Silver Creek Garden

passion and obsession for gardening, food, and living lightly

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Wood duck and ducklings

Rain was threatening this afternoon, but we got in a short walk to Scudder Pond to see the wood duck and her ducklings. Though I am only a beginning birder, I do get emails from a local bird group, and knew at least 2 wood ducks had been spotted with young on the pond.

We walked to Whatcom Falls.  The past 2 days of rain has not much affected our own Silver Creek, but the falls was moving pretty swiftly.

Whatcom Falls

Though we have enjoyed the past 2 weeks of unusually sunny weather, it is way too soon to begin the summer drought.  Our garden welcomed the rain.

Unusual colored Pacific iris

Unusual colored Pacific iris

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Species Peonies


Fernleaf Peony, Paeonia tenuifolia

May is the month that peonies really make a statement in the garden.  But before the named hybrids begin to bloom, we welcome the diminutive species peonies.  The first in our garden is Paeonia tenuifolia, the Fernleaf Peony.

This European native would be worth growing just for its ferny foliage, but the early red flowers are pretty showy, too.  It likes limey soil, so we do need to add lime on occasion to keep it happy in our acidic soil.


Caucasian Peony, Paeonia mlokosewitschii,

Next to bloom is Paeonia mlokosewitschii, the Caucasian Peony.  Another peony of short stature, this peony has lovely foliage and cheerful single yellow flowers.

This one is happy with our heavy, acidic soil, and every year the clump gets bigger.


Chinese woodland peony, Paeonia veitchii

Our third (or maybe first, since it was the first species peony we got) is Paeonia veitchii, Chinese Woodland Peony.  This one likes partial shade, and is so happy in the garden that it self seeds.  It is fun to have a peony that will bloom in less than full sun.

In another few weeks, the hybrid and tree peonies will bloom, with their enormous flowers.  For now, we’re enjoying the smaller ancestors and their smaller blooms.

Spring Garden


After yesterday’s rain, today started with broken clouds. After breakfast, we walked around the garden, enjoying the cool spring morning. Much of the spring garden is really coming into bloom, and the overwintered veggies and early spring greens are almost as ornamental as the rockery plants and rhododendrons.

salad greens

Started in early March, these greens are keeping us salad right now.

I get a kick out of our winter greens planting.  I always plant kale in the open garden.  I like its flavor best in winter and early spring, when the cold weather brings out its sweetness.  This year, as the kale grew, some of the plants looked different, which was puzzling.  I always plant dwarf siberian, which I know is an open pollinated variety, so I put it down to some off type plants.  We ate the leaves of both kinds this winter, remarking that some of the leaves were coarser and not frilled like normal, but still had good flavor.  It turns out that I had apparently seeded some Purple Sprouting Broccoli this year along with my kale, and then forgotten….Here is what the ‘kale’ patch looks like now-

Kale and Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Kale and Purple Sprouting Broccoli

The broccoli is pretty good, so I’ll probably grow it again.  That’s assuming that it is as hardy as kale.  We had a pretty mild winter.

My kale imposter, purple sprouting broccoli

My kale imposter, purple sprouting broccoli

We next walked into the southern orchard.  We are having an unusual spring, and all the blooms are compressed.  We rarely have all of the apples and the pears and the pie cherries in bloom at one time.  Usually it’s a progression, but not this year!

The lower orchard is in full bloom

The lower orchard is in full bloom

Only the cider apple trees are lagging behind, and that is completely normal.  Unfortunately we aren’t seeing many bees.  We debated renting a hive this year, but put it off because of our vacation.  We might end up regretting that.

Lewisias in bloom in the front rockery

Lewisias in bloom in the front rockery

The front rockery is in full bloom with lewisias. We have so many now- they like our rockeries so well they self seed. They will be in bloom for the next month or so.

One of the newer rockeries is the rebuilt ledge garden.  It looks like everything is doing well there after the first year.

The ledge garden in bloom

The ledge garden in bloom

This pileated woodpecker has been visiting regularly

This pileated woodpecker has been visiting regularly

We had a mid-morning visit from this pileated woodpecker.  We had a suet feeder up this winter, and they started visiting from the creek area to feed then.  The feeder has been gone more than a month, but they still visit regularly.  I guess even birds have hope!

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The more you grow your own food, the harder it is to get away, even for a short time.  We recently had a 4 day window to ‘do something’, but the timing wasn’t the best.  We had tomato and pepper starts that needed water every day when sunny- who would take care of them?

tomato/pepper seedling

Tomatoes and peppers waiting to be planted.

But we couldn’t pass up the chance for a get away. So, even though there was a slight chance of frost, we planted all of them out in the hoophouses.

For 15 or more years, we have been hoping to get a chance to visit Olympic National Park- the beaches.  Every time we’ve had the time, the weather did not cooperate.  This time, the weather forecast was perfect, so we took the chance and went, leaving our fledgling seedlings to cope with the cold.  We knew, chicks were arriving on Friday, we needed to get away before livestock tied us down.


In the ground!

Over the years, we’ve found that these cold sensitive plants are pretty tough, as long as they have some cover.  The hoophouses provide them protection from radiant frost, even though the air temps can get pretty low.

So we set off on Earth Day (DH’s birthday) for the Olympic peninsula.  Our plan was to visit Kalaloch, on the southern part of the park.


Kalaloch beach

A beautiful, flat sandy beach that stretches for miles along the coast.  The campground was pretty, too, with several sites with views (all taken). We grabbed a site in the woods with gnarled trees, very private and magical.  Since we weren’t exposed to the ocean, the breeze didn’t make such an impact on temperatures.  We had a short trail to a private spot on a bluff above the beach, so it was the best of both worlds. One of the beaches we wanted to hike was Ruby Beach, just to the north. This is often cited as the most photogenic beach on the coast. It lived up to its reputation, although the north end of the beach required a wade to visit.  I ended up with very wet feet for the rest of the hike.  We did enjoy the solitude, as not many were willing to get wet to venture here.

The hike down to Ruby Beach

The hike down to Ruby Beach


We saw lots of eagles on the coast. The zoom lens helped capture this one.

Our next stop was Beach 4 on the way back to Kalaloch.  Here we found great tidepools filled with green anenomes along with pale yellow anenomes with purple tipped tentacles.  We also got a glimpse of a sea otter frolicking in the surf. Great geology here, too, with tilted rock beds eroded into stripes.


Green anenome with their cousins, purple tipped anenome

After another great camp meal and a snug night in our tent, we packed up and headed north to La Push.  I had heard about and seen photos of Second Beach, and wanted to see it for myself.  We found the unmarked trailhead and started off.  Much to our surprise, this beautiful beach is also pretty small, just an hour to hike to the end and back, even stopping to take lots of pictures.

Second Beach south of LaPush.

Second Beach south of La Push.

Trillium at Mora

Trillium at Mora Camp

  So up and over the headland we went back to our car, and continued on to find a campsite at Mora.  Then out to Rialto beach for an afternoon hike.  Bad idea- Rialto at high tide is not a fun hike.  After our walks on packed sand, the coarse pebbles that shift underfoot were not welcome!  stopped at Ellen Creek, but DH crossed and went on for a little more scenery.  Then back to camp, where we walked the closed loops of the campground looking at (and photographing) all the beautiful woodland flowers.

The next morning after packing up camp, we visited Rialto beach one more time, this time at low tide.  What a difference!  Easy walking, very moody lighting with marine clouds overhead.

Then onward to Port Townsend to catch the ferry home.  Delighted to find all our tomatoes and peppers had survived our absence quite well. And the kitties were unable to hold a grudge about their first time being left outside for very long after getting to go back inside the house.