Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Around the Corner



February is always filled with surprises. Early in February chilled winds blow through our evergreens reminding us that winter is not finished with the Pacific Northwest. By mid-month we usually begin to see traces of sunshine again, days with bright, warm light filtering through the green boughs. Vitamin D in its natural form awaits me as I approach the courtyard of our home to bask in the light which for months has shone itself in someone else's gardens.

We spent some time in our gardens on Sunday, walking through to examine new growth, welcoming the green stems and leaves peeping through the mulch. A beautiful purple crocus had opened, the first of the season! Many others are close behind, and the lenton rosebuds should open within the week. Heather shimmers in pale pink and lavender throughout the gardens as it spreads in horizontal clumps.

We pruned the roses growing against the courtyard wall and were delighted to see the dwarf irises breaking ground in front of them. We love these tiny lily-like yellow flowers that bloom in profusion among hyacinths and tulips each spring. Our early blooming mauve rhododendron is budding. It blooms with the daffodils and the purple and rose tulips nearby making a beautiful lavender and pink swath across the front of the gardens. The silver gray leaves of the dusty miller, a perennial here despite our garden zone of 7, form beautiful contrasting color to the shades of pink.

I can hardly wait for the George Tabor azalea to bloom. I spent 1 full year trying to get this azalea along with its cousin, the purple Formosa, shipped here. They are grown in southern climates and are found no where here in the Puget Sound region despite the temperate winter climate we have. A local nursery was finally able to arrange shipment of both, a task made difficult by the strict shipping regulations mandated in the west in an effort to prevent Sudden Oak Death, a disease spread via woody stemmed shrubs. Only nurseries which have been physically inspected by the USDA and certified as compliant with regulations related to Sudden Oak Death are allowed to transport shrubs in and out of the area. I have enjoyed my George Tabor so much that I want 8 more and hope the local nursery can assist me once again. The blooms look like orchids, pink with magenta throats.

Our spring garden project will be to lay the flagstone pathway through the woodland garden area. We purchased the stone last year but found no time to lay it before the damp chill of late fall forced us to retreat to our recliners and fireplace. This pathway has its challenges since it winds among huge evergreens with tangled roots above ground in many places. Consequently, we will be unable to dig out the path and will have to lay it above ground and fill in around it with sand and mulch, raising the level of the gardens in that area. This pathway will lead to a bench on one side of the woodland gardens and to a seating area with a small table where we can have tea or late, summer morning breakfasts at the other end of the path.

Soon the palette of spring colors will splash itself across the landscape and move quickly through the cycles which bring summer to our home. Bulbs will burst open in shades of purple, pink, yellow, lavender, white, red, and blue. It begins with the L-shaped bank of the courtyard as the candytuft opens in white and joins the blue lithodora blooms. Beyond it a magical show will begin, first with primroses, lenton roses, daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips. Next we'll see the dwarf irises and hardy dwarf tulips open in yellows and oranges followed by the early rhododendrons. Daphne O'doro's fragrant white blooms will perfume the air as will the Tea Olive shrub we've planted in memory of my uncle. We are drawn to the aromatic fragrance and pause often to take it in.

Huge clumps of purple heather form a background to spring blooms,and later to the bearded irises. These irises, many 30 inches tall, will grab our gaze along the pathway as they line the walk along the sunny trail. In mid May the azaleas and rhododendrons will bloom in masses of pinks and purples throughout the gardens. One blood-red rhodie demands our attention, and we will admire it until its last bloom falls. In late May the hydrangeas will throw their huge mopheads along the pathway shadowing it in pinks, whites, and blues while tall stalks of Asian lilies reach 5 feet tall across the path. Finally the perennials, dressed in every color on the wheel, will burst open in a fiery colored river that moves along the rocks and fills in all the empty spaces in the gardens. These blooms mix with more silvery-gray dusty miller, clumps of blue fescue, and the silvered thin leafed lavender plants with their swaying stems of purple flowers. Rich, green ferns contrast the textures of the gardens and bring a lush, almost tropical look. No wonder we are gardening addicts! How could anyone resist such results? It is a quick fix for those of us who suffer the color deprivation of our long, drizzly winters. And, this show doesn't end until October!

Spring, we are ready for your renewal!




"Spring has again returned.
The Earth is like a child who knows many poems..."
Rainer Maria Rilke
Sonnets to Orpheus, XXI

All photography is from our private collection and may not be reproduced or used in any manner without our explicit and written permission.

28 comments:

Patty said...

we are planting here in Texas this week, but more veggies than flowers. I love the advent of spring with all its promise

Kerstin said...

What a beautiful garden you have! So green and colorful already, what a difference compared to the barren landscape that still surrounds us in New England. We won't be seeing any spring sprigs for at least another month. There is a possibility that I might be moving to the Pacific Northwest this year, your photos fill me with a quiet excitement about this :)

P.S. Love that Rilke quote, the whole poem is quite beautiful.

MB said...

Thank you for a much needed dose of color!

kate said...

Hi Sky,

This was the most wonderful post I've read in a long while. I love your blog background. It made me want to hang out and slowly savour each of your words. Your garden is such a calm, tranquil place - I wish that I could visit it. Well, I hope you post many pictures as the azaleas and rhododendrons start blooming. I'm imagining the candytuft with the lithodora.

Thanks for sharing your garden and your plans for it.

Just wanted you to know that there is a garden blog directory - www.blotanical.com. It's interesting to see what other garden bloggers are up to ...

Wenda said...

So good to hear from you and to follow the trail back here for a visit. Love your recent posts and am off now to order a copy (or two)of Patry's book. Great review!

♥Nova-san said...

Flowers and nature are what I miss so much here in the city. We have to actually go to a botanical garden to see such beauty that is just ever-present in your own backyard. How blessed you are!

LauraHinNJ said...

I envy you having a garden so beautiful at this time of year - what wonderful photos!

Thanks for sharing a bit of color.

Frankie said...

Sky, your garden looks SO, SO, SO beautiful! I exulted with joy when this page opened...such gorgeous color, such longing for spring! Good luck with the pathway...I'm so excited to see the end results! Thanks for these visions of rebirth. Have a wonderful rest of your weekend!!! xoxoxo

Joared said...

Your spring flowers and garden pictures are lovely -- a delightful area to stroll through, maybe sit abit and just absorb the wonder.

Lori said...

Absolutely gorgeous! Beautiful! It would be great to sit out on a blanket in the middle of the garden with a good book, a journal to write in, some hot tea, and just be. Nature is a balm for the soul. Very inspiring!

Tabor said...

WOW, let me know when you head out to the EAst and I can pick your brain. My yard is plain and barren. Landscaping begins in earnest this spring after I am retired.

Rosehaven Cottage said...

You are so fortunate to have the climate that azaleas and rhododendrons love. If we lived just a little farther west we would too but here it's a little too warm in summer for them. So I'll just come admire yours here on your blog. :)

Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

mm said...

Beautiful, Sky. Thank you for taking us on this pictorial tour. Whenever you write of flowers plants I can sense how much they mean to you and how much of an artist you are in your own garden.

As a very novice gardener myself I too would love to pick your brains!

kenju said...

Sky, I love your flower photos, especially the iris!

BTW, I have read the Anderson Cooper Bio; you will probably like it a lot - I did!

kenju said...

Shy, thanks for the visit. The way you painted your room is the idea I have for my kitchen. I wanted a lighter color on the walls and the chair railing and wainscoting would be darker, but not too dark. I hesitate to have the woodwork painted white or off-white, since there is so much of it, but I think the same shade as the walls will work fine.

Tammy said...

A beautiful garden Sky and I can't wait for more color in spring.

We stayed in Bremerton WA recently and had two sunny days. The tulips were coming.

Hope this finds you well and happy.

Sharon said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog! I so enjoy new visitors!

Your gardens are absolutely beautiful! I've been working on creating a perennial garden that will bloom from spring to fall. Almost there!

Kylee said...

Your garden is GORGEOUS!!! I wish we had the growing conditions here in Ohio that you have in the PNW. But we can't have everything, can we? Right now, I'd be so happy to see a crocus in bloom.

colleen said...

I feel like your reading the book of spring and are a few chapters ahead of me. I want to become intoxicated with the smell of flowers.

I heard the first peepers today.

San said...

Sky, such a lush garden you have! Beyond the wildest imaginings of those of us who live in the desert, although here too Spring brings its treasures, just a bit later. I look forward to the lavender and the blooming cactus. These poems of the Earth, known by heart.

Thank you for a lovely, celebratory post.

rdl said...

I can't wait to get back out in the garden - it's been a long winter here in the Northeast!

Suzann said...

Beautiful - I am so enjoying Seattle this weekend. On one of these trips perhaps we can have a cup of tea. :)

Anonymous said...

I just discovered you blog. Your garden is wonderful. I feel as though I have met a new friend that I will visit often. I have just settled into my smaller home in the city closer to children and grandchildren. Miss my wonderful garden at previous home. Spring project to create once again.
Larkspur

A Novelist said...

What gorgeous flowers! I am happy spring is finally here, however you wouldn't know it in the northeast! It's still freezing here.

Patry Francis said...

Oh Sky, I want to be THERE, sipping some of that marvelous tea you sent in the garden, and talking, talking, talking. Is it too much to hope that I will be one day soon?

Love to you and your beloved.

Maryanne Stahl said...

!!!!! Your gardens are glorious! I will imagine myself within them, enjoying the scent of the George Tabors--with your permission.

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

Thanks so much for your visit and comment on my old studio door. We were thrown out last year when the owner sold the building for condos. I'd been there 13 years and never saw it coming. I loved that studio.

Beautiful and ambitious garden, you have. I used to be more of a gardener but now I'm more of a painter.

herhimnbryn said...

G'day!
Here from mm's place. As a novice Ozzy gardener( learning to garden in a drought), your post has inspired me to get out there again.
Your garden and your love of growing things is evident in your words.