Saturday, April 6, 2019

My ten-year blogiversary!

Ten years ago, on April 3, 2009, I published my very first MulchMaid blog post.

It wasn't much of a post. I didn't have a lot to say. There were no pictures. I wanted to start blogging about the garden, so I just threw a virtual stone into the blog pond with a few sentences.

How little I realized what huge ripples in my life that beginning toss would yield. In the ensuing ten years, I have met the most wonderful group of gardeners, both locally and nationally. Some of them I'm lucky to call real friends. All of them have been generous with their encouragement, knowledge, camaraderie and plants.

Also in those ten years, the garden has grown, changed, frustrated and delighted me. Plants in the garden have come and gone. My interest in various plant groups has changed. My space for experimentation has shrunk as I filled up the garden. More beds have been carved out. Plant maturity and death have required new plans and new solutions.
Everything is still far from perfect in the garden. My other two original goals–teaching myself to write and learning to take better pictures–remain elusive. And I don't blog as often as I did in those first, heady years. 

But I'm having a great time. I look forward to seeing gardening and blogging friends at open gardens, plant swaps, and the annual Garden Bloggers Fling.
Especially this time of year, I can't wait to be out in the garden doing something–anything–so I can breath in the earthy scent of the beds and the spring fragrance of flowering shrubs.

I can't wait to plant the next wonderful find from a nursery or a plant sale or swap.
Life is good at Longview Ranch. I wonder what the next ten years will bring?

Thursday, March 21, 2019


I am loving the amazing spring weather we have enjoyed for the past week. Everything in the garden is hurtling headlong into leaf and flower and making me very happy as I watch my garden emerge from winter.

I know the fluff of new growth above is Dodecatheon dentatum, and the one below is D. hendersonii. But I'm occasionally confused as I see a new living thing emerging from the ground that my memory won't dredge up.

For example, this one will remain a mystery until it opens enough for me to identify. It looks like a good one!
Here's what was billed as an annual and it's coming back: Plantago major 'Rubrifolium'.  I expect my lax deadheading of it last summer will result in a few volunteers, as well.
I asked for Facebook help IDing the first image below last week, without success. Thank you to those of you who tried hard to suggest a name: the second image shows leaves open enough today to remind me that it's Jeffersonia diphylla.
It's time to get out the Sluggo, as Dianthus 'Green Ball is making a comeback. This is another plant I expected to be an annual only.
Athyrium niponicum pictum, showing just one fiddlehead so far.

Here's a cute one I'm happy to see again: an orange Eremuris .
Chasmanthium latifolium blades emerging in the spring sunlight.
The fresh, burgundy-colored new foliage of Beesia deltophylla.
And finally, here are the very best sprouts around. These shaggy-headed little stalks are a Syneilesis hybrid, probably S. aconitifolium x palmata.
Here's to delightful Spring sproutiness all over the garden!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - March 2019

After a cold February and early March, it finally feels like spring has arrived. The garden is slowly waking up and looking happier.

I have been happier, too. I enjoyed the most recent three days in the garden raking bushels and bushels of leaves out of the beds. And I have about four times as many leaves to go yet. I wish they were compostable for leaf mulch, but the majority are pin oak leaves. They are like leather.
But on to Bloom Day!

A few spring harbingers are flowering at Longview Ranch this month, like these Tete a Tete daffodils, that stubbornly refuse to face the path.

Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide' has the holidays all wrong this year. It seems to want to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

The barrels of rosemary have been quietly flowering for several weeks, and I even saw our resident Anna's hummingbird sample them a few days ago.

Our hummingbird is also feeding from Arctostaphylos 'Austin Griffith' as it continues happily blooming this month.

Camellia transnokoensis has begun blooming with its little white flowers. I think the colder weather, or maybe rain, is responsible for the browned edges; the flowers are usually pure white.

Azara microphylla has blossoms so tiny that my phone camera can hardly capture them. The flowers are supposed to have a scent, but I can't detect it.
Now these flowers I can smell! Sarccocca hookeriana var. humilis is late this year, but it seems determined to make up for lost time.

Bloom Day is hosted monthly on the 15th by Carol, at May Dreams Gardens. Check out her post and the links, to see what else is blooming all over.

Happy Bloom Day!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Wildflower Wednesday - Lupinus sericatus

I'd like to share a fun and lovely wildflower from California with you today for Wildflower Wednesday, Lupinus sericatus. In 2016, I was fortunate to receive a young plant grown by my friend Evan Bean, the Practical Plant Geek, and it has continued to brighten the Northwest Territory of our garden since then.

Lupinus sericatus is a species of lupine known by the common name Cobb Mountain lupine. This lupine isn't native to the Pacific Northwest, but at least it's on the same coast and tolerates my similar garden conditions. According to Calscape (California Native Plant Society), this plant is endemic to the North Coast Ranges of California north of the San Francisco Bay Area, where it grows in the forest, woodlands, and chaparral of the slopes and canyons. It easily colonizes disturbed habitat as well.

Calscape describes Lupinus sericatus as a perennial herb growing up to half a meter tall. Luckily for me, it tolerates a variety of soils as long as adequate drainage is provided. This pretty native is actually rare; in its native habitat, it is threatened by geothermal development, habitat alteration, logging, road maintenance, road widening and herbicides.

I chose this native for today because, although it's not blooming right now, it has great winter interest. The leaves of the Cobb Mountain lupine are the loveliest downy-silver color, even through the winter months; I took the picture below just two days ago. And in summer sunshine, the leaves practically light up.

Similarly to Alchemilla mollis, our winter rains bead up on the wet leaves like little round jewels. At Annie's Annuals, they suggest cutting back the plant in fall to keep it looking good, but I can't bring myself to do away with those silvery leaves.

Growing information for Lupinus sericatus
Common Name: Cobb Mountain lupine
Family: Fabaceae
Type: perennial herb
Native Range:
North Coast Ranges of California north of the San Francisco Bay Area, in forest, woodlands, and chaparral of the slopes and canyons
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 20"
Spread: 36"
Bloom Time: Spring, March through June (in my garden it usually blooms in May.)
Bloom Description: Violet-purple spikes
Sun: Full sun
Water: Low; drought tolerant
Soil: A variety, as long as adequate drainage is provided

Maintenance: Low, looks best if cut back in fall
Leaf: Silvery-gray pinwheel
12" raceme of several whorls of purple flowers
Uses: Deer resistant, bird gardens, bee gardens, attracts hummingbirds
Tolerates: a variety of soils if drainage is adequate
Propagation by seed: Fresh seeds need no treatment. Stored seeds need scarification or hot water.

I'm joining in (for the first time!) with Gail Eichelberger of Clay and Limestone, where she hosts Wildflower Wednesday on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Click over there to see what wildflowers others are sharing this month!