Ground Cherry Flower

April in the Garden

I was so inspired by Meg’s post at Grow and Resist the other day, meandering us through her Seattle garden, that I decided to do something similar. We’re in the thick of spring, and plenty of things are taking off in the garden — or not.

Here’s a collection of highs and lows, starting with something that really surprised me. I am so touched by the beauty of tiny husk cherry blossoms; they don’t measure more than half-an-inch across.

Ground Cherry Flower

My brand new rhubarb died. It pushed up through the soil so earnestly, then conked out. I’m blaming our weird mix of warm and then wet weather.  It’s sad.

My Rhubarb Died

But the roses are getting started.

And my new Meyer lemon trees are almost too exuberant. I’m going to have to cull some green fruit.

Do I wish we didn’t have an entire hillside of English Ivy? You have no idea. (Or maybe you do. Have you ever had a piece of property fiercely inhabited by an invasive non-native plant?) At least it’s keeping the hill from falling on the house — and I do have plans for that new path leading up to the fence.

The plan has to do with the nursery of berries on our front deck. (Left to right: elderberries, big-potted blueberries, boysenberries.) I hope to plant the elders and b0yz way up on the hill, come fall.

Oh, the tomatoes! I have about twenty plants and space for maybe half of those.  They’re three feet high, too spindly, and hanging out in gallon pots until I can plant them out. (Mothers Day!) Next year I won’t start them quite so early.

The peppers and smaller plants suffered even more in that storm, when my mini greenhouse collapsed. I’m proud of the survivors, mostly pepperoncini, Thai hot peppers, and Chinese Lanterns.

What’s in your compost? We’ve got kitchen scraps and leaf fall mixed with spent bedding straw from a neighbor’s chicken flock and lots of used coffee grounds from Peet’s. (The worms go crazy for the coffee!) When one bin is full, we’ll start filling the next. By the time the second bin is full, the first one will be ready to harvest.

Now that we’ve got pigeons who need to eat crushed oyster shells, I decided to put some of those shells to work as a slug barrier. This little bed is seeded with greens that I plan to harvest young.

Speaking of pigeons, we’ve done a lot of work furnishing their house in the last few days. They now have a nest-box high rise (in anticipation of two more housemates) and a real tree. (Well, a real dead tree. It’s a big branch that came down in the winter storms.) We keep catching them kissing. Here they are, trying to look innocent.

I’m growing greens for them in every small container I can find.

And container greens for humans, too.

There’s a lot to do.

When I was younger, I never imagined I’d turn out to be a person who loved to garden. Then I planted a single box of orange mint outside the kitchen window of a rented apartment. I think that plant saved my life.

The lives we care for, care for us.

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  • Reply Julia April 17, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Oh, I love going on a walk through your garden! That Meyer lemon picture; it’s just gorgeous! And the pigeons really do look like they’ve been caught! Aren’t gardens amazing! (Still sorry about your rhubarb!)

  • Reply meg April 17, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Oh thanks Shae! Your space is beautiful & peaceful! I love looking at gardens and how people use them. One of the things I love to do with the Babylady is go visit various P-Patchs/community gardens all over town and check out what is growing, how they are being grown, etc.
    Your starts looking fantastic- I forgot to plant ours, so I’ll have to buy them.
    Odd- my first rhubarb wilted and died like yours- but it popped back this year. So hang in there. Of course, I then promptly transplanted it elsewhere so we’ll see how it does!
    You know I feel your hillside pain- agh.

  • Reply Denise | Chez Danisse April 18, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Oh, Shae, I cannot stop returning to that sad little rhubarb image. It happens… I’m glad there is so much doing well.

  • Reply RedGardenClogs April 18, 2011 at 9:53 am

    What a gorgeous garden and property you have! Great photos. We are definitely behind you in the Spring department here in Brooklyn and it’s inspiring to see all that growth and green. Bummer about the rhubarb!! Maybe it will come back next year like Meg’s, though – wouldn’t that be great?

    I’m looking into whether it can be container-grown – large container, like a half-wine barrel.

    Quince and Yuzu look like they are enjoying the new digs.

    • Reply Shae April 18, 2011 at 9:57 am

      Thank you, Aimee. Guess what? That poor little rhubarb is in a half wine barrel! I wouldn’t let its failure deter you, though. It should do fine in a big container like that. I think the trouble here is our climate. We are in a very iffy zone for rhubarb. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will come back, Meg style.

  • Reply Val April 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    My rhubarb is not faring so well either, but I am going to prepare a new bed and try again. I think I planted mine too deeply. Be optimistic though–mine went into dormancy last summer but came back (only to be thwarted again for other reasons).
    I can totally relate to the ivy problem–it comes into my yard from both neighbors’. I am also allergic to it–like poison ivy allergic!
    But like you said at least it is erosion control.
    My list is long too, with rain stopping me every weekend!

  • Reply twobythesea April 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Sad news about rhubarb in marin. I never could grow it, even in what I thought was an ideal location. Once hubby trampled it cutting back said ivy and blackberry canes. After many little rhubarbies that looked like yours I gave up. That is not to say you should. It does like shade and alot of moisture. You have so many other things to look forward to.

  • Reply tigress April 19, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    how beautiful everything looks! thanks for sharing your spring garden shae. I would love to see more throughout the seasons – of all you greenery and food that you’re growing, and the most adorable yuzu and quince of course!

    I feel so guilty when peeps are lacking rhubarb, I wish I could just send it all over the country as gifts! not very locavorian I know but…

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