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

Morning In The Neighborhood

The last morning in May.

Clicking on the pictures makes the images larger.

Temperature at 7 a.m. was 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius).

Nice landscape:

It's not my house!

If I were a bird, I'd rent this birdhouse for the summer:

I knew you'd click on this image!
Side view:

There are several ponds in the neighborhood.
Some of them are stocked with trout and carp.

There are bald eagles here.
People saw them swooping down for a fish.

Otters are the other fish hunters.

Rhododendrons are native in this area.

Click! I love these two colors a lot!

While rhododendrons and their azalea relatives are often considered to be southern shrubs, many rhododendrons are cold hardy as far north as the Ohio Valley, into southern Pennsylvania and along the Atlantic coast into New England (zone 5). Many manage well where winter temperatures seldom dip below -10°F. The climate in the Pacific Northwest is proving to be ideal for these shrubs.

I don't like orange color, but this is pretty, isn't it?!

I heard that the darker the color is, the more cold resistent a rhododendron is.

Another shade of yellow:

Rhododendrons are slow growers. Dwarf types may reach only 3" at maturity. Standard rhododendrons often grow as tall as 15 or 20 feet, and will spread equally wide.

Rhododendrons are called broadleaf evergreens. They have elegant leaves which are elliptical and usually a dark glossy green above and lighter and duller beneath. Unlike those of their azalea relatives, rhododendron leaves are smooth on top. Leaves of individual types of rhododendron may be anywhere from 2 to 10 inches long. The foliage of most species is evergreen and is an especially welcome sight in winter.

Flowers of standard rhododendrons are tubular, with spectacular flaring petals. They grow at the ends of branches in rounded bunches of 5 or 7 blooms. These clusters may be 6 to 10 inches across (3 to 6 inches for smaller types) and literally cover the shrubs in a gorgeous spring display. Appearing from early April (PJM hybrids) through May into early summer, various types of rhododendrons offer many colors. Flowers are often magenta or shades of purple, pink or red, or white, sometimes marked with interesting speckles and splashes of color. Breeders are working to develop some with yellow blossoms and more summer blooming types that will offer a show in late June or even July.

Rhododendrons steal the show this time of the year,
but water views are beautiful as well.
It was a wonderful morning.
Click on the pictures to enlarge them

The Rhododendron information is borrowed from here:
***Copyright TatyanaS
Golf Courses Art

Clematis montana

I love all clematises, but this one is standing apart.
Please click on the pictures for a better view. Then click Back to return to this post.
Clematis montana Wilsonii.
Bloom time May to July.
Height: 25-35' (7 -10 m).
Pruning group A (Flowers on previous years wood,
so no pruning required unless it is becoming overgrown).
Zones: 6 - 9.
Single white flowers 2"(5 cm) across,
with twisted petals and creamy yellow anthers.

This climber is VERY vigorous!
The picture below was taken yesterday. It just started to bloom. Soon, it will turn into a white cloud.

My friend Maura gave it to me in 2004. It is one of those plants that I call by my friends' names. This is Maura's clematis. It already showed considerable growth by the next year after planting.

The mass of branches got so huge, I needed to prune it seriously. Anyway, it almost reaches the ground.

I was pleased to see two babies growing a foot apart from the mother plant. Now, I need to find a good place for them. Thank you, Maura! Your gift multiplies by itself.
Three years ago, I planted another Clematis montana, but not Wilsonii, under another arch.

That place already has three different clematises. They all have beautiful flowers but at some point in the summer they start wilting. Tired of that wilting, I put all my hopes on C. montana, and I sure did the right thing. This type looks very similar to Wilsonii, but his blooms have a light pinkish tint which is especially noticable when the flowers have not opened yet.

Both Clematises montana are among my garden favorites. I've never seen any pests or signs of diseases on them.

I read that Clematis montana Wilsonii is suitable for any location including north facing. Both of my plants have full sun.
It can be a good choice if a plant is needed to cover unsightly objects or fences. And, I almost forgot, the smell of the flowers is pleasant and strong.

By 2006, it grew a lot and enveloped half of the arch as it started to crawl to the left side where an evegreen Clematis armandii was growing since 2003.

Clematis armandii was beautiful, but didn't like something and gradually disappeared. By 2008, his side of the arch was taken by Clematis montana.

***Copyright 2009 TatyanaS

Hops - A Scary Story

I have love-hate relationships with my hops. My grandmother had them in her garden, my mother had them in her garden, and I wanted to have them in my garden, too. I like that they are vigorous, I like their leaf's shape and I like their strobiles (the female flower cones).

In Russia, those strobiles are believed to be good for hair, bringing strength and shine.
(At the first appearance of baldness, try this treatment to strenthen the hair roots: pick up strobiles in August-September before they fully ripen. Add 1 tablespoon of strobiles into 1 glass of boiling water and continue to boil for 30 min. Cool down. Rub into the head.)

I bought two plants - a green one and a yellow one, Humulus lupulus "Aureus".
Golden Hops (Humulus lupulus Aureus):
Flowers August - September. Full sun. 20 feet long. Hardiness: Zone 5. Care: Prune back as needed. It's most effective when trained on an arbor or pergola. Fertilize with a slow release fertilizer every April.

They grew in the pots and looked good.

In 2 or 3 years their growth slowed down, they didn' look happy and I moved them to the soil.
Everything was OK for some time. They grew fast and made a pretty addition to one of the arches.

The plants were healthy, except for the fall when the top of the plants got brown and hosted some small worms. It didn't bother me much since by that time I was already preparing to cut it for the winter. Peaceful coexistence didn't last long. One spring, I noticed that new shoots of hops appeared from the ground in big numbers and started to overtake the whole bed. See those red stems? It's THEM!

By that time, I remembered my sister had warned me about hops' invasiveness and ability to go deep (up to 3 meters or 9 feet) into the ground and spread extensively. The decision was made and the fight started. I dug out the whole plant, picked up the roots and threw them away. I left only one small part of the plant and moved it on the terrace garden where I have my vegetables and perennials. I planted it on the very edge, remembering its ability to spread.

Well, that was last fall when our friend delivered a pick-up truck load of horse- and chicken-composted manure. He and my husband unloaded the majority of it in the utility area. A smaller part was dumped at the edge of the terrace garden. The guys didn't pay much attention and covered a hops plant with a pile of compost. In the spring, there was a scary picture there: fed by the nutritious compost for several months, the hops appeared from under it like a mythological dragon with multiple heads.

After I moved the compost, it was like this:

I erected a Tee Pee for it and tied its branches to the stakes. But, I'm afraid the damage is already done. I suspect that the mighty roots are already somewhere in the middle of the terrace garden. Soon, dozens of shoots will show up like Chinese terracota soldiers and overtake my vegetble and perennial beds. I don't like the idea of getting rid of it forever. The last news I heard was that researchers found out that this plant has the ability to balance hormones in a human's body. I can ignore its hair shine and strenthening properties, but hormones is a serious matter. So, I have this dilemma. Maybe, it's late already and soon I'll hear the sound of spreading hops in my garden as southerners say they can hear the sound of spreading kudzu ...

Hops is a hardy perennial. The hop produces annual vines from a permanent root stock known as the crown. Vines can grow 25 ft high in a single season but will die to the crown each fall. The crown produces the underground stem or rhizome. The root-like rhizomes sprout numerous buds, which are the key to propagation. Good information can be found here: BeerSmith Home Brewing Beer Blog.

There are several sites about medicinal applications of hops (antispasmodic, soporific, sedative). Hops are primarily used to reduce tension and aid in sleep. As a sleep aid, they can be used in a sachet inside of a pillow. Their aromatic properties will help you to fall asleep. Hops can be taken to help relax the muscles and soothe anxiety. They can also help to relax spasms of the digestive system and aid in digestion.

Interesting fact:
Healthy hop plants can grow up to 1 ft in a day!!!

P.S. Forgot to tell - I dug it out from under that arch last year, but now it is back and climbing happily up, up, up... Healthy and beautiful as before... Obviously, I didn't get out all the roots!

To Kill Or Not To Kill?

Succulent people, I need your help!!!
I have some succulent plants in my garden. Most of them are easy.

Please click on the images for a better view

I love them, but I don't know much about them. My biggest achievement was a wreath that I managed to make during a wreath-making session in our garden club. Unfortunately, it died. No, not the wreath. The club.

Anyway, all plants are doing OK except this one.

This is how it looked when I just bought it in 2006. Nice. Big plump leaves, beautiful color...

It looked good in 2007:

... and in 2008:

But look at it now!

What should I do with Mister Long Leg? Discard? Cut off the top and leave the leg? Cut off the leg and plant the top? Leave it as is and watch how tall can it grow? Leave it and pretend that it provides the vertical effect (ha-ha!)?

Can you give me some advice?

It doesn't look good at all.
It spends winters in the garage, so I don't think it got frozen...

At the end, I want to show you this gorgeous arrangement from the Roche Harbor garden on San Juan Island. This is what I have in mind when I look at my own plants. That succulent was as big as a child's head! It took my breath away.

P.S. I love what some blotanists do with succulents: Melanie at Old Country Gardens (Potting Troughs - Part Two, etc. ), Cathy at Outside In (Water Fountain, etc.) and others.

Rainbow Bridge

On the 7th of May, my dog Julik left for the Rainbow Bridge.

I thought I'd write about him, but I still can't. Two weeks have passed.
I think it's not time yet.

He was my friend.

He isn't the pup on the header picture. That one, Amur, is 4 years old now.

13 years is a big chunk of life, isn't it?
Gardening is not the same without him at my side.

B.C. - Before children

I knew that one day it'd be my turn to post this little poem.

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; his eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

(Author unknown )

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