While your hay bales are cooking, I wanted to pay my respect to my favorite winter warriors of the plant world.
These 4 beauties give you plenty of evergreen love through the winter and the cool spring weather. They stay charming all-year, but they often go unnoticed once the spring dazzlers take-over the show.
Starting with the brown grass (Carex buchananii or
‘Leatherleaf Sedge’). This one gets planted for colorful fall containers. Some people cut them back in February to encourage the fresh new leaves, but I let my old Carex blades mingle with the new growth.
To the right we have a lovely little Pieris (Pieris japonica ‘Cavatine’), this little evergreen stays a small 2’x2′. I like any variety of Pieris for spring because those little flowers are about to burst open and keep our cool weather bees fed when they can’t find any other nectar.
Down-in-front, our native dry soil lovin’ Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) is the real deal. Crush a leaf and find that heavenly wintergreen aroma. The evergreen leaves turn a rusty red through the cold months and late summer they start producing big red berries.
Finally, the last plant on the left is Huechera (Heuchera ‘Silver Scrolls’). This little evergreen comes in a wide variety of leaf colors. The flowers are insignificant, however on some varieties the flowers bloom red (also why the common name for this plant is Coral Bells) and the hummingbirds can’t get enough.
So now my 4 favorite winter color busters, I’ll tuck you in with a fresh layer of spring mulch before the daffodils and cherry blossoms steal your thunder. Until next year, when I notice you all over again.
Three years ago, I started to hear about this “hay bale gardening.” I’d seen it done many times, but never really stopped to explore the idea, until I got a rush of regular gardening clients that were looking for advice on how to start their own hay bale gardens.
So, I did what any garden consultant does… I started my own. I am officially hooked!
I started with 5 bales of alfalfa hay. Choose carefully where you want to place your bales, because once you start watering, there is no moving that wet heavy bale. Position the bales so that the tied/twined side of the bale is the outer wall. You need that twine to contain the walls. I also had a few rods of rebar leftover from another projects, so I drove the rebar into the ground to hold the bales in-place should they ever shift.
Next step: sprinkle 1-cup of ammonium nitrate per bale and water them thoroughly. I did the 1-cup per bale, per day, for 10-days in a row. Now, I’ve heard you only have to do 5-days. Make sure you water the bales through.
This photo is day 1, I just inserted the thermometer into the cold wet bales. The ammonium nitrate caused the inside of the bales to cook. By day 3 my bales heated up to 127 degrees. That’s the hottest they got and they stayed warm for a few more days before the bales cooled off.
I’ll be back with more pictures, but now’s the time to get your hay bales started in the Northwest.
4/17/2017 update: Hay Bale Veggie Garden Part II: Planting
Today marks the 2-year anniversary for my little vintage garden boutique in Tacoma, WA. I use it more as an office and I’m so grateful for the space to focus my time and energy. I love the hunt for antiques to fill the shelves, I love the vibrant “Kermit-Green” wall color, and I love the tree that sits outside of my window that is always filled with little birds.
Every garden shop needs it’s garden gnomes. These four vintage fellows are ready to go home to live out their days tucked in among your perennials.
If you hesitate to bring home a gnome because you’ve heard they cause mischief, don’t believe the rumors. (Note: the gnome with choppy axe is watching me type this).
This little photo of emerald green loveliness was taken at the Northwest Native Garden located inside of the Point Defiance. It’s maintained by the Tacoma Garden Club.
Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry) and Oxalis oregana (Wood Sorrel).
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are my office days. The office is also my little vintage garden boutique, but having time to sit at my desk, return calls, update the web… makes this space so much more valuable to me. If you’re in the area, stop by.
My designs are all hand drawn. That’s my style.