MySecretGarden

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

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Meeting a Blue Poppy in Alaska

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It was a total surprise for me to see a Blue Poppy (Meconopsis grandis) during my recent trip to Alaska.
Actually, it was a surprise within a surprise. By accident, we discovered that the Homer Garden Club was holding its garden tour on the very Sunday when we planned to visit that community located on the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula. In the very first garden, which deserves a separate post, my jaw dropped at some point, and for several minutes, I was staring at pure-blue cup-shaped blooms innocently looking at me from the tops of tall thin stems.
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The owner of the garden was surprised by my surprise (what a post - full of surprises!). She said that blue poppies bloom in many places in town.
A June article in the Wall Street Journal by Anne Marie Chaker (WSJ, June 2, 2010) included descriptions of these flowers as 'the most heavenly blue flowers', 'notoriously finicky flower', 'botanical holy grain, legendary for its color and the challenges of cultivating it'. It also stated that "gardeners in parts of Maine and Alaska may be lucky enough to grow them, but it can be more challenging, in parts of the U.S. where early summers are hot".
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The well-known, award winning Homer garden designer Brenda Adams, whose garden also was on the tour, told us that there are two main conditions for the succesful growing of blue poppies: cool summers and good drainage.
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After the garden tour, I rushed to the nursery where local people told me they buy blue poppy plants. I was going to get several of them to take on the plane back to Washington state. Well, they were sold-out but don't feel sorry for me - the nursery itself was an absolutely magical place. I had several minutes there before it closed and didn't see all of it. But, what I saw made me say that it was the most amazing nursery I've ever seen.
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Coming home from the trip, I was happy to see some beautiful blooms, including the blue ones, in my own garden. I'll try to add a Blue Poppy to them next year. Himalayan Blue Poppy is said to grow in zone 5-8, and we are in zone 7b.
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Photographs of the blue poppies, except for the second one, were taken in the stunning garden of Brenda Adams (http://www.gardensbybrenda.com/)
Below, there are more pictures of her unforgettable garden.
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P.S. Pardon me for the quality of the pictures - it was raining cats and dogs when we were visiting Brenda Adams' garden. See the circles in the pond surrounded by the statuesque primulas?
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Stunning Verbascum was not less stunning, even in the rain, than the background view. We could only imagine how beautiful the view would look without the rain!
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One of my favorites in that garden, solitary clematis (Clematis integrifolia), with its showy nodding bell-shaped lavender-blue flowers:
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Rustic half-barrels with overflowing annuals create an exciting, cheerful spot in the middle of the lawn:


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Although vividly bright, Brenda's garden is somehow organically connected with surrounding native shrubs and tall grasses punctuated by the white umbels of Cow Parsnip (Heracleum maximum also known as Indian Celery or Pushki).

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Isn't it a great arrangement? Tall spikes almost repeat the angle of the evergreen trees, in the top right part of the picture:
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The size and the variety of the Aquilegia (Columbine)' flowers were very impressive! As Brenda said, many of them are the result of cross-pollinating.
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Gentiana lutea (Great Yellow Gentian), native to the mountains of central and southern Europe, was blooming for the first time in four years:
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I liked the naturalistic, almost effortless look of the borders:

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Brenda Adams shares her talent through 'Gardens By Design' services (http://www.gardensbybrenda.com/). For me, visiting her private retreat was a delightful and unforgettable experience. I learned about several plants unknown to me, got many ideas and had a chance to talk to a person obviously passionate about plants and Alaska.
I also learned that pictures CAN be taken during rain with the right equipment: an umbrella held by the strong hand of a loyal husband!
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Go to Gail' Clay and Limestone (http://www.clayandlimestone.com/) for Wildflower Wednesday.
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Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Bouquets and a Moose

What do you do before discarding plants growing in containers? I usually make 'Good Bye' bouquets using the last flowers. Pansies were kept in the pots at the central entrance for several months til their foliage got so unattractive that even beautiful blooms couldn't compensate for it.
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Shrub rose 'Carefree Marvel' has been loaded with buds and blooms, enough to make bouquets for inside and outside:
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Spanish Lavender blooms for so long that it provides bouquets from May til July:
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Below, is my June bouquet (Its plants are listed here: My June Bouquet ):
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This was my 'Bye-bye June' bouquet:
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I hope to make a 'Bye-bye July' bouquet when I come back home from Alaska. I hope there will be enough material for it, and that the material won't be dry!
So far, on my vacation, I see more fish than plants, but here is my picture of the day for you:
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We saw two mama mooses: one had a baby so small you couldn't see him behind the grass; another had a yearling. The yearling had no antlers but had such lo-o-ong legs! He crossed the road in front of us when we stopped after spotting him where he was munching on green leaves. In the picture is one of the mamas.

Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hello from Alaska

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How can I leave my garden? How can I miss new blooms, some of which I've never seen before? Why should this trip be in the summer when the garden is at its best? How did I allow HIM to plan it to be so long? Gone! All these questions, worries and regrets are gone! They went to infinity and beyond the moment I saw this:
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And this:
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Today we watched this gentleman:
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A Grizzly bear seen not through a Zoo fence:
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Are any words needed to describe this view?
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I will never get tired of seeing Alaska
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Clouds hanging low and birds sitting high:
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Even Cow Parsnip, an invasive weed, looks good with the snowy peaks in the background:
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(I wrote about it here: A Treasured Weed)
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Rugoza Rose is competeng with it:
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I will never get bored walking Alaskan streets:
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I love my garden, but how can I be indifferent to this beauty?
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This is it for now. Salmon are running, people, salmon are running!
And, I should run to take pictures of the happy faces of my fishermen. What about me? Do I fish? Not yet. No way I can beat my own record (want to see my last year catch? It's here: Better Than Growing Vegetables).
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Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

White Foxgloves. My Picture of the Day


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Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

Sunday, July 11, 2010

July Blooms


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July brought new players to my garden theater. They joined those which started to bloom in June. My special recognition goes to several plants which are maybe not the prettiest but special nevertheless.
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The Columbine on the front bed has been blooming for more than a month. The darker variety on the other flower beds has already gone, but this one doesn't show any signs of quitting. I wish I knew its name, but it came as 'Mixed Columbine. Aguilegia'.
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This double-colored variety is not only long-blooming, but also doesn't spread and become a nuisanse like others.
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The Poppy plant, below, obviously came from a seed brought by the wind from my Terrace garden. It's tucked at the wall, its stem is bended, it doesn't have much sun, but here it is showing us the bud, the bloom and the seed pod at the same time:
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What is this 'Snow' Lady Shasta Daisy trying to tell me with its upright petals? Is it asking to be watered or just wants some attention?
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Wait, there is a whole bunch of them! Does anyone know what they want? Why are some petals pointed upward?
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Astilbe 'Bridal Veil' is at its best now. Together with the Tree Mallow, it draws attention when you approach the house. One plant, bought several years ago, spread and allows me to move parts of it to other spots . The place, pictured below, has partial sun and gets plenty of moisture. Other Astilbes growing under the big fir trees in a dry spot are considerably smaller.
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This Lavatera 'Bredon Springs' proved to be true to its name: Tree Mallow. It got so big that it totally blocked the arbor with climbing roses. I don't complain since it helped to create a wall separating two garden rooms.
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Phygelius 'Purple Prince' is growing in a pot, and I move it to the spots which need it the most. Right now, it is on the central island under the tall trees. I put it on the bald spot where nothing grows.
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And what do we see here? Is it fall already? The Chrisantemum is blooming! A bit early, but it is very welcome!
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Serbian Bellflower (Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Watrefall') is getting bigger every year. In the picture below, two plants stretch from the border to the lawn. Each of them is about three feet (one meter) in diameter and loaded with starry violet-blue flowers:
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I have to collect the seeds from the Silene armeria (Sweet William Catchfly). Several years ago, it took a huge space in the Terrace garden and, thanks to it selfseeding ability, looked like a big pink-purple wave. Now, this clump in the next picture is everything that's left.
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I don't want to lose it! I like how it looked before( If you are curious, there are two posts about it: What plant is this? HELP! and I lived with a stranger for 4 years... )
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Nasturtiums stepped up to their garden duty to protect vegetables from pests. This year, I am trying to tame these vigorous spreaders by pinching their tops. Last year, they attempted to take over the garden.
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Blue and purple alliums finished their performance, but here is the white one.
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Big clusters are not round like in the blue and purple varieties, but still are very impressive:
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Below is its relative, an ordinary onion. It's easy to see that they both are from the same family of Alliums:
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Stargazer lily starts to open:
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The heavenly blue color of this Nikko Blue hydrangea is amazing:
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This Tradescantia is blooming for the first time in my garden.
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One of my neighbors gave it to me when I visited her absolutely stunning garden. I plan to show her garden in one of my future posts. This is a preview picture:
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Isn't it something?
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Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

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