of flowers and in the foliage and bright stems of different things. Here is the in official entrance leading into the garden-


That blaze of yellow on the left is a huge old WitchHazel, Hamamelis something or other. Didn’t think to look for a tag for it. On the right is a Martin red one-


In just as full flower, and between them and the Sarcacocca underplanting them, it smelled heavenly there. I don’t know if the hummers use either one of these plants. Hamamelis in general doesn’t produce a lot of nectar, from what I understand. It does smell good though.


The Mahonia x media cultivars, on the other hand, are excellent nectar sources this time of year, and most of the hummers I could hear were around these big shrubs. I think this is a smaller ‘Arthur Menzies’, but I didn’t check the tag.


Here is a bigger one, just to the right of the earlier photo, tucked behind the red flowered with hazel. The flowers on this cultivar are just getting into their full glory-


And the signage that goes with this larger plant, which I believe may be the original one?


There are several of these scattered through the border. I think some are different cultivars, but I’m not sure. There is quite a bit of the native Mahonia nervosa under the trees as well, but it of course won’t be blooming for several months yet. Still pretty in its winter purple phase.

Backtracking a bit, here are the flowers of that yellow witch hazel-


Oddly enough, I’ve never been all that find of this plant. It does have nice flowers at a time of year when there is precious little to talk about in the garden, I’ve just never been all that impressed with the usually lanky plants. As they get old enough to be small trees like these though, they do have their charms. Just not a plant I want in my own garden.

There were several Hellebores scattered through the gardens as a kind of winter flowering groundcover, too


I should know the name of this one, but am blanking it out for work reason. I have a small seedling I got last year at the Green Elephant plant exchange, but it’s still mostly in bud, not out this far yet.

One of the hummingbird’s other favorites is the winter honeysuckle, Lonicera standishii


This year these are almost completely deciduous, but I have seen them in milder winters staying practically evergreen through the winter. Again, these have a strong, sweet fragrance. A little heavy at times when the sun is out, but nice on a cool misty morning like today. And I know from past experience at the Arboretum, and watching my own bush, this is one the hummers use quite a bit.

Behind this scraggly winter honeysuckle is a nicer looking, more evergreen one, but I couldn’t find any sign of flowers on it. It might be the hybrid L. x purpussii, a cross between L standishii and L fragrantissima. I was a little surprised it didn’t seem to be flowering though.

Not all the interest in this garden is just from flowers. This combination of Azara microphylla and some kind of variegated Ozmanthus I think, caught my eye both for the color and textural interplay-


The Azara is now a small tree, easily 20 feet tall. It’s setting buds now, and will be blooming by the end of the month if I remember correctly.

The other is I think a cultivar of Osmanthus heterophyllus, which also blooms in late winter, but only had buds for the moment. But the contrast in color and texture between the two leaves was really nice.

Another group really well represented here is the winter box- Sarcacocca. There are several different type of habit and at least half a dozen cultivars and species in the Winter Garden. Some are barely six inch tall groundcovers, others are waist high hedges. I liked this nice willow leafed type, wish I could have found a label on it…


There were a couple places where different species would come together, kind of a nice variation on a theme kind of thing going on!


The garden also has around the edges some spectacular camelia varieties. Most this time of year seem to be singles, at least of what they had. That’s fine, I like the singles, and I suspect they are easier for the hummers to deal with to.


I particularly liked the small leafed, small flowered striped flower, in bright red and white bicolor. It seemed almost done though…



Sometimes the camelia flowers are just as lovely in the ground, in the is case in front of a rainbow Leucothoe.

Around the corner from that, at the base of a beautifully bright barked Stachyurus praecox, a nice surprise was this lovely little Cyclamen going to town


I will have to see about finding out which species that is, as it’s a lovely little thing.

More Hellebores too- Helleborus niger


Overall it was a nice way to spend an hour, even in the drizzly rain.


On the walk back to the car, also spotted some Rhododendrons in bloom- Rhododendron arboreus


And further along, the deciduous Korean Azalea Rhododendron mucronulatum



Which despite its bright flowers, is oddly cryptic still. In the next month or so as these open more, this shrub will cover itself and put on a much greater show, but it’s early yet, it’s only just getting started.

Also saw a Daphne or two-



I’m thinking of trying to find room for a couple of the Sarcococca, especially the taller willow leaved one. I rather liked the texture of it. The witch hazel is again, fun to visit when in flower, but I just don’t like hem enough to give them garden space. Now that striped camelia I would love to add to my garden! Not sure where I would put it though…