garden ponderings

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Harmonious Hydrangea

Copy of DSCN3466This shrub produces more flowers every year!
How is that not to love about a plant?

There are many types of hydrangea, some are smaller, some larger.  Some get pruned to the base every year, others merely get dead-headed (dead flowers are cut off), to encourage flowering the next year.
These are hereditary differences.

As far as flower color, pink or blue, that depends on the ph environment of the soil in which the bush grows.

I wish I could figure out which type of hydrangea I have.
One of the two in my garden is pictured above.
The other has never bloomed.  I am reluctant to cut all the branches to the base, for fear none of the branches would return the next spring.
The two specimen that I have were acquired at different times from very different places, they both get a lot of sun exposure and their local ground has been enriched.
Various hydrangea could be like relatives, they are in the same family, but even siblings are different from each other.


Bursting Buds

Copy of DSCN2238
My rhododendrons always bloom in the same order, and this one is always first.  I so look forward to seeing the first rhody flowers.  When the blossoms open, they will be a pretty pink and white.  Those are bluebells in front and a tulip bud.  Barring anything unforeseen, I will be able to show photos soon.

This is the only azalea here.  For some reason, the branches through the slats on the deck are blooming before the main plant.  Perhaps they get more all day sunshine.  In full bloom, the entire plant will look red.

I got excited to see the first lilac bloom.  White-flowered shrubs bloom before the purple-flowered ones every year.  In the photo, the purple buds are very full, and the white flowers are beginning to bloom on the very top of the bush.


Rose Hips in Fir Tree


A close-up photo is what is needed for the rose hips to show up.  While walking in the woods around the house looking for mushrooms, I was surprised to find this fir tree with a wild rose bush intertwined high in its branches.

It is a little early for Christmas decorations to be going up, but that is exactly what I thought of when I saw these two plants growing together.  There are a number of wild rose bushes growing around here, and I encourage them to stay.  This particular rose bush is growing exceedingly tall, perhaps because (a) it has been left alone for a long time, and (b) it has grown up as the tree has grown and a very long stem has developed.

This is at least a 30-foot tall Douglas Fir tree, about 30 years old.  In the US Douglas Fir trees are synonymous with Christmas trees.  There are many Christmas tree farms in this state, though most are farther north where it rains a bit more.


Yellow Mini – Rose

?????????? Mini-Roses Yellow

I have planted about half a dozen miniature rose bushes, and this one out-shines them all.  The second photo was taken in early June, and the first one just a day ago.  New flushes of flowers keep appearing on this small (about 14 inches in diameter) plant.  I love the cut flowers in my kitchen windowsill.

Almost all of my roses are from Heirloom Roses in St. Paul, Oregon.  These are not-grafted rose bushes all grown on their own rootstock.  I love to peruse the gardens at the nursery, and have shared the place with other plant-loving friends.

My favorites are the mini-roses where the entire plant is often smaller than 12″, and the flowers are proportionally smaller than regular roses, too.

Balloon Flower

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Balloon Flower

I planted this a number of years ago, and was sure it disappeared soon after. Surprisingly, it has survived and lives in the shade and moisture under a Camellia bush. The blue-violet flowers grow on stalks that emanate away from the balloon plant, thus they appear to be growing in the leaves of nearby winter-blooming violets.

Violets grow profusely under the camellia bush, making it hard to see any other plants that might also be growing there.  Besides the balloon flower, I am now discovering various other plants popping up under the camellia including a bergenia and bluebells.  I know I have not planted the latter two in that area, so I am thinking the mice (or voles) have been moving bulbs and parts of plants around in the winter time.  I had heard that this could happen, and now I am observing plants in places that I have no other explanation for their location.

Rock Rose Petal Snow

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Rock Rose Petal Snow

This shrub was recently covered in flowers, and now the petals are falling. The ground appears to be covered with a light snowfall.

A few years ago, we moved this plant to its present location below a west-facing bedroom window. For a few days a year, you can look out the window and see a blanket of white flowers covering the entire bush.
Then the petals fall and it looks like a snowfall has come through the area in late May – an extremely unlikely event in this area.

Yes, these plants are protected by a deer fence. On the right, are day lily leaves, a month away from flowering themselves.

About a month ago, I took pruning loppers to this shrub, and cut a lot off. It has paid off already, as the stems are stronger and the flowers did not droop excessively.

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.

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.

Oregon Grape

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Oregon Grape

This is a real close-up where you can see the individual flowers, which grow in clumps, similar to grapes. On the top of the plant, some of the flowers are missing, so I’m wondering if the birds haven’t gotten to them already. Any surviving flowers will turn into ‘grape-clusters’ that birds and other animals feed on through the summer.

Since this is a native plant, I was surprised a fence was needed around it to protect from nibbling deer. When it grows tall enough, I will remove the fence. In the meantime, I am planting deer-resistant plants around it to see if deterrence will work. Have to say, I am not optimistic, as I’ve learned it is hard to stop hungry deer.


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This is not the most glamorous photo of this bush, but it is the reality here. One can easily see the flowers on the top of this plant, and if you look close you can spot the ugly old fence around it. Deer keep the new growth nibbled to about 40 inches high. If the deer were to get very hungry they can eat much higher on a plant, or push the fence – it is not staked that sturdy.

When the plant was first moved here, the fence was more than adequate to protect it from varmits. The fence has been enlarged a couple of times, and will probably stay just as it is from now on. There is no irrigation here either – definitely a ‘survival of the fittest’ scenario.

Bloom-time is the one time of year this shrub looks great. In summer, when the grass turns brown, it looks good, as it is still green. Winter time shows just a bundle of sticks. Sometimes you just take what you can get!