Monday, March 31, 2014

Bring Out Yer Dead!

Something is definitely wrong with this poor little tree. The branches are all brown near the trunk.

Shall we have a closer look?

Bleaugh! This tree is diseased! The needles look all rotten and they're actually turning black—oh my god, it has the plague.

... Aaaaand it's attracting flies. That cannot possibly be a good sign.

Oh, holy hell. This fly has fucking DIED. Is my tree toxic to FLIES now?

This fly is still alive and it looks EVIL.

That's it. I'm cutting it down and tossing it in the trash.

... Later

Fortunately, I had a brain wave and grabbed a large, stiff plastic shopping bag and upended it over the tree, then severed the trunk just above the soil level with my loppers. Floomp! Over went the felled tree onto the pavement, still neatly contained in the plastic bag. Nice and impersonal. I didn't even have to touch it. I tied off the bag and dumped it directly into the garbage can, then swabbed my loppers with rubbing alcohol. When you get the plague, you gotta keep it contained. Too bad the garbage truck has already come by today. I guess the corpse will just fester in the trash can for the next week. Poor plague-ridden thing. It had been one of two cute little blue spruces planted in urns that flank my garage door. It's a shame to break up the set, but if I hadn't disposed of the mostly dead one, whatever nasty disease that was plaguing it might have spread to the other tree—or worse!

Ah, well! Shit happens.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spring's Most Exciting Buds

Climbing Hydrangeas

Last year I planted four climbing hydrangeas (H. anomala spp. petiolaris) in front of my porch. This year three out of the four are developing flower buds! Why is this so exciting? Well, from what I've read about climbing hydrangeas, they are famously slow to flower. I had already prepared myself to wait several years for those pretty white lacecap florets. Now I won't have to! I am so pleased that they are happy where I've planted them. I put a lot of thought and research into my choice of plant for this particular spot, but now I feel confident that the plants themselves agree with my decision!

Front Porch Plan

My house is an ugly little mid-century ranch house: one story, boring symmetrical faces with small windows, vertically striped siding. The porch is a narrow concrete slab spanning the front wall. Door in the middle. Four pressure-treated 4x4s appear to hold up the roof. No railing. No columns or pillars or decorative millwork. Trust me when I tell you that it's a sad-looking front porch to come home to. Current budget and skill level won't allow for much in the way of improvements, but I came up with a plan that I think will hide the ugliness of the existing structure with additional supports and a painted latticework facade. The lattice should bring the face of the house forward while still allowing light and air into the covered porch area. I hope to have it all completed by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the hydrangeas have been establishing themselves in their sleepy first-year way. (First they sleep, then they creep, then they leap!) Give them a couple more years and they will shoot up that lattice wall and cover it with bright green leaves and tiers of lacy white flowers. In the winter the leaves are gone, but the peeling cinnamon-colored bark is revealed. They really are lovely plants all year round.

New flower buds on climbing hydrangea, almost one year after planting!
... Aaaaand an orange cat in the background making a silly face.

Plant Points: Hydrangea anomala spp. petiolaris

  • Hardiness zones 4 - 8
  • Deciduous woody vine
  • Climbs by clinging with aerial rootlets, not by twining
  • Grows up to 80 ft. long/high
  • Can climb up walls, fences, arbors and large shade trees
  • Can ramble across the ground as a shrubby groundcover
  • Lateral branches grow up to three feet outward from trunk
  • Prefers moist, well-drained soil; tolerates clay
  • Part shade to full sun
  • White flowers in summer
  • Blooms on old wood
  • Exfoliating bark in winter

Monday, March 10, 2014

Photos from the 2014 Northwest Flower & Garden Show

Here, finally, are photos from the annual Northwest Flower & Garden Show, which Hubby and I attended for the first time last month. Unfortunately, I was so wrapped up in thoughts of how I might apply what I saw to my own garden that all of my efforts were directed toward note-taking, in both text and picture form. All of these photos were taken with my phone and were intended to be used for reference, not for display. Despite the low quality of my photos, the show really was something to see. Be there next year and you'll know exactly what I mean!

More photos after the jump.