susansflowers

garden ponderings

Columbine

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Columbine

I can’t remember where I got my first one from, but this plant sure does multiply. Okay, I have given it lots of help, by scattering its seeds under trees and it areas that I wanted filled in. It is interesting which places the seeds took well, and other places not at all. The flat beds have been better receptacles for these seeds than the inclined areas. For all the seeds I have scattered, I do not see that many plants. Although, I now have columbine in many areas around the land. It is also a native plant, but I believe this is a cultivated variety.

While these flowers may not look like much, you get a better view of the blossoms and buds than a photo packed with many flowers.

Poison Oak

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Poison Oak

This is what poison oak looks like when it flowers in the springtime. While some people are not bothered by this plant others (including me) have learned from experience to keep a safe distance from it. As much as we strive to exterminate it on our property, it is a native plant and should be left alone, I am repeatedly told by naturalists. We know, all too well, that it cannot be eliminated, merely kept at bay.

I had the opportunity to take this photo earlier this week while collecting for the upcoming Glide Wildflower Show (www.glidewildflowershow.org). I accompanied a couple of botanists on trails in the Habitat area of North Bank Road in Douglas County. This is a 6000 acre preserve for Colombia White-tail Deer that is managed by the BLM (thank you to the Feds for supporting public lands). I learned so much about common and unusual wild plants, many which grow on my own property. My brain was over-filled with facts, and I wanted to remember everything, but there are limits to what the filing cabinet in my head can retrieve on short notice.

Wild Iris

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Wild Iris

While these wild iris flowers bear a strong resemblance to Japanese iris, they are different, not as tall for one.
The wild iris can often be seen growing along a country road locally, but are not seen as frequently as in the past. I blame the poison that is sprayed on the roadside to control weeds. What is sprayed cannot differentiate between weeds and wildflowers, so both perish.

These iris are also found on hillsides that are not mowed and no domestic animals graze there, so our place qualifies there. They still need the right amount of moisture in the spring for them to bloom and thrive. Most often they are purple and white, as pictured. Lavender and, rarely, pink are the other colors they come in. These are also some of the largest wildflowers I’ve seen. Not tiny like the blue, pink and white gems that are so hard to photograph clearly.

Years ago I would see large drifts of these flowers. Now I look hard to spot a few specimens here or there. Damn, I’m showing my age and how long I’ve lived in the same place.

Purple Camas

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Purple Camas

This is a native wildflower that grows along stream banks and other wet areas. On my property, it can be found during wet spring times along seasonal waterways. I’ve been hiking around looking for these flowers and have found them in two separate locations. Both areas will dry up once the weather warms enough, and are shaded by trees.

The flower bulbs were eaten by the native Americans, but only from the purple flower, the white flower bulbs are poisonous. I’ve even seen these in a nursery catalog (Territorial Seed Company, Cottage Grove, OR). Like most wildflowers, they only seem to grow where they really like the environment. Or so it seems to me.

Pink Rhododendron

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Pink Rhododendron

This is a very old plant that my elderly neighbor brought over after his mother passed in the mid-eighties. It has a perfect location, protected from the afternoon sun, in a narrow bed between a walkway and a deck. Every few years, I prune a branch to keep it from breaking off when I walk by on the stepping stones. This photo caught a branch-full of flowers at their peak.

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.