Signs of life 2014

Doing some much needed weeding today around the garden, I’ve noticed plants coming up out of the ground.  This doesn’t necessarily strike me as odd, except for the fact that they’re plants that I purposefully put there.  I didn’t expect this so soon this year.

The ‘Victoria’ rhubarb has come up this year with a vengeance.  I’m pretty sure it’s planning on getting as tall or taller than the Douglas Fir it sits under this year.  It’s already got leaves big enough to impress me.  I’ve heard that you are supposed to wait 3 years before you begin to harvest rhubarb so it has enough time to establish itself well enough to withstand hungry humans.  I think it’ll be tough to stop myself (and my wife) from taking just a few of these stems.  I mean, there are going to be plenty more, right?

Being impatient like I usually am, I was checking the bamboos for signs of life.  At least, signs of new life.  Nothing of course, until I lifted the lower leaves on the Fargesia rufa.  Jackpot!  March 9th and already new culms poking up.  I think that’s a record for my rufas.  Unlike my other bamboos, I like seeing the Fargesias send up new shoots.  They only expand a few inches in radius, so I don’t worry about them taking over.  The tallest clump I’ve got is just about 5 feet tall.  That doubled from the previous year, so this year I’m hoping to see 7 or 8 feet, about the maximum.

Another serious surprise for me is this little bugger.

Any guesses as to what it is?  Need a closer look?

Yep, it’s one of the inspirations for the entire garden.  Gunnera manicata!  I didn’t even have to go digging for it.  After I noticed it, I had to do some weeding for the photo, and to expose the dark mulch.  We wouldn’t want any of those nasty crabgrasses to shade out the awakening gunnera crown.  This winter was particularly harsh, and I was afraid that the gunnera might have suffered a setback or even *gasp* a WINTERKILL!  Apparently not, as this little leaf shows.  Despite 12 degree temperatures back in December, the several inches of dark bark mulch did the trick.

The ‘Cascade’ hops are biting at the bit just waiting for me to finish their trellis.  If I don’t hurry up, they’ll start growing on everything else!  I’ve got 3 areas with Cascade rhizomes, and one area with Magnum hops.  The Cascade are all several inches above ground now, and predictably the Magnum is just a bit behind in growth.  I don’t know if anything grows faster than Cascade.  I’m hoping for several pounds of hops this year.  Brew on!

A new addition to the mailbox garden this year is Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’.  It started out looking a lot like the Euphorbia x martinii next to it, but has recently become much darker purple.  Then it started blooming.  Enough said.  I kind of wish my entire mailbox garden was just Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’.  I guess I’ll have to wait and see how quickly it spreads. I started to get in position for a nice photo of the Euphorbia ‘Burrow Silver’, but it started raining.  And then hailing.  So I went inside…

I’ve got blooms inside and out.  The Walking Iris (Neomarica gracilis) is showing what it’s made of.

The plants inside the house have been keeping the Drosera binata var. multifida fed with plenty of fungus gnats. This particular sundew is a forked version with plenty of red coloration in the leaves and the dew.  Yes, I know it doesn’t have big leaves.  We can’t have everything we want, can we?

I promised an update for the Goldfinger plant (Juanulloa aurantiaca) once it bloomed.  I figured you’ve waited long enough.

I shot the photo in dim light again, but that it just how that corner of the room ends up, with the giant coffee monster shading everything out.  I think once we reach our official last frost date (unless I’m feeling lucky and go early) Mr. Goldfinger will go out in the south garden under the Italian Plum tree.  It’ll get plenty of heat there, and any dappled sunlight that makes it through the bananas and plum tree.  Maybe if I’m really into it I’ll trim it to grow as a vine up into the tree.

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