First, I bought the audiobook of Monty Don‘s, Down to Earth, because I thought it would be fun and inspiring to listen to while I’m doing other things like knitting or cleaning up flower beds. It was! But I quickly discovered that I needed a print version of the book, as well, because there was so much excellent information, and so many inspiring ideas, that I will need to refer back to throughout the year. It is full of gardening wisdom and I loved listening to it, then reading it. There is so much for me to learn from this easy and enjoyable book.
One favorite bit from the book was the section about wildlife in the garden:
“An immaculate garden is a hostile place to most wildlife. Beautifully weeded borders, with every fallen leaf and twig gathered and disposed of, hedges kept constantly crisp and grass mown to within a fraction of its life may make a certain sort of gardener glow with pride but will provide little comfort for most of our birds, mammals and insects.”
I must admit that I do NOT have an immaculate garden! I call the east side of our property “the wilderness area” because the hedge is overgrown and there is little order to it at all. But, as a consequence, we get many little birds that visit us, a family of scrub jays nest there each spring, too many squirrels that think they own the place, and an occasional owl or hawk. The view out our kitchen window is a bit unruly, but always entertaining. Throughout our quarantine, watching the wildlife outside has been a huge comfort and entertainment for us.
So, for any gardeners out there, this book by Monty Don is highly informative and entertaining. If it’s a little too early to start your planting yet, take a little time and enjoy this book. You’ll come away with great ideas for your garden.
One of the things I love about living in Oregon is that winters are mild and the “spring” garden really comes to life in January and February! I guess our reward for the very dark and rainy days of November and December are the early bulbs in bloom in early February! Around here, my gardening friends plant their Sweet Peas on President’s Day! That all just fills my heart with gardening joy!
These snapshots from my yard and garden give you an idea of what early February is like in an Oregon town 30 miles west of Portland, up against the Coastal Range, 50 miles from the Pacific Ocean!
It’s been a strange January, weather-wise. We had one very short sprinkling of snow that I would have missed entirely if I had slept-in another hour that morning! The temperatures have been unseasonably warm, and everything seems to be getting ahead of itself — one bulb blooming in early January, other bulbs coming up all over the place now. I’m not complaining, but it does seem unusual.
Here are some January photos from around the yard.
My Dad and Mom created a rock garden the summer I was five years old.They turned a small sloping lawn into a beautiful garden. I remember going for family drives, looking for rocks. We all loved that! I just recently found this old photo of my dad in front of the rock garden, and it reminded me of that happy time.
I’d already been thinking of creating a small rock garden in what I call our “triangle garden,” the space between our angled driveway and our vegetable garden. Finding the photo of my Dad in front of his rock garden made it seem absolutely right for me to go ahead and build my own.
However, we discovered quickly that rocks are not very accessible around here. When I was little, we lived right next to the mountains, so it was only a quick drive up the canyon to find loads of big and very interesting geological specimens! For some reason, there aren’t many rocks along the roads around here and our really interesting rocks were collected from farther away. Fortunately, our daughter is in the process of building a big garden at her new home in Washington State. She’s spent the summer digging rocks out of the area they want to garden. We think perhaps all the rocks that should be here in Oregon are in her back yard! All those rocks you see lined up so neatly in the photo on the left came out of that dug up space in the photo on the right. She’s developed strong digging muscles! And each time she visited us this summer, she brought a load of rocks for our rock garden.
So, I am not quite finished collecting rocks and planting, but my little rock garden is close to being done. I’ve planted a variety of perennials, some pansies for winter color, and a whole bunch of bulbs for spring color. There is still room for some colorful annuals that I’ll plant next Spring. I’m just loving this autumn gardening project.
It’s a couple of days early to announce the arrival of Autumn, but I have photos that prove it is definitely here. For the last few days, it has been raining (really more like hailing) acorns! We live with 4 giant Oak trees on our east property line. They’re over 100 years old, and very tall. Each year, the acorns fall, but this year is the first we’ve experienced such a massive amount falling! I don’t know what it means, or if it’s just normal to have a year with a million acorns falling almost all at once, but it’s interesting! We hear one hit the roof, or the patio. They bounce and hit again. And then we hear another, and another. I refuse to go into the east side of our yard because one year I was hit by one of those falling acorns, right on the muscle between shoulder and neck, and it hurt like crazy and left a deep bruise that took a long time to heal. Hailing acorns…Autumn has most definitely arrived.
My beautiful new Clematis “Prince Charles” is in full bloom. I planted it this spring as part of my year-long celebration of turning 70 …. just because … Prince Charles just turned 70, too! I know that sounds very silly, but silly is good sometimes!
It’s a beautiful Clematis and seems to love where I planted it. I am so enjoying its beauty, and I’m having a lot of fun with my year of embracing and celebrating turning seventy!
We have had a milder July than usual. While so much of the country has been enduring sweltering heat, the temperatures here in western Oregon have been moderate and thus delightful. The flowers in our garden(s) have done well, and we are especially enjoying the flower garden our daughter planted last year. It is filling in more and more each year, and so it is getting prettier and prettier. This summer she is in the process of planting her own gardens at her new home…a very happy project for her.
We have three tubs where we planted blueberries a few years ago. This summer two of the plants produced masses of blueberries! One little plant didn’t have any blueberries at all, and I don’t know why. Perhaps next year?
The vegetable garden is much neglected this year. I have two empty raised beds (a sin, I know!) that I will plant with fall crops when we return from our August trip. But I did plant beets that are coming along nicely, and two cherry tomato plants that have little green tomatoes on them right now.
The outdoor project that has taken up most of our time this summer is the new “Garden/Bicycle Shed” my husband (and his trusty assistant here!) is building. It’s supposed to be half garden potting shed and half work-on-his-bicycles shed, but I think there’s more room dedicated to bicycles than gardens. Not complaining, though! I’m going to love have some potting shed space of my own.
The most delightful thing about July this year has been sitting on the front porch reading. Usually, it’s just too hot to sit out there at this time of year.