It’s April 1st and our garden will be on tour for Northwest Perennial Alliance on April 11. That’s just a week and a half to
accomplish miracles. It’s been raining and cold. We’re working in the garden at every opportunity but there is still more
weeding, edging, and general cleanup to do.
We finally hired a Latino group to come in and help. They did a pretty good job of cleaning up the leaves in the rockery area but
broke off a couple small tree limbs in the process. The leader of the group trimmed some of our hedges and did a terrible job. We
can hardly wait for the shrubs to grow again so they can be trimmed properly.
September 21: It's been a long, warm summer with very little rain. Thank goodness Gordon put in an irrigation system when
the garden was new! The plants are kept watered each day but we've let the lawn go dormant. It would cost a small fortune to
keep it watered all summer. We ate lunch and dinner outside more this summer than any other year since we moved here.
Fall arrives tomorrow and it's time to start cutting back the perennials that are finished for the year. It's rather sad to see summer
ending but soon the Japanese maples will turn on their brilliant fall colors. Dahlias will continue to bloom for a couple more
weeks; pink autumn crocus appeared a week ago; and the tall blue aconitum are getting ready to show their stuff. Spiders are
busy spinning webs on everything that doesn't move. I'll wait another week or so before moving a couple sambucus (elderberry)
to a better location. We don't switch our clocks back to standard time until November 1 but the days are already noticeably
October 15: Some excitement today. Workmen were here installing new carpeting when one of them rushed in to tell us there
was a bull in the garden. We couldn't believe our ears and went to check it out. Apparently a bull got loose from a farm in the
area and wandered into our area. The man responsible for him was trying to coax the bull out of the garden and get a lasso
around his neck. The bull didn't trample through any of the beds or make a mess so we just watched as they tried to round him
November 12: A week ago we were surprised and sad to see that our lovely Korean dogwood had a broken leader right at the
crotch. We weren't sure if the tree could be saved so we put a call into our arborist, Robert Sweet. He came out yesterday and
spent three hours here pruning and checking out our trees. He said the Dogwood will heal and grow, just that its shape will not
be as nice. I guess we'll wait and see if new branches fill in the area of the missing leader.
December 27: Now that Christmas is over it's time to take a walk around the garden and see what, if anything, is going on. It's
awfully cold out there (just a bit above freezing), but I want to see if the winter camellia is still flowering. It's probably too early
for the hellebores to be blooming but I'll check 'em out. The cotoneaster undoubtedly has lots of beautiful red berries this time of
year. Also, the red twig dogwood and coral bark maple should be ablaze with scarlet branches. All we need is a couple inches of
snow and we'll have some good photos for the 'Winter' album. Stay tuned!
January: It's too cold and wet to do anything in the garden so I'll be working on the NPA Open Gardens book for the next three
February: Took a day off to go to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show with Darla. As always, the place was jammed. We did
a lot of walking and had to walk fast to hit all the vendor stalls. I found a small company, Winfield Designs on Whidbey Island,
that makes custom garden art and signs. I've been looking for someone who could make a "Toadmeadow" sign and their price
was certainly good so I ordered one. Also bought some bulbs and ordered others. It's like Christmas all over again when the
garden things I've ordered start arriving in the spring.
February, Presidents' Day: Finally had a break in the weather so I got outside to cut back the epimediums and grasses. Still need
to cut back the hellebore leaves. Will have to put down slug bait very soon too. Scattered poppy seeds on the two large beds. It
still amazes me how hardy those tiny seeds are.
March: Weather is getting better! We're outside more, cleaning up. Gordon is cleaning out the greenhouse and tool shed. Oh, so
much weeding to do! We'll get some mulch and have Christino spread it. So glad to have his help; we just can't handle it all
ourselves anymore. The bottom of the garden is still very wet so Gordon can't mow or edge there for at least another month. The
deer are back and nibbling on much of the fresh foliage. Time to spray everything they like. The edgeworthia is blooming. First
time I've seen it. Must find time to fertilize the roses, hydrangeas, and many more.
April: Things are really popping this month. After a long winter, when the garden looked a sorry mess, it's heartening to see the
early bloomers - brunners, hepaticas, epimediums, daffodils, tulips, pulmonarias. Darn deer! Time to spray again. When I try to
shoo them out of the garden they stand their ground and look at me with innocent eyes as if to say, "Who, me?" They only move
after I get a broom and run at them with it. I guess we need to get a deer fence. Now that the weather is getting milder we can
take the covers off the outdoor furniture. Next month we'll put out the cushions too. We can enjoy our afternoon breaks in the
gazebo once again.
May: It's exciting to see more and more happening. Leaves are out on the trees and so many blooms! All over! The early red
peonies in the scarlet and silver bed are so perfect. We had to take out a hydrangea that died. Not sure why it died so am not
eager to put another shrub in its place right away. Instead, we bought a big, low pot at the nursery to put in its place. Now I want
a low-growing Japanese maple to put in it. That's my Mother's Day gift this year so we went to Yang's to pick out a nice one.
It's a ' Komachi Hime' and has small lime green leaves with dark red tips.
June: We've had a fun experience this spring. A momma bird built a nest when the gutter drain pipe meets the house, right
outside our kitchen window. We watched her build the nest and then sit it in for many days. Finally, the eggs hatched and we
watched as the parents tried to keep up the feedings. Seemed like there were probably three little ones in the nest.
It's coming down to crunch time. Our garden will be on tour for NPA members early next month. Gordon is busy in the
vegetable garden. It gets so much more light now that we had four large trees taken down on the east side, next to the fence with
our neighbor. George came to take away the big chunks that he can use for firewood. He said we could use his chipper for the
rest of it, then told us it's broken. What a mess! At least the bunnies can't get to the lettuce because Gordon put a cage around it.
So nice to have the fresh lettuce.
July: As always, we work hard to get Toad Meadow ready for this early summer NPA tour. There never seems to be enough
time to get it perfect but our kind guests never mention that they found a weed or a messy greenhouse. Each year we look
forward to greeting them. Then it's over and we relax a bit and enjoy the garden. Now we have time to tour other gardens.
There's still weeding, mowing, and edging to keep up. I love being able to cut roses for in the house.
August: This month sees the fuchsias heavily laden with blossoms, daylilies reblooming, and the Annabelles with blooms so
large the branches can't hold them up. The acetea will be driving the bees and hummingbirds wild in just a couple more weeks.
Some of the early hostas are already starting to shut down, while others are just beginning to bloom. This has not seemed to be a
really hot summer this year and we haven't eaten outside as much as we were able to last year. All the plants we bought have been
planted and I'm looking forward to seeing them in place next year.
September: Ah, the gardening year is drawing to a close, though the fuchsias are still plugging away. By mid-month it's time to
cut back several things. Still lots of weeding to do. Thanks to Christino's help we're managing to stay mostly even with garden
chores. In one day he cleaned out the mess left over from the trees that were taken out. He carted all the debris back to the huge
compost heap under the trees. Millie kept telling me about Watson's big end of season sale so I went over there to pick up some
large items to fill in the area where the trees were. I wanted shrubs that could take care of themselves and that would get big
enough to fill the space. I brought back six escalonia, that will get about eight feet tall, and three rhododendrons. Christino
planted the escalonia along the fence and the rhodies in the middle. Everything will be evergreen and have blooms in the spring. I
wonder if our neighbors on the other side of the fence will notice and appreciate them. They'll see that area more than we will.
It'll probably be five years before everything grows up enough to look good.
October: It's major cleanup time. I've moved a few plants that were on my list of things to do. We're still getting a few things
out of the vegetable garden. The trees, and some shrubs, are turning color and look so lovely. Their last hurrah. There wasn't
enough sun or warmth this summer to ripen the tomatoes. Oh, we do miss the sweet, home-grown tomatoes! The katsura tree by
the rock garden is one of the first to turn and lose its leaves. I really like this tree. This year the rock garden became home to three
louisias and a beautiful yellow and green yucca. We lost three phormiums earlier this year and we're not going to buy anymore
of them. Robert Sweet came to take care of the trees and do some major pruning. Had a garden guy come out to trim the dwarf
escalonia in front, along the driveway, and the tall escalonia by the deck. He butchered them. Will never have him back here!
November: The garden furniture is all covered and the cushions put away until next spring. Bought a product called Frost-Tek,
which is a large pale green, mesh bag that goes over the plants to protect them from frost over the winter. Got three of them to
put over the large pots in hopes of not losing the cordyline, as we do each year. It's too cold and wet to do much in the garden.
Time to hunker down and plan for the holidays... and next spring. A couple gals who are NPA members, and on the Gig Harbor
Garden Tour Committee, stopped by to see the garden this summer and asked us if we would be on their tour next June.
Previously we had turned down this invitation because of the many, many feet that would be tramping down the grass in our
very large lawn. We were assured that this would not be a problem. And, because we're not sure how much longer we'll be able to
maintain this acre, we said okay.
December: SNOW! Lots of it this winter. For the second year, we have decided to make our own Christmas cards. Gordon
went out into the snow to see what would make a good picture for on our card. To our delight, the cottoneaster had bright red
berries with green leaves and white snow. It made a lovely Christmas card.
The BLOG is continued for 2011 on the next page.