Our Goldflame Honeysuckle

Goldflame Honeysuckle, Lonicera heckrottii

Lonicera x heckrottii

The flowers on our Goldflame Honeysuckle (Lonicera x heckrottii ) are just beautiful this summer! The vine really took off and climbed like crazy, so the top of the plant is gorgeous, but the bottom part is leggy with sporadic leaves! It’s one tough plant surviving the drought and heat of this summer, so I’m hoping it will survive some serious cutting back when we prune it. I’d love the lower part of the plant to look as beautiful as the top part!

I searched for info to help me learn more about how to take better care of this beautiful plant. Here are a few of the web sites I found:

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Garden Reading: Emily Dickinson’s Gardens

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During the hot afternoons of the last few days, I completely immersed myself in a lovely book– Emily Dickinson’s Gardens: A Celebration of a Poet and Gardener, by Marta McDowell. I love poetry, and I love reading about the gardens of the great gardeners, so this was the perfect choice for me. And to add depth to this immersion, I pulled from my bookshelf my volume of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, as well as another beautiful little book for young people, Emily Dickinson: A Brighter Garden, with some of her poems illustrated by the wonderful artist (and gardener), Tasha Tudor. What a lovely way to spend my heat-wave afternoons!

The “Belle of Amherst” was a brilliant poet who drew much of her inspiration from nature and from her garden, in particular. Her love for flowers and for gardening started very young, as did her love for words and poetry. As a teenager, she put together a very impressive “herbarium,” a collection of dried and pressed plants, all beautifully organized and identified by their Latin names. She loved spending time in her family’s gardens and in the meadows and woods adjacent to the family homestead.

During her lifetime, Emily DIckinson was known as a gifted gardener. Not everyone knew that she also wrote poetry, although she shared many of her poems with friends and family. Very few of her poems were published during her lifetime, and no one knew the extent of her writing until after her death when her sister, Lavinia, discovered almost 1,800 poems tucked away in a drawer.

This book was organized by the seasons of the year, and included descriptions of the plants that were grown in Emily’s garden each season, and poems that were inspired by those plants or by the season. A lovely combination! The author, Marta McDowell, is herself a gardener, so she lovingly included how-to information and special tips for other gardeners.

The mix of very interesting biography, descriptions of Emily Dickinson’s gardens with beautiful poetry interspersed, and very helpful gardening advice made the book a pleasure to read and a wonderful learning experience.

The beautiful illustrations below are by Tasha Tudor from Emily Dickinson: A Brighter Garden.

Tasha Tudor's illustrations from A Brighter Garden.

Tasha Tudor’s illustrations from A Brighter Garden.

A Big Job

Pruning

Cooler temperatures! Today’s big gardening job: pruning one our two Cherry trees. They haven’t been pruned since we moved in, and they were badly in need of being topped. So much of the fruit in June was just too high up on the tree to be harvested. A terrible waste! Husband read all the information he could find on pruning cherry trees, checked with the Oregon State Extension Service online information, and decided he was ready to tackle the job. It took all morning to prune one of the trees, but we were able to get the limbs and branches cut up and packed into the green recycle bin before the truck came to pick it up. We are tired tonight, but very glad to have one tree done.

Hydrangeas

The hydrangeas that are planted in front of our porch are absolutely beautiful this summer…just not as big as other years. I still have a lot to learn about how to prune them, what they need in terms of extra nutrition, etc., but I appreciate how they continue to survive [despite having a novice gardener/caretaker] and be so beautiful in the front of our house! Here’s a site that I am finding very helpful in learning all I can about Hydrangeas.

Heatwave!

Photo from early June when everything was still green...

Photo from early June when everything was still green…

Actually, we are now having our 3rd big heatwave of the summer! This is an unusual year for this part of Oregon. We had a dry winter, and now a very hot summer! Not much rain in sight! Mornings are for watering. Afternoons are spent indoors, trying to stay as cool as possible (nice for reading and knitting, though). The grass is completely yellow, and won’t return to the lovely green we enjoy until the rains return. The rhododendrons are stressed. The weeds are flourishing. Yesterday it reached 100 degrees. Today is supposed to reach 104 degrees! I miss the gray and the rain!

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Dreaming of Clover

Without the Weeds

There’s a sunny patch of ground at the side of the driveway and old garage that we would like to turn into a butterfly garden. It’s been a weed patch for years, but the husband cleared out the weeds and grass this week, a first big step in creating that special garden. However, we’re not ready to start the butterfly garden yet, so we decided to put in a “cover crop” to help enrich that soil and get rid of the weedy wilderness look. We have a bag of Crimson Clover seeds and decided to toss them out there and see what happens. If they don’t grow, no problem. If they do…well, the patch will look a lot better over the winter and into the spring!

Celebrating Gardens: The Oregon Garden

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Our second Wandering Wednesday was a late-May trip to the Oregon Garden in Silverton, Oregon. What a beautiful and inspiring day! We spent hours walking and enjoying the creativity of the different gardens, and came home with some fun ideas for our own yard and garden. We decided we must wander that way again before too long because it was so much fun. Be sure to check out the link to their homepage because there are many activities and events to enjoy there along with their beautiful gardens.

 

Gold Flame Honeysuckle

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There are more blooms in our new Oak Stump Garden! This morning, I found numerous blossoms on one of the Gold Flame Honeysuckles we planted there last week. Our very rainy weekend seemed to please these new plantings and they are blooming in happiness.

If I seem incredulous that these honeysuckles could possibly bloom, here’s my confession about them… I actually bought them a year-and-a-half ago. I left them sitting in their little garden pots for a couple of months in a shaded spot near the porch until we could return once again from Seattle to spend a gardening weekend. I felt very guilty about them, so I finally threw them each in a big pot, watered them, and wished them good luck. My daughter watered them for us, and I checked on them each time we arrived for a weekend. But when we moved here permanently last summer, I still didn’t plant them because we hadn’t decided WHERE to put them yet.  They looked pretty haggard by that time, so I figured I had doomed them by buying them at the wrong time.

But this spring, they rallied. No, they did more than rally–they took off! They must have decided that the pots I put them in were all they could ask for as permanent homes. Rain water felt really good. Morning sunshine and shaded afternoons were all they could depend on.  And they just started growing like crazy. They look incredibly healthy and hardy, and now that I’ve actually put them in the ground, they are obviously very HAPPY!

Those two honeysuckles survived being purchased at the wrong time, and survived my part-time gardening and general neglect. They are proven survivors, and I promise I will take good care of them from now on.

Rosebud

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Rosebud.  No, not the line from the Orson Well’s movie, Citizen Kane, but a rosebud on our climbing rose that was so wild and out-of-control, sending very vigorous canes up over the roof of our bay window. I cut it back, but now I know I could have cut it back even further. This rose is definitely part of my gardening education…I don’t know it’s name yet, but it’s a climber, very hardy, and can withstand a whole lot more pruning for next year!

Celebrating Gardens: A School Garden

mykidsinthebutterflygarden

I am a newly retired school teacher. Simply put, I loved my work, enjoyed spending my days with young people, and loved sharing the experience of learning with them for 27 years. I was fortunate to be able to spend most of my teaching years at the same elementary school, Peter Kirk Elementary, in Kirkland, in the Seattle metro area. It was a very nice community to work in and I appreciated (and did not take for granted!) the wonderful care and support given to all of us at the school by the parents and the community.

During the last five years of my teaching, there was one parent who took on the volunteer job of “school gardener.” That wasn’t the official title, but she was a gardener and a “do-er” and, with PTSA funding, she slowly began to transform the little garden areas both inside and outside of the school into beautiful, meaningful gardens. I took great delight in watching that transformation, and she became my gardening hero, my mentor.

signorderlogoOne project she created was a butterfly garden with the 2nd graders. It was a learning garden, with classroom lessons created and taught by parent volunteers, providing hands-on gardening experiences for our students. It became a certified wildlife habitat, named affectionately by the 2nd graders as the “Flutterby Butterfly Garden.”

She also refurbished an old “Native Plants Garden” that had been put together many years earlier by 6th graders as a year-end gift to the school. It was greatly in need of care, and she gave it wonderful care! It was located in a courtyard right inside the front entrance to the school, so it became a lovely “first impression.”

I watched closely as she did project after project in the different courtyard areas and around the school and I learned that one gardener can make a huge difference. She is my inspiration as I return to gardening in this new stage of my life.  I hope you enjoy this slideshow of some of the photos I’ve taken of her gardens in the last few years. Kudos to you, Bobbi O.

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