susansflowers

garden ponderings

White Lilacs

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White Lilacs

This is what I see outside my bedroom window. It is so pretty at this time of the year. There are purple lilacs on each side of the window, but the white lilacs are the star of the show.

Purple lilacs on each side of the window are about 30 years old. My husband liked them so much, he planted the white one across a walkway about 5 years ago. This way one could walk ‘under the lilacs’ – I’m sure he knows nothing of the Louisa May Alcott book of that name.
This plant is now large enough the deer fence is not as necessary. But the fence also protects iris and other flowers underneath from rabbits as well as deer.

Japanese Maple with tulips

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Japanese Maple with tulips

This is the second year for the tulips and the tree – in a newer planting bed. The pink tulips are starting to fade while the yellow ones are coming on. When both colors are still here and the tree is just leafed out, is the prettiest display time for this combination.

The Japanese maple has very tiny flowers right now. I have not figured how to capture them with the camera – yet. It may take another year, as my window of opportunity is small.

According to its tag, this tree is supposed to get taller. Maybe then I can remove the deer fence/flower jail when it is not tulip season. Besides spring, there are other times of the year when the deer will look for anything fresh and green to eat. I believe the wildlife look at tulips and roses as humans see chocolate. Not that they taste similar, just that they are treats to savor. If no people are around to make the ‘natives’ keep their distance, they can get specially brazen with their choices of food.

Sierra Current

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Sierra Current

This was acquired as a native plant. I was lucky to find a name tag at the bottom of one of the two specimens planted on the west side of the house, shaded by some getting larger redwood trees.

When I googled this plant, I learned that it will grow in zones 5 – 8, even though it is an alpine or higher altitude native. The last winter here was particularly cold, and only the hardiest of my plants survived. This one has extensive underplantings, so I wonder if that helped keep it just that touch warmer to get it through the winter.

You can see a ‘plant jail’ in the photo, that protects this from deer. Makes me wonder how this exists in the wild. Perhaps there are more plants than deer. Not like here, where the deer have few natural predators.

Rosemary

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Rosemary

It took a few tries to get a photo of these small flowers when the wind wasn’t moving them around. Most herbs wait until later in the season to flower, rosemary is the earliest that I know of.

Deer stay away from this plant, as they do most all aromatics. I love that feature in a plant while I am living here.

I’ve seen rosemary plants growing in all sorts of climates. My biggest surprise was when I saw a row of upright rosemary plants growing on a commercial side street in Las Vegas. These are very drought-resistant, and grow in various sizes from sprawling to a good-size shrub. A woman told me how she trained her rosemary plant in a round, not circle, shape using metal wire as a guide. I haven’t figured that out – yet. Give me a little more time.

Pollen Laden Big Daddy

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Pollen Laden Big Daddy

I was looking at flowers to photograph, and saw this bee on a tulip leaf. Really wanted to take a photo of him on a flower, but it is not as if I can say, “Sir (or ma’am), could you please fly to a nearby flower so I can take your picture there?”

When I looked at the photo up close, a surprise: the bee’s legs are full of pollen.

This is one of the largest bees I have seen here. We get plenty of bees, but they are usually smaller. This one may not have been too active, as the sun is having a hard time breaking out of the clouds today, and it is still coolish, 59 degrees F.

Sweet Woodruff

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Sweet Woodruff

I planted a small container of this under a rhododendron many years ago, and it has spread. It is now under a couple of rhodies and an azalea. There are not a lot of shady areas in my yard, and while this has spread nicely, there isn’t much more space for it to go to. Unless it will displace violets. Time will tell which ground cover will dominate in the long run.

Red Azalea

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Red Azalea

I love to see an azalea in full bloom, all you can see is the flowers as they hide all of the leaves.

This particular plant had been heavily pruned by the local marauding deer. It has been maybe 10 years that this shrub has been fenced from the varmits, and I am still thinning the inside to encourage growth on select branches. Perhaps if I had cut more extensively in the beginning, the plant could have grown more evenly. But my cuts are conservative, as I have tried hard to keep this bush thriving. It now has sweet woodruff, bergenia and violets at its base, as I keep amending the surrounding soil.

Pink and White Rhododendron

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Pink and White Rhododendron

This is always the first of my rhodies to bloom. The leaves used to be bi-color also, but they are now ‘just’ green. It is not a large bush, so I’m not sure if it is because this is how big it will grow, or that the soil it is in, is hardly optimum.

The rhododendrons I have seen growing in the forests are taller, but sparse. I don’t think the soil there is especially great once you get past the thin top soil.

Rhodies I have seen grown in parks in the Northwest are often heavily pruned. Is it to get more height on the plant? I don’t know. But I am slowly working more soil amendments around my rhodies, to give them a boost. They are also fed annually. Tulips and/or hyacinths are planted around the base of my rhodies. I get a longer time of spring blooms this way. I’ve also, pruned the bottom of my rhodies as they grow taller, this way I can see the ground cover plants better.