Sunday, February 13, 2011

What's in your yard?

We had a high in the low 50's today and some sunshine and a big, blue spring-like sky.  It sent me outside with my camera and a reason for a post!

First things first.  I made a pineapple upside down cake to take to my in-laws tonight - can you tell I didn't have pineapple rings?  Also made some gluten-free bread and hamburger buns before I headed outside with my camera.

Bought these yesterday at Costco.  They had rolling carts of them up to at least 6' tall.  I had to have some to brighten up the yard.

Now when we look outside, there is this big spuh-LASH of color to ward off any possible ho-hums.   I wish I didn't have to plant them.  They have such visual impact all clustered together.

We have seen alot of bird activity in the yard this weekend.  We have a "remnant" water feature that we will redo when the front courtyard is landscaped (soon?).  The birds are drawn to it for their daily bathing.  Yesterday a rufous towhee and today a group of little dark-eyed junkos.  Caught one in the act with the water still flying.

I've been watching the front flower bed for a week or so.  It's got a five o'clock shadow consisting of daffodils and tulips.  They seem to be a little early this year, but I think we said that last year too.

This is a contorted fig that the previous owner planted/jammed in the front corner years ago.  It has gotten tall enough to hang out over the fence and when the year is wet enough, it puts on gorgeous hot pink 1/2" blossoms.  The rest of the year it looks pretty much like this with its corkscrew limbs. 

After I took that photo, I got to looking at the fence.  It is made from cedar and over the years it has weathered to this lovely gray patina with a shimmery silky look. 

Just inside the gate to the courtyard (and in front of the crowded contorted fig) we have a skimmia.  It's already put on its buds that will bloom for one short week in May.  What it lacks in duration it makes up for in impact.  It has the most heavenly sweet smell.  It's indescribable.  Somewhere between lilac and honeysuckle.  During this week, when we come back from getting the mail, we can begin to smell the skimmia the minute we hit the entry to the cul-de-sac.  It is truly wonderful.  Almost as wonderful, is the 2 to 2 1/2 weeks of the lilies of the valley that grow at its feet and then spill down the side stairs towards the backyard.

To the left of the skimmia, the Lenten Rose is in bloom.  This yard is so challenged.  There is about 5-6" of soil that can be dug (with great difficulty) and under that is hard pan.  I must have planted these in  the spring that year, because I unknowingly planted them in the middle of a hosta.  When this plant is done, the hosta takes over and comes up around it.  Somehow, they manage to co-exist in the same square foot.

 This is the remains of some winter blooming kale that I planted last fall for some winter color.  There were white and purple ones.  The purple ones never recovered from a hard frost earlier this winter, but we have had the delicate tracery of the white ones to enjoy. 

Heading around the north side of the house,  I discovered this terra cotta pot bursting with more tulips and daffodils. It took me awhile to realize that the spanish moss-like fibers were the remains of the trailing Regatta Blue Lobelia that I planted there last summer. It was also filled with pink, coral and heliotrope Impatiens.

On the south side of the house, I found this pile of black plastic pipe.  I had NO idea how they had arrived at this location.  I sought out Bob for the answer.  His puzzled reply was "those were from the temporary drain I put in when the downspouts were overflowing earlier this winter".  I don't know why I didn't know this, but I do know that I will go weeks without actually seeing the yard in the winter.  I leave for work in the dark and I come home in the dark.  If it is nasty cold and raining, I only see what is visible through the windows on the weekend and we don't have any southern facing windows.  I'd like one though...

Last year, we had to have an older birch removed from the back corner of our lot.  Before the crew came to take it out, I moved all of the plants that were at it base.  A yellow and a purple azalea, a pink single peony and  four lovely Autumn Joy sedums.  I had bought them as a 4-pack of 4" pots from Costco.  They have asked for little over the years, are drought tolerant and have thrived.  Each one has a 2 foot spread on it now.  I lifted all these plants out and put them in the soft beds of our vegetable garden.  They've stood there all winter looking dead. With my fingers crossed I approached them, pulled away a couple of  dead leaves and lo and behold they are still thriving.

I actually had to go back out and rephotograph these as the first shots were out of focus.  The air outside is cool and fresh, but walking back into the house I was hit by the smell of freshly baked hamburger buns.  A truly round and enveloping smell as I had added a touch of Herbs de Provence to the dough.

I also found a sign of early summer's promise in my yard today.  Inside the little wall in this photo is the winter kale having it lasts stand.  There are also some miniature Delphiniums beginning to come forth.  They grow in a mounding habit and put on a lovely, little star-shaped light blue flower.  There is no scent, but it does provide a veritable carpet of flowers for a couple of weeks in late June or so.  I have had these for 5-7 years and they come back each year.  Last year I split them and spread them around.  In this photo, the little roots are pushing through the retaining wall, so we shall have little blue flowers on the outside of the bed too.

The sun has now disappeared behind a high overcast, but it was out long enough to reassure me that spring is on it's way.  Be still and wait.  It comes.


  1. wonderful to see you posting, and how equally wonderful that you just signed up for Asheville!!!

  2. I envy how spring is abound at your house & enjoyed a tour of your garden.

  3. Sweet, wonderful pictures of your garden! Feel as though I've been there. You will have a wonderful time in Asheville. We'll expect full disclosure, of course. At least a blog post a day. And pictures, pictures, pictures!

  4. What a beautiful cake and a lovely day!

    I grew up in Florida and we had a pretty consistent and monotonous season of year round summer. It wasn't until I moved North that I discovered the passion for Spring!

    It's a totally revitalizing time of year with new life and new growth! I love your pictures of everything in buds and burgeoning with life! You have some of my FAVORITE flowers, the hellebores (aka Lenten Roses). I put a patch in just of these flowers. They say that it takes up to three years for them to bloom. I have one year down so far and am looking forward to when they look as lovely as your's. I will have to plant some hostas in the bed too.

    P.S. I love your fig tree. When I return home, I'm going to see if I can plant one as well. I think I could stare at it for hours.