Today’s photos come from Karen Howe, who is sharing some of the things she’s been up to during this year of staying home and staying safe.
I garden on a shady hillside in Portland, Oregon, where I have plenty of rain but limited sun and heavy clay soil. I’ve been improving the soil for 25 years and adding more native plants in the last few years to improve habitat for my avian friends. This year I’ve been at home more and with less work than usual, so I’ve had fun with low-cost projects, some inspired by articles in Fine Gardening magazine.
These beautiful fawn lilies (Erythronium revolutum) cheered me in March when we started sheltering in place. They spread generously each year, so I dug many of them and gave them to friends and neighbors.
I have trouble growing tulips in my heavy soil, so I tried planting some Tulipa ‘Purple Reflection’ (Zones 3–8) in pots outside my kitchen window. I love the way they complemented the white bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’, Zones 3–9).
I’ve been experimenting with growing edibles the last few years and have added some new raised-bed planters in my sunny corner. It was fun to start seeds indoors for the first time with the help of a new LED grow light in my basement.
I purchased some mail-order perennials and updated an uninspired portion of my garden with the addition of violets (Viola ‘Etain’ Zones 4–8) and anemones (Anemone ‘Ruffled Swan’, Zones 6 – 8), which paired well with existing painted ferns and a sculptured stone that was given to me last year. The violets surprised me by blooming all through the summer.
After struggling with cold soil and slow drainage in one of my beds, I finally dug it all up, added lots of compost, and replanted in a lime-and-burgundy scheme that I just love. I planted heucheras (Heuchera ‘Lime Marmalade’ and ‘Midnight Rose’, Zones 4–9), gold sedges (Carex elata ‘Bowles Golden’, Zones 5–9), a few variegated hostas (Hosta fortunei ‘Aureo Marginata’ and Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’, Zones 3–9), and a volunteer Japanese maple (Acer palmatum, Zones 5–9).
I have a bed of mixed dahlias (Dahlia variabilis, Zones 8–9 or as tender bulbs) that bloomed beautifully all summer. I would often think of a neighbor in need of cheer and I’d cut a bouquet, put it in a canning jar, and drop it on their porch as a little surprise. This cheered me up on many a challenging day.
Based on a GPOD about “stumperies” from August, I was inspired to build a stumpery at the back of my garden. I had fun decorating it with moss, bark, and woodland flowers. I want to provide habitat for the lovely bugs that digest the wood and become food for birds.
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