Tuesday, April 22

Earth Day Odds 'N Ends

I did have to go into the office today to work on a specific project... but since today was a "day off" for me, I hurried home after sending off a few graphics files so that I could play in the yard. As I opened the car door, I decided that I should share my first glimpse of the front yard with you. It's a little spring-bare right now, but I hope that my 'Thai Silk Firebush' California poppies will sprout soon and fill in some of these blank spaces:

Coco wasn't waiting for me there when I got home, of course, but when I went in to fetch the camera and the Felcos (to clean up the Japanese maple) I brought her out front with me as well. When Coco is in the front yard, the lions watch over her and she's free to roam in a dog-proofed area.

Coco soon settled down for a nap on the sidewalk, and eventually asked to go inside in search of comfier napping spots. That's when the neighbor's cat, who is uber-friendly and responds well to "Hey Kitty," came to hang with me for a bit. Doesn't he have pretty blue eyes? (Kylee, Jodi, or any other cat enthusiasts... any idea what breed he might be?)


This is catmint, not catnip, but he still seems to be rather enthralled by it. After taking this picture, I went through and cleaned up the old stems for him so he didn't have to work so hard to enjoy his treat.


The rolling is not part of the catmint show, however--he regularly begs to have his soft white belly scratched. Silly kitty!


Animal encounters aside, I celebrated Earth Day today by planting a few things, like a replacement 'Green Lustre' Japanese holly in the front garden (yay for shrub guarantees) and a couple of new plants. The local nursery had just gotten in its first shipment of alpine plants, and I couldn't resist a 'Little Plum' lewisia, plus this cute little carex named 'Beetlemania':


... and the sedum spathifolium, 'Cape Blanco,' that I have been wanting for a while but could never seem to find locally until today:


Notice the marked tulip foliage next to the white sedum? A lot more of my little greigii tulips have started blooming this week, including the very short and very aptly named 'Red Torch,' seen here:


And 'Cape Cod,' which is a red edged with warm yellow on the bulb package but looks more like a straight, warm orange in real life:


I didn't just take pictures all day, though, I swear. I worked, too. In fact, I filled up a whole lawn bag while cleaning up the front garden. As I picked up twigs from the basswood tree in my treelawn, I noticed that my 'Efanthia' euphorbia are all showing some new acid-green tip foliage:


And I cleaned up my poor foxgloves. Their leaves get mushy under the snow, but my soil is well-drained enough that they rebound at this time of the year. I cut the old leaves off and mulch them with compost and Sweet Peet, and they recover and flower just fine. Here's what they look like pre-haircut:


I also cleaned up the Japanese maple. Every year, the winter skeleton reveals areas that need a little cleanup... and of course, some twigs die back so I cut them off neatly as well.

I thought the emerging leaves looked very pretty against the 'Purple Dragon' lamium and the 'White Emporer' tulips. I was kind of surprised to see these tulips back again, both here and behind the 'Cape Cod' tulips as you can see above. Based on the fact that there are multiple stems coming up out of each little grouping I think (hope) that they are actually trying to naturalize:


While finishing my cleanup as the sun set, I found a real treat. I have been trying very hard to remember where I had tucked the clearance trout lilies that I'd planted back in December. I've been looking for signs of them anywhere and everywhere for the last month. Well, today, I discovered one single, solitary trout lily--with buds!--underneath the doublefile viburnum!


Isn't it cute? A good reminder, on Earth Day, of the surprises and pleasures we receive from our gardens.

40 comments:

Pam/Digging said...

You've changed your blog's look again. Very nice!

I like your euphorbia. Isn't that lime green electric? And the "torch" tulips are great too. Happy Earth Day!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Happy Earth Day to you too Kim. Love seeing your front garden. It is really coming alive. Coco is very happy to be out front with you. That kitty from next door is adorable with those blue eyes and how can you resist that soft tummy.

Frances, said...

Oh what a sweet dog and kitty combo. Does the kitty come around when Coco is out? Your tulips look great. I find that the actual blooms are often very different from the photos on the label, but think they are all lovely. Hooray for the trout lily flowers. I haven't seen any buds on mine, but they are so low to the ground, I may have to get down closer to them to look. Happy Earth Day, yesterday.
Frances

Layanee said...

Don't think I didn't notice that bergenia in the front garden bed looking all lush and happy! I saw one at the garden center yesterday on the 'expensive plant display' and it looked oh so husky but at $19.99 I didn't bite! What a satisfying day you must have had in the garden! I have also found some trout lilies with buds! Yeah for us!

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Pam, thanks... I'm playing a bit. I think that next I'm going to have to learn enough about html coding to really customize my own layout--I only know html basics right now.

The lime green on those tips is very pretty, especially against the reddish foliage leftover from last year. I'm going to have to figure out how to prune these guys correctly at some point to get the ratty old foliage gone. Any advice?

Greenbow Lisa, oh, I can't resist! Part of the reason he likes to come over is because I spoil him with tummy rubs, I swear. :) I'm glad to see the front garden come alive, too. It was a loooong winter.

Frances, he really likes to hang out on my front porch. I have many more horizontal perching/viewing points for him than his owners' porch does. Sometimes he's out there when Coco comes out, and it's a very pathetic display: small kitty eyes the canine suspiciously (but without moving) and hisses when appropriate... 90lb dog hangs her head, wags her tail hopefully, and hopes to be able to sniff the feline's butt... but mostly respects his sense of space and sniffs the air around the feline instead. Eventually he gets tired of having to keep vigil over the dog nose, though, and heads back home. lol.

Oh, Layanee, I wish you lived closer! I would give you a chunk out of my bergenia antime for free! :)

Yay for our trout lilies, too! I'm just so relieved to finally have figured out where I planted them. lol.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Carex rocks! I have only one, but I adore it. I have issues, so many issues. That cat looks like a simple american short hair, but maybe could be a russian blue? Lovely eyes, yes. Meow (that's directed toward the cat, fyi). I am anxious for my bloodgood to wake up, or just to see that it made its fist winter; some of its discolored twiggy branches have me concerned.

Entangled said...

Something tells me I may have asked about it before, but what variety is the white sedum? That has to be the palest one I've seen. It looks great next to the tulip foliage.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Benjamin, I have one other (a little one with white stripes down the middle) and I love it, too! I couldn't resist this one.

About the cat: I wonder if he's a mix? There's no reason for me to think it's a purebred, now that I think about it.

About the Japanese maple: Don't worry, if the "discolored" twigs are an ashy bone shade. Those are just the ones that died back over the winter--they're very susceptible to drying out. Some of the dieback on mine happens just on the ends, but then other twigs have longer dieback on the ends. It happens every year and doesn't seem to hurt the plant.

Entangled, if you asked, it wasn't of me--that's a new one in my garden. :) It's 'Cape Blanco' sedum spathifolium, and I love it... the white is its summer color, and when it gets cold it apparently turns pink/purple. Should be fun.

And you're right... it highlights the tulip foliage, and those orangey flowers, really nicely!

Katie said...

You have such a beautiful front garden! Glad you were able to get out and tend it on earth day.

PS - Don't forget there's a temperature probe in the first picture!

Melinda said...

Wow, your garden looks beautiful! Kim, I'm so excited you've joined the Growing Challenge! I've avidly followed your blog for quite some time.

Our cat actually watches over our dog when they go outside together. LOL. I think she's worried he'll be captured by coyotes, so she makes sure the perimeter is clear and is constantly on the lookout!

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Katie, I looked at the picture a dozen times again before I noticed that little blue cap... what good eyes you have! :) I will admit that I leave that in the ground year-round, and have been amused at how warm the soil stays there, all surrounded by concrete in the southwest corner. I should've planted something hardy to zone 7 there just to see if I could get it to overwinter. teehee.

Melinda, I think that the Growing Challenge is such a cool idea! I'm growing lots of stuff this year, but my official challenge plant is not yet big enough to photograph... it likes heat so I didn't want to start the seeds too early. No other hints, though. *grin*

Thank you for the kind words about my blog. And I'm still giggling about your cat watching over your dog--that's too cute!

WiseAcre said...

I know that spring-bare look. I'm a little behind you but things are starting to burst with life after the very warm temps of the last two weeks. I have a hard time putting down the shovel and picking up my camera. Too much to do and time seems to be running out already this season.

Still this blogging stuff is addictive. It's a gardeners dream to show off their garden to the world. I know I have virtually pushed people into the garden just to show it off.

vertie said...

I love the kitty photos. Nice that the cat rolled over only where there were no plants! In his younger days my cat used to cross the street and jump the neighbors' fence to get at their catmint. Luckily they thought it was funny that he rolled around in it.

Jim/ArtofGardening said...

You've dome WAY more in your garden than I've even thought to do. I guess this weekend, weather permitting, I'll be out there. Although, with not as much company as you have.

lisa said...

You're gonna love that 'Little Plum' bitterroot! Mine is very hardy, and re-blooms all summer. Funny, I have those same tulips with the mottled foliage. Dutch Gardens sent me a catalog already (heh, they sure know who I am :), and there's one with foliage mottled in red and yellow!

lisa said...

Oh, and the kitty looks like a tabby point siamese to me, or at least some derivative therein. :)

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Wiseacre, this blogging stuff is definitely addictive! Right up there with gardening, no? And I've been to your blog lately--you certainly have been doing lots of shovel work. But some nice camera work, too. :)

Vertie, I know! He doesn't always make such good decisions, though... lol. Lucky he (like yours) is so cute. ;)

Jim, it's so funny to hear you say that. I think that sometimes all I see is what I HAVEN'T done, you know? And as for the company... well, you never know who you'll find in the garden!

Lisa, oooh, I hope so. I've been wanting to get some of the bitterroots, but all I seem to be able to find is the pinks. (Argh! lol.)

And oh my. That mottled yellow and red foliage is stunning. I've never ordered from Dutch gardens before, but... hmm... :)

(ps. I'm going to just call him a beautiful blue-eyed mutt at this rate. lol.)

The County Clerk said...

That digitalis looks good. Everything looks good. Your garden is about to erupt.

kate smudges said...

Ah, the words Little Plum Lewisia caught my eye. I love Lewisias... the best thing is that they look good as soon as the snow is gone. Your tulips look amazing and I like the Euphorbia.

I had a nostalgic moment when I saw your neighbour cat with the catmint. My cat used to nibble on the catmint and then, when it was full and looking great in bloom, she'd roll around and fall asleep right on top of it. It was a good memory.

Your front garden is stunning and I'm looking forward to seeing it as spring progresses.

Ki said...

Your cat's pretty silly. We had a siamese once and I swear it was the fastest cat in the world. She couldn't retract her claws completely (just like cheetas) so we would hear her click, clicking across the bare wood floor. She could jump up on top of the refrigerator from a dead stop on the floor. She was so fast she could catch rabbits.

I just planted some seeds of Thai silk california poppies so I'll be interested to see yours blooming. They always show a wonderful variety of colors on the website or packets but the seed you get are something else or only all the same color ;( I'm jealous you have a trout lily. I tried to grow one but was unsuccessful. Will be stopping by to see a photo of the flower.

Annie in Austin said...

Between the front garden and the no-grass parkway, it would take me quite awhile to walk past your house, Kim! I wonder how many people have changed their walk-routes just to enjoy the changes and contrasts.

Hope the poppies sprout!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

A wildlife gardener said...

Love the kitty...ours ate all the catmint eventually over three summers :)

The County Clerk said...

By the way, your cat is in luck. Catmint IS Catnip (if the genus is Nepeta). Catnip is a mint.

Nepeta. I grow the stuff too.

The active ingredient in catnip is Nepetalactone. Nepeta

I suppose some would specify Nepeta cataria as "True" catnip, but really, all of the Nepeta can rock a cat's day. I see the words catnip and catmint used interchangeably a great deal... with the addition of the word "True" for "True Catnip."

Whatever. It is springtime. A cat deserves a little holiday, no?

SMC said...

When I had an inner city garden I tried to grow catmint. Every year is was turned into a little vortex of matted twigs and leaves by the neighborhoood kitties. I can't blame them.... I was tempting them with drugs. I finally gave up and gave the plant to a friend. In my current country location I have a catmint that looks like small shrub- thanks to the proliferation of preferred kitty treats- voles, mice, chickadees, etc.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Hank, I sure hope it erupts! Actually, the eruption is starting, but there's a cooldown in the forecast this week that might interrupt it. It should prolong the eruption of the bulbs, however, so I'm all for that idea. :)

You're right, of course, about the nepetas. I'm more of a dog person than a cat person, but I like cats. And it amuses me to be able to rock the neighborhood cats' world, so to speak. *grin*

Kate, oooh... if the lewisias last through your harsh winters and look good as soon as the snow is gone, I don't see why they wouldn't perform similarly in my yard. I hope.

Thank you for sharing your cat memory--it made me smile. I can imagine that it's something like me finding the dog grazing on my beans or stealing a tomato... the gardener's dismay is outweighed by the pet lover's amusement. :)

Ki, he IS pretty silly, but nowhere near as fast as your Siamese, let me tell you. He very nonchalantly strolls around like he owns the place--both at my house and at his "real" home next door!

I can't wait to see your Thai silk poppies mix. I couldn't decide which to get, but I'm too much of a control freak in the garden to go for "mixes" much, and stuck with the reds. Now I get to see what I'm missing out on. lol.

Annie, it would be so flattering if they did change their route, wouldn't it?! I don't know that anyone does, but I spoke with a handful of walkers-by while I was out yesterday. One lady stayed and chatted for a few minutes, and both of her two small dogs came up the driveway on their leashes to say hi to me. She was embarrased when one licked my hip (I was sitting down on the driveway) until I laughed and explained that he had discovered my treat pocket and asked if it was okay if I gave him one.

Another guy asked me if I wanted to come down the street a ways and do his yard up like mine. But my favorite visitor was this lovely older gentleman who was shuffling by slowly (although not painfully) and stopped to have a good long look at the garden. He asked me about a few things, including my bergenia. I told him about the common name, Pigsqueak, and said that it didn't work so well now while it was still red, but that he was welcome to take a step or two into the garden next time he comes by if it happened to be green, and give the squeaking a try! He laughed and said he just might. :)

A wildlife gardener and SMC, hmm. Well... I guess if that happens, it just means an opportunity to try something else there, then, right?!

(SMC, you now have me feeling like a drug dealer! lol.)

Annie in Austin said...

Yay for the neighborly encounters, Kim -one of my neighbors strolled through my garden for the first time on Thursday, leading me to hope for future garden conversations.
May your pigs have a squeaky year ;-]

Annie

Rosemarie said...

I love your cat! And I just got a trout lily today so it's nice to see it so nice in your garden.

UKBob said...

My mum used to have a cat that looked like it wanted its belly tickling but it was a trap because the minute you went to touch it the darn thing would wrap its front paws around you and then try to rip your hand off with its rear claws!

Kerri said...

Isn't it wonderful to finally have blooms and color in the garden, KIm? I love that Lewisia! Can't wait to see your trout lilies. We have them growing wild in our woods.
Your tulips are beautiful.
Don't know what breed the kitty is but he sure is handsome :)

CatHerder said...

kitty looks like he is part lilac point siamese. love your blog!

Nelumbo said...

I'm looking forward to my day off soon to play outside...jealous!

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

Lookin' good!

In Austin at Spring Fling there was a nursery with a whole field of poppies. I was enthralled. I will definitely need to plant those in mass next year!

Love the kitty! And I always love Coco, of course.

Robin at Bumblebee

Shady Gardener said...

Doesn't it feel great to be able to be outdoors... watching for and finding things growing, blooming, etc.? Pretty exciting. I find myself doing the same thing you are... taking photos!! However, I'm not getting my posts done. ha. Happy spring!

Muum said...

I enjoyed your photos so much. My tulips are just getting started, too.

Cottage Magpie said...

Happy belated Earth Day! I love the shot with the tulips -- I have none this year (new place), but I'm excited to learn from neighbors that they are reliable returners here, not so at my old house. Yay!
~Angela :-)

joey said...

At last spring has found us, Kim. All looks lovely with more 'earthly' surprises to come!

Sarah O. said...

Some of the tulips I planted are coming up with perfectly streaked green-and-purple leaves, a bit more intense than yours, although I can't remember the variety right now. It looks great next to the glory-of-the-snow (which are still blooming strong up here in NS). It wasn't expected, but it's very welcome.

Just a bit of a house-keeping question, did you ever turn your RSS feed back on? It feels like I've been waiting for months to find a post of yours in my newsfeed!

albertapostcards said...

what an enjoyable romp through your garden

Diane

Kylee said...

Great post, Kim! I'm sorry, I don't know the breed of the beautiful cat, but I would guess maybe it's got Himalayan in it. We used to have a Himalayan Persian that had the most gorgeous eyes and light colored fur.

I'm so jealous that your 'Efanthia' came through eventually, and glad for you. Mine didn't. I'm not sure why, because it was next to my 'Chameleon', which has gone wild! I just bought 'Bonfire', and it kind of reminds me of 'Efanthia'. We'll see how that one does.

I also lost my sedum 'Cape Blanco' this year, and I'd had it for two years. I'll buy it again if I can find it.

I planted Nepeta 'Kit Kat' a week or so ago, and as I suspected, I had to put a cage around them, because I've got kitties who like it as well as the plain old catnip. Some do, some don't, and mine do!

I just bought three more Lewisias today at Meijer, to add to the one I already had and the second one that I'd bought a couple of weeks ago at Baker's Village in Dublin. I just love them.

I love your new Carex! I just love the grasses and sedges, period.

Pam/Digging said...

Well, I just waded in and clipped off the ratty looking stems on my euphorbia. Then I used the pruners to pick up the stalks and dispose of them so as not to get any sap on my hands. It seemed to work.

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