Sunday, May 29, 2011

Working with a "semi-wild" garden

I like to think of the garden at my new house as a "semi-wild" or a "woodland" garden.  It's unruly and unkempt, but also very lush and full of healthy plants that seem to like their current location.  There is an abundant mixture of geraniums, ferns, lily-of-the-valley, hostas, irises, daylilies, barberries, blackberries, violets, strawberries, and a couple of other plants that look nice enough but that I haven't identified.  There are also, however, plenty of weeds, including tree seedlings and saplings (some resprouting from stumps), the invasive weeds garlic mustard and oriental bittersweet, and of course, the bane of my existence, poison ivy. 

I've ruled out trying to dig a large part of it up and starting over.  I don't have the energy for that, and it isn't my style anyways.  I like to try to work with the plants I have as much as possible.  I see my job as removing the weeds, encouraging the existing plants that I like, and making a few additions of my own wherever there are gaps.  So far, I have gotten a good start on the first two.  It isn't always the easiest job.  I need to carefully separate the weeds from the desired plants when the two are all mixed together in a lush mass of plants.  I have to try and avoid stepping on anything, which is almost impossible in many parts of the garden.  With some plants, especially the blackberries and barberries, I want to have a few of them in the garden, but not too many, so I need to decide which to pull and which to leave.  The blackberries and barberries also have thorns, which catch on clothing and occasionally break through even leather gardening gloves.  Then, of course, I always need to be on the lookout for poison ivy.  I've brushed it with my gloves a few times already, but I haven't actually gotten any rashes.  I get a little paranoid about touching things with my gardening gloves on, however, since poison ivy oil can be transferred from one object to another.  I don't think I've touched enough poison ivy with my gloves for this to be a serious problem, but I'm not 100% sure. With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder I can easily get too paranoid and spend more time worrying about poison ivy than actually gardening, if I don't fight my excessive worries.  All in all, I think I have done a pretty good job so far - both with the gardening and with the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Here are a couple of pictures at different angles of the main garden bed.  I've done some more weeding since these were taken, but it basically looks very similar:

The little pink-white flowers are geraniums.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the yard, two bushes are in full bloom without me having to do anything whatsoever.  The first is the rhododendron in front of the house, which turns out to have flowers of a lovely  lavender color.

Here's a closeup, with an ant crawling around one of the flowers.

Here is one clump of flowers near the ground ...
... and what I think is the same branch of the plant in March, when there was still snow on the ground and the flowers were enclosed in a tight bud:

The second bush in full bloom now is a Spirea of some kind, with pure white flowers :

Here is a closeup of the little clumps of flowers:

Unfortunately, neither the rhododendron nor the spirea will flower for long - very few flowering bushes have long-lived flowers.  Still, there should be plenty of more flowers coming - the irises are just starting to open, and they are beautiful.  Unfortunately, I broke my old digital camera yesterday by dropping it.  Fortunately, I got a new and (hopefully) better camera today, and I should be ready to take some more pictures (as well as pulling some more weeds) tomorrow.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Garden update

This morning, early April called early May and asked for its weather back.  In other words, it has been unseasonably cool so far this May.  I'm not complaining - I actually like cool weather (not cold) better than warm or hot weather - but the coolness means that the plants have been growing and leafing out in slow motion compared to what they would be doing in more normal weather.  Again, I shouldn't complain - it means I can do my weeding at a slower pace and I didn't have to mow the grass for the first time until today - but I'm still looking forward to everything becoming fully green for the year.

I haven't posted in a while, largely because my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has been hitting me really hard and often leaving me feeling exhausted and uninterested in communicating with the outside world during my free time.  Still, I figured I should post a few pictures.  These were taken about a week ago, so some of the bulbs have lost their flowers, while the other plants have grown some (but not as much as you would expect given the time of year).

My main garden area.  I've inherited a sort of woodland/shade garden, with 
hostas, blackberries, geraniums, barberries, lily of the valley, ferns, a few bulbs,
violets, and various other wildflowers scattered around underneath a large spruce
and a couple of small cherry trees, plus a lilac and a small fir.

Not much is blooming yet, but fortunately there are a few bulbs.  
Here is a tulip and two hyacinths.

Here is a closeup of the tulip.

Here are the two hyacinths, with what I think are geraniums and violets coming up around them.

There are a few daffodils as well.  I especially like the white one in the middle photo - 
it's different from most daffodils that I've seen.  Unfortunately, the daffodil flowers
pretty much shriveled up over the past week.

Most of the plants currently in my garden aren't noted for showy flowers, so it looks like I will have to add new plants of my own if I want more color.  On the other hand, maybe there will be some surprises coming up - there are still some plants that I haven't identified.