February 6, 2018

Happy 10th Anniversary, VW Garden

This month marks ten years since I began this blog, and this post makes four hundred posts in total.  It's a joy to look back over the growth of our garden.  We bought this home in 2007 and I didn't start blogging until 2008, but we didn't do much to the yard that first year.  So this blog tracks nearly all the changes to our landscape, from nothing-but-lawn to almost-all-garden-beds.  I'm especially glad to have documented our front yard landscaping project in 2010 (porch makeoverin progress, newly finished, four years old), the huge backyard project in 2013 (planningaspen root barrier, lawn removal, flagstone pathnewly finished), and our dining room addition/kitchen remodel/new patio in 2017 (in progress, newly finished).

My most viewed post is about the 'Otto Luyken' laurel shrub (plant it in a protected spot in cold zones).  A distant second is my post about peony bouquets at Pike Place Market (with my yucky old camera - my photos would be so much better now).  Third place is a post about 'Royal Raindrops' crabapple trees (I like these trees but they require a lot of pruning).  I appreciate other gardener's perspectives on plants, so I'm glad to have been useful to others in selecting plants for their gardens.

I'm grateful for how blogging and photography have taught me that you can find beauty if you choose to focus on it, even though there are a lot of ugly parts, too.  I'm grateful that writing this blog helped keep my brain from turning into oatmeal while I spent my days and nights caring for our three and then four little children.  Now they're getting older and can speak in complete sentences, so my brain feels like it's working again.  It feels like heaven to open a window so I can hear them practicing the piano while I work in the garden.

Nurturing children and a garden have helped me throw off at least some of my unhealthy perfectionism.  I now embrace 'good enough for now,' so I'm not so concerned with the imperfections in this blog or in life.  Someday I'll get really disciplined about writing plant names in the same format every time.  Someday I'll go through and find all the little grammar and spelling mistakes - or maybe not.  I would still like to improve my photography some more.  But mostly I'm enjoying the journey, the fruits of my labors and the anticipation of good things to come.

The photo above was taken by my good friend Amber McArthur, and I ask that you do not copy or use it elsewhere.  I felt ridiculous posing for pictures, but I'm grateful for how she captured the joy my garden gives me.

February 1, 2018

Spring and Summer Vases

This arrangement from spring 2017 included 'Katherine Havemeyer' lilacs, 'Double Queen' and 'Berry Swirl' hellebores, 'Gladiator' alliums, 'Buckland' astrantia and buds from a 'June Bride' heuchera.  Foliage came from 'Red Dragon' contorted filbert, Solomon's Seal, bronze fennel, lady's mantle, and 'Hall's Purple' honeysuckle.

In summer I created this vase of 'William Shakespeare' roses, unknown lavender dahlias, Thalictrum rochebrunianum and 'Moulin Rouge' astrantia.  Stems of curly willow, contorted filbert, 'Chocoholic' cimicifuga, and 'Hall's Purple' honeysuckle formed the base.
Photos from last year remind me that we're getting closer to the growing season!  Spikes of crocus leaves and hellebore buds are appearing, and I still have a lot of dead leaves to cut back.  Next week we're slated to hit 50 degrees F a few days, and I'm looking forward to time in the garden.  Soon there will be flowers to cut and vases to fill and share.

January 24, 2018

Adding Chartreuse to the Garden

Flowers are the reason I garden, but I've slowly come to appreciate the season-long color provided by foliage in shades of chartreuse, purple, blue, and silver.  In this post I'll share some of the ways I've used chartreuse in my garden.  Above you'll see (L-R) an unknown chartreuse hosta from my grandmother's garden, frothy Lady's Mantle in bloom, and an 'Ogon' spirea in my east backyard garden.

A true blue Siberian iris ('June to Remember') and mauve allium (probably 'Gladiator') look well against yellow-green foliage and flowers.

This is a different view of the same area from earlier in the season.  I really love the way soft mauve and pink play off chartreuse.

Fern-like 'Ogon' spirea at the base combines well with a 'Comtesse de Bouchaud' clematis up top.

Deeper pink, like this 'Maggie Daley' astilbe, really pops against a yellow-green background.

Add a little orange, maroon, and steel-blue to the chartreuse and pink and you have an especially vibrant color scheme.  The photo above includes 'Dusseldorf Pride' armeria, 'Elke' hardy geranium, 'Evergold' carex, 'Eola Sapphire' hosta, 'Dickson's Gold' campanula, 'Firestorm' geum and 'Chocoholic' cimicifuga.

Later in the season, this western backyard bed gets by with just the chartreuse, steel-blue and maroon foliage.  In addition to the plants listed for the previous photo, you can see a 'Diane's Gold' brunnera at bottom left.  I love brunnera, and this cultivar has deeper blue spring flowers in addition to the green-gold leaves.

I've been impressed with the months-long bloom season of this 'Blue Haze' euphorbia.  I need to get more of these plants.

Finally, a lacy 'Sutherland Gold' elderberry shrub (Sambucus) at left adds pop to this scene with a young 'Shasta' doublefile viburnum at right center and some 'Early Emperor' allium at center.
Does chartreuse clash with any colors?  It would be great with deep violet and crimson red.  Salmon pink or white would go well with yellow-green.  This color brightens dark corners and shines in sunny borders.  It's a good thing there are so many chartreuse options available to gardeners these days.