MySecretGarden

U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Exciting Fava Beans And Peas Blooms



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Hooray for beans and peas! They are edible, ornamental and relatively easy to grow.
New in my garden this year are the Green Beauty snow peas.
I got the seeds from Michelle who has a wonderful blog entitled From Seed to Table.
The plants have the prettiest blooms. The first blooms on my plants looked like this:
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Some time later, I noticed the blue blooms:
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Could this color change be due to a warmer temperature? We, at last, are getting high 60s and low 70s after lower temperatures in May and June. Now, there are blooms of both colors on the same plants.
Cool, isn't it? They look like twins: a girl and a boy.
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I love the "marbled" foliage too:
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Crimson Flowering Fava bean (or Red-flowered fava beans) seeds also came from Michelle's California garden. This plant has a very interesting fact about it: it was revived by the Heritage Seed Library from four seeds donated by Rhoda Cutbush of Kent in 1978. The exact age of this variety is unknown, but crimson-flowered broad beans were mentioned as long ago as 1778. Isn't it fascinating? If not for Rhoda, this variety could be extinct! Gardeners, check your drawers and cabinets! You might have hidden treasures too!
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Velvet crimson blooms look very ornamental, especially those grown close to a boxwood and a fern:
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BTW, I didn't plant that fern in my kitchen garden. I think a seed from one of my plants landed close to one of the raised beds.
On the picture below: the favas from the store-bought seeds. These plants have big white flowers with a black spot on the lower petal.
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Fava beans (Broad beans, Field Bean, Bell Bean, Tic Bean), unlike the string beans, prefer cool temperatures and can be planted in early spring and fall (in no hard frost regions). I planted them at the same time as my green peas.
If snow peas and fava beans are new to my garden, the green peas are a staple here:
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Our boys love them and eat them straight from the vine. I try to grow stringless varieties which can be eaten with the pods. To support the bean and pea plants, I usually use bamboo or whatever twigs I can find. Small wire cages also work well:
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These particular plants grow not in my kitchen garden, but in the Terrace garden, the home of my turquoise bench (previous post: No Red Bench In My Garden ).

Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

Sunday, June 27, 2010

No Red Bench In My Garden

San Juan Islands, WA
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Get yourself a cup of tea or a shotglass of vodka, whatever you prefer, get comfortable and do me the favor of listening to my dramatic story about a Red Bench. I do not doubt that most of you can relate to it and many of you, my friends, have your own 'Red Bench' story. It could be actually not a red, but let's say black bench, or not a bench at all, but, let's say, a table, or .... Possibilities are endless. You get the idea. One day, you will tell us your own story, OK?
Let's start.
Several years ago, we were traveling to the San Juan Islands in Washington state. Beautiful place, I should say. Close to Canada and wonderful Vancouver Island.
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Roche Harbor. San Juan Island, WA
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Sightseeing, garden tours, hiking and, of course, just looking around at how people live and tender their gardens in this enchanted part of the earth.
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One of the tour gardens. Beautiful garden and friendly owners. San Juan Island, WA
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Historic Hotel De Haro. San Juan Island, WA
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Once, on our way to the next landmark, I spotted a bench on the lawn in front of a small house. A magic sign announced that the bench was free. I am not saying everything that is free is magic. If it would be an old washing machine or dryer or even an antique lawn mower, it wouldn't get my attention. But, it was A Bench, something that I could put in my garden. Something I could lie on and take an afternoon nap.
Something I could sit on and admire the products of my labor. I don't mean the labor that produced two blue-eyed boys 11 years ago, but a labor of love. Of course, those two boys also were a product of a labor of love, but I mean a labor of love of nature. Of course, .... Well, you understand.
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San Juan Island, Washington state
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Enough about love. Back to the bench.
The bench, obviously, was not new. I could see some signs of wear and tear. But, it was made from thick, massive pieces of wood, and it was freshly painted. The color was red. True red. I can not say that red is my favorite color. There was a time when I used to buy mostly plants with red colored blooms, but it was in the past. Red was OK for a bench. It could be a bright spot in my Terrace garden, a stylish splash of color, an exclamation mark in the midst of the greenery of my black currants. "I like that bench!"- I said. The driver, who happened to be my husband, made several runs pass the house whose owner was so generous in giving away that wonderful piece of garden furniture. What he saw, obviously, was different from what I saw. He saw a piece of junk which someone threw away. He thought the owner was looking for an idiot who would take away that junk, saving him a fee which he would need to pay for having it hauled away. Trash collecting service is pretty pricey on islands, I would guess.
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View from Mt.Constitution. San-Juan Islands, WA
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What is an island? A piece of land surrounded by water.
Here, you can not dump trash in multiple dump sites which we have on the Big Land. There is just not enough space on an island to dump all the old benches, washing machines and retired vacuum cleaners. Knowing this, my husband said: "OK, we'll pick it up on the way back".
We could fit the bench in the back of our SUV right then. But, he was sure that nobody, absolutely nobody, would put an eye on that delapidated, miserable piece of old wood. Or, maybe, he hoped that I'd come to my senses while admiring the charming, fresh scenery of the island and surrounding waters.
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Roche Harbor. San Juan Island, WA
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Well, for this or that reason, we left the bench where we found it.
Several hours later, my husband realized that he was wrong in his assumption. I was not the only idiot who wanted the red monster. The bench was gone. It was taken by someone who, probably, like me, used to watch HGTV programs about trash being turned to treasures, about magical finds on the side of roads, who was drooling over the stories told by their friends about treasures discovered in trash containers behind home furnishing stores, etc.
Anyway, the bench was gone. Even before I opened my mouth, he was sorry. You don't want to know everything what I said then. The main point of my speech was that I liked the bench and that it was FREE. It didn't cost 10 dollars, it didn't cost one dollar, it didn't cost even one cent. It could be mine for free. It could make me happy, and my happiness wouldn't cost even a cent. "Did I offer to buy a $ 6,000 outdoor furniture set from the Horchow catalogue?"- Questioned I? "No! I wanted a free bench and you wouldn't pay even a penny for it". Actually, I didn't need to say anything. He was already suffering. He regreted a thousand times that he didn't stop and pick up that ugly red thing. I suspect that it was not even the bench itself that he didn't like. It was the fact that he would need to get out of the car and, under the ironic eyes of the whole world, take something abandoned by another person.

To make this story shorter - he fell bad about that red bench for a long time. Images of the Red Bench were hanging in the air around us for several months. To heal my wound, a bright turquoise bench was bought and brought to our garden, but it was not the same as the red bench.
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It was not red, and most importantly, it was not free. It was not a subject of my pride, it didn't have a story behind it and it lacked the excitement of finding a treasure on the side of the road.
The turquoise bench is OK. It glides, it's comfortable and I take a nap on it in the middle of the day. At least, until a crew comes along to mow our neighbors' lawn.
You, who managed to read my story til this point, thanks for your patience. I hope it brings closure to my Red Bench story.
Just in case - if you are the one who picked up that red bench, let me know when you'll be ready to put it on the side of the road with the sign FREE. I'll be there the next day!
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P.S. Already, after I finished this post, I found the picture below. Hey, it might be the folks who picked up my bench! They say they take everything!!!
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Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Where 'Amur' Plants Came From

The pup on my blog's header picture is called Amur. Sounds almost like 'Love' in French. But, this is actually the name of one of the world's longest rivers.
You might not know much about this river, but you sure know some plants which have the word 'amur' in their names. These are some examples:
Acer ginnala (Amur Maple),
Lonicera maackii (Amur honeysuckle):
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Adonis amurensis (Amur Adonis):
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Phellodendron amurense (Amur cork tree),
Maackia amurensis (Amur Maackia),
Prunus maackii (Amur Chokecherry),
Vitis amurensis (Amur grapevine):
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Berberis amurensis (Amur barberry),
Phellodendron amurense (Amur oak),
Syringa amurensis (Amur lilac):
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The Amur River is formed by the joining of the Argun and Shilka rivers, and its length is 2,900 miles. It flows along the southeastern border of the Russian Far East and Northeastern China and then empties into the Pacific Ocean via the Strait of Tartary.
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Photo: Wikipedia
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I well remember this wide, powerful and gigantic river. All the men in my family, all my friends, neighbors and aquaintances used to fish in the Amur River. We used to swim and take boat trips on the Amur, walk along its banks and cross it in the winter when it's covered by thick ice.
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The city of Khabarovsk, Russia on the Amur River.
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The Amur riverbank is the place to watch the annual spectacular show of icebreaking in the spring. All residents of coastal towns and villages try to find time to come and look at this unforgettable performane of nature's forces crushing, breaking and piling huge, heavy pieces of ice. It's quite a scene - the fast flowing river carries icebergs in shapes reminding me of abstract paintings. The crackling sounds of crushed ice can be heard far and wide.
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Back to plants.
The various, sometimes extreme, landscape, soil, climate, etc. features contribute to the incredible biological diversity of the Amur basin.
The species' variety is remarkable and includes tropical lianas, northen conifers, steppe grasses, rare water plant, etc. Some examples of the rare and endangered plants included in the Russian Red Data Book are:
Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium macranthon):
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Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium calceolus):
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Japanese pagonia (Pagonia japonica),
Water Chestnut (Trapa natans):
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Unfortunately, resources of the Amur basin are being extremly exploited. Nature conservation here is recognized as a global priority. Careless grass burning, logging, mining, road construction, industrial disasters such as a major water pollution incident due to the explosion of a Chinese petrochemical plant in November 2005... Thinking about all of these makes my heart beat at an elevated rate and my blood pressure go up....
To finish this post on a positive note, I want to show you one of my favorite plants from the Amur basin, Nelumbo komarovii. This is the Lotus which survives in the coldest conditions of any known lotus. It grows in the Amur region of the Russian Far East which is located north of China and North Korea:
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The picture of Igor Shpilenok at http://www.shpilenok.com/

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My earlier posts about two of the inhabitants of Amur basin forests, Chinese magnolia vine (Schizandra chinensis), and Amur maple are here: Amur Maple, Black Caviar and The Dog On My Blog , This Plant Is A WWII Hero. (Vine For Shade)
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The UN declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) to disseminate information, promote the protection of biodiversity and encourage organizations, institutions, companies and individuals to take direct action to reduce the constant loss of biological diversity worldwide.
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Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My June Bouquet

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The flowers in my June bouquet are: Clematis, Heuchera (two varieties), California Lilac, Foxglove, Fern (two varieties, both native and growing wild here), Perennial Geranium, Columbine, Astilbe and Spanish Lavender.
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Astilbe blooms are not totally open yet but look good (seen sticking out in the left part of the picture above).
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The stems of columbine with finished blooms were chosen for their height and elegantly shaped fruits.
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Hmm, what are these green leaves in the bottom left part of the picture below?
Oh, I remember, it's a little branch of a hybrid gooseberry/black currant shrub. The parent bush got very big, and I dug it out a couple of years ago. The baby plant was separated and set into a pot. I find it pretty ornamental and keep it for its nice leaves.
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It's fun to play with pictures, isn't it? All these software features turn editing pictures to a play.
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All right, last trick, black & white:
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Speaking about the flowers, these are two updates:
1- do you remember we tried to identify a plant which I got from my friend ( Can We Identify This Plant?) ? We all agreed that it could be a type of Yucca, but couldn't make a final conclusion without seeing its blooms. My friend described them as poppy-like.
Well, I separated two big clumps into about a dozen plants. Most of them show signs of new growth and one of them, pretty small, is about to bloom! So, the mystery of the unknown plant is about to be unveiled! I'll take a picture when the flowers open.
2-I posted a picture of a lily with a minimum of 80 buds. Some buds have started to open, and this is how the lily looks today:
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You can go to Noelle's post: It's Time For June's Monthly Garden Bouquet (MGB) at RAMBLINGS FROM A DESERT GARDEN.... to see more summer bouquets.

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Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Enchanted Garden Of A Hosta Hybridizer

A story about a door to a parallel world came to my mind when I stepped into this garden. I read the story long ago. It was about a person who, during an ordinary walk in the city, opened a small gate and found himself in another world.
In this case, there wasn't even a door to the garden that I want to show you. It was just an opening in an evergreen hedge that separated the yard from the road. When you drive by, you wouldn't even know what an enchanted place is behind it.
I made several steps toward the house and gasped.
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Straight ahead, behind a small manicured lawn, I saw an arbor standing at the edge and attracting attention the way a magnet attracts a piece of metal. Or, should I say, the way a light attracts a moth? Do you see that arbor? This is a closer look:
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It had a gorgeous clematis on its left side, in full bloom, and a climbing hydrangea
on its other side.
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A huge, picturesque lupin was the next thing that caught my eye. I think it was the biggest lupin I'd ever seen.
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A tall columbine with huge blooms begged for attention too. Trust me, the blooms were HUGE! Do you see a hellebore to the left of the columbine? It was humongous too!
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Beyond the arbor was a slope, and on that slope, was a magical shade garden under the huge, tall evergreens.
The background of the garden was absolutely marvelous and literally took my breath away.
The forest with different tones of green looked like an enormous curtain. On that background, there was a huge moss-covered stump and three big spheres which James King, the owner of the garden, created himself. I spent several minutes admiring the view.
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The three spheres were the first that Jim had ever made. He said that the spheres' layers are very thin but strong. The staining, made of iron oxide and water, was brushed on and created an instant rust. He also used some acrylic craft paint for highlighting that faded with time.
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These stone-looking steps were created, as Jim said, on a whim, after he cleared the hillside of tons and tons of ivy. He purchased bags of concrete, which were ripped and sold at discount, and used plastic lawn edging as a form in making the steps.
James also made hypertufa pots for different small plantings, such as his hosta minis, that don't do well in the ground.
In the next picture, there is the first hypertufa papercrete that Jim made. "You take rolled up newspaper and use it on the instide of the mold, while you're building the sides. I like the effect this gives the pot" - he said.
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Photo by James King

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Well, back to the forest. But before, let's look behind us. Isn't it a magnificent view?
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The floor of the forest was clean, and the plants, growing on the both sides of the steps were not crowded. There was ample distance between them, which allowed to see every single plant.
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Wild cyclomen, hellebore, ferns and hundreds of hostas. Actually, it was a hosta kingdom.
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The hostas consisted of all imaginable sizes, shapes and colors. In the picture above, there are Jim's hybrids, the result of several years of hybridizing, which are put in the field for evaluating. He uses some of them as subjects for further hybridizing.
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Above is a Japanese cultivar called Hyuga Urajiro, a fine specimen, displaying blue/green leaves with streaking, as Jim noted. "I've used it in my hybrid program, but haven't had any significant seedlings yet. Hybridizing is a lot of work, and a lot of getting lucky".
The gold mini hosta on the right is Atom Smasher. Jim explained: "It is from Ron Livingston, a veteran hybridizer in Detroit who has mentored me since I wanted to become a hybridizer. I bought this plant in 2005 from him and have had several very nice seedlings. This first one was Sizzle. Ron has encouraged me to market it after seeing it in 2007".
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The Maple in the picture above was planted in 1980 when Jim moved into the house. It wasn't until 1995 that he started gardening. "And that was having a lawn" - he says. He started to create beds several years later. After clearing the hillside of ivy, Jim asked his friend, a gardener, what will grow well in shade. "Well, I would plant some hostas" - she said. "What's that?" - asked Jim. The friend shared some of her hostas. Then, they began to visit nurseries together, and Jim would pick up a particular cultivar that he liked. "I didn't really get into collecting them until I met the Boyz at Naylor Creek in Chimacum, Washington. Then, it was like I was in a candy store. I wanted each one of their 300-400 varieties".
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Above is Jim's hybrid that is 3 years old. He said that it's coming along nicely, and he hopes it'll produce some fine new hybrids. "I have some ambitions with it and a new one I produced that has these beautiful fuchsia colored scapes/inflorescence. When they emerge they look like snakeheads, and then fuchsia colored sepals form".
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Besides hostas, there were so many things to see in the garden! Succulents in hypertufas and in the ground, a variety of grasses, saxifragas, bamboo, epemediums, hardy fuchsias... I could easily spend a whole day in James' garden.
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One of the climbing hydrangeas enveloped the huge fir tree. I can only imagine how spectacular it is in full bloom!
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Stones, volcanic rocks and garden spheres look like an organic part of the garden.
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One last look at the enchanted garden... I hope I can see it again one day.
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Photographs by TatyanaS. Text by TatyanaS with commentary from James King.

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