Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Annika turns 4!

Sunday Dave and I drove up to Bellingham to visit with Kyle and Kari and the kids. Since Annika's 4th birthday was Monday, we wanted to bring her a present and wish her a happy birthday in person. We had such a nice time together! When we arrived Annika was at another little girl's birthday party with Kari, so after talking a bit, Kyle, Saben, Dave and I drove to Lake Padden Golf Course and practiced our putting. Saben is 6 and when he takes his time to set his feet and line up the putter, he does a pretty good job. We had brought putters with us for the 4 of us. Saben was surprised that it didn't cost ANY money and that he could go anytime his parents want to take him....for FREE! I can't wait until he is old enough to go golfing with us! By the time we got home, Kari & Annika were home and she was busy making a tasty dinner. Homemade pico de gallo, soft beef (steak) tacos with fresh guacamole and a roasted corn side dish. Delicious!

Annika opened her presents from us and wasn't too thrilled about the clothing but did seem to like the porcelain doll we gave her. The doll was one that was part of my mom's collection. We brought the doll stand too so Annika can play with the doll and/or put her in the stand in her room. Then, while Dave and Kyle talked in the living room, Kari and the kids and I played a childrens' sequence game. I also read several stories to the kids. Here are some photos of the day. Saben is just like his dad!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer Gardening - 10 on 10 afterthought!

I love flowers. I come by it genetically. My mother spent hours upon hours in her yard, weeding, replanting, tending her flowers and cutting bouquets to bring in the house. Her sister, Eileen, always enjoyed her flower garden and their mother, my grandmother, enjoyed her flower garden as well. I seem to have a bit of a genetic gap though. I LOVE flowers, but I'm not so much into the weeding! In all fairness, I've kind of given up on my flower beds where we now live. It seems like we spend more time cutting down or digging out dead shrubs than anything! What doesn't die off from our wet clay soil gets eaten by the rabbits and deer. Or the deer snap shrubs in half as they run through the yard. There is currently very little in bloom right now and that makes me sad. All my lovely peonies have disappeared. Several years ago I gave up on gladiolas (which I find so beautiful) because the deer decimated my blooms overnight and all that was left were some bits of color on the ground. My heuchera (coral bells) have all but disappeared. Almost all of the beautiful rhodys and azaleas that we had have died and the 2 remaining Exbury azaleas look sickly. The witch hazel hasn't looked well for 5 or 6 years but it somehow comes back....half-way it seems.

This past winter has been especially hard on the landscape. I know others have had similar problems. Our evergreen (Victoria) magnolia tree that has been doing so well, decided it wanted to commit a slow suicide. We already lost all the salal in that area and now the 3 camellias (trellised) are in the process of dying.

Isn't this pathetic?? Salal, camellias and magnolia. All needs to be dug out and redone. I think I will try 3 clematis in place of the camellias and don't know what kind of tree to try as this one replaced a coral bark maple tree that died.

Not a pretty site!

We have...had....several Nandina (heavenly bamboo) that have ALL succumbed over the winter. And they are so pretty and do not spread like regular bamboo. This clematis is winding its way upward and should be blooming pretty soon.
 There are so many plants that I have tried but they fail. I know it's not me because I have had success in previous yards. Our soil has a problem with phytopthora, which we discovered when we had our soil analyzed (by experts at WSU) after we spent loads of money on landscaping and truckloads of shrubs died. Here is what Wikepedia says about "root rot":     

"Phytopthora is a genus of plant-damaging Oomycetes (water molds), whose member species are capable of causing enormous economic losses on crops worldwide, as well as environmental damage in natural ecosystems."   I guess so!

When I joined the Issaquah Garden Club shortly after we built our house, I was eager to really get out there and garden! I love our garden club and since I am the VP this coming year, I have been busy finding experts to speak at our meetings and arranging field trips. I just wish I could really put my knowledge to good use! I shudder when I think of all the specialty plants I have purchased over the past 11 years only to have them die.I have enjoyed ordering things from Plant Delights because they have plants that are really unusual and their catalog is a hoot to read. Check them out at:    http://www.plantdelights.com/

I refuse to totally give up, however, as I have taken to using containers. I now have a hanging tomato plant although it is not doing as well as I'd like!
This is an heirloom Roma tomato but I also have a Cabernet tomato plant and an heirloom Radiator Charlie. We'll see! It really is just deer bait.
One of two Costco pots ($30 each) and they are both doing well. I also have herbs in pots in a row. A few years ago Dave watched a deer as she placed her feet on the steps, with her mouth drooling over the pretty flowers she saw up there. I wouldn't be surprised if one day she tries again.
My Meyer's lemon tree is now outside and I have some lemons growing!
These strawberries shouldn't be in a pot! There is never enough to do anything with. In the ground they would be rabbit food. Ask me how I know.
Several years ago I made this hypertufa container and planted it with succulents. Isn't it purdy!?

I purchased a variety of flowers from Squak Mountain Nursery for my hanging basket and it is only a mild success. Wish it had filled in more. My fault, I didn't have big enough holes cut in the coco liner. I need to spend the money and buy one of Pamela Crawford's hanging baskets. Check out her site:  http://www.gardenartisans.us/pamelacrawfordscontainergardens.aspx

Ajuga (purple/blue flowering) is spent and the daylilies are blooming. That is grass in the background growing over the drainfield but miscanthus (ornamental grasses) seem to thrive in our yard. Imagine that!
OF COURSE! Look what thrives. Butterfly bush, which was NOT planted in this spot, is invasive, but it will remain because it hasn't died!
When we are not battling the deer, we wage war with buttercups, blackberry vines and unwanted trees that find their way into our landscape. I am always pulling up holly tree starts. They are invasive and replace the native species trees. They are really invasive in our yard!!
I gave up years ago on my vegetable garden because of the deer and rabbits. Been there, done that with fruit trees in our previous location. I couldn't keep up with the abundance of 30+ trees and poor Dave had to prune them! I think my only solution is to move to a spot where the deer won't decimate the landscape and we have more healthy soil. I REALLY NEED MORE COLOR OUTSIDE NOW! I guess I should just entertain myself with some of my garden books and look at the photos of lovely plants and flowers that I wish I had in my garden.  Isn't life tough!!??