Gardening Soundcliff - from Winter Solstice 2020 Into Spring... Part Two
June 9, 2021
Because many years in our Pacific Northwest climate have little of winter harshness we often garden almost continuously, but we did have a significant snow storm this February, while we were taking a break from home to visit Orcas Island, leaving care of Soundcliff with a friend. We became snowbound in a cabin with few of our usual amenities, but we enjoyed the change of view.
After that snow we continued to slowly welcome spring in our typically broken rhythm gradually bringing sporadic warmth to the soil the garden needs to bloom into the colors of blossoms.
This Star Magnolia has grown into a magnificent billow of white for many years.
But the quince from similar vintage has stayed small, while gifting its red as a harbinger of very early spring…
The sixteen sided bed Whitney built last fall bloomed full of a variety of daffodils.
A new favorite is a complex double having a peachy coloration.
We got these tulips on a trip including Amsterdam https://www.grbbells.com/croatia-venice-amsterdam-part-six/> in 2018.
One arrangement of tulips became a temporary grazing ground for a trio of golden dinosaurs with spiny air plants which Our friend Kate Thompson gifted Stephen for his birthday.
The checkered fritillaria meleagris has seemingly established itself, showing up for a third year to delight with its improbably magical geometry.
Our eastern exposure brings sunrise into the bed… making sometimes quite a spectacular wake-up call… but usually I can pull the covers over my head for a little more snoozing!
Daffodils often came to the table. This time cupped into a rather large version of a tussy mussy made of a Petisides leaf which is another exotic plant we love to use in our garden for its very large round leaves, making a large statement as a border planting. We’d set up the large dining table with extra leaves for enough length to make better social distancing as we negotiated the few times we had a guest or two during the pandemic. It encouraged bringing-out some of our wilder table coverings, like this ikat weaving from Indonesia.
But that only added to the strong color & pattern already present in the atypical scheme which we’ve been experimenting. The new red wood stove has been joined by a pair of too-low chairs in a too-bright blue… wanting dense foam “risers” upholstered in the low toned green in the rug… plus some indigo runners tucked over to tame the blue.
That blue is similar to Stephen’s choice for the rocking chair he painted during the winter, which now invites contemplation of the view from the deck of his writing cottage…
The rhododendron season became spectacular.
Stephen has been collecting rhodies for years, often as memorials for friends. This “capuchin” is one of my favorites.
& this deep red one’s hue frequently vibrates in my camera so much as to frequently be almost impossible to capture.
The prow deck, perched on pilings holding the retaining walls holding us atop this cliff, is flanked by rhodies with foxglove in the border above & three big dahlia bushes beginning to grow toward blooming in a couple of months. The garden is always evolving, whether with expansion of established plantings or the placement of new things we are constantly bringing home.
The bench outside the studio door has for months accumulated such collections waiting their for the soil & beds prepared & ready to receive them… plus the planning to place them.
We have several duplex viburnums, but this one has been here for some 20 years & now raises its horizontal blooms high enough to walk under it.
The “Dutchman’s pipe” vine on the main deck railing is a total trooper, having been cut back last mid-summer to allow painting its support, after which it grew back with surprising vigor for the late season. I prune it back to the main stems each winter, revealing the fascinatingly twisted integration with the metal grid.
Lupin is another sculptural lovely.
Iris have been a favorite since my childhood. This is a lovely traditional blossom.
Still, we have half a dozen varieties, including Japanese & Siberian.
There’s nothing like poppies to make us happy, if not “sleepy” …
The raspberries are coming along. Stephen loves them on cereal. I hope for ice cream.
As are the peonies, which are another flower I’ve known since childhood on the farm.
Hostas are so much about the northwest & we are growing a collection of their gorgeously ribbed & convoluted leaf forms in various coloration.
A two year old “sweet potato vine” wants to take over the north garden gate… just as we’d hope it will. Covered with blossoms of lovely periwinkle blue it should help shield the view from the road down into the garden, although we are quite happy to share tasty views of our efforts to the few neighbors who pass by on walks or, more usually, too quickly in autos.
Much of the garden is quite a mash-up in early spring. The yellow is buttercup, which is a weed invading all our beds as well as the lawn… thriving to better even the grass while being frequently mowed flat. The blue of Forget Me Nots are mostly welcome as early color, but it seeds so profusely & grows so vigorously that it can shade other plants, so we have to become ruthless to keep it under control.
A plant I bought several years ago has become a curious volunteer from seed as well. It is another rather impossible color… cerinthe an intense purplish blue against a grayish green foliage which takes-on tinges of the same hues. I’m learning to like its rangy structure, which can work well allowed to trail over the edge of a raised bed. I’m recently enjoying it as a cut flower draping out of a vase of iris.
Another lovely blue is the blossoming of rosemary, tiny & tucked into the sturdy fragrant herb. When I’m patient, I love to collect a small handful to finish a salad.
Still the structure of our ancient native cherry tree… the one for which Tom & I built a Japanese “crutch” holds the south lawn & garden borders with sturdy elegance gifting structure as well as lovely light & shadow.
My favorite mask was a gift from my siblings-in-love Alice & John. Perfect for a double Leo!
Recent, frequent rains have conspired with my neglect to provide the dramatic leek scapes I enjoy as sculpture in the garden each year. There is a small patch of garlic just behind.
While the leek scapes soar up into the hazy sky of what I’ve begun calling the Wet Coast
there came the gift of an introduction to a new acquaintance who had just acquired a drone & offered to play with making a film of Soundcliff. It was a good experience to watch. I’d been curious about such new technology & found myself begin to become desirous. But, no, this is not my new creative medium, even as I watched to learn.
I do certainly enjoy having some great trips into new visual realms I appreciate having been gifted. My favorite is soaring up high enough above those leek scapes to see the entire property & garden, from the Shenanigan Road down to the beach, giving a sense of the cliff as the view widens to show just where we live… always on the edge… lively!
Another sunrise, showing our mountain, Tahoma across the Puget Sound.