Thursday, August 18, 2016

Creating a Rock Garden

For my August 2016 Bloom Day post, I am featuring the flowers in my newly planted rock garden. We realized we would need several retaining walls when our house was being built and looked at several options.  Our home is in a rural area with a very natural woodsy setting so we thought a plain concrete wall was too industrial looking.  The decorative do-it-yourself decorative concrete blocks screamed suburbia and didn't seem like a good fit, either.  We thought about a natural rock wall, but assumed it would be too expensive.  We finally decided to get some bids and were pleasantly surprised to learn that a rockery was less expensive than either a poured concrete retaining wall or concrete blocks.  Unlike the do-it-yourself concrete blocks that would have taken us weeks of back-breaking work to finish ourselves, a rock wall was installed within a couple of days with all of the work done by someone else!

New Rock Walls June 2016
Next the fun for me began as I searched for bargains and freebies to fill all of those nooks and crannies to create rock gardens.  It was a bit of a challenge because I was seeking some of my favorites that attract hummingbirds and pollinators that aren't always easy to find.   I managed to find many and about 3 months later I was delighted to find several plants blooming on August 15th....

Missouri Primrose (Oenothera macrocarpa)
The lighting wasn't very good, so it doesn't really show the true color of this Missouri Primrose with its huge bright yellow flowers.

Columbine (Aquilegia) "Little Lanterns"
Another of my finds is Columbine "Little Lanterns", a dwarf columbine that is native to the Eastern US with flowers that are similar in appearance to Aquilegia canadensis that is native to my area. Its smaller size works great in a rock garden and it is still blooming and being visited by the hummingbirds in August.

Heuchera "Ruby Bells"
Heucheras are increasingly being used for their beautiful foliage but rather insignificant flowers. I still love the old-fashioned "Coral bells" which are now becoming more difficult to find.  "Ruby Bells" is a variety that has relatively large bright pink flowers that hummingbirds love.

Dragon's Blood Sedum (Sedum spurium)
Of course it was not difficult to find Dragon's Blood Sedum from various sources, including some freebies from gardening friends.  The fact that it is common doesn't make it any less delightful for me when I see it blooming.

Sedum "Lime Zinger"
A newer variety of sedum that is blooming, is Lime Zinger.

Pacific Tree Frog (Pseudacris regilla)
Although not a flower and the photo is out of focus, I wanted to include another reason I'm glad we chose natural rock retaining walls.  I love the habitat the rock gardens are providing for wildlife including numerous tree frogs like this one.

 Thank you to May Dreams Gardens for hosting the monthly garden blog hop.  Be sure to visit the other gardens this month! 

If you are interested in creating a rock garden, here are some resources that I found to be helpful.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

June 2016 Garden Bloom Day

On this June 15, 2016 Garden Bloggers Bloom Day there are so many things blooming here in Northeast Washington that it took me nearly all day to take my photos. I saw some blue flax and bunch berry featured in my May Garden Bloom Day again this month, but with so much in bloom  I have included only the flowers that were new in June and only those that I think will be the most interesting.

Lorquin's Admiral butterfly (Limenitis lorquini) on Nasturtium (Tropaeolum minus "Alaska")
Instead of saving the best for last, I'll start with my favorite of a Lorquin's Admiral butterfly perched on a nasturtium in a hanging basket.  Before I move on to the wildflowers, I'm sharing the blossoms of some tomato plants.  I'm hopeful that I'll get a good crop this year.  Yum!

Roma Tomato blossoms

From the vegetable garden, I wandered down to the pond to see what wetland plants are blooming.

Blue Iris
I spotted a few blue Iris flowers.

Monkey Flower (Mimulus moschatas)
Numerous bright yellow monkey flowers were scattered around the edge of the marshy edge of the pond.

Water lily (Nymphaea species)
It was still morning so the water lilies were not completely open.  Next, I meandered through the meadow.

Common Harebell (Campanula rotundiflora)
A few harebells were blooming.

Cinquefoil (Potentilla sp.)
and some cinquefoils.  I spotted one lone locoweed.

Locoweed (Oxytropis species)
Approaching the edge of the trees are two native species of spirea that are both heavily visited by pollinators.

Bumblebee (Bombus sp.) and  Bee Mimic Beetle (Trichiotinus assimilis) on blooming Birchleaf Spirea (Spiraea betufolia)
Both bumblebees and beetles feed on the nectar and pollen of the flat-topped white birchleaf spirea.

Bumblebee (Bombus sp.) on Spiraea Douglasii
Numerous bumblebees were on the pink fluffy spires of Douglas Spirea.

Holodiscus discolor
There are numerous creambush (Holodiscus discolor), also known as ocean spray or mountain spray which are not quite in full bloom.  

Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
Another favorite of bees and other pollinators is the tiny pink blooms of the snowberry.   Moving from the forest edge into the trees is where I find one of my favorite plants blooming in the dappled sunlight under the trees.

Twinflower (Linnaea borealis)
I've always thought the tiny little twinflower (Linneae borealis) would make a great plant for a fairy garden.

Pine Drops (Pterospora andromedea)
Although not yet in full bloom, I'm happy to see the stalks of several pine drops poking up under the trees.  Thank you to May Dreams Gardens for hosting the monthly garden blog hop.  Be sure to visit the other gardens this month.  Some of the books in my library that I find helpful to identify the native plants, flowers and insects in the Pacific Northwest include the following:

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May 2016 Garden Bloom Day

Spring is earlier than normal here in northeast Washington State so many flowers ahead of their usual bloom time.  While it is delightful to have so many beautiful blossoms, my May 2016 Bloom Day post is long and it took me a couple of days to organize, select and post, but all photos were taken on May 15th.

Purple Globe Allium
I haven't planted many flowers since we moved permanently to the farm last fall, so most of what we have are natives and wildflowers.  One of the few things I planted were some globe alliums.

Dutch Iris
I also planted some Dutch Iris rhizomes that a friend gave me from her garden.

Although they aren't native, these columbine were planted by someone or something other than me. Since they are one of my favorite flowers, it was a lovely surprise to find them growing in one of the semi-shady, moist areas.

Camas Lily (Camassia sp)
Although they are native to this area, I did scatter a few camas lily bulbs near our pond a few years ago so I have no idea if this one that came up was planted by me or mother nature.

Blue Flax (Linum Perenne)
Rounding out the list of blue flowers blooming today, are a few blue flax in the meadow.

Blueberry Blossoms 

There are still a few blueberry blossoms.

Crandall Currant (Ribes odoratum)

And even fewer Crandall currant flowers with their lovely scent.

Thimbleberry (Rubus Parviflorus)
We have several large thickets of thimbleberries which are just starting to bloom.  Later they provide a feast of raspberry-like berries for the birds and bears.

Wild Rose 
I'm not sure of the species, but the first of our fragrant wild roses bloomed on May 15th.

Lonicera ciliosa

As I search high and low for more blooming flowers, I find a native honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa) in the tree tops.  I doesn't have any fragrance, but it is a favorite of the three species of hummingbirds that are seen in our area.

Morel mushroom (Morchella sp.)

And down low on the ground, I found what remains of a withering morel mushroom.  (It looks like scat, but it really is a morel past its prime!)

Viola glabella

None of the Viola adunca I saw last month are still blooming, but there are still a few of the yellow Viola glabella around.

Heart-leaf Arnica (Arnica cordifolia)

Another yellow flower which is abundant right now is the heart-leaf arnica.

Star-flowered false Soloman's Seal (Smilacina stellata)

Another shade-loving plant is the star-flowered false Soloman's Seal.

Hooker's Fairybells (Disporum hookeri)

And growing nearby are several Hooker's fairybells.

Red-osier Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera)

Sticking with the white flowers, there are some red-osier dogwoods blooming and down on the forest floor are many of its small relatives, the bunchberry.

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)

But saving the best for last (although the flowers are not quite completely open) are the lady's slippers.

Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium sp)
Thank you to May Garden Dreams for hosting this fun Garden Blog link-up.  Please visit to see what is blooming in other gardens all over the world!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Garden Bloom Day April 2016

After a week of unseasonably warm weather spring has arrived in the northeast corner of Washington State.  It is such a joy to see the flowers beginning to bloom so on my daily walk I took a few photos.

Pend Oreille County Cherry tree in bloom 4-15-2016
The most obvious blooms are the cherry trees which are eagerly being visited by numerous pollinating insects including some gigantic bumblebees.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to capture a good photo of one.

Rhododendron PJM
The PJM rhododendrons I moved from my old home in Western Washington have survived the trauma of being transplanted to a more extreme climate and are starting to bloom.  Looking past what I have planted, I start looking for native plants in the wilder areas,

Mahonia repens
I detected a mild, lovely fragrance and followed my nose to find one of my favorite natives, Oregon Grape (Mahonia repens) is starting to bloom.

Although dandelions are often disdained, I enjoy their cheery yellow blooms which are also appreciated by the bees.

Violet (Viola adunca) Pend Oreille County, WA
While kneeling to photograph the dandelion, I noticed a tiny speck of blue a few feet away and a closer look reveals the first wild violet I've seen blooming this year.

Wild strawberry Pend Oreille County, WA
Looking closely, there are also numerous tiny wild strawberry blossoms.  After my brief survey of my garden area, I returned to my sun room inside the house to find the first of this year's blossoms of my Meyer lemon has opened.

Meyer Lemon Blossom

 What is blooming in your garden today?  Be sure to visit May Dreams Gardens to see the other gardens this month.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Garden Bloom Day February 2016

Today is February 15 which means it is the monthly Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.  On the 15th of each month garden bloggers from all around the world post links to photos of what is blooming in their garden on May Dreams Gardens.  According to the USDA, my garden is in zone 6a, but my area is notorious for micro-climates ranging from zone 3 to 6a.  As I look out my door with camera in hand, it doesn't look like there is much to photograph.  I see slushy melting snow covering the ground and leafless deciduous trees.

My garden on February 15, 2016

As I learned last month, a closer inspection often reveals much more than what I see from a distance.

Alder tree trunks covered with lichens
The tree trunks in my garden are covered in numerous species of lichens.

Lichen on maple tree trunks
The maple trees had patches of crustose lichens that resembled splotches of gray paint.

Foliose lichens
 Branches of evergreens were covered in a variety of foliose lichen species.

cup-shaped lichen

Some with little cups.

Colorful lichen
And others with interesting colors and shapes.

Fructicose and foliose lichens
Some branches had both fructicose (in chartreuse) and foliose types.

Usnea lichen species
There were also numerous clumps of what is probably some species of usnea lichen that looks like hair.

Fungus growing on a stump

This beautiful fungus also caught my eye.  They look a bit like sea scallop shells.

Alder catkins
I also returned to the alder catkins I photographed last month to see how they had progressed.

Witch hazel blossom
Last, but not least, I found one of the small witch hazels I purchased at the end of the summer, is starting to bloom.  Hooray, my first flower of 2016!  Be sure to visit May Dreams Gardens to see the other gardens this month.