Saturday, June 4, 2016

It's a Riot!

I am not a tidy gardener.  The more varieties, the better, and I love finding new botanical treasures every day in this crazy, wild flower garden of ours.  Nothing makes me happier than peering into the space and seeing sparrows hopping and darting, bees buzzing from blossom to blossom, tiny pollinator wasps doing their thing, and another new type of flower to love!

This space used to be covered in massive, overgrown, old juniper and cedar shrubs.  They were low maintenance in a way, but very old and dusty and every time I looked at them I could see potential in their absence.  Last spring I hacked and whacked them off as well as I could with a pair of pruners, and let J finish off what I couldn't with the chain saw.  We found a delightful assortment of large boulders previously unseen. We planted a few berry bushes, tossed in a handful of wild flower seeds, and let it find its way.  We didn't realize that under the old shrubbery, perennial flowers and plants had been lying dormant, just waiting for their chance to burst back into life.  

For instance, fireweed (young sprouts shown above) grow to tall, purple flowered giants that nicely fill in a dry, desolate corner.  Unfortunately, it's considered a noxious weed by our city, and if I don't make good efforts to keep it in check or removed, we could be fined.  I pull them out by the roots before they flower and seed, and drop them in place to keep the ground cool and moist underneath, and as they decompose, to build up the soil for the next arrivals.  As things fill out and mature, the mulch becomes less obvious and looks less untidy.  

Spirea, Volunteer Maples and Bergenia
The threesome shown above were all underneath the dry, evergreen layer.  A beautiful spirea, probably planted around the same time as the evergreens but then overshadowed, a cluster of Bergenia, and the inevitable volunteer maples that clutter our entire yard if they are not attended to constantly.

Because this location is so warm, sunny and dry, I tucked in a few annual herbs near the heat-storing boulders.  We love fresh rosemary, but it really needs the heat.  Hopefully it will thrive and bush out by the end of summer.

Pink and White Peonies
The peonies were also a delightful surprise.  I knew there were one or two bravely fighting to get their heads above the evergreen layer, but once the old stuff was removed, I found FIVE thriving peony bushes scattered throughout the bed!

The portulaca is also an annual, but I have always had a peculiar fondness for the drought and heat-resistant little desert flowers.  Every year I buy a 6-pack at the greenhouse and tuck them into the hottest, driest spots.  They sure do thrive, at least until the snow comes!  This year I found what I thought was portulaca growing early in the spring, and was ecstatic that it had overwintered.  But now I think it was the perennial sedum, with similar, fleshy green leaves.

This perennial sedum was planted last year under the new apple tree. It is spreading its tentacles successfully and proving to be the ground cover I was looking for.  Also, in the bottom left hand corner you can see the mint plant gone wild, much to my delight.  The mint is also proving to be a hardy and fragrant ground cover.

Lavender and Gooseberry 
The lavender was freshly planted this spring, but hopefully with deep enough roots and a little extra attention, could be persuaded to make its way back in future seasons.  We planted four gooseberries last year, but only two survived.  The ones that did are growing like crazy, and we're looking forward to sampling their fruits.

Sea Buckthorn

I wasn't too successful at stratifying and starting sea buckthorn from seed last year, so this spring J dug two juvenile shrubs from the wild where they were growing rampant.  They seem to be tolerating the transfer fairly well.  If and when they eventually produce their tiny yellow-orange berries we will either eat them, or if they are too sour, let the birds feast on the harvest.

Maltese Cross

I'm not so fond of Maltese Cross, which will eventually produce sturdy, bright orangey red blossoms at their tops.  (I gravitate to cooler hues in the garden!)  I've given away many shovelfuls of this plant from the other flower garden, and even tried to pull it out by the roots, but it will not die.  Therefore, I will leave it alone and let it add to the diversity in this space.  Even if we don't understand the exact relationships, all these plants and insects and critters have a role in the beautiful, interconnected web of life.
Rose and Rhubarb

As you can see above, the "chop and drop" method of mulching isn't necessarily that tidy and groomed looking.  This is a neglected back corner, rarely seen by passersby, and I let dry stuff pile up and rot to contribute to the soil volume.  This little rose bush will eventually be massive, and the tiny little rhubarb plant as well, when it finally grips its roots in firmly and decides to flex its shoulders! That should nicely fill in this depressed little corner with life and beauty.  Patience, patience.

 Jostaberry, I believe, is a cross between gooseberry and currant.  This new transplant is thriving in the new location and we already see berries being produced.


Perennial Baby's Breath

Cosmos?  (Not sure yet.)

Possibly Sweet Rocket?
We finally identified the purple sweet rocket in the vegetable garden, but I'm not sure about this one shown above.  It's orange!  But in the evening, it smells the same (only more intensely) as the purple stuff, and the flowers are the same shape and formation.

Another Rose
I don't mind if the bugs take the occasional nibble of the rose leaves.  I have enough to share, as long as the beneficial insect to pest balance is maintained!

Currant Bush
This currant bush was sulking in the berry orchard out back, where it got a little too much shade from an enormous Grand-daddy of a spruce, soaring over a hundred feet tall.  So J dug it up and tucked it into the new bed where it seemed to stretch out and take a big sigh of relief before making up for lost time!

Bachelor Buttons, both blue and white

Orange and Yellow Poppies and Violas
Pretty sure the violas and poppies popped up from the scattered wild flower packet.  This is their second year, and they are very happy in this little flower-forest!

Since the afternoon I took all these photos and counted 27 separate types of plants, I realized I had missed including several more varieties happily making their way out there.  Besides the ones shown here, there's several dandelions (of course!), a sand cherry shrub, the apple tree, the now flower-less tulips, blue flax, and several other things that I have not yet identified.  I think I need a plant identification app!