Useful Yard

First Nootka rose of the year—this native flower lasts just one day.

Memorial Day weekend marked the seven-year anniversary of moving into our house. What was once mostly grass and ignored woodland, is now over 100 types of plants that keep me busy throughout the year. Heading into our eighth summer here, I’m able to pause and take it all in. I’ve started digging through old photo libraries to see how bare the yard was in 2014—for a before/after post—and it’s funny to discover how few plant pictures I took back then.

This week started with unusually high 85° days and, in typical pre-July fashion, is ending in rain and 55°. Bumblebees have been out daily, up before 8am… and out after 8pm. I’ve seen few other insects so far but small native bees seem to be more common, likely due to the increase of annual wildflowers. A spotless native lady beetle was a nice midweek surprise, shining on bright yellow yarrow.

This patch of ‘Moonshine’ yarrow was just a 4” container a few years ago. After growing well, I moved it last spring and divided it into four parts and then it barely flowered. The act was still worth it because now it’s a beast, growing around 32-inches tall and covering a 3×4-foot area. Of course, the unexpected surge of growth threatens plants around it. But if the creeping catmint below is smaller this year than last, it’s a fine trade-off. In any seamless section of the yard, the mingling of plants attracts more birds and insects.

The rest of the month will be focused on strawberries. Our ‘Rainier’ plants have grown even better than last year, when we harvested several pints a day. I should probably protect the tiny yellow fruit before they turn red because rabbits are everywhere. Yet I remain unmotivated to temporarily install chicken wire. They may force my hand, however, seeing as how they don’t even flinch when I throw pine cones at them.

There used to be a tall Douglas-fir here and a bumpy lawn.