Thursday, March 10, 2016

A walk through the neighborhood


Every year, Les at A Tidewater Gardener hosts a fun event called "Winter-Walk-Off" where bloggers take a walk and share photos of their surroundings. I have always wanted to participate but until now, never have. It seems that I was either working or too busy. Now that I am semi-retired (I will soon be working part-time with the Fort Vancouver Library System), I was determined to do this. There is also the factor that this neighborhood is new to me too. 

Today, between downpours, I walked the surrounding streets in our Vancouver, Washington neighborhood, about 8 blocks in all. I focused on plants growing in neighbor's yards. Spring is popping out all around us and it is quite an experience. This is my first Spring here in our new home and the plant kingdom is overwhelming. 

The flowering trees are stunning and the blooms are lasting a long time. I think the reason for this is because temperatures here are fairly consistent. The flowering plums are very popular in Vancouver. They are everywhere. 





Camellias are really catching my eye. They are one of my favorite plants and I grew about twenty varieties in my Alabama garden. I cannot get over the sheer number of blooms on the camellias here. The flowers are so thick that you can hardly see the foliage. It is incredible. They seem to be everywhere and it is not uncommon to see them in full sun.


I have not seen as many quince and just noticed one on my walk today. Isn't the color incredible? I have not adjusted the saturation!


Pieris (aka Lily of the Valley Shrub or Andromeda) is also highly popular and I see it everywhere. I purchased the pink variety "Valley Rose" but have not planted it yet.


There is also a white variety.


Everyone seems to shear and shape their Forsythia. I can imagine that it gets out of hand if they do not. I still prefer it unsheared.


There are lots of weeping ornamental trees in the neighborhood. They have looked completely dead until a few days ago when they suddenly burst into bloom.
Of course rhododendrons are everywhere and it is a plant that I look forward to grow. This early variety is a gorgeous shade of lavender and both Michael and I have been going crazy over it. According to the man at the nursery, it is "PJM".

Red Tip Photinia. There is a hedge of these that border the back of our property. It provides good privacy from the houses behind it but they are about 20 feet high. They are not this pretty and seeing these make me wonder if I should prune them a bit.

Heather or Heath are also everywhere. They have been blooming all winter.
Grape Hyacinth (Muscari)

I drive by this tree almost every day and I always admire it. I am not sure if it is a willow variety or something else. It might be a corkscrew willow.
Michael loves this tree. It is the Monkey Puzzle Tree (Araucaria araucana). Of course it reminds me of one of my favorite movies "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" ("What have you done with me Monkey Puzzle Tree?") I told him it gets too big for our garden.

Unusual conifers are everywhere

A nice arrangement of varying textures.


I like this garden. It seems very calm and serene.
Another nice garden is one block over from us. This is a small hedge of Viburnum davadii that winds around the curb.

They also have a Hinoki Cypress, a conifer that I want for our garden.The tall evergreen in the background is a weeping sequoia. People refer to it as "the Dr. Seuss tree".
I also really love this garden. I would never have the restraint to do something like this but I think it looks really great.



I hope you enjoyed the tour. Check out more bloggers "Winter-Walk-Offs" at A Tidewater Gardener.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

28 comments:

  1. It's so fun to see the PNW through your "newbie" eyes! Did you get rained on at all, or did you time it just right? I've been trying to get out to do this very same walk for Les but every time I think the coast is clear it starts to pour.

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    1. I did not get rained on during the walk. Earlier I was tryng to plant some things and the rain drove me inside. Then it got sunny. I went out again and then it started raining hard again. I finally gave up on that!

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  2. It looks like you have landed in a very diverse neighborhood, plant-wise. When you find out why the camellias are so full of flowers, please let me know. I see many things that would suffer or limp through a typical southern summer, so I know you must be like a kid in a candy store at all the new things you get to try. I am glad you were able to join in.

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  3. Your new neighborhood looks like it is full of inspiration. I love those weeping trees. I hate it when people shear them so they don't hang down. I like to see those dangling limbs at different heights too. Those huge pieris are gorgeous. I have never seen a pink one. I cut back several of my shrubs this year. They are probably wondering if I went mad. They just seemed to be too overgrown. I hope they respond well to my radical trimming. I am glad you got a part-time job. You will meet new people and of course I am sure you would miss all those books if you weren't around them. Your spring is well ahead of ours. I can't wait to see this much bloom. Have you found any more surprises in your new garden what with spring popping up all over?

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    1. I am still waiting to see what a few things are that have not leafed out that much yet. I have identified a few things. There is a big scraggly thing right at the end of our privacy border that I wan to remove and replace with a conifer or magnolia. I was saddened to finally find out it is a lilac, one of the plants I wanted to grow here (they did not do too well in Alabama). I hate to remove it but I think I will. I have already planted another lilac in a different location.

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  4. I very much enjoyed the tour! Thank you.

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  5. Phillip...I so enjoyed this post. How interesting it is to see when plants bloom and how well (or not well) they do in a different area of the country. I live in the same area as Les and I was so surprised to see that Rhododendron in full bloom in March! Thanks for sharing your new neighborhood. I'm off to subscribe to your blog so keep the pictures coming. Vikki in VA

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  6. I like your new neighborhood, Phillip! I also like the fact that you took a walk while it was raining. As they say, if you live in the PNW, you need to love rain.
    Our Monkey Puzzle Tree grows in a container... It was bought as a little cute thing. Now, I'm looking for a good permanent spot for it, somewhere ... far from the house.
    What an exciting time you are having with getting new plants for your garden! Have a wonderful spring!

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  7. Phillip, you're going to weary of all this bounty. Not. Haha! I'm just jealous. ~~Dee

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  8. It sounds like you are settling into your new house and neighborhood! I remember the excitement of learning about all the plants that grow here in the PNW. A lot of plants that prefer a bit of shade in other parts of the world, like Camellias, can take our "full" sun. I hope this very rainy winter hasn't dampened your enthusiasm for the PNW.

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  9. Thanks for the tour! Looks like you picked a gorgeous neighborhood from a plant perspective :)

    PS - As you get to know your neighbors/neighborhood, I'll be interested to hear whether you feel gardening is more of a popular activity there than it was in Alabama. Here in Middle Tennessee, I have the feeling that most people don't want to garden because they don't enjoy dealing with the climate (cold, hot, drought, etc.) or the heavy clay soil. The PNW has the reputation of having a milder climate, so I wonder if that makes gardening more fun for most homeowners? (Although I understand the summers are usually *very* dry, so I'm also looking forward to hear how you and your neighbors adapt to that challenge...)

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    1. Aaron, I can already answer that with YES they do! It seems that almost everyone does to some extent. The local nursery here opened at 9 on Sunday (how is that for culture shock?!) and I was amazed at how many people were there this past Sunday. I think from the obvious fact that the climate is more hospitable to both plants and people is that young children get some type of gardening education. Almost every time I am at the nursery, there are school children there on tours. I am going to ask about that the next time I am there. It is truly like I have entered another country. Everything is different and not just gardening! It is very enlightening.

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  10. It's so nice to hear you rave about plants that we sometimes take for granted. I'd love to hear more about the differences your noticing here in the wild west! Do plan on attending Hortlandia to see even more fun stuff!

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  11. I'm with Michael! That Monkey Puzzle tree is pretty awesome. So I also saw a large bird and a giraffe on your walk!!! Haha! The garden with the mossy stones is wonderful! I'm jealous! What a great neighborhood!

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  12. I enjoyed your walk. A lot of pretty blooms for you.

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  13. What a beautiful neighborhood! How wonderful to have so many gardens around you. :o)

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  14. Wow! So many gorgeous flowering trees there! It's a bit early for ours yet, even the forsythia isn't blooming yet. Our spring flowering trees don't seem to hold their blossoms very long, as we seem to get too warm too fast. So when they bloom, I know I have to get out there and take pictures, fast! But I do have plenty of spring bulbs popping up early, and I'm loving every minute of it.

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  15. Thanks for the tour! As you know, that part of the world is one of my favorites, and it is great to see what is growing in a neighborhood. The camellias are incredible! I also must mention, in the background of the photo with the Hinoki Cypress - that looks like an evergreen dinosaur!

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  16. I can see that your blog is going to cause some serious plant envy for stuff that won't grow down here... those evergreens are knock outs!

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  17. Beautiful walk! Living in eastern Canada - I am very envious! Thank you for showing your neighborhood.

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  18. It's amazing all one can do with just conifers. Wild variety of colors sizes and textures. I love Hinoki Cypress; it has the most amazing shades of green, and comes in dwarf size as well. And in the background of that Hinoki you photographed, the "dinosaur", is another favorite of mine, I believe its a weeping sequoia.

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  19. Beautiful neighborhood with so many interesting trees and shrubs. I enjoyed seeing it, thank you. The Portland/Vancouver area seems to have a strong gardening culture, which is a wonderful thing.

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  20. I have Pieris, as not as tall as my knees, and would not know what to do if they got as big as your photo! I had photinia in my back year, whacked it down and let it grow back, shaping it to what I wanted as it grew. I'm sure you can do the same. I love that they are evergreen.
    Ray

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  21. I cannot get over that first camellia, and how much it looks like a rose bush covered in flowers. That is the most beautiful camellia I have ever seen.

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