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Thursday, May 07, 2009


It's funny, I grow very few bulbs in my garden. So what is it about Camassia that makes me think of it as a perennial instead of a bulb? Maybe it's because a gardening friend dug a hunk out of the ground and I came home and planted it without realizing there were bulbs in that lump of soil?

All I know is that when the Camassia starts to bloom I get very excited! Today the first flower opened. I didn't take a photo (couldn't really as the weather has been horrendous for over a week now) but these are photos taken in the last year or two.

Not one single photo does this lovely plant any justice.

The digital cameras don't seem to capture the color blue correctly, I always had the same problem when I used to shoot slides or film.

One thing I can tell you about this plant is that it is extremely easy to grow. If you do get your hands on some, I promise that visitors will stop in their tracks and ask you what it is and could you possibly share a piece.

My Camassia seems to have stayed at the same size for the last year or two so I think it's time for me to divide it up and place it in a few different spots. The friend who shared a piece with me dug it just as it finished blooming. The foliage dies back quickly after it blooms so you really do need to move fast or you'll forget exactly where it is.

One last note, another name for this plant is Quamash. It was a food staple for the American Indians. It must have tasted delicious because who would have the heart to dig this lovely plant out it if tasted foul?

Tomorrow we begin our big Mother's Day weekend plant sale, if you are in the vicinity, stop by after 1:00 pm and say "Hi"!

Have a lovely weekend, I don't know if I'll be back to blog tomorrow. There's always some more gardening posts to read at my other blog Melanie's Perennials. I just posted about evening primroses there.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sweet, sweet woodruff

Galium odoratum doesn't sound half as nice as the nickname Sweet woodruff. This darling little woodland plant winds its way between stem and leaf with a charming habit.

For some reason though I haven't quite figured it out. I have sweet woodruff planted in my front garden (the one featured in the last post) and some years it looks wonderful there and other years it almost dies out.

Two parts of my back yard shade garden have nice stands of sweet woodruff. In fact, one area has so much of it that I've been taking pieces out and potting them up. I just adore this little darling and was surprised to see a 4 inch pot of it for sale yesterday for a whopping $6.49.

Yet another part of the back shade bed, only 50 feet or so away I have a stand of sweet woodruff that just limps along.

Right now my guess is that it needs soil that is rich with compost and doesn't tolerate dryness in the summer. Could that be right? The spots it thrives in are spots that the sprinklers reach and the spots it struggles in are dry locations.

Do you grow sweet woodruff? What's your experience with it?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Tough Spots

Do you have a tough spot in your garden? A place where the plants have to be rugged in order to survive?

In my garden the toughest spot to grow a beautiful display is in the two beds bordering the entrance of our property.

Not only do the plants have to deal with massive tree roots, the beds are higher than the driveway so any soil ammendments I add to them seems to just wash away. As for water, they are being well watered right now as we are going through a very rainy season but come summer, they are on their own.

Our hoses don't reach that far and even though we have an underground sprinkler system, the tree trunks block much of the water out near the street.

The star plant in that location has been Polygonatum odoratum variegatum (Solomon's Seal). I also have Polygonatum humile near that spot and it too has no problem growing well out there.

For some reason I have never been able to capture a photo of the Solomon's Seal that does it justice, it is such a simple, graceful plant. The fact that it will work it's way through the meanest soil and still come up with beautiful foliage, elegant blooms and end the season with buttery yellow fall foliage makes it a star in my book.

I have several stands of Polygonatum out in those two beds. This is where I manage to wiggle out pieces to pot up for sale. It's not an easy job getting the shovel in the ground to get these beauties out. I'm continuously amazed at the power they have to work through those horrendous tree roots.

Along the street is the meanest location. For some reason people seem to think that this is the spot to open their window and throw out their fast food containers. When I first planted this bed in the spring of 2006 with newer Hosta cultivars, I was dismayed to find all the Hosta stolen out of the bed.

After that, I only put it simple green Hosta and small pieces of ferns from my garden. Each year I add impatiens but they don't flourish here. I think I'm better off just adding little pieces of perennials. Today I'll be looking for little pieces of Epimediums I can slip in.

Here's another view, there's a few clumps of violas there, two tiny Dicentra (bleeding hearts) seedlings and one clump of Asarum europeaum (European ginger) doing well. Hardly any sunlight at all reaches this area so I think it will have to be the Epimedium and maybe a tiny piece of Hakonechloa (Japanese Hakone grass). It will have to be a small piecees or I'm afraid they will be plucked out by those nasty plant bandits.

What's the toughest spot in your garden?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad

May 1st would have been my father's 77th birthday. I remember him telling me how he loved having his birthday on May Day. As a young boy in Germany, May Day was always a wonderful celebration day.

Dad loved to be outside, he would take us hiking, sledding, skating, berry picking, wandering, beach combing, anything he could think of as long as it was outside.

He died when he was 70 years old and after he passed away friends of mine gave me this beautiful tree to plant in his memory. The tree is an Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum' which is also known as a Moon Maple. I love this tree more than anything else in my garden.

Tonight I spent an hour looking at old digital photos. It seems that Dad's tree usually unfurled it's leaves during the last week of April. It's grown quite a bit since this photo in 2005.

Planted around Dad's tree is a wonderful array of Hosta and shade plants.

Since Dad always had a great sense of humor, this bowling ball and matching shoes were moved from the other side of the garden to rest now under Dad's tree.

This year the most amazing thing happened. The leaves on Dad's tree unfurled on May first, Dad's birthday! I couldn't help but smile all day as I realized that Dad was in the garden with me again.

Happy Birthday Dad, hope you don't mind this post is a bit late, I was busy spending time in the garden :-)