Spring: Challenges in the garden

The ever changing weather of Spring has me running outdoors to take advantage of today’s sunshine before tomorrow’s forecasted rainfall changes everything.

My garden to-do list takes priority when the forecast calls for rain tomorrow.  Yesterday I purchased some plants for the window box and they will need to be planted.  I look for one plant to be my inspiration for this year’s colors, and this calibrachoa “hula orange” caught my eye.  So the window box will have an orange and burgundy combination this year.  I also bought three new perennials I will try growing again and need to get in the ground.  I’ve tried scabiosa before and it didn’t reappear the next year, but I am willing to give it another try because the little pincushion flowers are so pretty.  I also bought a catanache to replace the one I had that didn’t make it through last winter.  I also bought centranthus rubra to reintroduce into my yard.  We used to have quite a bit, but they disappeared years ago.  A list of plants that have reached their demise in my yard is not high praise for my gardening skills, but in my defense, I have yet to meet any gardener that hasn’t had a plant die on them.  It is part of the lessons of life learned as a gardener.  You can’t control everything.

At the recent county garden sale, I found two small trees I’ve been wanting.  So now I also have two trees to plant.  I bought a Japanese Maple Shindesojo which is lovely when the leaves first emerge they are pink and has good fall color too.  That will replace a Sourwood tree that died after being shaded out by the neighbor’s alder trees across the road.  The second tree I bought is a  Chinese Pistache tree.  I’m not sure where I’m going to put that one, because it wants full sun, but it is such a show-stopper  in the fall.  We had one years ago that mysteriously died, but even if we only have it for 5 years, it will be worth it.

We have pretty heavy clay soil here, although I would swear I have replaced every last bit of it with compost and good soil over the years.  The seven things I have to battle in my yard:

  1. Deer.  I’ve learned pretty much what our occasional visitors prefer. I  still sneak some climbing roses in my yard and let them nibble at the bottom half.
  2. Rabbits.  Our rabbit population has dwindled somewhat over the years and it is harder to determine what they are chewing on, but they seem to prefer the clover in the lawn, so that’s okay.
  3. Heavy clay soil.  Add compost, broken twigs, wood chips, perlite.  I’ve added it all to combat it.  The natives love it – the foxgloves do too.  We’ve kept a lot of natives.
  4. A very wet winter and very dry summer.  No, it does not rain all year long in the Pacific Northwest.  We can go 2 months without a drop of rain in the summer.  I spend a lot of time watering in the summer. Two acres of garden and no sprinkler system.  Lord help me!
  5. Shade.  As the trees grow between my yard and the neighbors, the amount of sun my yard receives changes. What was a sunny spot is now full of struggling to survive shrubs straining towards the sunlight.  I have a love/hate relationship with fir trees.  I love them in the winter, they are iconic PNW plants.  I would miss their height if I moved away.   But they sure can cast a lot of very dense shade!
  6. Slugs.  Some springs they are just everywhere.  Usually hanging on the edge of the vegetable garden waiting for my husband to plant lettuce seeds.  They also are the only creature I know who likes to eat daffodils.  They are disgusting little things that still make me jump if I accidentally touch one when weeding.  That’s why I always wear gloves when gardening.
  7. Bad knees.


New to my garden this year (so far)

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