Monday, May 15, 2017

Wet spring update

Perfect Aquilegia formosa
Rain and cold (still, feels like March, not May) and too many other things going on have left me with too little time for garden work. The rain has made the garden verdant, and despite the lack of sun and warmth there is now a lot in bloom.

In bloom: Achlys triphylla, Aquilegia formosa, Carex mertensii, Cornus nuttallii, Crataegus douglasii, Deschampsia cespitosa, Dicentra formosa, Dodecatheon pulchellum, Fragaria vesca, Gaultheria shallon, Heuchera micrantha, Maianthemum dilatum, Maianthemum racemosum, Maianthemum stellatum, Penstemon fruticosis, Ranumculus occidentalis, Rubus parviflorus, Viola adunca, Viola glabella.

Not quite in bloom: Camassia quamash, Viola adunca.

Passing: Amelanchier alnifolia, Berberis aquifolium, Berberis nervosa, Dryas octopetala, Rubus spectabilis.

Penstemon fruticosis
Gone past: Acer circinatum, Berberis repens, Erythronium americanum, Erythronium oreganum, Oemleria cerasiformis, Ribes aureum, Ribes sanguinium, Trillium ovatum.

The red columbine above was too beautiful not to include. I don't usually take great pictures of these plants and flowers, but sometimes the subject does the work for you.

The shrubby penstemon (left) has struggled for years and has never really grown, but it does tend to produce flowers. This year the flowers are quite lovely, although won't last long. I'm sure this plant needs a better site.

It took me years to figure out the difference between false Solomon's seal and star-flowered false Solomon's seal. I'm going out on the limb to say the one below is the star-flowered one. The other species makes larger clusters of flowers that also have a certain star-like quality, but they are more three-dimensional and less obviously star-like. As well, false Solomon's seal is a larger plant that grows in a cluster and spreads only slowly, whereas star-flowered false Solomon's seal grows in small individual plants (from rizomes) and spreads more quickly. Then again, I might have this totally reversed! But I don't think so.

Maianthemum stellatum
I am continuing to bring some order to the wilderness. In the fern garden, the false lily-of-the-valley had already pretty much sorted itself out with the vanilla leaf, which has mostly gone onto the other side of the path. I got rid of both where ferns were being overwhelmed. Everything is still growing together, just not all on top of each other. I have done this to some of the other beds as well. A little more order isn't a bad thing.

On the other hand, I'm doing little about the bed under the birch and bitter cherry trees. That got rather messed up by fence construction and was already in poor shape before. The two species of penstemon all matured and gave up for a while. Only the ovatus is coming back. The large-leafed lupins are also coming back on their own. But it's all rather chaotic right, with invasion by strawberry and violet and even a stray columbine. I'm going to see what happens as they sort themselves out. The soil might need some amending as well.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Brief burst of summer

Heuchera micrantha pre-bloom
Yesterday, the cool, wet spring changed drastically. The temperature climbed to 25°C. Naturally I had to get out into the garden. It was quite warm! And the moist earth smelled wonderful.

Early May bloom is happening as April flowers start to fade away. The pretty shooting stars (Dodecatheon pulchellum) that are happy have all flowered (a few are not so happy). Mertens' sedge, the grass that thought it was an iris, is making its funny little flower thing (the iris have not yet bloomed). Heuchera micrantha (alumroot) is starting to bloom. At this point, the flower looks like a small berry, but it should open up soon. Maianthemum racemosum (false Solomon's seal), which has stayed in a cluster, has made its white flower clusters. Vanilla leaf have flowered, and the false lily-of-the-valley are starting. Meanwhile, the Saskatoon looks like it will have pretty good fruit this year, judging by the flowers. Salmonberry less so (as usual).

Dryopteris expansa
I have been on the hunt for the smaller ferns in the fern bed. The sword fern is large and dominant. The licorice fern is spreading on the lady's mantle roots (it usually grows on trees, such as the horse chestnuts in the nearby park). False lily-of-the-valley and vanilla leaf hold their own. But the smaller ferns can get lost and even snuffed out. Two out of the original three deer ferns (Dryopteris expansa) are coming back. I have made some space for them. One maidenhair fern is coming back as well. The tiny deer ferns, which were still there two years ago? Maybe not. But I have to be patient.

We were supposed to be hit by a band of thundershowers last night, possibly with hail, but thankfully those did not materialize. It rained hard for a while and carried over to today. And the temperature is half of what it was yesterday afternoon and probably won't go much higher.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Ultimate plant nerd

Ribes aureum is a showy native
I've been away from here for a while. I have actually been out in my garden quite a bit, enjoying seeing first bloom for each flowering plant, the return of more herbaceous perennials, and the filling out of some of the beds.

But instead of keeping up a blog I started only a matter of weeks ago, I immersed myself in software. First, photo management software, which is a combination of a more flexible view than Windows Explorer gives me and photo editing tools. And then, because that wasn't the database I knew I needed, some software that is a template for Microsoft Access (obviously I have Access and so theoretically could have set up the right tables, but I didn't want to invest the time).

In my slight defence, it has continued to be a rainy spring, so there have not been too many days when any work was possible.

The photo management software has been great. I have tagged all of my plant and garden photos with their scientific name, so I can then use keywords to view only a particular genus of plant from earliest to most recent (on the disk they're stored in folders by year). Unfortunately, its trial period is almost up. It's not really expensive, but I have to decide if I want to pay that for the view part of the software, since I don't care about the photo editing tools (at least not at this point). I will probably pony up, despite the sad Canadian dollar.

Dodecatheon pulchellum (pretty shooting star)
The garden management template is not exactly what I might have liked, of course, but it's good and reasonably configurable. It looks clunky because it's 10 years old, but since it's really just Access it works fine. Data entry, however, is slow and time consuming. So far I have made it only through the A's.

I don't want to get totally immersed in software and being a geek about tracking. But it's a handy thing to have. My Word tables are pretty cumbersome, especially when I want to add notes.

Much work to do outside, however. I have to write about trying for a new balance between wild and tame.

Addendum: the mystery plant turned out to be an invader, possibly from the ground next door, which got very dug up to remove an oil tank and all the bad soil. Gone plant.

Wet spring update

Perfect Aquilegia formosa Rain and cold (still, feels like March, not May) and too many other things going on have left me with too lit...