Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Nerding out on native plants

Ribes sanguinium
I don't know why I didn't create this blog years ago. I have occasionally slipped garden posts into my general purpose blog Fromage, but they are among the least viewed posts in the blog. That makes sense. Garden posts are interesting only to garden people.

I also have a Tumblr called long wave that started life as a fashion blog, turned into a music blog, and ended up as a plant blog, but I have never found Tumblr to be a very friendly platform. Too old for Tumblr, I guess! If this is going to be a nerd blog, I might as well do it in nerdly Blogger, which I know well (I'm not nerdly enough to deal with Wordpress).

The garden makes up the entire lot. There is no lawn. Most of the plants are native to the temperate zone of the Pacific Coast of North America. The garden is xerescaped: if a plant does not thrive without water after a couple of years (young trees get a few more years), then it's not in the right place. The only watering in this garden is for new plantings, newer trees, and the occasional herb or vegetable.

Erythronium oregonum
As of today, we are in the midst of a cool, wet spring that followed an unusually long, cold, snowy winter. The rain has often been relentless, as it has been today, and the ground is sodden. The previous summer was not a hot one, but the summer of 2015 was the one with record heat and drought. You just never know around these parts, especially with climate change rearing its ugly head.

In recent years, there has usually been a lot of bloom by mid-April. This year, however, all I have so far are the Ribes sanguinium (above), Oemleria cerasiformis (faithful Indian plum), some Viola glabella, and one surprising Trillium ovatum, and hints from a few other plants. The Mystery Church Plant Sale bulbs are usually the first to flower, but they are not opening their buds yet. Same for the fawn lily (Erythronium oregonum, at right). It's as though most of the flowers are not ready to commit to spring just yet. Who can blame them?

While flowering waits for at least a bit of sun and warmth, there is a lot happening in the foliage. The large patches of Dicentra formosa (Pacific bleeding heart), which were among the areas damaged by workers, are looking perky and are displaying some deep pink buds. I want them to go back to spreading into wherever they thrive. The Asarum caudatum (wild ginger) has been badly stomped over the last few years, and the right side is looking sad. But the left side has darker leaves and is even starting to spread outward toward the front.

Maianthemum stellatum (we think)
Particularly good to see are the Maianthemum stellatum (I think, can never remember which is stellatum and which is racemosum until they bloom) spreading not only around the dogwood but also out beyond the fence by the sidewalk. Glad to see the rizomes doing their thing. The more false Solomon's seal (and anything else desirable), the less room for weeds and maple sprouts.

The maple sprouts are where I have spent many hours recently plucking up a couple of green bins worth of sprouts. A lot of them were nice enough to cluster on the remaining leaf litter, so getting rid of them helped with cleanup anyway, but there are always more than enough sprouts to go around. Not done yet, but most of the sprouts are gone for now.

Today was curbside pickup day. By now I might have an empty green bin. If the rain stops, it won't be empty for long.

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