Happening in the garden

Red Tip Photinia

Things are finally getting past the frantic mode as I have actually made it a week without purchasing a plant. I know the girl at the nursery up the street thought I was about to move in with them. I told her I was addicted and she said she had seen worse. I shudder to think...

Part of the halt has been due to my part-time job, which I started this week. I am in the orientation/training phase and I worked 3 straight days from 8-5. I came home utterly exhausted. I guess I had gotten into the habit of sleeping late. I do not have to return until next week and I will be on my regular schedule which means I don't go in until 9am. I am not much of a morning person so I am relieved.
Before employment reared its ugly head, I was concentrating on the area right beyond our deck in the back year. The following photo shows a side view. Envision the side borders as wall divisions and you get the picture. This is to be an enclosed room. To the left is the vegetable garden so I want these areas to be separate. Right now, when you look across the back (and the front, for that matter), you see everything. There is no mystery whatsoever. 

If you wondering what the big white pom-pom blooms are, that is the existing hedge of  Red-Tip Photinia. I have never photinia this size and certainly not blooming like this is. You can see the flowers better in the top photo.  


I also got the urn fountain installed and it is working beautifully. Michael helped me with this and he came up with the design for the rocks around it. Yesterday evening, I saw a hummingbird sitting on the edge of it drinking. Then he would jump in the water and take a bath. I have yet to see any birds visit it though. They do like to bath in the little bird bath on the other side.

Remember the deck project a few weeks ago? We left the steps because they were literally falling off the sides. I got tired of waiting for the deck guy to show up and we have company coming into town next week so I thought "Why can't I do this myself"? Of course the answer to this is laughable because any type of project like this usually ends in cursing and disaster. I took the plunge though and I am so proud of myself. I picked out the wood and actually finished the steps today (there is another set of steps on the other side). Things actually went smoothly for the most part and all the tools cooperated. Michael was impressed too.

Now, on to some plants blooming in the garden...

Dicentra 'Valentine'
Bleeding Heart (Dicentra 'Valentine')

Wild Ginger (Asarum) and Athyrium niponicum var. pictum 'Burgundy Lace'
Wild Ginger (Asarum) and Japanese Painted Fern 'Burgundy Lace'

Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis russeliana)
Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis), a plant I loved in Alabama.

Sedum makinoi 'Ogon'
Sedum makinoi 'Ogon'. I am discovering the pleasures of the Home Depot Clearance Cart.
This was one of my recent finds.

Red Columbine (Aquilegia formosa), I purchased this at the St. John's Native Plant Sale.
Delphinium trollifolium, a purchase at Hortlandia a few weeks ago.
Aubretia (Rock Cress), a Home Depot clearance find.
Another of the mystery shrubs already here in the garden turned out to be dwarf Korean lilac (Syringa meyeri 'Palibin'. Thank you Amy Campion for the correct identification!

Lilac (Syringa) 'Miss Kim'
The fragrance is intense!
This little guy lives in the hedge and under the garden shed. He seems to be increasingly brave around me. We have not named him yet. I am watching him closely, just waiting for him to start enjoying the garden as his own personal buffet. I have only seen him eating grass. We had accused him of eating the Swiss Chard I planted but later caught a squirrel red-handed. So for now, Bunny is off the hook.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Lucky you to have a surprise lilac!

    The Japanese painted fern is very pretty. I grow a couple here in Tennessee, although I'm sure they'd probably be happier in a PNW-type climate/environment.

    I've never seen a red-tip photinia that large and beautiful either. Amazing how differently plants can behave in different climates!

  2. The steps look good. Don't successful projects give you the confidence to tackle ever bigger ones? I have three photinia "trees" but only one blooms. I am guessing male - female?

  3. A wonderful beginning, Phillip. The red-tip photina is common around here and is in bloom now, however, you can't buy it at most garden centers. It was hit hard by a fungus a few years ago and many have died or are dying out. I think it's a beautiful shrub. You did a great job on the steps !

  4. Miss Kim is a delightful fragrant lilac. Your garden is really coming along. I love all that chartreuse grass. It shines in the shade. Congrats on your step project. The steps are looking quite sturdy now. Doesn't it feel good to accomplish a project that seems daunting at first! The fountain is gorgeous and it must be just perfect since the hummingbirds have used it.

  5. Looking great! Such progress already.

  6. Your lilac looks more like dwarf Korean lilac (Syringa meyeri 'Palibin'. Are the leaves small and rounded (Palibin) or pointed (miss Kim)?

    1. I just took a look and they are rounded. Thank you!

    2. You're welcome. I think dwarf Korean is a better plant.

  7. I love what you've done with your yard so far, it looks beautiful!

  8. Your garden is really looking great. The fountain arrangement is beautiful, and so are the steps: good job!
    I wish I had a resident bunny. I think:-)

  9. Your garden is looking fabulous! I have never seen a Red-tip Photinia look so wonderful! Most of the ones I have seen in this area are diseased and improperly pruned. We once had a bunny just like yours, and we loved him as he seemed to enjoy weeds in the grass more than anything else.

  10. I knew you would be rocking that new garden in no time! Employment does get in the way of gardening, doesn't it? Ha ha! I've been a domestic goddess for over three years now, and it's wonderful. Like you, I am not a morning person, and I don't understand people who pop out of bed. The chores will wait till later! Good luck in your new job Phillip. Hopefully it will leave you plenty of time for gardening.

  11. home depot clearance was one of my favorites back in the day... so addicting!


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