Saturday, December 4, 2010

Gardening Season 2010: A retrospective.








Even though it's technically still "fall" according to whatever crazy man/natural Earth rhythms made/inspired the calendar, it feels like winter. Here, that means a crapload of cold, unrelenting rain. (With the occasional threat of a few inches of snow, which prompts the entire metro area and all news networks to freak out, and my internal snow-loving self to start daydreaming of days inside reading novels and drinking hot chocolate in pajamas, all of which always ends up resulting in maybe just some slightly-colder-than-normal rain and a disappointed Jill soul, every time.) In a few moments of non-rain and rare free time over the last month, in one of my various procrastination-of-real-work strategies, I was somehow able to plant some bulbs for the spring and clear away a bunch of rotting, dead stuff from the year. This made me both yearn for spring (already), and want to record for posterity some of my highlights from this gardening year. This will probably be excruciatingly boring for anyone except for myself.

Following the pictures above:

1) My purple siberian wallflower bush was one of the first plants I bought and planted at least two years ago, and without any work on my part, it keeps growing larger with more flowers each year. If I had known this I probably wouldn't have planted it in the extremely narrow strip between our apartment walkway and the neighbor's fence, since all year it's been bordering on obnoxious/hard to walk by on the walkway. It also appears to be one of the hardiest plants I have; it stays pretty healthy-looking almost all year long and still had flowers until late November, albeit not as robust as the flowers in the picture.

2) The "creeping plants" I planted in hopes of making a small, rocky strip between the steps to our door and our compost bin prettier and more full of life continued to "creep" along this year, which made me happy--until the landscaping company our new landlords hired this year ripped out half of them (along with some of my other plants) during a time they weren't flowering because they must have thought they were weeds. Regardless, when both of them were flowering--half white, half purple-y--it was really quite nice.

3) I planted some extra daffodil bulbs somewhat late, and when they didn't come up I figured they just wouldn't, but then they randomly did--way past when everyone else's daffodils in the neighborhood had bloomed and died. This, of course, made me feel pretty special.

4 & 6) Lilies! Lilies are so awesome. They bloom for such a relatively short amount of time, but when they do they're so beautiful. The pink ones were a surprise; I think I planted the bulbs a long time ago and this was the first year they bloomed. The shade of pink is so vibrant. Yes, vibrant! I am a gardening geek who can't think think of better adjectives. I'll work on it.

5) Wildflowers! Kathy bought me a big shaker of wildflower seeds at The Oregon Garden gift shop in Silverton earlier in the year. It was called the Cascade Kaleidoscope Mix, from Silver Falls Seed company, and we just sprinkled some of the seeds all around, and I swear almost every seed sprouted into flowers. It was the easiest and most rewarding gardening ever! The list of flowers included in the mix is enormous, and I don't know the names of everything that bloomed. The shaker bottle was so big and we have a somewhat confined amount of gardening space, so we still have some left over that I'll try next year to see if they still work. Flowers that I know bloomed: calendulas, bachelor buttons, california poppies, godetias, mountain garlands, iceland poppies (which I've never been able to grow before).

7 & 8) Snapdragonsssss! Without a doubt the highlight of my gardening year. I was kind of obsessed with my snapdragons. I planted these as seeds last summer, and some green stalks started growing, but nothing ever flowered. It got to the point that I started to think they were just weeds, but since they clung onto green life, I just let them go over the winter. And then suddenly in spring and summer, BAM, the biggest, most colorful, interesting flowers ever. I love, love, loved them.

Other highlights, not pictured:

9) Our rose bush, as always.

10) Our purple lupine--it was attacked by aphids for most of the year, and I spent most of the year feeling anguished by it and telling myself I was going to find a non-chemical solution to it, and never actually doing it. Yet it still produced some pretty strong flowers, and I felt proud of it for persevering.

11) Strawberries! I had planted a few little plants last summer, but found that the small fruits it produced got mushy/gross/eaten away by bugs before I could ever eat them, and hence it felt like somewhat of a fail. But this year I learned that strawberry plants spread like WHOA. I consequently suddenly had at least twice as many strawberry plants, and they were all much stronger, and I was better at picking the fruit as soon as they looked ripe/before they could rot. I got quite a few decently sized, ruby red strawberries, and an even greater number of kinda small and/or deformed looking strawberries, but they were ALL delicious. There is almost nothing more satisfying than picking something from your garden and after a quick rinse being able to pop it right in your mouth.

12) Blueberries! I planted a tiny tiny little bush two years ago, but only later learned from my uncle that you need another blueberry bush next to it to cross-pollinate it (or something) before it will produce fruit. So I bought an even tinier blueberry bush, and voila, I got some berries! Just a few, but still, satisfying!

13) The succulents we got from Zoe before she moved which I transplanted from a little pot to outdoors next to our compost bin about a year or two ago. I believe that they are Carmen Sempervivums, according to this description. In general, I find succulents to be just about the neatest things. Yes, neatest. Refer to what I said about lilies when it comes to gardening and adjectives. The two rosettes I started with with these succulents have been slowly but surely expanding, and watching the new ones expand from the old ones and then continue to grow and anchor themselves in the soil, and then grow their own new rosettes, it's just super cool.

Overall, each year that I'm here I invest more and more into gardening. It makes me sad to think about the day that we move away. Hopefully the people that move into the apartment after us will treat my daffodils, tulips, lupines, and lilies with respect, and feel the same joy that I did when they pop out of the earth each year.

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