Thursday, January 8, 2015

Now is the time to read seed catalogs ( excellent references!) and plan your 2015 garden.  A new one that came my way in yesterday's mail is very exciting:  Select Seeds - Rare Heirloom Seeds and plants (  One plant I am definitely getting seeds for is Polygonum orientale - Kiss me over the garden gate.  It was used in the cottage garden, attracts pollinators and beneficials, 
grows 4-5' tall, and is great as a cut or dried flower.  I have the perfect place for it and can't wait to try it out!
Another plant I am excited to try is a scented Geranium, "Mabel Grey" - which the catalog says has an intense lemon fragrance. Scented Geranium's can be used in cooking, making teas, syrups, in biscuits, cakes, etc., so I am curious to try this one also.
Pelargonium Citronellum Mabel Grey

And I plan on purchasing several plants of Geranium "Skeleton Rose" - to take advantage of its ability to repel mosquitoes! 

I can't afford to buy all the plants I would like to, but now that my infrastruture is almost done, I will draw up this month a garden plan, and make a 5-yr plan on what to buy when.

There is so much to do in the next 8 weeks.  Besides starting seeds (must get in my Territorial order!), I have beds to prepare!  My wonderful helper Amanda just dug the hole for the last fruit tree I planned to order.  and just in time!  The Raintree Nursery catalog came in the mail today - and the tree I wanted was finally in there.  Last year, they didn't have any three-tier Espalier trees that were different varieties - just all one variety.  I was worried that I would have to look elsewhere.  Then the catalog arrived, I flipped open to the apple section, and there it was - A 3-tier espalier with Liberty, Ashmead's Kernal, and Pristine.  Although when I went to order it, it didn't have Pristine as the third apple, but instead Spartan - which is fine with me since it is from the McIntosh Family and I am a fan of those.  So in a small space, I will have four different types of apples (not forgetting my crab apple) - which should be enough for fresh eating, pies, applesauce and jelly for our family.  I can't wait till it comes.  the hole is dug, fresh compost is settling in nicely, all against the fence that will eventually give it support.  
A slightly fuzzy example of espaliered trees

My reading this month also includes a reprint of Gertrude Jekyll's "Wood and Garden, Notes and Thoughts, practical and critical, of a working amateur.  First published in 1899, it is a treasure of her thoughts and notes on gardening, planting, what to plant, etc.  In the February chapter, she introduced me to a new possible flower for the flower portion of the garden; "Tiarella cordifolial".

Foam Flower (Tiarella cordifolial) in the summer
Gertrude says that the leaves show bright coloring in the winter, turning to scarlet, crimson and orange. She also recommends Berberis Aquifoluim for winter color; we know it here in the Northwest as Oregon Grape.  What is interesting is that here is Gertrude Jekyll writing over a hundred years ago, in England, of a plant that is a native for us here in the Northwest.  She is a strong advocate for including varieties of this plant in any garden plan. 

My son Aaron, who is a garden designer for Stone Soup Gardens in Seattle ( is also a huge fan of Oregon Grape.  I think they put it in a lot of the rain gardens they design. 

My helper Amanda has made a good start on preparing our tools for spring.  She has been sanding down the wooden handles and then coating them with paste wax - getting ready for another season.  We still have to finish that project, sharpen the shovels, and put on another coat of rustoleum paint (I use bright red to find them easily in the yard).

So January continues, cold and foggy, but inside things are heating up with orders to nurseries and seed catalogs, time spent over the drafting board.  I even had a chance to check out a you-tube video on thatching (I do have to roof my new tool shed).  When you are a gardener, there is never any down time!

Monday, January 5, 2015

It has been about a year since I have posted - a lot going on.  My daughters heart condition was worsening steadily over the last year.  In November she had open heart surgery to install an LVAD - a heart pump to assist her left ventricle.  she will keep that until she gets on the list for a heart transplant.

So, hope everyone has been gardening and growing and is excited about SPRING which is just a few weeks away (in gardener mindthink).  I received my first seed catalog (Thank you Territorial) on Christmas Eve - what a great present!

I will try to post some pics soon.  My computer died, and I have a new one but all my pics are somewhere on a spare drive.  I have almost finished the front of the yard, planted fruit trees, and started to apply permaculture principles with dead wood swales and hugelkulter - so keep tuned for that.