Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Attack on the Orange

The weekend was too beautiful to stay inside, so on Sunday I got out the pruners and visciously attacked my mexican mock orange.

I thought about waiting until after it bloomed, but I started to shear the fern hiding under it and couldn't help myself.

Could barely tell there was a fern there.

I started to just prune off a few of the lower branches near the fern, but realized that when the stalks of the plant touch the ground they start growing roots. And trust me, this guy didn't need any more roots.

Here's the before picture.

It's not just a trick of the light, you really can't tell where the orange stops and the rhodie to the left of it starts. (YES, there IS a rhodie there!)

This guy was a monster. No regular maintenance had been done and the branches were weaving in and out of each other. I've had a bit of a hard time finding care on "Mexican mock orange" as opposed to just "mock orange", but I have come to the conclusion that you need to hack away at branches a the base, like a forsythia. The basis for that? Lots of spots where it looked like someone had cut the end off and it had grown eight more branches. Kind of like a hydra, only times eight.

Between two ferns, the orange, and a wee bit of pruning on the low branches on the rhodie, we managed to fill both yard waste bins in about two hours. Sigh. So much waste.

It may not be pretty this year, but I think the plant really needed the hair cut and will be happier in the long run. Well, maybe it won't be happier, since it was freaking covered in flower buds, but I will be.

My hydrangea is looking better than last year. I don't think I quite gave it the 1/3 cutting I should have. May have to work on it again this weekend.

And you see that green shrub behind it? IT'S ANOTHER MEXICAN ORANGE. Seriously? Were they free or something? No way there is enough space for that back in the corner. It will definitely be getting a transplant at some point.

I was examining the rhubarb patch after the perennial edibles class last week and couldn't find any sprouts. I wasn't sure if they were supposed to die all the way back to the ground in the winter, but the class assured me they were. But they said I should have little pink heads sticking out of the ground... And I didn't. But that was last week.

There are TWO tiny stalks coming out of this rhubarb. And this is the one that DIED last year! I planted the stalks and this group wilted away to nothing and didn't produce any more leaves. Look at it now!

This one produced only a few small leaves last year, but I have faith that this year it will return with vigor! Rhubarb for everyone!!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ferns = Pruned

Well, most of them. I still have three in the back that need some selective thinning/total chop. Turns out I have a LOT of ferns. And cutting them back to the ground produces a ton of yard waste.

By the front steps, cut down to nothing.

But I cut up the fronts to act as mulch, as per Ciscoe's advice.

The side yard before pruning.

After selective pruning of one.

Total deheading of another.

Back yard from the side yard.

Hoyt, ready to help move the fronds around the yard.

Back yard, post pruning of the ferns in front of the trees.

These ones were huge. I didn't get around to the ones behind the tree yet. That will be Monday's project. I was hoping to prune my mexican mock orange, but it's got crazy buds on it, so I think I'll let it bloom first.

But everyone I have talked to said they grow like crazy here and I can hack away at it at any time and it will be just fine. But... But... flowers! I'll wait. Maybe do just a little clean up underneath if there is space in the yard waste bin.

And next weekend? I tackle this!

Mostly weeding, but I want to stake out where I have last years plants that are cut to the ground so I don't step on them when planting my natives. I also want to start a plan for a path and some steps down to the fence. I feel like every time I walk down the slope it slips just a little bit more.

And the moss patch? Maybe I'll start on that, too....

Then again, that's a big project, so maybe not...

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Native Plants

I have two upcoming yard projects to work on. Well, three really, but one is the deck and therefore an "outside" project, not garden related. But more on that later.

The first project is pretty simple.  Pruning the sword ferns. I've read several articles about it and asked around to see if people actually do this. Some people say it's stupid because sword ferns are native and don't get pruned in the wild, so they forgo the snippers. Others say that they selectively prune out the brown stalks, but don't do more than that. However, I've found a few places online that suggest cutting off the whole dang plant just above ground level. Ciscoe Morris says to do it so you can watch the new fiddleheads unfurl. Other experts say to do it to keep the size of the fern in control. The Washington Native Plant Society says to each his own. I plan on hacking away at a couple of mine since I have maybe 10+ ferns throughout the yard. I'll chop off a couple of the big ones and selectively prune one or two. I have at least one fern I can think of that is on the petite side, so I will probably leave that one alone this year. I just missed the 60 degree weather to do this in, so I get to look forward to 50 and rainy this weekend. Yay.

The second project is WAY more exciting. We have been talking about how stupid is is to mow our front "lawn". It slopes towards the street so it's not that easy to mow, plus it's mostly moss and there isn't really any satisfaction when you finish because you can't really see a mowed swath. The few sparse blades of grass are shorter, but it's such a let down. Almost the entire grassy area is inside the drip line for the doug firs, so it's super shady and relatively dry in the summertime. Hence the moss.

We've been talking about pulling up the grass and moss and planting the area with native plants, but I haven't been inspired to act on it. Mostly due to other projects being more important. But now. Oh, but now.

I was dreaming of spring last week and researching my veggie seeds when I got distracted by flower seeds. Then to perennial flower seeds. Then to native perennials flowers. Somehow through all that I ended up at the King County Conservation District native plant sale. It blew my socks off. SO CHEAP. MUCH PLANTS. WOW.

Then I found the Snohomish County sale. I basically just opened my wallet and let them clean me out. Except they didn't need to clean me out. I can plant the ivy patch, the moss patch, and have some left over for $100. And that's INCLUDING purchasing a rain barrel! Mind blown.

5 Western Columbine

5 Purple Coneflower

3 Sword Fern

2 Stonecrop

4 Evergreen Huckleberry

2 Pacific Rhodedendrons

5 Red Flowering Currant

And 1 rain barrel.

I have a feeling that if they are selling stuff day of, I may end up buying some kinnikinnik as a ground cover between plants, but that depends on how full my car is. Just the plants, no problem, but including the barrel, too.... Yeah, they are getting a lot of my money this year.