Saturday, May 2, 2009

Solar string lights

For years I've been searching for solar christmas lights and just this Spring Target has come out with some really great string lights that come in several different colors and shapes. These pictured are yellow with a tear drop shape. What's so great about them is that the wire that runs between the lights is really thin and just disappears and the solar panel is pretty small and unobtrusive. They work great and I'm hoping they'll come out with more for next Christmas so I can really light it up!

A climbing hydrangea TREE

About 5 years ago I was driving home from work and on a whim decided to stop by Bellevue Nursery. I saw the most wonderful plant, a climbing hydrangea that had been trained to grow like a tree up a pole. (For those of you who aren't familiar, climbing hydrangeas are more like vines that climb on a lattice or wall.) I was sticker-shocked by the price tag but on the other hand, I'd never seen anything like that before and instantly fell in love with the idea of a climbing hydrangea TREE. After much debating, I decided it was a ridiculously expensive purchase and hopped in my car and left the hydrangea behind. My willpower was weak though, I didn't get more than a couple minutes down the road when I pulled a u-turn and decided I MUST HAVE THAT PLANT. 

4 Springs came and went since that ridiculous purchase and each season I would force open the new leaves of my climbing hydrangea tree to look for blooms - and in 4 years it never bloomed once! This year I decided if it wasn't going to bloom I was going to dig it up and move it. It no longer deserved a place of prominence if it wasn't going to perform. And low and behold, this year it's FINALLY going to bloom. I only had to wait 5 years! 

In my mind's eye, I imagine my hydrangea tree which has developed a sturdy trunk and is a self-supporting tree that and has grown up to the trellis that would stretch one length of our deck (and of course in this vision, it's COVERED with blooms). It's so funny to me the difference between what you imagine when you plant something and what actually ends up happening. That is probably why I've moved almost every plant in my garden at least twice! In the end, it's best to look at gardening as one big experiment. And you never know what surprises Mother Nature has in store for you. 

Stay tuned. As soon as this thing actually blooms, I will be posting pictures! I am hoping within the next couple weeks.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hedging ideas and other ramblings

Check out this hedge! This photo was shot at Heronswood nursery before it closed a couple years ago. Don't get me started on that whole story. I am still lamenting! 

An example of how a taller hedge provides backbone to a garden. The color on this maple really pops off of the green backdrop. Martha Stewart says in her latest issue that 'green is the garden neutral' which every other color plays off of. It's true that most every plant looks good against green. 

This is an interesting hedge treatment where they've mixed two different plants/colors. It looks like a boxwood mixed with barberry. One big drawback though, I'm pretty sure all barberries are deciduous so that would look pretty weird in the winter. Okay, and one other drawback - the barberry is very stickery!

That said, barberries are so very pretty with their deep magenta and crimson color! I especially love the variety that is a tall and narrow spire (about 12" wide x 4-5' tall). 

Here's another interesting idea - a hedge of wire vine. This stuff usually grows quickly and looks good year round (except for exceptionally cold years like last winter). Another great way to use wire vine is having it trail over a wall. I love this stuff. It's great for weed control too.

Here the they've used hedging material as a real focal point. I think this adds some whimsy to the garden. 

Monday, April 27, 2009


I've replanted this part of the garden I don't know how many times. I think I am finally starting to like it. (except for the hydrangeas - I keep trying to turn them blue but they keep blooming pink!) I wanted a mix of evergreens and shrubs that gave the garden some backbone in the winter and had color and texture in the summer. It's a particularly narrow border too so it's tricky to make it look full. I have maples in the back of the border which I knew would provide shade for the plants below when they got bigger but wouldn't give any shade in the beginning. I actually made little tents for each hydrangea plant to shade them. It was quite high maintenance but now they are doing great (except that they're still PINK).

No planting until Mother's Day!

Every year I jump the gun and forget the age old rule - don't plant until after mother's day. I was so inspired by the sunny weather a couple weeks back, I planted some coleus and now it's looking like it's not going to make it. You should always wait until after Mother's Day to plant tender annuals. You can 'harden them off' by taking them outside during the day and bringing them back in at night.

One other thing to watch out for this time of year is aphids. Check your Euphorbias especially. Not a spring has gone by where I haven't had to spray for those critters!