Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday Garden Tour

 These are the lengths to which we go to keep the chickens out of the compost bins.

These are the lengths to which the chickens will go to get into the compost bins.
White Sprouting Broccoli, coming to the end of its time here in the winter garden.

While we loved this plant, I think I prefer the Purple Sprouting Broccoli. It's taller and much more prolific, with more stems coming out of the sides. It also seems to go to seed faster than the PSB, although that might be because of the mild winter we had.
Rogue Tulip hiding amongst the giant irises.
 Quick - guess which mythological figure is hiding in this pot of stonecrop?
Pregnant Artichoke Mums
 Last year's Artichoke Babies.
 The relocated Raspberry Splash pulmonaria. It sprawls at the height of its growing season and looks nothing like it's charming blue cousin, so I'm experimenting by putting it in the shade garden this year. We'll see how it does. I resent paying a premium price for a perennial that doesn't perform in a premium way, even if the colour is brilliant.
 Another pulmonaria, this one with far better undergarments. Or is that internal structure?
Chequered fritillarias just starting to bloom.
Calendula, which grows all winter here if it's mild enough.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spring Cautiously Pokes Her Head Out

Looking through to the end of winter?

Now that the ground is drying up a bit, I've decided to reshape the front bed before the herbaceous perennials start growing. It used to be a large triangle of rampant plants, framed by a lot of beach rocks and a rickety arbour. By this time next week it's going to look like a gentle wave ebbing across the grass with a sturdy new arbour. Therein lies a good garden lesson: permanency can be over-rated. What seemed a brilliant idea 5 years ago now seems high-maintenance. I suppose part of that is my habit of not keeping my perennials in check. 

Here are a few plants awaiting the Lord High Remover's pleasure.

 I often wonder if the spring garden is so charming and so delightful because it comes on the heels of a long cold wet and gray season.

Like this primula elatior: "Gold Lace"
 Or this red and yellow cowslip: "Sunset Shades"

Double English Primrose: "Quaker's Bonnet"
 Oh please Garden Fairy, don't let my new pear tree get rust this year.

 See what I mean? It's all so glorious and bright.
Hellebores, pulmonaria, primroses, brunnera, and cowslips edging the shade garden.

 The two lemon trees survived winter, but they have a curious habit I didn't know they had, or perhaps they developed this curious habit as a result of being grown here in the PNW (as opposed to the arid south).

See the flowers, small fertilized lemons, and large, ripe lemons all jostling for space together?

 And the nectarines and peaches are in bloom, just in time for the Mason bees.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ask Sheila

Dear Sheila,

I was sitting with some other mums during a class my kids were taking and one of the mums was talking about how she and her family had recently emptied their house of possessions and moved into a little caravan. She talked about how freeing it was, having so little stuff. Another mother agreed fervently, well, I thought it seemed a little fervent, so I piped up. "I don't know if I could do that," I joked. The other two mothers looked at me very severely and said that if I had less stuff I'd be happier. Is that true? Would I be happier with less stuff?



Dear Hoarder,

First off, stop calling yourself a hoarder. Hoarders are people who have so many newspapers lining their front hallway they can barely get in the door. You're a collector - who knows when you might need those five packages of orange feathers, twenty five feet of plastic ivy, thirteen 3" white binders, or that 5-tiered stack of square wooden beads that your SIL gave one of your children for Christmas six years ago and while they never used them they are so pretty with those cool African designs you hate to give them away. Remember those cases of discarded tiles you picked up every Friday after gym class, the ones that tile store used to put out beside their dumpster (until they realized that one person was taking them each week)? You ended up making a lovely tiled address plate with those. So what if it took you three years to decide what to do with them - every artist needs time to let those ideas percolate.

Ignore those mothers. They have a pathology of their own: it's called a lack of imagination. You can see into the future, to a time when your youngest child might need a 3" binder (so what if it's a colour your kid hates) - they can't. Let them sit in their tiny little caravan and feel superior, while you sit amongst your piles of stuff. You're ready for anything!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

But wait! There's more!

Spring showing itself in the garden

New hellebore flower
Richard Parker, I presume?

What's that I hear? The happy jingle of my crunchies?

Toffee basks in the glow of familial worship

Friday, March 8, 2013

Random New Camera Photos

Cheeky primrose defies the pot of Mondo grass sitting on its head
Did you see that oh-so-critical word in that title up there? No? Well, go back and have another look. I'll give you a hint: it's not RANDOM. Got it now? No of course you haven't. Not to worry, this is my blog and I am here to inflict all my rambling witticisms on you, not to mention all the photos I'm taking with my new camera.

Sheila pauses and looks somewhat smug
That's right. My NEW camera. My old camera bit the dust (quite literally) one sunny day far far away and is now resting comfortably in Camera Heaven (that's what I tell the kids so they don't get too upset). It was a charming little point & shoot that I loved so much I put it in my This Is What I Get Should We Divorce record with Richard. He chose the espresso machine (like most sensible couples we only get petty over essentials). And while the old P&S was just a little slip of a thing, this new camera is a DSLR. It has weight. It has heft. Has a case that's bigger than my purse. Has a manual that is bigger than my purse. Comes with a DVD of instructions, but I haven't looked at that yet because, quite frankly, it scares me somewhat to think that I might not be able to understand what the heck they are talking about with all those weird f-things and apertures and stuff.
 But I digress. I promised to inflict photographs on you and inflict I shall!
Come closer and we will swallow you in one gulp

Sheila's Tidy Spot

Wait! What's that I spy with my little telephoto lens?

Why! It's a cherry plum, in full blossom!

Budding Pear

Sheila Gets Atmospheric

Toffee and his unwittingly obscene tail

Toffee's version of the Catwalk

He knows how to work it, doesn't he?

The trees are infested with these things!

Finally I can see what is off in the distance!

This reminds me of something from Spirited Away

 So there you have it. My new toy. I feel maternally thrilled with it, too, so no telling me that I'm out of focus or anything or I might mail you that instructional DVD.

By the way, is it me (oh please don't say it is) or it Blogger doing weird things? I do not like the new formatting palette I have and I don't like how I keep getting mysterious links added all over the place. If you have any thoughts (nice ones only) or tips do send them.